Posthuman Ethics, Violence, Creaturely Suffering and the (Other) Animal: Schnurre’s Postwar Animal Stories

Humanities. 2016;5(3):69 DOI 10.3390/h5030069


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Humanities

ISSN: 2076-0787 (Print)

Publisher: MDPI AG

LCC Subject Category: General Works: History of scholarship and learning. The humanities

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Belinda Kleinhans (College of Arts and Sciences, Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, Texas Tech University, Box 42071, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA)


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

The othering of whole groups of people in a biopolitical discourse during the Third Reich has caused many to re-assess ethics that is based on specific categories. Adorno and Horkheimer reckoned with both Enlightenment as well as classical “humanist” discourses to question whether they imply structures that lead to fascism. In the wake of these arguments, classical humanist (or sometimes also called anthropocentric) ethics have also been criticized by philosophers such as Agamben, Derrida, and Wolfe. It is thus time to work on posthuman(ist) ethics that avoids the traps of a narrow human ethics and that is inclusive rather than exclusive. The short stories by postwar German author Wolfdietrich Schnurre, written in the wake of the Holocaust, reckon with a purely human-centered worldview and draw a bleak picture of an anthropocentrically structured and valued world. Under the surface that portrays a speciesist world, Schnurre employs a network of sub-discourses to “cave out” carno-phallogocentric discourses and point towards a different, post-human ethics. This paper examines how anthropocentric discourses of power lead to inhumane violence and how a different approach to the Other, based on empathy and shared vulnerability, might just move us beyond it.