Habits We (Can) Share: Human-Animal Encounters
Philosophers frequently focus on the differences between humans and (non-human) animals. To be sure, there is much to say about the differences in perception, movement, sensation, and the world-directedness of humans and spe-cific animals. In this paper, however, with the help of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Helmuth Plessner’s phenomenological approaches, I want to focus on what humans and specific animals have in common. Concretely, I will try to investigate in what sense humans and some (non-human) animals (can) share lasting situa-tions and therefore share habits acquired in these situations. To share a situation does not merely mean that both humans and animals are spatially or temporally situated, i.e. that we have a common environment or habitat. Instead, sharing a situation presupposes the direct contact, participation, and interaction of agents that extends over a longer period of time. As such, I want to argue that one essen-tial characteristic of such situations, namely the one that makes it sustainable and particular at the same time, is the formation of habits in both humans and animals. In this sense, situations and lasting habits in agents mutually presuppose each other. In the first part of my paper, I will present the general conditions of embod-iment that human and animals have in common and that make it possible to share situations. In the second part, I refer to examples of concrete situations we (can) share with animals: how we interact, mutually respond to each other, but also how we indirectly attune our behavior to one another or to the respectively generated situation. Consequently, I want to argue that we not only have experiences and habits in common with animals with similar embodiment and sensory experiences, but rather that we can share experiences and habits in a stronger sense, that is to say, that we develop habits together in repeated cooperation.
Wehrle, M. (2018). Habits We (Can) Share: Human-Animal Encounters. In The Situationality of Human-Animal Relations. Perspectives from Anthropology and Philosophy. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/112471