Authenticity, Truth, and Cultural Transformation: A Critical Reading of John Haugeland's Heidegger

When:15 Mar 2016, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Morven Brown 209 (map ref C20)
Who:Aaron Wendland, University of Tartu (Estonia)
Aaron Wendland

Philosophy Seminar


Against existentialist interpreters who read Heidegger's account of authenticity as a theory of human freedom, John Haugeland takes Heidegger's talk of authenticity to be a key feature of Heidegger's fundamental ontology: i.e., Heidegger's attempt to determine the meaning of being through an analysis of Dasein or human beings. Briefly, Haugeland argues that the self-understanding achieved when we take responsibility for our existence by choosing a particular way of life involves understanding what it means for entities to be within that way of life. ‘In knowing how to be me,’ as he puts it, ‘I must know how to deal with the entities amidst which I work and live.’ Thus, authenticity entails ‘getting the entities themselves right.’ Haugeland also claims that taking responsibility for our existence entails the possibility of giving up our current way of life when it fails to get entities right, and therefore he sees authenticity as the basis of cultural transformation. Given the unorthodoxy of Haugeland’s ontological interpretation of authenticity, I begin this paper with a sketch of Haugeland's position but then put forward several objections to it. Specifically, I argue that Haugeland's emphasis on 'getting entities right' fails to appreciate type of truth at stake in our authentic existence, and thus fails to adequately describe the basis of cultural transformation. Finally, I offer an alternative to Haugeland’s ontological interpretation of authenticity and cultural transformation through an existential-ontological reading of Thomas Kuhn.

About Aaron Wendland

Dr Aaron Wendland got his PhD in philosophy from Oxford University. His thesis explored Heidegger’s accounts of agency and artistic creativity as they appear in Being and Time and several of his later writings. He is the co-editor of Heidegger on Technology (Routledge, forthcoming) as well as Wittgenstein and Heidegger (Routledge, 2013), and the author of several journal articles. His research interests include German Idealism, Phenomenology, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Art, Existentialism, Ethics, Ancient Philosophy, and Political Philosophy. Dr Wendland is currently Research Fellow at the University of Tartu, Estonia.

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