Vital Powers: Cultivating a Critter Community


  • Stephen Smith Simon Fraser University





This paper is based on the eco-pedagogical aspiration to live with domesticated animals in accordance with Alphonso Lingis's Community of those who have nothing in common. I draw upon
this remarkable text as well as Lingis's animal writings in describing moments and movements of pathic community. Such a community in affective affiliation with one another, where symbiotic relations are possible and bodily kinships are exercised, exemplifies what is possible in more rational human communities where domesticating impulses seek to harness the vital powers of coconstitutive life. Of telling significance are predatory threats, the manner in which they appear, and the protectionist responses they occasion. By recasting these threats and responses in terms of
motional affordances, it may well be possible to move with non-human creatures, both literally and figuratively, beyond the anthropocentric confines of domestication. Animals with whom we
appear to have nothing specifically, or in species terms, in common can show us how to cultivate more pathic communities of our own kind.