Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type




First Advisor

Dr. Anthony Abiragi


This thesis analyzes the way the relationship between humanity and the nonhuman has been historically defined in Western society with particular attention to the way that this relationship has shifted in modernity. The central claim is that the way this relationship has been understood has led to mass exploitation, subjugation, and domination of the nonhuman by humanity. This claim is heavily reliant on a discussion of disenchantment as elaborated upon by Max Weber, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger will also provide support for this central claim though these figures don’t explicitly refer to the term disenchantment. The first half of the thesis will include critique and analysis of the way the relationship has been traditionally understood in order to assert the relevance and severity of the destructive nature of the relationship in modern Western society. This discussion will mostly include reference to Immanuel Kant as his contributions to modern philosophy and ethics are unrivaled. Following the critical discussion will be a discussion of potential solutions and responses to the problem of disenchantment as it effects the human/nonhuman relationship. This half will include conversations with Martin Buber, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Michel Foucault. Though these three thinkers do not explicitly address the issue of disenchantment or the destructive nature of the human/nonhuman relationship their discussions will be seen to be both applicable and affirming of a solved ethics.