Humans and animals: way of life and transcendence

John Lechte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is a further philosophical engagement with the human-animal relation. The argument presented is that neither animals nor humans can be reduced to a biological essence characterised as 'bare life,' but live according to the call of a way of life. Heidegger's thinking on the polis in terms of the animal-human relation is addressed in order to show how he reduces animality to a biological sub-stratum, while the human becomes the privileged bearer of the word. Heidegger's deep-seated humanism is thus exposed, as is that of Bataille. The latter's Hegelian stance on animality and humanity is revealed as the embodiment of the dialectic of necessity and freedom. The article is a critique of the view that freedom and transcendence can only be arrived after so-called basic biological needs (the needs of 'bare life,' or necessity) have been satisfied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-678
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophy Today
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Agamben
  • Animal
  • Bataille
  • Heidegger
  • Human
  • Indistinction
  • Polis
  • Transcendence


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