The Meaning Of Being Part 4

The Meaning Of Being Part 4

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Most of the time, philosophical assertions, especially regarding metaphysics, possess the air of certainty. We think we have it all figured out. This is also a problem with religious zealots. If any of us think we have arrived at absolute truth, we are severely deluding ourselves. Dogma does not equate truth.

Heidegger announces early on what has transpired throughout the history of philosophy, since Plato, regarding the question of the meaning of being. A dogmatic attitude had developed that, basically, emptied being of all meaning.

On the foundation of the Greek point of departure for the interpretation of being a dogma has taken shape which not only declares that the question of the meaning of being is superfluous, but sanctions its neglect. It is said that “being” is the most universal and the emptiest concept (Heidegger, B&T).

Anyone who questioned the meaning of being was said to be in error, supposedly because being resisted every attempt at explication and elucidation.

Dogma can stifle intellectual investigation and critical thinking. A dogmatic mindset has its root in narrow-minded worldviews that are closed to imagination and creativity. The word, dogma, originates with the Greek word dogmatos. Literally, it means, “that which one thinks is true.” Dogma is an opinion. Dogma declares something is truth, but does it arrive at this declaration via critical thinking?

For two thousand years, the question of the meaning of being went unasked. Only with Hegel did philosophers, once again, begin to ask the question concerning the meaning of being.

Heidegger takes Being not to be about particular things but about the general characterization of a particular view of the world. For
Heidegger, Plato and Aristotle understood the Greek concept of Being as what has come to be called “substance/attribute” metaphysics. Along with what can be called “subject/object” metaphysics, these metaphysical theories dominated Western philosophy from Aristotle to Kant. Hegel was the first major philosopher to think of Being in developmental, organic imagery that undermined both types of metaphysics (John Tietz, Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time).

Today, these dogmas persist. The subject/object and substance/attribute theories may have served some usefulness for science, but they are perplexing when applied to metaphysical thought. Perhaps the natural unfolding of things deemed it necessary that the West develop alongside these concepts, but how useful are they at the nadir of our civilization?

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