Heidegger’s Hegelian Phenomenological Method (Part 1/2)

FOR PART 2, PLEASE SEE Heidegger’s Hegelian Phenomenological Method (Part 2/2)

Teaching Hegelian Phenomenological Method by Triangulating 2 Heideggerian Case Studies (Heidegger’s Hegelian Concept of Phenomenology with The Ek-static History of Being as a Context to Leap into Heidegger’s Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant’s Ek-static Transcendental Idealism)

  • “The Being of the universe, though it is at first hidden and concealed, has no power which can offer resistance to the search for knowledge; it has to lay itself open before the seeker.” (Hegel, inaugural Berlin address of 1818)
  • “Both scientific and prescientific comportments are a knowing in the sense of uncovering what is previously concealed, of revealing what was previously covered up, of disclosing what so far was closed off.” (Heidegger, Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, 18)
  • “Finally, as regards clarity the reader has a right to demand first discursive (logical) clarity, through concepts, but then also intuitive (aesthetic) clarity, through intuitions, that is, through examples or other illustrations in concreto.” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A xviii)
  • “It will thereby become evident what these lectures are dealing with, their object, as well as how they interrogate and investigate the objects, the mode of dealing with them.”(Heidegger, Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy, 1)


  • Triangulation in research can be broadly understood as the use of multiple methods or data sources as a strategy to draw conclusions through a convergence of information from different sources. My aim here is to address readers interested in Hegelian phenomenological methodology by making it conspicuous in the triangulation and convergence of two case studies. The first half of this essay dis-closes the nature of what Heidegger sees as his Hegelian phenomenology in Heidegger’s reading of the ek-static history of Being, and the second half applies this hermeneutic context and strategy to understanding Heidegger’s Hegelian phenomenological reading of Kant’s ek-static transcendental idealism.  A guiding question will be the issue of the concept “As,” specifically “Taking-As” and “Something-As-Something-Else.” Heideggerian phenomenological method terminology is used throughout (un-cover; dis-close; phenomenalize; etc.) to prompt the reader where attempts are being made to re-veal the phenomena from hiddenness.  The essay is about twice the length of what is usual, but for methodological reasons I need to explain two topics rather than one: (i) Heidegger and the history of philosophy/Being in general and (ii) Heidegger’s reading of Kant specifically – in order to triangulate Heidegger’s process of Hegelian phenomenological method between (i) and (ii).

Key Words: Heidegger; Kant; Hegel, Phenomenology; Transcendental Idealism; Being; History  


In this blog post, as a potential curriculum exemplar that can be partnered with best-practice instructional strategies,[i] I would like to model an important aspect of Hegel’s phenomenological dis-closing from hiddenness by looking at it in Heidegger’s reading of the history of Philosophy and Being, and then use this context to see the method on full display in Heidegger’s phenomenological reading of Kant.  Heidegger tends to follow this pattern himself by circumscribing the exterior to then leap from that foundation into the matter itself.  A myriad of phenomenological disclosive strategies will be put forth, so hopefully the reader will find some useful and appropriate them to put them in their hermeneutic toolbox. 

By “phenomenology” Heidegger means that study concerning the “thing appearing to view” (phainómenon) as it has been shown/dis-closed (phaínō) from hiddenness (kruptós). Philosophers and scientists pursue dis-closing the nature of things out of hiddenness (“a-letheia,” “unhidden,” truth), Heraclitus saying nature loves to hide: physis kryptesthai philei.  Heidegger gives the “phenomenological kindergarten” example from his reading of Hegel in a lecture course (Heidegger, 2012) about how the hidden Category of Unity that is “always already present” in a hidden manner can be dis-closed (phenomenalized) and made conspicuous, for instance, when a sock is torn, that in the tearing the Category Unity is made conspicuous (dis-closed/un-hid) precisely “as” a lost unity.  Thinking creates its object.  The full quote from a participant in this lecture course by Heidegger will be instructive here:

