Logocentrism: The problem with human language and our relationship with (other) animals

Feb 14, 2024 | Commentary

By Adam Cruise


Human language is a powerful tool that can intensify biases towards ethnic groups, genders or minorities. This is a logocentric manifestation early feminist philosophers, for example, identified and endeavoured to reform. Certainly, until the 1960s there was a widespread sexist attitude in Western society which found wide and enduring expression in linguistic conventions. Feminist philosophy has been effective in dismantling this attitude by discarding sexist aberrations in human language. The main focus of feminists was to have society acknowledge the unconscious ways that language both silences and emphasises gender in negative ways. A major part of the feminist language reform focused on when words or phrases make one gender, women, subjugated or invisible compared to the other.

 The same process of language reform needs to occur in order to tackle our latent anthropocentrism and the, often violent, relationship humans have with other animals. Wildlife declines and the failed attempts at conserving them is mired in how we deploy human language.

Human language is used as a weapon to subjugate all the other animals. The human animal alone believes he is awarded the gift of logos through a principle of divine reason while all other animals are deprived of it. This means that humans, the world’s only autobiographical animals, have the ability to rewrite their own, as well as all the other animals’ story, and to inscribe through a structured language a power and a dominance over them as well as a deceit and a disavowal of their own animality.

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