Jakob von Uexküll: A Foray Into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: A Picture Book of Invisible Worlds (1934–) [DE, EN, FR]

22 March 2014, dusan

““Is the tick a machine or a machine operator? Is it a mere object or a subject?” With these questions, the pioneering biophilosopher Jakob von Uexküll embarks on a remarkable exploration of the unique social and physical environments that individual animal species, as well as individuals within species, build and inhabit. This concept of the umwelt has become enormously important within posthumanist philosophy, influencing such figures as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Guattari, and, most recently, Giorgio Agamben, who has called Uexküll “a high point of modern antihumanism.”

A key document in the genealogy of posthumanist thought, A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans advances Uexküll’s revolutionary belief that nonhuman perceptions must be accounted for in any biology worth its name; it also contains his arguments against natural selection as an adequate explanation for the present orientation of a species’ morphology and behavior. A Theory of Meaning extends his thinking on the umwelt, while also identifying an overarching and perceptible unity in nature. Those coming to Uexküll’s work for the first time will find that his concept of the umwelt holds new possibilities for the terms of animality, life, and the framework of biopolitics.”

German edition
With illustrations by George Kriszat
Publisher J. Springer, Berlin, 1934, 102 pages
New edition, with the essay “Bedeutungslehre”, with a Foreword by Adolf Portmann, Rowohlt, Hamburg, 1956, 182 pages

English edition
Translated by Claire H. Schiller
In Instinctive Behavior: The Development of a Modern Concept, pp 5-80
Publisher International Universities Press, New York, 1957
Reprinted in Semiotica 89(4), 1992, pp 319-391

New English edition, with the essay “A Theory of Meaning”
Translated by Joseph D. O’Neil
Introduction by Dorion Sagan
Afterword by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young
Publisher University of Minnesota Press, 2010
Posthumanities series, 12
ISBN 9780816658992
272 pages

Reviews and commentaries: Levi R. Bryant (2010), Robert Geroux (Humanimalia, 2012), Franklin Ginn (Science as Culture, 2013).

Streifzüge durch die Umwelten von Tieren und Menschen (German, 1934)
Streifzüge durch die Umwelten von Tieren und Menschen. Bedeutungslehre (German, 1934/1956)
A Stroll Through the Worlds of Animals and Men (English, trans. Claire H. Schiller, 1957)
A Stroll Through the Worlds of Animals and Men (English, trans. Claire H. Schiller, 1957/1992)
Mondes animaux et monde humain suivi de La théorie de la signification (French, trans. Philippe Muller, 1965)
A Foray Into the Worlds of Animals and Humans, with a Theory of Meaning (English, trans. Joseph D. O’Neil, 2010)

See also chapters 10-11 of Agamben’s The Open: Man and Animal: Umwelt; Tick (2002/2004)