Environmental Philosophy

Volume 5, Issue 2, Fall 2008

Species of Thought

Jacob Metcalf
Pages 99-128

Intimacy without Proximity
Encountering Grizzlies as a Companion Species

Using grizzly-human encounters as a case study, this paper argues for a rethinking of the differences between humans and animals within environmental ethics. A diffractive approach that understands such differences as an effect of specific material and discursive arrangements (rather than as pre-settled and oppositional) would see ethics as an interrogation of which arrangements enable flourishing, or living and dying well. The paper draws on a wide variety of human-grizzly encounters in order to describe the species as co-constitutive and challenges perspectives that treat bears and other animals as oppositional and nonagential outsides to humans.