Written by one of the pre-eminent interpreters of Heidegger, this book is an important statement about the basis of human sociability that is a major contribution to the continuing debates about Heidegger in particular, and ethics in general. Existential philosophy is often thought to promote moral nihilism in which everything is permitted. This book demonstrates that, in the case of Martin Heidegger, any such accusation is unjust. On the contrary, Heidegger thought seriously about the implications of human co-existence, and this (...) book shows that conceptions of trust and responsibility that lie at the very heart of morality are to be found in the sketch of Mitsein - our being together with one another in the world - offered in Being and Time. That Heidegger never developed these conceptions may explain why they have been overlooked, but renders them no less important for that. (shrink)
_Naturalism and the Human Condition_ is a compelling account of why naturalism, or the 'scientific world-view' cannot provide a full account of who and what we are as human beings. Drawing on sources including Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl and Sartre, Olafson exposes the limits of naturalism and stresses the importance of serious philosophical investigation of human nature.
This broad, ambitious study is about human nature, but human nature treated in a way quite different from the scientific account that influences so much of contemporary philosophy. Drawing on certain basic ideas of Heidegger the author presents an alternative to the debate waged between dualists and materialists in the philosophy of mind that involves reconceiving the way we usually think about 'mental' life. Olafson argues that familiar contrasts between the 'physical' and the 'psychological' break down under closer scrutiny. They (...) need to be replaced by a conception of human being in which we are not entities compounded out of body and mind, but unitary entities that are distinguished by 'having a world', which is very different from simply being a part of the world. (shrink)
Philipse's interpretation of Heidegger's concept of being is fundamentally mistaken. It treats that concept as an amalgam of themes drawn from Aristotle, Husserl, Kant and Hegel with no hint of the utterly different ontology of the human subject that is Heidegger's most original contribution. Heidegger emerges incongruously as a transcendental philosopher a la Kant and the world is supposed to be constituted by the meaning-giving activity of a transcendental subject. As a result, the whole conception of human being as Dasein (...) and being-in-the-world goes by the board. In its place we get religious and politico-military construals of the big movements in Heidegger's thought and no attention at all to the centrally important conception of being as presence. The only sense in which the author's evident intention of demolishing every thesis Heidegger defends succeeds that nothing recognizably Heideggerian emerges from the account he gives. (shrink)
Taylor Carman has argued that the passages I submitted to him as proof that Heidegger identifies being with presence are really just his characterizations of a metaphysical conception of being that he repudiates. I show that he has misread these passages and has misunderstood the nature of the continuity that Heidegger himself recognizes between the views of Kant which are under discussion in the texts from which these passages are drawn and his own (Heidegger's) position which finds expression in them. (...) I then cite other passages from another work by Heidegger that make the same point about being and presence just as emphatically and quite independently of any account of any other philosopher's views. Finally, I explain the difference between the ways Heidegger uses the word Anwesenheit ? his word for presence. One of these is as a translation of the Greek ousia which he interprets as a concept of being as presence sans temporality; the other is the radicalized concept of being as presence toward which Heidegger was working in Being and Time. (shrink)
Danto and White, alone among philosophers who emphasize the narrative structure of historical writing, attempt to reconcile historical narrative with the regularity theory of explanation. Their efforts fail because neither realizes that the concept of intentional action lies at the root of historical understanding. Danto's insistence that historical events can under some description be subsumed under universal causal laws forces him to disallow and thus to sacrifice the integrity of explanations that are intelligible to the historical agents themselves. White does (...) not see that "action" not "thought" or "underlying condition," may be "the decisive cause" of an event. Though the attempt to square historical narrative with the regularity theory is not doomed from the start, it has no chance of success until the concept of action, now being intensively analyzed by philosophers, is better understood. (shrink)
Although the status of the concept of being in Heidegger's thought is still the subject of controversy, textually it is quite clear that he held the fundamental character of being to be presence. Accordingly, this paper is not concerned to show that this was indeed Heidegger's conception of being. Instead, it undertakes to make a philosophical case for the prima facie paradoxical thesis that being is presence. It does so by first taking up Heidegger's account of truth in which it (...) is identified with the mode of being of Dasein and thus with the 'uncoveredness' (Entdecktheit) of entities that Dasein effects. This leads to a review of traditional conceptions of being. I argue that being is not just the character that makes an entity the kind of entity it is; it is that entity's be-ing whatever it is. As such, it has the structure of a state of affairs and it is a state of affairs that makes statements or thoughts about it true or false as the case may be. But a state of affairs is not a part or a property of the entity it is about. As what makes a true statement true, I argue, it belongs to the context of truth and thereby of presence. In a final section, the relevance of these matters to contemporary philosophical discussion is taken up. (shrink)