I’m a little over half-way through Heidegger’s “Being and Time.” So far as I can tell, Heidegger’s philosophy seems only to be an elaboration of what Berkeley and perhaps Spinoza and Plato (depending on your interpretation) have already intimated… that existence is not the realtionship of subject to object as Kant and Descartes and other dualists suggested… but rather something far more subtle and counterintuitive. For Heidegger, context seems to be the key word. The attitudes with which we comport ourselves to ontic entities ultimately shapes (for good or ill) their greater ontological signifigance. Hence we have the difference between the “Present-at-hand” and the “Ready-to-hand.”
I have not read Husserl, so I can’t say I totally understand what the “phenomenological method” really is… other than the abondonment of Cartesian Dualism. So I suppose my question is this… What distinguishes Heideggerian Ontology/Metaphysics/Epistimology from those of other Monistic Idealist schools?
Heidegger is a tricky one. He departs from the dualists, becuase he simply ignores the mind-matter relation. But he also doesn’t have much in common with Berkely either, apart from the fact that they both deny dualism. Berkley believed that matter is a product of mind. Heidegger, was not concerned with neither mind nor matter. His philosophy appears to be more existential, precisely because he didn’t give the mind-matter dualism enough consideration and dissmissed it out of hand. Instead replaced it with his own self- invented terms (Dasein), to trivialise the mind and matter concept.
I think Heideggar saw the ‘I’ as indestinguishable, from other ‘I’s, and to him it was pointless to think of mind as a creation of matter, when all that mattered is that we are.
Personally I find him hard to understand, and his deparature from dualism, seems understandably absurd. But it has provided another prespective into this problem, which is very original.
Heidegger isn’t completely “against” dualism per se.
He thought Descartes’ dualism arose from looking at the world only in an ontic fashion- looking at the particularites of this or that thing and then “categorizing” them. This lends itself to skepticism and dualism- the existence of the particularites “out there” in the world can always be doubted. All epistemological theories would fall into the “ontic” category insofar as they are all concerned with the existence (or non existence) of things in the world or particularites of things in the world.
Heidgger’s analysis of being is ontological-something radically different from an epistemological account. The distinction can best be illuminated by way of an example:
Asking the question “What is science?” would be an ontic examination- similar to epistemological theories. One could answer by saying science is “this” or “that”; we would be listing the abstract particularites of something.
However if someone were to ask “What does it mean to be scientific?” this implies more of a process or a methodology as oppposed to abstract particularities. We would be giving an account of a way of being. Heidgger, in the first section of Being and Time, is examining the a priori conditions by which we “ek-sist” (to use Heidegger’s terminology) in the world. This is something radically different from giving an account of the epistemological conditions under which man can claim to have knowledge. Heidegger is looking for something more primordial- fundamental conditions in man’s way of being in the world.
Heidgger thinks Descartes (and everyone else before him- including the Idealistic Monists) meerly “passed over” the ontological consideration- they failed to realize there was another way of looking at the world. What Heidgger doesn’t think is that Descartes’ ontic analysis of the world got it “wrong” and now his ontological analysis gets it “right”. He simply thinks the ontological methodology is more primordial- Dasein’s fundamental constitution of being must be analyzed before any other account can legitimetly get off the ground.
Thanks very much for the responses. They were quite illuminating. I suppose the mistake I made was to try and categorize Heidegger vis other philosophers… when in fact his approach and method are so fundamentally different, that they don’t bear such arbitrary comparisons.
Anyway, I have to admit that I am quite unsatisfied with “Being and Time.” It is so bloody uneven. There are passages where I can more or less follow what he’s saying, but then it degenerates into these vague, almost mystical analagoies (or a 6 paragraph footnote). And so much of it seems either self-evident or redundant.
I’ve given up a little over half-way through… its just too hard of a slog. But I hope to revisit it someday when I’m ready for it. Hopefully then it will turn out to be the revelation that everyone tells me it is.
Yes, labelling Heidegger a monistic idealist isn’t very helpful. The phenomenological method brackets questions like ‘the world is essentially X’ and tries to adresses the question of why phenomena appears as they do. To that effect, Heidegger has set up his enquiry into Dasein.
Dasein is a reality that relates to itself. As such it is tempting to equate dasein with subject or person, but it is not. It is Being ‘sein’ that is ‘Da’, there. So it is a relation towards phenomena that finds itself already existing from the start. Heidegger is not about how it is possible that there is a reality that is real for us at all, he assumes it. As such he is closer to a realist than an idealist perspective.
For the idealist reality is ideal, the appearance of what is actually an ideal structure, may it be posited by our mind, ideas in the mind of god or a moment in a development of history/spirit.
After assuming this ‘thrownness of being in the world’, he asks, what are the structures of that relation that is Dasein, relation of reality to itself. His first point is to show that it doesn’t work by assuming the stance of the observer. This is self a rather forced way of looking at things and it is prejudice to think that by that stance we gain access to how things are. We must get to grips with the fact that we operate in the world as such. It is a web of relations of use and history in which dasein finds itself embedded. Indeed like Spinoza123 said, it is about how Dasein ek-sists.
That way of existing is mostly ontical, usually we don’t have that self relation of being to itself on our minds when we do things. We can however also at certain moments exits ontologically, with an eye for the ontological structure of the world. That happens when we face death, the possibility of non being. In the end it turns out that being is essentially conditioned on time and he will go on to offer a supposedly more primordial notion of time than the ‘string of moments’, we envision it to be, but by than you have read the book almost to its entirety.
Aurelius26- If you are trying to understand being and time then put down husserl, because early heidegger takes a completely different approach. Being and Time is important, but is in no way an end all to Heidegger. Infact, its Heidegger in his infancy, and the closest to conventional philosophy that you are going to get. It is a monster, and no one can deny that, but its a treat. Its a tough gateway to Heideggers thought, and you cant approach him in some topical historical academic way.
I want to give you some advice. Really open up and find out for yourself. Dont take to many preconceptions into the reading. And, dont make your decision off the advice of too many people, especially on the internet. I say this because a majority of the people you ask have propably never even read the book.
My 2 philosophers just happen to be 2 of the most hated philosophers. One being Hegel who is probably the most dispised philosopher on the face of the planet. If I had listened to everyone I would have never discovered what they had to say. Personally, I ascribe for what is closest to what I see as a period 3 Heidegger.
I know the French always had a weird relation with Hegel… my professor always mentioned how they read quite a different Hegel than the one we know. I remember that, when discussing Kojève’s interpretation, he called it “funny”, “good for a chat at the local pub” or for a “bathroom reading”. It seems they mostly interpret him under Marxists lens, which is most unfortunately.
Yes, but I didn’t mean Kojeve, actually the Americans seem more eager these days. There are currently more analytical or neo pragmatists interpretations available, in the wake of Finlay. Big names are Pippin, who really caused ripples, Pinkard, Stern and of course the analytics Brandom and Mc.Dowell. Also new metaphysical interpretations such as Beiser (Though my prof is equally critical of them as of Kojeve and prefers the Germans, Fulda, Henrich … )
But sorry for the hijacking, back to Heidegger (Who himself had a Hegel interretation too, so hey here is my bridge )
I dont know if this makes sense, but I read Hegel like I read Heidegger, as a sort of showing. I see him as completely metaphysical. That being, I really dislike alot of the analytic takes Ive read of Hegel, because I think they attempt to transform his concepts into something that they are not, and it takes the essence out of the writing.