Animal friendship: an absolute responsible posthumanization

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Much has been written defining, explaining, and cataloguing various definitions and interpretations of posthumanism. While the aim of this chapter is not to repeat some of this excellent work, I will begin by providing in very generalist terms some posthumanist positions so as to situate the critical posthumanist approach that I take in regards to the issue of “animal friendship.” This approach will involve using the work of Derrida, first, to deconstruct the asinine attempt to blur, dissolve, or render unstable, the boundary between human and nonhuman animal that is articulated in some versions of posthumanism. And, second, this will then allow me to question our inherited notion of friendship, and what it means to be “friends” with animals. I argue that it is not about the capabilities (reason, autonomy, response, self-reflection, and so on) that we might have in common with this “other” such as the animal that enables friendship. Rather, it is about the process of enacting what Derrida calls an “absolute responsibility” towards the other whose difference (rather than the homogenous blurring of the animal and human) exposes our shared vulnerabilities, pain, and suffering. It is in this way that Derrida’s deconstruction lends its radical force to critical posthumanism: a radicality that embraces the absolute alterity of the animal (that cannot be reduced to the same), thereby putting into question our inherited notion of friendship. This questioning, in turn, not only enables a destabilization of our notion of our own sovereignty and ipseity that founds our current and historical notions of what it means to be human, but makes possible a move towards a posthumanization that is founded on, and arises from, an absolute responsibility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave handbook of critical posthumanism
EditorsStefan Herbrechter, Ivan Callus, Manuela Rossini, Marija Grech, Megen de Bruin-Molé, Christopher John Müller
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783031049583
ISBN (Print)9783031049576
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • animals
  • possums
  • posthuman
  • Jacques Derrida
  • Deconstruction
  • friendship
  • Derrida
  • vulnerability
  • responsibility


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