Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Ecocritics and EcoskepticsA Humanist Reading of Recent French Ecofiction$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Jonathan F. Krell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622058

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622058.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

Ethical Humanism and the Animal Question: Vercors’s You Shall Know Them (Les Animaux dénaturés)

Ethical Humanism and the Animal Question: Vercors’s You Shall Know Them (Les Animaux dénaturés)

Chapter:
(p.95) Chapter 4 Ethical Humanism and the Animal Question: Vercors’s You Shall Know Them (Les Animaux dénaturés)
Source:
Ecocritics and Ecoskeptics
Author(s):

Jonathan F. Krell

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789622058.003.0005

Vercors’s You Shall Know Them, published shortly after WWII, grapples with the question of how to define humans and how to differentiate them from animals. This “animal question” is closely linked to the “law of the strongest” and a long history of racism, imperialism, and capitalism, as exposed in Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. Archeologists, looking for fossils, discover a tribe of intelligent ape-like hominids in New Guinea, and no one can determine if they are human or another species of great apes. A businessman wants to castrate most males, intern them in camps, and use them as cheap labor in his wool mills, an ominous reference to the Nazi concentration camps that had so recently shaken Vercors’s humanist convictions, laying bare the bestiality of humans. After a long trial, it is decided that the hominids should be considered human, because, worshipping fire, they manifest a spirit of religion. Like Camus’s “Human Crisis” lecture of 1946, You Shall Know Them is a call for the restoration of human dignity, annihilated by the savagery of the war.

Keywords:   Vercors (Jean Bruller), Les Animaux dénaturés, ethical humanism, humane moralism, environmental ethics, animal philosophy, Hannah Arendt, Comte de Gobineau, Albert Camus, existentialism

Liverpool Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.