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The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude

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Author: Martin Heidegger

Published: April 1st 2001 by Indiana University Press (first published 1930)

Format: Paperback , 1st edition Studies in Continental Thought , 400 pages

Isbn: 9780253214294

Language: English


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A crucial work for understanding a major turning point in Heidegger's thought. "...an important addition to the translations of Heidegger's lecture-courses."--International Philosophical Quarterly "The translators of these lectures have succeeded splendidly in giving readers an intimation of the tensely insistent tone of the original German. Heidegger's concern with a lingu A crucial work for understanding a major turning point in Heidegger's thought. "...an important addition to the translations of Heidegger's lecture-courses."--International Philosophical Quarterly "The translators of these lectures have succeeded splendidly in giving readers an intimation of the tensely insistent tone of the original German. Heidegger's concern with a linguistic preconsciousness & with our entrancement before the enigma of existence remains intensely contemporary."--Choice "There is much that is new and valuable in this book, & McNeill & Walker's faithful translation makes it very accessible."-- Review of Metaphysics "Whoever thought that Heidegger...has no surprises left in him had better read this volume. If its rhetoric is 'hard & heavy' its thought is even harder & essentially more daring than Heideggerians ever imagined Heidegger could be."--David Farrell Krell First published in German in 1983 as volume 29/30 of Heidegger's collected works, The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics includes an extended treatment of the history of metaphysics & an elaboration of a philosophy of life & nature. Heidegger's concepts of organism, animal behavior & environment are uniquely developed & defined with intensity. William McNeill is Associate Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. He is co-translator (with Julia Davis) of Holderlin's Hymn "The Ister" by Martin Heidegger. Nicholas Walker is Research Fellow in philosophy and literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Studies in Continental Thought: John Sallis, general editor

30 review for The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    This is a fascinating lecture course which substantially supplements Heidegger's Being and Time. Here we see in addition to Dasein's fundamental attunement of anxiety as presented in Being and Time a description and analysis of another form of fundamental attunement -- boredom. In both anxiety and boredom Dasein confronts its originary opening to the question of its own being. Also of especial interest in this lecture course is the only sustained engagement in Heidegger's works with the natural This is a fascinating lecture course which substantially supplements Heidegger's Being and Time. Here we see in addition to Dasein's fundamental attunement of anxiety as presented in Being and Time a description and analysis of another form of fundamental attunement -- boredom. In both anxiety and boredom Dasein confronts its originary opening to the question of its own being. Also of especial interest in this lecture course is the only sustained engagement in Heidegger's works with the natural sciences. In further developing the phenomenological description of world Heidegger analyses the sense in which animals can be said to be "poor in world" in contrast to Dasein's "worlding." The descriptions of what it is like to be a bee are a fascinating piece of phenomenological imagining oneself into the world of a substantially other kind of being. The text is somewhat easier going than Being and Time but the analyses are very close, precise and slow moving. Unfortunately, as with many such lecture courses, the full extent of the intended argument was cut short by the end of the semester leaving Finitude and Solitude unexamined. But the expansion of Heidegger's work on the description of the experience of world is a substantive addition to our understanding of world as presented in Being and Time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gene Bales

    This book is a set of H's lectures from the late 1920s. It was very much worth the effort for three reasons. First it contains the most detailed treatment of boredom ever written by anyone--it goes on for over a hundred pages! (I kept wondering how the students kept awake during all of it!). Second, it contains some fascinating insights into Heidegger's view of animal life, something about which he did not write elsewhere that I know of. Third, the book moves past Being and Time up to the point This book is a set of H's lectures from the late 1920s. It was very much worth the effort for three reasons. First it contains the most detailed treatment of boredom ever written by anyone--it goes on for over a hundred pages! (I kept wondering how the students kept awake during all of it!). Second, it contains some fascinating insights into Heidegger's view of animal life, something about which he did not write elsewhere that I know of. Third, the book moves past Being and Time up to the point of a potential turn in his thought. For all these reasons I recommend it highly.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    The first section of FCM deals largely with boredom as the fundamental attunement of contemporary Dasein (human being). A boring read. Kudos to Heidegger for successfully conveying to the reader - through affect - exactly what he means by boredom. Part One also addresses the relationship between temporality and boredom. Part Two is where the good stuff happens. Here, Heidegger takes up the question of world: "What is world?" To provide an initial understanding of what he means by world (e.g., wha The first section of FCM deals largely with boredom as the fundamental attunement of contemporary Dasein (human being). A boring read. Kudos to Heidegger for successfully conveying to the reader - through affect - exactly what he means by boredom. Part One also addresses the relationship between temporality and boredom. Part Two is where the good stuff happens. Here, Heidegger takes up the question of world: "What is world?" To provide an initial understanding of what he means by world (e.g., what does it mean to have a world?) he conducts a comparative examination of three theses: (i) The stone is worldless; (ii) The animal is poor-in-world, and (iii) Man [sic] is world-forming. Heidegger makes this comparison by examining the specific relations that the stone, animal, and man each have to the world. As an aside, Uexküll's Environment and Inner World of Animals and Theoretical Biology give insights into how the biological sciences influenced Heidegger's formulation of his threefold thesis. As mentioned by others, the lecture courses end before Heidegger has the opportunity to examine finitude and solitude. FCM supplements Being and Time. The form of philosophizing Heidegger uses in this text is an example of what he calls a "metaphysical unfolding of questions." Part Two is useful for obtaining a better understanding of Heidegger’s conception of world. Part One presents an interesting treatment of the relations between temporality and boredom; it also works as a fantastic alternative to popping a sleeping pill.

