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•   Last Week of Classes!! Can you believe it!
•   Final essay papers are due next class
•   Final exam questions are posted
•   Structure of the exam
•   For next class read Sartre „Bad Faith‟ and
    „Existentialism and Humanism‟
Heidegger Continued: Our Basic
    Defining Characteristic
• What is that? Our „being-in-the-world‟
• „But to Dasein, Being in a world is something that
  belongs essentially. Thus Dasein‟s understanding
  of Being pertains with equal primordiality both to
  an understanding of something like a „world‟, and
  to an understanding of the Being of those entities
  which become accessible within the world‟ (471)
• Why is this important? (1) The metaphysics
  behind it. As Gadamer would say, „the relation
  takes precedence over the relata‟
           Our Basic Defining
• We are „being-in-the-world‟; therefore, Descartes,
  Hume, Russell‟s etc. starting point of a self-
  contained subject that needs to „break out‟ into the
  world is already a mistaken philosophical
  beginning and misunderstanding of who we are.
  Without others and a world there would be no
• Some illustrations here: (i) historical work; (ii)
  the reading of texts; (iii) game playing
• What these illustrations are supposed to….
 Our basic defining characteristic
• ….accomplish is that we can make sense of the
  idea of a „middle ground‟ between subject and
  object. How the „relation‟ takes precedence over
  the relata.
• 2) As a response to the skeptic – the relationship
  between metaphysics and epistemology.
• No „ontological gap‟ that needs to be traversed. If
  anything as „being-in-the-world we are already
  that so-called ontological gap
      The Ontological Analytic
• „The kind of Being which belongs to Dasein is
  rather such that, in understanding its own Being, it
  has a tendency to do so in terms of that entity
  towards which it comports itself proximally and in
  a way which is essentially constant – in terms of
  the „world‟. In Dasein itself, and therefore in its
  own understanding of Being, the way the world is
  understood is, as we shall show, reflected back
  ontologically upon the way in which Dasein itself
  gets interpreted.‟ (473)
      The Ontological Analytic
• This relates to the question of self-knowledge we
  posed earlier. What are the entities closest to us
  that we have dealings with?
• Objects.
• Thus, it is in terms of these entities that we have
  the habit of interpreting ourselves: „reflected back
  ontologically upon the way in which Dasein itself
  gets interpreted‟.
• This is not to be our approach
      The Ontological Analytic
• We have fundamentally a different mode of being
  than objects. It was a mistake, though naturally
  done, to interpret ourselves with the same
  categories and understanding as we do objects.
  How we relate to our own mortality and finitude
  which fundamentally defines the „self‟ we are
  involves different considerations than that
  employed in the study of objects. It is mere
  prejudice to „sweep this under the rug‟ or describe
  such considerations as „merely psychological‟
  with ontological truth being the studies of objects.
      The Ontological Analytic
• „To put it negatively, we have no right to resort to
  dogmatic constructions and to apply just any idea
  of Being and actuality to this entity, no matter how
  „self-evident‟ that idea may be; nor may any of the
  „categories‟ which such an idea prescribes be
  forced upon Dasein without proper ontological
  consideration‟ (473)
  Question: can you see how Ryle got his idea of a
  „category mistake‟ from his reading of Heidegger
  – though Heidegger is not a behaviourist ?
     The Ontological Analytic
• We must begin from the ground up. But
  how do we start?
• Heidegger states that we must start with our
  „average everydayness‟.
• Not a la Descartes, with an epistemological
  agenda and criteria. We begin by analyzing
  how matters stand in everyday mundane
              Time: the Key
• „We shall point to temporality as the meaning of
  the Being of that entity which we call „Dasein‟. If
  this is to be demonstrated, those structures of
  Dasein which we shall provisionally exhibit must
  be Interpreted over again as modes of
  temporality.‟ (473)
• The Thesis: every ontological/philosophical
  understanding that we possess comes with it a
  certain understanding of time which enables such
  an understanding.
               Time: the Key
• Time is the condition for the possibility of
  philosophical understanding, it is central.
• For example,
• An object: understood in terms of constant
  presence. Time conceived of as a linear series of
  „now‟ points. The past as gone is thus not „real‟
  while the future as „not yet‟ is similarly not „real‟.
  What is „real‟ here is the „now‟.
• The human being: a different relation to time.
     The task of Destroying the
       History of Ontology
• The importance of History?
• Three Key points here.
