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understanding (Heidegger)

Subject Philosophy

People Heidegger, Martin

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


M odern E uropean philosophy [German Verstehen ] Traditional philosophy takes understanding to be one of the major cognitive abilities of the subject or mind and subordinates the question of the understanding to the problem of knowledge. Heidegger breaks with this tradition by claiming that understanding is a basic mode of Dasein's being. Rather than discovering or making assertions about the particular facts of the world, understanding is the awareness of possibilities , that is, the disclosedness ( Erschlossenheit ) of the for-the-sake-of-which of Dasein's being-in-the-world. Understanding operates in terms of projecting those possibilities that are tied to Dasein 's worldly situation. It has a threefold “fore” structure, that is fore-having, foresight, and fore-conception. In this way, understanding is Dasein's self-understanding. While the state of mind, another mode of Dasein's being, discloses factitity , that is, Dasein's thrownness into this world, understanding becomes aware of its inevitable freedom. For Heidegger, the traditional conception of the understanding is derived from the understanding as the existential awareness of possibilities. Working out the possibilities projected in understanding is interpretation. Heidegger's theory of understanding establishes the basis for the hermeneutic turn. “With the term ‘understanding’ we ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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