  4. 4 out of 5

    I-kai

    Misleading subtitle as usual in H.'s seminars. I propose "boredom, bees, and the ground of propositional comportments". While a bit repetitive at many points there is still much valuable reflection going on.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Noé Ajo caamaño

    Un lenguaje que solo puedo comprender si dejo a un lado un verdadero intento de comprensión. Solo puedo entenderlo desde un paradigma poetizante, pero prefiero para esto la verdadera poesía, mucho menos pesada. Heidegger será un gran pensador, pero su gramática es (aunque quizás necesaria) una tortura insoportable para mi. :(

  6. 4 out of 5

    Renxiang Liu

    A transcript of the lectures he gave at Freiburg University in Winter 1929 semester, this book has a unique status in Heidegger's oeuvre. It was composed during a period when Heidegger was reflecting upon the approach he had been taking till then, an approach from existential analytic of Dasein to fundamental ontology, which was best exemplified in Being and Time . In the current book, Heidegger beings to doubt his formulation of the problematic of ontology, though this without turning away A transcript of the lectures he gave at Freiburg University in Winter 1929 semester, this book has a unique status in Heidegger's oeuvre. It was composed during a period when Heidegger was reflecting upon the approach he had been taking till then, an approach from existential analytic of Dasein to fundamental ontology, which was best exemplified in Being and Time . In the current book, Heidegger beings to doubt his formulation of the problematic of ontology, though this without turning away from the question of Being. It seems that "metaphysics" is becoming a more proper name of philosophy than "ontology", because the latter implies that Being (onta) should be and can only be articulated via discourse (logos). This was the case for early Heidegger, but gradually he found logos, together with its Greek origin, still not originary enough. Something obscure must underlie the disclosure of logos, and this, briefly, is a primordial concealment, a darkness that first makes light possible. The discovery of this darkness, or of the undifferentiatedness of Being and Nothing, is a result of Heidegger's constant theoretical movement toward a more fundamental "ground". The book can be divided roughly into four parts ("Preliminary Appraisal"; "Part One"; "Part Two", Chapters 1-5; "Part Two", Chapter 6), each of which exhibits the uniqueness of the book in a different way. First, Heidegger provides a renewed definition of "metaphysics" in the "Preliminary Appraisal", and in so doing distances philosophy from inquiries of science. He is not satisfied with the literal meaning of metaphysics ("after physics"), but instead points out that this name witnesses the awkwardness of the time when what properly belongs to metaphysics cannot be categorized - thus the strange way of compiling Aristotle's work on "first philosophy" in a volume following his Physics. Neither does Heidegger agree that metaphysics has to define itself with respect to physics, as if it were to rest on physics and then transcend the latter. For him, the task of metaphysical thinking is “dealing with the whole”. As soon as this whole is demarcated into several realms (e.g. logic, physics and ethics), metaphysics finds nowhere to fit in. All it can do is to reduce the theme it studies to something at hand, albeit a higher one (e.g. God). Thus a revival of metaphysics consists in retrieving the horizon of the whole that precedes all specific domains and indeed makes them possible. This task is carried out in "Part One" of the book. The interesting side is that Heidegger refrains here from either of the approaches announced in Being and Time: a "destruction" of the history of philosophy, and an explication of the meaning of Being-in-the-world - the latter is reserved for the last chapter of the entire book. Instead, Heidegger reminds us of the whole by awakening a "fundamental attunement" of Dasein, namely profound boredom. Whereas attunement [Stimmung] was treated only briefly under the section of Befindlichkeit in Being and Time, here it is given a leading role. The reason behind is Heidegger's increasing belief that philosophy works not so much by logically persuading than by eliciting a transformation in each particular Dasein. Accordingly, something as "subjective" as attunement (sometimes translated as "mood") can have a determinative role. Heidegger starts with the most frequent and ordinary mode of boredom ("becoming bored by something"), then proceeds to "being bored with something", and finally to profound boredom ("it is boring for one"). Throughout these modes, two temporal characteristics are recognized: boredom is "being left empty" and "being held in limbo by time as it drags". This is where Heidegger's notion of a temporality more originary than clock time comes into play; with this insight he is able to recognize a running-through structure despite the apparent discrepancy between different modes of boredom. Significantly, boredom is an attunement par excellence for metaphysics because of its evasive tendency. It does not usually manifest itself as it is, but manifests through out evading it, for example in our wanting to pass the time (78). We constantly cause boredom to "fall asleep" (79), but this only corroborates rather than annihilates its existence. It becomes more and more evident, as we proceed ti more profound modes of boredom, that this has little to do with clock time. Clock time is only a measurement post facto of experienced time. On page 123 Heidegger talks about the fact that we take some time "so as to leave it for ourselves"; we waste time so that "we do not have to reckon with it". A radical interpretation of this: boredom, as something we constantly evade, constitutes our "passing" any time. A duration can occur only because we are bored enough so as to let it go unnoticed. In other words, forgetting underlies the flow of clock time (while not-forgetting creates moments of vision [Augenblick], which cannot be measured by clock time). Under the power of forgetting, however, the flow of clock time only conceals its utmost homogeneity; it amounts to a big "now" when becoming is suppressed - and that, Heidegger implies, is the source of the "entirely present" in the metaphysical tradition (124). So much for the input of temporality. Another aspect of the boredom that is relevant to the project of renewing