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Phenomenology In The Heideggerian Sense Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 2591 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Martin Heidegger, born in 1889, was an influential German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the question of 'Being'. His phenomenology is highly evident in his book Being and Time. Like Husserl, Heidegger believed that philosophical investigations begin without presuppositions. However Husserl embraced Descartes' picture of the world, believing that consciousness or the mind is the place where phenomenological investigations took place. Eventually Heidegger gave up on the language of mind, consciousness and experience, and he pursues phenomenology with a new openness and a brand new sense of wholeness with the world.

Heidegger's early work is divided in two topics. Firstly Heidegger shows a profound anti-Cartesianism, which rejects any dualism regarding mind and body, any distinctions between subject and object and the linguistic separation of "consciousness," "experience," and "mind". Secondly, Heidegger early philosophy is mainly a search for authenticity, which is better described as 'own-ness'.

Heidegger's main interest was to introduce the concept of 'Being', in order to make sense of things. Heidegger refers to the human Being as Dasein, which literally means 'Being-there'. By using the word Dasein, Heidegger showed that Dasein is 'to be there' and 'there 'is the world. Heidegger believed that philosophy was able to tell us the meaning of Being, of the where and what Dasein is. Heidegger argues,

"Dasein is an entity which, in its very Being, comports itself understandingly towards that Being." (Being and Time, 1962) Moreover he continues by stating that;

"Dasein exists. Furthermore, Dasein is an entity which in each case I myself am. Mineness belongs to any existent Dasein, and belongs to it as the condition which makes authenticity and inauthenticity possible." (Being and Time, 1962)

There are two modes in which Dasein exists according to Heidegger; authenticity and inauthenticity. Being-in-the-world was as a unitary phenomenon and although it had several components to its structure, it was still seen as a whole.

Heidegger believed that by 'Being-in' we would understand this 'Being- in' as 'Being in something', for instance as a ball is in the box, or as Heidegger's example in his book Being and Time, as the water is in the glass. By the 'in' we mean the relationship of Being which these two entities have in regards to the space of their location.

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"What is meant by "Being-in"? Our proximal reaction is to round out this expression to "Being-in" 'in the world'", and we are inclined to understand this Being-in as 'Being in something' ….as the water is 'in' the glass, or the garment is 'in' the cupboard. By this 'in' we mean the relationship of Being which two entities extended 'in' space have to each other with regard to their location in that space……Being-present-at-hand-along-with in the sense of a definite location-relationship with something else which has the same kind of Being, are ontological characteristics which we call 'categorical' " (Being and Time, 1962)

According to Heidegger such types of 'categorical' Beings belong to entities whose kind of Being is not Dasein.

For Heidegger Being-in-the-world belongs to Dasein since its Being concerning the worlds fundamentally concern. The term concern was used as an ontological term for an existentiale. Concern is not only the meaning that Being-in-the-world has for human Beings, but it is also the time configuration of human life. If there was no concept of time for human beings there would be no reason to be engaged in a human way in this world. Thus it is the proof which shows that the relationship between the human beings and the world is through concern.

Our options in this world are limited and thus not everything we desire is possible. This leads to the belief that 'concern' shows a human being what the correct decisions in order to move from one condition to another are. Heidegger continues by arguing that each human being has his own uniqueness, in which this particular uniqueness helps to attain a set of possibilities for each individual. Each human being is oriented towards his own potential which is the possibilities of authentic and inauthentic existence.

Heidegger regarded a human being who embraces the standards and beliefs and prejudices of society as living in an authentic existence. Individuals can only live an authentic existence when they realize who they really are and believe that each human being is a unique entity. When one realizes that each and every person has his own destiny to live, their concern will not be the concern to do as the majority of other beings to, instead it can become an 'authentic' concern to fulfill their own potentiality in the world. However by time Heidegger noticed that the importance of Being-in-the-world was going unnoticed because of our daily realities of our existence. However for Heidegger knowing was a kind of Being while Dasein was only discovered when it understands reality.

