Approaching one of the Big Four

I am not sure it is the case with you but for at least a decade or so four books have hung over my head standing out as foundational for particular interests that I have.  These four books are Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, Marx’s Capital, and Heidegger’s Being and Time.  Of course other works jockey for position but these sort of linger, not that I think reading them will necessarily be transformational (or even good) but only that they are required if I want to feel as though I can develop a proper orientation around the questions these works address.

Given my current reading schedule I have now begun one of the four, Being and Time.  It has been tremendously helpful to have read Husserl prior to starting this work (Heidegger was Husserl’s student).  Heidegger also believe that philosophy and so also science has not ‘gone back far enough’.  This is of course a disputable (overthrown?) quest today but I still find it helpful to try and think along the process of thinking being.  As I am still early in the work I thought I would offer a reasonably accessible quote on Heidegger’s concept of phenomenology,

[Unlike other sciences] ‘phenomenology’ neither designates the object of its researches, nor characterizes the subject-matter thus comprised.  The word merely informs us of the ‘how’ with which what is to be treated in this science gets exhibited and handled.  To have a science ‘of’ phenomena means to grasp its objects in such a way that everything about them which is up for discussion must be treated by exhibiting it directly and demonstrating it directly.  The expression ‘descriptive phenomenology’, which is at bottom tautological, has the same meaning.  Here ‘description’ does not signify such a procedure as we find, let us say, in botanical morphology; the term has rather the sense of prohibition – the avoidance of characterizing anything without demonstration.

. . .

What is it that phenomenology is to ‘let us see’?  What is that must be called ‘phenomenon’ in a distinctive sense?  What is that by its very essence is necessarily the theme whenever we exhibit something explicitly?  Manifestly, it is something that proximally and for the most does not show itself at all:  it is something that lies hidden, in contrast to that which proximally and for the most does show itself; but at the same time it something that belongs to what thus shows itself, and it belongs to it so essentially as to constitute its meaning and its ground.

Being and Time [trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson], 59.


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