  • After having circumscribed the exterior, we now need to “leap into the matter itself.” On this point, Heidegger begins with a citation from Hegel: “a torn sock is better than a mended one . . .” and asks, why is that so? A moment of hesitation follows, for the auditors know another version of that same sentence. Heidegger explains that the sentence just cited was “corrected” by the printer into the one we know. Let us return to Hegel’s citation and ask how he could have written this. For it is plain that it is the contrary that seems the case. From a strictly formal point of view, one can say that common sense is reversed, stood on its head… In order to understand, Heidegger says, one must see phenomenologically. He thus invites us to the first exercise of phenomenological “kindergarten.” To tear apart [zer-reissen] means: to tear into two parts, to separate: to make two out of one. If a sock is torn, then the sock is no longer present-at-hand—but note: precisely not as a sock. In fact, when I have it on my foot, I see the “intact” sock precisely not as a sock. On the contrary, if it is torn, then THE sock appears with more force through the “sock torn into pieces…”  In other words, what is lacking in the torn sock is the UNITY of the sock. However, this lack is paradoxically the most positive, for this Unity in being-torn is present [gegenwärtig] as a lost unity. This is the point of departure from which to access Hegel’s text, but not without Heidegger insisting that the “analysis” undertaken be reenacted (“realized” in Cézanne’s sense), and not simply presented conceptually (Heidegger, 2012, 11)

It is thus important in Hegelian phenomenology not only to state that something is the case (the category of unity belongs to the thing), but to show how we know this is the case.[ii]  This elementary school image of kindergarten does not mean amateurish, but der Grundbegriff, the basic concept out of which phenomenological un-covering is to be understood as arche or principle.[iii] 

What Heidegger sees as Hegelian productive phenomenology will be the method in what follows here, and though the content of this essay is Heidegger and the history of Being as a way to Kant, the form is what Heidegger sees as Hegelian productive phenomenology: coaxing out of hiddenness.  The abstract above of this essay suggests we will see the “as” structure (“something-as-something else” / “taking-as”) is critical for Heidegger, and the reader is encouraged to emphasize the word “as” while reading below.  Let’s begin with Heidegger’s Greeks and disclose the Greek notion of being outside-of-self (ek-static), and then see how this thought gains full maturity in Kant’s ek-static transcendental idealism.

  • (1) Ek-static (Outside of Self): Heidegger’s Hegelian Concept of Phenomenology with the Greeks and the History of Being

The Greeks understood Being as presence, temporal “always already present,” and so with the beautiful thing Plato says Beauty is “present.”  The key distinction is this: with the piece of chalk (i) whiteness is present and (ii) the predicate materiality is always already co-present (para) as a predicate of any “object in general.”   This is the same for Kant except he refined the problem as per modernity with “always already present as that which makes possible.”  This being-present or presencing for the Greeks is also verbal, appearing, an event, motion, and so for instance “houseness” presences fully in the gorgeous mansion, is merely present in the average house, and presences deficiently in the dilapidated shack.  The presencing of Being relates to the person, and so conversely the mansion might “appear as gaudy” to the next person, or the shack “as quaint.”  Naas (1999) notes Homer said the gods don’t appear to everyone in their fullness (enargeis, the dazzle of “white,” argos, in conspicuousness).  Notice the stress on “appearing” for the Greeks, and so Homer notes Odysseus and Telemachus both being in the presence of the goddess but she only truly is “incarnate” in Odysseus’ experience of her:  Analogously, we may say a person who lives next to Niagara Falls may experience this “wonder of the world” appearing merely as irritating noise pollution. 

To concretize this relation to the person, a right-angle triangle is encountered as appearing very differently for (i) the child just learning her shapes, as opposed to (ii) an older student learning the Pythagorean theorem, and finally by contrast to (iii) the adult geometry teacher.  In this way Protagoras says, “Man is the measure (metron) of all things.” When we measure something, we dis-close or make conspicuous the hidden traits present in it (dimensions, weight, etc.) so they can stand forth as that which they hiddenly always already were.  As Heidegger says explicating Protagoras, man apprehends everything that presences within this sphere as in being [i.e., as a being].  And how does this help us dis-close the Being of the person? 

Aristotle speaks of the epitome of human life as Theoria, the contemplative life, which is  godliness/deathlessness: athanatizein.  Deathlessness doesn’t mean immortality, since the Greeks thought everyone were immortal, but rather childlike absorption in life like the eternally youthful ambrosia eating gods among even the old.  By contrast Apollo spoke of most humans: “Mortals, who are as wretched as the leaves on the trees, flourishing at first, enjoying the fruits of the earth, but then, their hearts no longer absorbed in life (Akerioi), vanishing (my translation modifying Krell, 1999, 105).”  We have Apollo contrasting between the fire and absorption of youth and the listless tedium of old age.  In Epistles 1.8 Horace describes the lethargic illness of boredom as a trait of old age.  

