Maria Jimena Clavel Vazquez - Naturalizing Heidegger (Against his Will)

This is one of the papers from our 2017 Annual Conference, the Future of Phenomenology. Information and the full conference booklet can be found at

The question regarding the pertinence of using Heidegger’s analytic of Dasein as a guide for empirical research arises from contemporary attempts to bring Heideggerian phenomenology and cognitive science together. I will focus on one of the main figures behind these attempts, Hubert Dreyfus. I will start by showing that Dreyfus argues in favour of the idea that Heideggerian phenomenology can be naturalized and made continuous with scientific research on the basis of two implicit premises: (a) the interpretation of the analytic of Dasein as a regional ontology; and (b) an account of the relation between phenomenology and science as a relation that holds between two disciplines of the same kind, but that stand at different levels. The aim of this paper is to show that it is not possible to defend these premises on Heideggerian grounds. I will do so by analysing Heidegger’s considerations regarding anthropology, psychology, and biology, and their difference with the analytic of Dasein. I will argue that the main difference can be found in Heidegger’s definition of phenomenological concepts (i.e. formal indications). Finally, I will argue that, although Dreyfus fails to take into account the nature of phenomenological concepts as a relevant methodological matter, his project of naturalization raises a valid concern regarding the possibility of taking Heidegger’s ontology back to a relation with the ontic sciences.

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