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Reading and Critique of Heidegger’s Phenomenology of Intuition and Expression: The case of history (Phänomenologie der Anschauung und des Ausdrucks; Theorie der Philosophischen Begrifffbildung)
Nguyễn Quỳnh USA



Kì trước,tác-jả đã hứa, bản Anh-ngữ Đọc và Fê-bình Hiện-tượng Luận của Heidegger sẽ được gửi tới độc-jả. Hai bản Anh-Việt có vài điểm khác nhau, không fải chỉ về cách ziễn-tả nội-zung mà còn về bút-fáp và cú-fáp thích hợp với người đọc. Trong khi bản Việt-ngữ có những đoạn đem trường-hợp Lịch-sử Việt-Tầu ra đối chiếu, bản Anh-ngữ không luận tới khía-cạnh này, không fải vì chuyên-luận này sẽ đăng trên Frontiers of Philosophy ở Beijing, mà vì tác-jả muốn tránh hiểu lầm qúa nặng về í-thức hệ. Hơn nữa, Chủ-biên và ban Biên-tập của Frontiers of Philosophy đã đọc những bài trước của tôi, rất gay gắt chống óc thực-zân Tầu. QN.




This essay presents and critiques Heidegger’s Phenomenology of Intuition and Expression: Theory of Philosophical Concept-Formation. It discusses Consciousness and Understanding in Philosophical context and then ties with the problem of History as a scientific subject. As Heidegger holds “History is man”, so the quest for History must be seen through Being (Sein) and Being-there (Dasein). Whether History investigates various field studies, from individual to community, it is challenging that what we know about History are intellectual expositions but not concretely factual. Heidegger theoretically advances his thematic project mainly to question not to affirm about the scientific foundation of History. (100 words)



Key words: Idea, Eido, Attitudinal History, Relations, Destruction, Concept, Logos, Resoluteness, Logic, Ethics, The-I, Factical Situation, a Field of Facts, The Singularity of the Individual, Subjectification, Objectification, Semiotics.

Note: The word History as a discipline written in high case differs from the word history in low case that is prone to narrative style.




INTRODUCTION: Consciousness and Understanding

1.     The Question of Concept

2.     Phenomenology as Fundamental Science of Philosophy

3.     Scientific Philosophy and Worldview Philosophy: On the Science of History

4.     Method  of  Reconstruction: Subjectification and  Objectification. The Contribution of Psychology to the Apprehension of Intuition and Expression.

5.     General Logical Determination:  The Singularity of the Individual.

On Consciousness and Understanding.

6.     ADDENDUM: Peirce’s Theory of Knowledge or the true meaning of sign (Semiotics)



INTRODUCTION: Consciousness and Understanding


The subtitle of Heidegger’s Phänomenologie der Anschauung und des Ausdrucks is about the Theory of Philosophical Concept Formation that is related to questions of History as a science exhaustively discussed in the body of his work. This point must be taken seriously with restriction of History concept as scientific assumptions and not with any concrete direction to the rise of problems in history.


Since Heidegger’s philosophical issues always connect with human beings, language and thought that decide the fate of History, we should pose this question: “Is History, scientifically speaking, a subject of Ethics?” And “Does this question also concern the essence of intuition and expressions called the totality of human consciousness and understanding?” We should look into Spinoza’s general description of Ethics.


In Ethics Spinoza holds that the Idea exists by itself a priori regardless of our thinking of it. Thus, Idea or cum suo idento, such as INFINITE, ETERNAL and BEING exist inherently without our assertiveness. Idea and Essence are the same that includes Ethics, which encompasses its attributes as original, cause, eternal, intellect, affection. In short, these are components of God’s Idea by which Ethics is eternal and infinite. Spinoza then holds that there exists only one essence (God/ Ethics) in nature, or it is the only Truth. Opposite to Truth is untrue and finite. Those whose argument is unclear about objects or facts do not have firm knowledge of reality and all the ethical attributes mentioned earlier. Therefore, we pose the next question that if the essence of Ethics truly correlates with that of the Science of History? 


In light of this, History must distinguish the finite and the infinite as well as what is present and what is absent. We are not following Spinoza’s argument about the absolute essence of God as a point of departure for our investigation less we would make judgments based on preconceptions. However, we opt to adopt his notions of the perfection and imperfection as is applied to historical validity in addition to his idea of the “good” and the “evil” that might lurch beneath historical texts and historian’s intentions. Spinoza holds that the “good” gradually leads us to “good model” meanwhile, the “evil” privatizes one’s thought and corrupts the “good model” of human beings. 1


Only by true consciousness would the validity of understanding be determined. Therefore, Heidegger’s discourse on Phenomenology of Intuition and Expressions necessitates all radical methods to challenge the true foundation of Philosophy and brings it into new light. The task of doing Philosophy concerns deconstruction of phenomena (Phenomenology) of any objective, endlessly and so is that of doing History. Clearly Heidegger would like to see if the task of doing Philosophy could be instrumental to that of doing History.


1)     The question of concept.


What is a concept? Concept or Eido, the primordial source from which our “idea” or “concept” is derived; say the concept formation of “table”.


