The animal is not a thing: On the ambiguity of the animal in the existential analytic of Dasein

Diana Aurenque


In many anthropological conceptions, the definition of man appears as an amendment or specification of the animal being (for example as rational animal). Martin Heidegger is one of the few philosophers who, by contrast, does not define man as a human being but as Dasein, thus escaping an anthropomorphic conceptualization. Contrary to tradition, the animal to Heidegger is not a thing, but also not existing being. In this sense, the Heideggerian notion of Dasein allows to investigate the boundaries between animal and man not only in an innovative, but also quite productive way. For, although in Being and Time Heidegger is emphatic in arguing that only human being as Dasein has the form of being called “existence”, his ambiguity surrounding the particular mode of being of the animal explains why important contemporary philosophers influencedby Heidegger – e.g. Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben – have addressed this problem. In this sense, the present contribution explores this ambiguity and aims firstto explore and to locate the question about the animal in Being and Time so that, in a second step, we can critically reflect on the consequences of that location both from a immanent point of view and also from a more general perspective interested in exploring the relationship between humans and animals.

Keywords: animal, Heidegger, Existential Analytic of Dasein, thing, ambiguity.

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ISSN: 1984-8234 - Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox

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