A Simple Guide to Being and Time

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He was responsible for the firing of Jewish professors, and gave several pro-Nazi speeches. Reconciling his life to his philosophy is a problem. In the following, I will only mention a few critical voices. All rights reserved. Here is a short video clip where Heidegger discusses the difference between philosophy and thinking:. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Links Search.

June 7, — Jurgen Braungardt. The Basic Question: What is Being? Phenomenology and Daseins-analysis. How is authentic existence possible? Basically, all ontology, no matter how rich and firmly compacted a system of categories it has at its disposal, remains blind and perverted from its ownmost aim, if it has not first adequately clarified the meaning of Being, and conceived this clarification as its fundamental task.

Dreyfus, They are rather those from whom, for the most part, one does not distinguish oneself—those among whom one is too… By reason of this with-like Being-in-the-world, the world is always one that I share with Others. For since the beginning of philosophy and with that beginning, the Being of beings has showed itself as the ground arche, aition, principle.

The ground is that from which beings as such are what they are in their becoming, perishing, and persisting as something that can be known, handled, and worked upon. As the ground, Being brings beings to their actual presencing. The ground shows itself as presence. The present of presence consists in the fact that it brings what is present each in its own way to presence. In accordance with the actual kind of presence, the ground has the character of grounding as the ontic causation of the real, as the transcendental making possible of the objectivity of objects, as the dialectical mediation of the movement of the absolute Spirit and of the historical process of production, as the will to power positing values.

What characterizes metaphysical thinking that grounds the ground for beings is the fact that metaphysical thinking, starting from what is present, represents it in its presence and thus exhibits it as grounded by its ground. Share on Tumblr. Comments Author Details Join the conversation! Can Ethics be the First Philosophy?

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It IS way of studying mtentionality by disentangling the mind's representation from both the obJects it represents and from the psychological states that do the represent- ing. By means of phenomenology, Husserl aimed to free philosophy both from insecure foundatiOns m what people happen to or even must think, and from distracting metaphysical questiOns about the "true" nature of the world.

Heidegger appropriated phenomenological method to address questions that Husserl thought he had put out of play, questions of metaphysics and ontology. In domg so he was deeply influenced by Immanuel Kant's transcendental philosophy. Kant argued that we are not able to know the constltution of the world as it IS in Itself; we are restncted to exammmg the world as It appears to us.

We are able to learn a prion the structure and rules that govern this world of appearance, and so some a priori knowledge is available to philosophical reflection. Put this simply, Kant's position sounds like a form of skepticism, but Kant added a twist that blunts its skeptical implications. Kant argued that space and time and every- thing within them are merely appearances, so that in learnmg the structure and rules of appearance, we are knowing the structure of nature itself. In rejectmg knowledge of the world as It is m Itself, Kant merely blocks claims to know an unmtelligible supersensible or supernatural realm.

Heidegger develops a synthesis of Husserlian phenomenology, Kantlan transcendental philosophy, and traditiOnal ontology. Trad- itiOnal ontology, begmnmg with Aristotle and reachmg an apex 2 CONTEXT er- in the High Middle Ages, sought to develop a theory of the baste 1il- categories of thmgs that are entities , an inventory of the furniture his of the universe. Detailed questions, such as whether there are both Jn, cats and dogs or whether duck-billed platypuses are mammals, tty. Philosophers concern themselves 'he only wtth the highest order genera of entities, such as souls, physical ing things, numbers, etc.

Martin Heidegger on The Question of the Meaning of Being (Being and Time) - Philosophy Core Concepts

Durmg the late tdy nineteenth century, neo-Scholastictsm became a strong force in the md Catholic intellectual world, and among the aspects of the Scholasti- of ctsm of the Middle Ages it revived were these ontological questions. Kant declined to refer to transcendental reflection on the structure of understanding as a form of "ontology", "The proud ess name of ontology must give way to the modest one of a mere ana- ems lytic of pure understanding. Hetdegger responds that the very distinctiOn between the l as world as we understand It and the world as it is in itself is ill-formed, s to so that to mvestigate the limits and requirements of our understand- ern ing of being is to mvestigate the only thing we can mean by "being.

