Thinking Plant Animal Human

Encounters with Communities of Difference

2020
Author:

David Wood

Thinking Plant Animal Human

Collected essays by a leading philosopher situating the question of the animal in the broader context of a relational ontology

David Wood was a founding member of the early 1970s Oxford Group of philosophers promoting animal rights; he also directed Ecology Action (UK). Thinking Plant Animal Human is the first collection of this major philosopher’s influential essays on “animals,” bringing together his many discussions of nonhuman life, including the classic “Thinking with Cats.”

Be prepared to be disoriented. David Wood’s Thinking Plant Animal Human does not offer answers. It offers resources for transformation, for imagining otherwise, as we seek how to live in dangerous times. In a time of environmental crises and growing awareness of the deep interconnections of all living things, Wood’s clarion call for what he labels respeciesification will challenge us all not simply to think but to live plant animal human anew. Engage the uncanny—read this book.

Nancy Tuana, coauthor of Beyond Philosophy: Nietzsche, Foucault, Anzaldúa

There is a revolution under way in our thinking about animals and, indeed, life in general, particularly in the West. The very words man, animal, and life have turned into flimsy conceptual husks—impediments to thinking about the issues in which they are embroiled. David Wood was a founding member of the early 1970s Oxford Group of philosophers promoting animal rights; he also directed Ecology Action (UK). Thinking Plant Animal Human is the first collection of this major philosopher’s influential essays on “animals,” bringing together his many discussions of nonhuman life, including the classic “Thinking with Cats.”

Exploring our connections with cats, goats, and sand crabs, Thinking Plant Animal Human introduces the idea of “kinnibalism” (the eating of mammals is eating our own kin), reflects on the idea of homo sapiens, and explores the place of animals both in art and in children’s stories. Finally, and with a special focus on trees, the book delves into remarkable contemporary efforts to rescue plants from philosophical neglect and to rethink and reevaluate their status. Repeatedly bubbling to the surface is the remarkable strangeness of other forms of life, a strangeness that extends to the human.

Wood shows that the best way of resisting simplistic classification is to attend to our manifold relationships with other living beings. It is not anthropocentric to focus on such relationships; they cast light in complex ways on the living communities of which we are part, and exploring them recoils profoundly on our understanding of ourselves.
Thinking Plant Animal Human

David Wood is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches continental and environmental philosophy. His many books include Deep Time, Dark Times: On Being Geologically Human; Reoccupy Earth: Notes toward an Other Beginning; and Eco-Deconstruction: Derrida and Environmental Philosophy, which he coedited. He is director of Yellow Bird Artscape in Tennessee.

Thinking Plant Animal Human

Be prepared to be disoriented. David Wood’s Thinking Plant Animal Human does not offer answers. It offers resources for transformation, for imagining otherwise, as we seek how to live in dangerous times. In a time of environmental crises and growing awareness of the deep interconnections of all living things, Wood’s clarion call for what he labels respeciesification will challenge us all not simply to think but to live plant animal human anew. Engage the uncanny—read this book.

Nancy Tuana, coauthor of Beyond Philosophy: Nietzsche, Foucault, Anzaldúa

As usual, David Wood has written a book that we fail to read, and heed, at our peril. Most generations see the end of the world just over the horizon, but for us this might turn out to be ecologically true. Wood’s voice, speaking of cats and goats and sand-crabs and trees, has always been exemplary in its scholarship and its poetry. With this recent collection of essays the bar is raised again.

H. Peter Steeves, author of Beautiful, Bright, and Blinding: Phenomenological Aesthetics and the Life of Art

Thinking Plant Animal Human

Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

Declaration of Interdependence

1. Homo Sapi ens: The Long View

2. Adventures in Phytophenomenology

3. Trees and Truth: Our Uncanny Arboreality

4. Sandcrab Speculations

5. On Track for Terratoriality: Of Goats and Men

6. The Absent Animal: Mirror Infractions in the Yucatan

7. Kinnibalism, Cannibalism: Stepping Back from the Plate

8. Creatures from Another Planet

9. Thinking with Cats

10. The Truth about Animals I: Jamming the Anthropological Machine

11. The Truth about Animals II: “Noblesse Oblige” and the Abyss

12. Giving Voice to Other Beings

13. Toxicity and Transcendence: Two Faces of the Human

Notes

Index