Monthly Archives: February 2010

Imaginary Companions, Egyptian mythology, Julian Jaynes, and the Narrative Practice Hypothesis

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The “ka” is a very complex part of the symbolism in ancient Egyptian mythology and represents several things: the ka is a symbol of the reception of the life powers from each man from the gods, it is the source of these powers, and it is the spiritual double that resides with every man.

The ka as a spiritual double was born with every man and lived on after he died as long as it had a place to live. The ka lived within the body of the individual and therefore needed that body after death. This is why the Egyptians mummified their dead. If the body decomposed, their spiritual double would die and the deceased would lose their chance for eternal life. An Egyptian euphemism for death was “going to one’s ka”. After death the ka became supreme. Kings thus claimed to have multiple kas. Rameses II announced that he had over 20.

The ka was more than that though. When the ka acted, all was well, both spiritually and materially. Sin was called “an abomination of the ka”. The ka could also be seen as the conscience or guide of each individual, urging kindness, quietude, honor and compassion. In images and statues of the ka, they are depicted as their owner in an idealized state of youth, vigor and beauty. The ka is the origin and giver of all the Egyptians saw as desirable, especially eternal life. – source

I find mythology of neolithic cultures to be absolutely fascinating. They offer a glimpse into a radical religious phenomenology of auditory hallucination. I am of the opinion that the most parsimonious way to interpret Egyptian mentality is in terms of Julian Jaynes’ bicameral mind. The bicameral mind is based on the metaphor of a divided house. On the one “side”, there is a god(s)-complex structured in terms of narrative and a unitary personality, whose function whose to send admonitory auditory hallucinations in times of stress to guide the other “side”, the man-complex. The gods commanded and the men obeyed. Such was the order of things for many thousands of years. Following Jaynes, Judith Weissman argues in her excellent book Of Two Minds: Poets Who Hear Voices that we can see such a mentality displayed prominently in one of the earliest poems known, The Iliad (likely to have first been transmitted orally by the Aoidos through hallucinated “inspiration” by the god-complex), wherein the immortals presence themselves to the mortals to offer guidance and judgement in times of great stress. As is well-known, Socrates himself had a daimon to guide him. Likewise, in ancient Egytpian life, everybody had their own personal demigod to guide them through stressful situations, offering commands and assurance, judgement and praise.

Moreover, because the gods were believed to live on after death, this created the conditions for literal ancestor worship, with father figures, kings, and god-kings living on in such a way as to be narratively implanted into the minds of the living through a mechanism of auditory hallucination, commanding temples to be built, burial rites to be performed, often including commands to provide food and everyday items of sustenance for their decomposing bodies. According to wikipedia,

The people of Çatalhöyük [a Neolithic tribe] buried their dead within the village. Human remains have been found in pits beneath the floors, and especially beneath hearths, the platforms within the main rooms and under the beds. The bodies were tightly flexed before burial, and were often placed in baskets or wrapped in reed mats. Disarticulated bones in some graves suggest that bodies may have been exposed in the open air for a time before the bones were gathered and buried. In some cases, graves were disturbed and the individual’s head removed from the skeleton. These heads may have been used in ritual, as some were found in other areas of the community. Some skulls were plastered and painted with ochre to recreate human-like faces, a custom more characteristic of Neolithic sites in Syria and at Neolithic Jericho than at sites closer by.

Jaynes theory is that the bodies of these revered fathers and god-kings were hallucinatorily experienced as still willing and commanding, issues orders as normal such that everyday items of gear were brought before them. In many cases, the heads were cut off in order that they may still receive hallucinated orders issuing from the mouths, and more importantly,  the eyes. Imagine a really, really scary acid trip and maybe you can comprehend what such an experience would be like. Moreover, Jaynes claimed that enormous religious temples were constructed for the express purpose of housing the idols of the hallucinated gods, often portrayed with huge staring eyes. He says,

Now this needs a little more psychologizing. Eye-to-eye contact in primates is extremely important. Below humans, it is indicative of the hierchical position of the animal, the submissive animal turning away grinning in many primate species. But in humans, perhaps because of the much longer juvenile period, eye-to-eye contact has evolved into a social interaction of great importance. An infant child, when its mother speaks to it, looks at the mother’s eyes, not her lips. This response is automatic and universal. The development of such eye-to-eye contact into authority relationships and love relationships is an exceedingly important trajectory that has yet to be traced. It is sufficient here merely to suggest that you are more likely to feel a superior’s authority when you and he are staring straight into each other’s eyes. There is a kind of stress, an unresolvedness about the experience, and withal something of a dimunution of consciousness, so that, were such a relationship mimicked in a statue, it would enhance the hallucination of divine speech.

