What are the main differences between Husserl's and Heidegger's transcendental phenomenologies?
1) What are the main differences between Husserl’s and Heidegger’s transcendental phenomenologies?
Transcendental phenomenology is defined in general as the study of essence - What are the main differences between Husserl's and Heidegger's transcendental phenomenologies? introduction? It designates two things: a new kind of descriptive method which made a breakthrough in philosophy at the turn of the century, and an a priori science derived from it; a science which is intended to supply the basic instrument for a rigorously scientific philosophy and, in its consequent application, to make possible a methodical reform of all the sciences. (Husserl, p15)
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Essentially, transcendental phenomenology then is a description of phenomena. Husserl, then, laid down the method to achieve the objective of reforming all the sciences. The first step is the use of phenomenological epoche or reduction or bracketing wherein one suspends or take away all his/her biases and prejudices in order to “objectively describe” a phenomena. By doing this, we can arrived at a universal description of a phenomena. This will be followed by the compare and contrast method, which one will have to undergo in order to arrive at the pure data of things. It appears then that by suspending one’s judgment and undergoing the intersubjectivity test, we can arrive at the “pure data of things”.
In relation to this, Husserl claims that this method should be followed by all the sciences in order to answer their primordial condition. It is held that sciences cannot escape their dogmas because they failed to question how they come to be. What they are just doing is a mere adaptation of established principles proven in the past to be true. It has constructed ready-made answers to all things – their nature, existence, feature, et al; grounded on the preconceived notion that science has already provided sufficient answers to the primitiveness of these objects. While sciences are busy in explaining these things [the ready-made answers], they failed to realize that they were not able to arrive at the Isness of these objects, on how they come into being.
By destroying the “tradition” institutionalized by science and overcoming relativism and subjectivism by the use of phenomenological reduction, it is held that one can arrive at the pure data of consciousness. It is in this sense, that phenomenology becomes transcendental.
Essentially, for Husserl phenomenology is the science of consciousness. It is the process of describing the things and events themselves in their primordial sense through the use of phenomenological reduction. It only thru this process that we can arrive at pure reflection because this is the only method wherein objects and events are describe as themselves without concurring to any established principle or assumption.
Heidegger begins his conception of phenomenology as a critique of Husserl’s reliance on absolute consciousness for his model of intentionality. Heidegger stresses the ontological difference between being and Being which aims to avoid the reduction of ontology to the mere categorization of entities. As such, for any study of Being-in-general, he sees “the need to establish “fundamental ontology” that elucidates the conditions of intelligibility required for things to “be” or show up for us in any way at all”. (Heidegger, p24)
Phenomenology, then, for Heidegger follows the maxim – to the things themeselves. As such, phenomenology neither designates nor characterizes the object to be subjected for phenomenological conception. Thus, it informs one on how a specific field is exhibited and demonstrated not with what is to exhibited and treated.
In this regard, he views phenomenology as a means of access to what is to be the subject matter of ontology and a way of giving it demonstrative precision in relation to phenomena or to the Being of entities which as he asserted remains to be hidden, discovered and then has been deteriorated which eventually been buried again, and lastly which show itself only in disguise. Essentially, the process of arriving to the ontology of the Being of entities makes phenomenology transcendental for Heidegger with the recognition that being is accessible only through one’s practical engagement with a world already understood because of its relevance to one’s ongoing projects
It can be deuced then that phenomenology is the science of the Being of entities – its ontology. As such, in order to provide an answer to the Being-in-general, one has to necessarily take the supposition that the Dasein as an ontologico-ontically distinctive entity is the fundamental grounding to ontology. As consequent, Heidegger asserted that the meaning of one’s phenomenological description as a method lies in what he termed as interpretation.
However, this interpretation has primordial signification in the sense that the process of interpreting aims to uncover the meaning of Being as well as the basic structures the Dasein possesses in order for latter to know and understand his Being. In this regard, the hermeneutic character of Dasein in its primordial signification takes the specific sense of the existentiality of existence or more precisely, on the analytic ontology of the Dasein.
To wit: Being is the transcendens pure and simple. And the transcendence of Dasein’s Being is distinctive in that it implies the possibility and the necessity of the most radical individuation. Every disclosure of Being as the transcendens is transcendental knowledge. Phenomenological truth (the disclosedness of Being) is veritas transcendentalis. (Heidegger, p47).
