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International Phenomenological Society

On Making Sense (And Nonsense) of Heidegger Author(s): Taylor Carman Reviewed work(s): Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 63, No. 3 (Nov., 2001), pp. 561-572 Published by: International Phenomenological Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 10/05/2012 19:46
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Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol. LXIII,No. 3, November 2001

Making Heidegger






Barnard College

HermanPhilipse's Heidegger's Philosophy of Being is an attempt to interpret, analyze, and ultimately discredit the whole of Heidegger's thought. But Philipse's reading of the texts is uncharitable, and the ideas he presents and criticizes often bear little resemblance to Heidegger's views. Philipse relies on a crude distinction between "theoretical" and "applicative" interpretationsin arguing that Heidegger's conception of interpretationas a kind of projection (Entwurf)is, like the liar's paradox, formally self-defeating. But even grantingthe distinction, the charge of reflective incoherence is fallacious and question-begging.Finally, Philipse advances the astonishing "interpretive hypothesis"that the seemingly morbidexistential themes in Being and Timewere part of a deliberate "Pascalian strategy" to win converts to Heidegger's own idiosyncratic "postmonotheist worship of Being." In short, notwithstandingits nearly comprehensive coverage of Heidegger's works, the book does not represent a sufficiently serious effort to understandthe complexities and obscurities of Heidegger's thinking.

In his recent book, Heidegger's Philosophy of Being: A Critical Interpretation, Herman Philipse sets out to analyze and evaluate, as exhaustively as he can, the sense and significance of the question that inspired Heidegger's philosophical thinking throughout his career, namely "the question concerning the meaning of being.'2 After over 500 pages (including notes) of patient and admittedly well-researched effort, Philipse concludes that "Heidegger's question of being should be rejected completely as it stands" (386). Being and Time, for its part, he contends, is a methodologically muddled blend of hackneyed cultural criticism and feeble conceptual analysis, while Heidegger's later writings amount to little more than thinly disguised religious propaganda. If Philipse is right, then students of philosophy should certainly waste no time reading either Heidegger or Heidegger's Philosophy of Being. I believe, however, that Philipse is wrong on so many points, both in his analysis and
HermanPhilipse, Heidegger's Philosophy of Being: A Critical Interpretation.(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998). Unmarkedpage references are to this book. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (TUbingen:Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1927; 15th ed. 1979), 1. HereafterSZ. Translationsof Husserl and Heidegger are my own, except where I quote Philipse's renderings,citing his text.

in his critique,that amateursand expertsalike in fact have a lot to learn from his hefty tome, in spite of itself. The book has much to recommendit by way of summaryand explication, and its comprehensivecoverageof Heidegger's principaltexts is unmatchedin the secondaryliterature.Since there is far more material in the volume worthy of serious attention than a brief discussion of this kind can hope to do justice to, however, I shall confine my remarkshere to what strikeme as some of its most provocativeand problematic claims. My objections center aroundwhat I regardas the book's most serious shortcomings:first, Philipse's frequentlyuncharitable interpretations of Heidegger; second, the anti-religious prejudice that, ironically, renders much of Philipse's own argumentdogmaticand unconvincing. Philipse distinguishes five "leitmotifs"that, he suggests, run throughout Heidegger's works like so many recurringmusical themes. These are the socalled "meta-Aristotelian"theme, via Brentano; the phenomenologicotranhermeneutical theme, from Husserl and Dilthey; the Kantian-Husserlian the "postmonotheist" scendentaltheme; the Neo-Hegeliantheme; and finally theme. The "meta-Aristotelian"theme is "meta-," apparently, because Heidegger's question of being turnsout not to have much substantiveconnection with Aristotelian first philosophy. So, notwithstanding Aristotle's leitmotif' for undeniableimportance Heidegger,Philipse's "meta-Aristotelian dead-end. is a bit of an interpretive Philipse goes on to arguethatHeidegger fails to combine phenomenology indeed that"the very coinage in and hermeneutics a single coherententerprise, seems to imply a contradiction"(120). 'phenomenologico-hermeneutical' acknowledgesthatHeideggerrejectsthe notion of presuppositionless Philipse but descriptionin favor of circularinterpretation, he insists that, in retaining "Husserl'srhetoricof objectivity" and "the rhetoric of essential strucboth tures"(ibid.), Heideggerin effect assumes some extra-hermeneutical authority for his own claims. But in fact Philipse can claim to find a contradiction between the phenomenological and the hermeneuticalaspects of Heidegger's approach only by misconstruing his phenomenology in Husserlian terms. Even a cursoryreadingof ?7 of Being and Timereveals just how profoundlyHeidegger's notions of phenomenaandphenomenologydiffer from Husserl's. Pointing out that the word 'phenomenon'is ambiguous "between appearing and that which appears," for instance, Husserl stipulates that the term be "used primarilyfor the appearingitself, the subjective phenomenon"3-that is, for the contentsof or in consciousness, not for the transcendentobjects appearing to consciousness.