The thinker, by contrast, is a tranquil absorbed youth even in old age.  Heidegger comments regarding thinker Heraclitus’s Fragment 52: “The Geschick of being, a child that plays …the being of beings (Heidegger, 1991b, 113).”  We will see that restlessness being brought to repose with a calm mind is what Heidegger argues as the purpose the Greeks had for philosophy.  Aristotle clarified only a beast, or a god, delights in solitude (Politics 1253a28), and so we picture the general tragic character of the masses (hoi polloi) apart from their distractions as cabin fever.  Lucretius for instance speaks of the restless lives of the Roman rich pursued relentlessly by anxiety and boredom.  Regarding Aristotle’s Theoria, Heidegger comments “[T]he ‘useful’ as ‘what makes someone whole,’ that is, what makes the human being at home with himself … In Greek Theoria is pure repose, the highest form of energeia, the highest manner of putting-oneself into-work without regard for all machinations. It is the letting come to presence of presencing itself. (Heidegger, 2001b, 160-61).”  We will consider this “useful” again below with Anaximander.

Heidegger speaks of “the essential misery of man (Heidegger, 1998c, 100)” for the Greeks, and so the Thinkers were necessary.  It has always been known the wise are not “close to life,” and we have the image of Thales as lost in thought falling into a ditch.  Aristotle asked in Problemata why is it that all those who have become eminent in philosophy or politics or poetry or the arts are clearly melancholics?  Thinkers are more refused absorption by the everyday trivialities than other people, like an awkward kid alone at a party pretending to examine a plant and wishing they could fit in, but this distance brings perspective, being able to see the forest despite the trees.  

Regarding the repose of the thinker, Horace describes how Bullatius’s boredom and restless horror loci (revulsion at where one is) woes (in Epistles I II) were countered by Philosophy, with the exercise of Logic (ratio) and Prudence (prudential) that brought about a “Calm Mind (aequus animus).”  Thinkers are “at home/homely” in their thoughts while the rest of the people simply helplessly drift from one distraction to the next.  In this way of overcoming essential restlessness, Heidegger argues thinkers for the Greeks were seen as attuned to and in harmony with the unchanging eternal, thereby bringing calmness (e.g. contemplating the form of beauty which is not fleeting/changing but simply “is”), and notes “[t]herein resides the peculiar tendency of the accommodation of the temporality of human Dasein to the eternity of the world … This is the extreme position to which the Greeks carried human Dasein (Heidegger, 2003, 122).”  Plato contrasted the fixed stars with man’s erratic and disorderly thoughts and said man should strive for the constancy of the stars.  Democritus said euthymia, living calmly and steadily, was one of life’s goals.  Seneca talks of “a great, noble, and godlike thing; not to be shaken,” a phrase Seneca traces to Democritus.  What is this Heideggerian “Dasein” mentioned above and how might we un-cover it?

Heidegger’s Dasein (usually left untranslated in German) means “being-there,” absorbed, directed awareness, phenomenalized in contrast to Nicht-Da-Sein such as when our mind wanders in a conversation and we are away (Weg Sein).  This is meant to highlight that absorption is more fundamental than consciousness because we can be unconscious and still be having a vivid absorbing dream.  The tragic element of Dasein is the restless core of it that drives us to beings, so Dasein in general figuratively means something like “being-addicted” to beings, nursing on the luster of beings, which is manifested when we are separated from our distractions such as in being “shack-wacky” or having “cabin fever.”  In this regard Heidegger says the basic determination of Dasein is “care (Sorge),” which we can phenomenalize in contrast to “lack of care,” such as the problem of “Acedia” with the ancient, isolated monks restlessly waiting for their brethren to visit or for the slow sun to cross the sky. 

Regarding Theoria’s deathlessness, to die for the Greeks meant to go to Hades and to wander about in a pointless and meaningless boring to and fro.  Homer says in the Odyssey Achilles would rather work as a poor day laborer than rule in Hades, the same Achilles who Plutarch talks of as having a nauseous boredom (alus nautiodes) when there was nothing to do.  Imagine what a “jointure of beings” pall this vision of death would have cast over life for the Greeks!  Heidegger and Fink cite Holderlin that the tranquil lives of the gods who are forever in bloom contrast with mortals who are restless and tragic (Heidegger, 1997b).

