Heidegger and science: nature, objectivity and the present-at-hand

Beck, Adam (2002) Heidegger and science: nature, objectivity and the present-at-hand. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

Heidegger is commonly assumed to have been at first uninterested in science, and then later on positively hostile towards it. This thesis sets out to re-evaluate Heidegger's attitude towards science in general by carefully reconstructing an account of natural science that lies, I claim, at the heart of his major and early work, Being and Time. The existential conception of science articulated in this account revolves around three main issues: 1. ) The genesis of science from everyday pre-theoretical behaviour; 2. ) The structural necessity of crisis to the 'progress' of the sciences; 3. ) The transformation of the concept of scientific foundation in the light of the permanent necessity of scientific revolution. In the course of the reconstruction it becomes apparent that certain basic concepts of the existential analytic are in urgent need of reinterpretation. In particular, the concepts of objectivity and presence-at-hand need to be disentangled. Once separated, it becomes clear that Heidegger's work is not a critique of the notion of objectivity, but rather an attempt to salvage it from the wreckage of epistemology. Equally, the charge first levelled by Karl Löwith and then repeated by Paul Ricoeur that Heidegger `forgets nature' proves premature. This rereading of fundamental ontology suggests, in addition, that Heidegger opens up a path largely not taken by 20th century philosophy of science. Heidegger's interpretation of relativity theory, taking its cue from Weyl's attempt to extend Einstein's thinking to electromagnetism, differs fundamentally from the response of figures such as Cassirer, Reichenbach, Carnap and Schlick. It offers a perspective on questions about the status of scientific theory outside of the usual three-cornered debate between empiricism, realism and constructivism. Finally, the recovery of a specifically Heideggerian conception of science, allows us to understand and evaluate Heidegger's claim that philosophy is the science of Being.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas:Theses
ID Code:6363
Deposited On:05 Aug 2010 12:23
Last Modified:02 Oct 2014 16:38

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