• (1) We are historical beings, radically, essentially,
  historical. The self is an entering into a historical
  transmission of ideas that needs to be considered
  and thematized in its own right. It needs to be
  critiqued and philosophically appropriated? We
  need to examine our cultural heritage of meanings
  that have in many ways formed us and ask …..
     The Task of Destroying the
        History of Ontology
• ….after its „foundations‟. What is its basis? Do
  they attempt to hide a fundamental truth; namely,
  cultural heritages may have no basis at all? What
  if such a proliferation of values and meanings that
  our cultural heritage gives us to justify and assure
  certain ways of living and also certain ways of
  surveillance and judgment of others is at root a
  fleeing in the face of the anxiety that it has no
  ultimate ontological foundation at all: that „the
  essence of grounds arises from the abyss‟?
     The task of Destroying the
       History of Ontology
• How is this radical? Think of the philosophers
  you have studied. When Descartes secured his „I
  think, therefore I am‟ and built his house of
  knowledge upon such a basis, is what historically
  preceded him important?
• Did Hume need to think historically to piece
  together impressions?
• Main thesis here: previous philosophy attempts to
  think ahistorically in securing truth. A mistake.
         Importance of History
• (2) We study history not because we have some
  peculiar interest in the past but rather because of
  the possibilities buried in the past for our future.
• The future takes precedence: the past comes to us
  from out of the future. It is in how we view our
  future that facts from the historical past becomes
  salient for us and are noticed.
     The Importance of History
• (3) The philosophical questions we ask, what
  makes „sense‟ to us, are posed due to the historical
  tradition we inhabit and have inherited:
• „When tradition becomes master, it does so in
  such a way that what it „transmits‟ is made so
  inaccessible, proximally and for the most part, that
  it rather becomes concealed. Tradition takes what
  has come down to us and delivers it over to self-
  evidence: it blocks our access to those primordial
  „sources‟ from which the categories…
     The Importance of History
• „…and concepts handed down to us have been in
  part quite genuinely drawn‟.(476)
• Notice here the negative critique of tradition: the
  primary experiences becomes ossified into a
  tradition that has forgotten itself. They are simply
  received as „self-evident‟ truths and what has
  „grounded‟ them in terms of fundamental
  experience and insight, such „self-evidence‟
  becomes lost.
• The same is true of our question concerning being.
     The Importance of History
• Now, if we wish to pose our philosophical
  question concerning the meaning of Being we
  have to go back to where it all started
  philosophically for us – ultimately to the ancient
  Greeks: the beginnings of the Western
  philosophical and scientific tradition. Here is
  where we start our critique to regain what those
  fundamental experiences were that started us on
  the path to philosophizing.
     The Importance of History
• „We understand this task as one in which by
  taking the question of Being as our clue, we are to
  destroy the traditional content of ancient ontology
  until we arrive at those primordial experiences in
  which we achieved our first ways of determining
  the nature of Being – the ways which have guided
  us ever since….In thus demonstrating the origin of
  our basic ontological concepts by an investigation
  in which their „birth certificate‟ is displayed..‟
     The Importance of History
• We are to critique this tradition back to its primary
  experiences and consider whether such
  experiences of philosophical questioning has been
  corrupted – i.e., in some of Heidegger‟s writings it
  was those first fateful steps taken in Greek
  philosophy that led to our technological world and
  in general ultimately to Nihilism: from Plato to
  Nietzsche encapsulates our Western Philosophical
  The Method: Phenomenology
• What‟s that?
• „„Phenomenology‟ means …to let that which
  shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in
  which it shows itself from itself.‟(477)
• The great battle cry of phenomenology in the early
  20th century was a return „to the things
  themselves‟. It was believed that philosophical
  thinking got lost in its abstractions and concept-
  ualizations, puzzles, so much so that it lost sight of
  our concrete lived experience of the world.
  The Method: Phenomenology
• It was time to recapture our concrete lived
  experience of phenomenon and let that be the
  guide to our philosophy and not false theoretical
  dichotomies. Our ontology should reflect
  concrete, lived, experience and not the
  abstractions and idealities that „objectivistic‟
  thinking promotes. For many „continental‟
  philosophers of that time this theme translates into
  a critique of the sciences: they attempt, according
  to their methodology and idealizations to….
  The Method: Phenomenology
• to present the world as an omniscient god
  would perceive it rather than how we
  experience it. This attempt – as Merleau-
  Ponty called it in the late 40s, the „view
  from nowhere‟ – was considered to be itself
  a false philosophical ideal and abstraction.
  Thus, the preliminary conception of
  phenomenology was to let that which shows
  itself be seen from itself.