Epistemology which is the study of knowledge is found in the argument of skepticism which is about the existence of the external world. The problem of epistemology regards the relationship of the subject to the external world. There are two categories of subject-object relation: first there is the subject who adjusts itself towards the object and secondly the object is present in the external world while the subject tries to understand what it is that is out there.

The distinction between the 'knower' and what is 'known' is because of the difference between subject and object. For Descartes, the subject is a thinking thing which is not extended, while the object does not think but it is an extended thing. However Heidegger disagrees with this distinction between subject and object by claiming that there is no subject distinct from the external world of things, since Dasein is Being-in-the-world. Heidegger uses Dasein as the starting point since only Dasein is the Being who is aware of himself, of the world, and of Being, Dasein is the only Being which can gain access to this problem. For Descartes the subject has priority over all other Beings, since it is the first true Being. In contrary, Heidegger believed that there is no subject separate from the external world of things, since Dasein is basically Being-in-the-world.

In Descartes philosophy the ideal inner world of a subject is separate from the outer world of the object. There are two ways in which Heidegger confronts this Cartesian Legacy in epistemology. To start with there is the discovery of the 'cogito', which is the modern tendency towards subjectivism and individualism, which was introduced by Descartes. To continue with there is also the technological of the modern world which originated in the Cartesian understanding of the mathematical and external physical world.

In regard to the problem of subject as 'knower' and object as 'known', unlike the Cartesians, Heidegger refers to 'knowing' as a founded mode of Being-in-the-world. According to Descartes, the main problem of ontology is that "the subject is determined by way of self- consciousness". On the other hand, Heidegger argues that "self- understanding is always determined by way of the Dasein's mode of Being, by way of authenticity and inauthenticity of existence". Thus what he is trying to say is that the mode of existence describes self- understanding of Dasein.

Moreover, Heidegger rejects not only the Cartesian logical description of the various possibilities of knowledge but also the scientific explanations of things as present-at-hand. Since he defined Descartes epistemology as modern thoughts, Heidegger believed that his thought was an anti- modern idea. For Heidegger knowing is an ontological realization of one's own Being; it is knowing one self, knowing its existence, knowing its own Being.

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Heidegger disagrees with Descartes understanding of the subject as a, 'res cogitans', or a thinking substance. In contrast to Descartes idea of Pure I or Pure subject, Heidegger argues that Dasein as Being-in-the-world is a relation between a subject and a set of objects and no longer a distinction. Furthermore Heidegger attempts to define the essence of Dasein as 'existence' and 'in each case mine' in order to overcome the Cartesian distinction between the subject and object.

Every philosopher is concerned with the idea of how the 'knower' is related to the things known. This results in the distinction between realism and idealism throughout the history of western philosophy. However Heidegger's phenomenology in which he attempts to overcome the traditional metaphysics is neither realistic nor idealistic.

Heidegger refused the dichotomy of the subject and object in the Being of Dasein as Being-in-the-world. In fact he substituted the 'cogito' sum' with 'I am in the world'; Being more specific Dasein's Being-in-the-world. Thus 'I am in the world' is given much more importance than the 'cogito' sum'. Heidegger gave different definition of the meaning of Being, not only in "Being and time", but also in his work "The Basic Problem of Phenomenology" and various other writings.

In these writings, Heidegger refers to the relation between object and subject as a Bild or more specific a picture. By destructing the 'cogito', Heidegger meant to destruct the time to which it belongs to. Thus the 'I am' is Being forgotten in Descartes' philosophy. For Heidegger the 'cogito' is only possible in a hermeneutical description of the 'I am' which means Being-in-the-world. Eventually Heidegger's destruction of Descartes' definition of the 'cogito sum' leads to the destruction of the 'cogito' as an absolute subject.

Heidegger's aim in the critique of the subject-object relation is to reject the priority of the 'cogito' over the 'res extensa'. In his rejection, Heidegger refuses the Cartesian understanding of the concept of the 'ego', of the 'self' or of the 'cogito'. Unlike Descartes' 'cogito', Heidegger attempted to believe and give more importance to the 'I am' instead of the 'cogito'. However over the time philosophers started to refer to this as a hermeneutics of the 'I am'.