If this sounds outlandish, consider the phenomenon of imaginary companions in children. Some studies have found that 15-65% of children have mental conversations with imaginary playmates at one point in their life. Moreover, the phenomenological character of such conversations is typical of auditory hallucinatory, with the companion offering advice and guidance. With this in mind, imagine a society where not only were imaginary friends positively encouraged, but that moreover, there was an entire system of mythological narratives that structured the hallucination in terms of, not friends, but gods and demigods. In ancient chinese Shi “corpse/personator” ceremonies, auditory hallucination structured by cultural narratives of ancestor worship were extremely common. It is also well-known that classic schizoid hallucinations are structured in terms of the surrounding cultural context; if you hear voices in a Christian society, it is likely that voice will be structured in terms of the Abrahamic mythology, including Father God and the demonic world .

However, bicamerality is not nearly as present in today’s society. In breakdown situations, it is now phenomenologically average to narratize events through folk psychological background skills rather than obey a commanding voice. How did this happen? Jaynes speculated that

Overrun by some invader, and seeing his wife raped, a man who obeyed his voices would, of course, immediately strike out, and thus probably be killed. But if a man could be one thing on the inside and another thing on the outisde, could harbor his hatred and revenge behind a mask of acceptance of the inevitable, such a man would survive.Or, in the more usual situation of being commanded by invading strangers, perhaps in a strange language, the person who could obey superfically and have “within him” another self with “thoughts” contrary to his disloyal actions, who could loathe the man he smiled at, would be much more successful in perpetuating himself and his family.

This seems plausible to me. Moreover, narratization was increasingly employed in more day-to-day tasks, with narrative practice being useful for structuring reports of the past into easily understood stories, such as became codified in epics or written down and read out as social commands. Such a skill was learned by the man-complex much later than when it was learned by the god-complex. The first poets were the Muses; only later did man learn the skill of narrative for “himself”.

As an aside, I recently started reading Daniel Hutto’s book Folk Psychological Narratives. I have heard various things about Hutto’s Narrative Practive Hypothesis (NPH) over the years, but I had always been skeptical. But the other day I was thinking about the way in which our frontal cortex isn’t fully developed until early adulthood. Accordingly, the practice of “having a responsible self” does not really fully mature until one reaches the stage in social discourse such that narratives of authentic selfhood and agency are frequently prevalent in second-person interaction, self-intepretation, and social expectation. It struct me that in the same way children’s brain are radically sculpted by listening to primitive narratives appropriate for children, the frontal cortex later in life is radically sculpted by more advanced narratives appropriate for responsible adults with mature cognitive skills, including narratization and formal thinking skills. Upon this realization, it occurred to me  that Hutto’s NPH, which explains folk psychological cognitive skills in terms of a socialcultural narrative practice, was entirely plausible if we accept the fundamental plasticity of the cortex.

Thus, under Hutto’s NPH and Julian Jaynes’ own theory, we can say that “consciousness”, in terms of being an operation of narratization for the purpose of making more adequate decisions, is skill learned in development such that the language games of selfhood and responsibility literally “construct” an agent qua agent from the raw material of a plastic embodied brain.

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The Significance of Language for World Construction

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When Heidegger says that language is the house of being, what does he mean? Perhaps the best way to look at such a statement in terms of what Charles Taylor calls a “constitutive” theory of language, as opposed to an instrumental theory. On the instrumental view, language is seen purely as a tool for communication which can be more or less “added” onto existing cognitive architecture without necessarily changing the way in which the animal perceives or understands the earth. In contrast, the constitutive view claims that the possession of complex language fundamentally changes the way in which an animal approaches the earth, in effect, generating a new dimension of significance above and beyond brute functional instrumentality. In other words, a constitutive view sees language as providing the cognitive scaffolding for world construction. Living in a world is different from coping on the earth. To illustrate the difference between “having” a world and not having a world, let us examine the phenomenon of social bonding.

