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Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology

I have a question: In Heidegger's Ontology, fundamental ontology is equated to the existential analytic (because there only "is" being in the seinsverstandnis that is a seinsverfassung of Dasein's being it become necessary to start with the being of Dasein in order to move to the answer to the question of the meaning of being), so does this equation implies that fundamental ontology must be understood as also preparatory and then, of course "more ontological" (mainly in the second division where authentic Dasein is interpreted in it's Being -for, again, there is only Being where there is time (proyection, extasis, transcendence, etc)- articulating both divisions of Sein und Zeit, or it would have to be understood as the global enterprise and then including the existential analytic as only a part, fundamental yes, but asymmetric to the end of the treatise? I personally think that the possible answer must have a little of both alternatives mainly because for the non-deductive dependence that a possible ontology has made between the seinsfrage and the existential analytic. But my problem is that Heidegger time and again equates fundamental ontology with the ontology of Dasein: the worse part of this, is that an ontology or then a metaphysics of Dasein only would be available in the second and third divisions of Sein und Zeit, and not only in the the fundamental analysis.

Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology
Hello Andres,

I am not sure that I follow your question completely but will attempt to show you how I understand Heidegger on these matters.

First, Heidegger saught another way of classify being other than merely in terms of entities (present-at-hand) - his focus was on practical activity (ontology rather than ontics, existentials rather than existentiells).  By looking at practical activity we can gain a sense of our received ways of viewing and thus being in-the-world.  But this is just preparatory as it merely deals with the inauthentic (what we unreflectively receive from others (this is covered in Division I).  Division II moves onto a portrayal of our authentic ways of being but this is under-cut by the realisation that these are hidden aspects as we are always inauthentic (reliant upon the interpretations of others).  The call of conscience and being-towards-death reveal these aspects about our true being as they include time as the meaning of being.  But the story does not end there.  Heidegger had planned a Division III in which he intended to disclose undifferentiated (neither inauthentic nor authentic) dasein.  But this Division was not finished as he struggled with the need to speak about being in terms of being and not in terms of the human.  What few realise is that to speak of being in a way that is true to it, means going beyond metaphysics and human subjectivity (so this is nothing like Sartrean Existentialism).

Hope this helps.


Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology
Hello Max,

Thank you very much for your commentary. But my question does point to another direction. I would prefer not to talk about subjectivity or human, because under this titles are relevant issues that last as true aporias. Exactly because the look upon practical activity (or better, non-theoretical engagements) is urged by a need of freeing Daseins horizon of selfunderstanding. So as Entdecktheit upon the horizon of Being-in-the-world subjectivity, or moral personality, etc, must be seen as founding upon Dasein possibilities. There is a historicity that it cannot be undone by merely opposing ontically a resistance to this titles. So you are right: we must abandon Dasein's possible ways to be, an reflect upon what it means to be possible (authenticity): but then, authenticity must be seen as a reiteration or a repetition of undifferentiated Dasein, that as in der welt sein comprehends (projects) its being formally to what it can be understood. So authenticity is a kind of ontological reflection about being-in-the world.  In this sense not the fundamentalanyslisis of Dasein is preparatory but the whole existential analytic (that includes Dasein und Zeitlichkeit). So my question was, if fundamental ontology names both the inquiry about the meaning of Being and the entity in whose existential constitution we found meaning, or only the existential anlytic. As I have come to realize fundamental ontology names both. We have to gain an understanding of this ambiguity. "What few realise is that to speak of being in a way that is true to it, means going beyond metaphysics and human subjectivity". I couldn't say it better. Well thanks again Max for your commentary.


Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology
Hello Andrés

I am not sure whether this is where you are going, but here are my thoughts on this.

Heidegger in What is Metaphysics? and onwards abandoned the term fundamental ontology. He then believed that metaphysics, as it thinks the relation of Being and beings, actually includes ontology, so it cannot be prior to metaphysics. Following Being and Time he regarded his thinking not so much as ontology, but as a co-respondence with the truth of Being in its historical unfolding. He then views the ontology of Being and Time as an incomplete yet essential step in the overcoming of the narrow sense of ontology as perceived by previous metaphysicians. Iain Thomson notes that the Beitrage, with its unifying theme, the occurrence of das Ereignis, was Heidegger's attempt to go beyond metaphysics and human subjectivity and achieve what has always eluded philosophy: to grasp the truth of Being (Seyn) in the fully unfolded richness of its grounded manner, as experienced by the pre-socratics (but not understood) in the first beginning of metaphysics. In Heidegger's pathway of questioning, the first beginning of Being first awakens and brings about a surge of thoughtful questioning, whereas Being-historical thinking (seynsgeschichtliches Denken) is to do with those events where thinking is deeply influenced by Beyng itself as Ereignis. Vallega-Neu understands Heidegger's transformative turn of thinking as itself arising from a more originary turning that occurs in the event of the truth of Seyn as Ereignis. As the transition involves the coming and passing of the truth of Being (Ereignis), it is a passing occurrence of deep significance that comes to thinking in the 'other' beginning. In a sense, Beitrage itself is also a preparation; as its grounding is an essential feature of a transition which cannot be completed. Its manner of thinking does not expect completion. Therefore, we cannot say that in Beitrage Heidegger is now 'successful'. Yet, it involves a transitionary manner of thinking which is both transformative and transformed, and furthermore is one where the question of Being and the union with its truth is allowed to continue and inspire.

