Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [402-404]

that beings are not present at hand in themselves for the animal, but animals for their part are not something present at hand for us in their being. The animal realm demands a quite specific kind of transposedness from us and within the animal realm the encircling rings of captivation are transposed into one another in a peculiar and prevalent way. It is the fundamental trait of this transposedness that first constitutes the specific character of the animal realm as a realm, i.e., the way and manner in which it holds sway within the totality of nature and of beings in general. The way in which these encircling animal rings mesh with one another, emerging from the encircling struggle of the animals themselves, points to a fundamental manner of being which is different from any kind of merely being present at hand. When we consider that in every case of such encircling struggle the living being in turn adapts something from nature itself into its own encircling ring, then we must say: What manifests itself to us in this struggle of encircling rings is an intrinsically dominant character of living beings amongst beings in general, an intrinsic elevation [Erhabenheit] of nature over itself, a sublimity that is lived in life itself.

Thus nature, whether it is lifeless nature or indeed living nature, is in no way to be regarded as the plank or lowest rung of the ladder which the human being would ascend, thus to assert his strange essence [sein Unwesen]. Yet nor is nature present at hand like the wall that it becomes when turned into an object of scientific-theoretical observation. Living and non-living nature is present at hand in the broadest sense for the everydayness of Dasein, and indeed so self-evidently that this conception is treated as the natural one that shows us the way to see the specific naturalness of nature itself. And yet, metaphysically speaking, man's ontological relationship toward nature is completely different. Nature does not stand there surrounding man with an abundance of objects—this much we can understand. Rather human Dasein is intrinsically a peculiar transposedness into the encompassing contextual ring of living beings. In this connection we should remember the following: it is not as if we were now on the same level as the animals, both them and us standing over against a wall of beings with the same shared content, as though the animals amongst themselves and we amongst them simply saw the same wall of beings in different ways, as though we were simply dealing with manifold aspects of the same. No, the encircling rings amongst themselves are not remotely comparable, and the totality of the manifest enmeshing of encircling rings in each case is not simply part of the beings that are otherwise manifest for us, but rather holds us captive in a quite specific way. That is why we say that man exists in a peculiar way in the midst of beings. In the midst of beings means: living nature holds us ourselves captive as human beings in a quite specific way, not on the basis of any particular influence or impression that nature exerts or makes upon us, but rather from out of our essence, whether we experience that essence in an originary relationship or not.

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