In : of hts youth Hetdegger was a deeply religiOus man. After abandonmg ;elf, h1s aspiratiOns to the priesthood, he set his sights on a chair m ible Catholic philosophy, and the Church supported him with grants for hts Habilitation research on Scholastic philosophy. After completing Jgy, hts Habilitation and also failing to receive an appointment as a ad- professor of Catholic philosophy Heidegger's religious convictiOns pex began to change.

By Heidegger was ready to break formal ties with the Catholic Church, and in a letter to his friend Father Engelbert Krebs he avowed that "Epistemological msights extending to a theory ofhistoncal knowledge have made the system of Catholicism problematic and unacceptable to me, but not Christianity and metaphysics - these, though, in a new sense. It refers not to a movement or school of thought, but rather to a sensibility and a set of issues.

It is, moreover, as much a literary sensibility as It IS a set of philosophical Ideas. Heidegger was deeply mfiuenced by two existentialist philosophers, S0ren Kierkegaard and Friednch Nietzsche Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are in many respects deeply opposed in their ways of thinking, yet they share a reaction to the philosophical traditiOn that precedes them. They regard It as overly focused on the achievements of cognition and as offenng very little msight that can touch the lives of indi- viduals. It is also characteristic of existentialism to regard everyday human life as somethmg of a sham, as a distortiOn of a more dis- tressing underlying truth.

This truth, once exposed, can serve as a spnngboard for personal liberation, however, and that makes confronting It worthwhile. This interest m the everyday and the meanmgs It both embodies and covers up calls for some way of approachmg human practice and minmg its significance. It calls for a method of interpretmg meanmgful behavwr. Wilhelm Dilthey had developed JUSt such a methodology with his theory of hermeneutics. Dilthey argued that the techniques we must use m order to understand meaningful human behavior, symbols, and linguistic expressions dif- fer from those techmques used m the natural sciences.

The natural sciences seek to "explam" natural events by subsummg them under general laws that are applicable everywhere and at all times, whereas the human studies aim to "understand" meaningful human expres- swns by putting them into their concrete social and historical con- texts. The natural sciences aim for generality, whereas the human studies aim for context-sensitivity. In Being and Time Heidegger argues that meaningful human actlvlty, language, and the artifacts and paraphernalia of our world not only make sense in terms of 4 CONTEXT their concrete social and cultural context, but also only are what they are in terms of that context.

In other words, Heidegger con- verts Dilthey's methodological theses into an ontology. As we shall see below, existentialism and hermeneutics have as significant an mfluence on Being and Time as do phenomenology, ontology, and transcendental philosophy. Dunng the time of his assistantship wlth Husserl, Heidegger began workmg on what he hoped would be his first significant ptece of scholarship, a phenomenological mterpretation of Anstotle. On the basis of a draft of this work, as well as Husserl's recommen- datiOn, Heidegger secured appomtment as an "extraordinary" or assocmte professor at the University of Marburg m He also engaged in a notorious affair with his then student, Hannah Arendt, which has been the focus of much prunent interest and fodder for mtellectual gossip.

He maintained a close friendship with Karl Jaspers , a leading existentialist philosopher who taught in Heidelberg, and the correspondence between Heidegger and Jaspers makes for fascinat- ing reading. Heidegger concetved of himself and Jaspers as philo- sophical revolutiOnaries aimg to overturn the abstractiOns and ossificatiOns of the philosophical research of the prevwus gener- atwns.

This was a very creative period in Heidegger's life, and It was the time when he drafted and then published the extant portwns of Being and Time. In , while he was working on Bemg and Time, the philo- sophical faculty at Mar burg recommended Heidegger for promotion to a vacant chatr philosophy, but the promotion request was demed higher up the food chain on the grounds that Heidegger had not published any significant work ten years.

The draft of division I of Bemg and Time was not sufficient. Heidegger kept hard at work, and divisiOns I and II were published in Husserl's journal of phe- nomenology - the Yearbook for Philosophy and Phenomenological Research vol. The reception of Being and Time was strong enough to secure Heidegger Husserl's chatr in philosophy at the Umverslty of Freiburg upon Husserl's retirement in Heidegger's "inaug- ural address" as professor of philosophy at Freiburg was his "What is Metaphysics? By he was beginmng to see that the philosophical proJect on which he had been at work did not hang together, and this led him to abandon it and turn m a new directiOn altogether.

