Mutating Carnophallogocentrism: Kantian Dignity and the Rights of Nature
Supervisor: Matthias Fritsch
ABSTRACT: In this paper, I draw on Derrida’s concept of carnophallogocentrism to explore tensions within the rights of nature and their relationship with Kantian dignity. Briefly, carnophallogocentrism names a matrix of privilege interconnecting reason, the phallus, and carnivorous sacrifice, one that manifests a way of being that not only seeks to master or possess nature but does so in the form of sacrificial ingestion. I first show how Kantian dignity is premised on a philosophy of nature wherein hierarchical teleology is the crux. Turning to Derrida, I then explore ways in which rights grounded in Kantian dignity manifest not just any hierarchy, but one of carnophallogocentrism. This, I argue, means that insofar as the rights of nature are grounded in Kantian dignity, they risk serving a mutation of carnophallogocentrism. At the same time, however, I argue that the rights of nature also mark a kind of counter-carnophallogocentrism. Admitting nature into the realm of Kantian dignity serves a form of autoimmunity, destabilizing Kantian dignity and its carnophallogocentrism from within. In this sense, thinking the rights of nature via Kantian dignity encourages a critical approach to their relationship with carnophallogocentrism, attuned to their mutative and autoimmune character. Moving forward, I draw a comparison between Bennington’s notion of demi-dignity and Gilabert’s work on dignity to illustrate not only how this critical approach is already at play in both, but how it may be taken further.