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Heidegger criticizes Aristotelian Logic Heidegger’s phenomenology rests on his criticism on the concept of truth which is reduced to a mere product of predicative judgment. Heidegger criticizes the understranding of the truth as adequatio. In his essay, On the Essence of Truth, Heidegger observes that Western philosophy commonly equates truthfulness with actuality. He says, “the true is actual”1 Furthermore, he says that “a statement is true if what it means and says is in accordance with the matter about which the statement is made.”2 Truth then rests in adequation, which is understood in two senses. He says, “Being true and truth signify accord, and that in a double sense: on the one hand, the consonance of a matter with what is supposed in advance regarding it, and on the other hand, the accordance of what is meant in the sentence with the matter.”3 In both senses then, truthfulness is reduced to correctness, that is, the precision and fidelity of a proposition to the “state of affairs” which it is supposed to express. The doctrine on adequatio lies on the basic presupposition that Being has a fixed essence that can be ascertained competely. Once the Being of a being is ascertained by the mind, it must be correctly expressed, otherwise there will be falsity rather than truthfulness. Heidegger again says, “it is equally obvious that truth has its opposite, and that there is untruth. The untruth of the proposition is the non-concordance of the statement with the matter. The untruth of the matter signifies the non-agreement of a being with its essence. In either case, untruth is conceived as non-accord, which falls outside the essence of truth. Therefore, when it is a question of comprehending the pure essence of truth, untruth, as such an opposite of truth, can be put aside.”4 Heidegger believes that the reduction of truth to mere correctnes and logical predication is misleading. First of all, it presupposes the apprehension of a fixed essence or idea, and truthfulness rests on the correct predication of ideas. But, Heidegger has endeavored especially in the earlier part of his career to name the temporality of Being. If Being is temporal, then it will follow that the Being of being is not really fixed and ahistorical. Being rather unfolds/discloses through and in time. Courtine would even speak of this Heideggerian project as a deconstruction or destruction of logic. He says, “the destruction is applied essentially to the theory of proposition, i.e., the traditional interpretation of the apophantic utterance (enonce) as ‘saying something about something’ as predication which attributes a determination, a predicate, to a subject.”5 For the Aristotelian tradition, the”copula” of the statement is, in fact, considered to be the primordial and the proper place of truth. 2. Heidegger criticizes Western metaphysics Furthermore, Heidegger also contends that western metaphysics has succesfully placed the original Greek understanding of Being into oblivion. Being has been slowly replaced by the concept of presence and essence. He, for example, claimed that the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle reduced Being into mere essence. Plato
reduced philosophy into metaphysics.6 Being is no longer the process of coming to be. Rather, it was reduced to a complete but static presence of things. Being becomes that which is common to all beings, hence Plato calls it as the Beingness of beings or what is later known as the essence. The entire philosophical tradition becomes an attempt to name Being as the essence, even if essence has been substituted by many other names like Idea, Substance, God, or the Spirit. Every era in the history of the West has become an attempt to give a complete narrative about the Being of beings. This leads to the Heideggerian critique of the entire metaphysical tradition as ontotheological. This means that philosophy has already become concerned with the search for the ground of being which is perceived as the source or the creator. Hence, philosophy has become a science of both God - as the creator of beings, and the giver of the Being of beings or that principle which is common to all things.7 The God of onto-theology is just another objective reality that grounds the existence of all other things. It is completely ‘present’ just like any other being even if it is the first or the best in the gradation of things. Furthermore, the Being of beings is the essence of things. As Plato would say, the meaning of a table is the Idea of table or the tableness, outside the tableness of the table, that table cannot be. With this, Being was reduced to a particular kind of being – even if in theology, it is the first of all beings. Reducing philosophical thinking into a type of theology forces philosophy to abandon its original vocation to think. Philosophy ceases to become attentive to the unfolding of Being, rather, it becomes one of the empirical sciences, albeit the one that is concerned with the first being - God. Heidegger believes that this development contributes to the shift in philosophical orientation. Philosophy, as onto-theological, has sought to grasp the essence of things in order simply to manipulate and control them. This onto-theological character of philosophy as metaphysics is in fact the necessary predecessor of the control freak mathematico-scientific thinking8, which in turn results to the many disasters of our modern time because of its incapacity to transcend the mere physicality of things. The desire to control and to manipulate has become one of the prejudicing elements of an onto-theological mind. With this, there is a need for what he calls as ‘the task of destroying the history of ontology.’9 3. Heidegger’s way to phenomenology To overcome the traditional logic of Western philosophy, Heidegger teaches that truth does not only reside on proposition. Truth is not merely the adequation of the mind and reality, or that of speech and the actual state of affairs. Rather, Heidegger speaks of the truth as aletheia, as unconcealment or disclosure, and Lichtung as the clearing or the open where Being manifests itself. Furthermore, Heidegger also criticizes the reduction of Being to a mere essence. Heidegger argues that in order to overcome the onto-theological trait of philosophical thought, there is a need to initiate the destruction of metaphysics, which for him is not an authentic philosophy. He then calls for a step-back – a return to the original character of thinking, which is reflective and meditative rather than
