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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 17, 2017

Phenomenology of Animality

Luis Rabanaque
Pages 309-327

Dorion Cairns’ Contributions to a Phenomenology of Animism

The aim of the present paper is to advance some considerations on the question of animism from a phenomenological perspective. Firstly, we deal with the problems of the access to the phenomenon, and of its interpretation on the part of contemporary anthropology. Both problems are connected with the gap which seems to exist between so-called primitive, animistic societies, and so-called civilized, scientific cultures. Secondly, since Husserl does not devote specific analyses to this issue, we address Dorion Cairns’ methodology and concrete investigations. Our major claim is that his reflections, largely inspired by Husserl’s notion of sense-transfer (Sinnesübertragung), may provide a better understanding of the gap mentioned above and perhaps a way to overcome it by disclosing a genetic common root not only of animistic and modern mentalities, but also of pantheism and theism. A final section is devoted to Husserl’s scattered considerations on the subject which might throw additional light on Cairns’ claims.