Kantian monads in a Platonic world. Some remarks on the philosophical background of Jakob von Uexküll’s Umweltlehre


  • Carlo Brentari




Jakob von Uexküll, Animal Subjectivity, Aristotelian Vitalism, Leibnizian Monadology, Plato’s Idealism, Current Evolutionism


This paper aims at investigating some philosophical assumptions of Jakob von Uexküll’s biological Umweltlehre. After a short exposition of Uexküll’s (Kantian) idea of the animal subjectivity, the contribution will focus on the correction strategies Uexküll puts into act, in different places of his works, to remedy the main limit of his subjectivism (i.e., the risk of solipsism). We will examine, in particular, three of these strategies, showing that they resume (explicitly or implicitly) some classical patterns of thought of Western philosophy: 1) Aristotelian (neo)vitalistic notions; 2) “Leibnizian” forms of pre-established harmony; 3) Platonic idealism. In the concluding remarks, the paper will highlight some limits of the philosophical toolkit through which Uexküll faces the problems arising from his ‘modified Kantism’. This criticism opens up the possibility to assign the role of coordinating and harmonizing the different species-specific Umwelten to evolution by natural selection (in the way some current evolutionists think of it).