metaphysics is its unconcealment of "beings' telling refusal of themselves as a whole". When we no longer dwell in the fascination with beings and instead find ourselves, in profound boredom, refused by them as a whole, this "whole" comes into our horizon, which is usually filled with beings. It is for this reason that boredom qualifies as a "fundamental" attunement for metaphysics. A comparison between the roles of boredom and Being-towards-death (the fundamental attunement in Being and Time) may be illuminating. While boredom discloses the wholeness of beings and hence the meaning of the world, Being-towards-death reveals the unity of Dasein qua its "possibility of impossibility". The focus has shifted from Dasein to the world, though boredom is still anchored in Dasein. Heidegger's phenomenological interpretation of different modes of boredom is rich and penetrating. Its value is independent of his project that interpretation serves. In "Part Two", Heidegger deals thematically with the notion of the world. Chapters 1-5 constitutes its negative side, as they amount to an interpretation of the claim "the animal is poor in world". There Heidegger criticizes reducing animals to machinary or understanding their behavior in terms of human concepts. He claims that the animal's being is bound to a "self-encirclement open to disinhibition", that it is characterized by "the capability of behavior in the unity of captivation". This is a rare case where Heidegger deals with philosophy of biology. Though this detour is a means rather than an end, Heidegger exhibits a surprising familiarity with biological researches at his time. His aim, however, is never to deny the validity of such researches - at most he is willing to provide them with a metaphysical foundation. The interesting side of Heidegger's rendering of the animal is that, although the animal is essentially restricted (encirclement), it is capable not despite but because of this restriction. Restriction prescribes the direction of the animal's attention, so that it is sensitive to something while insensitive to others. Without restriction, the animal would be indifferent to everything, like a stone. This point in fact also applies to human being, e.g. to the notion of freedom. There is no meaningful freedom without some restriction. Indeed, Heidegger's discussion of the animal can, mutatis mutandis, be applied to what Merleau-Ponty says about perception or to what Bourdieu says about social behaviors. However, he does not think that these exhaust what it is to be a human. On the contrary, what is properly human is different in kind (not in extent) from captivation. Characterizing human being solely in terms of captivation (Merleau-Ponty does this implicitly, Bourdieu most straightforwardly) amounts to giving up humanity and satisfying oneself with animality. But this is self-contradictory, because even to satisfy oneself with something presumes humanity. So what are fundamental for humanity? Having a world, the manifestness of beings as beings as a whole, and the relation to beings as letting be and not letting be - all assumed under the notion of comportment. These are discussed in the Chapter 6 of "Part Two". According to Heidegger, human and human alone is able to see something as something>. This consists in distancing oneself from the referential network of everydayness, within which we approach beings primarily with respect to their utility. By seeing something as something, one holds oneself "toward the binding character of things". This means that we have to release things from the categories we impose on them and to listen to them in openness. In order to tie the "as"-structure to the notion of the world, Heidegger traces back to Aristotle's doctrine of logos apophanticos (the propositional statement), which is both how we normally interpret the "as" and how we usually understand worldly truth. In this approach Heidegger finds Aristotle's idea that an assertion is "a taking together that takes apart", both of which happens in a single occurrence. This, furthermore, is transformed into the belonging-together and (simultaneously) standing-apart of beings and the Being of beings. Here Heidegger is not so much concerned with discovering the latter (as he is in Basic Problems of Phenomenology ) than with the primordial occurrence [Geschehen] that gave rise to the relation and distinction between the two. This might be a precursor of his later concept of Ereignis, and is discussed in a rather obscure manner in the final pages of this book. Heidegger never reached a thematic discussion of finitude or solitude, as announced in the title. However, he does say that finitude, the middle term of the three, is a "rupture within Dasein itself" that founds the link between the world and solitude (individuation) (170). There is one place where Heidegger notes, though only in passing, the significance of finitude for a proper metaphysics. There he is criticizing idealism from Kant to Hegel for attempting to found metaphysics on the subject and consciousness. Hegel's dialectic is characterized as a (failed) attempt to correct the tradition within the tradition: with the self-contained notion of the absolute spirit, the problem of Dasein and especially of its finitude did not become a problem. (208) Whereas Kant turns "away from an uncomprehended finitude toward a conforting infinitude", Hegel's dialectic is "a sign of overconfidence in attempting to grasp the infinite" (209). Both ignore the effective power of finitude and characterize it as something deficient that eventually has to be superseded by the infinite. Interestingly, this contradicts with Hegel's criticism of sticking to the finite and not allowing it to "pass over into" the finite - the reason being that, in sticking to the finite, we make it into something absolute, which contradicts with its transient status by definition. So is Heidegger making finitude (and hence Dasein) into something absolute as well? Indeed, its moments ("inconsequence, ground-lessness and fundamental concealment") all attach to important aspects of Heidegger's thought, yet the current text does not allow us to decide whether they serve as a "ground" like in Schelling (if so, Heidegger would fall victim to Hegel's criticism). A further investigation into this requires us to take into consideration Heidegger's novel discovery of an originary temporality, exemplified, though in a brief manner, in "Part One" of the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Romer

