Being Humans When We Are Animals


  • Pär Segerdahl Uppsala University


human-animal contrast, metaphysical vertigo, biology, moral sensitivity, ape language


This paper investigates forms of metaphysical vertigo that can appear when contrasts between humans and animals are challenged. Distinguishing three forms of vertigo and four ways of differentiating humans and animals, the paper attempts to achieve a perspicuous representation of what could be termed “the difficulty of being humans when we are animals”; or alternatively, “the difficulty of being animals when we are humans”.

Author Biography

Pär Segerdahl, Uppsala University

Pär Segerdahl is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Uppsala University. His publications include Language Use: A Philosophical Investigation into the Basic Notions of Pragmatics (Macmillan, 1996); Kanzi’s Primal Language: The Cultural Initiation of Primates into Language (Palgrave, 2005); and (as editor) Undisciplined Animals: Invitations to Animal Studies (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011). He has published papers on linguistic theory, conversation analysis, philosophy of mind, Wittgenstein, ape language research, animal welfare, and gender theory. His work on these themes is held together by an overarching interest in the question of the nature of philosophy. He currently works at two research centres at Uppsala University: at the Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics, and at the Centre for Gender Research, where this paper was written.


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