Husserl, Die Idee der Phdnomenologie:Fiinf Vorlesungen. W. Biemel, ed. 2nd ed. (The Hague: MartinusNijhoff, 1958), 14.

Heidegger,by contrast, begins by treating the term 'phenomenon' as a purely formal indicatorreferringto "that which shows itself, the manifest" (SZ 28), a notion that, he insists, "has in the first instance nothing whatever to do with what one calls 'appearance,'or indeed 'mere appearance"' 29). (SZ For Heidegger,phenomena are nothing essentially subjective, and they are emphaticallynot the immanentlyor self-evidentlyappearing contents of consciousness that, accordingto Husserl, stand in representational referential or relations to transcendent that make their appearance in or through objects them. Heideggerthus refuses to define phenomenology from the outset in terms of its domain of application:"Theword only informs us of the how of the way of showing and treatingwhat is to be dealt with in this science" (SZ 34-35); it does not yet specify the what, or subject matter,itself. Heidegger's appropriationof phenomenology is therefore already a repudiationof the representationalism,the internalism, and the mentalism that characterize Husserl's enterprise. In addition to the merely formal notion of phenomenon, of course, Heidegger also advances a substantive, or what he calls the specifically "phenomenological,"conception. Taken formally, a phenomenon is just anything that manifests itself, as opposed to merely appearingin or through some representational referentialintermediary. or Substantively, though, not every aspect of what manifests itself is "given"in the sense of being selfevident or fully open to directinspection. Indeed,"that which is to become phenomenon can be hidden.And it is precisely because phenomenaare first and foremost not given that there is a need for phenomenology"(SZ 36). A phenomenonin the substantivephenomenologicalsense, then, is
something that first and foremost precisely does not show itself, something that, in contrast to what first and foremost shows itself, is hidden, but is at the same time something that essentially belongs to that which first and foremost shows itself, and belongs to it in such a way as to constituteits meaning and ground(SZ 35).

The task of phenomenology, then, is not to give a merely descriptivereport of something objectively and self-evidently given, but ratherto let the ordinarily hiddenaspects of what shows itself show themselves or make themselves manifest. And since Heideggermoreoverinterpretslogos as a "letting the somethingbe seen" (SZ 33), he understands work of the phenomenologist as drawingout, evoking, and uncovering that which is coveredup and buried over in what ordinarilyshows itself in our everydayunderstanding things. of thereforeagrees with Husserl that phenomenology is an essenHeidegger tially descriptive,ratherthan hypotheticalor explanatory,enterprise,let alone an exact science. But Husserlunderstoodthe task of phenomenology on analogy with descriptivenaturalsciences like botany. Geometry, for all its exactness, Husserl points out, lacks the resourcesfor morphological descriptions of natural phenomena as, say, "'serrated,' 'notched,' 'lens-shaped,'

