My research is interdisciplinary, engaging with animal studies, cultural studies, critical theory, history of ideas, philosophy, game studies, English studies, media studies, film studies, and the conceptual dimensions of other fields. To date, I have pursued research into three related domains:
(1) Animals. I am interested in the ambiguous roles that non-human animals have been required to play, frequently unacknowledged, in the texts of philosophy, critical theory, and elsewhere. From Buridan’s ass to Schopenhauer’s porcupines, from Austin’s pigs to Derrida’s cat, we find a mischievous menagerie of animals pressed into service, or suppressed by the notion of an amorphous ‘animality’. I have discussed the instructive animals and fabulous races that inhabited the bestiaries and monstrous manuscripts of the Middle Ages. I am especially interested in apes, ancient and modern, and have written on the taxonomy of the chimpanzee, to which genus Homo sapiens truly belongs.
(2) Anthropocentrism. I am interested in the variety of anthropocentric arguments and assumptions that permeate, but are rarely intrinsic to, a wide range of philosophies, from Kant’s critical idealism to Moore’s common sense realism, from Whorf’s linguistic relativism to Heidegger’s hyperhumanism. My work has traced the relations and disparities between a number of these human-centred starting-points and the philosophical systems into which they are imported. My writing has been informed particularly by Nietzsche’s perspectivism, Wittgenstein’s pragmatism, Foucault’s historicism, and by the counter-teleological approach of evolutionary theory.
(3) Games. I am interested in digital games, especially in their impact and import as a medium or technology, and in the distinct forms of participation and engagement that they make possible. From the immersive environments of Civilization to the persistent play of In Memoriam, from the inviting alterity of Dog’s Life‘s ‘Smellovision’ to the powers and capacities of Titan Quest‘s virtual creatures, digital games are endlessly illustrative of the pervasive play-element of culture. I have made particular use, in this regard, of McLuhan’s provocative probes into the operation and effects of media technologies.