Skip to main content

Martin Heidegger

My recent reading (although in this case it is more like a skimming) includes a work on Heidegger's philosophy, by Herman Philipse.

Philipse is concerned, among much else, with the differences between Heidegger and an important precursor, Friedrich Nietzsche. Heidegger criticized Nietzsche, and Philipse believes the criticisms were ill-founded, and that Nietzsche was the greater philosopher of the two.

Here's a link: Google Books. I merely "skim" works on, or within, the continental traditional of philosophy these days, because life is too short, and it is the Anglo-American tradition that deserves such time as I can give to more careful reading.

Still, for those of you who may judge differently, here is a sample of Philipse: "Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche aims at answering two questions: (1) What is Nietzsche's fundamental stance ... within the history of Western metaphysics? and (2) did Nietzsche ask the proper question of philosophy and, if not, why could he not do so? Question (1) clearly belongs to the Neo-Hegelian leitmotif in Heidegger's later works....Fundamental stances are expressed by systems of metaphysics, because metaphysics attempts to characterize the totality of what there is."

The gist of Philpse's understanding of Heidegger's understanding of Nietzsche, then, is this: (1) Nietzsche's fundamental stance is that all entities are expressions of the will to power: (2) in setting out this view Nietzsche believed that he had overcome the previous centuries of metaphysics, but in fact he had been caught in the web of Being, which cunningly conceals itself from generation to generation.

So Nietzsche failed to ask the proper questions. The world had to wait for Heidegger for someone to do that.

For me, at any rate, that is enough. I'd much rather be reading Nietzsche (though this is probably marginally better than reading Heidegger.)   And I'd still much rather be reading, say, David Hume.


Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…