Their were two authors throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies that had to be defeated. Both held seemingly intractable philosophical positions that not even the most competent and rigorous theologian could resolve. That was until I discovered a range of philosophical thinkers throughout Poland (it never really had a Reformation) that gladly accepted and exposed the weaknesses of Kant and Heidegger.
This post will briefly explore a resolution to the seemingly intractable problem that Heidegger reformulated from the pre-Socrates. Heidegger was fascinated with ‘Ontic’ questions. Philosophical questions that pertain to exploring ‘Being’. Heidegger never thought that either Plato, Aristotle or any Catholic, Muslim Medievalist was sufficiently concerned with exposing the true nature and orientation of philosophy in its grasp of pursing ‘being’ or ‘Dasein’. He also denied the philosophical validity of the Church’s anthropology.
Heidegger’s rhetorical question, ‘has the Dasein ever freely decided to come into existence?’ has been answered long ago.
The following is for those who have cut their teeth on Martin Heidegger:
The transcendence of human being is disclosed here as life imposed upon, as imposition to give an account, as imposition of freedom. The transcendence of being is commandment. I have not brought my being into existence. Nor was I thrown into being. My being is obeying the saying ‘Let there be!”
Commandment and expectation lie dormant in the recesses of being and come to light in the consciousness of being human. What Adam first hears first is a command.
Against the conception of the world as something just here, the Bible insists that the world is creation. Over all being stands the words: ‘Let there be!” To be is to obey the commandment of creation. God’s word is at stake in being. What endures is a response to a command.
Philosophically, the primacy of creation over being means that the ‘ought’ precedes the ‘is’. The order of things goes back to an order of God. Ontic questioning must be informed of its debt first before its seeks to impose false dichotomies in radical autonomy.
Even evading metaphysical reflection about the ultimate source of being provides order grounding the primacy of ethics over ontic questions. Man’s will to be cannot be separated from his ought to be. Human being completely independent of norm is a figment of one’s imagination.
The loss of the sense of significant being is due to the loss of the commandment of being human. Being human is a response. It is obedience. ‘Thou art’ precedes ‘I am’. I am because I am called upon to be. When we quarry an ethics grounded in Judeo-Christian creation we find an orientation out of Heidegger’s dilemma.
Ontic questions cannot take primacy over a single dimension in which a human person finds himself. Characteristic of human existence is the mutual involvement of being and the meaning of humanness.
What I suggest is that Heidegger pursues a line of philosophical thought that first seeks neutral being and then value. This is incorrect. Being created implies being born in value, being endowed with meaning, receiving value. Living involves acceptance of meaning, obedience and commitment.
Even though Heidegger extends his metaphysics into the history of philosophy by finding his views anticipated in the thought of both Heraclitus and Parmenides. The evidence for this claim depends partly on a set of unreliable etymologies that Heidegger claims he has found for certain Greek words. Even if Heideggers interpretation is plausible he still remains anachronistic in his view of the kind of problem the pre-Socratics confronted. They progressively recognized as paradoxical and therefore needing reformulation those very forms of utterance that Heidegger denies throughout his philosophical endeavor.
Heidegger’s work can be sufficiently criticized and reformulated within the moral and ethical framework maintained in Judeo-Christian accounts of creation. If we ignore such an import we remain paralyzed within both the rival diagnoses of errors involved in treating ‘being’ as a noun and the rival conceptual frameworks given by other ontologist’s.