When interacting with other members of the troop, a worldless animal will react appropriately in terms of dominance and submission, “understanding” perfectly the way in which some responses towards members of the troop are appropriate and others are not. For the worldless animal, there is a normative dimension for behavior in response to certain objects, but the “depth” of the interaction bottoms out purely in terms of whether or not the response is appropriate according to largely unconscious standards and mores driven through evolutionary development. In contrast, linguistic animals operate with highly refined cognitive skills which worldless instrumentality simply does not afford. Two examples are perceptual interpretation (perceiving events in terms of higher-order dimensions of intelligibility) and socially complex emotional responses (love not lust, anxiety not fear, etc.). A worlded animal can look at an event of social bonding and explicitly understand the situation as a display of love, with all its implied content. This perceptual judgement brings with it a higher-order normative dimension such that the interpretative gloss is not only explicitly understood in terms of possible sets of articulations (“They are so happy together”, “That love won’t last”), but also, in terms of a narrative. Narrative allows for a perception of the social bonding event in terms of a story (“I wonder how they met”, “They must be new lovers”, “What a charming old couple”, etc.). Moreover, such narratives are structured in terms of certain metaphorical dimensions (“Love Is a Journey”, “Love Is a Rose”, etc.) which are possible only in virtue of linguistic discourse.

With narrative comes the possibility of higher-order perceptual interpretation filtered in terms of possible articulations structured in accordance with a logical space of reasons. If we see two people wearing a tuxedo and a wedding dress, there is a limited number of rational narratives in which to fit that event into a cohesive story according to public background knowledge. While the ultimate result of a worlded perception and worldless perception is the same (the execution of appropriate behavior in response to stimuli), there is a semantic-perceptual depth for worlded animals that simply isn’t available for nonlinguistic creatures. Through the use and understanding of explicit language, humans are able to go above and beyond normal animal communication e.g. a cry indicating a danger. For humans, language provides more than just the possibility of communication, but rather, the possibility of interpretative perception filtered in terms of explicit object recognition (“I can see that that couple is in love“), semantic depth (love implies a range of emotional responses which are richer in content than mere affection, fear, aversion, etc.), and explicit narrative formation (“That couple must be getting married because they are all dressed up”).

Moreover, with language comes the possibility of self-interpretation in light of partially expressed articulations structured by social narratives. While the worldless animal’s self-understanding bottoms out in terms of unconscious dispositions for behavior in light of appropriate social norms and evolutionary instinct, the worlded animal’s self-understanding is rich in virtue of being an understanding of self qua self, that is, in terms of personality, having a name, being a moral agent, etc. In other words, because a human child is more or less taught to understand and interpret itself in terms of being an individual self (at least in Western countries), the self-understanding engendered through social discourse allows for genuine subjectivity qua subjectivity. For example, if the child is good at sports, language provides a possible set of articulations which can be internalized by the child in accordance with its self-interpretation (“I am a good sports player”, “I want to  be an athlete when I grow up”). If we reflect closely on these normative dimensions, we can see an enormously complex web of social language games being played in accordance with possible sets of self-interpretations structured by historical and cultural development. The most obvious example is of course religion and the possibility of self-interpretation as a child of God or as a member of a Christian community. Such a self-interpretation structures human life from the ground up, affecting almost all dimensions of personal experience. Without language, self-interpretation is impossible.

Accordingly, I hope this post has demonstrated the significance of language for world construction.

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Heidegger's Direct Realism – Intentionality and Perception

What is perception?

For Kant, perception is the process of the noumenal realm being sensed through the categories of intuition such that our phenomenal experience is always a “mere appearance” of the thing-in-itself. Although Kant had a different understanding of what “Reality” entailed, we can say that for Kant, perception is the experience of reality through a representational filter such that we can never gain access to reality. In other words, we are trapped behind our senses and phenomenal experience, while objectively valid, is “merely” an appearance of a reality that never shows-itself-as-itself. Kantian perception is thus representational.

