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The light that illuminates: Heidegger, Being and the world

Edwards, Christopher (2015) The light that illuminates: Heidegger, Being and the world. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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In this dissertation, I draw on the work of Martin Heidegger to provide a critical account of the way our understanding of the world is shaped by modern conceptions of reason. I claim that our current ways of thinking about ourselves and the world of our everyday lives are already framed by a particular form of reason that Heidegger identifies as sufficient ‘scientific’ reasoning. This type of reasoning limits our understanding of the world by framing it a priori within the confines of the scientific conception of ‘nature’. What this entails, more specifically, is an account of the world and human existence that is reduced to the level of things. I argue that this scientific conception is a historically situated interpretation, which following Heidegger, I suggest is based on our tendency to forget the way we primarily understand and interpret the things around us. I begin by addressing the question of Being, which I frame in terms of the meaningful presence of things. Following this, I present Heidegger’s account of the meaningful surrounding world, which we encounter through our projects. Finally, I close by discussing some of the specific ways that scientific reasoning has covered over this meaningful surrounding world. My aim is to show how the world around us is primarily meaningful, and that Heidegger’s analyses of sufficient reason and modern science are an extension of his earlier critique of the metaphysical divide between subject and object, whereby human beings are reduced to the thinking thing—res cogitans. Overall, I argue that the scientific account of the ‘natural world’ is one interpretation among others, and by no means the final or ultimate interpretation of that which is. Rather, we must challenge ourselves to new ways of thinking in order to see that the world ‘is’ primarily the place where we carry out the meaningful projects of our everyday lives.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Ucnik, Lubica
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