By or so, the com- plexion ofHeidegger's writmg had changed dramatically. Gone were the systematic metaphysics and ontology of his earlier years. Gone was the explicit devotion to phenomenology. Gone were the repeated forays mto Anstotle, the Scholastics, and Kant although of course he never abandoned these authors entirely. Nietzsche supplanted the earlier authors as the pnme focus of Herdegger's interest, and Heidegger like Nietzsche began to expenment with a philosophical form of cultural criticism e.

Further, poetry supplanted logic as the origmary bearer of our understanding of being. This transformation of Heidegger's thought IS generally called his "turn. In "breaking the dominion of logic" Herdegger looks to some as someone who would disregard the controlling mfiuence of consistency and clear thought.

He looks like an IrratiOnalist. This Is a misimpression, but It is true that m his later penod Heidegger rejects the standard concerns of academic philosophy - logic, theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, metaphysics. Like Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and others, Heidegger's later thought takes on a style that places it on the out- skirts of philosophy.

This alone would be sufficient to alienate many academic philosophers, who are committed to the traditional prob- lems and methods. It was not the sole factor in Heidegger's exile, however. In Heidegger became Rektor president of Freiburg Um- versity, jomed the Nazi party, and Implemented some of the Nazi program of Gletchschaltung or realignment. Heidegger's flirtatiOn with extreme nght-wing thought had been growing for a number of years. He broke off or destroyed many fnendships dunng this penod, mcluding with Jaspers whose wife was Jewish. Although the evi- dence for Heidegger's anti-Semitism is equivocal, 9 it is Impossible to Imagine anyone Joining the Nazi party without sympathy for anti-Semitism.

Heidegger's subsequent self-exculpation, that he had joined the party and become rector of the university in order to protect It from Nazi encroachment, has been conclusively refuted. When he tned to enlist Jaspers m his defense during his de- NazificatiOn tnal, Jaspers rebuffed him and submitted a damnmg letter recommending that Heidegger lose his nght to teach. The de-Nazification commissiOn indeed did stnp him of his right to teach, a nght he regained some years later along with the title of professor ementus.

One of the more vexmg problems studied by scholars of Heidegger's work over the past twenty years has been the ques- tion whether there IS any connectiOn between Heidegger's political engagement with Nazism and his philosophy. One can also find some of the anti-urban rhetoric under the heading of "the public" that was characteristic of attacks on urban Jewish life. Attempts to con- struct a direct connectiOn between Bezng and Time and Nazism have failed, however. Nevertheless, Heidegger's cooperation with the Nazi regime, and some of his speeches and actions dunng this penod, forever and understandably alienated many of his contemporanes, who have passed their antipathy on to their students.

Without trymg to exculpate the man Martm Heidegger for his disgraceful behaviOr, nor soft-pedal the wreckage caused by the rectorship of Martin Heidegger the academic politician, we can read Bezng and Time With a wary eye on Heidegger's politics, but an open mmd for his philo- sophical innovations. Such a reading IS worth pursumg, both because the Ideas advanced m Bezng and Time are so powerful, as well as because of the Immense influence that this treatise had on the further development of European philosophy from the s on of which more m chapter 4 below.

His later works have no magnum opus, as Bezng and Time IS for his early penod, and his reflectwns appear to wander this way and that, groping for an adequate way to talk about the phenomena in which he is interested. Heidegger gave a "parting" mterview to Der Spiegel magazme, m which he covered a lot of ground, mcluding the dire threats to human life that he saw in the modern era, as well touchmg man unsatisfactory way on his involvement with Nazism. He asked that the mterview not be published until his death.

Officially, however, the extant portiOn of the treatise is the first step on the path to a general ontology, an examinatiOn of the most rarified of philosophical questiOns, the "questiOn of bemg. Part One of the treatise was to be a systematic development of a phenomenological ontology and Part Two a cntical evaluatiOn of the history of Western philosophy. Division I IS the phenomenology of everyday life, division n the exploratiOn of existential themes.

The mam thrust of division I of Being and Time IS that the philo- sophical tradition has misunderstood human expenence by impos- mg a subject-object schema upon It. The individual human bemg has traditionally been understood as a ratwnal animal, that is, an animal with cognitive powers, m particular the power to represent the world around It. The relationship between the cognitive powers of mind and the physical seat of the mmd m the bram is, of course, a vexed issue the so-called Mind-Body Problem , but whatever pos- itiOn one takes on that issue, the notion that human beings are per- sons and that persons are centers of subjective expenence has been broadly accepted.