For Heidegger, in contrast, perception is the process of intentionally directing-oneself-towards the noumenal realm without any sort of representational mediation. We can say that for Heidegger, perception is the experience of responding to how the thing-in-itself shows itself to us. In other words, perception is direct and nonrepresentational.

“To say that I am in the first place oriented towards sensations is all just pure theory. In conformity with its sense of direction, perception is directed toward a being that is extant. It intends this precisely as extant and knows nothing at all about sensations that it is apprehending” (Basic Problems 63)

“The statement that the comportments of the Dasein are intentional means that the mode of being of our own self, the Dasein, is essentially such that this being, so far as it is, is always already dwelling with the extant. The idea of a subject which has intentional experiences merely inside its own sphere and is not yet outside it but encapsulated within itself is an absurdity which misconstrues the basic ontological structure of the being that we ourselves are.” (BP 64).

However, if we leave the phenomenon of perception here, we are left clueless as to how this notion of “directing-towards” is accomplished. Does intentional comportment mean that perception is always veridical? Can we not be mistaken in our perception? Here, we must understand the phenomenon and the semblance.

The phenomenon is that which shows-itself. We have already seen that what shows-itself is the extant Earth, the thing-in-itself. This Earth existed as an extant environs long before humans existed. “Such a being, for example, nature, does not depend in its being – that and whether it is a being or not – on whether it is true, whether or not it is unveiled and encountered as unveiled for a Dasein” (BP 219). The Earth is the noumenal realm i.e. the planet as it is independently of our perception of it. For Heidegger, the phenomenal/noumenal distinction is collapsed not by placing our intentional comportment entirely within a subjective sphere, but rather, by eliminating the representational medium which blocks our access to the thing-in-itself through intentional perception.

“the intentional constitution of the Dasein’s comportments is precisely the ontological condition of the possibility of every and any transcendence…The Dasein, comports existingly toward the extant” (BP 65)

How is this possible? Through ambient light. The Earth is there without our perceiving it. So is ambient light. The light bounces around the environment, settles into stable overlapping arrays, and carries information regarding the environment in virtue of the light interacting with the environment as it gets reflected/absorbed. All we have to do is direct ourselves towards this information. The evolutionary reasons for doing so are enormous given that visual perception gives us unparalleled access to behaviorally useful information. It is no surprise that visual perceptual systems have evolved independently in separate species numerous times.

So, the Earth is showing-itself to us in virtue of ambient light. We are behaviorally directed towards this information and react to it in terms of a functional contexture of instrumentality. But to say that we act towards this light in an instrumental fashion is not to say that we are somehow encapsulated within a subjective sphere of readiness-to-hand such that we never have access to the thing-in-itself. On the contrary, we are always already surrounded and enveloped by the thing-in-itself in virtue of inhabiting a giant rock which floats around the sun in an elliptical orbit.

“Nevertheless, the walls [in a lecture hall] are already present even before we think them as objects. Much else also gives itself to us before any determining of it by thought. Much else – but how? Not as a jumbled heap of things but as an environs, a surroundings, which contains within itself a closed, intelligible contexture” (BP 163)

Okay, so that is the phenomenon: a directing-towards that which surrounds us. The directing-towards is essentially an uncovering of what’s-already-there. However, perception is not veridical. We do not perceive the Earth in its pure-presence-at-hand. We interpret Nature in terms of entities. This is our understanding of being. Thus, “[Entities] show themselves, but in the mode of semblance” (SZ 222). Semblance is the perception of what shows-itself (the Earth) as something it-is-not. The Earth is not naturally composed of chairs, tables, people, cats, etc. It is composed of energy. The human world is made up of chairs, tables, people, cats, etc. Thus, we operate within a realm of semblance wherein what shows-itself is perceived as something it is not. The power to interpret the world in terms of entities is that which establishes the phenomenon of Being with a capital B. This capacity is granted to us through language and predication for “language is the house of Being”.

However, Heidegger’s great advance over Kant is to claim that even though we operate within a “subjective” realm of readiness-to-hand and intepretation, there is no representational mediation between us and the ambient optic array. Quite simply, for Heidegger, there is never anything transcendentally lurking “behind” the phenomena.“Uncovering…brings the uncovering Dasein face to face with the entities themselves” (SZ 227, emphasis added). We directly perceive the Earth in terms of Worldliness. In conclusion,

“As surely as we can never comprehend absolutely the whole of beings in themselves we certainly do find ourselves stationed in the midst of beings that are revealed somehow as a whole. In the end as essential distinction prevails between comprehending the whole of beings in themselves and finding oneself in the midst of beings as a whole. The former is impossible in principle. The latter happens all the time in our existence.” (What is Metaphysics? Basic Writings pg 99)

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Missing the Forest for the Trees – Iain Thomson on the concept of "Earth"

In his recently published article on Heidegger’s Aesthetics in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Iain Thomson has this to say about Heidegger’s concept of Earth:

“Earth,” in other words, is an inherently dynamic dimension of intelligibility that simultaneously offers itself to and resists being fully brought into the light of our “worlds” of meaning and permanently stabilized therein, despite our best efforts. These very efforts to bring the earth’s “inexhaustible abundance of simple modes and shapes” completely into the light of our worlds generates what Heidegger calls the “essential strife” between “earth” and “world”

In Heidegger’s view, then, for a great artwork to work—that is, for it to help focus and preserve a meaningful “world” for an audience—this artwork must maintain an essential tension between the world of meanings it pulls together and the more mysterious phenomenon of the “earth.”

the “earth” is thus Heidegger’s name in 1935–36 for what he most frequently calls “being as such,” a dynamic phenomenological “presencing” (Anwesen) which gives rise to our worlds of meaning without ever being exhausted by them, a dimension of intelligibility we experience both as it informs and as it escapes our attempts to pin it down

With world and earth, in other words, Heidegger seeks to name and so render visible the quietly conflictual structure at the heart of intelligibility, the unified opposition that allows “being” to be “dis-closed” in time.

Pretty confusing, no? To me, such attempts to make Heidegger intelligible are simply too complex, too philosophical, and too difficult to fully make sense of. Can anyone translate such jargon into plain English? I propose a much simpler explanation of what Heidegger’s concept of “Earth” means: the Earth!

Yes, it really is that simple. “Earth” means the Earth i.e. the planet we live and die on. But note, Heidegger is attempting to describe the subsisting earth which continually and effortlessly surrounds us in nonmetaphysical terms . Thus, “Earth is that which comes forth and shelters.” Examples of “Earth”? A cave to live in, a tree for shade, the ground for walking, materials for building,  ecological mediums for seeing and hearing (light and air), etc. The earth is “that on which and in which man bases his dwelling…In the things that arise, earth occurs essentially as the sheltering agent.” However, “World and earth are essentially different from one another and yet are never separated. The world grounds itself on the earth, and earth juts through world.”

As Being and Time clearly spells out, the “World” in which Dasein lives is different from the planet “on which” we dwell. The world of Dasein is the world of significance given through being-in-a-world i.e. understanding, interpretation and language (as-structure, rift-design, etc.) being-with, possibilities of authenticity, etc. In other words, the “World” of Dasein is our rich cultural-linguistic life and the “Earth” is the always-already-there environment in which we are always already dwelling, indeed, born into.  As Heidegger says, “Upon the earth and in it, historical man grounds his dwelling in the world.”  Accordingly, I interpret the “strife” between earth and world as being characterized by, for example, the tension between hammer-as-physical-thing and hammer-as-tool.

As for the stuff on self-seclusion, this idea is best made sense of in terms of J.J. Gibson’s work on ecological optics. Heidegger, like Gibson, is essentially describing the earth in terms of biological agents and how they interact with the world through perceptual comportment. The earth is self-secluding because due to its three dimensional structure, seeing the book on the table is at the expensive of seeing the table underneath the book. The earth, with its ground, horizons, buildings, and objects, is always occluding some parts of itself from the perspective of a perceiver. There are “lines of sight” embedded in the environment in virtue of the ambient light bouncing off the the ground and various objects and “settling” into stable, overlapping “arrays” which reflect information about the objects and environment being reflected. Gibson describes all this much more rigorously than does Heidegger.

