Benedict O'Connell on coping with vicious circularity
For Heidegger, meaning, which is intimately linked to interpretation, is neither based on fact nor convention. Instead it finds its basis “upon a form of life in which we necessarily dwell”. The reduction of understanding to factual entities has been a move made in the common sense error of misunderstanding understanding. What is essential then, is to fully engage with the circularity that is a possibility of Dasein with a view to gaining a complete sense of Dasein’s circular being. The position that Heidegger presents is not, like the common sense view, concerned with facts or deductive logic and is therefore not concerned with presenting proof. Heidegger instead makes suggestions about understanding the inevitability of preconceptions that are tied to Dasein’s interpretations and fully embracing the circle that exists given the necessity of preconceptions to understanding. The endeavour of the critic, according to Heidegger, should be concerned not only with the determining of preconceptions but also with attempting “to evaluate their fruitfulness or legitimacy”. In Heidegger’s response to the problem of vicious circularity emerges the distinction between preconception and prejudice. In other words, the circularity that is an inevitable part of Dasein’s understanding, may not always be regarded as vicious and it is the task of the critic to avoid circularity in its negative form.