Becoming More-than-Human: Realizing Earthly Eudaimonia to (E)coflourish through an Entangled Ethos
Humans are creating a world of ashes. In this time of enormous death across the planet’s breadth, humans must explore alternative ways of coexisting with more-than-human beings.An average of around 25 per cent of species in assessed animal and plant groups are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss. Without such action, there will be a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years.(pp. XV–XVI)
2. More-than-Humans Abound in Media
3. Creative/Critical Animals and Media Studies
DeLuca continues, offering a transformative agenda, “As scholars, our task is not to judge an already given, static world and find it false and lacking, but to encounter and explore a ceaselessly changing, creative, eventful pluriverse” (p. 176). The need for this creative turn is as startingly as it is sobering. Contemplating visual media studies at large and DeLuca’s commitments to creativity, Hariman and Lucaites (2019) remark, “The only ‘rational’ response” to exigent catastrophe “might be an even larger commitment to ‘irrational’ hope: to look desperately but positively for the means for ‘possible new worlds’” (p. 345). CCS offers an alternative to critique, one that is primed to address the calamitous consequences of the Anthropocene.Imagine a Cultural Studies dominated not by critique but creativity, not reason and rationality but feeling and affect, not ideology but experience, not subjects but assemblages, not moralism but understanding, not lonely humans but the pandemonium of things.(p. 171)
4. More-than-Human Communication
5. Earthly Eudaimonia
6. Entangled Ethos
7. (E)coflourishing through the More-than-Human Evolution
7.1. Separation, Descent, and Encounter
7.2. Ecological Attunement
The more-than-human octopus invites the human into the wild through her entangled ethos and the human attunes to the web of relations that comprise the kelp forest ecology. As the human learns ecological attunement, his ethos entangles with the more-than-human world to provide insight into how this ecosystem flourishes.Finally…there she was. It’s like…a human friend, like, waving and saying, “Hi, I’m excited to see you”. And I could feel it, like from one minute to the next, “Okay…I trust you, human. And now you can come into my octopus world.”(emphasis added)
The octopus’s entangled ethos reveals the ecosystem’s earthly eudaimonia: the kelp forest “nurtures” the creatures within so that they may flourish amongst one another. Earthly eudaimonia is present not through how one organism flourishes somehow separate from the others, but how the web of creatures (e)coflourish by interrelating. Now that the human has learned ecological attunement, he is ready for the next lesson.And it hit me how she was teaching me so much…People ask, “Why are you going to the same place every day?” But that’s when you see the subtle differences. And that’s when you get to know the wild. So when these thousands of threads going off from the octopus to all the other animals, predator and prey, and then this incredible forest…just nurturing all of this. And now I know how the helmet shell is connected to the urchin and how the octopus is connected to the helmet shell.(emphasis added, Ehrlich and Reed 2020)
7.3. Sensitized Compassion
Through his unfolding relationship with the more-than-human octopus, the human attains the capacity for sensitized compassion. The human’s ethos becomes entangled through compassionate relations with the more-than-human world. In doing so, the human recovers from his burnout to regain relational capacity for his family. However, he also extends that compassion to animals by becoming capable of sensitively caring for wild animals as he would a loved one. His ethos, once fraught, is repaired by entangling with the more-than-human world.And then this almost felt, psychologically, like I was…going through a type of dismembering. You start thinking about your own death and your own vulnerability, worried about your family, your child. I hadn’t been a person that was overly sentimental towards animals before. I realized I was changing. She was teaching me to become sensitized to the other. Especially wild creatures.(emphasis added)
As the human’s sensitized compassion for nonhuman animals grow, so too does his capacity to (e)coflourish with more-than-humans through peacefully, earthly coexistence. He can now participate in earthly eudaimonia: to (e)coflourish with a range of more-than-human beings. Thus, a rhetorical appeal emerges on a mode of life centered on the concern for nonhuman animals. Through this eudaimonic rhetoric, the film invites the audience to (e)coflourish by becoming sensitive to the predicament more-than-human animals face in a world dominated by human activity. In this vision for (e)coexistence, nonhuman animals are no longer pushed to the margins, but instead are central to worldly concerns. The human––and perhaps the audience––are now ready for a significant evolution.She’d made me realize just how precious wild places are…You slowly start to care about all the animals, even the tiniest little animals. You realize that every one is very important. To sense how vulnerable these wild animals’ lives are, and actually, then how vulnerable all our lives on this planet are.