So, for all those confounded by Heidegger’s ideas, do yourself a favor and read Gibson’s  book The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception or his The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems. Gibson was a much better Heideggerian than Heidegger himself. Getting a sense for what “ecological psychology” entails will provide the conceptual resources for understanding and making sense of Heidegger without all the confusing jargon that does more to obfuscate that illuminate, particularly with a text as complicated and rich as The Origin of the Work of Art.

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Puzzle Passage in Heidegger – Reality and the Real

Of course, only as long as Dasein is, that is, the ontical possibility of the understanding of being is, “is there” being. If Dasein does not exist, then “independence” “is” not either, nor “is” the “in itself”. Such a thing is then neither understandable nor not understandable. Then also intraworldly entities neither are discoverable, nor can they lie in hiddenness. Then it can be said neither that entities are, nor that they are not. Nevertheless, it can now be said — as long as the understanding of being, and thereby the understanding of occurrentness are — that then entities will continue to be. (SZ 212)

In his 2007 article in Inquiry (“Heidegger’s Kantian Idealism Revisited”), William Blattner concludes from this passage that the question “Do occurrent entities exist when humans do not?” is impossible to answer for “If we suspend the understanding of being, then ‘entities do exist’ and ‘entities do not exist’ not only lack truth-values; they are undefined, meaningless” (327).

It is my contention however that such questions do have meaningful answers and that moreover, a proper interpretation of the above puzzle passage can provide the conceptual means for doing so. A clue is given in the very next sentence: “As we have noted, being (not entities) is dependent upon the understanding of being; that is to say, Reality (not the Real) is dependent upon care.”

Thus, in accordance with the puzzle passage, we can make several distinctions:

-How beings “are” when Dasein understands them and how beings “are” independent of Dasein’s understanding of being.
-The Worldhood of the world and the extantness of the planet.
-Reality as opposed to the Real
-An entity understood or determined “as” an entity and the entity as it is independent of Dasein’s as-structure.

In light of these distinctions, which are synonymous, we can see how Blattner’s answer to the puzzle passage is much too complicated for its own good. Instead of claiming that the concept of entities existing independently of Dasein is meaningless (a bizarre claim), we can instead claim that it makes sense in terms of the distinction between Reality and the Real.

Reality is the Kantian concept of “thingness” or Sachheit. In how Heidegger adopts the term, it designates the mode of being of objects as understood through Dasein’s understanding and interpretation of the world as worldly. When Heidegger defines being as “that which determines entities as entities”, the determination of entities according to the as-structure is the “Reality” of such objects. In contrast, the “Real” existence of entities is the determinate structure of entities as they exist independently of our understanding and interpretation of them as entities.

Thus, when Heidegger says “entities will continue to be” only when there is Dasein’s understanding of being, there is a crucial ambiguity here overlooked by Blattner. We can distinguish between “continue to be” in the sense of Real existence (subsistence, extantness) and “continue to be” in the sense of Reality or the as-structure of worldhood. It is my contention that Heidegger meant the latter. Accordingly, the puzzle passage’s cryptic meaning becomes clear. Only as long as Dasein exists “is there” being in the sense of that which determines entities in terms of entities as entities i.e. in terms of the understanding of being. This can be translated as “Only as long as Dasein exists is there a determination of entities as entities”. Accordingly, there is no contradiction in saying that being is dependent on Dasein’s understanding of being but entities nevertheless are “extant”. We can then make sense of the other puzzle passages in Being and Time, which say:

“Readiness-to-hand is the way in which entities as they are “in themselves” are defined ontologico-categorially. Yet only by reason of something present-at-hand, ‘is there’ anything ready-to-hand” (SZ 71)

“Entities are, quite independently of the experience by which they are disclosed, the acquaintance in which they are discovered, and the grasping in which their nature is ascertained” (SZ 183).

