Mara Daria Cojocaru
The Biscuit Tin is now in lockdown in Tokyo and will carry on with its journey when it is safe. In the meantime our philosophers are reflecting on what we can learn from Midgley's writings during this time of Covid. Their reflections show how Midgley's thought can help us to make sense of this crisis and to navigate in an uncertain environmental and political future.
While waiting for the biscuit tin to resume its journey, I had a cup of tea in our garden, with our dogs. Midgley suspected that there was a special relationship between humans and dogs – and my dogs and I agree!
We pondered upon some of Mary Midgley’s ideas that Ulrike and I had wanted to discuss in Munich. They seem so relevant for our time. After all, one of Midgley’s concerns is that humans are animals, too. And the fact that we are socially organised mammals who care for each other and their sick, who hope for the best for their young and mourn their dead has been made vivid in many ways by Covid-19.
Another of Midgley’s concerns has received much less attention, though: animals matter themselves in many, sometimes competing ways. Not just because Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease originating in humans using other animals for food, but also because humans increasingly turn to them for social contact, use them in research to combat the coronavirus, and admire them in their backyards, parks and on the internet. Hence, how animals assist humans – or are exploited by them – is highlighted by the pandemic, and it is neither a luxury nor a childish concern to include animals in our approaches to confront it.
That is why, taking a leaf out of Midgley’s book on how to do philosophy in creative and inclusive ways, we are now developing an “animal-assisted philosophy” to work out improved and sustainable human-animal-relations, with the first online workshop taking place in September 2020.
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The Concept of Beastliness
Midgley, M. (1973)
Philosophy 48 (184):111-135