Humans and Animals

Philosophy Today 61 (3):655-678 (2017)
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Abstract

This article is a further philosophical engagement with the human-animal relation. The argument presented is that neither animals nor humans can be reduced to a biological essence characterised as ‘bare life,’ but live according to the call of a way of life. Heidegger’s thinking on the polis in terms of the animal-human relation is addressed in order to show how he reduces animality to a biological sub-stratum, while the human becomes the privileged bearer of the word. Heidegger’s deep-seated humanism is thus exposed, as is that of Bataille. The latter’s Hegelian stance on animality and humanity is revealed as the embodiment of the dialectic of necessity and freedom. The article is a critique of the view that freedom and transcendence can only be arrived after so-called basic biological needs (the needs of ‘bare life,’ or necessity) have been satisfied.

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