If left rather vague there IS no harm in such a way of talkmg about our expenence. Where the tradition has gone wrong is that it has mterpreted subjectivity m a specific way, by means of concepts of "inner" and "outer," "representation" and "object. Descartes tells us, for example, that the Idea of the sun zs the sun, albeit as It normally exists "in" the mind.

Philosophers, Descartes first among them, are qmck to remind us that Ideas are not literally Inside us, at least not in the way in which neurons are, but rather are m us m some other, unspecified way. This way of talkmg about Ideas denves ultimately from Anstotle's theory of mmd, which m turn was embedded m his physical theory and metaphysics.

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Even though the Scientific Revolution left Anstotle's account of the world in the rearview mirror, philosophers contmued to rely on its metaphoncal economy, talking about objects that exist "in" ideas, Ideas that have "content. And no matter how this mner sphere may get mterpreted, if one does no more than ask how cogmtwn makes Its way "out of" it and achieves "transcendence," it becomes evident that the cogm- tion which presents such emgmas will remam problematical unless one has previously clarified how it is and what It is.

Heidegger's worry here cannot merely be that the language of mner and outer, subject and object, is metaphoncal. Heidegger him- self relies extensively on metaphors throughout Bezng and Time. In 28 he tnes to clarify the concepts of disclosedness and bemg-m by way of the metaphor of a cleanng, a clearing in a forest, an open space in which thmgs can make their appearance.

He contrasts this metaphor of clearing with the traditional metaphor of light as in the light of nature , thereby recommending replacmg one metaphor with another. Heidegger's worry is, rather, twofold. First, philo- sophers use the language of inner and outer, Idea and content, with- out domg anything to ground the language m a new theory of mind. Still, we are never told what the basic building blocks of intentiOnality and linguistic meaning are. These building blocks have names, like "reference," but we do not know what reference is.

Since Heidegger wrote Being and Time some theories that would address this worry have been offered, notably causal theones of reference. Even though the causal theory of reference is generally thought not to work, we would not want to rest Heidegger's case entirely on his identificatiOn of a deficiency in existing theories of mind. His principal charge against the language of subject and object, inner and outer, is that it leads us to offer distorted descriptiOns of our expenence. That IS, his objectiOn is phenomenologzcal.

The lan- guage of inner and outer suggests a divisiOn or gulf between me, the subject, and it, the object. This gulf is then one that needs to be overcome or transcended by means of a cognitive achievement. Phe- nomenologically, however, this way of thinking about our position in the world, if It fits any of our experience, fits only modes of experience that Heidegger describes as "deficient. I type at my keyboard, dnnk from my coffee mug, and swivel in my chair. When one of these things defies or obstructs my ordinary familianty, then its nature becomes problematic, and understanding it shows up as an achievement for which to stnve.

When I spill my coffee, I stare at the mug and ask myself whether it has a leak. I can then try to figure out whether it does, and when I succeed at this, I have overcome a gulf between myself and the object. The language of mner and outer captures this isolatiOn well. Heidegger's point IS, then, that ' such isolation is not very common, that it is an unusual way of being t m the world.

Typically, I am familiar with the world, and its thmgs present no trouble for me. The language of inner and outer does not capture this sort of experience very well at all. We smoothly and easily work with others, talk with t them, enJOY them, fight With them, and we do not have to ask our- I: selves what they mean. We do not have to infer the existence of u "other minds" from evidence, nor "reconstruct" others' experience e in order to understand them.

Certainly sometimes we do run into e trouble understanding others; in such circumstances expressiOns o such as "a penny for your thoughts" make sense. Such situations, tJ however, are exceptiOnal, rather than normal. Empathy makes sense as a cor- a rective response to indifference or callousness.

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It does not underlie ir our understanding one another, however. This point can be extended C to other forms of inter-subjective re-construction, such as Donald ti Davidson's "radical mterpretation. This is the sort of thing h expl01ted m the Bntish comedy show "Tngger Happy TV," where o Dom Joly and his crew carry out gags like puttmg a toilet m an w elevator and having someone relax on it With a newspaper.

