Heidegger and the Yearnings for a Hermeneutics of «B/being»: between Phenomenology and Existentialism

Motto: “Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.”

(Martin Heidegger)

“Modern humanity has lost the ‘nearness and shelter’ of Being; we are no longer at home in the world as primitive man was; truth is no longer revealed; thought is separated from Being and only a favoured few have any hope of recapturing oneness with Being.”(The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy)

In the widespread ideological crisis that manifested after the First World War, notwithstanding pre-dating it for a long time, a whole new generation of scholars would have sought for the key to the assurance of a disintegrating civilisation.

In a nutshell, phenomenology is a radical subjectivism in which the sense or meaning of otherness derives from constituting acts of subjective intention—or a tradition of intersubjective meanings, as we find ourselves in world of objects with pre-given meanings. Time synthesis and intentionality are the primary laws of subjectivity. However, phenomenolgy is not a sheer subjective idealism, since the meaning “other than the subject” is always there in intending things.

Although an attempt to sketch such an important “vein” of phenomenology as the heideggerian hermeneutics in only a few lines seems ridiculous, it is a coercive necessity that gives birth to the following brief of thoughts and terms.

Foremost, if a heideggerian geography is to be voiced, then a redispositioning of conceptual items is likely to be assumed. Heidegger’s idea of das Zeug is widely stated as the collective Tool, as a ready-to-hand “in-order-to” for Dasein, already existing in a network of tools.

Actually, his main concern brings the bear on what he calls the “Sinn von Sein”, which due to its ambiguous demeanour presents multiple connotations with respects to what is meant by “ist” in connection to the axis DaseinAngst situated on a background of the temporality of existence. Thence, in conformity to the Oxford German Literature Companion there takes place a linguistic derailment, proper to heideggerian terminology, so that philosophy becomes “Seinsdenken”, language “Haus des Seins” or Man “Hirte des Seins”. Similarly, it is stated that the business of philosophy is in charge with listenning the silence of existence while affirmations come in the form of puns “das Nichts nichtet”, “die Angst ängstet” and the “Kehre des Denkes” (“the turning in thinking”) overlaps with “Denken der Kehre” (“thinking in turning”).

In pursuance, the term “ destruktion” must be taken into account, since it represents the very link between Heidegger and déconstruction, a French term coined to combine the two variants of destruction: “Destruktion”, which means literally “destruction” and “Abbau”, denoting a “de-building” process. While referring to “destruktion” as the task of destroying philosophical concepts, Heidegger stated in Time and Being:

“If the question of Being is to have its own history made transparent, then this hardened tradition must be loosened up, and the concealments which it has brought about dissolved. We understand this task as one in which by taking the question of Being as our clue we are to destroy the traditional content of ancient ontology until we arrive at those primordial experiences in which we achieved our first ways of determining the nature of Being—the ways which have guided us ever since.”

Furthermore, the bearing Husserl-Heidegger shall not be overlooked.  Although they both reject the “natural attitude”, that is the commonsensical person-in-the-street belief that objects exist independently of ourselves in the external world, Husserl opts for his phenomenological reduction to enhance the idea of “immanence” and subject emphasis in his concept of intentionality, while Heidegger contrives to a reconcilement between the position of the “subject” and the position of the “object”. On the relation between the two figures, an apparent essential/ transcendental character might oppose an “existential”/ hermeneutic make-up.

If in Husserl’s case, it was a kind of “ideal” object, in the sense that it could be expressed in a number of different ways but still remain the same meaning, for Heidegger the problem of textual interpretation as a whole is dealt in terms of a coexistence of active meanings. In fact, in his “juxtaposition” of phenomenology and existentialism, Heidegger shoves the very delineation Husserl/Heidegger to the distinction modern/postmodern.

For Heidegger there is no subject by itself, but always someone who is always in-the-world; this is rather the “Subject” than the subject. Dasein is therefore the being that is there and in a mood, and for which existence is a question. The concept of Dasein begins the era of a decentralization of man’s position. That is why, Heidegger makes the distinction between Dasein and its co-term, In-der-Welt-sein or the Being-in-the-world, which is always associated to a mood, a mood that comes neither from the “outside” nor the “inside” and is inherent to our unexpressed devotion to the world. In other words, Dasein might be perceived as the fact of Being-in-the-world.