Essentially, the difference between the Husserl’s and Heidegger’s conception of transcendental phenomenology lies in four points: first, Heidegger’s belief that possibility is greater than actuality as opposed to what Husserl belief that actuality is essential in philosophical movement; second, Heidegger rejects the theoretical view that one encounter objects out-there, somehow laundered in a subjective consciousness through neutral perception which results to specific and limited comportment of perceiving at things which is evident on Husserl’s philosophy; third, on their focus – Heidegger’s focused on providing an answer on how one can transcend to his facticity in order to ontologically know his Being while Husserl focused in discovering the essence and the ontological existence of the objects in the material world; and lastly, on the methods to be employed in order to achieve the ontology of an entity, Husserl asserted the effectiveness of using phenomenological reduction together with the intersubjectivity test while Heidegger posits the redefining of the question of Being as the measure to arrive at the ontological status of knowing and understanding the Dasein.
2. What is the “they”? Why does Dasein need the “they”? What dangers does the “they” pose for some particular Dasein, if any? How does the “they” disclose the world to itself (in other words, what is fallenness)?
“They”, in Heidegger’s Being and Time refers to the conditions and/or factors which contributes to the inauthenticity of the Dasein. In this process, the Dasein “falls” and turns away from itself. To wit: That in the face of which it thus shrinks back must, in any case, be an entity with the character of threatening; yet this entity has the same kind of Being as the one that shrinks back: it is Dasein itself. That in the face of which it thus shrinks back cannot be taken as something fearsome, for anything fearsome is always encountered as an entity within-the-world. The only threatening which can be fearsome and which gets discovered in fear always comes from entities within-the-world. (Heidegger, p48).
In this regard, he posited that this process is not “fleeing” in the face of oneself as what people conventionally hold. It is because in fleeing, the Being shrinks back or turns way from something due to fear. And this fear arises because of entities within-the-world which the Dasein eventually stay away. On the process of fallenness, however, Dasein turn away from itself because of itself not due to entities within-the-world. This is rather grounded on anxiety, which as Heidegger asserted, makes fear possible. Thus, he claims: the turning ways of falling is not fleeing that is founded upon a fear of entities within-the-world. Fleeing that is so grounded is still less a character of this turning away, when this turning away does is precisely to turn thither towards entities within-the-world by absorbing itself in them. (Heidegger, p48).
The concept of fallenness works on the supposition that the Dasein is a Being-in-the-world. As such, in the face of which one has anxiety proves that the Dasein is a Being-in-the-world with the recognition that the latter is the Dasein’s basic state. In this case, the face of which one is being anxious is not within the entities in the world. One is completely indefinite in his anxiety with regards to the definite detrimentality it may cause him. More so, to the things which might cause this anxiety. As Heidegger puts it, “not only does this indefiniteness leave factically undecided which entity within-the-world is threatening us, but it also tells us that entities within-the-world are not relevant to us”. (Heidegger, p48).
It is stated that the “they” can contribute to the inauthenticity of the Dasein but this same “they” can also be a means to authenticate one’s Being. It is because as a Being-in-the-world, one is always faced with anxiety. In this regard, one always feels the need to authenticate his being for it is only through one’s authentication of his Being can one know and understand his being. Hence, there is a need for the “they” in order for the Dasein to distinguish the condition and/or things which can lead to his authenticity or inauthenticity.
As Heidegger, puts it, “being-anxious discloses, primordially and directly, the world as world. It is not the case, say, that world first gets thought of by deliberating about it, just by itself, without regard for the entities within-the world, and that, in the face of this word, anxiety then arises; what is rather the case is that the world as world is disclosed first and foremost by anxiety, as a mode of state-of-mind. This does not signify, however, that in anxiety the worldhood of the world gets conceptualized.” (Heidegger, p50).
However, the Dasein in his state of anxiety might be too absorbed in the world and thus, would consequently fall or turn away from his Being. This can happen if the Dasein cannot choose for itself as a Being-in-the world and cannot hold of itself. To wit: In anxiety, what is environmentally ready-to-hand sinks away, and so, in general, do entities within-the-world. The world can offer nothing more and neither can the Dasein with the others. Anxiety takes away the from Dasein the possibility of understanding itself, as it falls, in terms of the world and the way things have been publicly interpreted. (Heidegger, p50).
Yet, this same anxiety brings the Dasein from its absorption to the world and publicness to the state of moving to its authenticity as a Being-in-the-world. As such, as Heidegger posits: Anxiety throws Dasein back upon that which it is anxious about – its authentic potentiality-for-Being-in-the world. Anxiety individualizes Dasein for its ownmost Being-in-the-world, which as something that understands, projects itself essentially upon possibilities. Therefore, with that which it is anxious about, anxiety discloses Dasein as Being-possible and indeed as the only kind of thing which it can be of its own accord as something individualizes in individualization. (Heidegger, p50).