calculative. Philosophy needs to step-back to its original vocation to reflect on the disclosure of Being rather than on the objectifying grasp of a being. Heidegger contends that the Being of beings can never be fully objectified. He says that Being cannot be identified with the essence of a thing because it would not be possible to absolutely speak of a final essence of things. Being is always temporal, hence Heidegger relates being and time. Being discloses or unfolds itself in time. We could never grasp ‘being’ apart from its temporality. Furthermore, if Being is temporal, it also means that every disclosure may only be perspectival. When we bring something into the fore, other things will recede into the background. Hence, Heidegger argues that Being always left something unsaid and hidden. Being would always have a ‘reserve’.10 Hence, the task of this new way of thinking (philosophy) is to uncover the hiddenness of Being. There is always something that can be said and discovered because in every utterance there would always also be the concealment of Being. Philosophy then necessarily becomes reflective. It becomes a patient paying attention to Being’s simultaneous ‘unfolding’ and ‘concealment’. It awaits and is awed by Being’s every disclosure because such would always be fresh and new. At the same time, philosophy is also aware that every temporal revelation is incomplete. There always remains something hidden, and such would always be an invitation for further reflection. Hence, a phenomenon, as an object of perception, may not be really fully given. Commenting on Heidegger’s thought, Courtine says, “The phenomenon, in the phenomenological sense, is precisely that which does not show itself first of all and for the most part.”11 Courtine continues that “it is because phenomena are not given that we need phenomenology, or better, that we need work and research in phenomenology.”12 4. Heidegger on aletheia and the “appearing” Heidegger’s departure from the phenomenology of Husserl is visible as early as the publication of the Being and Time (see Section 7).13 Gadamer speaks of Heidegger’s innovation within the Husserlian program. Gadamer says, “As Heidegger named and elucidated the concept of phenomenology in the introduction of his own first work, it could almost be read as a simple variation on Husserl’s methodological program. Yet, in spite of this, a new accent was heard by virtue of the fact that Heidegger, in a paradoxical emphasis, did not introduce the concept of phenomenology from the direction of its givenness, but rather, from its “ungivenness, its hiddenness.”14 Central to Heidegger’s philosophy is his reflection about the aletheia of Being, as the simultaneous disclosure and concealment of Being. Heidegger posits that in determining the nature of the thing, as the object of which phenomenology (as a particular method of ontology) is concerned, it is important to realize that there is something in a being that is hidden and concealed. Heidegger even claims that there are three types of hiddenness: (1) as that which does not show itself at all or that which is undiscovered, (2) as that which is covered up, and (3) as that which is disguised. The undiscovered refers to that concealment of Being Itself, the voluntary withdrawal of Being Itself. Covering up further refers to the forgettenness
of a phenomenon – these means that a phenomenon may deteriorate in time and may be forgotten. There is however a possibility that those which have been covered may still be uncovered in time. Lastly, the most dangerous type of hiddenness is the disguising. Heidegger claims that it is “here where the possibilities of deceiving and misleading are especially stubborn.” 15 There is danger especially “when the disguises are built into a system. For when they have been bound constructively into a system, they present themselves as something “clear” requiring no further justification, and thus can serve as the point of departure for a process of deduction.”16 Hence, the disguise proliferates and infects many minds. Thus, Heidegger proposes phenomenology as the method through which hiddenness is taken into consideration and hopefully overcome. Overcoming hiddenness, especially the sense of disguise, is particularly important. But if phenomenology is defined as the “study of phenomenon,” it is important to discuss what do we really mean by phenomenon. He defines the phenomenon as that which shows itself in itself.17 Phenomenon, according to Heidegger, can be viewed in two ways: (1) as that which shows itself, (2) or as a semblance. A phenomenon is that which “announces itself through something that shows itself.” In this sense then, a phenomenon is both a bringing forth, and a concealment. It brings something into the open – the announcing of itself, while at the same time, it conceals that which is announced by the phenomenon. Furthermore, Heidegger claims that the logos of