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Episode #100 ... Heidegger pt. 1 - Phenomenology and Dasein

2017-04-14 | 🔗

Today we begin our discussion of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger by looking at his roots in Phenomenology and his revolutionary concept of Dasein. 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello? Everyone, I'm Stephen West. This is philosophize. This thank all the people that support the show on Patria. Thank you to the people to go through the Amazon banner by the way you're on of the people that have been having trouble with your browser and the link to the banner on the website finally got tired of waiting for the web person to fix it, and I just paid somebody else to fix it. So it's back up now. Look I understand Amazon banners down things can get a little lonely for you. Look I get. It may have been hanging out with some other Amazon banners in the entry. I get it, but you know what I'm back now and I'm not leaving you again. It's time to come all thank you again. I hope you'll have the show today. So I want to begin the episode today by telling you all a very famous story from the history of philosophy. It's an old story passed down from generation after generation from one philosophers another, and here I am today passing it on to you. It's just a day way back way back in antiquity in Athens Plato.
Philip philosophers sitting around talking about stuff, as they normally would questioning the definitions of things probably thing to do if you're philosopher back, then I mean, after all, How can you ever philosophize about something meaningfully if you dont have a solid ground when the definition of the thing now the topic of this particular days, discussion was the question: what is a human being? What does it mean to be a human being? How can we define that? Well, they sit around. They talk about it for well frozen. There is around and eventually to come to a conclusion at their all, pretty satisfied with it in their nodding at each other guests, ass, jolly good. Their answer to this question was a human being, is a by penal animal that doesn't have feathers. After all, an ostrich s, feathers to Canada's feathers, a human being seems to be the bipedal animal that doesn't have feathers, so there also around patting each other. On the back loving this definition soaking in the glory when all of a sudden,
Nitrogen he's a cynic burst through the door with a chicken he just plucked. He says: hey everyone. Look I present to you a human being. Everybody start screaming diabetes. I limits that guy number either he's kind of character from around this whole time lived in a tub Alexander, the great family took it. I can system, you know what, if I were not Alexander, then I would want to be diagnoses. Divergent says backroom. You know If I were not Diogenes, I would also want to be Diogenes anyway. This whole story depicts one of the first times philosophers started, asking questions and what would eventually become a massive branch of philosophy known as ontology ontology is the branch of philosophy that, when asked the kind of question, what does it mean to be a human being? Not just that, though, ontology would ask what does it mean to be a thing at all? What is existence? What does it mean for something to be at what point to something?
exist forces not exist like, for example, let's say one day you went down to the petting zoo, he met a goat there and you said it some alfalfa pellets now was a lot of people out there. That would look at that goat and they would take the existence of that vote. To be a self evident thing. It exists And for the sake of the discussion today, let's just say fine that goat definitely exists. It is but then ontology steps stepson What is it even mean to exist, What do we mean when we say that something exists? What criteria do we use? This leads to other questions. What is the nature of existence itself is existence, a property of that goat. This leads even more questions. What foundation, if there even is one makes it possible for that go to be able to exist in the first place. These are examples of common,
ontological questions, but even this is far from the end of ontology like about this. What? If what? If you leave the petting zoo and later on your thinking about that goat you'll? What if you're really like thinking about this scope? What if you fell in love with this vote and now gosh darn it your daydreaming about it all the time? What you do you can't get that goes out to your head now. Would you, say that that thought about that goat exists when you're no longer having the thought. Does it not exist anymore, our thoughts, just patterns of fleeting electrochemical activity or Do thoughts exist as beings in the same way that a goat is a being or Iraq is a being? Let me think about it. What really is the difference between that thought and that goat may say? Okay,. They will their different to me because I know ones just a thought and that it's not real okay. Well, what have you took pc and he hallucinated that you and the goat ran off to Vegas together to get married and an end when you're walking down the aisle with that vote it feels as
deal to you in that moment, as it did back at the petting zoo question is when you eventually stop hallucinating and then in your harkening back to your memory, You have your honeymoon in Guam, with your new goat companion. Can that huh experience be said to have existed in some capacity we ve all been here before, not the goat, we ve all been up in our heads asking these kinds of questions about what constitutes something existing or and philosophers all throughout history. I've been here as well in this field of ontology. Now, there's definitely some of you out there that here are these sorts of questions being asked, and they just don't really do much for you, Look I learned about the existentialist in their approach to life. I learned about the new committee on ethics. That's interesting, but ultimately I, like learning about philosophy, that's actually going to enrich things in my life. What power?
