Topic: phenomenology

topics > Group: philosophy

natural language

meaning by social context
metaphysics and epistemology
natural language as action or problem solving
reality is a machine
philosophy of mind
private language argument for skepticism about meaning


Phenomenology is the study of phenomena. It is a branch of philosophy that was developed by Husserl. Heidegger was a student of Husserl. He adapted phenomenology to his own aims. Much of the following concerns Heidegger's phenomenology.

Heidegger's phenomenology starts with the background and with man's relationship to the background. Heidegger imposes an elaborate understanding of the background context of daily life. The background is defined by society, and the self is defined through living within the background. It is only at times of breakdown does one become aware of this context.

There are two consequences: human nature is entirely interpretation, and that leaves Being as the only foundation for an authentic life.

How does Heidegger differ from Wittgenstein? Both emphasize the social aspects of the mind against a formalistic or intentialistic viewpoint. The difference occurs in the nature of the relationship and the consequences. For Heidegger, the context was everything. It defined the world. For Wittgenstein the context is part of the game of life. Instead of an nihilistic attitude, Wittgenstein invokes marvel at how it all works. (cbb 5/94)

Subtopic: being is not a class up

Quote: the word "Being" does not designate a class but lies beyond all distinctions of classes [»maquJ_1968]
Quote: Dasein is never complete in its Being; can never pin down the existent at any precise moment and give an exhaustive description; constituted by possibilities [»maquJ_1968]

Subtopic: being there up

Quote: for the person engaged in the throwness of unhampered hammering, the hammer does not exist as an entity [»winoT_1986]
Quote: to say that man is "Being-there" calls attention to his finitude; to being in a particular situation [»maquJ_1968]
Quote: there are no unique projects defining individual worlds; being-there is in terms of the public situation; one presses into possibilities [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: separating subject from object denies the fundamental unity of being-in-the-world (Dasein, the primacy of experience) [»winoT_1986]
Quote: reality is a space of potential for human concern and action; not defined by objective, omniscient observer
Quote: Dasein always finds itself in a situation where it has to be; defined by past choices, society, history, heredity [»maquJ_1968]

Subtopic: human being is interpretation up

Quote: Heidegger holds that everyday intelligibility is false; no right interpretation; the ultimate ground is shared practices [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: human being is interpretation all the way down; better to recognize the rootlessness than to falsely avoid it; allows openness, tenacity, and gaiety [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: the shared, public world is the only world there is; the self is a selection of interpretations made available by the culture [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: articulate everyday world in terms of Dasein's practical concerns; each item has meaning only within a context of interlocking tasks [»maquJ_1968]

Subtopic: meaning from commonsense, shared background up

Quote: the commonsense background has an elaborate structure; requires an existential analytic and a special vocabulary; Heidegger vs. Wittgenstein [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: everyday communication can not be understood as context-free messages sent from one isolated mind to another; needs shared background [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: sense is a name for our background familiarity that makes intelligibility possible; replaces being as ultimate ground [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: language depends on a shared, unformalized background; needed at a breakdown to negotiate a new meaning and speak with commitment [»clanWJ1_1987]

Subtopic: meaning from human capacities up

Quote: each sentence is interpreted against a Background of human capacities; e.g., a waiter won't spread your steak over your head [»searJR_1992]
Quote: the network of intentionality functions against a background of human capacities that are not themselves mental states; e.g., driving [»searJR_1984]
Quote: things are understood by Dasein projecting its possibilities upon them and discovering their serviceability and usability [»maquJ_1968]

Subtopic: consciousness as intentionality up

Quote: consciousness defined by intentionality; the intentionality of signs and symbols is secondary [»hallH_1992]
Quote: a conscious act is intentional, i.e., by its very nature of or directed toward some represented objective

Subtopic: intentionality is derivative -- breakdowns up

Quote: even though we act deliberately, we do this against the familiar background of transparent coping [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: everyday activity does not involve self-referential mental content; being-in-the-world is primary; mental-state intentionality is derivative [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: humans are subjects that make choices only in cases of breakdown
Quote: objects and properties are not inherent; they arise in an event of breaking down [»winoT_1986]
Quote: one lives out of one's culture's version of what is normal and presses into what needs to be done; Kierkegaard is too intentionalistic [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: resoluteness: authentic Dasein sees what needs to be done by finding itself pushed into doing it; transformed during 'the glance of an eye' [»dreyHL_1991]

Subtopic: matter vs. spirit/being up

Quote: matter is the creation of the spirit while spirit is the creation of the matter it creates [»matuHR_1980]
Quote: it is only against the background of nothing that anything stands out; Being belongs to the nothing else; no interest to Science [»maquJ_1968]

Subtopic: authenticity without faith up

Quote: Heidegger allows an authentic way of life without faith by recognizing that meaningful differences are artificial [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: Heidegger's authenticity is a secularized version of Kierkegaard's religiousness A; accept nullity by a gestalt switch [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: how can one lead an authentic life when all projects are equally meaningless; can if action arises from the Background and not from choice [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: Heidegger replaces God with Being; he substitutes for stable substances and essences the fluid categories of existence [»maquJ_1968]

Subtopic: self awareness and anxiety up

Quote: why are we the kind of beings that can't face being the kind of beings we are? irresoluteness is like good vs. evil [»dreyHL_1991]
Quote: Heidegger borrows much from Kierkegaard, e.g., the self defining itself and the present age's anxiety-motivated cover-up [»dreyHL_1991]

Subtopic: problems with phenomenology up

Quote: critique of Heidegger's work [»kaufW_1980, OK]
Quote: phenomenologists use description instead of proof, with the hope that others will see things the same way

Related Topics up

Group: natural language   (16 topics, 539 quotes)

Topic: commitment (31 items)
Topic: consciousness (58 items)
Topic: meaning by social context (33 items)
Topic: metaphysics and epistemology (99 items)
Topic: natural language as action or problem solving (29 items)
Topic: reality is a machine (48 items)
Topic: philosophy of mind (78 items)
Topic: private language argument for skepticism about meaning
(34 items)

Updated barberCB 10/04
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