Having to bi interpret someone's behavwr by mfernng what they are domg from In evidence is highly exceptwnal. Normally we do not have to do this. He e argues that our fundamental expenence of the world is one of famil- iarity. We do not normally experience ourselves as subjects stand- rn mg over against an object, but rather as at home in a world we se already understand.

We act m a world m which we are Immersed. We OI are what matters to us in our livmg; we are Implicated m the world. After devoting chapters of divisiOn I to the phenomenology of familiarity, Heidegger turns to some philosophical implicatiOns of his account, Implications of a largely negative nature: he argues that epistemological skepticism, questiOns about idealism and real- ism, and the traditiOnal Correspondence Theory of Truth are all unmotivated, because they all rest on the subject-object model of expenence.

In the case of truth Heidegger replaces the Correspond- ence Theory not with another theory, but rather with a phenomen- ology of truth that bnngs mto view the dependence of ordinary truth the truth of judgments and assertiOns on somethmg more basic that he calls "primordial truth. After workmg through his phenomenology of everyday life, Heidegger turns to the "existentialist" facet of his thought. He argues that we are susceptible to an extreme condition of experience, in which the mood of anxiety which I will interpret as closer to our contemporary conception of depressiOn catapults us into a condi- tion m which we cannot understand ourselves existential "death" and have nothmg to say "conscience".

This extreme conditiOn of existence bnngs us face to face with the most elemental aspect. Heidegger constructs a "factical Ideal" of human life, which he called "ownedness" or "resoluteness," which we will explore below in sections xiii - xvii of chapter 3. After revismg his phenomenology of everydayness to accom- modate the extreme condition of existence and the possibility of self-ownership, Heidegger turns to more abstract themes, mcluding time and what he calls "the Temporality of bemg. He opens Being and Time yvith an mtroduction to the problem of bemg. In the first chapter of the mtroduction to Being and Time Heidegger mdi- cates that he will show how the understanding of being is essentially temporal, that Is, that being is always understood m terms of time, and that this feature of the understanding of bemg is to be explamed by its temporal structure.

Heidegger returns to this theme m the second half of division II. Both because it IS unusual for students to venture that deep into Being and Time on their first reading, and because the account Heidegger offers is both highly obscure and almost certamly unsuccessful, I will not wade mto chapters of divisiOn II.

It is overall an excellent translatiOn, both readable and clear. In citatiOns I will use dual paginatiOn, so: The number before the stroke refers to the English translation, the number after to the onginal German. Those readers of this Guide who are using the original German or a different translatiOn can use the German pagmation to locate passages Cited.

Although Macquarne and Robinson is overall an excellent trans- lation, it IS not without its mistakes. I will generally flag such errors as we go, but there are a couple that are worth noting in advance. Whenever there IS an astensk after the page number, this means that I have altered or corrected the translatiOn beyond merely substitutmg technical terms as outlined below.

Bezng: Macquarne and Robmson insist on capitalizing the word "being. Thus, I will throughout wnte "bemg" with a lower-case "b. Setn-bei IS our basic familiarity with the entities we encounter in our engaged activity in the world. We are not "alongside" them at all. I will trans- late "Sezn-bei" as "bemg-amidst. Heidegger is quite clear in his descriptiOns of das Man that it is not "them," others from whom I am to be distingmshed, but rather something more like everyone and no one. I will interpret das Man as the phe- nomenon of social normatlVlty, and m order to avoid the incorrect suggestions of the phrase "the 'They'," I will use "the Anyone.

I will discuss this term m more detail below, but I should flag now that I will render "die Befindlichkezt" as "disposedness. The word "being" is one of those philosopher's words that makes non-philosophers a bit uncomfortable. It feels like it should mean somethmg important, but it is hard to say what that is. Macquarne and Robmson, the translators of Being and Time, com- pound that obscure feeling of weightiness by capitalizing the word "bemg.

In the question which we are to work out, what is asked about is bemg- that which determines entities as entities, that m terms of which entities are already understood, however we may discuss them in detail. Entitles produce or cause one another; it may be that God produces or causes everythmg that is.

