Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [383-85]

Uexküll is the one who has repeatedly pointed out with the greatest emphasis that what the animal stands in relation to is given for it in a different way than it is for the human being. Yet this is precisely the place where the decisive problem lies concealed and demands to be exposed. For it is not simply a question of a qualitative otherness of the animal world as compared with the human world, and especially not a question of quantitative distinctions in range, depth, and breadth-not a question of whether or how the animal takes what is given to it in a different way, but rather of whether the animal can apprehend something as something, something as a being, at all. If it cannot, then the animal is separated from man by an abyss. But in that case, transcending any supposedly terminological issue, it becomes a fundamental question whether we should talk of a world of the animal-of an environing world or even of an inner world-or whether we do not have to determine that which the animal stands in relation to in another way. Yet for a variety of reasons this can only be done if we take the concept of world as our guiding thread.

Let us once again consider both these steps together. The first step concerns the recognition of the organism as a whole-something that was already recognized by Aristotle, but here is grasped more concretely in relation to particular problems of life. It is a question of wholeness in a functional sense. This wholeness takes effect in every moment of the duration of the organism and its motility. Thus, this wholeness is not simply to be grasped as a mere result as distinct from a combination of elements. The second step concerns the insight into the way the organism is necessarily bound up with its environment, a phenomenon which was recognized in Darwinism under the concept of 'adaptation'. But with this formula it was taken precisely in a sense which led to misinterpretation of the problem, insofar as it was presupposed that the organism is something present at hand which in addition happens to stand in a relation to the environment. The organism is not something independent in its own right which then adapts itself On the contrary, the organism adapts a particular environment into it in each case, so to speak. The organism can adapt a particular environment into itself only insofar as openness for . . . belongs to its essence, and to the extent that, upon the basis of this openness for . . . which permeates its whole behaviour, a certain leeway is created within which whatever is encountered can be encountered in such and such a way, i.e., is capable of exerting an effect upon the animal through its disinhibiting function.

c) The incompleteness of our present interpretation of the
essence of the organism: the lack of any determination
of the essence of motility belonging to the living being.

It will now have become clear how these two steps in contemporary biology compel us to confront the central problem of providing an adequate determination

Martin Heidegger (GA 29/30) The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics