Notes on Heidegger

March 29, 2012 — Leave a comment

Question to get started: What is the relationship between language to reality or experience?

Heidegger starts from interpretation. This is the access point to understanding.

We’re used to thinking about this under the model of representation, that we use language to represent things that are out there. Heidegger sees language very differently.

1) rather than the representation model, language as a tool for doing things that actually shape experience, shape reality.

2) What is the purpose of philosophical language in particular? Is it like scientific language to try to represent the truth? Or is there some other more active way that it’s working on you?

Heidegger’s language is difficult expressly to spur you out of your every-day frame of reference. There is an art at work. Pulling you away from your ordinary presuppositions. For Heidegger Grammar is potentially affecting or shaping our understanding, though may not be accurate to our actual experience of the world. This is what he is interrogating. He wants to liberate grammar from logic. To achieve this we need first a basic positive understanding of an a priori structure of discourse in general. As an ontological structure of existence. Language in action has a very primary place. Hence the importance of hermeneutics for his project – to ask the question what is the meaning of being? …or to work out this question, not just ask it.

3) Being is obscure and not obvious, though we do have a vague understanding of it. This is Heidegger’s starting point. “Being” goes ‘behind’ entities, behind beings. It is their mode of Being, it is not an entity itself, which is why we can’t tell a story about it. We need to interrogate entities to question them as regards their being. We are beings that can ask questions and give responses and so we are to interrogate ourselves, and this is Daseine (a Being which is there, there-being, human-state, ontologically distinguished in that we are Beings for whom Being is an issue). We always encounter things in terms of their usefulness for us, in this way an object, such as a pen, can open out into a whole world. The primary way of Being for the pen is ‘readiness to hand’. “Presence at hand” happens when we’re in a state of helplessness or weakness and an object presents itself just as it is, without use or purpose. Heidegger asks the question ‘what is the relationship between these two?’. Initially it might seems that R to Hand says that there’s a world of stuff that we interact with and then we give purpose. Heidegger actually poses the opposite. R to Hand is the way that entities are in themselves, it is the way they are defined ontologically, categorically, that is by and for Daseine.

The wider significance? Presence at Hand the basis of the scientific attitude.

4) Taking As: In Aristotle: in every meaningful appearance of beings involves an event where a human takes a being ‘as’ something. Some form of presence in a human being, this is expressed in ‘taking as’. H responds to these ideas by saying A’s misconceived the deep structure (too much in the mode of presence at hand): ‘taking as’ is grounded not in multiple modes of presence, but in a more fundamental temporal unity (hence Being and Time).

5) Being With: Daseine is not being alone. There are always other daseine. An object is also there for other people, other peoples projects.


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