Heidegger characterizes the tragic nature of Greek existence saying “[s]uch is the rise and the fall of man in his historical abode of essence – hupsipolis –apolis – far exceeding abodes, homeless, as Sophocles (Antigone) calls man (Heidegger, 1998c, 90).”  What is this homeless “apolis” and by contrast “polis” with the Antigone play?  For the Greeks the well lived life was embedded in the city/state, the polis.  Walker makes the key observation that “the Greeks loved their laws, the children of their ideals, above all else. Plato and Aristotle reiterate Herodotus when they describe the ideal state as one that controls every detail of a citizen’s life. In the Greek mind, there was no distinction between the state and the citizen. (Walker, 2014, np reprinted online).”  As Zuckart (1996) notes, Heidegger observes the Greek notion of polis does not just mean what we think of a city state, but rather polos, “the pole, the place around which everything appearing to the Greeks as a being turns in a peculiar way … the abode of the essence of humanity (Heidegger, 1998c, 89-90).”  Sophocles countered the polis ground of man with his words “apolis” and “deinon,” that man is fundamentally not “parestios,” not para-Hestia, not the one in the warmth of the homely hearth fire, where Heraclitus said Gods come to presence. 

The collective Greek polis culture eventually produced the thinkers, such as with Hippocrates and others, but especially the sophists.  This inward turn of introspection, as well as self-centered individuals/individualism proved disastrous for being rooted and finding meaning in the collective polis.[iv] The leader Creon in the Antigone became apolis: “I am nothing. I have no life./ Lead me away.”  Creon, who should be the embodiment of the polis, is brought to ruins in disregarding the will of the polis and the gods for Antigone with the inflexibility and arrogance of a tyrant.  Figuratively this is the havoc an age of individualism and self-realization/pride/self-interest brought to the citizens of the collective polis, esp. the amoral influence of the sophists and the leaders’ quest for wealth and power.  Similarly, Antigone’s downfall comes from her assertion of individuality of choice of familial love over the rules of the collective, even though she was in the right in the eyes of the people and the gods.  Heidegger’s Nazi period was mainly his attempt at re-enacting this long-lost culture of the collective, such as with the Hitler youth, etc. 

Heidegger says the concept of apolis must be thought together with deinon (uncanny) for the Greeks.  The famous Antigone deinon ode to man says: “Many things are wondrous but nothing more so than man,” but this seems to be understood sarcastically, and so means “Many things are unsettling/unsettled but nothing more so than man (“deinon” at this point of the play has already been used twice with the connotation of “horrible” or “frightening”).” The third ode clarifies this second one by showing that for all his wonders man can’t help being destined for tragedy (e.g., the tragic fate of Oedipus’s family).  

Deinon, uncanny/unhomely, is the fundamental word for understanding the Greeks for Heidegger.[v]  Deinon for the Greeks had the sense of the uncanny but also longing for home, hence we have the image of Odysseus stuck on the Island of Calypso the “uncanny/deine” goddess where he is offered the greatest of things, but they are meaningless to him in comparison to his desire to return home. We abandon the familiar to pursue the uncanny but ultimately find ourselves unsatiated/unhomely.

To see this in the inward turn in the history of Being,[vi] Heidegger gives the central example of boredom (Heidegger, 2001).  Boredom is a conspicuous way that our moods don’t simply run their course in our inner lives for a hermetically sealed “I,” but are a way we are ek-static: “in the world / outside of ourselves.”  I may experience boringness to be a trait of a book like plot and setting, though the book need not appear to the next person as boring.  Toohey (2004) notes what is surprising is for the Greeks boredom initially seemed to lack the fundamental internal component moods are assumed to have today:  Aristophanes in the Archarnians has one character say “I groan, I yawn, I stretch, I fart, I don’t know what to do.  I write, I pull at my hair, I figure things out as I look to the country, longing for peace.”  He does not name that he is bored but describes the symptoms. We also see this oddity in Euripides’ Medea, and Pindar said too lengthy an exposition might lead to boredom, but again the symptoms are named, not boredom.  Similarly, Iliad 24. 403 and Euripides Iphigeneia in Aulis both lack a word for boredom.  As the inward turn proceeded in the history of Being, the outward cancer of this horror loci took up residence inside of us, which is how Heidegger interprets Nietzsche’s Will to Power text regarding “this most uncanny of all guests (Nietzsche 1967, vol. XV, p. 141).”

Nietzsche would conclude this history of Being with his thought of tragic eternal return that in its negative moment seems to be most influenced by Seneca,[vii] Ecclesiastes 1:8-9 (“nothing new under the sun”); and the repeatedly seen performance in Schopenhauer in his Essays on Pessimism which Nietzsche cites and responds to.[viii]  Eternal return means beings lose their luster for us merely as a function of us spending time with them, like a worn-out recording of a favorite gospel worship song that goes from presencing beautifully/numinously to presencing irritatingly simply by playing it 50 times in a row.  This is what Nietzsche means that “God is dead: We killed him.”  Through the history of Being humanity has proceeded to the point where we have erased the numinous.

