Is the tick a machine or a machine operator? Is it a mere object or a subject? With these questions, the pioneering biophilosopher Jakob von Uexk\u00fcll embarks on a remarkable exploration of the unique social and physical environments that individual animal species, as well as individuals within species, build and inhabit. This concept of the umwelt has become enormously important within posthumanist philosophy, influencing such figures as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Guattari, and, most recently, Giorgio Agamben, who has called Uexk\u00fcll "a high point of modern antihumanism."
A key document in the genealogy of posthumanist thought, A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans advances Uexk\u00fcll's revolutionary belief that nonhuman perceptions must be accounted for in any biology worth its name; it also contains his arguments against natural selection as an adequate explanation for the present orientation of a species' morphology and behavior. A Theory of Meaning extends his thinking on the umwelt, while also identifying an overarching and perceptible unity in nature. Those coming to Uexk\u00fcll's work for the first time will find that his concept of the umwelt holds out new possibilities for the terms of animality, life, and the whole framework of biopolitics itself.
Jakob von Uexkull (1864-1944) was born in Estonia and educated at the University of Heidelberg and the Zoological Center in Naples. He published widely and, in 1926, founded the Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Hamburg. Joseph D. O'Neil is assistant professor of German studies at the University of Kentucky. A writer and sleight-of-hand magician, Dorion Sagan has written extensively on evolution, cybersex, and the biology of gender. Geoffrey Winthrop Young is associate professor of Central, Eastern, and Northern European studies at the University of British Columbia.
Contents Introduction: Umwelt after Uexkull Dorion Sagan Translator's Introduction A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans Foreword Introduction Environment Spaces The Farthest Plane Perception Time Simple Environments Form and Movement as Perception Marks Goal and Plan Perception Image and Effect Image The Familiar Path Home and Territory The Companion Search Image and Search Tone Magical Environments The Same Subject as Object in Different Environments Conclusion A Theory of Meaning Carriers of Meaning Environment and Dwelling-shell Utilization of Meaning The Interpretation of the Spider's Web Form Development Rule and Meaning Rule The Meaning Rule as the Bridging of Two Elementary Rules The Composition Theory of Nature The Sufferance of Meaning The Technique of Nature Counterpoint as a Motif/Motive of Form Development Progress Summary and Conclusion Afterword. Bubbles and Webs: A Backdoor Stroll through the Readings of Uexkull Geoffrey Winthrop-Young Notes Index