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Heidegger vs Descartes: The Case Against The Cogito

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  • Joseph Polanik
    ... in an earlier post you referred me to sections 12 and 13 or BaT. in these sections Heidegger talks a lot about dasein as Being-in-the-world . now,
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 25, 2008
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      jimstuart51 wrote:

      >jPolanik wrote:

      >>so, how do I determine that I am a dasein instead of a mind, or
      >>spirit or soul or a group of neurons or a quantum phenomenon?

      >Heidegger gives reasons for thinking that I am a Dasein in B&T. He
      >also gives reasons for thinking I am not an immaterial soul or a
      >group of neurons or a quantum phenomenon in that text.

      in an earlier post you referred me to sections 12 and 13 or BaT. in
      these sections Heidegger talks a lot about dasein as
      'Being-in-the-world'. now, clearly, the human body is in the world. it
      is a physical object like any other. we eat food and the atoms from the
      food become incorporated into the body. bodily waste products and the
      body itself after its death are recycled by the physical universe into
      other entities.

      in short, the evidence is inescapable: the human body is composed of the
      same 'stuff' that makes up the rest of the physical universe.

      physical objects are usually said to exist. I call them 'existents' or
      'existing things' or 'existential realities'.

      the question then becomes: is 'being' just a synonym for 'existing' (as
      used by ordinary folds and academics other than Heidegger scholars) or
      is there something more 'here' when there is dasein --- being-here
      being-in-the-world.

      would you post a brief extract of those passages in BaT where Heidegger
      addresses these questions concerning the structure of the human
      individual and concludes that I am not an immaterial soul or a group of
      neurons or a quantum phenomenon and so on?

      >Perhaps, he does not decisively refute Descartes' view that I am an
      >immaterial soul. But, as Wil says, many others have argued that
      >Descartes "cogito ergo sum" does not in itself establish that I am an
      >immaterial soul (in fact you admit this as well).

      Descartes would admit this too, I think. after all, he invokes it (uses
      the cogito or the idea behind it without actually saying "cogito ergo
      sum") early in the second meditation; and, there is a long way to go
      before the end of the sixth.

      'I experience; therefore, I am' establishes the phenomenological reality
      of the phenomenological experiencer. this, by itself, is probably not
      too controversial. the tough part is deciding whether the
      phenomenological experiencer is generated by the brain, some immaterial
      reality or by the interaction of the two or in some other way.

      most people take the easy way out and just assume the explanation they
      like best. it doesn't matter which explanation is assumed --- it is the
      act of assuming that makes that way the easy way.

      Descartes tried to prove that the answer he found was actually true.

      >Descartes makes plenty of questionable moves between the start of
      >Meditation One and the end of Meditation Six.

      this is true.

      >I am not aware of any reputable philosopher who thinks that
      >Descartes' arguments in The Meditations are all sound.

      neither am I.

      the question is whether so-called reputable philosophers have just
      reverted to the easy way instead of tackling the hard way.

      did Heidegger take the easy way out?

      >Are you just arguing that Heidegger did not decisively refute
      >Descartes' view (something Heidegger himself admits), or are you
      >arguing for something more substantial? Are you arguing that
      >Descartes' arguments in The Meditations are all sound?

      >Further, as Descartes says that he cannot trust in logic until he
      >proves that God exists, I'm still not sure what you think the status
      >of the "therefore" can have for Descartes. You call it a "forensic
      >inference" but this sounds like a logical inference to me.

      Descartes' claim is that proceeding from 'I experience' to 'I am' is not
      a syllogism --- what we today would call deduction by modus ponens
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modus_ponens). Heidegger agrees; but,
      assumes that there is no other justification for the 'ergo' in the
      cogito.

      do you agree with that assumption?

      I consider the forensic inference to be a rudimentary form of a
      transcendental argument
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_arguments) about a century
      before Kant developed it more fully.

      do you see any difference between a transcendental argument and a
      deduction by modus ponens?

      Heidegger shows us the basis of Descartes' forensic inference. he wrote:
      "The sum is not a consequence of the thinking, but vice versa; it is the
      ground of thinking, the fundamentum".

      [Heidegger, Martin. "Modern Science, Metaphysics and Mathematics" an
      except from _What is Thinking_ contained in _Martin Heidegger: Basic
      Writings_ by David F. Krell. p. 279]

      'I am' is not the consequence of 'I experience'. 'I am' is the ground of
      'I experience' --- a logically necessary precondition of experience.
      hence, if I notice that I experience, I conclude that I am. do you agree
      so far? if so; then, why would you object to expressing this conclusion
      as 'I experience; therefore, I am'?

