Presence and Post-Modernism

Abstract
The post-modern, post-enlightenment debate on the nature of being begins with Heidegger’s assertion that the “ancient interpretation of the being of beings” is informed by “the determination of the sense of being as ... ‘presence.’”[i] This understanding, which reduces being to temporal presence, is supposed to have set all subsequent philosophical reflection. At its origin is “Aristotle’s essay on time.” In Heidegger’s reading, Aristotle interprets entities with regard to the present, equating their being with temporal presence. He also takes time itself as a present entity--i.e., “as just one being among others.”[ii] In an interpretation that is essentially “oriented to the world,” Aristotle thus collapses being and temporal presence to the point that the countable nows are, in their presence, taken as entities. Aristotle’s essay, Heidegger claims, “has essentially determined every subsequent account of time--Bergson’s included.” Even “the Kantian interpretation of time” remains under its sway.[iii] Given this, the “destruction” of the tradition that Heidegger proposes[iv] is a destruction of this account.[v] Only through such a destruction can we uncover what the Aristotelian account conceals. In making time objective, it hides Dasein’s (or human being’s) role in temporalization. The project of Being and Time is to uncover this through “the repeated interpretation of the structures of Dasein ... as modes of temporalization.”[vi]
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