American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 82, Issue 3, Summer 2008

Frank Schalow
Pages 445-462

Essence and Ape
Heidegger and the Question of Evolutionary Theory

This paper develops the question of Heidegger’s stance toward evolutionary theory. It shows that evolutionary theory harbors its own set of presuppositions, which in turn can be explicated through Heidegger’s hermeneutic strategy of “formal indication.” The paper concludes that Heidegger’s account of animal life diverges from that of evolutionary theory, not simply due to the naturalistic claims of the latter, but rather because the former places the openness of inquiry ahead of any theoretical concerns. As a result, Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology stakes out a unique territory which stands apart from either a traditionally religious or secular viewpoint, each of which risks falling into the trap of dogmatism.