Monday, March 31, 2008

Winter, Week 10 Meeting (Part III)

What depends on Dasein?

We began the second hour of our meeting by juxtaposing passages from §43 and §44 to show that there is a structural similarity between the way that reality does and does not depend on Dasein and the way that truth does and does not depend on Dasein. We read passages from SZ 212 and SZ 226.

To get clear (or perhaps less clear) on this, we discussed the popular philosophical problem of whether a tree makes a sound if it falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it. We agreed that there is some brute event taking place, and that in order to make sense of this as a noise consisting of sound waves (as physicists might) or as a meaningful sound (as hikers might), we have to have dasein (as the entity that makes sense of things) in the picture. This does not mean that there must be someone with appropriate organs around to hear the noise in order for it to happen, but rather that there must be cases of dasein (with an understanding of being) around in order for the event to be intelligible as any kind of event. This applies retrospectively: we can make sense of a tree falling in the Jurassic period as making a noise in the sense (at least) of emitting sound waves, because we do so from our perspective, as currently existing cases of dasein, and because we have at our disposal a way of making sense of things (namely, physical science) that makes human-independent occurrences intelligible for us.

Heidegger's point is that what's going on with entities doesn't depend on dasein, but that any kind of making sense of this – including making sense of an occurrence as dasein-independent – does depend on dasein.

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