Friday, February 09, 2018
In NDPR Mark Okrent reviews Hubert L. Dreyfus's Background Practices: Essays on the Understanding of Being
Dreyfus attempted to develop a Heideggerian position regarding 'the status of the entities supposedly discovered by natural science' out of materials derived from Being and Time, even though there is relatively little in that work that is directly concerned with that question. The view developed seemingly contains both 'realist' and 'antirealist' elements, but is deeply rooted in Dreyfus' reading of Heidegger in terms of background practices. Since, for Dreyfus' Heidegger, (1) entities are only understandable or encounterable as things that are through a set of practices that recede into the background, but (2) the ontological character of those entities that are revealed by a set of practices is relative to the specific character of the practices that reveal that class of entities, and (3) background practices themselves are variable historically and geographically, it seems to follow that both what is and the ontological character of that which is varies as functions of the practices which reveal those entities. So, it also seems to follow that, for a Dreyfusian, the background practices that reveal the entities uncovered by natural science can have no privilege over entities revealed by other sets of practices, which, of course, is a distinctly antirealist position.
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