“But the fact that Reality is ontologically grounded in the Being of Dasein, does not signify that only when Dasein exists and as long as Dasein exists, can the Real be as that which in itself it is” (SZ 212)

Thus, the answer to the question of whether occurrent entities can exist independently of Dasein’s understanding of being depends on how you understand the occurrent existence of entities. If you understand it in terms of the ontological-categorial determination of entities as entities (Reality), then no, entities do not exist independently of Dasein. If you understand it in terms of the Real and extantness, then yes, of course occurrent entiteis continue to exist or “subsist” when Dasein is not around. Case closed?

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Textual evidence for direct or "naive" realism in Being and Time era Heidegger

I’ve been gathering quotes in preparation for my master’s thesis. I will admit that I am deliberately reading into the texts to find quotes to support my position, but the textual evidence for direct realism is overwhelming. It seems to me that the only way to falsify my position would be to show that the translations, particularly in Basic Problems, are somehow misleading. However, I believe that any attempt to falsify my thesis will need to provide an equally parsimonious framework to capture the essential structure of Heidegger’s thought. In my opinion,  reading Heidegger in terms of direct realism makes his system coherent and intelligible while making the least metaphysical assumptions.

Quotes Supporting Direct Realism in Basic Problems of Phenomenology

“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. In every case, perceivedness presupposes perceivability, and perceivability on its part already requires the existence of the perceivable or the perceived being…This extantness, or existence, belongs to the extant, the existent, without its being uncovered. That alone is why it is uncoverable” (BP 49)

“What we concisely call perception is, more explicitly formulated, the perceptual directing of oneself toward what is perceived, in such a way indeed that the perceived is itself always understood as perceived in its perceivedness…This directedness-toward constitutes, as it were, the framework of the whole phenomenon ‘perception’” (BP 57)

“To say that I am in the first place oriented towards sensations is all just pure theory. In conformity with its sense of direction, perception is directed toward a being that is extant. It intends this precisely as extant and knows nothing at all about sensations that it is apprehending” (BP 63)

“I cannot and must not ask how the inner intentional experience arrives at an outside. I cannot and must not put the question in that way because intentional comportment itself as such orients itself toward the extant. I do not first need to ask how the immanent intentional experience acquires transcendent validity; rather, what has to be seen is that it is precisely intentionality and nothing else in which transcendence consists” (BP 63)

“The statement that the comportments of the Dasein are intentional means that the mode of being of our own self, the Dasein, is essentially such that this being, so far as it is, is always already dwelling with the extant. The idea of a subject which has intentional experiences merely inside its own sphere and is not yet outside it but encapsulated within itself is an absurdity which misconstrues the basic ontological structure of the being that we ourselves are.” (BP 64).

“A window, a chair, in general anything extant in the broadest sense, does not exist, because it cannot comport toward extant entities in the manner of intentional self-directedness-toward them” (BP 64)

“the intentional constitution of the Dasein’s comportments is precisely the ontological condition of the possibility of every and any transcendence…The Dasein, comports existingly toward the extant” (BP 65)

“On the contrary, implicit in the sense of perceptual apprehension is the aim to uncover what is perceived in such a way that it exhibits itself in and of its own self…Perceiving uncovers the extant and lets it be encountered in the manner of a specific uncovering” (BP 69).

“Perceiving is a release of extant things which lets them be encountered. Transcending is an uncovering” (BP 70)

“Or can it be shown that something like an understanding of extantness is already implicit in the intentionality of perception, that is, in perceptual uncovering?” (BP 70)

“in opposition to the subjectivist misinterpretations that perception is directed in the first instance only to something subjective, that is, to sensations, it was necessary to show that perception is directed toward the extant itself” (BP 71)

“In this understanding, what extantness means is unveiled, laid open, or, as we say, disclosed” (BP 71)

“it is implicit in the basic constitution of the Dasein itself that, in existing, the Dasein also already understands the mode of being of the extant, to which it comports existingly, regardless of how far this extant entity is uncovered and whether it is or is not adequately and suitably uncovered” (BP 71)

“the disclosure of extantness belongs to this comportment, to the Dasein’s existence. This is the condition of the possibility of the uncoverability of extant things.” (BP 71)

“The Dasein’s comportments have an intentional character and that on the basis of this intentionality the subject already stands in relation to things that it itself is not” (BP 155)