      >And, as Wil points out, the "cogito ergo sum" of the Fourth Discourse
      >is meant to fit into the Second Meditation – the Discourse on Method is
      >just a preparatory sketch for the full argument in The Meditations.

      >Finally, as Descartes doesn't in fact use the "therefore" in the
      >Meditations, why are you so bothered that Heidegger also drops it?

      in the Meditations, Descartes does not state the cogito, "cogito ergo
      sum"; but, as I've said before, he dramatized or depicted the use and
      discovery of this principle.

      in BaT Heidegger promises us a phenomenological destruction of the
      'cogito sum'. he has already altered Descartes' formula. so his
      deconstruction of 'cogito sum' (even if this can be found in his other
      writings) is of questionable relevance unless he first justifies
      altering the formula Descartes actually uses.

      and that he did not even attempt.

      Joe

      --
      Philosophy is, after all, done ultimately in the first person for the
      first person. --- H-N Castaneda

      @^@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@^@
      http://what-am-i.net
      @^@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@^@
    • eupraxis@aol.com
      ... Have you actually read the book, or have you just picked bits of it. Have you noticed the title of the book? Being and Time? Just what do think that title
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 25, 2008
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        In a message dated 2/25/08 8:47:52 PM, jPolanik@... writes:
        > the question then becomes: is 'being' just a synonym for 'existing' (as
        > used by ordinary folds and academics other than Heidegger scholars) or
        > is there something more 'here' when there is dasein --- being-here
        > being-in-the-world.
        >
        Have you actually read the book, or have you just picked bits of it. Have you
        noticed the title of the book? Being and Time? Just what do think that title
        means? Have you understood the ontico-ontological difference? You have to read
        the WHOLE text. The text is about precisely what you are asking. Precisely.
        This is really most disappointing.

        Wil



        **************
        Ideas to please picky eaters. Watch video on AOL Living.

        (http://living.aol.com/video/how-to-please-your-picky-eater/rachel-campos-duffy/
        2050827?NCID=aolcmp00300000002598)


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Joseph Polanik
        ... 1. Situation BaT section 12 [H:53-60], opens with Dasein is an entity which in each case I myself am , an echo of section 9 where Heidegger wrote We are
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 27, 2008
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          Anthony Crifasi wrote:

          >Joseph Polanik wrote:

          >>jimstuart51 wrote:

          >>>jPolanik wrote:

          >>>>so, how do I determine that I am a dasein instead of a mind, or
          >>>>spirit or soul or a group of neurons or a quantum phenomenon?

          >>>Heidegger gives reasons for thinking that I am a Dasein in B&T. He
          >>>also gives reasons for thinking I am not an immaterial soul or a
          >>>group of neurons or a quantum phenomenon in that text.

          >>in an earlier post you referred me to sections 12 and 13 or BaT. in
          >>these sections Heidegger talks a lot about dasein as
          >>'Being-in-the-world'. now, clearly, the human body is in the world. it
          >>is a physical object like any other. we eat food and the atoms from
          >>the food become incorporated into the body. bodily waste products and
          >>the body itself after its death are recycled by the physical universe
          >>into other entities.

          >What you are describing is what Heidegger says he does NOT mean by
          >Being-in, at SuZ 54. He does not mean a physical thing inside the
          >physical universe. He calls what he means "Being-alongside," which he
          >describes at Suz 54-55.

          1. Situation

          BaT section 12 [H:53-60], opens with "Dasein is an entity which in each
          case I myself am", an echo of section 9 where Heidegger wrote "We are
          ourselves the entities to be analysed".

          if I translate these statements into the first person, I get something
          like "I am myself this entity" or, more simply, "I am *this*" --- the
          awareness that prompts the next question: how do I determine that I,
          this entity that I myself am, am a dasein instead of a mind, spirit,
          soul, a group of neurons, a quantum phenomenon or whatever?

          here, knowing that I am *this*, I am seeking that which I inquire about
          when I ask 'what am I?'.

          2. Being-In the World vs Being-Alongside the World

          I'm not sure it helps to distinguish 'in' and 'alongside' in relation to
          the various meanings of 'world' that Heidegger defines in section 14 ---
          particularly when it is still undecided 'what' is in/alongside the
          world[usage 1-4].