'umbellate,'and the like."4For Husserl, then, phenomenology amounts to "a Heidegger,too, regardsphenomenology systematicand eidetic morphology."5 he as a descriptive undertaking; even refers to "the at bottom tautological expression 'descriptivephenomenology"' (SZ 35). Perhaps with Husserl's own distinctionbetween exact and descriptiveconcepts in mind, however, he then goes on to say, "'Description'here does not mean a procedurein the manner of, say, botanical morphology" (ibid.). Rather, "the meaning of phenomenologicaldescriptionas a method is interpretation," so that 'The phenomenology of Dasein is a hermeneutic"(SZ 37). If there is any contradictionbetween phenomenology and hermeneutics, then, it is between Husserlian phenomenology and hermeneutics. For Heidegger,phenomenologymustbe hermeneutical,since the phenomenonhe is concernedto uncover is not something already given and self-evident, though it "belongs to" what is given as "its meaning and ground."Instead, phenomenain Heidegger'ssense stand in constant need of interpretiverediscovery, evocation, and explication. Philipse seems to suggest that Heidegger equivocatesby retainingsome lingering commitment to an non-interpretive form of purely objective description,even while he insists that his approach is hermeneuticalthrough and through. But where exactly is Heidegger's lingering objectivism to be found?Philipse owes us something more by way of evidence or argumentto make his objection plausible. Just gesturing towardthe surfacecontinuity in the descriptivistrhetoricof phenomenology at large cuts no philosophicalice. Philipse argues moreoverthat Heidegger'shermeneuticsis incoherenton as its own. He intends his subtitle, "a critical interpretation," a challenge not to standardscholarly approaches to Heidegger, which are indeed only frequentlyuncritical or ahistorical (or both), but also to Heidegger's own Interpretations, Philipse philosophicalaccountof the natureof interpretation. if are either "applicative," they "applytexts to practical situations explains, or to our present life" (50), or "theoretical (objective, historical, critical),"if they "aimat discovering what a text meant in the historical circumstancesin as which it was written"(59). Since Heidegger conceives of all interpretation structureof practicalunderstanding, an extension of the "projective" Philipse "shows an applicative argues, his philosophical account of interpretation a bias because he generalizes to all interpretations theory of interpretation that is correctfor applicativeinterpretations only," and "this cannot be done withoutinconsistency"(59):

Husserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phdnomenologie und phanomenologischen Philosophie: Allgemeine Einfiihrungin die reine Phanomenologie (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1913; 5th ed., 1993), ?74: 138. Ideen, ?145: 302.


view of interpretation, indeed view of truth... resembles as his Nietzsche'sclaim Heidegger's of thattruth a product a will to power,orMarx's is claimthattruth a product class interis of incoherent. Becausethese theoriespurport be generaltheories to ests,in thatit is reflectively aboutthe natureof theoryor interpretation, immediately inviteus to ask:Is the theory they itselfalso a projection, a product a will to power,or an outcomeof class interests? so, or of If his whyshouldwe acceptit? ... In formulating projective theoryof interpretation, Heidegger the of kindof interpretation, though even he implicitly presupposes possibility a moreobjective deniesthispossibility cf. 170). (58, explicitly

I think Philipse is wrong on all counts. To begin with, Marx nowhere says that truthitself is a product of class interests. Philipse offers no textual evidence in supportof his claim, but the nearestpassage I can find approximating it is the second thesis on Feuerbach,where Marx writes, 'The question whetherobjective truth can be attributedto human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth, that is, the reality and power, the this-sidednessof his thinking in practice." Although some have been temptedto readthis remarkas endorsing a pragmatic theory of truth, it is much more plausible to understandMarx as simply suggesting that the practicalefficacy of thinking is an indication of its truth, not that truth must be defined in terms of its practical effects. Indeed,Marxcontinues,"Thedisputeover the reality or non-realityof thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question."6The point is that purely theoreticalquestions in epistemology are irrelevant to practiceand ought to be set aside as obfuscations, not that they are strictly speaking theoretically senseless or incoherent. For Marx, as for Engels, dwelling on academicepistemological problems is symptomatic of a kind of intellectual alienation and false consciousness; it is not the result of some purely cognitive mistake. Besides, Marx was famously convinced of the objective truth and scientific rigor of his own theories of history and economics, so he can hardly have been the pathetic relativist we find in Philipse's caricature. Nietzsche was of course a more radicalcritic of theoreticalobjectivity than Marx, but Philipse's indictmentof his doctrineof the will to power is just as sloppy and unconvincing. Nietzsche makes a number of notorious pronouncementsabout truth, many of them hyperbolic, some perhaps even incoherent.But there is nothing self-defeatingin the assertion that all assertions are de facto expressions of a will to power. Suppose that that assertion (thatall assertionsare expressions of a will to power) is itself an expression of the will to power. Why concludethat it cannot also be true? Nietzsche's claim would be vulnerableto the charge of inconsistency only if he conceded that taking any claim as the expression of a will to power is by itself a good

