Browsing by Author "Backman, Jussi"

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  • Backman, Jussi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    The attempt to refer meaningful reality as a whole to a unifying ultimate principle - the quest for the unity of Being - was one of the basic tendencies of Western philosophy from its beginnings in ancient Greece up to Hegel's absolute idealism. However, the different trends of contemporary philosophy tend to regard such a speculative metaphysical quest for unity as obsolete. This study addresses this contemporary situation on the basis of the work of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). Its methodological framework is Heidegger's phenomenological and hermeneutical approach to the history of philosophy. It seeks to understand, in terms of the metaphysical quest for unity, Heidegger's contrast between the first (Greek) beginning or "onset" (Anfang) of philosophy and another onset of thinking. This other onset is a possibility inherent in the contemporary situation in which, according to Heidegger, the metaphysical tradition has developed to its utmost limits and thereby come to an end. Part I is a detailed interpretation of the surviving fragments of the Poem of Parmenides of Elea (fl. c. 500 BC), an outstanding representative of the first philosophical beginning in Heidegger's sense. It is argued that the Poem is not a simple denial of apparent plurality and difference ("mortal acceptances," doxai) in favor of an extreme monism. Parmenides' point is rather to show in what sense the different instances of Being can be reduced to an absolute level of truth or evidence (aletheia), which is the unity of Being as such (to eon). What in prephilosophical human experience is accepted as being is referred to the source of its acceptability: intelligibility as such, the simple and undifferentiated presence to thinking that ultimately excludes unpresence and otherness. Part II interprets selected key texts from different stages in Heidegger's thinking in terms of the unity of Being. It argues that one aspect of Heidegger's sustained and gradually deepening philosophical quest was to think the unity of Being as singularity, as the instantaneous, context-specific, and differential unity of a temporally meaningful situation. In Being and Time (1927) Heidegger articulates the temporal situatedness of the human awareness of meaningful presence. His later work moves on to study the situational correlation between presence and the human awareness. Heidegger's "postmetaphysical" articulation seeks to show how presence becomes meaningful precisely as situated, in an event of differentiation from a multidimensional context of unpresence. In resigning itself to this irreducibly complicated and singular character of meaningful presence, philosophy also faces its own historically situated finitude. This resignation is an essential feature of Heidegger's "other onset" of thinking.