Is there a hermeneutics of suspicion in being and time?

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (1):97 – 118 (2008)
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Abstract

Hubert Dreyfus has claimed that Heidegger's phenomenological method involves a “hermeneutics of suspicion”. This is an intriguing suggestion, and if it were correct it would indicate that the standard interpretations overlook a significant aspect of the methodology of Being and Time. But is there really a hermeneutics of suspicion in Being and Time? Leslie MacAvoy has offered the most sustained challenge to Dreyfus on this point, arguing that his “hermeneutics of suspicion thesis” misconstrues both the overarching project and the methodological structure of Heidegger's magnum opus. In this essay, after examining Dreyfus's “hermeneutics of suspicion thesis” and MacAvoy's objections to it, I argue that the criticisms offered by MacAvoy, despite correcting some misunderstandings in Dreyfus's reading, are not fatal to the general thesis that a hermeneutics of suspicion is operative in Being and Time. Indeed, I contend that Dreyfus's basic intuition is correct and that it does identify a significant and often overlooked aspect of Heidegger's phenomenological method. In the body of the essay, Dreyfus's intuition is developed into a more detailed and rigorous analysis of the “suspicious” dimension of Being and Time.

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Matheson Russell
University of Auckland