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November 25, 2007


Justin R. M.

Seems like you're not too keen on Heidegger. From the sound of it Hubert Dreyfus thinks he's the most important philosopher of the 20th century--as do many others. If it's because of poor writing abilities, namely obfuscation, then we'd have to write off many other important philosophers. Unfortunately, many philosophers make piss-poor writers. It's our job (if we so choose) to find the nuggets of wisdom within the garbage heap. What are your thoughts?


>I'm not a great fan of Heidegger

Why not? :)

Andy C

I'm not a fan of Heidegger for a simple reason. People are catastrophically flawed and frequently make mistakes. Therefore it is necessary to simplify theoretical ideas as much as is possible - this makes it much easier to test them. Heidegger, and Kant before him, failed to do this, and therefore failed to do his job. The result in Kant's case was that the gaping holes in his arguments were temporarily missed - although scientific advance renders them obvious. In Heidegger's case, I don't think anyone has bothered to look for the holes. We can be pretty sure it simply isn't worth it. Also his Nazism is probably a factor.

Nicholas Joll

If I may join this conversation belatedly. . Andy C (above) thinks philosophers should 'simplify theoretical ideas as much as is possible', because 'this makes it much easier to test them.' I agree (although the rub is knowing how much it is possible in any particular case).

But it is false that no-one has 'bothered to look for the holes' in Heidegger. Heidegger has very many critics, many of them careful. Take Dreyfus for example. He reads Heidegger carefully (although admittedly some say he distorts him); but, additionally, he criticises Heidegger fairly regularly, albeit whilst accepting a great deal of what Heidegger says, too. Richard Polt - the author of what I think is the best introduction to Heidegger - is another example of a careful, sympathetic critic.

The existence of such people - careful critics who are *also* sympathetic (and I could name more people of that type) - comprises a degree of evidence that careful criticism of Heidegger not only exists but has value.

And that in turn is some prima facie evidence that Heidegger's ideas themselves have value.

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