We experience beings tragically, as though we’ve encountered them countless times before.   From Heidegger/Boss in the Zolikon seminar we hear patients are intolerably bored and this is the essential ground of the human, which Heidegger contrasts with the Da-sein of being engrossed in your subject matter or the palm tree swaying in the wind: being-in-the-world (Heidegger, 2001b, 160-161).  Nietzsche gives the example of the once free bird banging itself against its cage, but Nietzsche overcomes this eternal return of the same tragedy with joyful eternal return of the same difference: e.g., in a letter to Overbeck (which has drawn a lot of ink from Nietzsche scholars) where Nietzsche presents the image of people with cabin fever at a rainy cottage while he by contrast is delighted there in writing one of his Untimely Meditations (Nietzsche, 1975: 11.3 382).  Recall the image of Aristotle above that only a beast or deathless (athanatizein) god delights in solitude.

Beings concern us to a certain extent, but never completely (Heidegger, 2001).  We are unhomely precisely in our attempt to be at home in beings.  We do so by running away from ourselves, from our own restlessness, unhomeliness (Heidegger, 1996).  Today, with our addiction to social media and smart phones, for instance, we have never been better at feeding our addiction to beings, yet never more powerfully in their addictive grasp.  The cure is circular hermeneutic philosophy, not just thinking that wills cessation/answers, and so the original “path opening question” can be reposed in a more original way and the journey begins anew.

Beginning to transition to Heidegger’s reading of Kant, clearly this Being of the person dis-closed above is not as a hermetically sealed ego, but ek-static, in the world.  Heidegger points out mystic Meister Eckhart says love changes man into the things he loves (Heidegger, 2013, 175-6).  So, for example in “eros love” we read in Dickens’ David Copperfield: “I was sensible of a mist of love and beauty about Dora, but of nothing else … it was all Dora to me. The sun shone Dora, and the birds sang Dora. The south wind blew Dora, and the wildflowers in the hedges were all Doras, to a bud  (Dickens, 2004, ch 33 Blissful).”  Similarly, for the “agape love” Eckhart would have been mainly interested in, it was how I am effaced and transfigured by loving the suffering widow, orphan, stranger, and enemy more than myself, who in turn are transfigured to be lovable.  Love as philo-sophy is the desire seeking eros of Achilles united with the value bestowing agape of Jesus in “the overman,” who Nietzsche aptly called “Caesar with the soul of Christ” in Will to Power, 983.  Our moods, like boredom and love, are ways we are ek-static / ek-sist, are outside of ourselves. The ek-static will become the key point in Kant below.

Applying this being outside of self, the first “Being” philosopher in Heidegger’s estimation, Anaximander, can in one aspect be illustrated with the idea that no matter how disjointed/out of joint (adikia) things in your depressed, angst filled teenage life were, when you fell in all consuming puppy love it didn’t matter what you did or didn’t do because with your crush everything in your life temporarily fell into place (order-jointure/diken) and you just wanted to “be there” with them.  Heidegger translates what he argues is the shorter authentic core of the Anaximander fragment as “along the lines of usage; for they let order and thereby also reck belong to one another (in the surmounting) of disorder.”  Recall earlier Heidegger was quoted regarding Theoria as saying “use” is what is useful, what makes someone whole.  Dastur notes Heidegger’s translation of the word for Being in Anaximander is Chreon/Brauch (bruchen), meaning “use” as enjoyment (Dastur, 2000, 187).  Literary writers Robert Browning and Lucy Maude Montgomery poetized similar experiences as fleeting special times when everything falls into place (diken) as “God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world” despite a life of general subtle or conspicuous out-of-joint-ness (adikia).  This is not theology, since even the most hardened atheist knows what it means for everything to be either conspicuously or slightly out of joint but then to temporarily have them fall into place.