The Marx-Engels Reader,2nd ed., R.C.Tucker,ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Inc., Company, 1972,1978),144.

reason to reject it. But Nietzsche never makes that concession, and why shouldhe? Philipse's argumentfares no better against Heidegger.Why does he think as that Heidegger must implicitly privilege his own account of interpretation insists that Heideggeris itself anythingmore than an interpretation? Philipse caught in an inconsistency because "the projectivetheory is confrontedwith the paradoxof the liar"(64, cf. 58). But there is no paradoxin sight. Philipse changes the subject when he asks why we should accept such claims, for a lack of evidenceor argumentin supportof a theory is not the same as an internalinconsistency renderingit reflectively incoherent, hence necessarily false. So, even if he were to drop the charge of incoherenceand maintain necessarily lack only-implausibly enough-that projective interpretations persuasiveforce, the burdenwould still be on him to explain why that is so. Just taking it for grantedplainly begs the question. The fact is that, strictly speaking, neither Marx nor Nietzsche nor Heidegger advances an explicit theory of truth.Marx, for his part,is not much interestedin epistemology for its own sake, and I think we ought to readNietzsche and Heideggeras denying the very possibility of an explanatorytheory of truth. In each case, then, Philipse's arrowsfall ratherwide of theirtargets. The underlyingconfusion plaguing Philipse's account, it seems to me, lies in the crude distinction he draws between applicative and theoretical of Surely no philosophically interesting interpretation historiinterpretation. cal texts can avoid applicationof some sort to the contemporary conceptual Such ongoing interests and incliinterestsand inclinationsof the interpreter. nations are what breathelife into philosophical texts, and without them our into stale antiquarianreadingof the history of philosophy would degenerate ism. As the aphoristLichtenbergonce said, when a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard,it's not always coming from the book. More does not, as Philipse contends, "aim at discovering precisely, interpretation what a text meant in the historical circumstancesin which it was written" what the text means. And for a (59, my emphasis); it aims at understanding text to mean something, as far as our own interpretiveefforts are concerned, is for it to mean somethingto us. Philipse himself pretendsto be advancing a yet interpretation, his argumentsare so purely theoretical,"non-applicative" plainly drivenby his own philosophical and theological preoccupationsthat the pretensecan hardlybe takenseriously. One of the most uncharitable steps in Philipse's readingof Heideggeris their differences,HeideggerembracedHusserl's his claim that, in spite of semantic theory, according to which linguistic terms-even 'is' and 'not'-are meaningful only in virtue of referring to something. The argumentsPhilipse enlists against this naive "principle of referentiality" (100-09, 332-35) are familiar and, it seems to me, persuasive. Less convincing is his insistence that the principle is what motivates Heidegger's

