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§58 [347-49]

do with the selfhood of the human being comporting him- or herself as a person—this way in which the animal is absorbed in itself, and which makes possible behaviour of any and every kind, as captivation [Benommenheit]. The animal can only behave insofar as it is essentially captivated. The possibility of behaving in the manner of animal being is grounded in this essential structure of the animal, a structure we will now elucidate as captivation. Captivation is the condition of possibility for the fact that, in accordance with its essence, the animal behaves within an environment but never within a world.

We usually employ the word 'captivation' to describe a particular state of mind in human beings, one which can persist for a greater or lesser period of time. We use it then to refer to that intermediate state somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness. In this sense we can say that captivation is also a psychiatric concept. From everything we have said so far it should by now be obvious that in talking of captivation as the essential structure of the animal there can be no question of simply transferring this state known to us from our own human experience into the animal as a permanent trait of the latter. We certainly cannot think of the animal as permanently captivated, in distinction from human beings—which would mean that in principle the animal might also be free of this state. We do not understand the term captivation to mean simply an enduring state present within the animal but rather an essential moment of animality as such. Even if in elucidating the essence of this captivation we orient ourselves in a certain way with reference to the human state in question, we must nevertheless draw the specific content of this structure from out of animality itself. That means that we must delimit the essence of captivation with a view to animal behaviour as such. Yet behaviour itself is grasped as that specific manner of being which belongs to being capable, i.e., to instinctual and subservient intrinsic self-diverting and self-proposing.

We say that only where captivation constitutes the essential structure of a being do we find the thorough and prevalent manner of being which belongs to behaviour. This manner of being announces itself in the case of the animal in the familiar terms of seeing, hearing, seizing, hunting, fleeing, devouring, digesting, and all the other organic processes. It is not as if the beating of the animal's heart were a process different from the animal's seizing and seeing, the one analogous to the case of human beings, the other to a chemical process. Rather the entirety of its being, the being as a whole in its unity, must be comprehended as behaviour. Captivation is not some state that accompanies the animal, into which it sometimes temporarily falls, nor is it a state in which it simply finds itself permanently. It is the inner possibility of animal being ,itself. We now ask: to what extent does that which we understand by captivation announce itself in hearing, seizing etc., and in such a way that we describe this 'activity' as behaviour? We do not regard captivation as a state that merely accompanies behaviour, but as the inner possibility of behaviour as such.


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