Written by one of the pre-eminent interpreters of Heidegger, this book is an important statement about the basis of human sociability that is a major contribution to the continuing debates about Heidegger in particular, and ethics in general. Existential philosophy is often thought to promote moral nihilism in which everything is permitted. This book demonstrates that, in the case of Martin Heidegger, any such accusation is unjust. On the contrary, Heidegger thought seriously about the implications of human co-existence, and this (...) book shows that conceptions of trust and responsibility that lie at the very heart of morality are to be found in the sketch of Mitsein - our being together with one another in the world - offered in Being and Time. That Heidegger never developed these conceptions may explain why they have been overlooked, but renders them no less important for that. (shrink)
_Naturalism and the Human Condition_ is a compelling account of why naturalism, or the 'scientific world-view' cannot provide a full account of who and what we are as human beings. Drawing on sources including Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl and Sartre, Olafson exposes the limits of naturalism and stresses the importance of serious philosophical investigation of human nature.
This broad, ambitious study is about human nature, but human nature treated in a way quite different from the scientific account that influences so much of contemporary philosophy. Drawing on certain basic ideas of Heidegger the author presents an alternative to the debate waged between dualists and materialists in the philosophy of mind that involves reconceiving the way we usually think about 'mental' life. Olafson argues that familiar contrasts between the 'physical' and the 'psychological' break down under closer scrutiny. They (...) need to be replaced by a conception of human being in which we are not entities compounded out of body and mind, but unitary entities that are distinguished by 'having a world', which is very different from simply being a part of the world. (shrink)
Philosophers who have turned their thoughts to the subject of education have most often concerned themselves with the construction of very abstract models of cognition by means of which the activities of teaching and learning are to be understood. Such attention as they have given to the subject matter of instruction has tended to be dominated by a concern with the morally or practically beneficial effects to be expected from a child’s acquisition of a certain kind of knowledge. It would (...) appear, too, that the decisive index used in assessing the value of such knowledge has often been the degree to which it approximated to an antecedently established archetype of knowledge. While the primary emphasis that has been given to these matters by Plato and by most of the modern philosophers of education from Locke to Dewey is understandable and has led to the elaboration of important theses in general epistemology, there are good reasons for thinking that this commentary needs to be more broadly based than it has often been in the past. More specifically, it will need to be informed by a better understanding of the distinctive character of the several subjects of instruction. Whatever contribution general epistemology may be able to make to the understanding of teaching and learning, its theses clearly stand in need of the kind of amplification that can come only from a survey of the particular types of knowledge to which the divisions of academic subject-matter correspond. In the absence of such a survey, there will be a very strong tendency for a single type of knowledge to be treated as the perfect exemplification of the general model of knowledge produced by our epistemology and for other subjects to be regarded simply as inferior approximations to that epistemic standard which will itself very likely become harder and harder to distinguish from its paradigm instance. What I am suggesting then is that the philosophy of education needs to orient itself to a much greater degree than it has previously done on the various ‘philosophies of’, e. g. the philosophies of science, of history and the social sciences, of law, and of art, which have come to occupy such an important place in contemporary philosophy. My special concern in this paper will be to argue that much discussion of the humanities and of their place within the instructional programs of the schools could benefit from work that has recently been done in the philosophy of language and in the philosophy of history and the social sciences. My guiding assumption which I will try to make as plausible as I can is that a consideration of the distinctive logical and conceptual features of the humanities does not have a merely theoretical interest but offers important clues to the nature of the educational and broadly moral importance which we traditionally impute to these studies. (shrink)
Although the status of the concept of being in Heidegger's thought is still the subject of controversy, textually it is quite clear that he held the fundamental character of being to be presence. Accordingly, this paper is not concerned to show that this was indeed Heidegger's conception of being. Instead, it undertakes to make a philosophical case for the prima facie paradoxical thesis that being is presence. It does so by first taking up Heidegger's account of truth in which it (...) is identified with the mode of being of Dasein and thus with the 'uncoveredness' (Entdecktheit) of entities that Dasein effects. This leads to a review of traditional conceptions of being. I argue that being is not just the character that makes an entity the kind of entity it is; it is that entity's be-ing whatever it is. As such, it has the structure of a state of affairs and it is a state of affairs that makes statements or thoughts about it true or false as the case may be. But a state of affairs is not a part or a property of the entity it is about. As what makes a true statement true, I argue, it belongs to the context of truth and thereby of presence. In a final section, the relevance of these matters to contemporary philosophical discussion is taken up. (shrink)
Philipse's interpretation of Heidegger's concept of being is fundamentally mistaken. It treats that concept as an amalgam of themes drawn from Aristotle, Husserl, Kant and Hegel with no hint of the utterly different ontology of the human subject that is Heidegger's most original contribution. Heidegger emerges incongruously as a transcendental philosopher a la Kant and the world is supposed to be constituted by the meaning-giving activity of a transcendental subject. As a result, the whole conception of human being as Dasein (...) and being-in-the-world goes by the board. In its place we get religious and politico-military construals of the big movements in Heidegger's thought and no attention at all to the centrally important conception of being as presence. The only sense in which the author's evident intention of demolishing every thesis Heidegger defends succeeds that nothing recognizably Heideggerian emerges from the account he gives. (shrink)
This article rejects the idea that Heidegger's Nazism derives from his philosophical thought. No connection has convincingly been shown to hold between the ontological apparatus of Being and Time and any political orientation. The elaboration of the concept of being in the later work needs to be understood as Heidegger's own reaction to the activism of his earlier thought which in the absence of any principle of respect for other human beings could provide no moral basis for resistance to Nazi (...) ideology. The tensions between the circumstances of Heidegger's early life - rural, conservative, and Catholic - and the Nietzschean modernism of his philosophical thought are explored. It is suggested that there were analogous tensions between tradition and the modern world in Nazism and that it was Heidegger's hatred of that world that led him to respond favorably to some (but not all) of the themes of Nazi thought. (shrink)