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The Autonomous AnimalSelf-Governance and the Modern Subject$
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Claire E. Rasmussen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816669561

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816669561.001.0001

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Man Is a Political Animal

Man Is a Political Animal

Self-Discipline and its Beastly Other

(p.97) 4 Man Is a Political Animal
The Autonomous Animal

Claire E. Rasmussen

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the creative potential of autonomy by exploring ways that the impulse for self-governance can produce new forms of subjectivity and ethical challenges to the power relationships that shape the present. The self-critical impulse encouraged by the discourse of autonomy can have effects that challenge as well as enforce existing relationships of power. Critique may reveal the contingency of current relationships and thus open up the possibility of choosing to act differently. Animal rights provide one opportunity for this analysis as the distinction between human and animal has been one of the most important means of measuring the autonomy of human subjects. However, animal rights may challenge human sovereignty only if it challenges the assumption that human and animal are so easily distinguished.

Keywords:   self-governance, creative potential of autonomy, animal rights, human subjects, human sovereignty, power relationships, ethical challenges

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