occasional slide from talking aboutthe question of being to talking about the meaning of the verb 'to be' (see SZ 1, 11), as well as his notorious discussion of "the nothing" (das Nichts) in his 1929 lecture, "What Is Metaphysics?" It is perhapsworth pointing out that here, as elsewhere, Philipse's criticisms of Heideggerare not new. Ernst Tugendhatcomplains that Heidegger equivocatesbetween a question concerningthe meaning of being on the one hand, and a question concerning the meaning of the word 'being' on the other.7More familiar,of course, is Carnap'sgrammaticalcritiqueof Heidegger's language throughoutthe 1929 lecture, especially the claim that 'The nothing itself noths" (Das Nichts selbst nichtet). Philipse distanceshimself, but only very slightly, from the uncomprehending objections of the positivists by admitting the obvious, namely, that "Carnap'scritique of the lecture is uncharitable" (14). He neverthelessgoes on to reiteratethe central of that critique.Heidegger'sinsistence that our idea of a totality of points entities-and its counterpart, nothing-offers food for philosophical thought, Philipse concludes, "is meaningless because it violates the rules of logical syntax" (10); indeed, "Heidegger'squestion of being and nothingness is nonsensical because it is ruledout by the principleof noncontradiction" (13). Is Heidegger's philosophicallanguage ungrammatical in conflict with and the laws of logic? Heideggerhimself acknowledgesthat his prose frequently violates the grammatical conventions of logical discourse, all the while urging that we "not let ourselves be misled by the formal impossibility of the question concerningthe nothing."9 the syntactic novelty and even the So, logical impermissibility of his own sentences was no news to Heidegger. Indeed,pointing out formal linguistic misconstructions is child's play; the serious question is how to understandthe philosophical import of such unconventionaluses of language. Philipse opts for interpretingHeidegger's talk of "the nothing" as an oblique referenceto something merely subjective and psychological, namely the experienceof anxiety. But this is obviously of wrong as an interpretation the text, since Heideggerfrequentlyinsists that his phenomenology of moods (particularly anxiety,joy, and boredom)cannot be understood merely psychological terms in abstractionfrom an account in of our understanding being, that is, our understanding the totality of of of and so of nothing. entities,

ErnstTugendhat,Self-Consciousnessand Self-Determination. Ster, trans. (Cambridge: P. The MIT Press, 1986), 147-48. Tugendhat further refers on this point to D.L. Greenier, "Meaning and Being in Heidegger's Sein und Zeit." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Heidelberg, 1975, 1.1. Rudolf Carnap, "The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language." In Logical Positivism. A.J. Ayer, ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1959). Heidegger, "Was ist Metaphysik?" Wegmarken, 2nd ed. (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann,1967), 113. Wegmarken,108.

What of Philipse's more serious chargethat Heidegger'sentire discussion is senseless because it violates the law of non-contradiction? According to himself insists that "raisingthe very question of being Philipse, Heidegger and nothingness is incompatible with the most fundamental logical (12). But Heideggerdoes not say principle,the principleof noncontradiction" this, and Philipse offers no convincing textual support for such an irrationalist readingof the text. What Heideggerdoes say, and what Philipse "crushes the quotes him saying, is that the principle of non-contradiction that in the pursuitof the question "thepower of the intellect in the question"; field of inquiryinto nothingnessand being is shattered" (11).10 A more charitablereadingof these remarkswould suggest that Heidegger but is not trying (incoherently)to contradictthe law of non-contradiction, ratherinsisting that traditionallogic is of no positive guidancein asking the question of being. What Heideggercalls the "hegemony" (Herrschaft) of logic" is not its legitimate authorityover formaljudgment and inference,but its false promise to provide substantive metaphysicalinsight into fundamental, if still only semi-articulate,philosophical questions. Only by mistrans(13) is Philipse able to reproachHeidegger lating Herrschaft as "authority" for confusing logical laws with mere external regulations like the tax code and rules of etiquette, which one might rationally violate. Philipse gestures when he entertainsthe in the directionof a far more plausible interpretation for Heidegger,as for Wittgenstein, philosophical questions possibility that, concerningbeing and nothing lie beyond the bounds of conceptuallanguage and propositional thought altogether (15, 203). This approachpromises to make sense of Heidegger'soften idiosyncratic,at times exasperating,use of language to evoke and stimulate philosophical reflection, in spite of its formal impropriety. I believe Heidegger was not so confused as to suppose that the word 'nothing' refersto something. Indeed,here the disastrous effect of saddling Heidegger with the unwelcome baggage of Husserl's referential semantic theorybecomes especially clear. For in doing so Philipse ignores the essential threadrunningthroughHeidegger's entire philosophy, what he called the betweenbeing and entities. To propose that cognates "ontologicaldifference" of the verb 'to be' refer to something is precisely to forget that being, in Heidegger'ssense, is not something. Reference is referenceto entities, and being is not an entity, so it cannot possibly be the referentof the word 'is.' This point alone should have convinced Philipse that when it comes to semanticsHeideggerindeed has far more in common with Wittgenstein than with Husserl. For Heidegger, neither an entity nor the totality of entities when we understand that and what things are. answersto what we understand

Wegmarken,107, 116. Wegmarken,116.



