Friday, March 30, 2012
Patrick A. Heelan on aletheic truth and science.
Heidegger has not had a strong following among those interested in the positive development of, and understanding of, mathematics and the natural sciences. Heidegger’s influence in this area tends to be interpreted in the USA as a call to return to American Pragmatism. Heidegger’s radical ideas have had a significant influence on the phenomenology of research, technology, and culture today. Among those influenced by these ideas are, for example, K-O. Apel, B. Babich, A. Clark, R. Crease, I. Fehér, D. Ginev, J. Haugeland, Heelan, D. Ihde, Kockelmans, Kisiel, G. Markus, Polanyi, J. Rouse, and R. Scharff. Polanyi, a molecular biochemist and also an important philosopher of science with a continental background, who is often seen as standing outside of contemporary philosophical traditions claims, however, that his ‘tacit knowing’ comes to the same thing as Heidegger’s ‘being-in-the-world’.

In his critique of modern science, Heidegger argues that theories and mathematical models are ‘inauthentic’ representations of Dasein’s ‘being-in-
the-world’ and that they fail to establish modern science’s or modern culture’s relation to ‘aletheic’ truth, i.e., truth based on ‘historicity,’ ‘authenticity,’ ‘openness,’ and ‘freedom’.

‘Authenticity’ addresses the practice of a special phenomenological skill, that has to be learned, of avoiding that which in phenomenological analysis are the biases to ‘understanding’ introduced by objective uses of abstract (theoretical) concepts and models. This ‘world’ of Heidegger, this Lifeworld5 of Husserl, is, perhaps, best seen for our purposes as the everyday world after the removal of all theoretical representational elements objectified as ‘real.’ However, in contrast with Husserl for whom the intention of truth is guided by unchanging ‘transcendental eidoi,’ Heidegger holds that abstract concepts coerce ‘being-in-the-world,’ into narrower or more determinate channels than those of the free, open, and historical life of the embodied inquirer thinking philosophically. Ironically, ‘authentic’ phenomenological thinking can never be fully mastered, because our everyday ‘praxical’ life world is never successfully purified of objects defined by abstract concepts, but is continuously challenged by them in a field of open inquiry. For Heidegger’s phenomenology, however, the demand for authenticity in the Lifeworld is local, historical, contextual, emergent, cultural, and the subjective embodiment of imaginative, scientific, and poetic mind in the Lifeworld that is lived for its own sake as a terminal goal with respect to which problem-solving serves only as a means to that end. The intention of truth is aletheic truth, ‘free’ and ‘open’ to emergent possibilities.
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