The Inescapeable, Unfathomable Void | Philosophy and Dinosaurs

[The great failing of all philosophy is its continued refusal to properly consider the question of dinosaurs.

A baffling refusal. They have something to hide. When they don’t talk about dinosaurs it’s because there’s something they’re trying to keep covered up….

Philosophers don’t want to consider dinosaurs because in any epistemology or ontology that follows Kant in featuring a distinction between human experience and the non-human world, dinosaurs represent the ultimate point of the non-human world’s unknowability. God is an indeterminate quantity; the real Absolute Other is twenty-three meters from end to end, with broad flat teeth for slicing up vegetable matter and a long tapering tail that draws lazy circles in the heavy Tithonian air. Levinas and Derrida speak of the unfathomable void of an animal’s eyes, and in a way they’re right; there’s sometimes something briefly terrifying in there. But it’s only a punctum, a sudden pin-prick: we know animals, we see them in the park, we grew up with them in fables and nursery stories. It’s a wound that quickly heals….

Radicals tend to not like dinosaurs very much. They’re big, and clunky, and all of them dead; they bear royal names and privileges, they inspire a politically dubious sense of the sublime. There doesn’t seem to be any real place in our non-alienated future for the dinosaurs. If they mean anything it’s only the ancient regime, a grand and terrible relic of a lost age. We’ll gawp at their bones, but first they must be bones.

That’s not the real problem with dinosaurs, though: the reason so many seemingly educated people seem so unwilling to talk about dinosaurs is the uncomfortable feeling that they might somehow come back.]

Read the full piece | FULL STOP | Pale/Ontology: The Dinosaurean Critique of Philosophy


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