Reference : Animal gaze and the feeling of being human
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Anthropology
Animal gaze and the feeling of being human
[fr] Le regard animal et le sentiment d'être humain
Servais, Véronique mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences sociales > Anthropologie de la communication >]
The Inhuman Gaze and Perceiving Otherwise. A three-day multi-disciplinary conference spanning the disciplines of philosophy, social cognition, psychiatry, psychology and aesthetics
6th-9th June 2018
The Irish Research Council, University College Dublin
[en] zootherapy ; animal gaze ; animal encounters ; intermediary space
[en] When the first psychiatrists introduced pets in a psychiatric ward, in the seventies (Corson, O’Leary Corson et Gwynne, 1975), they mentioned that the dogs’ presence seemed to “humanize” the hospital. Since then, animals (mainly pets) have been introduced in prisons, geriatric institutions, hospitals, etc., with the same effect. When there is a risk of de-humanization, pets seem to help counteract this tendency, keeping people and their micro-society on this side of the frontier of humanity. In this communication I would like to take this observation beyond its apparent triviality and examine how the gaze of a companion animal can make people (feel) more human. I will argue that because they have a gaze, animals have a presence, an anima. Their gaze is a call to be present, but the kind of presence that is called for is different from the presence that is demanded by a human gaze. One of the reasons is that animals cannot have an objective engagement with the world. They are always subjectively engaged in their umwelt (Uexküll). They cannot be detached and they are not able to perceive human bodies as things. This has many consequences, that will be examined with the help of the concepts of Leib and Körper, as they appear in phenomenological psychopathology (i.e. Bowden, 2012). Moreover, it can be argued, following the lines developed by D. Winnicott in his theory of intermediary spaces, that the gaze of a peaceful companion animals can help a fragile self to exist and develop a creative relationship with the world, thus becoming more human.
Irish research council, College of Science, School of computer sincere, College of Social Science and Law, the School of philosophy, University College Dublin

File(s) associated to this reference

Fulltext file(s):

Open access
Animal gaze and humanity.pdfAuthor preprint176.12 kBView/Open

Bookmark and Share SFX Query

All documents in ORBi are protected by a user license.