Before the abyss: Agamben on Heidegger and the living [Book Review]

Continental Philosophy Review 40 (1):1-16 (2007)
Abstract
In his recent book The Open: Man and Animal, Giorgio Agamben examines the relation between the essence of the human and the living in Martin Heidegger’s thought. Focusing on the treatment of this relation in Heidegger’s 1929/30 lecture course “The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics,” Agamben argues that the dimension of the open, which is central to Heidegger’s understanding of the human essence, can be seen as implicitly dependent upon Heidegger’s account of the essence of animality. In this essay, I argue that Agamben’s reading is insufficient because it has not taken full account of the specifically temporal character of the openness proper to Heidegger’s understanding of the human essence. In conclusion, I present an alternative account of the way in which Heidegger framed his descriptions of animality in the 1929/30 lecture course as articulating the openness characteristic of human being.
Keywords Heidegger  Agamben  Humanism  Animality
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