If an interpreter did not conceive a text’s meaning to be there as an opportunity for contemplation, one would have nothing to think or talk about. It is this there-ness, its self-identity from one moment to the next that allows it to be contemplated. According to Hirsch, while “meaning is a principle of stability in an interpretation, significance embraces a principle of change”, so that meaning is what an interpreter actualizes from a text and significance is that actual speaking as heard in a chosen and variable context.

Michel Haar asserts however that man is not a part of the Being; he is not a part of a whole since being and totality are antagonist and Heidegger rejects the idea of being as omnitudo realitatis exactly because of this dysmetria existing between man and being.

Michel Haar also argued for a clear understanding of the being as a verb and not as a noun or abstractive concept. Nevertheless, in German it is rather difficult to mark the non-nounal character and Heidegger therefore decided upon Seyn or Sein.

Furthermore, two parallel terms ready-to-hand (zuhanden, readiness-to-hand, handiness: Zuhandenheit) and present-at-hand (vorhanden, presence-at-hand: Vorhandenheit) stand in contrast to one another as the latter implies an attitude while the former is primordial compared to the present-at-hand; the two also represent two successive layers in the structure of Interpretation.  As for the pair of Geschichte/ Historie, the former refers to the sequence of epochs where the being lies in suspension, while the latter denotes a historical analysis. But the very introduction of “historicity” as a chief character of Welt means that a boundary has been drawn: historicity is unlikely to be the chief component of a person’s spiritual world, but rather a limited domain of shared cultural experience.

In a sense, Heidegger does to Husserl what Hegel did to Kant: he historicized and rendered practical Husserl’s transcendental field. Heidegger insisted on the personal nature of existence and on its practical ground: my immediate relation to things is that of getting around in the world, of “caring for myself.” He thus came up with this notion of historical epochs—something like Hegel, but not tied up to the figure of an experience of spirit, and hence not teleologically ordered—in which the basic categorial structure of an age could be described from attention to the “basic words” uttered in classic philosophy texts.

“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 let it unfinished.”

Yet Daniel O. Dahlstrom states that for Husserl 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”. But the concept of historicity belongs to a third dimension of hermeneutics—the metaphysical. Not only are our text historical historical, but also our understandings. Therefore, Heidegger’s metaphysics are subject to the hermeneutic circle, due to the circularity of the process of understanding, since one cannot know a whole without knowing some of its constituent parts, and the way round: one cannot know the parts as such without knowing the whole which imposes their functions.

The focus of attention of this paper was to explore how in Sein und Zeit, Heidegger expands the circumference of the hermeneutic circle beyond textual interpretation to embrace all knowing since one cannot escape the fact that the historical world is a pre-given of our experience and implicitly constitutively of any textual interpretation.

“Prior to man is the finitude of the Dasein within him” (Kant, 285)


5 răspunsuri la Heidegger and the Yearnings for a Hermeneutics of «B/being»: between Phenomenology and Existentialism

  1. severinlx spune:

    Imi place Heidegger!

  2. I’ve written a very short critique of the misgivings in Heidegger, I understand the you’re quite formidable regarding his writings. May I inivite you to get a read of what I’ve posted on Heidegger? I hope you find it enlightening.

  3. Andrei spune:

    It is separate task to show how Heidegger’s thought throughout , especcially in the later phase of this thought, is esentially determined by a species of pantheistic-monistic-theosophical mysticism. So, if you remove this basic dialectical strain from German thought, wich harkens back to German mysticism and beyond it to Pseudo-Dionysius of the sixth century,very little will be left,at least as to the distinctive flavor and cast of this thought.

  4. cristi spune:

    where are you from andrey?

  5. […] Heidegger and the Yearnings for a Hermeneutics of «B/being»: between Phenomenology and Existential… December 2009 4 comments 3 […]

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