GE Center, TMU


【Announcement】National Taiwan University (Faculty Colloquium)For What the Bell Tolls: An Ethics of Indifference for Human-Animal Relations (2021/11/17)

  • 2021-11-05
  • 中心秘書

National Taiwan University - Faculty Colloquium

Title: For What the Bell Tolls: An Ethics of Indifference for Human-Animal Relations
Speaker: Prof. Dongshin Yi (Seoul National University)
Moderator: Prof. Chun-Yen Chen 陳春燕教授 (National Taiwan University)
Time: 15:00 ~ 17:00, Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Venue: 1F DFLL Conference Room, Gallery of University History (校史館外文系1樓會議室)

Asking “what is wrong with animal rights?” Kelly Oliver in Animal Lessons answers, “Moral rules
and juridical legalism help us sleep peacefully at night, whereas ethical responsibility, as Levinas might say,
produces insomnia. Rights can be granted, laws can be followed, but ethics and justice cannot rest there.
In this sense, ethics must go beyond rights.” Oliver’s ultimate suggestion is “a sustainable ethics,” which
asks beings in an ecologically interconnected community to be “responsive and nourishing.” But, given
the sheer number of beings in that community, how would one put it in practice without certain concepts
of rights and laws? That is, how does one decide whom/what to respond to and nourish and when to
stop and move on?
While agreeing with Oliver’s sustainable ethics in general, I find her ethics underprepared to
answer these practical questions, which in fact have helped to justify the animal rights approach in animal
ethics and put it in, to borrow Peter Singer’s term, “the expanding circle.” In my paper, I hope to
supplement Oliver’s ethics by suggest an ethics of indifference, according to which indifferent relations
between human and nonhuman beings are the norm while the “responsive and nourishing” is an act of
exigency. Drawing upon Alphonso Lingis’ work in the main along with several literary and non-literary
texts, I will try to flesh out the imperative of indifference.

About the speaker
Dongshin Yi is Professor of English at Seoul National University. He earned his PhD from Texas
A&M University in 2007, and his research interests include posthumanism, animal studies, contemporary
American novels, and SF fiction. He is currently leading The Research Network for Human-Animal
Studies, a project team supported by National Research Foundation of Korea. His publications include:
“Wordless Lessons: Imagine Animal Poets and See Animal Thinkers” (American Fiction Studies 2021),
“Gulliver, Heidegger’s Man: Swift’s Satire of Man in Captivation” (College Literature 2018), “Broken
Head: Artificial Intelligence and Ethics” (Journal of Artificial Intelligence Humanities 2018), “Things like
Zombies: New Materialisms and Zombies” (In/Outside: English Studies in Korea 2017), and The Genealogy of
Cyborgothic: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Age of Posthumanism (Routledge 2010).

Chi-ming Hung
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
National Taiwan University
Tel: 02 3366 3208