What It Means to Be Human Historical Reflections from the 1800s to the Present

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-12-20
  • Publisher: Counterpoint
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Bourke (Rape: Sex, Violence, History), professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, analyzes formulations of the supposed human/animal divide over two centuries. Her novel employment of a 'Mobius Strip' analogy reveals invalid distinctions between humans and animals often used as justification for subjugating those deemed less than human. With this approach, she demonstrates that the concept of life itself is difficult to pin down, perhaps best expressed negatively the way Dionysius the Areopagite discussed the attributes of God. Bourke then debunks the idea that language and feeling are characteristics unique to humans with examples from around the animal kingdom. Her point is that making such distinctions has been a step on the slippery slope of denying human-ness to women, slaves, or specific racial and ethnic groups, all of whom have been relegated to the non-human side of this divide by bigots. Bourke passionately argues against these specious justifications for the cruelty, torture, and other horrors of which we are capable. Agent: The Wiley Agency. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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