Stoats are my buddies
Eagleton argues that animals have no language therefore they have no culture therefore we cannot morally sympathise with them. This he contrasts with humans where despite the differences between tribes we are all still "sign-wielding beasts". Obviously this is true but he says "you cannot celebrate solidarity with a stoat". This may be interpreted in one of two ways:
- You cannot get drunk with the stoat in celebration
- You cannot get drunk by yourself because you both have common cause.
The first would be an absurd argument, the second is incorrect.
I may not celebrate stoats in particular but when I watch anything by David Attenborough I am celebrating what we as living beings have in common. When I look at Venus, or beyond to the milky-way, or at Hubble's photo of galaxies upon galaxies, then I certainly feel solidarity with the thrush alseep in the branches, the cicadas in the shrubs, the grass beneath my head. It's then I realise that I am not I, but a teaming we of competing genes and forms, forever changing, unmeasurable and so beyond our life-spans and records of history as to be almost religiously sublime. What is the unity of purpose? It is living.
Life and attitude are not words and paintings, they are the heaving breaths of copulating humans, the Mediterreanian sunlight heating the waxy leaves of a wild orange tree, a scorpion stinging a dog, a starving mother drowing her new-born so her other children don't starve, a garden eel retreating into its sandy tunnel, a cell dividing for the very first time.
Whether or not you can find solidarity with a stoat is a matter of perspective. But it's there if you choose to look, and it's not about language and it's not about culture.