Exploring Martin Heidegger’s conceptions of phenomenology and transcendence: addressing the problem of religious fundamentalist violence

Sanni, John Sodiq (2018-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research uses Martin Heidegger’s phenomenological understanding of Dasein (human existence or being) as a frame for developing an improved understanding of why religious fundamentalist violence (RFV) occurs and why it is so pervasive and enduring. In other words, drawing on Heidegger’s diagnosis of how Western philosophy ‘forgets’ what humans always already know about human being, the argument shows that RFV is one manifestation of the violence associated with this covering over or forgetfulness of the nature of human existence. At the same time, it shows that RFV is enduring, pervasive, or at least resonant with many people, since it responds to the same universal human question about the meaning of human existence to which Heidegger’s philosophy, and arguably all (other) religious thinking also respond. It shows how the absolutisation of certain religious frameworks which present a misinterpretation of the true nature of human reality, may act as a driving force for RFV. In framing this form of violent terror in this way, new approaches to dealing with the phenomenon are suggested. Amongst other things, it becomes clear that the way to combat RFV is not through further secularisation or attempts at extinguishing religious thought and life forms altogether, because they respond to a legitimate, authentic and enduring human need for asking about the ultimate meaning of human existence. To simply try to quash the question to which religion attempts to present an answer, is equally to repeat the forgetfulness of the meaning of being and Dasein as revealed by Heidegger. Instead then, drawing on Heidegger’s insights into the nature of Dasein (that being in which the world of being/s constitutes or shows itself), universal philosophical training is proposed as one way to combat destructive fundamentalist thinking and acting. If this is the way to go, it at the same time becomes clear that Heidegger might become reductive on his own terms. The work of later philosophers is then used to show how a plurality of metaphysical investigations should be opened up instead of taking Heidegger’s potentially ‘absolutist phenomenology’ as the only legitimate reading of the meaning of human being. However, this proliferation remains limited in principle, my thesis would argue, to engagements with the meaning of Dasein that renounce any final, ultimate or absolute positions. This is the case since first, final positions would go against the most enduring insight of Heidegger, which is the finitude and temporality of all meaningmaking and second, such absolute interpretations reduce the very multiplicity which is the direct result of the necessarily tentative and finite nature of every interpretation of the meaning of human being.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif behels ‘n gedetailleerde ondersoek na Martin Heidegger se fenomenologiese verstaan van die syn en Dasein (menslike bestaan) as ‘n moontlike raamwerk vir die ontwikkeling van ‘n beter begrip van waarom godsdienstige fundamentalistiese geweld (GFG) voorkom, en waarom dit so ‘n hardnekkige verskynsel is. Met ander woorde, deur gebruik te maak van die besonderhede van Heidegger se diagnose van hoe Westerse filosofie ‘vergeet’ wat mense altyd alreeds weet omtrent die menslike bestaan, wil die argument aantoon dat GFG een pertinente manifestasie is van die geweld geassosieer met hierdie verdoeseling of vergeetagtigheid rondom die betekenis van menslike bestaan. Terselfdertyd toon die studie aan dat GFG durend en wyd verspreid voorkom, of minstens met talle mense resoneer, omdat dit antwoorde verskaf op dieselfde universeel menslike vraag na die uiteindelike betekenis van menslike bestaan waarop Heidegger se filosofie, en talle (ander) godsdienstige denkkonstrukte, ook probeer reageer. Daardeur word die spesifieke versoeking of dryfveer onderliggend aan GFG blootgelê as die verabsolutering van sekere godsdienstige raamwerke wat die ware aard van die menslike realiteit wanvoorstel. Deur hierdie vorm van gewelddadige terreur op hierdie manier te raam, word nuwe benaderings tot die hantering van die verskynsel gesuggereer. Een implikasie wat hieruit voortvloei is dat GFG nie suksesvol bekamp kan word deur die intensifisering van sekularisasie of deur ander vorme van onderdrukking van godsdienstige denke of lewensvorme nie. Dit is die geval, omdat die godsdienste reageer op ‘n legitieme, outentieke en durende menslike behoefte wat vra na die finale betekenis van die menslike bestaan. Deur gewoon te probeer om die vraag waarop godsdienstige metafisika ‘n antwoord wil gee, dood te druk of te ignoreer, is om die vergeetagtigheid van synsin wat Heidegger blootlê, te herhaal in ‘n anti-metafisiese register. Dus, met gebruikmaking van Heidegger se insigte in die aard van Dasein (daardie synde waarin die wêreld van syn(des) sigself aanmeld of konstitueer), word universele filosofiese onderrig voorgestel as ‘n beter manier om vernietigende fundamentalistiese denke en optrede te bekamp. Indien hierdie voorstel water hou, dan word dit ook duidelik dat Heidegger self reduksionisties mag voorkom binne die verstaanshorison wat sy eie denke open. Die werk van latere kommentators word dan ingespan om aan te toon dat ‘n veelvoud van metafisiese ondersoekweë oopgemaak behoort te word in plaas daarvan om Heidegger se potensieel ‘absolutistiese fenomenologie’ te hanteer as die enigste legitieme poort tot die onthulling van die betekenis van die menslike bestaan. Terselfdertyd wil hierdie proefskrif egter ook aantoon dat hierdie vermenigvuldiging in beginsel beperk bly tot daardie benaderings tot die betekenis van Dasein wat enige finale, uiteindelike of absolute posisies afwys. Dit is die geval omdat eerstens, finale posisies indruis teen die mees durende insig van Heidegger, naamlik die eindigheid en tydelikheid van alle betekenis-stigting, en tweedens, sodanige absolute interpretasies reduseer presies die veelvoud wat die direkte uitvloeisel is van die noodwendig tydelike en eindige aard van elke interpretasie van die betekenis van menslike bestaan. Op die finale vrae behoort daar paradoksaal dus nooit finale antwoorde gegee te word nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104867
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