Heidegger and scientific realism

Continental Philosophy Review 34 (4):361-401 (2001)


This paper describes Heidegger as a robust scientific realist, explains why his view has received such conflicting treatment, and concludes that the special significance of his position lies in his insistence upon linking the discussion of science to the question of its relation with technology. It shows that Heidegger, rather than accepting the usual forced option between realism and antirealism, advocates a realism in which he embeds the antirealist thesis that the idea of reality independent of human understanding is unintelligible. This reading is defended against Rorty's antirealist interpretation, as well as Dreyfus' depiction of him as a deflationary realist, and his assessment of background realism is contrasted with Fine's. Further, the robustness of Heidegger's realism is laid out across several texts from 1912 to 1976, in order to show that he is neither an instrumental realist nor an internal realist. Finally, the point is made that the development of his view concerning realism gives rise to a critique of objectivity that is now being similarly advocated by numerous thinkers from a variety of disciplines, and that this critique is inevitably ethical and political.

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Patricia Glazebrook
Washington State University

References found in this work

Is Heidegger a Kantian Idealist?William D. Blattner - 1994 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 37 (2):185 – 201.
The Scope of Hermeneutics in Natural Science.Patrick A. Heelan - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (2):273-298.

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