Heidegger on the Unity of Metaphysics and the Method of Being and Time

Review of Metaphysics 74 (3):361-396 (2021)
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The fundamental error of the metaphysical tradition, according to Heidegger, is the subordination of general ontology to the ontology of a special, exemplary entity (God, the soul, etc.). But Being and Time itself treats one kind of entity as exemplary, namely Dasein. Does this mean that Heidegger fails to free himself from the kind of metaphysics that he sought to criticize? To show how he avoids this charge I propose to examine the parallels between the methodology of Being and Time and the methodology Heidegger ascribes to Aristotle's Metaphysics. Heidegger takes the virtue of Aristotle's inquiry to reside in the way he resists the subordination of general to special ontology: Aristotle was guided by a "double concept" of metaphysics, pursued two irreducibly distinct methods of inquiry, and avoided the temptation to unite them. In proposing to similarly pursue a "double task" in Being and Time Heidegger seeks to apply this insight to his own work. Alongside the task of fundamental ontology, Heidegger spells out the shape of a second task, Destruktion, understood as a historical critique that traces ontological concepts back to their ontic roots. But Destruktion is not a mere addendum to fundamental ontology; the two tasks are meant to counterbalance one another and thereby prevent the collapse of the ontological difference between being and beings. Indeed, Heidegger proposes to apply Destruktion to the results of his own fundamental ontology. He hopes to thereby achieve a transformation of the philosophical attitude which underpins the metaphysical tradition.
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