“For the Dasein, with its existence, there is always a being and an interconnection with a being already somehow unveiled, without its being expressly made into an object” (BP 157)

“The Dasein does not need a special kind of observation, nor does it need to conduct a sort of espionage on the ego in order to have the self; rather, as the Dasein gives itself over immediately and passionately to the world, its own self is reflected to it from things…This is not mysticism and does not presuppose the assigning of souls to things. It is only a reference to an elementary phenomenological fact of existence, which must be seen prior to all talk, no matter how acute, about the subject-object relation” (BP 159)

“Nevertheless, the walls [in a lecture hall] are already present even before we think them as objects. Much else also gives itself to us before any determining of it by thought. Much else – but how? Not as a jumbled heap of things but as an environs, a surroundings, which contains within itself a closed, intelligible contexture” (BP 163)

“Until the ontology of the Dasein is made secure in its fundamental elements, it remains a blind philosophical demagoguery to charge something with the heresy of subjectivism” (BP 167)

“no reason can be adduced that makes it evident that a Dasein necessarily exists” (BP 169)

“World is only, if, and as long as a Dasein exists. Nature can also be when no Dasein exists” (BP 170)

“intraworldliness does not belong to the being of the extant, or in particular to that of nature, but only devolves upon it. Nature can also be without there being a world, without a Dasein existing…The being of beings which are not a Dasein has a richer and more complex structure and therefore goes beyond the usual characterization of that extant as a contexture of things” (BP 175)

“Such a being, for example, nature, does not depend in its being – that and whether it is a being or not – on whether it is true, whether or not it is unveiled and encountered as unveiled for a Dasein” (BP 219)

“For nature to be as it is, it does not need truth, unveiledness” (BP 221)

“How can the being of a being, and especially the being of the extant, which in its essential nature is independent of the existence of a Dasein, be determined by uncoveredness?” (BP 222)

Quotes Supporting Direct Realism in Being and Time

“Readiness-to-hand is the way in which entities as they are “in themselves” are defined ontologico-categorially. Yet only by reason of something present-at-hand, ‘is there’ anything ready-to-hand” (SZ 71)

“In such in interpretation, the way in which the entity we are interpreting is to be conceived can be drawn from the entity itself, or the interpretation can force the entity into concepts to which it is opposed in its manner of being” (SZ 150).

“The present-at-hand, as Dasein encounters it, can, as it were, assault Dasein’s Being; natural events, for instance, can break in upon us and destroy us” (SZ 152)
“Our everyday environmental experiencing, which remains directed both ontically and ontologically towards entities within-the-world…” (SZ 181)

“Entities are, quite independently of the experience by which they are disclosed, the acquaintance in which they are discovered, and the grasping in which their nature is ascertained” (SZ 183).

“As we have noted, Being (not entities) is dependent upon the understanding of Being, that is to say, Reality (not the Real) is dependent upon care” (SZ 212)

“Being (not entities) is something which ‘there is’ only in so far as truth is. And truth is only in so far as and as long as Dasein is” (SZ 230).
“…the world does not ‘consist’ of the ready-to-hand” (SZ 75)

“Previously letting something ‘be’ does not mean that we must first bring it into its Being and produce it; it means rather that something which is already an ‘entity’ must be discovered in its readiness-to-hand, and that we must thus let the entity which has this Being be encountered” (SZ 85)

“The ‘Nature’ by which we are ‘surrounded’ is, of course, an entity within-the-world; but the kind of Being which it shows belongs neither to the ready-to-hand nor to what is present-at-hand as “Things of Nature’”(SZ 211)

“But the fact that Reality is ontologically grounded in the Being of Dasein, does not signify that only when Dasein exists and as long as Dasein exists, can the Real be as that which in itself it is” (SZ 212)

“When Dasein does not exist…entities will still continue to be” (SZ 212)

“Dasein’s Being becomes ontologically transparent in a comprehensive way only within the horizon in which the Being of entities other than Dasein – and this means even of those which are neither ready-to-hand nor present-at-hand but just ‘subsist’ – has been clarified” (SZ 333)

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