possible benefit. Can I get from from waxing poetic about whether this hypothetical goat exists or not? But personally, this is weird thing about me. I like to learn about stuff. That's actually going to be important to me. Well, the guy we're going to be talking about today thought that these ontological questions are not only important. They are the most important and simultaneously the most neglected questions in the history of philosophy his name is Martin Heidegger and for me to explain to you why he thinks these questions are so important, it's going to take an entire series, but I promise you by the end of it. You won't just have these obscure questions to think about it. You'll have an approach to life that he lays out that some consider to be the greatest exit. Most approach to life ever produced, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Question is where you put that foot first, and it makes sense to me to begin where Heidegger began at the beginning of his career because to understand where he's coming from with all these innovations in the area of ontology, we have to understand,
the revolutionary method that was invented by his teacher, a guy that couldn't care less about ontology, His name was Edmund, whose role and is revolutionary met. That he invented was called phenomenology, whose role was like a mad science. This mad scientist that emerges at the begin The twentieth century just wreaking AOC on everything in philosophy. I guess technically that makes him a mad philosopher, but make no mistake. He is the philosophy and traditional philosophers. What amounts it would be to science entry National scientists he's like a man scientist, because, yes, he still gets dressed up in the lab coat. He still conducts experiments but they're, not the same kinds of experiments that a traditional scientist? What conduct he's conducting these experiments in this and this bizarre police deep within his own mind, almost like his own personal underground layer,
and I guess most of all he's not doing these experiments for the same reasons, a normal scientist would be doing them. One of the things I love most about Eman Hostra, just as a character within philosophy, is the way that he approaches his work. He's not concerned with things like what is the meaning of my life or how we should be behaving or what the best form of government is. No hos role is a math Maticia turned philosopher, and while he thinks ultimately, his work is to go on to give answers to these kinds of questions he's personally interested and one thing and one thing alone in his work, certainty see who's role, noticed something he noticed all these philosophers throughout history trying to find a way to get objective truth about things, yeah how's, that going for you guys, I haven't checked in, and a hey guys doing over there, he realised that they all have basically the same strategy for doing this. They all come up with their
unique, creative ways of looking at the world in a slightly different, when the last guided the goal being to correct the assumptions of the past and get us a little bit closer to certainty? But maybe their lack of success can be explained by the fact that the strategy for accomplishing this massive task has wrong from the very beginning. Maybe, instead of looking at the world differently, we should be looking differently at the way that we look at the world. Here's where is coming from caught Amber Hume we're talking about how we get to our human experience of the war. The senses, pick up a flurry of seemingly random raw phenomena that by themselves would be pretty chaotic, but we filter those phenomena through various mental faculties categories of the mind that help us categorize and make sense of them things like space time cause and effect many others. This is what makes up our subjective human experience.