  The Method: Phenomenology
• To make explicit what is hidden:
• „What is it that by its very essence is necessarily
  the theme whenever we exhibit something
  explicitly? Manifestly, it is something that
  proximally and for the most part does not show
  itself; but at the same time it is something that
  belongs to what thus shows itself, and it belongs to
  it so essentially as to constitute its meaning and its
  ground.‟ (478)
  The Method: Phenomenology
• This corresponds to our basic theme: being
  is what is closest to us, right under our
  noses, but for that reason it is what is
  farthest. We need to unearth what we mean
• An interesting manner in which
  phenomenon gets „covered up‟: the
  The Method: Phenomenology
• „Whenever a phenomenological concept is drawn
  from primordial sources, there is a possibility that
  it may degenerate if communicated in the form of
  an assertion. It gets understood in an empty way
  and is thus passed on, losing its indigenous
  character, and becoming a free floating thesis.‟
• We can make some interesting linkages between
  this characteristic of the assertion and what has
  been said regarding tradition earlier.
  The Method: Phenomenology
• But here: two senses
• (1) What we would call the „talking head‟
  syndrome. Our primary experience gets
  „embodied‟ in an assertion. However,
  assertions have the characteristic that as
  communication flows it can get severed
  from such primary experiences and become
  an „object‟ in its own right.
  The Method: Phenomenology
• Have you ever had the experience in talking to
  someone, say of a somewhat technical matter,
  where they are using all the concepts and
  theoretical terms correctly, in that they know what
  follows from what in the use of such concepts, but
  you can‟t help thinking that they do not have a
  clue what they are talking about? Happens all the
  time in philosophy.
• (2) The assertion is hypostatized as a thing itself
  either as a „proposition‟ and/or „belief state‟.
  The method: Phenomenology
• Phenomenology is this task of making explicit
  according to the „things themselves‟
• And this leads to the fundamental theme of
  philosophical investigation:
• „Being is the transcendens pure and simple‟ (479)
• Why is this important?
• A de-centering of the subject. The „transcendental‟
  origins of all of our understandings are not
  „categories of the understanding‟ or a „philosophy
  of mind‟ but rather an understanding of Being.
Heidegger, „The Fundamental
 Question of Metaphysics‟
     The Fundamental Question
• „Why are there essents rather than nothing‟ or
  „Why is there a world rather than nothing at all‟
• The most far reaching, deepest and fundamental of
• What kind of answer does such a question seek?
• (1) An ultimate foundation – the absolute
  conception of reality.
• (2) No such foundation: the abyss
• (3) A need for such foundations; however,
    The Fundamental Question
• they are not ultimate or fundamental – if
  anything, they arise „out of the abyss‟.
• Characteristics of the Question
• -it asks of everything, not just ourselves
• The very asking of it is an event.
• But, why ask the question? What does the
  question teach us? What is it asking for?
• We need to clarify the question itself.
       Clarifying the Question
• According to Heidegger what the question asks of
  us is not what we initially think
• Think of Copleston – the question most naturally
  leads to God for him: pure contingency is
  unacceptable and thus we are led to a necessary
• For Heidegger this is taking beings and anchoring
  them in a being that acts as their causal ground.
• However, this is NOT what the question means or
  asks about.
        Clarifying the Question
• „God himself, the increate creator, “is.” One who
  holds to such faith can in a way participate in the
  asking of our question, but he cannot really
  question without ceasing to be a believer and
  taking all the consequences of such a step. He
  will only be able to act “as if”… On the other
  hand a faith that does not perpetually expose itself
  to the possibility of unfaith is no faith but merely a
  convenience….Quite aside from whether these
  words from the Bible are true or false for faith,
        Clarifying the Question
• they can supply no answer to our question because
  they are in no way related to it‟
• No way related to it!
• The question is not supposed to invoke in us a
  chain of reasoning to „a being‟ – „God‟ or not –
  but rather open us to the very peculiarity and
  strangeness of „being‟ as the forgotten question of
• Heidegger embarks on an interesting digression of
  what should and what shouldn‟t be expected of ..
        Clarifying the Question
• Philosophy – interesting but let us stick to the
• The article proceeds in four distinct stages
• (1) A return to the Greeks to get our bearing on
  this question
• (2) A dissecting of the question to further clarify
  its intent.
• (3) The emptiness of the question to us as a sign
  of not the emptiness of the question itself but
  rather a reflection on ourselves, our loss.
