Human and Animal
This chapter asks whether humans are like other animals in their capacity for cruelty, arguing that humans can be distinguished from animals by their potentially pathological lack of compassion. It cites three cases in which it is plain not only that the emotional and moral failure in question is peculiarly human but also that the failure is at least partly explained by what the primatologist Frans de Waal has called “anthropodenial”—the implicit denial (on the part of humans) that we are really animals. All three cases—the ending of Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest, Leo Tolstoy's novella The Kreutzer Sonata, and the massacre of 2,000 Muslim civilians by Hindu mobs in the Indian state of Gujarat in February 2002—concern misogyny, a prominent aspect of anthropodenial. The chapter's thesis is that anthropodenial, a uniquely human tendency, is not simply a pernicious intellectual position; it is a large cause of moral deformity. Finally, it discusses the continuities and discontinuities between human and animal compassion and how human compassion is infected by anthropodenial.
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