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Studia Heideggeriana

Life - Praxis - Emotions

Vol. 13

I. - The expression “life” (Leben) is strikingly present in Heidegger’s early Freiburg lectures of the years 1919-1923, in a clear and critical connection with Dilthey’ thought and the so-called “philosophy of life.” The expression “life” or “factual life” plays a significant role in Heidegger’s attempt to define the field of phenomenological investigation during his first teaching period. Even though this terminology is abandoned in the period leading up to the publication of Being and Time and is no longerconsidered an essential aspect of human being, what was elaborated in the early lectures has is in clear continuity with the consolidation of the existential analytics and fundamental ontology. While it is true that Heidegger’s more mature approach expresses a decisive critical distance not only in relation with the use of the term “life”, as it entails the danger of falling into naturalism (biologism), but also with regard to any anthropology anchored in the traditional idea of the human being as a “rational living being”, reflection on the systematic foundations of this distancing seems to shed light on the ontological project as a whole. Furthermore, if we accept Heidegger’s thesis regarding the categorical irreducibility of human existence to that of living beings in general, the evident problem arises of accounting for this difference, which includes, at least in general terms, outlines of an “ontology of life.” As is known, Heidegger undertakes this task in at least one of his lectures (GA 29/30), thus offering penetrating considerations on that “strange and fascinating” mode of being that living beings possess. II. – As some scholars have emphasized (Gethmann, Tugendhat, Volpi, Vigo, among others), one of the prominent aspects of Heidegger’s thought is the repositioning of praxis as the primary element of human experience and its basic order of comprehensibility. It is not coincidental, therefore, that the work of this philosopher has been well received in the Anglo-Saxon world precisely by the so-called neo-pragmatist stream of thought, starting with Rorty’s works. In another field, Volpi’s thesis is well known: many of the ontological concepts present in Being and Time presuppose a creative appropriation of Aristotle's practical philosophy, which places Heidegger in a very peculiar manner of conceiving human action and its scope. The observation in the Letter on Humanism, which asserts the irreducible nature of this concept in relation to the schema of causality, is famous. It is possible to consider that this consideration is, at least in part, deeply connected with the philosopher’s reflection on the conception of freedom in continuity with the philosophy of Kant and Schelling, although with some critical distance. Nevertheless, one can question whether Heidegger has a robust conception of human action and how he dialogues with the many current lines of reflection present in the theory of action. III. – Although it is evident to any scholar that Heidegger does not use the term “emotion,” the relevance of analyzing various phenomena of affective life within his philosophy is undeniable. Under the designation of Stimmung, which has been translated as “mood” or “disposition,” we find not only the famous analyses of fear or anxiety in Being and Time but also the detailed treatment of boredom in the celebrated 1929/30 lecture on the Fundamental concepts of metaphysics (GA 29/30), or of astonishment in the winter semester lecture of 1937/38 (GA 45). With a clear departure from psychological approaches, Heidegger proposes a consideration of various affective states that involves a basic-level reformulation in order to overcome the limitations in which these phenomena tend to be treated, i.e., as mental states or psychic events. In other words, the affective aspect of human life is grounded in an ontology that does not reduce them to mere accompanying phenomena. In this regard, the philosopher’s approach seems to align with certain theories of emotionality that do not take the “sentimental” character of these phenomena as the sole or decisive note. Moreover, the appeal to certain dispositions seems to play a prominent methodological role in the very idea of philosophical inquiry, as seen in the aforementioned works, and highlights certain moods as fundamental (Grundstimmungen). Thus, one may question the systematic reasons that lead the philosopher to highlight these moods as fundamental and their role in the idea of philosophy and human understanding in general. Finally, the dialogue and reception of existential approaches to affective life by psychology and psychiatry are particularly relevant in this regard, as documented in the Zollikon seminars. Studia Heideggeriana cordially invites all interested authors to submit papers in Spanish, Portuguese or English on these topics. Studia Heideggeriana also accepts free submissions, not related to the topic of the issue, for its Varia section.

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