Ontological Nightfall: Interspecies Chimeras as Secular Blasphemy
Martin Fitzgerald, The Ohio State University
Interspecies chimeras are unique in terms of the range of arguments levelled against their creation, frequently proceeding via claims that they are repugnant, that their creation would undermine our collective dignity, or that they threaten the metaphysical certainty that is necessary for our social order. I argue that the strangeness of the arguments against interspecies chimeras occurs because interspecies chimeras constitute a form of secular blasphemy; they represent the profane (animality) transgressing the sacred (humanness). To argue this, I survey the current literature on interspecies chimerism. I look toward the history of hybrid creatures, particularly the medieval understanding of dog-heads, to show why, when humanism was not as central to society, hybridity was not as existentially threatening. I conclude with an analysis of S. Brent Plate’s theory of blasphemy to show why it is that interspecies chimeras appear as a form of secular blasphemy in contemporary society.