phenomenology should be understood in its original Greek sense. Although logos - starting from the Aristotelian logic of predication – is already viewed as correctness, Heidegger contends that the logos of phenomenology is understood in the sense of taking a thing “out of its hiddenness.”18 Phenomenology will then be “undestood as a work of showing, of bringing to light, which must ever and again struggle against the tradition and its obfuscation; one must ever and again rediscover, draw forth from a withdrawal, prevail over obfuscation, and fight against deterioration and degeneracy, in order to find again the “giving” originality, the living source.”19 5. Discourse as a phenomenological method This could perhaps be the reason why Heidegger’s phenomenology is always related to language. Heidegger believes that logos may be understood as discourse. In a discourse, there is an attempt “to make manifest what one is talking about.” 20 A real discourse is an explicit attempt to go into the thing itself by articulating the hiddenness of being which could have been left in oblivion if the discourse is reduced into a monologue. If a discussion is dominated by propositional pronouncements which enjoy privileged positions compared to others, real discouse could hardly happen and there is no real phenomenology. Heidegger’s critique against the deductive Aristotelian logic lies precisely in the latter’s privileging of certain universal propositions which are already taken as the “truth” even without the needed verification of these ideas and judgments to the things themselves. Heidegger’s phenomenological method, according to Courtine, “consists in making evident the primary articulations of signifying or significance which is directly linked to Being-in-the-world... in and through an original type of discursivity, which does not have to be expressed in either words or sentences.” 21 Heidegger contends that
“repetition” does not have to be a mere endeavor to parrot, which in effect, simply covers up that which it parrots.22 Phenomenological repetition is rather an act of “rediscovering the original power of saying and its function as ‘opening’ beyond the fixed formulae of a mechanical repetition”23 – a parrotting. Hence, for Heidegger, phenomenology can only be made possible through reflective-meditative thinking. It is an antidote to the manipulative-calculative tendency of onto-theological metaphysics, which he blames as responsible for the many abuses in our time. Metaphysical thought is tyrranical in the sense that it blocks real reflection on the actual state of affairs or the things-in-themselves. Even if ideas recur in time - as one idea is highlighted by a particular culture in a particular time, and may be forgotten by another culture or generation at another time – phenomenological method, which is characterized by meditative-reflective thought, assures that even the repetition of ideas will still always be fresh and new. Heidegger qualifies Husserl’s phenomenology through the communal effort of bringing Being into the open via discourse. Every attempt to speak about the thing is authentic as long as they are born out of a sincere attempt to encounter the thing in itself. But a particular person’s desire to articulate the Being of beings will always be perspectival, and hence there is a need to bring the issue into the open – the clearing – and allow a possible discourse. Only in an authentic discourse where the repetition of concepts cease to become mere parrotting. Discourse, as reflectivemeditative discussion of the issue, recognizes the temporality of Being.
1 Martin Heidegger, “On the Essence of Truth,” in Basic Writings, trans. David Farrell Krell. (London: Routledge, 1977, p. 117). Henceforth, this book shall be referred to as BW. 2 BW, 117. 3 BW, 117. 4 BW, 119. 5 Jean-Francois Courtine, “Phenomenology and/or Tautology,” trans. Jeffrey Libbet in Reading Heidgger: Commemorations, John Sallis, ed. Indianapolis: University Press, 1993, p. 244. 6Martin Heidegger himself says in the End of Philosophy trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), p.4 that ‘In the beginning of its history, Being opens itself out as emerging (physis) and unconcealment (aletheia). From there, it reaches the formulation of presence and permanence in the sense of enduring. Metaphysics proper begins with this.’ Furthermore, Charles Guignon, in his ‘Introduction’ for the Cambridge Companion to Heidegger ed. Charles Guignon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p.18, adds that ‘As a result to the first dawn of history, being comes to be thought of as what endures, what is permanent, what is always there. It is the continuous presence of the substance (ousia) that which remains through all changes... Because Plato inaugurated this interpretation of beingness, the entire history of metaphysics can be called ‘Platonism’.’ 7Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), p.54. 8Max A. Myers. ‘Towards what is religious thinking underway?’ in Deconstruction and Theology (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1982), p. 119. 9Martin Heidegger. Being and Time trans. John Macquarrie and Edwad Robinson (Tubingen: Neomarius Verlag, 1963), p.41. 10 Myers, ‘Towards what is religious thinking underway?’, p.138. 11Courtine, p.245. 12 Ibid. 13 Being and Time, pp. 49-63. 14 Hans-Georg Gadamer, Heidegger’s Ways, New York: State University of New York Press, p. 123. Gadamer further added, “It proved not to have been in vain that Heidegger had understood the idea of phenomenology and as a discovery that had to be wrested from hiddnness. 15 BT, p. 60. 16 BT, p. 60. 17 BT, p. 51. 18 Cf. BT, p. 56. 19 Courtine, p. 245. 20 BT, p.56. 21 Courtine, p.244. 22 Cf. Courtine, p. 245. 23 Courtine, p.246.