What Is It Like To Become a Rat? Animal Phenomenology through Uexkull and Deleuze & Guattari


Shores C.

STUDIA PHAENOMENOLOGICA, vol.17, pp.201-221, 2017 (Journal Indexed in AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 17
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.5840/studphaen20171710
  • Title of Journal : STUDIA PHAENOMENOLOGICA
  • Page Numbers: pp.201-221
  • Keywords: Deleuze & Guattari, Thomas Nagel, Jakob von Uexkull, Umwelt, becoming-animal

Abstract

We respond to a phenomenological challenge set forth in Thomas Nagel's "What Is It Like To Be a Bat?," namely, to seek a method for obtaining a phenomenological description of non-human animal experience faithful to an animal's first-person subjective perspective. First, we examine "translational" strategies employing empathy and communication with animals. Then we turn to a "transpositional" strategy from Uexkull's Umwelt theory in which we objectively determine the components of a non-human animal's subjective world of experience and then map those coordinates onto our own subjective world. While this method gives us partial access to the animal's "perception-world" aspect of its Umwelt, it does not inform us about what it is like to live in the interactive, "effectworld" aspect. To better overcome this limitation, we add a "transformational" approach derived from Deleuze's & Guattari's notion of "becoming-animal," in which we take on an animal's manners and capacities for interacting with the other objects and creatures in its world.