We have closed our hearts to animals, Costello concludes, and our minds follow our hearts (or more strictly speaking, our sympathies). Philosophy, (Costello argues) is powerless in its ability to push society in the right direction as it fails to engage with one`s sympathies. Ironically, the burden is placed on something other than one`s rational dimensions, in which philosophy so frequently refers to. Our sympathetic imaginations, to which poetry and fiction appeal more than philosophy, should extend to other animals. As readers it is our duty to be continually vigilant to the methods in which fiction and discourse structure our view to omit acts of evil that we find ourselves subconsciously engaged in.
As a result of the theories presented by Costello (by way of Coetzee) and the comparison made between the slaughter of animals and the treatment of Jews during the holocaust, can I agree and say that such a comparison is valid? First and foremost can we conclude that Costello protests too much? As a result of my understanding of the text, it would be plausible to propose that Costello is self aware. Costello anticipates her most hostile critic, acknowledging “how talk of this kind polarizes people & cheap point scoring only makes it worse” (Coetzee 22). The conversation which she refers to is a correlation between the way her fellow human beings treat animals and the way in which the Third Reich treated Jews. “By treating fellow human beings – beings created in the image of God, like beasts” (she says of the Nazis). “They themselves become beasts” (Coetzee 21). She then continues: “we are surrounded by an enterprise of degradation, cruelty, and killing which rivals anything that the Third Reich...
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...n pleasure? Costello highlights her difficulties in accepting that she is one of the very few who struggle to comprehend this. Consequently, Costello`s main thrust of her argument is epistemological as opposed to political or even moral.
The challenge Costello presents to her audience is to consider for a moment that what we enjoy at the dinner table is in reality an act of murder. Are the actions that human beings regard as ethically moral in reality violence that we inflict, at the expense of another beings life? In this milieu what results is not only a holocaust that is invisible but one that in many ways presents itself as the holocaust which saw over 6 million Jews murdered. In such a context, the production of thought, of human culture itself cannot be anything other than the continuous production of omission, deceit and epistemological unconsciousness.
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