Still, it makes sense to ask what we have an understanding when we have of of an understanding being, since we can ask about the content of that understanding, and moreoverfind concreteexpression of it in our linguistic practice. Philipse goes on to criticize Heidegger's claim to be doing a kind of transcendentalphilosophy. But here, just as he tied Heidegger'sphenomenology too closely to Husserl's, it seems to me he ties Heidegger's transcendentalism too closely to the specific commitments of Kantian idealism. He suggests thatHeidegger'srefusalto distinguish phenomena from noumena, his apparent indifferenceto the problemof synthetica priori knowledge, and his repudiation of the transcendental all underminehis claim to be offering an ego But accountof the conditions of the possibility of our understanding. again, conditions in general it is not obvious that an account of transcendental presupposesanythinglike the idealism and subjectivismof Kantand Husserl. motif presentin Being and Timeat all? Philipse Why is the transcendental turn because writes, "My hypothesis is thatHeideggertook the transcendental he wanted to solve the problem of the manifest image and the scientific image, to use Wilfrid Sellars' terminology, and that he solved it in an antithe naturalistway" (132). Accordingto Philipse, Heidegger"endorsed incomand patibility thesis" (133, 135) concerningordinaryunderstanding scientific knowledge. "InSein und Zeit, Heideggerclaimed that ... the scientific image is derived, impoverished, and even false in a sense" (135). But Philipse's becomes implausibleas soon as we press for details. The maniinterpretation fest image, as Sellars conceives of it, consists in mundane explanatory theories. So, not only is it capable of being true or false; much of it actually is false. Everydayintelligibility in Heidegger's sense, by contrast, is pretheobelief contents, which means retical, prioreven to propositionallyarticulated it cannot strictly speaking even be a candidate truth or falsity. Heidegger for as can thereforehardly have regardedeveryday understanding incompatible with the theoreticalresults of the sciences, as Philipse maintains. Perhaps Heidegger was an incompatibilist,if by 'scientific image' one means not the content of scientific theories, a la Sellars, but the underlyingsubstantivalist ontology such theories have at times presupposed.Similarly, Heideggeris an if means regardingour mundaneunderstanding a as antinaturalist, 'naturalism' kind of subjectively impoverished proto-theory, competing with, and in principle replaceableby, scientific knowledge. He is not an antinaturalist, however, if thatmeans rejectingscientific theory wholesale in favor of something like common sense. What then of the "Neo-Hegelianmotif' in Heidegger'sthought? Vaguely Hegelian themes emerge in Heidegger's later historicist conception of epochs informed by specific, changing global frameworks, or understandingsof being. Here, too, Philipse charges that Heideggeris deeply confused, and he



enlists Donald Davidson's argumentagainstconceptualschemes to insist that the very idea of global frameworks understanding incoherent.But Davidof is son's argumentassumes that the idea of a conceptual scheme makes sense only on the basis of a dualism of scheme and content, and there is no reason to suppose that Heidegger's notion of the "history of being" relies even tacitly on such a dualism. Here, as elsewhere, Philipse seems indifferentto the details of Heidegger's position and thinks it sufficient to trot out familiar argumentsfrom contemporaryanalytic philosophy to refute him. Such an to approach,it seems to me, is almost guaranteed produceuninterestingand anachronistic results. From the same high-altitudevantagepoint, Philipse argues that Heidegger's historicism entails relativism, and that relativism is incoherent. Since Philipse also acknowledges that Heidegger is a realist (431-32 n251), however, it is hardto see just what his relativism is supposedto amount to. Heideggerdoes say that "'There is' truth only insofar as and as long as Dasein is," and that "BeforeNewton's laws were discovered,they were not 'true' " (SZ 226). Provocative claims, but how exactly should we understand them? Do they in fact imply relativism? Philipse takes it for grantedthat they do and then tries to demolish relativism in a single stroke. If propositions are individuated terms of fixed truth conditions, he argues, then the in same proposition cannot be true for you and false for me, or true today and false tomorrow. This is a neat argument, but casting the issue in such terms obviously begs all the interesting questions about relapreconceived tivism from the start. And by this point the reader left with no reason to is that Philipse's discussion bears any relation to Heidegger's actual suppose views. Oddly, Philipse's most heartfeltobjection to Heidegger's Neo-Hegelianism is a moral objection. Since few people are in fact likely to share Heidegof ger's interpretation our currentglobal frameworkas what Heideggercalls a of "technological understanding being," he maintains, Heidegger must be drivento "a doctrineof global false consciousness" (308). And that doctrine, Philipse insists, is not just untenable, but morally bankrupt. Here again Heideggeris in bad company:
The doctrine of a global false consciousness, whether it be Heideggerian, Marxist, or Nietzschean, implies that objections are not taken seriously; they are interpretedas confirmations of the very doctrineto which the critic objects. As a consequence, the person who objects is not taken seriously as a rational and critical interlocutor.In Marxist states, critics used to be imprisonedin psychiatrichospitals for this reason. One wonders what would have happened if Heidegger had been successful in his attemptto become a leading Nazi ideologist. It may be that only his lack of success saved him from Nuremberg(308).

