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As Wide as the World Is WiseReinventing Philosophical Anthropology$
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Michael Jackson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231178280

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231178280.001.0001

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Ourselves and Others

Ourselves and Others

(p.100) 5. Ourselves and Others
As Wide as the World Is Wise

Michael Jackson

Columbia University Press

My focus in chapter five is on human-animal relationships, specifically the ways in which the life of one passes into the other and the ways in which one makes the other thinkable. After elucidating how this interchange of being is understood in various societies, I propose an existential theory of ritual that explores the proposition that many myths and rites are informed by an urge to redistribute life itself, which always tends to be perceived as unequally distributed. Life forms are, therefore, constantly moving, both physically and imaginatively, from where life is scarce to where it is more bountiful, and these life forms are also in constant competition with one another for the scarcest of all goods, life itself. These actual or virtual redistributions of life are typically justified by moral dogmas that determine which life forms are more deserving of life (including eternal life) and which have less urgent claims on the right to live. For if life is to be taken from one person, creature or place and incorporated into another, then some kind of moral discrimination will be needed to justify why one being’s right to life is greater than another’s.

Keywords:   Philosophy, Anthropology, Philosophical anthropology, subjectivity

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