Heidegger and truth

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Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 18 Sep, 2009 06:52 am
Heidegger suggests that defining truth via correspondence is kin, if not originating, in the perspective of Dominicans who saw the criteria for truth as residing in the Divine Mind. Humans enjoy a reflection of this Mind, and by virtue of it are able to discern truth. Replacing Divine Mind with Reason gives us the modern idea of truth as correspondence, but using essentially the same model and with the same neglected issues.

Correspondence treats untruth as an afterthought. Untruth is the product of mistaken or faulty reasoning, as if Reason is a machine that could be broken. The obvious concern here is: if Reason can be broken, by what criteria does one ever assure oneself that one's reason machine is working properly. Obtaining confirmation from another observer would intuitively solve that problem, except all we've done here is bypass the issue. Without some criteria for assuring proper function, we never know if our correspondence is reasonable.

The other issue neglected by correspondence theory is any explanation of how correspondence is possible. We generally just leave it to biologists with the conviction that it's just a matter of time before they figure it out, which amounts to a type of faith which covers the issue so we aren't irritated by it.

Heidegger's perspective returns untruth to it's proper place as the opposite of truth. Opposites obviously arise together. Untruth vs. Truth are kin to Concealed vs. Unconcealed. Heidegger sees a duality: the unchanging identity of an object vs. its ever changing characteristics which can be perceived. The unchanging identity is an idea. The idea is mentally positioned outward in the realm of the not me, while the transient data manifesting in the "realm of relationship" are mentally drawn in.

If we ask if Heidegger's object is 'objectively real' I think the answer is: for all practical purposes. Imagine that I have a dream in which there's a boy named Quince. We now have a fragmented image of me. The me in the dream says: "There is a boy. His name is Quince." These statements are true, in the sense of correct, in the context of the dream. The dream me is not aware of the underlying ground of being from which the dream arises, and in fact, can not be aware of it without shattering the internal integrity of the dream. The dream me must surrender to the 'reality' of the dream in order for there to be anything for it to be conscious of. Later, when I'm awake, I say that the truth about the boy was concealed from the dream me. From my point of view, the statements about the boy were not true, although I recognize that they were true to the dream me.

Heidegger addresses an issue that a lot of us live with: that the mind detects things that can't be imaged: specifically wholeness. Contemplation of the opposites can produce an experience where the opposites seem to slide out a back door into the realm of wholeness which the mind can't reach. Many a person has experienced the feeling that this realm of wholeness is one of greater truth... that all the mind ever does is operate on partial truths which are invested with the weight of Truth by virtue of a kind of blindness that arises from the drive to live. To live, you have to have an ego. The ego requires firm footing in terms of defining itself. Its demands create acceptance of partial truth as Truth. It appears to be only the occasional fringe element that becomes unleashed from the demands of the ego long enough to sort out what's actually happening. It's almost a kind of de-evolution of mind. A suspicion I've lived with is that this de-evolution can happen at any time to anyone, but it may be that this de-evolution is actually a component of change. Backing up and out of who we are, allows us to then launch down another path. I suggest that the 20th century created a bumper crop of people like this.

What I'd like to know is: how much of my understanding about Heidegger is completely wrong, and actually just my own thoughts imprinted over his?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 18 Sep, 2009 11:09 am
@Arjuna,
It would help if you could direct the readers to the source (Heidegger's text) for this interpretation. I have not, for example, by any means read everything he wrote, and certainly would need to refresh in my own mind the texts upon which this interpretation is based before I could even ask questions. I would certainly question, for example, from what I have read and what I remember, the assertion that Heidegger "sees a duality: the unchanging identity of an object vs. its ever changing characteristics which can be perceived." While if he is talking about earlier philosophers this makes sense, it seems foreign to his own phenomenal analysis in Being and Time, in which appearance is being, and different from his later stand in which one must "open a clearing" for being to appear.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Fri 18 Sep, 2009 12:32 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;91306 wrote:
... for example, from what I have read and what I remember, the assertion that Heidegger "sees a duality: the unchanging identity of an object vs. its ever changing characteristics which can be perceived." While if he is talking about earlier philosophers this makes sense, it seems foreign to his own phenomenal analysis in Being and Time, in which appearance is being, and different from his later stand in which one must "open a clearing" for being to appear.

You see only what is on the surface, what people want you to see, until you reach a certain truth within, you will then be able to reflect this on to to the surface and find the truth, an opening.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 18 Sep, 2009 01:13 pm
@Caroline,
Ok. The problem is I don't have the essay on beauty in which he spoke about dynamic tension between the idea of the object and its transient characteristics. I'm ordering it from Amazon.com. Thanks!
 
Caroline
 
Reply Fri 18 Sep, 2009 01:29 pm
@Arjuna,
You are welcome and when you dig it up please can you post here on the forum.
Thanks.
 
Dasein
 
Reply Sat 19 Sep, 2009 09:55 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;91341 wrote:
You see only what is on the surface, what people want you to see, until you reach a certain truth within, you will then be able to reflect this on to to the surface and find the truth, an opening.

Caroline;
I know EXACTLY what you are saying. Although I am curious about the ground you are standing on. You said "You see only what is on the surface, what people want you to see". What you see is actually who someone is be-ing. They have no choice in "what they want you to see." They already made it. The Subject is the Predicate. There is no "surface" to talk about, there is only be-ing. What you are saying is accurate, but it doesn't happen that way. If someone does the work of de-constructing what's in front of them (See my blog at http://dontpickuptheturd.blogspot.com) be-ing shows up in its place. Be-ing is the surface and you are truth, an opening.
Dasein
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sat 19 Sep, 2009 11:34 am
@Dasein,
I know this is a little off the topic, or a lot. I have been tempted to read heidegger of late but not sure I want to make the commitment. What distinguishes him from other German Phils of the time that would make him worth the commitment?
 
