A journal of academic theology

Umwelt-Theory, Self-Transcendence, and Openness-to-God: Attending Theologically to Human Animality

Christian theological anthropology has been critiqued for its habit of sharply distinguishing the human from the nonhuman and for thereby depreciating human animality in one form or another. Within the context of modern theological anthropology, the result of this habit has often been a vision of the human according to which the less animal we are, the more self-transcendent and God-open we are. In light of recent theological and interdisciplinary interest in the Umwelt-theory of Jakob von Uexküll (1864–1944), I indicate how Uexküll’s influential account of animal Umwelten can be a resource for theologians seeking to articulate human self-transcendence and God-openness in a manner that avoids the depreciation—whether explicit or implicit—of our animality.
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