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Heidegger, Buddhism and dependent origination

 
 
Hermes
 
Reply Tue 30 Jun, 2009 08:13 pm
This is following on from another discussion, here.

Concerning Heidegger's interpretation of Dasein and his ontology for being, which is founded upon his notion of "Being-in-the-world", Whoever raised the similarities this has with the Buddhist doctrine of "dependent origination".

Since I am more familiar with Heidegger, I'll try to give a definition of Being-in-the-world. It is a mode of "being" where this "being", as a verb, is more precisely defined as being-present-at-hand with the res ("things") of the world. For Heidegger, being was not just "being-alongside a thing of the world" as held by previous philosophers. (very simply) He says that this misses the temporality of the situation, the being *present* at hand, which is required to complete the function of being.

Now I always drew an analogy between this and classical stoicism, for which the three (metaphysical) tenets are often said to be; monism, materialism and mutation.

Monism is analogous to an entity being a singular entity.
Materialism is the universal interconnectedness of all entities.
Mutation is change, it is the temporality by which entities can change their interrelations.

But of course Heidegger himself saw parallels with Zen Buddhism, and visited Japan at least once to meet with Buddhist philosophers as far as I recall. I hate to be presumptuous, but perhaps Whoever could give a summary of dependent origination? (I could.. but this would just be copy and paste from the net!)

I would like to explore the similarities between these two relative ontologies and see if we can gain something by a comparison. :cool:
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Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 12:03 am
@Hermes,
Oh boy. This is a very difficult topic. I wouldn't feel competent to define Dasein and Existenz or explain dependent origination.

But it seems pretty clear that there is a close correlation between Dasein and Existenz and Samsara and Nirvana, and I'll come back later when I've more time to explore this.
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Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 07:32 am
@Hermes,
Hermes

I think you'll like this essay. http://www.philosophypathways.com/fellows/finch.pdf

It may not be obvious straight away why I think so.

I've just finished my dissertation for the same award, and the two essays dovetail perfectly. If you like this one I'll thrust mine upon you, if you've got the stamina.
Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 09:48 am
@Whoever,
OK great stuff, thanks Whoever. I'll take a look at that pdf tomorrow, maybe day after, and I'd be interested to read your dissertation too.

I had a quick look at dependent origination today, and on the surface of it, logically, it seems to be identical to how I view the relative ontology of Heidegger. I think there might be some divergence with where Buddhist interpretation takes it, but I'm not sure how much.
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Theages
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 09:51 am
@Hermes,
Hermes;73826 wrote:
a definition of Being-in-the-world. It is a mode of "being" where this "being", as a verb, is more precisely defined as being-present-at-hand with the res ("things") of the world.

Presence-at-hand is the manner in which water is "in" a glass, which Heidegger specifically says is not the Being-in of Dasein.
Hermes
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 11:08 am
@Theages,
Theages;74007 wrote:
Presence-at-hand is the manner in which water is "in" a glass, which Heidegger specifically says is not the Being-in of Dasein.


Hey, I'd be lying if I said Heidegger was crystal clear to me, but I think you are only partially correct here.

This passage agrees with what you say:

Being and Time, H.104 wrote:
If we attribute spatiality to Dasein, then this 'Being in space' must manifestly be conceived in terms of the kind of Being which that entity possesses. Dasein is essentially not a Being-present-at-hand; and its "spatiality" cannot signify anything like occurrence at a position in 'world-space', nor can it signify Being-ready-to-hand at some place.


But, this is clearly with reference to Dasein itself, not entities in general, which is what I was talking about. To give some positive support for this (just down from the water in glass part)...

H.54 wrote:
All entities whose Being 'in' one another can thus be described have the same kind of Being - that of Being-present-at-hand - as Things occurring 'within' the world.


So the upshot is; Being-in-the-World is a property of Dasein, Being-in is the property of Things (res) of the world. If you take Heidegger on face value, what I said is wrong. Right, now to talk myself out of this..! :eek:

Why is there a distinction between the being of Dasein and the other entities? Heidegger never clearly explains this (perhaps this wasn't part of his plan) but there are obviously two classes of entities; metaphysical entities of the universe, and these entities as they are represented within the human mind (of which Dasein is a special case). Now, I think the ontology can applied, selectively, to both levels of inquiry.

So one way to envisage this is to think of entities outside the mind as Being-present-at-hand and entities within the mind as Being-in-the-world. But this I find too categorical and a needlessly arbitrary distinction. My reading may be a little esoteric, but I do not see the need to distinguish between Being-in-the-world and Being-present-at-hand because taken from different perspectives both modes of Being are available to both classes of entities.

As this relates to Buddhist relativism, I shall be interested to see what, if any distinction is made between metaphysical and mental entities that partake of the dependent origination.
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Whoever
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 01:12 pm
@Hermes,
It would not be that Buddhism distinguishes between metaphysical and mental phenomena. (Actually, I'm not sure what a metaphysical entity would be. Can you give an example? Some would say mental phenomena are metaphysical.) Buddhism would distinguish between psychophysical phenomena and Nibbana, appearance and reality, the Many and the One. The proviso would be that for a fundamental analysis even this distinction would be transcended, or 'sublated' to use Hegel's term. The two worlds would be one.
memester
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2010 05:23 pm
@Whoever,
or: "separate", they are not ?
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TranscendHumanit
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Apr, 2010 01:50 pm
@Hermes,
Very interesting to me. I raised Buddhist, and I read some Heidegger but I never think about two together.
Jason Powell
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jun, 2010 03:15 pm
@TranscendHumanit,
Heidegger can be seen as the Buddhist German philosopher. His works on Leibniz, Kant, Husserl, Plato, etc. etc. are what you might call for convenience 'Buddhist' interpretations. He writes things which, except in Meister Eckhart, have never been written in German before.

But he did not learn from eastern religion. He learnt from Catholicism, and Meister Eckhart.

What did he learn or discover for himself? Meditation on being alive, a deeper level of human being which is related to the overall power of something hidden; absolute mind as something which is in and transcendent to human thinking; the ultimate purpose of human life to lie in communiing and attuning to this Being.

He developed these ideas at the time of the War when he had little knowledge of the eastern philosophy. However, while I have no evidence that he had studied Tao, etc., I know that Hitler, another German of the time in whom Heidegger was interested, did know about eastern philosophy. I imagine that German scholarship had looked into this, and it had brushed off on Heidegger. Nevertheless, I don't believe that Heidegger learnt from it and did not tell us, nor that, judging by his own writing, he learnt anything solid (i.e., any terminology) from the east.

This is a very serious matter which exceeds any interest merely in the scholarly. Heidegger's retreat in the Black Forest is obviously similar to that of some mystics. One day we will have to learn not merely to recognise similarities, but actually follow him into retreat.
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