Anaximander was the first to speak Being as the temporary surmounting of disorder in the law language (diken/adikia) of the Greek world (as I said quoting Walker the Greeks and their laws/society they created was an expression of who they were and defined them).  Heidegger says of Greek life generally in his essay on Anaximander: “The experience of beings in their Being which here comes to language is neither pessimistic nor nihilistic; nor is it optimistic. It is tragic (1984, 44).”  Heidegger speaks of this Greek “dreadful non-essence of all beings (Heidegger, 2018b, 11),” but we must note it and never “inhibit this agitation (Heidegger, 2018b, 48)” from the mundane, or from enduring someone constantly beating around the bush, etc., because great truths of the human condition are to be gleaned from these.  Anaximander brought to word the “how” of Being as the unity of beings, and so we are ek-static or outside of ourselves, like for instance when we have a headache or stomachache beings (entity: something that is in some way or other) presence/appear “irritatingly.” Not “what (essence)” but “how (existence).”

(2) Transition toward Kant: Ek-static Logos

In terms of this being ek-static or outside of self, Heidegger says we could not even have the experience of beings that we do unless we unconsciously go beyond the immediate entity at hand and “always already” had in view by the mind’s eye such things as variation/equality in order to encounter various things; a view of sameness/contrariety to encounter ourselves as self-same in each case; a view of symmetry and harmoniousness allow us to arrange and construct things; etc.  Parmenides thus noted thinking and Being are the same (which, when universally applied, also led to many conundrums like Zeno’s paradox of trying to model motion using fractions with ½ the distance every time).[ix] 

The orientation to this “logos” permeates everything that “is” in whatever way.  Plato, in the Sophist, called Antisthenes (who only acknowledged the unique individual entity) denial of this truth “the most laughable, katagelastotata (252b8),” because Antisthenes denied that something was to be understood by appealing to something beyond the thing itself, something “as” something, while Antisthenes himself unwittingly adopted a whole slew of ontological structures that go beyond the mere entity at hand, such as einai-Being, choris-separate from, ton allown-the others, and kath auto-in itself.  I encounter the dog “as” not me, for instance.  I am outside of myself with beings, e.g. haecceities/things in themselves (uniqueness) are not encountered but always already made intelligible (re-presented) in the light of concepts. 

We see here the full philosophical notion of deathlessness/godliness for Aristotle because the philosopher reaches out to beings with her mind and instead finds things with the character of thought, just as Aristotle says god only thinks itself, pure intellect “intelligizing” itself (noeseos noesis) in chapters 7 and 9 of the Metaphysics 12.  It makes sense for Aristotle to identify God as the prime mover / ground of movement given the Greek notion of Being as appearing/presencing (as I said Homer spoke of the gods not appearing to everyone in their fullness). 

This notion of the ultimate ground of the entity as the object in general rather than the haecceity (unique individual) is the foundation of the modern academy of the natural and human sciences because it is only on the assumption that the beings of a certain field are circumscribed as the same (e.g., sociological beings, mathematical, psychological historical beings, physical beings, etc.) do those objects become controllable and predictable scientific objects of inquiry.[x]  An entity can only be encountered as physical, and we can only transition from this to seeing the same entity as anthropological, or historical etc., if these varieties of appearing are always already being perceived in the light of the idea of “an object in general.”  Phenomenological transitioning from considering an object in one sense, then another, then another manifests the underlying hupokeimenon in the light of which the various incarnations of scientific object of inquiry gain sense. 

Today, we apperceive the object in general as what underlies when we transition between the various disciplines of the modern academy and see the underlying substance.  As philosophy is a discipline of making distinctions, we can see a contrast here between the dogmatic philosophy of Leibniz and the critical philosophy of Kant.  A being, Bob, can in Leibniz’s language be “unfolded” psychologically, sociologically, geometrically, physically, anthropologically etc as ways in which Bob is.  For Kant, we would say by contrast the undetermined object in general can “appear” in many ways (the adverbial senses above), so the characterizations reflect how I perceive the entity, not how it is in itself.  For Leibniz’s monad the perception is internal, while for Kant appearance it is external.

For Aristotle and the critique of Antisthenes noted above this was the logos more specifically determined not just as any logos but as logos apophantikos (apophainesthai), “something assomething else:” the dog “as” brown (Heidegger, 1982, 180; 2003, 125).  The key point is the human’s fundamental disposition in the world is “taking-as,” taking something “as” something else, which is phenomenalized when we “mis-take:” Heidegger giving the example from the sense of hearing of this “mis-taking” of hearing a living thing at your feet in the forest, only to look down to see you mis-took it and it was actually rustling dead leaves in the wind.[xi]  I take a “general something[xii] as a living thing (or as a violin playing, etc.).  Kant says “The undetermined object of an empirical intuition is called appearance (A 21).” 

