Heidegger’s Metaphysics, a Theory of Human Perception: Neuroscience Anticipated, Thesis of Violent Man, Doctrine of the Logos

Philosophy Study 10 (11) (2020)
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Abstract

In this essay, our goal is to discover science in Martin Heidegger's Introduction to Metaphysics, lecture notes for his 1935 summer semester course, because, after all, his subject is metaphysica generalis, or ontology, and this could be construed as a theory of the human brain. Here, by means of verbatim quotes from his text, we attempt to show that indeed these lectures can be viewed as suggestion for an objective scientific theory of human perception, the human capacity for deciphering phenomena, ie. hermeneutics in its broadest sense. His added notes from the 1953 edition, all of which are comments, not corrections, imply that he never abandoned these thoughts on metaphysics, despite all of his utterances about a need to overcome it, and their popular interpretations to that effect. In his presentation, he further develops the colorful and intuitive style, an hermeneutic language, that he had created in his earlier work Being and Time. Of human existence he speaks in such expressions as being-there -- ``Dasein" -- and being-in-the-world, the latter term no longer explicit in the 1935 lectures. The lectures can be read as a pre-scientific analysis of how man, being-there, perceives his environment, artfully managing to deal with the manifold challenges posed by the phenomenal structures of the universe. Man attentively recognizes and deciphers their pre-linguistic contents and, while trying to make sense of it all, puts into words his awareness. There are numerous passages in Heidegger's work where he in fairly concrete terms provides us with hints for a perceptive science that, as it turns out and is demonstrated below in this essay, can be explained in terms of recent advances in neuroscience. It would be implausible, even unthinkable, unimaginable, for there not to be found essential agreement between on one hand his philosophical insights gained by hermeneutics of Dasein, into how our brain functions to let us know what's happening & on the other hand, scientific discoveries obtained through anatomy, EEG, fMRI, TMS, electrode implants, etc, of brain structures & functions employed in perception of the momentary scene. A nexus between science and philosophy is provided in Heidegger's definitive treatment of the Logos, here interpreted as a structural version of Platonic forms (Burchard, 2014). This allows for neurolinguistic brain functions to serve as meta-context for Heidegger's being-in-the-world. The logical functions of Dasein's anatomical brain are performed by the logos machine, formerly the human soul, using top-down processing based on a global context, the noumenal cosmos which humans maintain internally. Heidegger's 1942/43 winter semester lectures Parmenides extend in unbroken fashion his 1935 work, proving that he never abandoned, as is widely claimed, his metaphysical avenue of thought.

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Hermann G. W. Burchard
Oklahoma State University

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