Friday, May 18, 2018
Charles Guignon and Kevin Aho on sensing reality.
The distinction between what is in the mind, on the one hand, and what is “out there” on the other, between the “subjective” and the “objective,” seems to force the classical questions on us: Can we know about a world that exists independent of us? Or is what we call “reality” an invention of our own minds, a product of our mental categories and forms of perception? Or is it shaped by the language and conceptual schemes of a particular historical culture?
... On the one hand, Heidegger insists that “what-is” in the broadest sense is already there, independent of our choices and creative activities. “Entities are never of our making,” he says (GA 5: 39/BW 178), though we are self-making beings in the sense that we decide, within limits, our own fates. On the other hand, he shows us that what-is can show up as counting for anyone as such and such—as being something or other—only if Dasein lets it be what it is. Dasein “lets what-is be involved” in particular ways. A poker, for example, can show up as a fireplace tool or as a murder weapon. To say that, regardless of its uses, the poker is still an iron object is not to get at what it is independent of any way of being taken up in our letting-be. Instead, it is just one additional way of letting the poker be, in this case, the way of impartial, objective science. So what counts as “real” is always the result of an interplay between Dasein’s way of letting-be and what we encounter as thrown into the midst of what-is. This letting-be should not be thought of as a passive withdrawal in any sense. On the contrary, it involves receptivity, openness, and insight into the ways things are taken in our own community. Neither does this notion imply an “anything-goes” relativism. There are constraints on how we can let things be (though poets, artists, philosophers, and scientists can bring about shifts in our sense of how to let things be). It is because there are background constraints of this sort that we are largely in agreement concerning so much of our “sense of reality.”
P. 176
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