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Some main areas of questions: ontology - understood here (in this course, in relation to the material dealt with) in specific senses a conception of ‘the.

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Presentation on theme: "Some main areas of questions: ontology - understood here (in this course, in relation to the material dealt with) in specific senses a conception of ‘the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Some main areas of questions: ontology - understood here (in this course, in relation to the material dealt with) in specific senses a conception of ‘the mode of being of human beings’ (the individual subject) - not a theory of human nature (indicates a common essence, often even normative ‘goods’ or answers to questions concerning a good life) - an account of the human condition (conditions on the basis of which we may act and form our lives in individual ways) => phenomenological ontology (Heidegger) social ontology - the mode of being and characteristics of the social domain of human life - a common presupposition today (continental philosophy?): the co-dependence of individual and social ontology - compare Marx historical materialism political ontology - what kind of domain is the domain of the political? (what characteristics define political, in contrast with other domains): unity, co-operation, conflict, transformation etc. - what are the basic units of politics and how are they defined? (a people?) - who is/can be the (active) subject of politics (the agent of stability, change or more radical transformation)

2 Phenomenological ontology (Heidegger) - orig. an attempt to give a full account of the general mode of being of human beings - the focus is on an experiential insider-perspective: our own understanding and description of the general traits of our (individual) human condition. - Why? - the only possible access to an understanding of ourselves as experiential, thinking and acting beings is through ourselves, through experience. - today: this kind of ontology most often understood as a critical elaboration on presuppositions (≈ drop the strong universalism discernible in Heidegger!) => basic thesis: some ontological presuppositions are necessary - for example: concerning freedom (how free are we?), thinking (how autonomous is our thinking), the possibility of action (what can we do?) - basic idea: to describe and characterise the most basic traits that condition our lives as experiential, thinking and acting beings - not anti-science, not against the results of the natural sciences - addition to their shortcomings - a common basic claim: the natural sciences depend on experience and on our ontological presuppositions concerning experience - the language of the natural sciences develops on top of ordinary language

3 Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenological ontology Sein und Zeit, Being and Time (1927) human being is a being-in-the-world (in-der-Welt-sein), Dasein - a deep going critique of the dualism of subject and object - their interrelation constitutes an ontologically primary domain -> phenomenological ontology as a descriptive, interpretative account of the structure of our being-in-the-world our being-in-the-world is primarily in the mode of an active subject, involved in the world as environment and things, engaged in doings - in contrast with a passive observer - ontological primacy of involved doing to observing the primacy of pre-understanding (Heidegger and Gadamer) - understanding is the understanding of something as meaningful (in some sense) - contrast: to experience things as pure things - the human subject is embedded in a pre-understanding on the ontologically most primary level - reflective thought is a reflective act that acts towards the background of a given pre- understanding

4 Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenological ontology the hermeneutical element - reflective thought based on given interpretations, acts in relation to such interpretations and constructs new interpretations Gadamer on pre-understanding: - pre-understanding is a kind of pre-judgement (prejudices) - experience organises the environment in terms of points of view, and a certain carefulness (Vor-Sicht): a perspective - a being engaged in doing something, the aim and activity organises our understanding (Vor-Habe): certain active involvements - experience is linguistic and conceptualises, conceives of the world in certain ways by means of concepts and classifications (Vor-Griff): conceptual organisation implications also for philosophical thought - Heidegger: philosophy (as phenomenological) is hermeneutical - a reflection on our pre-conceptions, the history of these pre-conceptions and a reconstructive move in relation to these pre-conceptions => Heidegger to Derrida: the deconstruction of our pre-conceptions - coupled then with possible reconstructions (new thought)

5 Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenological ontology the social aspect - Heidegger’s distinction: spontaneous ‘inauthentic’ being – vs. ‘authentic’ (uneigentlich- eigentlich) - in the ontologically primary mode: inauthentic - the person is not a (self-regulating) autonomous I - immersed in the everydayness of an Anyone (Das Man) - we think and act as anyone/people in general think and act - primary sociality: a thinking and modes of action that we have learned from others, where we think and act as others - ‘collective subject’? authenticity (eigentlichkeit): regaining experiential contact with our true ontological condition (common to all), - being in tune with one’s ontology - making the general ontology one’s own and personal - throwing oneself towards one’s own innermost possibilities - care and care of self (Foucault’s term)