7.4. A More-than-Human Evolution
By representing the octopus as a more-than-human, the film creates a space to cherish and respect animals. Now, by evolving the human to a more-than-human status, the documentary animalizes the human so that he joins nonhuman animals in their lively goodness. He can participate in earthly eudaimonia not as separate to more-than-human animals, but as one himself. The audience, through the sense of care that arises from the film’s representations, are also invited to become-more-than human. While the audience may not grasp the deep connection to nature perhaps necessary to become more-than-human, the aspiration is made tangible. This desire is eudaimonic in nature, meaning the audience is invited to live a mode of life where they too are animalized, while being sensitively compassionate to nonhuman animals amidst their human-caused challenges. The audience is offered this animalized earthly eudaimonia through an entangled ethos, or the ethics that emerges when one’s actions are considered in the context of other living beings.My relationship with the sea forest and its creatures deepens…week after month after year after year. You’re in touch with this wild place, and it’s speaking to you. Its language is visible. I fell in love with [the octopus] but also with that amazing wildness that she represented and… and how that changed me. What she taught me was to feel…that you’re part of this place, not a visitor.(emphasis added, Ehrlich and Reed 2020)
The child gains “a gentleness”––a sensitized compassion––to care for more-than-human animals through the lessons taught to him by his father. Yet, the child realizes a deep connection with nature to become more-than-human not solely through his father’s teachings. A scene shows the child contemplating the natural world through play as the human reflects, “And I think that’s the thing that thousands of hours in nature can teach a child.” The child evolves to also become more-than-human through spending an exceptional amount of time maturing in a wild place. Now the child can (e)coflourish with his fellow more-than-humans through realizing earthly eudaimonia. By stripping the encumbrance of adulthood from sensitized compassion and animality, the audience is further invited to participate in this alternative mode of existence. The result is a final appeal for earthly eudaimonia, persuasive through its innocent simplicity.He’s like a little marine biologist now. He knows so much. And very powerful swimmer. And as he gets older, he seems to want to do it more and more. To see that develop, a strong sense of himself…an incredible confidence, but the most important thing, a gentleness.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
When describing nonhuman animals as “wild” or “wildlife”, I mean those in nautre or who are free-living (non-domesticated). I do not mean “wild” in a derogatory sense.
- Abram, David. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. New York: Pantheon Books. [Google Scholar]
- Ackrill, John Lloyd. 2001. Essays on Plato and Aristotle. Oxford: Clarendon Press. [Google Scholar]
- Adams, Tony E. 2013. Animals as Media: Speaking Through/With Nonhuman Being. In Perspectives on Human-Animal Communication: Internatural Communication. Edited by Emily Plec. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Almiron, Núria, and Matthew Cole. 2015. Introduction: The Convergence of Two Critical Approaches. In Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. Edited by Núria Almiron, Matthew Cole and Carrie P. Freeman. London: Routledge, pp. 1–7. [Google Scholar]
- Almiron, Núria, Matthew Cole, and Carrie P. Freeman, eds. 2015. Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Almiron, Núria, Matthew Cole, and Carrie P. Freeman. 2018. Critical Animal and Media Studies: Expanding the Understanding of Oppression in Communication Research. European Journal of Communication 33: 367–80. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Andrews, Kristin. 2020. The Animal Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Animal Cognition, 2nd ed. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Aristotle. 2009. The Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by David Ross. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Aristotle. 2015. Rhetoric. Translated by William Rhys Roberts. Fairhope: Mockingbird Classics Publishing. [Google Scholar]
- Barnett, Joshua Trey. 2016. Impurities: Thinking Ecologically with Safe. Communication, Culture and Critique 10: 203–20. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Barnett, Joshua Trey. 2021. Rhetoric for Earthly Coexistence: Imagining an Ecocentric Rhetoric. Rhetoric and Public Affairs 24: 365–78. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Barnett, Joshua Trey, and Kevin Michael DeLuca. 2019. The Conditions that Form Us: Media, Affect, Social Change. Culture, Theory and Critique 60: 99–106. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Baumlin, James S. 1994. Introduction: Positioning Ethos in Historical and Contemporary Theory. In Ethos: New Essays in Rhetorical and Critical Theory. Edited by James S. Baumlin and Tita French Baumlin. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, pp. xi–xxxi. [Google Scholar]
