Studies in Early Heidegger

Dissertation, Indiana University (2003)

Ingo Farin
University of Tasmania
The dissertation is a historical and systematic study of Heidegger 's philosophizing at Freiburg between 1919 and 1923. It is shown that Heidegger pursues a philosophy of life directed at articulating how human life is lived from within, rather than how it is objectively thought about in the various positive sciences. Heidegger 's basic thesis that life is inextricably tied to the historical world and centered in the personal self leads him to experiment with various forms of relativism or historicism, which, however, cannot be defended. Moreover, Heidegger 's search for a non-objective, non-theoretical method of describing life ultimately leads to a dead-end, although it does raise important questions about the theory of phenomenological description and concept formation. ; Heidegger 's extreme anti-objectivist phenomenology of life draws on and radicalizes strands in Bergson, Simmel, Jaspers, Kierkegaard, Dilthey, and Husserl. However, it also co-opts anti-objectivist impulses about the non-naturalist conceptuality of history and psychology, as pioneered by Natorp, Windelband, and Rickert. The conclusion is that Heidegger is not starting out as a philosopher of being, but as a philosopher of life, being driven by the life-philosophical ferment of the time. ;In addition, it is argued that Heidegger 's life-philosophy is a "philosophy of crisis," putting at center stage the fragility of life and the tendency to fall away from original self-being and the unique historical situation. It is suggested that this corresponds to the lived through "crisis" of World War One, and the political upheavals in the immediate post-war period. As a crisis philosopher, Heidegger embraces modernism and its skeptical distance to the normative powers of the tradition. ;Last but not the least, it is argued that, in the early twenties, Heidegger 's philosophy does not carry the slightest traces of overt or covert reactionary political motifs
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