Phenomenologically, in mis-taking we do not sense the transcendental object in general = X, but cognize it as a correlate to passive sense – just as we don’t perceive the self but apperceive it when we go from bored->entertained->bored when watching a movie.  Another example from the sense of touch would be the famous image of the blind men feeling and then mis-describing the elephant.  One blind man would encounter the elephant as a snake, for instance.  Moreover, if we suppose someone blind from birth lacking all other sensory ways of being affected except touch, they would only ever encounter “somethings” in general.  Kant says that intuition which is related to the object through sensation is called empirical.  Let’s develop this.

This implies that there is difficulty in deriving haecceity (uniqueness) from sense, and only the sense of sight deceives us that there is not a faulty inference here in finding individuality in sight.[xiii]  If I am given a blindfold and then have something presented to my sense of smell, the most I could conclude is it smells “like” a rose, not that I am actually smelling a rose (it could be perfume, etc).  Similarly, if I was next presented a sound, I could only conclude it sounds like a bluejay, not that I am hearing a bluejay live in front of me, because it could be a recording, or a computer-generated sound, or a European starling imitating a bluejay, or a human mimicking a bluejay, etc. 

Heidegger explains theoretical reason has to do with the idea that composition, extension, relation, place, and time are universal determinations of the physical object. These determinations name the respects in which things appear or show themselves to us, when we address them and speak about them in the assertion. Insofar as these universal determinations are always set down about the thing, the thing in general is always already co-said as the already present.  What is thus said in general or universally of each thing as a thing the Greeks called “categories.” This means being-composed, being-extended, being-in-relation, being-there [Dortsein], being-now of the thing as its being [al seines Seienden]. In the categories, the most universal determinations of the Being of a being are said. The assertion is a mode of legein—addressing something as something: eg, “the table as brown;” “the crow as it is in itself,” “the table as object of use,” “the triangle as a spatial figure.” To this belongs taking something “as” something, the initial separating off (analysis) and subsequent combining (synthesis) subject with predicate.  Considering and dealing with “something as something” is called, in Latin, reor, ratio; hence, ratio comes to translate logos [word, speech, reason].   We correctly though imprecisely translate Aristotle’s definition of man as “rational animal,” since he means “steward of the logos:” Zoon echon logon.

It is this basic disposition toward the world of taking-as and Being as presencing/appearing that allows us to understand Heidegger’s Hegelian phenomenological un-hiding approach to categories like substance and quality (Heidegger, 1998b).  Above I noted I encounter the dog “as” not me, for instance: as Standing-on-its-own (“substance”); and, as quality (“of-what-sort-ness”).   For example, we see the verbal beautiful blueing of the sky after the storm (or the mere blueing of it on an average day).  Or, we turn down an unknown street in a car looking for the yellow house when suddenly the yellowness leaps out at you – the house yellows.  The particular defines the universal: “Now that is a sky! Now that is Art!”[xiv] 

[i] See for instance Bennett and Rolheiser (2002).

[ii] This is particularly important in the Continental Philosophical tradition where the style of writing tends to be difficult.  So, if I think with Woody Allen in “Hannah and her Sisters” by Eternal Return Nietzsche was guessing I would suffer through the Ice Capades again and again for all eternity, perhaps a re-interpretation is the order of the day.

[iii] A quote attributed to Einstein says “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, then you don’t understand it yourself.”  Whether he really said this or not, this fits nicely with Einstein’s remarkable ability to translate complex math and physics into simple analogies and illustrations to explain his thinking.

[iv]Aratus describes the world that “Full of Zeus are the paths and the places where men meet, full of Zeus the sea and the seaports.”  Heidegger points out by contrast later “The enchantment of the world has been displaced by another enchantment.  The new enchantment is now physics itself as an outstanding achievement of the human.  The human now enchants himself through himself.  (Heidegger, 2018, 41).”

[v] McNeill comments “Heidegger’s translation of to deinon, ‘the decisive word,’ as das Unheimliche – intends this word to be understood in the sense of das Unheimische, that which is ‘unhomely,’ something ‘not at home’ that nevertheless belongs, in an ever-equivocal manner, to the worldly dwelling of human beings (McNeill, 2000 183).” McNeill adds that for Heidegger deinon is “the fundamental word … of Greek tragedy in general, and thereby the fundamental word of Greek antiquity, (McNeill, 2000, 188n.47).”  

[vi] For the issue of history here taken on a slightly different but related path, see Kant’s final chapter of the first critique: The Transcendental Doctrine of Method Fourth Chapter, The history of pure reason (A 852/B 880).