    DENSE AND INTENSE Philosophy is philosophizing. And this book is philosophizing on a dense and intense level. The structure of the philosophizing of this lecture course by the German philosophy professor Martin Heidegger, on my reading, follows a six part movement. (1) The first movement concerns what philosophy is which, according to German poet Novalis, lies in 'the desire to be at home everywhere', i.e. the act of philosophising stems from a form of homesickness. In this first part, Heidegger look DENSE AND INTENSE Philosophy is philosophizing. And this book is philosophizing on a dense and intense level. The structure of the philosophizing of this lecture course by the German philosophy professor Martin Heidegger, on my reading, follows a six part movement. (1) The first movement concerns what philosophy is which, according to German poet Novalis, lies in 'the desire to be at home everywhere', i.e. the act of philosophising stems from a form of homesickness. In this first part, Heidegger looks into the history of the word 'metaphysics' and what that history tells us about our philosophical tradition. This is more of a historical analysis and I was particularly piqued by the realisation that causal knowledge, i.e. knowledge of causes, stems from Medieval preoccupations around God, the ultimate cause or uncreated being, and all that follows from that. (2) The second movement takes a long, hard look at boredom and dissects it in three main forms: being bored by... (e.g. waiting for a train); being bored with... (e.g. a dinner party); it is boring for one... (e.g. walking through city streets on a Sunday afternoon). The third form, the most profound, underlies and sustains the other two forms. Boredom is an attunement and as such has the potential to bring us to an awareness of our being as human beings, i.e. our temporality. Heidegger asks: has contemporary man become boring for himself? For Heidegger, what is oppressive in feeling bored is precisely the lack of oppressiveness on our there-being, i.e. our Da-sein is not yet burdened, it is free-floating and thus susceptible to being oppressed by temporality which we try hard to outdo by 'passing the time'. Within Heidegger's anatomy of time, three perspectives come to the fore: prospect with regards to the future, respect with regards to the present and retrospect with regards to the past. (3) The third movement, in anticipating a discussion on the animal as distinguished from man, analyses in some depth organs and the organic as distinguished from instruments or equipment. For Heidegger, it is because we are capable of seeing that we have eyes; not the reverse. While equipment or products, such as a pen, are characterized by readiness for use, they are not in themselves capable; i.e. the pen lying on the table without being put into use by a hand is incapable of writing, whereas my eye sees, is capable, and does not require me to 'use' it to see: it is inherently capable of seeing as part of the capability of my organism which includes it. That is, the organ is subservient to the organism, i.e. the eye is subservient to the organism which is capable of seeing, whereas a product is only ever serviceable in the sense of apt (or not) to be put to use. (4) The fourth movement concerns the metaphysical understanding of the word 'world'. In order to bring about an understanding of 'world', Heidegger, in perhaps my favourite analysis of his I have read so far, distinguishes man and animal, not on the basis of the absence or presence of 'reason', but in terms of their relationship to the world, defined as 'the accessibility of beings as such and as a whole.' The animal is poor-in-world in that while it is taken in or captivated by beings in its own 'encircling disinhibiting ring', it does not apprehend beings as beings. A dog may lie under a table, say, but the dog does not apprehend the table as a table. For Heidegger, behaviour is proper to animals, whereas comportment is proper to human beings, because we are not merely taken in by beings and captivated by them in a moving behavioural pattern, but we apprehend them and acknowledge them as such. Man, therefore, is world-forming, world is given to man as world and from this manifestness of beings (world) derives the logos apophantikos, propositional discourse. (5) The fifth movement goes on to analyse propositional discourse, the logos apophantikos, and takes its cue from Aristotle as well as Kant. Words are symbols (from the Greek συμβάλλω, 'to bring together'), with a meaning that emerges from the agreement or disagreement we have with one another on beings around us. Philosophical concepts, for their part, are indicative concepts that point to there-being. Propositional discourse is an asserting or denying which conceals (pseudesthai) or reveals (aletheuein) by pointing out something. Deception lies in the fact that when I assert something I am pointing out something and my listener takes that pointing out to to be true. Heidegger goes on to analyse the copula, i.e. something 'is' something, e.g. the board in the lecture theatre 'is' black, the board in the lecture theatre 'is' badly positioned and so on. Interestingly, when considering the possibility of whether or not the blackboard is badly positioned in the lecture theatre, Heidegger states that it matters not in relation to whom this is the case but only in relation to the room itself. To summarize, logos, in the sense of discourse or speech, hinges on the manifestness of beings as such and as as a whole which constitute the 'world' and the world thus manifested comes to prevail in the word. (6) The sixth movement is basically a summation of the previous five movements and deals with the concept of projection as an opening for human beings for that which makes the possible possible. Conclusion to my review: The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics—World, Finitude, Solitude, provided me with a much clearer understanding of the phenomena that Heidegger analyses, which all forms part of a program of transforming oneself into the there-being of Dasein. Short of coming into one's own and having the will to do so, Heidegger can only ever come off as turgid verbiage. At any rate, as a direct result of reading this book, not only do I understand myself better as an organism, such as when I had my eyes tested earlier this week for a new pair of glasses, but his analysis of animality also makes me grasp animals and their difference with ourselves in a much clearer way, such as when I see my local cats going round their daily business.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ozifer Eris