6 Marx historical materialism as an ontology of human, social reality - read through ‘Heideggerian lenses’ - transformed into a phenomenological-hermeneutical account of ontological presuppositions - present in many continental philosophers, although in modified forms a theory of the general presuppositions of societal life Marx - the term (probably) not as such found in Marx writings - today a common term used to refer to Marxian social ontology classical sources: - Marx: “Theses on Feuerbach” (written in 1845) - Marx & Engels: The German Ideology (written in 1845) - Marx: “Preface” in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859) often also understood as a theory of the inevitability of class struggle and communist revolution - this aspect today most often seen as implausible, false and irrelevant

7 Historical materialism as an ontology of human, social reality historical materialism? - not a deterministic conception - not materialism in the sense of laws of nature pos: - emphasises the importance of the real, existing conditions for both human thought, action and social institutions - “real, existing” includes human artefacts such as tools, technology, language, social institutions => how we think partly depend on the material and social conditions a specifically important aspect of Marxian materialism is social relationships - social relationships as really existing relations between human beings, anchored in a mode of production and the social institutions constructed to deal with this mode of production historical: - implies the contingency of any mode of production and social order - and the possibility of development and change - also through human action and political action - and other innovations, for example technological (Marx believed strongly in these)

8 Historical materialism, some quotes (all from The German Ideology, Part I): ”The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature.” overtly strong empiricist self-confidence => today: the acceptance/construction of a basic ontology life and conscious activity of the human biological organism: includes an internal relation between consciousness and material conditions, the materiality of the subject ≈ ontological thesis/materialism 1

9 Historical materialism, some quotes (all from The German Ideology, Part I): “Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life.” ”life involves before everything else eating and drinking, a habitation, clothing and many other things. The first historical act is thus the production of the means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself” => the production of instruments (tools etc.) to satisfy basic needs -> the need for the production of instruments ”The second point is that the satisfaction of the first need (the action of satisfying, and the instrument of satisfaction which has been acquired) leads to new needs; and this production of new needs is the first historical act.” reproduction of life ≈ ontological thesis/materialism 2 the importance of material tools ≈ ontological thesis/materialism 3

10 Historical materialism, some quotes (all from The German Ideology, Part I): procreation and ‘family’ life ≈ ontological thesis/materialism 4 ” that men, who daily remake their own life, begin to make other men, to propagate their kind: the relation between man and woman, parents and children, the family. ” ”The production of life, both of one's own in labour and of fresh life in procreation, now appears as a double relationship: on the one hand as a natural, on the other as a social relationship” ” By social we understand the co-operation of several individuals, no matter under what conditions, in what manner and to what end. It follows from this that a certain mode of production, or industrial stage, is always combined with a certain mode of co-operation, or social stage, and this mode of co-operation is itself a ’productive force’” social relationships as part of the objectivity of conditions ≈ ontological thesis/materialism 5 organisation, a social mode of production, society as the organisation of production and co- operation into a single system ≈ ontological thesis/materialism 6

11 ”man's consciousness of the necessity of associating with the individuals around him is the beginning of the consciousness that he is living in society at all. This beginning is as animal as social life itself at this stage. It is mere herd-consciousness, and at this point man is only distinguished from sheep by the fact that with him consciousness takes the place of instinct or that his instinct is a conscious one. This sheep-like or tribal consciousness receives its further development and extension through increased productivity, the increase of needs, and, what is fundamental to both of these, the increase of population. With these there develops the division of labour, which was originally nothing but the division of labour in the sexual act, then that division of labour which develops spontaneously or "naturally" by virtue of natural predisposition (e.g. physical strength), needs, accidents, etc. etc. Division of labour only becomes truly such from the moment when a division of material and mental labour appears. (The first form of ideologists, priests, is concurrent.) From this moment onwards consciousness can really flatter itself that it is something other than consciousness 'of existing practice, that it really represents something without representing something real; from now on consciousness is in a position to emancipate itself from the world and to proceed to the formation of "pure" theory, theology, philosophy, ethics, etc.” Historical materialism, some quotes (all from The German Ideology, Part I): - consciousness as a thinking ‘in tune’ with the conditions, the subject as historical and historically construed and thus ‘material’ ≈ ontological thesis/materialism 7

12 “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” Marx, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 1852, p. 5 Historical materialism, some quotes a dynamic, processual ontology ≈ the dialectic of historical materialism - perhaps the most famous/most used quote expressing the essence of Marx historical materialism

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