Aspects of the Problem of Self-Determination in Heidegger's Philosophy

Dissertation, Duquesne University (1997)
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Abstract
The dissertation adopts the question of self-determination as a thread to guide us into Martin Heidegger's work. Heidegger's early work is expounded as an attempt to ascertain the possibility of self-determination, while his later work is expounded as the renunciation of this attempt. In chapters one to four, the author focuses on the exposition of Being and Time. The author upholds that Heidegger's early philosophy is torn in different directions. In the phenomenological descriptions of the first division of Being and Time, we see the attempt to think Dasein as a relational being, which depends on others and on the world. However, Heidegger's distinction between authentic and inauthentic Dasein is not only descriptive. It contains a call to self-determination. The philosophy of Being and Time changes as a result of this call. In order to ascertain the possibility of self-determination, Heidegger shifts the focus away from being-in-the-world and toward the self's concern with itself. The theory of temporality as the meaning of care obliterates the essential thrownness of Dasein. The author argues that there is a conflict between phenomenological description and existentialist concern with oneself in Heidegger's early project. In chapter five, the author argues that this conflict is one of the main reasons for the famous "turning" in Heidegger's philosophy. Heidegger realizes that he cannot grasp the world-oriented, "ecstatical" character of Dasein without giving up his early theory of temporality as the meaning of care. The idea of a supra-historical articulation of existential structures is rejected. The author argues that "epochality" and "nativity" are the basic forms of Dasein's lack of self-determination. Human being is never autonomous, insofar as it always already belongs to a particular age and historical people
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