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Chiasmi International

Volume 15, 2013

Existence, Diacritics, Animality

Christiane Bailey
Pages 219-250
DOI: 10.5840/chiasmi20131519

Le partage du monde
Husserl et la constitution des animaux comme « autres moi »

While phenomenologists claim to have overcome solipsism, most have not pushed beyond the boundaries of individual human intersubjectivity to that of individuals of other species. Yet Husserl recognizes the existence of an interspecific intersubjectivity, an intersubjectivity beyond the limits of the species. He even goes so far as to say that we sometimes understand a companion animal better than a foreign human. However, even if he admits that many animals are capable of a life of subjective consciousness and live in a world of shared meaning, he does not consider them to be “persons” according to his strict conception that associates personhood with rationality, maturity, normality and historicity. Being a “person” in its most primordial sense – and its most decisive as the basis for political, legal and ethical conceptions – simply means being the subject of a surrounding world, of a common world and a biographical existence. Distinguishing two meanings of the concept of person allows us to recognize that animals share transcendentality; they are not simply alive but have a life that is both biographical and communal, even if they are not able to reflect on their own conscious life in order to consider their place in the chain of generations and to adopt what Husserl calls a “vocation”. The Husserlian phenomenology of anomalies allows us to recognize that animals truly come under the figure of the other, that they are alter ego subjects of a conscious life, and as such they participate fully, just as do children, the insane, and foreigners, in the co-constitution of the spiritual world.

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