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PostHumanities #12: A Foray Into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: With a Theory of Meaningby Jakob Von Uexkull
Synopses & Reviews
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 Uexküll 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 Uexküll "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 Uexküll'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 Uexküll'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.
Book News Annotation:
This volume contains two key works on speculative biology written by Uexküll in the 1930s, in which he explores the umwelt--the unique social and physical environment built and inhabited by an animal species and by individual animals within that species. In A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans, the author argues that biology must account for nonhuman perceptions, and suggests that natural selection does not provide an adequate explanation for the present orientation of a species' morphology and behavior. In A Theory of Meaning, Uexküll identifies an overarching and perceptible unity in nature. This edition also includes an introduction by Dorion Sagan and an extensive afterword by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young. Annotation Â©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The influential work of speculative biology-and a key document in posthumanist studies-now available in a new, accurate English translation.
About the Author
Jakob von Uexküll (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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Umwelt after Uexküll
A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans
The Farthest Plane
Form and Movement as Perception Marks
Goal and Plan
Perception Image and Effect Image
The Familiar Path
Home and Territory
Search Image and Search Tone
The Same Subject as Object in Different Environments
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
Summary and Conclusion
Afterword. Bubbles and Webs: A Backdoor Stroll through the Readings of Uexküll
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