But one thing's for sure, if you're, whose role, if we ever arrived at some method, that does give us objective truth about things. It's ultimately it ultimately to be filled, through this very narrow subjective human experience that we have, who sorrels method of phenomenology is not about. Looking at the world differ it's not about looking at the world and all necessarily it's about taking an exhaustively close look at the lines that these objects of our experience are always seen through human consciousness or are subjective experience of the world phenomenology as a method designed to better understand the underlying structure of human thought, the hoping that one day. We can not just merely have an understanding of these objects in our thinking that we that we typically call the world the strategy of so many philosophers before him, but instead Maybe we can arrive at certainty about these raw phenomenon, how they relate to each other by understanding all the ways that our human experience of the world distorts reality and other
All these philosophers over the years have tried to arrive and objectivity by sit on the sidelines approaching like there's some objective third party looking at the world, but human experience is not objective. Here's whose rural saying that you're never gonna be able to arrive I bet certainty about anything unless you have a much deeper understanding of that subjective, Lindsey you're, looking at everything through the big maxim here that I like to underscore the question central to phenomenology. That's gonna, help us understand why Heidegger did what he did is the question: is it possible that work so familiar with this daily process of just perceiving the world that that familiarity is clouding our ability to see the world clearly now, thinking about that possibility, not really the deep. What state we find ourselves in as human beings right I mean Most- was don't sit. Round thinking about the underlined
structure of human thought? We just think about stuff. Most of us aren't searching for the objective truth about things like a philosopher. Would we just sort of have beliefs if they work they work? If they don't well, what really happens as a consequence of them not working? What you go into your thinking, closet turn off all the lights. Stupid, stupid stupid and then what happens? You emerge from the closet and revise your beliefs into another flawed interpretation of the world and go on about your life and have to revise them again. This whole idea of just sort of blindly accepting from birth that there's this other world out there separate from us that it's our job to uncover the truth about that by reading more books and having more conversations and many other basis, since it go along with this default attitude that we seem to have taking so many things for granted. This whole approach is what whose role refers to as the natural attitude,
This is where most people spend their entire lives, but it's not a death sentence. Don't worry host thinks it is possible to develop over time a phenomenological attitude of the world. We can do this by suspending our belief in the natural latitude. He calls it bracketing, but the main point is to recognize the natural attitude for what it truly is. It's a belief, a set of beliefs, he's not saying to not believe the natural latitude he's just saying put it in check for a bit and recognize that this default state. This natural attitude might not be the only way of looking at things and realize the very serious possibility that this might be an area where we can to the table with a lot of assumptions about beforehand. This is where Girl starts to sound like a mad scientist This is where his hair starts to stick up, like he's bozo the clown who I think that when you examine the natural attitude closely enough, you start to see lotta biases and assumptions assumptions
That stem from the way the human mind categorized as it makes sense of everything when you find these biases he's a fan of noticing them acknowledging them and then marking them with a sort of philosophical reflector tape. The helped draw attention to them the next time, you're thinking about things, he says he do this for two reasons: one you're much less likely to make the same sort of natural attitude mistake the next time and to when you start to get enough of this philosophical reflector tape courting off areas of these raw phenomena, indifferent portions of thought, in your mind that trying to look at Finchley what happens is the reflector tapes? starts to show a pattern. It starts to show the boundary of where the natural attitude ends, and the raw phenomena, begin its inside of these court enough areas whose role things that we can more closely focus on the stuff. We're really concerned with the
aspects of our experience that are necessary and unchanging, in other words, the essence of our experiences, devoid of all the value judgments we place on experience after the fact know when you're in this place. Deep within your own mind when you're in the layer of the mad scientist, many methods whose rule uses to try to arrive at the essence of any given human experience. I can't really go through all of them here. Though, if you do want a series on whose Rome phenomenology, please don't hesitate to reach out. Know you know what I want to say this, a you're only just ten seconds police, here's the way. I look at the show I'm not making the show for me, I'm making it for you guys in the episodes of the show that end up getting produced, looks like I'm sitting at home spin and a giant wheel to decide what episodes to do, I don't have any other method to decide what episode to do other than democratically just based on how many emails, Facebook messages in twitter things that I get asking for a particular person or topic
You know a common email that I get from people. Are them asking me a question and then apologizing to me, because I must get a ton of emails like seriously? No, no look! I do get a lot of emails, but also consider the fact that I'm an extroverted person that spins the vast majority of my days in a one bedroom apartment alone, you're not imposing upon you do you're not in convincing me at all. In fact, I see it the opposite. This is a conversation I get to have with the very people that love what I've decided to dedicate my life to. So please, please do not hesitate to reach out if you want more something, but I digress anyway. I can't go through all of whose rules methods here, but I do want to talk about one of them. I want you to feel what you to feel this, this strange world that whose rules operating within when he does his philosophy. This bizarre method he's using to arrive at certainty that would eventually go onto deeply and
once hiding in the way that he conducts its work. One tactic is called using an idyllic reduction, and I did it. Reduction is just one type of strategy whose role would use to try to arrive at what the essence is of any given experience. Now, how do we search for the essence of a human experience, while we search for the essence of things on the show before right? We just did it with objects, not human experiences accoucheur. Also, let's talk about the process. Famous example, passed down from Descartes is to try to find the essence of a piece of wax. You can imagine in front of you a red, cylindrical piece of wax sitting on a table. Now, let's break it down. What is the essence of a piece of wax? Well, this particular piece of wax has certain properties right it's red, it's cylindrical and shape it may be shiny. It could have just bought it at the store. Then again it may not be shiny. It could be one of those korean war surplus candles. Your grandma has up an erratic. This wax has a certain way that it smells. It has a certain way that it tastes, but in
these properties necessary and invariable towards. It are incredibly important, phenomenology, necessary and invariable components of that wax. Well, we could take away. The redness still could be a piece of wax without being red right. The wax could smell different. It could still be a piece of wax right. I mean what, if it wasn't a gift to your grandma from General Douglas Macarthur still would be a piece of wax it just wouldn't smell. Like the nineteen fifties, you can apply heat to the accident would melt down into a shape that wasn't a cylinder anymore. It still would be wax to find the necessary and invariable components of this wax is to find the essence of the wax and an idenic reduction is a particular color technique where you use something known as imagine Harry Variation or the act of cream? at varying different components of something say the wax in order to get closer or to those necessary an invariable components, for example, asking questions like what, if the wax was blue, Stolliver wax what, if the wax smelled like a gingerbread man
don't wax what if the wax was made of water? Ok, they're stops summing change there about the wax. Now it doesn't appear to be wax now. Can we try to figure out what specifically needs to be replaced for to be classified as well? accident? I e the necessary an invariable components now imagine conducting this whole process, not a piece of wax, so they were all very familiar with a magic conducting. On an experience that human beings have an instead, considering things like color in shape and how it smells. Things again, we're all very familiar with changing. Imagine the equivalent are the ways that you're rain organizes and makes sense of that experience? You imagine that, get a rough idea of this strange, my
bending world, that people like Hose Roland Hider used to operate with it, and you can definitely get an idea of why it would take an entire series to fully explain what who Srul thinks he's doing here. But all that doesn't matter all that doesn't matter all you need to know to be able to understand where hi diggers coming from. Are the basics of this newly introspective way of approaching philosophy and phenomenology a keyword and prospective again instead of trying to find a new creative way of looking at the objects of our experience like so many philosophers have done in the past. Instead, let's take a deeper look at what that experience is at, its most fundamental level, but along comes Heidegger. Student of Edmund Hostile begins his career, a a card carrying phenomenon just but it's right here that here these phenomenology eventually running to a lot of very serious problems. First of all, what exactly is it that you're trying to do? Phenomenology you're, trying to get an exhaustive understanding of these structures of human thought. You're going to arrive at the structure,
of human thought: Heidegger thought: isn't that kind of an extension of a mistake. Philosophers have been making all throughout history like David Hume, you know when David Hume writes an inquiry concerning human understanding. Who really is to say that if David, whom live for another few years and compose another book, this one called an inquiry concerning squirrel understanding or raccoon understanding? who's to say that it wouldn't have been the exact same book, in other words, how can we know for sure that the underlying structure of human thought is not underlying structure of mammalian thought or all conscious thought for that matter. Because the other way to what are we using to be able to arrive at these conclusions about the architecture of human thought: oh yeah, our subjective experience of the world. Let's say we arrived at a conclusion: how can we ever say that were positive, that this is the way every human being. That's ever going to live structures or thought, or even
every human being alive today. For that matter, I mean. Is it that inconceivable to think that something like something like your level of intellect affects the structure of your thought or even you, culture? You were born to wear the values we possess is a crazy to think that those might have a drastic effect. Not these. What problems enough Heidegger thinks there's an even bigger mistake whose rules making and that you know, even though he's an undeniably brilliant thinker and recognise the mistake that so many philosophers have been the past, even though he recognized the fact that we shouldn't be carrying so much about the objects of the world, we have a true understanding of the lens that we view those objects through Heidegger thought there was something massive who shrill himself was overlooking, because Ostro may have understood what underlies the objects of our experience, but It underlines the ability to be able to study the structures of human thought at all existence. What does it mean to exist? What does it mean to be a human being? These ontological questions we were talking about Heidegger realised the answers to these
questions drastically inform these other two areas. Philosophers engaging like just imagine for a second if every four as for we ve ever talked about on the show, wrote their work from the ontological perspective of Plato, buddies that we talked about at the the episode like what would count work. Look like if he just blindly assumed from the beginning that a human being is just a by penal animal, with no feathers. What There was no in needs to embarrass everyone and keep the conversation going with the pluck chicken. No question about it. Things would look very different. No one Heidegger takes a look at the history of ontology in the western Canada philosophy of there's variation among the philosophers, but he notices something on one issue in particular, there seems to be this mutual consensus among practically every philosopher. That's ever lived and man does a consensus like that start to look rather suspicious to Heidegger. This concept goes way beyond philosophy. By the way I mean it,
you're somebody that's interested in making novel social commentary or even just being Person at the party that has the most interesting take on the world. Here's a tip from your uncle Steve, you don't focus your time. Studying the things at everybody's arguing about no don't do that you want to vote your time studying the things that everybody pretty much agrees on cut. It's in those areas of people's ideas are the least challenged when everybody knows our position on abortion and why they feel that way about it. But it's when you start to ask questions of people tend to agree on like Why do you structure your relationships away? Do or why does this? never ending task of finding somebody to love. You seem to be an imperative in your life. These are the kind of question. That create progress in our understanding of the world? The questions you never think about, because what happens is you and your group friends all agree on X Y, and so you up, never really examining your beliefs that much about X, Y and Z, I'm talking about the belief,
So we just sort of off handedly spout off at a party, not even really thinking about it, because people all around us just pulled the red cups and smile and not an agreement or guess what folks Heidegger Stone a party and practically every philosopher, that's ever lived his on the guest list right now smiling and nodding at each other about a certain ontological bedrock that they ve all built their systems on top of an eye. Diggers here, stop smiling and nodding. What is it to be? A human being is always been some variation of generally the same thing as they were: a rational animal, a conscious agent temporarily and restlessly navigating this realm, this external world, that's existed for billions of years and will continue to exist with or without us, not to so happens that in this realm, having a more comprehensive understanding of this external world leads to a lot of very real benefits,
so philosophers traditionally from day Hart to lock to count all the way up to user they've. All dedicated a considerable amount of time to try to understand this external world, but what, if this whole idea, this idea that we're this human being thing this conscious agent, navigating this realm, that's separate from us this subject and object relationship. That exists. What if that's been a giant assumption? Philosophers have been making from practically the very beginning what, if that's the case, Heidegger things yeah? That's where people seem to be agreeing on that. So it goes back and he looks at all the arguments. People give to justify the sort of ontological position. People like Descartes, for example, Descartes. We all know the story, try it out everything he possibly can about his existence, and he famously arise at the conclusion that, although you can initially doubt pretty much everything about the existence of the external world, one thing is for by virtue of the fact that I'm thinking, I am a thinking thing of some sort? That's the fundamental thing that you can know about your existence that he's gonna use as a foundation, for
its entire philosophical system, but Heidegger says hold on a second day. Cart, you skipped over somethin massively important there. The first thing you experience about your existence is not that you're a thing thing to even be able to make an abstraction like that about what you are presupposes something has come before that know the actual. First experience. It you have when you exist, is just sort of being there like here. I am guys existing being there Heidegger has a word. He uses to describe the state design now too, Literal german translation of design is being there, though it should be said. Heidegger creates a lot of words all throughout his philosophy and he's not doing it because he get some some creepy pleasure from people using the words invented he's creating words because he's literally talking about things that no person has ever talked about before and he does
the biases and connotations come along with conventional words. The clown people's understanding of the concepts he's talking about that said, even with some, simple as the concept of design. So many different interpretations of high biggest work ethic, my job here it is not to lay out every possible interpretation of Heidegger in existence, It's the hopefully pick your interest about his ideas enough that you go under, read more and have your own interpretation of his work, but anyway, this concept design being their existence. Here's where he departs from all the other philosophy see, because whose role makes a claim that he studying the underlying structure of thought. We used to experience this world that separate from us, but hiding or thought what, if this whole notion that were subjects navigating objects that were conscious agents navigating an external world. What
That's wrong? After all, our experience of the world before we even arrive at an idea like that were a thinking thing. Navigating something is just being their design being in the world. Will have this idea guys what, if being and the world are a united think that being can't exist with at the world and the world cannot exist without being in the english translations of Heidegger. Being in the world is hyphenated together because he sees these two concepts as fundamentally inseparable. This is an odd thing to consider at first for a lot of people, but just like in phenomenology, where we become so familiar with perceiving the world every day that its inhibiting our nobody to see a clearly is it possible that we become so familiar with being that that familiarity funds. Our ability to see it clearly to see two even try to begin to describe this concept you're talking about while using western languages. That's an appeal by
in its own right, because the way our languages typically structure sentences are in terms of subjects acting upon objects. That's how deep this In fact, Heidegger in his later work actually advocates poetry as the best form of communication. Not these sentences that continually reinforce this distorted. Subject, object false, like economy. These sentences reinforce the idea that being In the world is existing within some special dimension that separate from us Heidegger often talks about the over emphasis. So many people place on the idea of something spatially being but if being in the world is not being within a spatial context, what if it's more like being in love being in love, is its own thing. Right, maybe being in the world, are inseparable from each other for them to be what it is being used thing that were engaged in when you remove the languages when you remove the intuition. When you look
being a phenomenal logical way. This is what you find being is something that we are engaged in and by the way, being something that we're all engaged in every person area every tree every rock we're all united under this larger umbrella of being role on this. In team and Heidegger thinks we should think about it. That way, ass tag, team being people up. This is kind of tough to initially wrap your mind around. Don't worry, more explanation. Next episode, we're going to talk a lot more about what it means to be being engaged in a world as such, but just know this. I've talked to a lot of people about hi digger, a lot of fans of philosophy, all the way up to philosophy, professors and a common experience that people have when they first hear about this concept of design. Is they have this sort of strange moment where they think how in the world did nobody ever think of this before and what's even more interesting to think about? Is what, if being in time
ideas: primary work early in his life relays out these ideas. What if that was the Magnum opus of tales? What if this was the initial ontological starting point? That philosophy began on how different would philosophy look today? How different would the world look today? How different would the world look today? It's a nice segue. I guess, because if this series is me ultimately trying to convey why hi digger thinks these ontological questions are so important. That question sort of brings me to. I guess the first point, hi digger would make about these kinds of questions. You know it's so easy for us as individuals as individuals that don't write philosophical treatises, but just people that look to philosophy as a practical guide to life and how to think more. Clearly, it's so easy for us to think of these questions like what does it mean to be-
was meant to be a human as again sort of these redundant self indulgent exercises right, like flick short of you being a professor, that's going to some sort of rocky style training to become the most obscure and unreliable professor on the face of the planet. Why would you ask these questions one unless some real questions? One of those questions like how do we get the ice caps to stop melting? Or how do we fix widespread poverty? Or how do we get people to stop killing each other real questions? Heidegger would say Those are all really great questions to ask, but are we sabotaging our ability to ever be able to, I've at an accurate answer to them by ignoring questions that make those questions even possible. Not only that is our lack of answers to these ontological questions. That's response
for creating all those problems. In the first place, the state of the world is contingent upon the state of human thought that came before it and when you really consider that again, think of how much change is about, for example, niches philosophy if he spends his entire career with the ontological, Look, that we are agents of God's will think of how much changes about every single question he thinks is worth asking and every answer he thinks is reasonable. Think about how much changes about the political philosophy of John Locke. If for his entire career, he holds the ontological position that a human being is a featherless by penal, animal. So because Heidegger would point out that, whether you're asking geological questions about rocky beings or in the political questions about cultural beings or scientific questions about scientific beings, we're all ultimately asking questions about beings. And that maybe, if we took a closer look at these seemingly meaningless questions- and we all want
stood what it means to be a human being a little bit better, maybe we'd better understand why we have these sorts of problems or even whether their problems at all. Thank you for listening I'll talk to you next time.
Transcript generated on 2020-09-30.