Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)

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Parmenides by Martin Heidegger

The first is his observation that, in the course of over 2, years of history, philosophy has attended to all the beings that can be found in the world including the world itself , but has forgotten to ask what Being itself is. Heidegger thought the presence of things for us is not their being, but in their utility. For instance, when a hammer is used to knock in a nail, we do not attend to the hammer in itself but are aware of it only as a "ready-to-hand" extension of ourselves to achieve a future result: the knocking in of the nail.

The past the existing or "given" hammer is reduced to a future usefulness the driven nail.

Intro to Metaphysics

Readiness-to-hand, in which the distinction between subject and object is blurred, is one of three modes of Being Heidegger identified — the others being "presence-at-hand" for things that are there but that we don't interact with and Dasein human existence. Heidegger claimed philosophy and science since ancient Greece had reduced things to their presence, which was a superficial way of understanding them.

One crucial source of this insight was Heidegger's reading of Franz Brentano 's treatise on Aristotle's manifold uses of the word "being", a work which provoked Heidegger to ask what kind of unity underlies this multiplicity of uses. Heidegger opens his magnum opus, Being and Time , with a citation from Plato 's Sophist [51] indicating that Western philosophy has neglected Being because it was considered too obvious to question. Heidegger's intuition about the question of Being is thus a historical argument, which in his later work becomes his concern with the "history of Being", that is, the history of the forgetting of Being, which according to Heidegger requires that philosophy retrace its footsteps through a productive destruction of the history of philosophy.

The second intuition animating Heidegger's philosophy derives from the influence of Husserl, a philosopher largely uninterested in questions of philosophical history. Rather, Husserl argued that all that philosophy could and should be is a description of experience hence the phenomenological slogan, "to the things themselves".

But for Heidegger, this meant understanding that experience is always already situated in a world and in ways of being. Thus Husserl's understanding that all consciousness is " intentional " in the sense that it is always intended toward something, and is always "about" something is transformed in Heidegger's philosophy, becoming the thought that all experience is grounded in "care". This is the basis of Heidegger's "existential analytic", as he develops it in Being and Time. Heidegger argues that describing experience properly entails finding the being for whom such a description might matter.

Heidegger thus conducts his description of experience with reference to " Dasein ", the being for whom Being is a question. In everyday German, " Dasein " means "existence. Dasein is transformed in Heidegger's usage from its everyday meaning to refer, rather, to that being that is there in its world, that is, the being for whom being matters. In later publications Heidegger writes the term in hyphenated form as Da-sein , thus emphasizing the distance from the word's ordinary usage. In Being and Time , Heidegger criticized the abstract and metaphysical character of traditional ways of grasping human existence as rational animal, person, man, soul, spirit, or subject.

Dasein , then, is not intended as a way of conducting a philosophical anthropology , but is rather understood by Heidegger to be the condition of possibility for anything like a philosophical anthropology. It is not completely deterministic; Dasein has choices. But Dasein cannot choose not to face the possibilities presented by the world, including the inevitability of its own mortality. Heidegger in his existential analytic refers to this condition as being "thrown into the world", or " thrownness " Geworfenheit.

The need for Dasein to assume these possibilities, that is, the need to be responsible for one's own existence, is the basis of Heidegger's notions of authenticity and resoluteness—that is, of those specific possibilities for Dasein which depend on escaping the "vulgar" temporality of calculation and of public life.

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The marriage of these two observations depends on the fact that each of them is essentially concerned with time. That Dasein is thrown into an already existing world and thus into its mortal possibilities does not only mean that Dasein is an essentially temporal being; it also implies that the description of Dasein can only be carried out in terms inherited from the Western tradition itself. For Heidegger, unlike for Husserl, philosophical terminology could not be divorced from the history of the use of that terminology, and thus genuine philosophy could not avoid confronting questions of language and meaning.

The existential analytic of Being and Time was thus always only a first step in Heidegger's philosophy, to be followed by the "dismantling" Destruktion of the history of philosophy, that is, a transformation of its language and meaning, that would have made of the existential analytic only a kind of "limit case" in the sense in which special relativity is a limit case of general relativity. That Heidegger did not write this second part of Being and Time , and that the existential analytic was left behind in the course of Heidegger's subsequent writings on the history of being, might be interpreted as a failure to conjugate his account of individual experience with his account of the vicissitudes of the collective human adventure that he understands the Western philosophical tradition to be.

