Existential Epistemology: A Heideggerian Critique of the Cartesian Project

Existential Epistemology: A Heideggerian Critique of the Cartesian Project

Existential Epistemology: A Heideggerian Critique of the Cartesian Project

Existential Epistemology: A Heideggerian Critique of the Cartesian Project

Synopsis

A lucid introduction to the "existential phenomenology" of Martin Heidegger, particularly as developed in his major work, Being and Time, this work focuses on how Heidegger's ideas bear on the central problem in epistemology--that of how we can have objective knowledge. The author constructs fresh arguments clarifying Heidegger's contribution to the theory of knowledge, and shows why Heidegger deemed misguided the search for knowledge of the way things are in themselves.

Excerpt

My aim is to develop a Heideggerian response to the central problem in epistemology.

What do I mean by this problem, and by such a response?

The problem is the familar one, which may be stated so: can we know the existence of physical objects? But it is either capable of a variety of formulations, or belongs to a cluster of closely related problems: can we know any objective empirical facts? can we prove the existence of a world external to our minds? can we arrive at the way things are in themselves? Without confronting the question how such problems are to be individuated, I shall use such expressions as “the central problem in epistemology” to distinguish any of these issues from such 'secondary' epistemological puzzles as those concerning other minds and induction. I hope to discuss these central issues at a level of generality that makes them in effect interchangeable, and that abstracts still more clearly from such subsidiary versions as those stated in terms of sense-data or ideas. Eventually I shall be offering an account of the basic character or aim of epistemological inquiry, and only then will it be appropriate to consider which of these formulations might have priority.

My 'Heideggerian response' to this central problem will be developed from out of Being and Time in particular, with lesser use of the more minor works of that 'early' period (1927-30). This project will be made more manageable by completely suppressing all questions as to Heidegger's evolution in his later writings; we thereby avoid an additional dimension of intricacy that would complicate the discussion exponentially. the importance of Being and Time, both in its own right and for an understanding of those later writings, gives a more positive justification for this focus. Because Heidegger's system in this early period is crucially 'existential'—in a sense that needs to be explained—so too will be my handling of epistemology. Thus this book's title implies not an epistemology for existentialism (as an analysis how we might know that movement's claims to be true), but rather a critique of epistemology from an existential stance.

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