Jainism’s renowned compassion toward nonhuman animals is derived from the vulnerability and finitude we share with them. The tradition recognizes the impetus to avoid suffering and preserve life as basic to all living beings and emphasizes our shared existential condition. Nevertheless, Jainism treats the condition of being human as privileged because of its capacity for radical bodily detachment. This article, based on long-term ethnographic work among Jain communities in India, brings Jainism’s traditional understandings of the human/nonhuman distinction into discussion with contemporary philosophical and anthropological reflections on the category of the “animal.”
BestS. (2009). The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: Putting Theory Into Action and Animal Liberation into Higher Education. Institute for Critical Animal Studies7(1) 9-52. http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/volume-vii-issue-i-2009/.
BuchananB. (2012). Being with Animals: Reconsidering Heidegger’s Animal Ontology. In A.Gross & A.Vallely (Eds.) Animals and the Human Imagination: A Companion to Animal Studies (pp. 265-288). New York: Columbia University Press.
ChappleC. (2006). Inherent Value without Nostalgia: Animals and the Jaina Tradition. In P.Waldau & K.Patton (Eds.) A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion Science & Ethics (pp. 241-248). New York: Columbia University Press.
VallelyA. (2014). Being Sentiently with Others: The Shared Existential Trajectory among Humans and Nonhumans in Jainism. In N.Dalal & C.Taylor (Eds.) Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics. Rethinking the Nonhuman (pp. 38-55). New York: Routledge.