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Creaturely Cosmologies

Why Metaphysics Matters for Animal and Planetary Liberation

Brianne Donaldson

Metaphysics—or the grand narratives about reality that shape a community—has historically been identified as one of the primary oppressive factors in violence against animals, the environment, and other subordinated populations. Yet, this rejection of metaphysics has allowed inadequate worldviews to be smuggled back into secular rights-based systems, and into politics, language, arts, economics, media, and science under the guise of value-free and narrowly human-centric facts that relegate many populations to the margins and exclude them from consideration as active members of the planetary community. Those concerned with systemic violence against creatures and other oppressed populations must overcome this allergy to metaphysics in order to illuminate latent assumptions at work in their own worldviews, and to seek out dynamic, many-sided, and relational narratives about reality that are more adequate to a universe of responsive and creative world-shaping creatures. This text examines two such worldviews—Whitehead’s process-relational thought in the west and the nonviolent Indian tradition of Jainism—alongside theorists such as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Judith Butler, Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, that offer a new perspective on metaphysics as well as the creaturely kin and planetary fellows with whom we co-shape our future. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 176Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/4
978-1-4985-0179-8 • Hardback • May 2015 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
978-1-4985-0180-4 • eBook • May 2015 • $76.00 • (£49.95)
Brianne Donaldson is visiting assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies at Monmouth College.
1 From Frameworks of Recognition to Frameworks of Relevance
2 The Strange Creatures of Process Thought
3 Disruptive Souls in Jain Cosmology
4 Intra-Actions 1: Practices of Freedom in Jainism
5 Intra-Actions 2: Practices of “Reworlding” in Process Thought
6 Provocative Live Without Robbery
The need to rethink humanity’s relationship to the rest of the planet has never been more urgent. With this work, Brianne Donaldson shows herself to be a leading light in showing the way to the kind of cosmological thinking that is so badly needed today.
Jeffrey D. Long, Elizabethtown College, Author of Jainism: An Introduction

Rarely does a single book captivate us at both ends of the spectrum simultaneously. Bridging the metaphysics of East and West, Donaldson will lead you to deeper feeling of ‘the creaturely multitudes, the active shadows of our buzzing universe, too long marginalized by a dominant and falsely separated human.’ These pages invite you into new adventures of thought, co-feeling, intra-being, and activism.
Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor of Theology, Claremont School of Theology, Author of In Quest of Freedom: The Emergence of Spirit in the Natural World

Donaldson is to be thanked for bringing primary and secondary literature in the Jain tradition to bear on ethical issues surrounding nonhuman animals. She is also to be thanked for bringing the Jains and critical animal studies into conversation with process thinkers. All three areas are enriched as a result.
Daniel A. Dombrowski, Seattle University

In this startling encounter of critical animal studies with both process and Jain cosmologies, something new roars, flutters, slithers into being: beautifully readable, ethically compelling, theoretically profound —a new becoming of the creature, a “becoming creaturely.”
Catherine Keller, Drew University, Author of Cloud of the Impossible: Negative Theology and Planetary Entanglement

In this refreshing, elegantly written study Donaldson brings together two streams of creative constructivism—Process thought and Jainism—and artfully demonstrates the centrality of animals in the formation of our living universe. Drawing from her experiences with the Jaina community in India, she suggests new ways in which to engage the world with tenderness, care, and nonviolence.
Christopher Key Chapple, Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology, Loyola Marymount University

This significant, interdisciplinary work challenges the systemic domination of animals and offers possible worldviews that can refuse human-centeredness. Donaldson’s wise book is an invitation to, and guide for, enlarging our creaturely community. It couldn’t be more timely.
Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat

Donaldson brings together the latest developments in critical animal studies with an astonishingly wide range of worldviews, ontologies, and ethical frameworks, providing a novel reconception of life and relation aimed at overcoming the dualisms that have plagued Western thought and culture. Her persistent desire to rethink a more generous mode of planetary coexistence opens up possibilities for living differently that will be of profound interest and importance for theorists and activists alike.
Matthew Calarco, California State University, Fullerton, Author of Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Derrida to Heidegger

Donaldson makes clear that the claim of all living things for our concern calls not for marginal adjustments but for deep transformation of attitudes and behavior. She shows that our growing recognition of our interaction with our natural environment will not gain adequate realization without a change at the level of metaphysics. Her presentation of Whitehead and Jainism as real options for the needed change is convincing.
John B. Cobb Jr., Claremont School of Theology, Co-founder of the Center for Process Studies

With passion and erudition, Creaturely Cosmologies makes a plea to take metaphysics seriously, arguing that our postmodern metaphysical-eliminationist stances are self-refuting (in that they too are metaphysically-grounded), and only serve to perpetuate deeply ingrained violent ways of being in the world. Through the examples of the Indian tradition of Jainism, with its ancient call to nonviolence, and Whitehead’s Process Philosophy, with its exploration of life as dynamic processes of becoming, Donaldson engages us in a fascinating discussion that, ultimately, forces us to consider the implications of our contemporary ways of thinking, and of being, in a world made up of others.
Anne Vallely, University of Ottawa, Author of Guardians of the Transcendent: An Ethnography of a Jain Ascetic Community

Donaldson does something here that should command the attention of animal scholars and advocates both: by bringing Whitehead and Jainism into a surprisingly fecund dialogue with Foucault and Deleuze, she manages to rehabilitate metaphysics for a posthumanist age. Creaturely Cosmologies is animal studies in a new key, unafraid to mix religious tradition with postmodern theory.
Ralph R. Acampora, Hofstra University