To suggest that bemg produces entitles, or put a little differently, that God iS being, iS a fundamental conceptual error, one that lies at the heart of what Heidegger comes to call "ontotheology. If we are to under- stand the problem of being, our first philosophical step consists in not "telling a story" - that iS to say, m not definmg entities 16 READING THE TEXT as entities by tracing them back m their ongm to some other entities, as if being had the character of some possible entity.

In the passage from pages above, Hetdegger offers two for- mulations in appositiOn with each other: "that which determines entities as entities" and "that in terms of which entitles are already understood. Let us begin With an analogy. What makes a scarlet tanager a scarlet tanager? To be a scarlet tanager, an item must be an insect-eatmg passerine bird that has a scarlet body with black wings. This is how we laypeople non-ornithologists under- stand what It IS to be a scarlet tanager. Suppose we see a flash of red m the trees and start looking for a scarlet tanager. If we see a red bird without black wmgs, we will conclude that we did not see a scarlet tanager.

Thus, our notion of what it is to be a scarlet tanager sets standards for what can count as a scarlet tanager. Similarly, we make discriminatiOns all the ttme as to whether thmgs exist. I thmk I see a man m my backyard and do a double- take. On the second look, I realize that there IS no man in my back- yard. Is It possible that there was a man m the backyard, but that he existed for JUSt a split-second and vanished? No, that is not possible, because our conception of being a physical thmg reqmres that the thing endure through time and obey very basic principles of regular- ity.

Because the momentary man m the backyard vrolates these standards, he cannot have been. Heidegger's point IS that we "already understand" what it is to be, m so far as we already employ a set of standards that determme whether somethmg exists. These standards are the meanmg of being. The phrase "the meanmg of being" Immediately suggests that Heidegger seeks to know the meaning of the word "bemg.

As we shall seem sectron x , Heidegger does not regard meamng as pnmarily a lin- guistic phenomenon. Rather, meanmg Sinn is that in terms of which we understand something. If you are "' having trouble with someone in your office, you might say something sc like, "I don't know how to get through to him," or "I don't get him. I know what makes p him tick. Rather, it means knowzng how to talk to him, s1 bemg able to work with him.

Understanding in this case is ability or sl know-how, competence. We have other colloquial phrases which Sl refer to this sort of pre-theoretical ability: "I have a feeling for Mac S computers"; "I know my way around the subway system"; "I have a le sense for how to behave m a snooty restaurant.

An ontology the result h of such an inquiry, e. The very OJ premise of Bezng and Time is that we do not possess a successful ontology of this sort. Philosophy ic hardly even understands any longer what it Is to ask about the mean- H mg of bemg, much less has an ontology to offer us. Nonetheless, we sl do understand being, albeit not in an expliclt, conceptually articu- w lated way.

We understand bemg m much the same way that we sc "have a sense for" things or "get" them, without bemg able to spell sc out what we understand. Understanding like this is an ability to do pl somethzng, rather than a cognitive grasp of a theme. H What are we able to do, in so far as we understand being? We 01 are constantly discriminating between things that do exist and thmgs Ul that do not. We also regularly discrimmate among kznds of entity. Heidegger distmguishes between persons, thmgs, and the parapher- nalia of human life, and he argues that in our pre-reflective practice, we respect and employ this three-way distinction, even if we neither talk nor think about matters this way.

This understanding of equipment is most obvious, when someone misuses equipment. If someone scratches his foot with a ball-point pen, his behavwr stands out, because he is misusmg the pen. This shows how we understand paraphernalia as defined by its functional role in human life. If we saw someone treat another person as a piece of eqmpment, such behavior would stand out, in fact, shock us.


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We experience shock, rather than bemusement, in v1rtue of the moral contours of such behavwr. According to Heidegger, people are at least partly self-determming entities: we take a stand on who we are by how we lead our lives. Equipment does not. We do not wait for the hammer to "decide" whether it is a hammer, but we do wait for people to decide whether they are going to be parents, employees, friends.

So, if Jones treated Smtth as a piece of equipment, not merely take advantage of him or mislead him, but rather pick him up and put him at the corner of a door, as if Smith JUSt were a door-stop, this would shock us. It would represent a misunderstanding of what sort of entity Smith zs. Our feeling for bemg is mostly marticulate. Sometimes our pre- ontological understanding does come to the fore and receives explicit treatment, for example, in fundamental scientific revolutions, as Thomas Kuhn calls them.