It can be deduced then that as anxiety individualizes the Dasein, it also reveals the two possibilities of the Being – to be authentic and to be inauthentic. As such, the Dasein can freely choose it ownmost potentiality-for-Being. The presence of the ready-to-hand makes it possible for the Dasein to know its Being. The Dasein in his continuous struggle to know his ontic-ontological character is confine to inevitably experience anxiety as this determines his willingness to arrive at his existential authentically.
3. What is death, according to Heidegger? What is Dasein’s end, and how is it related to Dasein’s death? How does it further Heidegger’s project to claim that Being-towards-death is an existential? What special role can anxiety play in revealing death to us?
In Being and Time, Heidegger attempted to redefine the ontological question of Being. He stated the improper way on how one questions the Isness of Being leads to varying responds which failed to answer the question of “What is a Being”. He further stated that one should fully understand the ontological question of Being in order to come up with an ontological answer of the Being which is beyond the Being’s facticity.
In this regard, only a being can know his Being because he is consciousness to his Being by his being. His starting point is the fact that a being is a Being-in-the-World. He is a being situated in this world. As such, it is him who can know his being by virtue of his ontic-ontological character. It is only him who can know and understand his being because it is only him who can determine his possibility by virtue of being a spatio-temporal entity.
It can be deduced then that the task of Dasein is to transcend to his existentiell in order to arrive at his ontological status. It is the supposed that a being is a being-for-itself which explores his probabilities in his spatio-temporal existence. It is only when a person has transcended from his facticity that one can indeed be called as such – being-for-itself. It is only then that one can know the being of one’s Being.
Heidegger maintains that one’s exploration of his probabilities ends with his demise as a spatio-temporal being – or simply put, with death. As such, an attitude which one should have is to be a Being-towards-death not neglecting the fact that we are being situated in this world. The Dasein’s end then is to know the Being of oneself while becoming a Being-toward-death with the recognition that death is inevitable for every human being. With this, he sated the importance of the world as it reveals itself to us with the concept of presence-at-hand and ready-to-hand. The former which refers to the entities which do not help one to know one’s being while the latter refer refers to entities which help one to reveal one’s Being to himself.
Hence, the death of Dasein implies the end of his opportunity to realize his end – that is to know his Being while becoming a Being-towards-death. It is because he cannot anymore explore and carry out his probabilities because he already ceases to exist as a spatio-tempotal being. Let it be reiterated that it is only by virtue of his being a spatio-temporal can one explores his probabilities in the world.
It can be inferred then that Heidegger’s suggesting a seemingly dual task” one is to know the being of oneself while becoming a Being-toward-death. However, one should not view it as two separate things for one necessarily necessitates the other. It should be emphasized that one can only become a Being-towards-death only if one can become a being-for-itself. And that by virtue of Being-towards-death, one can know one’s being on its ontological stage. And this can only be revealled by one’s probabilities as a being situated in this world. In this regard, being is transcending to his existentiell in order to arrive at his existential – his ontological status.
One can come up with the conclusion that Heidegger’s notion of Being is circular yet he maintains that the process is not a hermeneutic circle rather a back and forth condition. It is because only through one’s spatio-temporal existence one can know himself and that would only be probable when one arrives to his Being ontologically.
Evidently, Heidegger’s notion of Dasein greatly gives importance to the relationship of the Being and the world which focuses on providing an answer on how one can transcend to his facticity in order to ontologically know his Being.
From these, arise the prevalent thought Heidegger was known for – that existence precedes essence wherein he posits an a priori structure of existentialia that is constitutive of Dasein. Since one is thrown into the world without notice and carry the burden of facticity, then one find himself already disposed toward the world in specific ways that manifest as moods or attunement.
As such, the mood of anxiety serves to authentically awaken a person to the precariousness of one’s situation as Being-towards-death. Anxiety alienates oneself from the inauthentic conformity and security of the crowd. In this case, the nothing or the world as such wherein anxiety lies in any regions or exhibits itself means that the Dasein as Being-in-the-world is anxious in its own world.
Anxiety, then, as Heidegger posits make manifest in Dasein its Being toward its ownmost potentiality-for-Being. He is free to choose itself and takes hold of itself. To wit: Anxiety brings Dasein face to face with its Being-free, the authenticity of its Being and for this authenticity as a possibility which it always it. (Heidegger, p50)
Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson: Oxford: Blackwell, 1967.
Husserl, Edmund. “Cartesian Meditations.” An Introduction to Phenomenology: Springer, 1977.
—. “The Crises of European Sciences and Transcedental Phenomenology.” An Introduction to Phenomenology: Northwestern University Press, 1970.