And this would in turn raise the question of whether this failure is due to a flaw in Heidegger's account of temporality, that is, of whether Heidegger was correct to oppose vulgar and authentic time. He had been under pressure to publish in order to qualify for Husserl's to whom he dedicated the work chair at the University of Freiburg and the success of this work ensured his appointment to the post.

In Being and Time , Heidegger investigates the question of Being by asking about the being for whom Being is a question. Heidegger names this being Dasein see above , and he pursues his investigation through themes such as mortality, care , anxiety, temporality, and historicity. It was Heidegger's original intention to write a second half of the book, consisting of a " Destruktion " of the history of philosophy—that is, the transformation of philosophy by re-tracing its history—but he never completed this project.

Being and Time influenced many thinkers, including such existentialists as Jean-Paul Sartre although Heidegger distanced himself from existentialism —see below. Heidegger's later works, beginning by and largely established by the early s, [4] seem to many commentators e. William J. Richardson [59] to at least reflect a shift of focus, if not indeed a major change in his philosophical outlook, which is known as "the turn" die Kehre. Focusing on technical "doing" at the expense of "dwelling" is typified by a "will to power" kind of dominion over the world as a mere object.

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This ontological "turn" can be seen as a shift in priority from Being and Time to Time and Being -- namely, from dwelling being in the world to doing time in the world. For example, in Mark Wrathall [64] argued that Heidegger pursued and refined the central notion of unconcealment throughout his life as a philosopher. Its importance and continuity in his thinking, Wrathall states, shows that he did not have a "turn".

A reviewer of Wrathall's book stated: "An ontology of unconcealment [ Heidegger focuses less on the way in which the structures of being are revealed in everyday behavior, and more on the way in which behavior itself depends on a prior "openness to being. Heidegger understands the commencement of the history of Western philosophy as a brief period of authentic openness to being, during the time of the pre-Socratics , especially Anaximander , Heraclitus , and Parmenides. This was followed, according to Heidegger, by a long period increasingly dominated by the forgetting of this initial openness, a period which commences with Plato , and which occurs in different ways throughout Western history.

Two recurring themes of Heidegger's later writings are poetry and technology. Heidegger sees poetry and technology as two contrasting ways of " revealing. Technology, on the other hand, when it gets going, inaugurates the world of the dichotomous subject and object, which modern philosophy commencing with Descartes also reveals. But with modern technology a new stage of revealing is reached, in which the subject-object distinction is overcome even in the "material" world of technology. The essence of modern technology is the conversion of the whole universe of beings into an undifferentiated "standing reserve" Bestand of energy available for any use to which humans choose to put it.

In a lecture he formulated the famous saying " Language speaks ", later published in the essays collection Unterwegs zur Sprache , and collected in the English book Poetry, Language, Thought. What Is Called Thinking? It has been postulated that Heidegger believed the Western world to be on a trajectory headed for total war, [71] and on the brink of profound nihilism [72] the rejection of all religious and moral principles , [73] which would be the purest and highest revelation of Being itself, [74] offering a horrifying crossroads of either salvation or the end of metaphysics and modernity ; [75] rendering the West a wasteland populated by tool-using brutes, characterized by an unprecedented ignorance and barbarism [76] in which everything is permitted.

He thought the latter possibility would degenerate mankind generally into scientists, workers and brutes, [78] living under the last mantle of one of three ideologies, Americanism , Marxism or Nazism [79] which he deemed metaphysically identical, as avatars of subjectivity and institutionalized nihilism , [80] and an unfettered totalitarian world technology. He envisaged this abyss to be the greatest event in the West's history because it would enable Humanity to comprehend Being more profoundly and primordially than the Pre-Socratics.

Recent scholarship has shown that Heidegger was substantially influenced by St. Augustine of Hippo and that Being and Time would not have been possible without the influence of Augustine's thought. Augustine's Confessions was particularly influential in shaping Heidegger's thought. Augustine viewed time as relative and subjective, and that being and time were bound up together.


