Environmental Philosophy

Volume 6, Issue 1, Spring 2009

Bryan E. Bannon
Pages 21-34

Animals, Language, and Life
Searching for Animal Attunement with Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty

This essay elaborates the meaning of Merleau-Ponty’s conception of life as “a power to invent the visible” by differentiating it from Heidegger’s claim, in The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, that the essence of humanity is to be world-forming. By considering how history and language influence conceptions of life, the essay argues that the various forms of animal life are structurally similar to human life, while at the same time are different insofar as different species exhibit distinct ways of living their bodies. Thus, one can maintain a metaphysical continuity between different bodies, while ensuring their difference and specificity.