Category Archives: Aristotle

Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals Press Release

My new book, Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals, to be published officially on 15 July 2014

Press release:

Please email for contact details, review copies, photographs, and author biography


Disrupting the Economy of Genocide
Encountering Other Animals Amid the Necropolitical Exploitation of Life

Published by Pavement Books, Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals by Richard Iveson offers radical new possibilities for encountering and thinking with other animals, and for the politics of animal liberation. Arguing that the machinations of power that legitimize the killing of nonhuman animals are thoroughly entangled with the ‘noncriminal’ putting to death of human animals, Zoogenesis shows how such legitimation consists in a theatrics of displacement that transforms singular, nonsubstitutable living beings into mute, subjugated bodies that may be slaughtered but never murdered. In an attempt to disrupt what is, quite simply, the instrumentalizing and exploitative economy of genocide, Iveson thereafter explores the possibility of interventions that function in the opposite direction to this ‘animalizing’ displacement – interventions that potentially make it unthinkable that living beings can be ‘legitimately’ slaughtered.

Zoogenesis tracks several such disruptive interventions or “animal encounters” across various disciplinary boundaries – stumbling upon their traces in a short story by Franz Kafka, in the bathroom of Jacques Derrida, in a politically galvanising slogan, in the deaths of centipedes both actual and fictional, in the newfound plasticity of the gene, and in the sharing of an inhuman knowledge that saves novelist William S. Burroughs from a life of deadly ignorance. Such encounters, argues Iveson, are zoo-genetic, with zoogenesis naming the emergence of a new living being that interrupts habitual instrumentalization and exploitation. With this creative event, a new conception of the political emerges which, as the supplement of an ethical demand, offers potentially radical new ways of being with other animals.

“one of the most thorough and exhaustive treatments of philosophy’s recent encounters with animality … With both impressive scope and penetrating critique, Zoogenesis allows us to think through a comprehensive rearticulation of ‘the human’ in a radically subversive manner” – John Ó Maoilearca, Professor of Film Studies at Kingston University, London, and author of Postural Mutations: Laruelle and Nonhuman Philosophy (2015).
“Encounters between human living, and other living entities, and between fictive and imaginary, Aristotelian and Cartesian animals are here staged with respect to competing notions of life and value, of writing and of literature. … Richard Iveson reads a variety of sources with insight and discrimination, contributing highly effectively to this recently emergent and rapidly expanding new life form: zoogenesis” – Joanna Hodge, Professor of Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University, and author of Derrida on Time (2007).

Richard Iveson is Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia. He has published widely on the “animal question” in contemporary philosophy and politics. His current project concerns the emergence of “posthuman” entities, the very existence of whom/which undermine traditional borders between the living and the nonliving.

As different as life from nonlife: Aristotle’s multiplicity and Heidegger’s directive


The following is the abstract of my paper to be presented at this year’s Society of European Philosophy (SEP) conference at Kingston as part of a panel which includes Professor Catherine Malabou:


Heidegger’s notion of es gibt posits both the triumph of indifference (in the form of “technological nihilism”) and its overcoming by way of a rare directive. Put simply, this “directive” gives rise to a “thoughtful speaking” that retrieves “humans from the intractability of nonbeings,” that is, from the status of mass-produced artifacts.[1] Nonetheless, claims Heidegger, “humanity” is “rushing headlong toward this goal of producing itself technologically,” a goal that would explode humanity’s “essence qua subjectivity” and move it into a “region” of absolute relativism synonymous with the nihilism of contemporary global capitalism. As such, “subjectivity” is “tranquilized” to the point of artifactual nonbeing, understood as “the most extreme nonessence in relation to φύσις-ούσία.”[2]

Heidegger thus posits two – and only two – ways of being: living being and the nonliving artifact. Similarly, he posits two – and only two – “beginnings”: metaphysics and the “other thinking.” Moreover, it is this latter which the saving directive – as event of transition – aims toward. Here, then, we have two opposed beginnings and two opposed directions: a down-going into “mere” objecthood and a transitional “over-coming” that ultimately frees humanity from the machinic nihilism definitive of global capital.

Transitional thinking, brought into play by the directive, thus “returns” humanity to its essential “tractability” understood as that which “naturally” separates the human from the nonliving artifact. To illustrate this, Heidegger turns to the notions of γενεσις and φύσις in Aristotle. According to Heidegger’s reading, “the various kinds” of generation are for Aristotle only two, that of technical objects and that of living beings (φύσις), of which only the latter “place themselves forth” and are thus “intrinsically twofold” insofar as they constitute “the presencing of an absencing.” However, according to Aristotle there in fact exist “multiple branches of Being,” of which φύσις is only “a particular (and in itself limited) region of beings.” Φύσις, in short, is one branch of being among others that together make up the many-branched tree of being(s). As such, Heidegger’s directive amounts to an erasure of indifference in favour of simple difference.

The central question of this paper is therefore: what if we maintain ourselves within this indifference? What if we undo this repression of multiple ways of being, each as different from every other as that of the living and the nonliving? Moreover, how might Heidegger himself help us with these questions? In a late amendment to Being and Time, for example, he states that, in contrast to Dasein, time necessarily spatialises itself quite differently for nonhuman animals. Further, I consider whether indifference, synonymous with “detachment without objectivity,” in fact must open itself to those multiple, radically other branches of being affirmed by Aristotle.

[1] Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event).

[2] “On the Essence and Concept of Φύσις in Aristotle’s Physics B, 1.”