Henk van Leeuwen

Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology
Andres and Henk greetings,

There is a sense in which all of Heidegger's work is preparatory and this is consistent with his understanding and approach to philosophy throughout his writings, be they focused upon the meaning of being, the truth of being or the lanugage of being.  And corresponding to these "turns" of thought are altered ways of seeing and thus using the term dasein - correspondingly initially as human being, then cultural group and finally completely abandoned.  But the reason that Heidegger avoided talk of consciousness is important here and why he continually provided self -criticism that his thought was always still too entranced by human subjectivity.  Also consider: "As ways in which man behaves, sciences have the manner of Being which this entity---man himself---possesses (BT, p.11) and "...has it [language] Dasein's kind of Being...? (BT, p.166).

Finally, a hermeneutic phenomenology and especially one focused upon what is concealed (Husserl's phenomenology can be seen to be focused upon only what is revealed), will always involve one in a circuitous path with neither real beginning nor end.  And when you think about it, should not doing philosophy much like living a life (consider Aristotle's "A swallow does not make a summer" and Heidegger saw phenomenology not as a new method but rather a repition of Aristotle's aproach) be a continuous journey (until it is forced to end)?



Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology
Hi Max,

Sorry for the intervention.You are absolutely right that Heidegger
is quite modest to acknowledge the difficulty that an existential
analytic entails to find the meaning of Being.So the analytic is
provisional,self critical and fairly open ended. That said, your
quotation(As ways in which man behaves..........)is,If I may say,
a bit off track since in my reading I take that to  convey science
as parasitic-and this entails its possibility in a Kantian sense- on
the Being of dasein.the Being of dasein is a primordial projection
on a possibility through which Understanding gets reflected and
consequently  articulated in sciences(language,history,natural
sciences and so on). The force of the quotation is directed
more towards disclosing what gets enclosed in a predominant
scientific understanding  of Being.

                      No doubt Heidegger eschews any jargon that
 has its root in substance ontology.Yet the quotation above is
 not particularly a great example of Heidegger's yet another
 attempt to  dislodge any subjectivist trace from his discourse.

                              Besides, I am not sure about the 'Husserl
 as concerned with the "revealed" and Heidegger with the "concealed"'.

Any way I appreciate the "Aristotle" part


Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology
Hello Bijaya,

Quite right on the sloppiness of my use of the parasitic reference to science.  But what I was trying to refer to was the need to avoid (as you put it) "substance ontology".  Thus the need, which is so often ignored, of understanding dasein as a critically different and opposed term to consciousness.  I obviously understand and interpret this slightly differently than the way you do; as I see it as a focus upon the activities which we share (our being-in-the-world) and crucial to this is language.  So the second quote was more to the point.  And this highlights Heidegger's phenomenology as hermeneutic and also as externalist as opposed to internalist (Husserl) - consider how impersonal Heidegger's references to dasein are.  That being for Heidegger is just as much about what is concealed as revealed, seems obvious to me and not to have been an emphasis of Husserl.



Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology
Hi Max

Interesting observation:the externalist/internalist debate being fought from within
the phenomenological camp.The little I have read of Husserl(that even from secondary sources)
gives me the impression that he is not what Heidegger portrays him to be:the final heir to
Cartesianism.The reason for this is that even in Epoche the subject is not bereft of her world
as intentionality still retains its object(world) pole. Husserl scholar J.N.Mohanty maintains
that for Husserl also consciousness as substance is one feature of intentionality,not its
absoulete determinant.

It would really be intresting to know from you a little more about the internalist-externalist
thesis and how it bears on the Husserl-Heidegger relation.This is what I am likely to work
on as my Ph.D project


Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology

Hello Bijaya,

The internalism / externalism distinction belongs to discussions in epistemology, particularly forms of justification.  The distinction fits fairly neatly into portrayals of Cartesians and antiCartesians respectively.  Heidegger is clearly antiCartesian but he does not discuss matters of epistemology, rather ontology early and interpretation throughout his writings.  Husserl is a sophisticated Cartesian but still a Cartesian (as was Kant, as are most Existentialists and postmodern philosophers (even when they denounce Cartesianism they do so from a perspective that assumes it)).  [I know I am being too quick but this is a blog entry, not a paper.]   The crucial point to realise is that Heidegger's focus was on being and how the history of metaphysics ignores the ontological difference between being and beings and relies upon a misinterpretation of truth.  Meditate upon how dasein is not consciousness, truth (or better the essence of truth) needs to be understood as unconcealment and disclosedness, time is the meaning of being and ask yourself: What is the relationship between language and being? (and remember that "language speaks through man rather than man speaking through language").



Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology
Dear Max,

Thanks for the education.I shall look forward to your posts in this forum.