Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [343-45]

Only something that is capable, and remains capable, is alive. Something which is no longer capable, irrespective of whether a capacity is used or not, is no longer alive. Something which does not exist in the manner of being capable cannot be dead either. The stone is never dead because its being is not a being capable in the sense of what is instinctual or subservient. 'Dead matter' is a meaningless concept. Being capable is not the possibility of the organism as distinct from something actual, but is a constitutive moment of the way in which the animal as such is—of its being. We can and must investigate everything which belongs to the essence of the animal's being in accordance with its inner possibility. That is, we can and must investigate amongst other things the inner possibility of capacity as such, so that we can recognize in our investigation a peculiar range of quite different kinds of possibility. We characterized capability as a having and offering of possibilities. But now we must examine this offering of possibilities, this specific way of being possible, this potentiality, according to its own inner possibility as something that belongs to the essence of capability.

§58. The behaviour and captivation of the animal.

a) Preliminary interpretation of behaviour as the wherefore of animal capability. Animal behaviour as drive in distinction from human comportment as action.

Although we have recognized capacity as a constitutive moment of the animal's specific manner of being, there is still something missing in our observation and determination of capability and of everything to which our investigation has led, as long as we have not considered what the capacity in each case is for, and how again we are to determine this wherefore. We talk about the capacity for seeing, seizing etc. Seeing, hearing, grasping, digesting, hunting, nest-building, reproduction—what are they? They are processes in nature, processes of life. Certainly they are. And if the stone warms up in the sunshine, that too is a process, just as when a leaf is propelled by the wind. These are all 'processes', events of nature. Yet justified as this general term is here, it immediately becomes quite vacuous when we recognize that seeing, for example, is an utterly different process from the warming of a stone. In other words, the term we use is not a matter of indifference, insofar as it is supposed to tell us something about what is named by the term. Of course all naming and terminology is arbitrary in a certain sense. But whether the terminology chosen in any given case is suitable or not can only be decided by looking at the things themselves which are named and intended in each case. The terminological arbitrariness disappears immediately if, as is usually the case, the terms used