- Bekoff, Marc. 2013. Preface: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why it Shouldn’t be All About Us. In Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation. Edited by Marc Bekoff. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp. xiii–xxvvii. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Best, Steve, Anthony J. Nocella, Richard Kahn, Carol Gigliotti, and Lisa Kemmerer. 2007. Introducing critical animal studies. Journal for Critical Animal Studies 5: 4–5. [Google Scholar]
- Brown, Lesley. 2009. Introduction. In The Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Brunner, Elizabeth. 2019. Image Politics: A Call to Struggle, Play, and Hope. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 16: 350–59. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Burford, Caitlyn, and Julie “Madrone” Kalil Schutten. 2017. Internatural Activists and the “Blackfish Effect”: Contemplating Captive Orcas’ Protest Rhetoric Through a Coherence Frame. Frontiers in Communication 1: 1–11. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Cole, Matthew. 2015. Getting (Green) Beef: Anti-Vegan Rhetoric and the Legitimizing of Eco-Friendly Oppression. In Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. Edited by Núria Almiron, Matthew Cole and Carrie P. Freeman. London: Routledge, pp. 107–23. [Google Scholar]
- Colombini, Crystal. 2019. The Rhetorical Resistance of Tiny Homes: Downsizing Neoliberal Capitalism. Rhetoric Society Quarterly 49: 447–69. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Cox, Robert. 2007. Nature’s “Crisis Disciplines”: Does Environmental Communication have an Ethical Duty? Environmental Communicatio 1: 5–20. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Cudworth, Erika, and Tracey Jensen. 2015. Puppy Love? Animal Companions in the Media. In Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. Edited by Núria Almiron, Matthew Cole and Carrie P. Freeman. London: Routledge, pp. 185–201. [Google Scholar]
- Davis, Heather, and Zoe Todd. 2017. On the importance of a date, or, decolonizing the Anthropocene. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 16: 761–80. [Google Scholar]
- DeLuca, Kevin Michael. 1999. Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- DeLuca, Kevin Michael. 2019a. Creative Cultural Studies: Encountering African Elephants in China. Culture, Theory and Critique 60: 169–92. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- DeLuca, Kevin Michael. 2019b. Image Events Amidst Eco-Ruins: Social Media and the Mediated Earth. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 16: 329–39. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Ehrlich, Pippa, and James Reed. 2020. My Octopus Teacher [Film]. Craig Foster. Los Gatos: Netflix. [Google Scholar]
- Endres, Danielle. 2020. Environmental Criticism. Western Journal of Communication 84: 314–31. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Freeman, Carrie P. 2015. Conclusion. In Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. Edited by Núria Almiron, Matthew Cole and Carrie P. Freeman. London: Routledge, pp. 265–71. [Google Scholar]
- Freeman, Carrie Packwood, and Jason Leigh Jarvis. 2013. Consuming Nature: The Cultural Politics of Animals and the Environment in the Mass Media. In Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation. Edited by Marc Bekoff. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 257–70. [Google Scholar]
- Gruen, Lori. 2013. Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Approach to Animal Ethics. In The Politics of Species: Reshaping Our Relationships with Other Animals. Edited by Raymond Corbey and Annette Lanjouw. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 223–31. [Google Scholar]
- Hariman, Robert, and John Louis Lucaites. 2019. From Image Politics to Image Politics 2.0. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 16: 340–49. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Hayward, Matt W., Alex Callen, Benjamin L. Allen, Guy Ballard, Femke Broekhuis, Cassandra Bugir, Rohan H. Clarke, John Clulow, Simon Clulow, Jennifer C. Daltry, and et al. 2019. Deconstructing Compassionate Conservation. Conservation Biology 33: 760–68. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- IPBES. 2019. Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Available online: https://pesquisa.bvsalud.org/portal/resource/pt/biblio-1179448 (accessed on 11 January 2022).
- Kennedy, George A. 1972. The Art of Rhetoric in the Roman World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Kennedy, George A. 1992. A Hoot in the Dark: The Evolution of General Rhetoric. Philosophy & Rhetoric 25: 1–21. [Google Scholar]
- Lewis, Sophie. 2021. My Octopus Girlfriend: On Erotophobia. n+1. Available online: https://www.nplusonemag.com/issue-39/reviews/my-octopus-girlfriend/ (accessed on 14 March 2022).
- Malamud, Randy. 2015. Looking at Humans Looking at Animals. In Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. Edited by Núria Almiron, Matthew Cole and Carrie P. Freeman. London: Routledge, pp. 154–68. [Google Scholar]
- May, James M. 1988. Trials of Character: The Eloquence of Ciceronian Ethos. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, Available online: http://www.jstor.org.ezp3.lib.umn.edu/stable/10.5149/9781469615929_may (accessed on 5 January 2022).