A scientific revolution contrasts with the typical progress of scientific inquiry, which Kuhn calls "normal science. Basic concepts determine the way in which we get an understand- ing beforehand of the area of subJect-matter underlymg all the objects a science takes as its theme, and all positive investigation IS guided by this understanding. It does not, however, underwrite Heidegger's next move. Heidegger maintas that ontology IS an a przori discipline, thus that shifts in our understanding of being explain, but are not JUSti- fied by, changes in scientific theory.

Ontological research, he avers, "must run ahead of the positive sciences, and It can. Because ontology explores the standards in terms which we distinguish what is from what is not, as well as among the various fundamental sorts of entities that are, Heidegger concludes that science presupposes ontology.

The pnority of ontology over the empirical sciences is especially 1mportant Bezng and Time, because Heidegger offers a novel ontology of human life. He believes that much empirical research in the social sciences is compromised by an adequate ontology of human life. Heidegger is not the first philosopher, of course, to assert the priority of metaphysics or ontology over the empincal sciences. Heidegger's approach IS governed, however, by the Kantian tran- scendental turn that we discussed chapter 1 above: ontology is an exploration of our understanding ofbeg.

We have a pre-ontological understanding of being, and our Job as philosophers is to make that pre-ontology explic1t in an ontological theory. Thus, ontology is terprettve or "hermeneutic. Ontology does not require any spectal epistemic capacity, such as nate ideas or the rational intu- itiOn of Platonic forms. Rather, ontology reqmres careful attention 20 1 d. Because ontology is not based on any special epistemic capacity, it cannot claim any peculiar certamty on Its behalf.

Indeed, our first attempts to put our understanding of bemg into words mvariably go astray. Yet that which remams hzdden in an egregwus sense, or which relapses and gets covered up agam, or which shows itself only "in disguise," is not just this entity or that, but rather the being of entitles, as our prevwus observatiOns have shown. Heidegger offers two different accounts of why common sense and the traditiOn have gone astray.

According to one account, a clear-sighted mterpretatwn of our own bemg would expose some deeply unsettling aspects of our existence, such as that we have no core self and that we are constantly threatened by anx- iety. We cover up the unsettling truth about our being by mterpreting ourselves on the model of a non-human thing. This is the theme of "fleeing" that runs throughout Being and Time. Heidegger offers the rudiments of second account in The Baszc Problems of Phenomenology. In 11 Heidegger argues that the ancient Greek philosophical conceptiOn of being was formed as an expression of the experience of production.

In artisanal production, the artisan envisages the product she is seeking to produce and IS guided by that image. If we think of all of reality as a creation of God, and we thmk of God as a super-artisan, we will thmk of all entities, mcluding ourselves, as havmg an Ideal form, an ezdos, an essence. The "ontotheological" traditiOn transfers the model of artisanal creation to all entitles and mismterprets being as bemg-created.

Seemg this should loosen up our attachment to the received ontology by showmg how It arose from a distinctive and limited range of experience. Heidegger believes that through his own phenomenological analyses he can dig deeper and wider in expenence and reveal the full range of modes of being that we confront.

As we expand our ontological honzons, we need some sort of benchmark for what might count as a mode of being. This need generates something of a methodological circle, for how are we to know what counts as a mode of being, unless we already have an ontology to-hand? We cannot have an ontology to-hand, however, before we have explored candidate modes of bemg and evaluated their suitability for this distinguished honor. Heidegger affirms this conundrum, when he wntes: Basically, all ontology, no matter how rich and firmly compacted a system of categones it has at its disposal, remains blind and perverted from its ownmost aim, if it has not first adequately clari- fied the meaning of being, and conceived this clarification as zts fundamental task.

Just as in reading a book we move back and forth between an understanding of the part of the book we are reading and our understanding of the whole book, so m domg ontology we move back and forth between articulatmg some specific mode of being and our vision of the whole field of being. In the course of ontological inquiry a map or structure of the field of being in general will come into focus. Heidegger argues that the structural articulation of the field of bemg in general follows the contours of the phenomenon of time: " I will not develop this theme m this Reader's Guide, because It is too obscure and convoluted for a compact treatment.

