Beginning with attention to the anxious exploration of human relations with other animals and wildness in The Epic of Gilgamesh and Euripides’s Bacchae, this chapter engages the question of the animal in Heidegger, Derrida, and present critical animal debates. It argues that Merleau-Ponty’s work on the animal question anticipated and moved considerably beyond the positions of most present theorists. By examining his attention to scientific animal studies in embryology, Uexküll’s umwelt theory, ethology, and human evolution in the Nature lectures, the chapter closes with a description of his acknowledgment of an evolutionary continuity between humans and other animals. It demonstrates his recognition of symbolic behavior, culture, and proto-linguistic activities among animals that manifest a “strange kinship” with humans.
Keywords: The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Bacchae, Heidegger on animals, Derrida on animals, critical animal studies, embryology, ethology, human evolution, Uexküll’s umwelt theory, “strange kinship” of humans and animals
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