This essay focuses on animals as a site for religion and identifies what McGregor calls the “religion of animals.” The construction of the human-animal divide is explored through the Quran, Islamic theology, and philosophy, with particular attention paid to the encyclopedic epistle The Case of the Animals versus Man from tenth-century Iraq. The same human-animal divide is shown to be maintained variously among European philosophers. McGregor argues that both modern and medieval formulations are organized around a series of assumptions about language, the self, and the religious other. The study of comparative religion is thus usefully decentered by the question of the animal. The Case of the Animals versus Man, the essay contends, represents a solution to the challenges of comparison. The religion of others, then, along with the religion of animals creates a discursive gesture of openness: an opening that points beyond the exclusivity of communitarianism and the ego-centered limitations of religion.
Religions and the Religion of Animals: Ethics, Self, and Language in Tenth-Century Iraq
Richard McGregor; Religions and the Religion of Animals: Ethics, Self, and Language in Tenth-Century Iraq. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2015; 35 (2): 222–231. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-3139000
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