          Heidegger writes:

          "The entity to which Being-in in this signification belongs is one which
          we have characterized as that entity which in each case I myself am
          [bin]. This expression 'bin' is connected with 'bei', and so 'ich bin'
          ['I am'] means in its turn 'I reside' or 'dwell alongside' the world, as
          that which is familiar to me in such and such a way. 'Being' [Sein], as
          the infinitive of 'ich bin' (that is to say, when it is understood as an
          existentiale), signifies 'to reside alongside ...', 'to be familiar with
          ...'. 'Being-in' is thus the formal existential expression for the Being
          of Dasein, which has Being-in-the-world as its essential state." [Bat p.
          80]

          this analysis may remind you of an earlier thread in which the origin of
          the existential construction was discussed. I will try to summarize.

          the 'absolute signification' of the verb to be as that phrase is used by
          the OED is what linguists call an 'existential construction'. there are
          two formats for the existential construction; but, they are analyzed in
          a similar fashion.

          the first format looks like a sentence containing a subject, a copula
          and no explicitly stated complement. examples would include 'I am', 'you
          are' and 'it is' or 'God is'. the second format has a placeholding
          subject such as 'there' and the actual subject appears shifted to the
          complement position.

          an existential construction asserts that its subject 'is' but doesn't
          say what it is. so, 'an even prime number is' means the same as 'there
          is an even prime number'; but, doesn't tell you whether numbers are
          realities of type 2 or type 3 (I'm just going to assume you won't try to
          find '2' under a rock somewhere).

          according to the OED, the existential construction as we know it had its
          origin in statements like 'there is a tree in the garden' when the
          connection to an actual location was severed.

          so, when Heidegger analyzes 'ich bin' and concludes that it means 'I
          dwell alongside' he is reverting to the etymological history of the
          existential construction as if that governed anyone who says 'I am'.

          ironically, Heidegger *did* catch a glimpse of the significance of the
          existential construction: the necessity of a [root-predicate]-typology.

          "In the assertions 'God is' and 'the world is', we assert Being. This
          word 'is', however, cannot be meant to apply to these entities in the
          same sense, when between them there is an infinite difference of Being;
          if the signification of 'is' were univocal, then what is created would
          be viewed as if it were uncreated, or the uncreated would be reduced to
          the status of something created." [BaT p. 126]

          of course, my theory is that the 'naked is' (the existential
          construction) asserts the root predicate only. it is left to us to
          decide what [root predicate]-type is appropriate in a given case; and,
          that accounts for the multi-vocal 'is'.

          in any event, Heidegger recognizes that there are different senses of
          'is'. consequently, until I decide what sense is asserted of 'I' when I
          say 'I am', how would I decide whether I am in, of, or alongside the
          world (even if I previously decided which of the 4 uses of 'world' was
          appropriate)?

          Joe

          [All quotes from BaT are from the Macquarrie & Robinson translation]



          --
          Philosophy is, after all, done ultimately in the first person for the
          first person. --- H-N Castaneda

          @^@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@^@
          http://what-am-i.net
          @^@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@^@
        • jimstuart51
          Joe, Your last post starts off like this: ... You are making things very confusing by posting discussions from your Heidegger forum on this forum and
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 27, 2008
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            Joe,

            Your last post starts off like this:

            << Anthony Crifasi wrote:

            >Joseph Polanik wrote:

            >>jimstuart51 wrote:

            >>>jPolanik wrote: >>

            You are making things very confusing by posting discussions from your
            Heidegger forum on this forum and vice-versa.

            I suggest you just discuss things with Anthony Crifasi on your
            Heidegger forum and just discuss things with Existlist members on this
            forum.

            I did not give you permission to quote from my posts on the other
            forum, and I suspect Antony Crifasi did not give you permission to
            quote from his posts on this forum.

            What you wrote in your post 43797 seems to be a reply to Anthony
            Crifasi which you thought I might find useful, but the context of your
            arguments is far from clear.

            I think you may be getting a bit confused with your multiple
            conversations anyway. You have replied to my post 43774 twice (your
            posts 43777 and 43788 which are nearly identical), but you have not,
            as yet, replied to my posts 43778, 43793, and 43795.

            I look forward to receiving your replies to these three posts, rather
            than reading what Anthony Crifasi has to say or what you have to say
            to him.

            Jim
          • Joseph Polanik
            ... not exactly. Heidegger, like anyone else, can choose where to put his attention; but, choosing one viewpoint to the exclusion of the other doesn t seem
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 29, 2008
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              Anthony Crifasi wrote:

              >Joseph Polanik wrote:

              >>Heidegger writes:

              >>"In the assertions 'God is' and 'the world is', we assert Being. This
              >>word 'is', however, cannot be meant to apply to these entities in the
              >>same sense, when between them there is an infinite difference of
              >>Being; if the signification of 'is' were univocal, then what is
              >>created would be viewed as if it were uncreated, or the uncreated
              >>would be reduced to the status of something created." [BaT p. 126]

              >>of course, my theory is that the 'naked is' (the existential
              >>construction) asserts the root predicate only. it is left to us to
              >>decide what [root predicate]-type is appropriate in a given case; and,
              >>that accounts for the multi-vocal 'is'.

