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Reviews359 acceptance of the finally unintelligible standpoint of "total critique": it is not easily reconciled with his understanding of Hölderlin's significance, nor with his troubling "yes" and "no" to technology. But even where he seems to me to overshoot his mark, Wolin never is very far off the mark. TL· Politics ofBeing deserves a broad audience. Yale UniversityKarsten Harries Being-in-the World:A Commentary onHeidegger's Beingand Time, DivisionI, by Hubert L. Dreyfus; 340 pp. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1991, $30.00 cloth, $15.95 paper. This is the most distinguished, helpful, and accurate commentary in English on Heidegger's notoriously difficult work. It is a book whose arrival has been long anticipated. Descriptions ofDreyfus's lectures at Berkeley and the "Fybate" student Zusätze based on them have been circulating for two decades. Being-in- Ûie-World is rich, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, and will particularly help convince those many philosophers who have been curious but skeptical and disdainful of Heidegger that he is, in fact, a philosopher to be reckoned with, whether or not he is one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. The core of Dreyfus's interpretation—for this is no mere "commentary"— is Heidegger's rejection of the central role of "theory" in philosophy since Plato. In particular, Dreyfus has Heidegger rejecting the familiar idea that human existence (Dasein) involves an implicit theory about the world which philosophy can articulate in a systematic fashion. In this, Heidegger resembles the later Wittgenstein, but Dreyfus is very quick to insist on the differences, not the least of which is Heidegger's rejection (and Wittgenstein's acceptance) of ordinary language as an adequate language for philosophy. But according to both of them, the basis of human life or "being-in-the-world" is not knowledge but shared activity, and, for Heidegger, it is only against this background of shared activities that we can formulate theories in science and theses in philosophy. However, theses and theories can never have the all-embracing scope hoped for by the philosophers, and the background itself does not consist of implicit theories. A full spelling out ofour background practices is impossible, according to Heidegger; at best we can point them out, provide an interpretation of them perhaps, but with the essential understanding that what we are interpreting is already an established, "mindless" shared interpretation. Human existence, for 360Philosophy and Literature Heidegger, is nothingother than this continuous, self-interpretingactivity within the context of already given social practices and interpretations. Accordingly, Heidegger insists that we must reject the traditional view of an individual self which is capable ofdetachment and objectivity, and we must reject in its entirety the Cartesian vocabulary of subject, mind, representation and consciousness (along with its newer phenomenological variants such as "intentionality" and "being-for-itself" in Husserl and Sartre). Most ofthese themes are familiar, but Dreyfus shifts the emphasis away from the more "existentialist" Heidegger (who is relegated to an appendix) and spends much of his time discussing the nature ofbackground practices and our shared interpretive activities, attacking various Cartesian views and current theories and fashions in cognitive science and epistemology. Dreyfus's discussion is always lively and seductive and his defense of Heidegger persuasive. The danger is that the energy and clarity ofDreyfus's presentation may well blunt the deserved representation of Heidegger as an obscurantist. I often found myself wondering , as I read Dreyfus's clear and persuasive account of some Heideggerian theme that had perplexed me for years, whether the engaging insight, argument , or example did indeed belong to Heidegger or whether the credit instead belonged to Dreyfus and his colleagues. Dreyfus, like many Heideggerians, presents Heidegger not only as an important philosopher but as something much, much more. We are assured that his ontology is not just a corrective for a philosophical tradition gone wrong but an antidote to what ails the world—a sage-like posture that Heidegger himself was keen to adopt. If we learn to appreciate Heidegger, we are told, we will learn to be-in-the-world in a new and different way, to understand alternative practices and ways ofunderstanding. Personally, I doubt it—though to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 359-361
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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