Following the Rats: Becoming-Animal in Deleuze and Guattari


Undeniably, globalization defines the epoch in which we are living. As the word suggests, this means that the earth has been enclosed within a globe. And this means that all the ways out have been closed, so that one species—the human—is able to dominate all other species. What justifies this—what gives us the right to dominate the animals? The answer is well known: humans believe they have the right to dominate the animals because humans believe that they possess a special kind of subjectivity. The concept of subjectivity that we think we possess has its conceptual origins in Descartes’s “cogito,” but the concept of the “I think” develops into the Kantian idea of autonomy. The Kantian idea of autonomy means, of course, that I am self-ruling; I give the moral law to myself, unlike the animals upon whom nature imposes its laws. But in order to give the law to myself, I must tell it to myself. Kantian autonomy therefore is based on auto-affection. What makes me, as a human, autonomous is my supposed ability to hear myself speak at the very moment I speak. Because the voice seems to be purely immediate and mine, I hear myself speak in pure presence. This supposed pure self-presence gives humans a dignity that far surpasses that of animals. It justifies the human right to domination.

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