    I Loved this book, with a capital L. First part about Boredom, second part about zoology.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    110 H465m 1995

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    The title is misleading but I suppose it might not have had the appeal if they had included "Boredom" along with other descriptors. Excellent discussion throughout and opened my mind to the presence of a major illusion in our understanding of reality. As with all of his works the writer in me says "Revise, rewrite and condense - be concise". Most of what was writen here could be improved to make it is less opaque. This is the problem with most philosophers. The best thing however is that he is p The title is misleading but I suppose it might not have had the appeal if they had included "Boredom" along with other descriptors. Excellent discussion throughout and opened my mind to the presence of a major illusion in our understanding of reality. As with all of his works the writer in me says "Revise, rewrite and condense - be concise". Most of what was writen here could be improved to make it is less opaque. This is the problem with most philosophers. The best thing however is that he is philosophizing which most so called philosophers avoid.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christian Kiefer

    Did not read the whole thing--only the parts related to Uexküll.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jack Holden

    A satisfying read. Amazingly, the 3 chapters covering the 3 forms of boredom are anything but boring.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex Obrigewitsch

    Parts were great, parts were not-so-much-so.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hubert

  15. 5 out of 5

    Helio

  16. 4 out of 5

    Max Sheler

  17. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

  18. 4 out of 5

    Colin Bodayle

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jay X

  20. 5 out of 5

    Malt

  21. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  22. 4 out of 5

    Martin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bred De la Brède

  24. 5 out of 5

    GleShee

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rainer

  26. 4 out of 5

    Finja

  27. 5 out of 5

    Little

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  29. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

  30. 4 out of 5

    Corinna

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