As readers of this blog are probably well-aware, the issue of realism in Heidegger has been a pet issue of mine for quite some time. Over and over, I repeatedly hear the same claims made in regard to Heidegger. “Oh, Heidegger thinks that Being is correlated with Thought.” “Oh, Heidegger was an idealist because he didn’t have the resources to make a distinction between presence in the sense of presentability (idealism) and presence as the ground of presentability (realism).” “Oh, Heidegger was an ontic idealist because he thought all modes of Being are dependent on Dasein.”
Such positions are positively absurd in light of our existence in the REAL world! Was Heidegger a fool? Did he really think that we have no phenomenological recourse for overcoming both vapid realism and vapid idealism? Did he not explicitly say that a correlation between subject and object completely misses the phenomenon of existence, of our living and breathing and dying in a world that resists us, that presents itself or shows itself to us? Are not the conceptual resources for ontic realism already established within his very definition of phenomena as against the Kantian critique of appearances as a possible ontology? How can that which shows itself to us be a correlation of our subjectivity when Heidegger himself defines subjectivity in terms of an intentional comportment towards the world, towards the extant? Thought is not correlated to another correlation, it is correlated to reality itself, otherwise it would not be intentional i.e. transcendental. Does he not say, over and over, that “The window, however, surely does not receive existence from my perceiving it, but just the reverse: I can perceive it only if it exists and because it exists“? How else can we make sense of this except in terms of realism concerning the external world? Any other interpretation simply renders Heidegger a fool and Heidegger was no fool, no mere correlationist, if by that we mean a vapid anthropomorphizing of reality.
Thus, I have provisionally decided that my master’s thesis will be on the issue of realism and the external world. It will be my scholarly goal to provide the conceptual resources within Heidegger* to establish an ontic realism which claims, as our common sense preontological understanding itself confirms, that physical entities exist independently of our interpretation of them as physical. Any other position is absolutely absurd in light of phenomenological-ontology being an analytic of finitude, of real existence. To construct a strawman of vapid idealism and then congratulate yourself for tearing it down is surely not an impressive feat.
I apologize for the snarky tone of this post but I am just seriously tired of hearing about the same tired story of “correlationism this” and “correlationism that” when Heidegger himself explicitly claims that a conception of “correlation” cannot possibly capture the phenomenon of intentional comportment towards extant reality i.e. of our uncovering of reality. How else can we understand the Heideggerian advance over Husserlian correlation? As Merleau-Ponty said,
To ask oneself whether the world is real is to fail to understand what one is asking, since the world is not a sum of things which might always be called into question, but the inexhaustible reservoir from which things are drawn.
*The final chapter will probably attempt to establish the theoretical viability of a direct or “naive” realism via conceptual resources outside of Heidegger, such as in Gibsonian ecological optics, dynamic systems theory, and embodied/embedded philosophy of mind.