restricted access 1 The Phenomenon of Life
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ONE The Phenomenon of Life Human, Animal, and World in Heidegger’s 1929–30 Freiburg Lectures [I]n what way, and whether, the Being of animals, for example, is constituted by a “time” at all, remains a problem in its own right. —Heidegger, Being and Time Do animals have Angst? —Heidegger, The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics Throughout his Marburg and Freiburg lecture courses of the 1920s, as in his magnum opus Being and Time (1927), Heidegger never ceased to emphasize the central importance of the phenomenon of world—a phenomenon that, he claimed, had never been adequately appreciated or understood in the history of philosophy, if indeed it had been seen at all.1 As Hannah Arendt astutely noted, Heidegger’s concept of world “in many respects stands at the center of his philosophy.”2 While Being and Time emphasized world as a referential totality of signification, enabling the disclosure of meanings that first “found the possible Being of word and language ” (SZ, 87), and as a phenomenon to which Dasein was always already exposed in advance, that to which Dasein could only inevitably return in whatever degree of explicitness (76), it also highlighted the fundamental attunement of Angst as that which “first discloses world as world” (187). The “peculiar temporality” of Angst “holds” Dasein in the presence of its ownmost thrownness, yet in such a way as to hold the moment or Augenblick of possible decision “at the ready” (344). Such being held, the present study will argue, enables the distinctive phenomenon of human ªthos. For in disclosing Dasein in its “being toward” its ownmost possibility for Being, the temporality of Angst thereby first opens Dasein to the possibility of coming toward itself within and from out of its 1 2 THE TIME OF LIFE thrownness, a “coming toward itself” that Heidegger elucidates as the originary phenomenon of the future (325), of Dasein’s freedom, understood as a coming to be free for its ownmost potentiality for Being. We should note from the outset that, by contrast with Greek ontology, for which the world is disclosed by the theøria of philosophy and science, the primary disclosure of the presencing of a world is, on Heidegger’s account, accomplished not by contemplative or philosophical knowledge, but by a fundamental pathos or attunement (Befindlichkeit); and such pathos is fundamental in attuning, in advance of any explicit deliberation or discursive understanding, the way in which we are held in the presencing of the moment—in short, in attuning our entire ªthos. In this first chapter, concerned with the phenomenon of life and with the time of life, we seek to approach what is distinctive and unique about the temporality of human life—or in Heidegger’s terms, about the relation between the finite Being (Dasein) of human life and the happening of a world—by accompanying Heidegger’s phenomenological analyses of animal life as presented in his 1929–30 Freiburg lecture course, The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. What emerges from these analyses is, we shall argue, that the very sense of life—the sense of presence and of the time of life—is quite different in the case of human being and animal respectively. In and of itself, of course, the claim that there is a decisive distinction between the Being of the human and that of other living beings is quite traditional and, where it issues in humanist or theological claims as to the superiority of the human species, not unproblematic, to say the least. Yet what is radical about Heidegger’s phenomenological analyses here, we try to show, is that this distinction is never entirely reducible to an existing difference between different species of living being (and in this sense is not of the order of presence), but is itself temporalized in the “ekstatic” temporality of the world into which human Dasein is thrown. The happening of this temporal distinction not only enables the Being and worldly dwelling of human beings as intrinsically “protoethical,” that is, as ethical in the originary sense of the word ªthos; it also implicates such dwelling in what Heidegger calls an event of world-formation (Weltbildung). With regard to human ªthos, the time of human life becomes visible as held in the tension between the presence of the moment and the poietic happening of a greater whole.3 3 THE PHENOMENON OF LIFE THE SOUL, UNITY OF THE BODY A living being is generally understood as an organism that has various...