The Vitality of Humanimality: From the Perspective of Life Phenomenology


  • Stephen Smith





While interactions with other animate beings seem mostly to serve our own human interests, there are, at times, fugitive glimpses, passing contacts, momentary motions, and fleeting feelings of vital connection with other life forms. Life phenomenology attempts to realize these relational, interactive and intercorporeal possibilities. It challenges the language game of presuming the muteness and bruteness of non-human creatures and, at best, of speaking for them. It critiques the capture of non-human species within the inhibiting ring of human functions and forms to reveal feelings and flows of interspecies commonality. It brings to expression the experiences of being moved to act and speak with others who do not share the human tongue. In part a critique of the logocentric, anthropocentric phenomenologies of intentionality, life phenomenology is more positively a means of coming to terms with the life-affirming kinetic, kinesthetic and affective dynamics of interspecies relationality. I take up the interrogation of this phenomenality, this humanimality, with the assistance of phenomenological scholarship that lends fuller credence to the experiences we have of moving in concert with other animate beings. In doing so, I aim to show the important insights that life phenomenology offers us in fostering not only greater appreciation of, responsivenss to and connection with other animals, but also in indicating the qualitative dynamics of relating with greater animate consciousness to one anotherof our own animal kind.