The basic idea, however, is this. As a first approximatiOn, think of this structure as a grammar of understanding, much like Kant's "categories of pure understanding" m The Critique of Pure Reason. According to Kant, we take a thmg as objective as opposed to an illusiOn or misunderstanding when It exhibits regulanty through time. Things do not pop m and out of existence; to exist involves endurzng through time in specific ways. We conceive nature as a domain of law-like regulanties. The requirement that nature be law- governed IS laid down by the grammar of understanding; it IS a reqmrement Imposed on the busmess of making sense of nature, an element of the ontology of nature.

Heidegger made simple. | Philosophical Explorations

Heidegger extends the spirit of this analysis to other kinds of entity, pnncipally human beings and the paraphernalia of human life. They too exhibit temporal characteristics in their ontological structure, and the aim of a general ontology IS to spell these tem- poral charactenstics out and systematize them. The result of a successful general ontology would be a detailed conception and articulatiOn of the temporal structure of being in general, what Heidegger calls "Temporality.

Baszc Problems, Although we will not explore this theme here, the reader should bear m mmd that some of Heidegger's formulations reflect this commitment to time as the underlymg structure of bemg. The official project of Being and Time is to develop an explicit ontology, an account of being. Ontological mquiry proceeds her- meneutically, by expressing m conceptually articulate form our pre- ontological understanding of bemg.

To do this, we must dig down into our pre-reflective, practical forms of engagement with the world and express what IS afoot m them. Domg this well will require a grasp of the nature of our pre-reflective, practical understanding. Thus, Heidegger sets as a preliminary goal developing an ontology of human being.

Securing the "pomt of access" to the object of our study IS a recurnng theme m Being and Time. To secure the point of access to our understand- ta ing of being, we must first develop a careful account of our under- standing, and this m turn reqmres that we work out an ontology of human life. This, then, is the prelimmary goal of Being and Time. Before closing this sectwn, let me list some of Heidegger's tech- Pl: meal terms from the first chapter of the introductiOn to Being and so: Time for future reference: tm me Ontological: of or pertaining to bemg. Presence-at-hand: see p. Study Question How do you thmk Heidegger might respond to the objection that the meaning of the word "being" is purely logical or grammatical, essen- tially that from "xis a dog" one may infer "there IS a dog" and that from "there IS a dog," one may infer that "xis a dog?

How do we do ontology? Although Heidegger's ontological aspirations may be traditional, his method for achieving them is not: phenomenology. Because Dasein exists, it is, by its very nature, self-questioning, and cannot be fully described from the outside. Heidegger treats time as the horizon in which our questioning occurs.

The consciousness of time enables us to gain the distance necessary to pursue the analysis, and the interpretation of Dasein must also be a historical analysis. Subsequently, Heidegger is also interested in psychiatry, and he reflects on the impact of the social dimension on human existence. It is easy to think of the world and the things that make it up as something that can be known. For him, the world is knowing how, not knowing what, as in the example of using a hammer in a workshop. But when we ask how to use a tool, we also open up the whole context of its use, and we are no longer focused on objects, or tools, by themselves.

Heidegger tells us that human nature is neither immediate nor transparent, and thus self-recognition requires the hard work of thinking against the temptation to turn outward, create useful tools, and transform everything into a ready-made resource. This does not have to be a philosophical project. He rejects the notion that his Daseinsanalysis is an analysis of ethics. When we describe ourselves, we commonly refer to the roles we play, to the social categories that define us. The ordinary self is the social, comparative self.

This may be an unavoidable part of human existence, but it is not our genuine Dasein. He encourages us to take hold of ourselves, and to face our anxieties within a world we have not chosen for ourselves. Heidegger highlights three: existence, facticity, and fallenness. He suggests that the recognition of our own mortality prompts us to move towards authenticity and to recognize our historicity. These distinctions determine our conscience and give us an awareness of the difference between authentic and inauthentic existence.

We cannot help but ask questions about what we are and we feel anxiety about our existence as a whole, which should not be mistaken with fears that have concrete objects. It also forces us to appreciate our limitations and immerse ourselves in our historical situation with a perspective towards acceptance. He was responsible for the firing of Jewish professors, and gave several pro-Nazi speeches.

Being and Time by Heidegger: Summary

Reconciling his life to his philosophy is a problem. In the following, I will only mention a few critical voices. All rights reserved. Here is a short video clip where Heidegger discusses the difference between philosophy and thinking:. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Links Search.