In Descartes metaphysics, the existent is described as objectivity of representation while truth is described as the certainty of representation. Heidegger argued that objectivity leads to subjectivity and thus Being-certain of the object corresponds to the position of the subject. Heidegger calls this 'the age of the world picture'.

In his work 'the age of the world Picture', Heidegger claims that: 'the whole of modern metaphysics...was prepared by Descartes'. Descartes 'I think' is the main influence on modern philosophy. Since the truth for modern philosophy is what is represented in our subjectivity, Descartes argues the Archimedean point by the certainty of the 'cogito'. The ''cogito'' is not only the place in which Being and thought coincide, but also the place where 'exist' and 'I think I exist' is the same thing. In contrast, Descartes, 'I think', exists separately from the external world. In addition, God must exist for Descartes so as to have certain truth of subjectivity or 'I think'. This is because he is the guarantor of the limited substances of 'I think' and 'the external world'. However Descartes' God must be seen simply as a Being, where Being and thought coincide as an infinite Being.

Heidegger disagrees with Descartes way of liberating the subject from the medieval era. In Descartes philosophy the subject is the basis of the 'known' and the 'knowable'. Heidegger sees Descartes as a metaphysician who asks the question 'what is it to be?'. Descartes' reply to this question is that to be is to be represented. His answer was meant to solve an ontological problem by the epistemology of a representation.

Besides other things Heidegger believes that Descartes is criticized for leaving the 'sum' (I am) of the 'cogito' sum undiscussed. The 'I think' was not the right place to stop, since it is the level of self. However Heidegger and Descartes cannot completely explain 'True Being'

Being is a Being-at-hand and present-at-hand. If Dasein shows an ontological constitution different from Being-at-hand, then it means something different than existere, existentia, whatness, reality, and ousia. The interpretation of present-at-hand of Dasein is based on the epistemological attitude of 'res 'cogito' who interprets itself as a present-at-hand. However Heidegger argues that our Being-in-the-world is much more than our knowing of present-at-hand of 'res 'cogito''. However our knowing cannot give us access to things in themselves and it cannot be regarded as present-at-hand. Heidegger rejects the traditional concepts of time, which belongs to the transcendental context of the knowing subject. According to Heidegger Being is time, and thus Dasein is neither an individual nor a subject in the traditional sense.

If Being is considered as a temporal horizon, time will have a fundamental ontological function. In his work Heidegger explains time in terms of a structure, called the existential- ontological structure. In his explanation of time, he moves away from Aristotle's definition of time. Mundane time which is a public time depends on the ontological structure of Dasein as Care. However this ontological structure of the Care was forgotten in the traditional definition of time.

Heidegger introduced a new term, Dasein, in order to keep away from falling into Cartesian language. Thus Heidegger attempts to describe the world from the perspective of Dasein, who is not a consciousness or a mind, nor a person. Dasein is simply being in the world, which Heidegger describes as a unitary phenomenon. Thus phenomenology results in ontology, which is the study of existence.

Therefore the concept of Dasein rejects the dualism of mind and body or the distinction between subject and object. This distinction presupposes the language of 'consciousnesses. However Heidegger defends an uncompromising holism, where the self cannot be a 'thinking thing' separate from any bodily existence, as it was for Descartes. However one may ask 'what is the self?' it is the roles given to us by others, for instance; being their daughter or son, a friend or a student. This self is called the Das Man self, that is a social construction. However there is nothing authentic about this self, since nothing is my own.

To conclude, here I discussed the relation between subject and object according to Heidegger and Descartes. As said before, Heidegger believed that subject and object belongs together in a sole entity Dasein. Heidegger holds that Descartes 'sum' of his 'cogito' sum' must be asserted first. According to Heidegger, Dasein and its world can never be apart. He introduces 'I am in the world' to understand Being. Here Dasein is not a 'cogito'. Since Dasein is the Being-in-the-world, 'I am in the world' precedes the 'cogito' sum'. Unlike Descartes and various other philosophers, Heidegger breaks the chain of the tradition in terms of an understanding of the world. Heidegger's understanding of Being is Being-in-the-world. However the world of the Being of Dasein is the world of Dasein and not the physical world.


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