Being is not a thing

In Heidegger, Being is indefinable. “The term entity cannot be applied to Being because it cannot be defined using traditional logic, (i.e. a technique for understanding which derives its terms either from higher general concepts, or by recourse to ones of lower generality).”¹

In this sense any attempt to define “God” – if we conceive of the Divine as pure being – points to the infantile, concrete-thinking of both the fundamentalist believer and the militant atheist, both of whom fail to grasp even the most basic tenets of arguably the most important thinker of the 20th century².

“… because Being is neither a thing nor a genus it follows that it cannot be defined according to logic, whose job is to set out the rules that govern the categorisation of phenomena and concepts.”²

 


 

(1)http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/b_resources/b_and_t_glossary.html#t

(2) “Heidegger is widely acknowledged to be one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20thcentury, while remaining one of the most controversial.  His thinking has contributed to such diverse fields as phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty), existentialism (Sartre, Ortega y Gasset), hermeneutics (Gadamer, Ricoeur), political theory (Arendt, Marcuse, Habermas), psychology (Boss, Binswanger, Rollo May), and theology (Bultmann, Rahner, Tillich). His critique of traditional metaphysics and his opposition to positivism and technological world domination have been embraced by leading theorists of postmodernity (Derrida, Foucault, and Lyotard).” – Internet encyclopedia of philosophy (http://www.iep.utm.edu/heidegge/)

+++

“Heidegger’s main interest was ontology or the study of being. In his fundamental treatise, Being and Time, he attempted to access being (Sein) by means of phenomenological analysis of human existence (Dasein) in respect to its temporal and historical character. After the change of his thinking (“the turn”), Heidegger placed an emphasis on language as the vehicle through which the question of being can be unfolded. He turned to the exegesis of historical texts, especially of the Presocratics, but also of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Hölderlin, and to poetry, architecture, technology, and other subjects. Instead of looking for a full clarification of the meaning of being, he tried to pursue a kind of thinking which was no longer “metaphysical.” He criticized the tradition of Western philosophy, which he regarded as nihilistic, for, as he claimed, the question of being as such was obliterated in it. He also stressed the nihilism of modern technological culture. By going to the Presocratic beginning of Western thought, he wanted to repeat the early Greek experience of being, so that the West could turn away from the dead end of nihilism and begin anew.”

Heidegger, Martin

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