Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [291-92]

find the answers. But it is not true to say that the lizard merely crops up as present at hand beside the rock, amongst other things such as the sun for example, in the same way as the stone lying nearby is simply present at hand amongst other things. On the contrary, the lizard has its own relation to the rock, to the sun, and to a host of other things. One is tempted to suggest that what we identify as the rock and the sun are just lizard-things for the lizard, so to speak. When we say that the lizard is lying on the rock, we ought to cross out the word 'rock' in order to indicate that whatever the lizard is lying on is certainly given in some way for the lizard, and yet is not known to the lizard as a rock. If we cross out the word we do not simply mean to imply that something else is in question here or is taken as something else. Rather we imply that whatever it is is not accessible to it as a being. The blade of grass that the beetle crawls up, for example, is not a blade of grass for it at all; it is not something possibly destined to become part of the bundle of hay with which the peasant will feed his cow. The blade of grass is simply a beetle-path on which the beetle specifically seeks beetle-nourishment, and not just any edible matter in general. Every animal a s animal has a specific set of relationships to its sources of nourishment, its prey, its enemies, its sexual mates, and so on. These relationships, which are infinitely difficult for us to grasp and require a high degree of cautious methodological foresight on our part, have a peculiar fundamental character of their own, the metaphysical significance of which has never properly been perceived or understood before. We shall learn more about this fundamental character when we come to our concluding interpretation later on. The animal has a specific relationship to a circumscribed domain with respect to its sources of nourishment, its prey, its enemies and its sexual mates. But throughout the course of its life the animal also maintains itself in a specific element, whether it is water or air or both, in such a way that the element belonging to it goes unnoticed by that animal, although as soon as the animal is removed from its appropriate element and placed in an alien environment it instantly reacts by attempting to escape from the new element and striving to return to its original one. Thus certain things are accessible to the animal in a way which is not arbitrary and within limits which are not arbitrary either. The animal's way of being, which we call 'life', is not without access to what is around it and about it, to that amongst which it appears as a living being. It is because of this that the claim arises that the animal has an environmental world of its own within which it moves. Throughout the course of its life the animal is confined to its environmental world, immured as it were within a fixed sphere that is incapable of further expansion or contraction.

Yet if we understand world as the accessibility of beings, how can we possibly claim that the animal is poor in world--especially if poverty implies being deprived-when it is obvious that the animal does have access of some kind?

Martin Heidegger (GA 29/30) The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics