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Truth and Physics Education- A Heideggerian Analysis

Truth and Physics Education- A Heideggerian Analysis

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09/13/2011

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The preferred word for Befindlichkeit is ―disposition‖, although this is not ideal, and

nor is it the word Heidegger settles on himself after years of deliberation.

Befindlichkeit is an ever-present constituent of all beings, which is to say all truth – it

is an integrant of intelligibility.

According to the translators of Being and Time (Heidegger, 1962a, p.172),

Befindlichkeit is sometimes ―attunement‖. It may also mean the ―state in which one

may be found‖ (Translator's comment, Heidegger, 1962a, p.172). Heidegger‘s

leading example of Befindlichkeit is Stimmung, which translates as ―mood‖ but this

captures only one part of Heidegger‘s notion and is excessively psychological.

Stimmung originally refers to the tuning of a musical instrument. A prominent

American scholar glosses Heidegger and pursues the scope of Befindlichkeit:

Heidegger suggests that moods or attunements manifest the tone of

being-there. As Heidegger uses the term, mood can refer to the

sensibility of an age (such as romantic), the culture of a company (such

78

as aggressive), the temper of the times (such as revolutionary), as well

as the mood in a current situation (such as the eager mood in the

classroom) and, of course, the mood of an individual. (Dreyfus, 1991,

p.169)

Thus, a vital, multi-dimensional concept emerges.

Later, however, there is a dramatic alternation, which Gendlin claims the

scholars did not follow: Heidegger‘s concept Befindlichkeit becomes Wohnen

(disposition/mood becomes dwelling):

Joan Stambaugh asked Heidegger what had become of his concept of

―Befindlichkeit‖ from Being and Time, since it is not mentioned in his
later writings. ―It is now dwelling‖, he said. (Gendlin, 1988, p.152)

The new word for Befindlichkeit emphasises both the involvement of truth and the

notion of clearing which becomes a leading analogy for ontological understanding.

The altered terminology brings forward an aspect of Befindlichkeit that was always

present: place is prominent in an expression that is allegedly a literal translation of

Heidegger‘s Befindlichkeit – ―where-you‘re-at-ness‖ (Dreyfus, 1991, p.168). The

―where‖ that suggests ―place‖ is not a reference to a physical place like a physics
laboratory, but nor is it a mental ―place‖ if that is taken to require the involvement of

a mind. The general or holistic aspect is an amalgam of everything non-specific

relevant to the Dasein‘s existent situatedness, and ―dwelling‖ freed from its

association with houses, seems appropriate.

The adjusted terminology is consistent with Heidegger‘s wider programme of

thought. The KNS schema, Heidegger‘s first environmental analysis, records what

he finds first in the language of looking around/being-there, then in language of

knowing-how-to-get-around/coping, and finally in the language of

phenomenological intuition which includes the openness of the clearing that allows

foundational ontological understanding (Kisiel, 2002, p.179). Consistent with this,

Befindlichkeit develops from mood-discovered-here to become dwelling, the truth of

beings in their total circumstance.

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