       Clarifying the Question
• (4) A critique of modern humanity – a
  humanity guided by, rather absorbed by,
  calculative instrumental thinking, a strict
  means-end rationality that orders everything
  to its proper „place‟ but thereby „darkens‟
  what is special and unique about the human
     (1) A Return to the Greeks
• Notice a theme here in Heidegger‟s writings – an
  almost pristine initial Greek experience that began
  philosophy but then later through Latin and
  Roman translations, the Christian Middle Ages,
  etc., was deformed and corrupted.
• An important aside here:
• „…attempt to regain the unimpaired strength of
  language and words; for words and language are
  not wrappings in which things are packed for the
  commerce of those who write and speak…
• …It is in words and language that things come in
  being and are. For this reason the misuse of
  language in idle talk, in slogans and phrases,
  destroys our authentic relation to things‟
• Language: (1) Not an outer garment for ideas: we
  think and move in language.
• (2) Not an instrumental view of language; that is,
  language is not a tool for our communication. If
  anything language speaks through us. It is a
  medium from which we get our orientation.
• To be born into a language is to be born into
  a world – a way of looking at and
  approaching things and others.
• For the Greeks: „essents‟ = physis
• The Deformation
• „Physis‟= Physics and thus „the actual
  philosophical force of the Greek word is
  destroyed‟ (484)
         The Greek Experience
• „Why are there essents‟ is thus a form of primitive
  natural science describing and documenting
  natural processes
• But this is not the Greek experience of the
  meaning of the word:
• „It denotes self-blossoming emergence (e.g. the
  blossoming of a rose), opening up, unfolding, that
  which manifests itself in such unfolding and
  perseveres and endures in it….Physis means the
  power that emerges and the enduring realm under
         The Greek Experience
• its sway. This power of emerging and enduring
  includes “becoming” as well as “being” in the
  restricted sense of inert duration.
  Physis…emerging from the hidden, whereby the
  hidden is first made to stand‟
• That things became manifested AS things in their
  sheer presence. That we began to divide our
  understanding into „that it is‟ (its „existence‟) and
  „what it is‟ (its „essence‟) which then subsequently
  guided scientific investigations – that is the…
         The Greek Experience
• ..fundamental experience.
• Physis is thus „being itself, by virtue of which
  essents become and remain observable‟ (485) - In
  our modern times, we would say that it is our
  conceptualizations that enabled us to study things
  and theorize concerning them in the first place:
  for Heidegger that is part of the mistake of the
  modern period. That „things‟ emerged and
  became manifest to us is not a creative function of
  our mind- it happened to us just like initial ….
        The Greek Experience
• …consciousness „happened‟ to us in our
  evolutionary past – it is an aspect of being.
• So now we are said to have our orientation
  to the question: it asks about „being‟.
• To dig deeper, we now need to dissect the
    (2) Dissecting the Question
• „Why are there essents rather than nothing‟
• Are we not asking „Why are there essents‟ in
  terms of its processes and ultimate causal
• Isn‟t the „rather than nothing‟ just an appendage,
  an „ornamental flourish‟ to spice up the question
  but designed merely to highlight the first part, the
  true question?
• Heidegger: No.
    (2) Dissecting the Question
• In fact, the „rather than nothing‟ is where the true
  weight of the question lies.
• We are to ask of the „nothing‟: the confrontation
  with nihilism and non-being
• We are to ask whether Nietzsche was wrong to
  speak of „being‟ as an empty vacuous pursuit.
• We are to ask whether the sheer presence of things
  means anything to us anymore and what prevents
  this meaning, if it does mean anything, from
  slipping into non-being
    (2) Dissecting the Question
• What!! Absurdity built upon Absurdity!!
• If a philosophy talks about nothing then it is good
  for nothing.
• Absurdity in two respects: (I) offends logic and
  scientific thinking.
• (II) Don‟t play with nihilism: our culture needs
  values and its mythologies to stabilize it. People
  need faith, whatever that faith is in.
                     Of (1)
• „He who speaks of nothing does not know what he
  is doing. In speaking of nothing he makes it into
  something. In speaking he speaks against what he
  intended. He contradicts himself. But discourse
  that contradicts itself offends against…”logic.”
  To speak of nothing is illogical. He who speaks
  and thinks illogically is unscientific…Such a
  speaking about nothing consists entirely of
  meaningless propositions‟ (488)
                       Of (I)
• Heidegger‟s response here: Logic may not be the
  „court of justice, established for all eternity‟ (488).
  There may well be meaningful and fundamental
  questions that it cannot formalize or grapple with.
