The Question of Metaphysics
Metaphysics has been a subject of philosophical inquiry for centuries. It deals with questions concerning the nature of reality, existence, and the ultimate meaning of life. However, there is no consensus among philosophers regarding its definition or scope.
One philosopher who contributed significantly to the discourse on metaphysics is Martin Heidegger. In his seminal work, “Being and Time,” he argues that metaphysics belongs to the nature of man. But why does he make such a claim
The Nature of Man
To understand Heidegger’s argument, we first need to grasp his concept of Dasein or “being-there.” For him, Dasein is the being that exists in the world and experiences it through its activities and relationships with others.
Heidegger believes that human existence is characterized by a sense of unease or anxiety about its own mortality. This awareness of death makes humans conscious of their finitude and prompts them to seek answers about the meaning and purpose of their existence.
The Problem with Traditional Metaphysics
According to Heidegger, traditional metaphysics fails to address this fundamental question because it presupposes a dualistic view of reality – that there is a clear distinction between subject and object, mind and matter, or Being and beings.
He argues that this way of thinking reduces human beings into mere objects within a deterministic universe. It ignores the fact that humans are active agents who shape their own destiny through their choices and actions.
The Ontological Difference
To overcome this limitation, Heidegger proposes an alternative approach to metaphysics based on what he calls the “ontological difference.” This concept refers to the distinction between Being (with a capital B) and beings (lowercase b).
Heidegger argues that Being is not a being or an object that exists in the world. Instead, it is the ground of all existence and the source of meaning and purpose. Humans, as Dasein, have a unique relationship with Being because they are capable of reflecting on their own existence and asking questions about its nature.
The Role of Language
Another crucial element in Heidegger’s metaphysical inquiry is language. He argues that language is not just a tool for communication but also the medium through which humans articulate their understanding of reality.
Heidegger believes that traditional metaphysical concepts such as substance, causality, and identity are products of linguistic conventions rather than objective truths about reality. Therefore, he insists on using language in new ways to challenge these conventional notions and open up new possibilities for thinking about Being.
The Importance of Metaphysics
For Heidegger, metaphysics is not just an abstract intellectual exercise but an essential aspect of human existence. By engaging in metaphysical inquiry, humans can gain insights into the nature of their being and transcend their limited perspectives.
He argues that this process requires a radical reorientation of our thinking away from traditional metaphysical categories towards a more existential understanding of our relationship with Being.
In conclusion, Heidegger claims that metaphysics belongs to the nature of man because it addresses fundamental questions about human existence and offers a pathway towards self-understanding and transcendence. His ontological approach challenges traditional metaphysical assumptions by emphasizing the role of language and rejecting dualistic thinking.