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Heidegger’s concept of truth reconsidered in light of Tugendhat’s critique

Beck, G.H. (2017) Heidegger’s concept of truth reconsidered in light of Tugendhat’s critique. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 49 (2). pp. 91-108.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1080/00071773.2017.1403750
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Abstract

Ernst Tugendhat’s critique of Martin Heidegger’s conception of truth is an ongoing topic in Heideggerian scholarship. In this paper, I contribute to the ongoing exchange between defenders of Heidegger and those who are in agreement with Tugendhat. Specifically, I contend that Tugendhat’s criticisms fail to situate Heidegger’s account of truth within his broader phenomenological–hermeneutic project. In the end, Tugendhat’s critique is grounded upon philosophical assumptions that Heidegger is bringing under question by rethinking the concept of truth. I suggest that thinking through Tugendhat’s critique and attempting to formulate an adequate Heideggerian response gives us a richer understanding of both Heidegger’s account of truth and his general philosophical project.

Heidegger’s treatment of the problem of truth has been much disputed in the secondary literature. In an influential contribution to this literature, “Heidegger’s Idea of Truth”,11 Tugendhat, “Heidegger’s Idea of Truth,” 79–92.View all notes Ernst Tugendhat critiques Heidegger’s treatment of the concept of truth in Being and Time, §44.22 Heidegger, Being and Time, 204–20.View all notes Although Tugendhat here directs his criticisms at §44 in particular, he claims that the objections he raises are pertinent to discussions of truth throughout Heidegger’s corpus. From Tugendhat’s perspective, it is in §44 that Heidegger first lays the untenable foundations for his understanding of truth, which carry through to his later works.

The trenchancy of Tugendhat’s critique has been a controversial discussion point for Heideggerian scholarship since Tugendhat first raised these objections during a lecture in 1964.44 Dahlstrom, “The Clearing and Its Truth: Reflections on Tugendhat’s Criticisms and Heidegger’s Concessions,” 3–4. For further discussions on this topic, which are important and yet given the limited scope of this paper, I will not specifically address, see: Carmen, “Discourse, Expression, Truth,” in Heidegger’s Analytic: Interpretation, Discourse and Authenticity in Being and Time; Crowell, Normativity and Phenomenology in Husserl and Heidegger; Duits, “On Tugendhat’s Analysis of Heidegger’s Concept of Truth”; Habermas, “The Undermining of Western Rationalism: Heidegger,” in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures; Habermas, “Richard Rorty’s Pragmatic Turn,” in Truth: Engagements Across Philosophical Traditions; Wrathall, “Heidegger and Truth as Correspondence”; Wrathall, “Appendix on Tugendhat,” in Heidegger and Unconcealment: Truth, Language, and History.View all notes An assessment of the extent to which Tugendhat’s critique undermines Heidegger’s interpretation of the concept of truth becomes all the more pressing in light of Heidegger’s lecture, “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking”55 Heidegger, On Time and Being, 55–73.View all notes (delivered only months after Tugendhat’s initial lecture of 1964), in which Heidegger seemingly retreats from his account of truth in Being and Time.

In the first section of this paper, I briefly outline Tugendhat’s critique of Heidegger’s account of truth as alētheia. Next, I will consider some of the ways Tugendhat’s critique of Heidegger’s interpretation of truth have been taken up and dealt with in the secondary literature. This will lead to the third and final section, in which I propose a possible response to Tugendhat’s critique and show the presuppositions of Tugendhat’s criticisms.

I will show that to some extent, Tugendhat’s critique of Heidegger’s notion of truth does not take into account Heidegger’s general philosophical project and the way it led him to question the concept of truth as correctness. In the end, Tugendhat’s critique is grounded upon philosophical assumptions that Heidegger is bringing under question by rethinking the concept of truth. Hence I suggest that Tugendhat’s critique is problematic and somewhat misleading.

My aim in this paper is not simply to defend Heidegger, but also to reconsider Heidegger’s notion of truth as alētheia in light of Tugendhat’s critique. I suggest that thinking through the encounter between Heidegger and Tugendhat allows for a richer understanding of both Heidegger’s account of truth and his general philosophical project.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Publisher: Jackson Publishing and Distribution
Copyright: 2017 British Society for Phenomenology
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/39779
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