  In fact, it may well be that logic is not self-
  sufficient in itself but rather derives its validity
  from an altogether different source: an
  understanding of being itself which we are
                      Of (1)
• As for science: „The man who wishes truly to
  speak about nothing must of necessity become
  unscientific. But this is a misfortune only so long
  as one supposes that scientific thinking is the only
  authentic rigorous thought, and that if alone can
  and must be made into the standard of
  philosophical thinking.‟
• But the scientist and logician are not the only ones
  who can speak truths according to their
  methodologies and rules.
                   Of (1)
• There is the philosopher and poet. In fact,
  for the deepest of human truths it is only the
  philosopher and poet who knows how to
  utter them.

• Of (II) That is for us to find out. Is the
  question empty? How is it peculiar? That
  leads us to (3).
      (3) The Peculiarity of the
• „A few examples may be helpful. Over there,
  across the street, stands the high school building.
  An essent. We can look over the building from all
  sides, we can go in and explore it from cellar to
  attic, and note everything we encounter in that
  building: corridors, staircases, schoolrooms, and
  their equipment. Everywhere we find essents and
  we even find them in a very definite arrangement.
  Now where is the being of this high school? …
  The Peculiarity of the Question
• …For after all it is. The building IS. If anything
  belongs to this essent, it is its being; yet we do not
  find the being inside it….How does it stand with
  being? Can you see being? We see essents; this
  chalk for example. But do we see being as we see
  color and light and shade? Or do we hear, smell,
  taste, feel being? (491)
• The question appears bizarre and weird.
• It appears odd or simply empty.
  The peculiarity of the question
• But is it empty? Is Nietzsche right that such a
  question is merely a „vapor and a fallacy‟ (492)?
• Heidegger: No. There is a lot philosophically
  interesting and important to say concerning this
• What is of particular importance here is
  understanding how, through what philosophical
  movements and understandings, the question of
  being came to appear to us as empty.
  The peculiarity of the question
• „For ultimately what matters is not tha the word
  “being” remains a mere sound and its meaning a
  vapor, but that we have fallen away from what this
  word says and for the moment cannot find our
  way back; that it is for this and no other reason
  that the word “being” no longer applies to
  anything, that everything, if we merely take hold
  of it, dissolves like a tatter of cloud in the
  sunlight.‟ (493)
      (4) A critique of modern
• The „emasculation of the spirit through
  misinterpretation‟ (495)
• In Four Stages
• (1) Spirit = Intelligence
• An intelligence whose distinguishing
  characteristic is in „examining and calculating
  given things and the possibility of changing them
  and complementing them to make new things‟
       (4) A critique of modern
• (2) Intelligence = a tool
• An instrumental view of reason/spirit
• Reason is strategic planning. It is defined by a
  performance criterion.
• It computes probabilities and strategies to a certain
  goal: a means-end rationality.
• Concerning what „matters‟ to us, what is of
  significance to us either (a) it has nothing to say –
  i.e., as in some versions of liberalism it is up to
  you the individual to determine this or (b)…
  A critique of modern humanity
• …an attempt is made to give a purely objective
  value neutral description of what matters and what
  are our goals – i.e., as one sees in evolutionary
  accounts, what „matters‟ is survival and this is true
  „objectively‟ apart from any interpretation on our
• Heidegger would not be satisfied with either (a) or
  A critique of modern humanity
• (3) Such an instrumental view of reason leads to
  social planning and organization.
• Everything is put in its right „place‟.
• Everything is nicely ordered, within set
  boundaries: we can have „poetry for the sake of
  poetry, art for the sake of art, science for the sake
  of science‟ (496)
• Thus everything is placed under the overall rubric
  of consumption.
  A critique of modern humanity
• In a sense, here everything becomes „gutted‟ – i.e,
  once a painting makes its way to a museum to be
  hung on a wall and admired by the „cocktail‟
  crowd, art is lost.
• (4) From (1) – (3) we have our end result:
• „In the end the spirit as utilitarian intelligence and
  the spirit as culture become holiday ornaments
  cultivated along with many other things. They are
  brought out and exhibited as a proof that there is
  no intention to combat culture or favor barbarism.‟
  A critique of modern humanity
• In the end, we basically have boredom – it is not
  even interesting enough to cause anxiety or alarm.
• Yet for those attuned:
• „Spirit is neither empty cleverness nor the
  irresponsible play of the wit, not the boundless
  work of dismemberment carried on by the
  practical intelligence; much less is it world-reason;
  no, spirit is a fundamental knowing resolve toward
  the essence of being.‟ (496)