              >>Heidegger recognizes that there are different senses of 'is'.
              >>consequently, until I decide what sense is asserted of 'I' when I say
              >>'I am', how would I decide whether I am in, of, or alongside the world
              >>(even if I previously decided which of the 4 uses of 'world' was
              >>appropriate)?

              >So you are asking why Heidegger prioritizes being-alongside over
              >being-inside.

              not exactly. Heidegger, like anyone else, can choose where to put his
              attention; but, choosing one viewpoint to the exclusion of the other
              doesn't seem like a well-balanced approach to me.

              the 'world' that is spoken of when one says being-in (in the sense of
              inside) is not the same 'world' that is spoken of when one says being-in
              (in the sense of being-alongside).

              using first-person pronouns subscripted by reality type for greater
              precision, one might say 'I-1, this human body, am an existent and I
              exist within a world of existing entities of various kinds including
              other humans'.

              in this statement, which I hope captures the sense of 'insideness',
              'world' is for me a world of reality type 1. this corresponds rather
              well to usage 1 in the enumeration Heidegger uses in section 14 of BaT:
              "the totality of those entitites which can be present-at-hand within the
              world".

              it seems to me that, when Heidegger speaks of being-alongside as opposed
              to being-inside the world, he is speaking of usage 3 from his list:
              "that 'wherein' a factical Dasein as such can be said to 'live'".

              would you agree?

              >There are several avenues we can take with this. I don't prefer
              >Heidegger's etymological avenue, not because it's wrong, but because I
              >think there is a much more convincing avenue - one which motivated
              >Heidegger to break from Husserl. That avenue is that if we prioritize
              >being-inside (so that I am a physical being next to other beings, all
              >inside the universe), the history of philosophy showed that this leads
              >to the complete subjectivization and denial of the world. If I am one
              >thing next to other things, the first priority is to figure out how I
              >come to be aware of those other beings. That epistemological question
              >is what caused Husserl to require that philosophy *begins* by denying
              >the metaphysical existence of the world, reducing it to merely the
              >world of my experience (something similar to what Descartes does at the
              >beginning of the second meditation).

              your analysis of the history of philosophy is questionable for two
              reasons. first, epistemological concerns only require a suspension of
              judgement as to the origin of experience rather than an outright denial
              that there is a metaphenomenal world(s) that is the origin of
              experience.

              secondly, from what I can tell from readings in the contemporary
              philosophy of consciousness, defining humans as no more than human
              bodies (irregardless of whether we call those bodies 'existings' or
              'beings') more often leads to an excessive objectification than to an
              excessive subjectification.

              I suspect it would be more accurate to treat Descartes as suspending
              judgement as to the origin of experience rather than denying that there
              is a metaphenomenal world that is the origin of experience.

              >Given that dead end, being-alongside represents an alternative
              >starting point that is immune from such epistemological doubts, because
              >beings are not posited as physical entities next to one another inside
              >a physical universe from the start.

              it seems to me that any absence of epistemological doubts associated
              with choosing 'being-alongside' as a 'starting point' is due to a
              failure to ask the right questions rather than to any natural immunity
              this starting point gives.

              unless Heidegger has somehow prohibited others from expressing his
              (Heidegger's) philosophy in the first person, anyone may translate
              "Dasein is an entity which in each case I myself am" into something like
              "I am myself *this* ... whatever this is". anyone who makes such an
              observation may ask the obvious follow-up question 'what am I?'.

              the question is not about the relation (being-in vs being-alongside) to
              the world. it is about the internal structure of I, this which I am.

              is a human any more than a human body with a highly developed capacity
              for reflective self-awareness?

              Joe



              --
              Philosophy is, after all, done ultimately in the first person for the
              first person. --- H-N Castaneda

              @^@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@^@
              http://what-am-i.net
              @^@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@^@
            • jimstuart51
              Joe, I regard your post 43821 as spam. It doesn t seem to be addressed to anybody at Existlist, and you seem to be replying to points made by Anthony Crifasi
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 29, 2008
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                Joe,

                I regard your post 43821 as spam.

                It doesn't seem to be addressed to anybody at Existlist, and you seem
                to be replying to points made by Anthony Crifasi who is not a member
                of this forum.

                Perhaps you could start reading a bit more carefully what people
                actually write on this forum, then reply to what they write.

                Jim
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