This little diatribeevidently rests on some suppressedpremises, though I would hate to have to guess what they are. As Philipse sees it, apparently,



either you accept the fact that most of the people have got it more or less right most of the time, or you deserve to be hanged. No discussion of Heidegger's Philosophy of Being would be complete without some mention of the true motivatingthesis animatingthe book. The thesis emerges in Philipse's account of what he calls the "postmonotheist" leitmotif, which he thinks forms a secret, sinister link between the methodological atheism of Being and Time and the religious overtones of Heidegger's later writings. It is a commonplacethat Heidegger'sstyle of thinking much of the mood and metaphor of Christian theolabsorbedand preserved ogy, and critics have often been temptedto write him off as a theologian in philosopher's dress. It is also well known that Heidegger himself always as mistaken, insisting vehementlyrejectedsuch interpretations fundamentally instead on the religious neutralityof his thinking. Strangely undeterred the philosopher's own views on the subject by his avowed commitmentto taking others seriously as (especially considering rational and critical interlocutors),Philipse insists that Heidegger's entire oeuvre is guided by "a hidden religious agenda"(291), and that the early and later works together implement what he calls a covert "Pascalianstrategy" (224-25), a deliberatelydisguised call to religion, proceedingin two stages: first, by insisting on the harshnessand misery of worldly existence from an apparentlysecularpoint of view; second, by urging a leap of faith beyond the mundane.Moreover, the "GrandStrategy" (239, 374), as Philipse calls it, was fully premeditated:
The ontological analysis of Dasein had to be secular in orderto convince the unbeliever, and it had to paint life in this world in darkand gloomy colors in orderto arouse the craving for religion. The second phase was to satisfy this religious craving by explicitly metaphysical writings such as Was ist Metaphysik?(372)

Philipse imagines that readingHeideggeras a scheming apologist for some kind of post-Christian Germanic religion involving "a postmonotheist worship of Being" (225) also sheds light on much of the admittedlyproblematic Division II of Being and Time: "This hypothesis," he maintains, "illuminates and explains everything that Heidegger says about death and inauthenticity"(ibid.). What it fails to illuminate or explain is why Heidegger would devote so much effort over so many decadesto an exercise so grossly at odds with his avowed conception of philosophy as radicalquestioning, not to mention (again) his cardinal distinction between being and entities, and hence the differencebetween his own thinking and traditional with God. "onto-theological" preoccupations A deeper philosophicalproblemwith this whole line of criticism, though, lies in Philipse's evident a priori hostility to religion and all things religious. Amazingly, he never tells us what he thinks makes a view or an attitude"religious," especially in the absenceof any reference to God, or why

a religious perspective necessarily amounts to a philosophical liability. Instead, he draws an altogether Manichaean distinction between rational discourseand religioushumbugand then proceedsto treat every obscurity and inconsistency he finds in Heidegger's texts as evidence of a deliberate proselytizing strategy.Such an "interpretive hypothesis," it seems to me, is it not only reductiveand uncharitable; also exhibits just the sort of closed, ideological thinking that Philipse himself claims to find so deplorable in Heideggerand his followers.



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