Dasein
 
Reply Sat 19 Sep, 2009 12:00 pm
@Arjuna,
The commitment you would be making is not to Heidegger. The commitment is to you. I suspect that you are "tempted" because you have an "inkling" that something else is going on and that you want to create a clearing for you to show up in. I have been reading Martin Heidegger for the past 15 years and during that time I have read "Being & Time" and "The History of the Concept of Time" over 70 times. Every time re-read Heidegger the book I'm reading changes. I find that I am no longer be-ing who I was when I started the book so I have to re-read to find out what I missed. (It took me awhile to catch on what was happening)
When I first started reading Heidegger I noticed that I had pre-conceptions (previous knowledge of philosophy) about what he was saying and those pre-conceptions got in the way. So I typed "Being & Time" and "The History of the Concept of Time" on my computer because it forced me to slow down and think through what was written. I have also read many of his other books. I read Heidegger because I get "entangled" in just about every other "philosopher's" writing. I opine that the entangling (covering up) started around the time of Plato. I also think that most philosophers haven't made the distinction between being as a thing called a human being and be-ing. I invite you to read my blog on Philosophy Forum Dont Pick Up The Rubbish. It was supposed to be Don't Pick Up The Trash but something changed it to "Rubbish".
 
Caroline
 
Reply Sat 19 Sep, 2009 01:14 pm
@Arjuna,
Reading a book doesn't make you a being, it's you who does it.
Thanks.
 
Dasein
 
Reply Sat 19 Sep, 2009 01:48 pm
@Caroline,
Caroline;91939 wrote:
Reading a book doesn't make you a being, it's you who does it.
Thanks.

That's what I have been saying. Thanks for agreeing with me.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 20 Sep, 2009 07:52 am
@Arjuna,
Heidegger is probably one of the most important modern philosophers, and his influence has been exceptional in Continental thought. At the same time, his Being and Time is probably the most difficult text to understand amongst the recent philosophers, partly a result of his heavy "Germanic" prose style and partly because he uses specialised (and often hyphenated) vocabulary in his analysis of the Self and the World. B&T requires very close and slow reading to make itself clear, but its insights repay the intense effort. I found, during my first reading, that reading some secondary sources and commentaries, to be of great help in working through the book.
Although Heidegger promised a third part, Being and Time was left unfinished, and he himself began to rethink the problems and positions he took in it, examining them from different perspectives. After the "turn" his writing became slightly more approachable.
 
Hermes
 
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 09:02 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:
What I'd like to know is: how much of my understanding about Heidegger is completely wrong, and actually just my own thoughts imprinted over his?


Oooh good question! This is something I should ask myself as well, for I have spent a long time forming an interpretation of Being and Time, which is interestingly quite different from yours, Arjuna,

I have embraced B&T as a work of ontological/hermeneutical importance, and tried to reconcile this with computational/biological theory. Your interpretation, through correspondence (which I have never heard of, but I imagine is philosophically close to hermeneutics), and centred on the essence of truth certainly seems to be a valid reflection of what I read in B&T, even if I don't fully agree.

As jgweed said, the language employed by Heidegger lends his work to flexible interpretation which has been, in part, the reason his work is considered both difficult and fertile. I do like your conclusion...

Quote:
....To live, you have to have an ego. The ego requires firm footing in terms of defining itself. Its demands create acceptance of partial truth as Truth. It appears to be only the occasional fringe element that becomes unleashed from the demands of the ego long enough to sort out what's actually happening. It's almost a kind of de-evolution of mind. A suspicion I've lived with is that this de-evolution can happen at any time to anyone, but it may be that this de-evolution is actually a component of change. Backing up and out of who we are, allows us to then launch down another path. I suggest that the 20th century created a bumper crop of people like this.


Again, I am not taken to making such a psychological/sociological interpretation of B&T but this seems pretty decent.

Returning to your original/final question, this is something that falls in the realm of hermeneutic (interpretation) theory. If one believes in "truth", then there can be only one valid interpretation; think Christian literary definition of the truth with defining and changing the canonical gospels (which, however, still remain hermeneutically diverse). But a more rational approach is to accept that everything is relative, and thus interpretation is an act of dialogue between author and reader. Once a work is made public, there ceases to be any single "true" interpretation, but there will be as many as there are readers, each bringing personal memories and experiences to their own personal dialogue with what the author wrote, and each seeing what was written in a different light.

There is a lot more that can be said on this, but the upshot, as I see it, is that with no "truth", the notion of an idea being some kind of aeterna veritas, and having some "power" as a result, is demystified. An interpretation is only useful, good and worthy in as far as it is practically useful. We should all question whether or not we have interpreted "correctly", for of course we do not wish to be "wrong", but in fact being "wrong" is tantamount to nothing more than having a different outlook on things; right or wrong does not alter the fact that thinking something has no effect on the world, and only through acting does our thought create "good".

I know that a lot of philosophy is idle, mental exercise and curiosity, which frequently has no need nor desire for action; but in this case, asking whether an interpretation is "correct or not", I think the above is relevant and important to appreciate.
 
 

 
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