The Ekstatic Animal in Jan Patočka’s Phenomenology
announced: 30. 05. 2018
In this contribution, I discuss the thesis of the ontological difference between human and animal (zvíře) existence within the framework of Jan Patočka’s phenomenology. According to Patočkian phenomenological thought, this difference is possible only if the process of differentiation itself ripens – during its development – the seeds of openness to the truth that have been sowed in the land of the animal. Therefore, the dynamic of human elevation from the animal dimension constantly drags existence towards the field of the living. As a consequence, an inevitable yet unconcluded movement of mutual confluence between the animal mode of being and that of the human is brought to light and renovated. In his fleeting analysis of the animal, Patočka often seems to establish a net ontological difference between the ‘animal being’ and the ‘human being’. Nevertheless, the following article seeks to demonstrate that his phenomenological work is threaded with insights that allow us to rethink the rapport between human existence and animal life qua a relationship of mutual overlap and conglobation. In his most explicit, albeit fleeting, references to animal being, Patočka seems to establish a clear distinction between the ontological structure of the animal and the human. He marks such distance by denoting certain traits that he deems particular to human existence. Nevertheless, the present study aims to show that the Patočkian existence can affirm itself only by rescuing the biological roots of the possibilities within which it lives and the vital layer of the phenomenal field to which it opens. In doing so, human existence, as is argued in the last paragraph, brings to maturation an original ek-static tendency which already vibrates in the animal’s relationship with its own environment.
The Ekstatic Animal in Jan Patočka’s Phenomenology is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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