Authenticity, Truth, and Cultural Transformation: A Critical Reading of John Haugeland’s Heidegger.

Speaker: Aaron Wendland (Tartu)

Join us next Monday in Room 405, Philosophy Building.

Afterwards Sacha Golob will be taking Aaron to dinner at Masala Zone Covent Garden – if you would like to join them please let Sacha know by Tue 1st. The department can cover the costs of up to two grads on a first come first served basis.

Abstract:  According to the standard reading, Heidegger’s account of authenticity in Being and Time amounts to an existentialist theory of human freedom. Against this existentialist interpretation, John Haugeland reads Heidegger’s account of authenticity as a key feature of Heidegger’s fundamental ontology: i.e., Heidegger’s attempt to determine the meaning of being through an analysis of human beings. Haugeland’s argument is based on the idea that taking responsibility for our existence entails getting the being of entities right. Specifically, Haugeland says that our ability to choose allows us to question and test the disclosure of being through which entities are intelligible to us against the entities themselves, and he adds that taking responsibility for our existence involves transforming our current disclosure of being when it fails to meet the truth test. Although I agree that Heidegger’s existentialism is a crucial feature of his fundamental ontology, I argue that the details of Haugeland’s interpretation are inconsistent. My objection is that if, as Haugeland claims, entities are only intelligible via disclosures of being, then it is incoherent for Haugeland to say that entities themselves can serve as intelligible standard against which disclosures can be truth-tested or transformed. Finally, I offer an alternative to Haugeland’s truth-based take on authenticity and cultural transformation via an ends-based onto-methodological interpretation of Heidegger and Kuhn. Here I argue that the ends pursed by a specific community determine both the meaning of being and the movement of human history.