- Merskin, Debra. 2015. Media Theories and the Crossroads of Critical Animal and Media Studies. In Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. Edited by Núria Almiron, Matthew Cole and Carrie P. Freeman. London: Routledge, pp. 11–25. [Google Scholar]
- Mills, Brett. 2010. Television Wildlife Documentaries and Animals’ Right to Privacy. Continuum 24: 193–202. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Murphy, James J., Richard A. Katula, and Michael Hoppmann. 2014. A Synoptic History of Classical Rhetoric, 4th ed. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Nakajima, Ryuta, Shuichi Shigeno, Letizia Zullo, Fabio De Sio, and Markus R. Schmidt. 2018. Cephalopods Between Science, Art, and Engineering: A Contemporary Synthesis. Frontiers in Communication 3: 1–16. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Nibert, David A. 2015. Origins of Oppression, Speciesist Ideology, and the Mass Media. In Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. Edited by Núria Almiron, Matthew Cole and Carrie P. Freeman. London: Routledge, pp. 74–88. [Google Scholar]
- Ott, Brian L., and Robert L. Mack. 2014. Critical Media Studies: An Introduction, 2nd ed. Malden: John Wiley & Sons. [Google Scholar]
- Parrish, Alex C. 2013. Adaptive Rhetoric: Evolution, Culture, and the Art of Persuasion. London: Routledge, Available online: https://doi-org.ezp3.lib.umn.edu/10.4324/9781315852218 (accessed on 7 January 2022).
- Parrish, Alex C. 2021. The Sensory Modes of Animal Rhetorics: A Hoot in the Light. London: Palgrave Macmillan. [Google Scholar]
- Peterson, M. Nils, Markus J. Peterson, and Tarla Rai Peterson. 2007. Environmental communication: Why this crisis discipline should facilitate environmental democracy. Environmental Communication 1: 74–86. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Pezzullo, Phaedra C. 2016. Unearthing the marvelous: Environmental imprints on rhetorical criticism. Review of Communication 16: 25–42. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Pezzullo, Phaedra C. 2017. Environment. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication, 1–20. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Pierson, David P. 2005. “Hey, They’re Just Like Us!” Representations of the Animal World in the Discovery Channel’s Nature Programming. The Journal of Popular Culture 38: 698–712. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Plec, Emily. 2013. Perspectives on Human-Animal Communication: An Introduction. In Perspectives on Human-Animal Communication: Internatural Communication. Edited by Emily Plec. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Plec, Emily. 2015. (Black) “Man v. Cheetah”: Perpetuations and Transformations of the Rhetoric of Racism. In Critical Animal and Media Studies: Communication for Nonhuman Animal Advocacy. Edited by Núria Almiron, Matthew Cole and Carrie P. Freeman. London: Routledge, pp. 137–53. [Google Scholar]
- Plec, Emily, Henry Hughes, and Jackson Stalley. 2017. The Salmon Imperative. Rhetoric Society Quarterly 47: 247–56. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Schutten, Madrone Kalil. 2021. Tahlequah’s International Activism: Situating the Body and the Intimacy of Grief as Evidence of Human-Caused Climate Change. In Communicating in the Anthropocene: Intimate Relations. Edited by Alexa M. Dare and C. Vail Fletcher. Lanham: Lexington Books, pp. 253–73. [Google Scholar]
- Schutten, Madrone Kalil, and Emily Shaffer. 2019. Tails from Captive Classes: Interspecies Civic Action at the Contemporary Zoo. Frontiers in Communication 4: 1–11. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Seegert, Natasha. 2014. Play of Sniffication. Philosophy & Rhetoric 47: 158–78. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Stefansky, Emma. 2020. Netflix’s Documentary ‘My Octopus Teacher’ Reveals an Emotional, Unlikely Friendship. New York: Thrillist, Available online: https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/my-octopus-teacher-review-netflix-documentary (accessed on 17 January 2022).
- Travers, Peter. 2021. ‘My Octopus Teacher’ Review: Prepare to Be Wowed by a World You Never Knew Existed. ABC News. Available online: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/octopus-teacher-review-prepare-wowed-world-knew-existed/story?id=77165852 (accessed on 17 January 2022).
- Wallach, Arian D., Marc Bekoff, Chelsea Batavia, Michael Paul Nelson, and Daniel Ramp. 2018. Summoning compassion to address the challenges of conservation. Conservation Biology 32: 1255–65. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Wisse, Jakob. 1989. Ethos and Pathos from Aristotle to Cicero. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert. [Google Scholar]
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
© 2022 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Quartz, S. Becoming More-than-Human: Realizing Earthly Eudaimonia to (E)coflourish through an Entangled Ethos. Journal. Media 2022, 3, 238-253. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3020018
Quartz S. Becoming More-than-Human: Realizing Earthly Eudaimonia to (E)coflourish through an Entangled Ethos. Journalism and Media. 2022; 3(2):238-253. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3020018Chicago/Turabian Style
Quartz, Sean. 2022. "Becoming More-than-Human: Realizing Earthly Eudaimonia to (E)coflourish through an Entangled Ethos" Journalism and Media 3, no. 2: 238-253. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3020018