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“Meat-eating is never neutral”: RIP Mary Midgley, 99

Having diagnosed the focal issue for animal rights and vegan/vegetarian activism almost before either cause had coalesced into visibility as a movement, Midgely went on to address many other conundrums of human existence.

MERRITT CLIFTON: “The symbolism of meat-eating is never neutral,” wrote Mary Midgely on page 27 of her 1983 opus Animals & Why They Matter. “To himself,” Midgely observed, “the meat-eater seems to be eating life. To the vegetarian, he seems to be eating death. There is a kind of gestalt-shift between the two positions which makes it hard to change, and hard to raise questions on the matter at all without becoming embattled”.

Having diagnosed the focal issue for animal rights and vegan/vegetarian activism almost before either cause had coalesced into visibility as a movement, Midgely went on to address many other conundrums of human existence. Though animals were never far from her thoughts in her long career as author and moral philosopher, Midgely never became a superstar of the animal rights and vegan/vegetarian causes, nor of any of the many other causes she influenced.

But Midgely, 99 at her death at home in Jesmond, Newcastle on Tyne, on October 10, 2018, lived long enough to inspire a generation of much younger thinkers working in many directions –– and to see publication of her last book, What Is Philosophy For?, on September 20, 2018. The title of Midgely’s last book speaks to what might have been the focal question of her own existence, as a retired “ivory tower academic” who spent her last 40 years making moral philosophy accessible and relevant to others. SOURCE…

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