Heidegger was influenced at an early age by Aristotle, mediated through Catholic theology , medieval philosophy and Franz Brentano. Although he later worked less on Aristotle, Heidegger recommended postponing reading Nietzsche, and to "first study Aristotle for ten to fifteen years". Particularly important not least for its influence upon others, both in their interpretation of Aristotle and in rehabilitating a neo-Aristotelian "practical philosophy" [89] was his radical reinterpretation of Book Six of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and several books of the Metaphysics.

Both informed the argument of Being and Time. Heidegger's thought is original in being an authentic retrieval of the past, a repetition of the possibilities handed down by the tradition. The idea of asking about being may be traced back via Aristotle to Parmenides. Heidegger claimed to have revived the question of being, the question having been largely forgotten by the metaphysical tradition extending from Plato to Descartes , a forgetfulness extending to the Age of Enlightenment and then to modern science and technology.

In pursuit of the retrieval of this question, Heidegger spent considerable time reflecting on ancient Greek thought , in particular on Plato, Parmenides , Heraclitus , and Anaximander, as well as on the tragic playwright Sophocles. Heidegger's very early project of developing a "hermeneutics of factical life" and his hermeneutical transformation of phenomenology was influenced in part by his reading of the works of Wilhelm Dilthey. Of the influence of Dilthey, Hans-Georg Gadamer writes the following: "As far as Dilthey is concerned, we all know today what I have known for a long time: namely that it is a mistake to conclude on the basis of the citation in Being and Time that Dilthey was especially influential in the development of Heidegger's thinking in the mids.

This dating of the influence is much too late. Even though Gadamer's interpretation of Heidegger has been questioned, there is little doubt that Heidegger seized upon Dilthey's concept of hermeneutics. Heidegger's novel ideas about ontology required a gestalt formation, not merely a series of logical arguments, in order to demonstrate his fundamentally new paradigm of thinking, and the hermeneutic circle offered a new and powerful tool for the articulation and realization of these ideas.

There is disagreement over the degree of influence that Edmund Husserl had on Heidegger's philosophical development, just as there is disagreement about the degree to which Heidegger's philosophy is grounded in phenomenology. These disagreements centre upon how much of Husserlian phenomenology is contested by Heidegger, and how much this phenomenology in fact informs Heidegger's own understanding.

On the relation between the two figures, Gadamer wrote: "When asked about phenomenology, Husserl was quite right to answer as he used to in the period directly after World War I: 'Phenomenology, that is me and Heidegger'. Heidegger himself, who is supposed to have broken with Husserl, bases his hermeneutics on an account of time that not only parallels Husserl's account in many ways but seems to have been arrived at through the same phenomenological method as was used by Husserl The differences between Husserl and Heidegger are significant, but if we do not see how much it is the case that Husserlian phenomenology provides the framework for Heidegger's approach, we will not be able to appreciate the exact nature of Heidegger's project in Being and Time or why he left it unfinished.

Daniel O.

Dahlstrom saw Heidegger's presentation of his work as a departure from Husserl as unfairly misrepresenting Husserl's own work. Dahlstrom concluded his consideration of the relation between Heidegger and Husserl as follows:.

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Heidegger's silence about the stark similarities between his account of temporality and Husserl's investigation of internal time-consciousness contributes to a misrepresentation of Husserl's account of intentionality. Contrary to the criticisms Heidegger advances in his lectures, intentionality and, by implication, the meaning of 'to be' in the final analysis is not construed by Husserl as sheer presence be it the presence of a fact or object, act or event.

Yet for all its "dangerous closeness" to what Heidegger understands by temporality, Husserl's account of internal time-consciousness does differ fundamentally. In Husserl's account the structure of protentions is accorded neither the finitude nor the primacy that Heidegger claims are central to the original future of ecstatic-horizonal temporality. Patricia J.

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Huntington claims that Heidegger's book Being and Time continued Kierkegaard's existential goal. Nevertheless, she argues that Heidegger began to distance himself from any existentialist thought. Kierkegaard is primarily concerned with existence as it is experienced in man's concrete ethico-religious situation. Heidegger is interested in deriving an ontological analysis of man.

But as Heidegger's ontological and existentialist descriptions can arise only from ontic and existential experience, so Kierkegaard's ontic and existential elucidations express an implicit ontology.

Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE) Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)
Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE) Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)
Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE) Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)
Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE) Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)
Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE) Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)
Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE) Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)
Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE) Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)
Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE) Introduction to Metaphysics: From Parmenides to Levinas (NONE)

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