[vii] Seneca says “26.  Some people suffer from a surfeit of doing and seeing the same things. Theirs is not contempt for life but boredom with it, a feeling we sink into when influenced by the sort of philosophy which makes us say, ‘How long the same old things? I shall wake up and go to sleep, I shall eat and be hungry, I shall be cold and hot. There’s no end to anything, but all things are in a fixed cycle, fleeing and pursuing each other. Night follows day and day night; summer passes into autumn, hard on autumn follows winter, and that in turn is checked by spring. All things pass on only to return. Nothing I do or see is new: sometimes one gets sick even of this.’ There are many who think that life is not harsh but superfluous. (Seneca ep. mor. 24. 26).”

[viii] Schopenhauer writes “He who lives to see two or three generations is like a man who sits some time in the conjurer’s booth at a fair, and witnesses the performance twice or thrice in succession. The tricks were meant to be seen only once; and when they are no longer a novelty and cease to deceive, their effect is gone (Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism: Ch. 1 On the Suffering of the World).”

[ix] Below we will consider Leibniz and the divisibility of matter containing contradictory predicates.  Heidegger explains Plato noted something similar that conceptualizing movement involved contradictory predicates of something both being present in and absent from a location.  Aristotle resolved the problem by arguing motion is inherently related to time (though different), and motion is characterized by a changing away from something, toward something else, which, as Aristotle sees it, need not involve a change of place, since the quality of something can change without it moving.  Motion is reimagined as transitioning, meaning “stretch (suneches, being-held-together-within-itself, continuum, continuity)” is experienced in order to link the from and toward.  The now holds entities that have the character of transition, the passage from the earlier to the later – that are in motion.  The Now is embracer of entities (periechesthai); makes possible intratemporality; is transitionary in nature; is experienced as counted.  The countability of time, for instance, suggests for Aristotle time is connected to the soul (see below).

[x] Kant says the object in general is the highest concept of transcendental philosophy (A290 B346) and “the highest concept under which all other elementary concepts can be ordered (V-Met-K3E/Arnoldt, 29:960).”

[xi] Similarly, Heidegger (1994) gives the illustration from the sense of sight that during the first world war, it was reported that a certain fort had been taken, and looking through binoculars at the fort it was confirmed that friendly soldiers were indeed perched on the wall and friendly flags were flying. The outcome was disastrous because the fort was later approached as though it was friendly, and it turned out the fort had not actually been taken, but that the person looking through the binoculars saw friendly flags and soldiers because he had seen them there in advance – since he had been previously told they were there. The initial error became the hupokeimenon for the ‘mis-taking’ of the fort as friendly.  “Mis-taking-as” phenomenalizes that our basic relationship with/disposition toward beings is “taking something as something else,” not being in the mere presence of a unique entity.  Even Antisthenes’ A is A naming depends on the general category of “thing-in-itself” making the haecceity-ness of the unique something intelligible.  Kant thus says an appearance is an immediately given object that is nonetheless a representation.  Just as Locke would say color and taste are secondary qualities that don’t belong to the thing in itself but refers to a representation we have, Kant reduces all marks to appearances, such as extension and impenetrability.  The table is still brown, just brownness refers to how it affects us.  We will explore this in the next section.

[xii] Schafer (2022) points to Kant’s claim in the Jäsche Logic that we often have confused and indistinct cognitions of objects. 

[xiii] Leibniz thinks the haecceity of a being/monad has to do with perception/sight.  Burnham (2024) says “Leibniz’s idea of (unconscious) little perceptions gives a phenomenal (rather than metaphysical) account for the impossibility of real indiscernibles: there will always be differences in the petite perceptions of otherwise very similar monads. The differences may not be observable at the moment, but will “unfold in the fullness of time” into a discernible difference (New Essays on Human Understanding, 245-6).  Leibniz’s reasoning seems to be the monads are not material atom-like but rather mind like, so just as sight seems to give us individual difference, a monad’s unique perceptions is what individuates it.  This will be made intelligible below.

[xiv] Heidegger argues Aristotle clarified this Greek understanding of the relation between universal and particular with his notion of Art in Aristotle’s Physics 193 a 31-b3.  It is not that an eternal form of Beauty exists that presences though the artwork or young woman “incarnate/as exemplar” as Plato thought, but rather the particular establishes the universal, such as the particular initial great work of art that defined and, as a catalyst, launched the general impressionist art movement/school. 


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FOR PART 2, PLEASE SEE Heidegger’s Hegelian Phenomenological Method (Part 2/2)