From the Eido of “Table” be it a shape or a form, which to be a free-standing object, has at least three or four sides, either supported by “legs” or simply in one “block” also called “mass and volume”. For convenience, such prototype of “table” must stand up to our elbow, for leaning on or placing something on. The question about a concept formation of a thing should be about its substantial property, say, “What does this concept consist in?” Similarly, the question for History as a scientific discipline must be: “What does the concept of “History” consist in?” In Logik als die Frage nach dem Wessen der Sprache Heidegger poses the question about the concept of History, and offers a ground work consisting of essential components as follows” 2


Logic 3



Human being

Who are we ourselves?





I will discuss such components along with Heidegger’s thematic exposition.


The question about the concept formation (Begriffbuildung) of Intuition and Expressions is referred to our consciousness, which reveals complexities and is truly a necessity of reshaping philosophical concept (Neugestaltung) as well. Once such complexities deals with opinions as did Kant clarify in Critique of Judgment, we cannot help ignore the issues generally garnered from Aesthetics and Arts. Being aware of such perplexities, Heidegger holds, in his Phänomenologie der Anschauung und des Ausducks that, first and foremost such issues must be dealt with the properties of Intuition and Expressions by way of Phenomenology. He then recommends that the meaning of Phenomenology, Intuition, and Expressions must be clear. How can this task be achieved if Philosophy loses sight of factum, a precondition for Philosophy to be a science, its aim and end already existed at the beginning of philosophical history? Heidegger calls it “the unambiguous factum of philosophy”; hence a precondition for History as a science, too.


If Philosophy mainly preoccupies itself with theoretical and critical thinking or “the a priori transcendental conditions of possibilities.” (PAA, p.2).4 then so does History. Philosophy cannot be exact science but it always and ready investigates consequence and its conceptual formation laid bare, thanks to the outcomes of scientific researches. We find this holds true to the nature of History without exception.


If we conceive the Eido or the Primordial Idea that is but Perfection Model as is discussed in Spinoza’s Ethics, then it is necessary for us to raise this question: “What is the Perfection Model?” Or rather, “What does the Perfection-Model consist in?” In reality, seeing Eido as a conception commits not just fallacy but destroys its primordial essence. Perfection as the models or precisely the modes of human thought, which should not be confounded with the Eido or the Primordial Idea, rather they are but modes or concepts of perfection, which are derived from the Eido to guide our mind to an end completely against the evil or imperfection. This is what Spinoza intended to rationalize his ethical discourse.


All efforts of investigation using Phenomenology to unveil conceptual formation of Intuition and Expressions cannot be possible without our transcendental understanding of man (human being); namely man’s consciousness and expressions. This simply means man’s consciousness is about History. Furthermore, this is precisely an ambition that Psychology sets forth in our time. Heidegger calls this understanding the Science of man completely eclipsed in the Philosophy of Kant. The foundational knowledge of Science of man in Heidegger’s concept begins with a Science of History, which is only attained by Philosophers of great ability. Why? The objectives of Science of Philosophy are neither fashioned upon the accidental nor by the ready-mades of deconstruction method. They go beyond traditional boundaries where primordial and genuine shortcomings may be detected. Historical investigations arise from questions of Historical truth, namely  to put everything on evaluation table to see the good versus the evil, as well as the true versus the false whereby the people’s sacrifices are weighed in justice for question of humanism.


In Sein und Zeit as well as in Introduction to Metaphysics Heidegger points out that in tradition of historical Past, Being and seeming obscure each other. 5 because its Dasein does not exist at hand for our investigation. For Heidegger “The past of intellectual history merely becomes objective in living understanding”; namely “living present”, for instance Timberlane’s capture of Kiew is vividly recounted with fascination of the present tongue regardless of the truth of factuality. Therefore, fundamentally the sense of intellectual history is determined by the living preconception for our understanding not of the lived-experience or the world in which inter-subjectivity truly exists as a prime condition. As such, the question of Historical Past becomes legitimate. Answer to this question presses our efforts to use deconstruction method or the Phenomenology of the Historical Past. Here, it indirectly refers to Heidegger’s thesis on consciousness of Intuition and Expression.


2)     Phenomenology as Fundamental Science of Philosophy


The prerequisite of philosophical background for the science of History causes Heidegger to suggest a method called Phenomenological-critical destruction against the naïve belief that “phenomenology” aims at going-back to “the matters themselves”.6 Phenomenology must be about philosophy activity that critiques both individual concepts and word meanings. For this Phenomenology battles problems, such as ambiguities, contradictions, confusions, and obscurities, to mention only fundamental issues of conceptual disputes. Do these issues also concern History?


As the fundamental Science of Philosophy and History, and with respect to problems mentioned above, Phenomenology defines the limits of its Philosophical progress as it cannot ignore the problems inherently in Philosophy about logic, ethics and aesthetics, if Phenomenology can be called a fundamental scientific pre-discipline (Heidegger), and is fundamentally posited as “descriptive psychology”. 7


It would be a disaster if Phenomenology as a method is so narrowed in pre-given directions as in the case it was mistakenly understood as “becoming”. Phenomenology as a way of “critical destruction” must go beyond word explanation and assumes its specific direction by shattering the meaning and then by deconstructing (Abbau) it, whereby to unfold the hidden meanings. To understand Heidegger’s strategy of “phenomenological destruction”, it must be clear that the act of destruction is taken as a mode of preconception; namely assumption following which a word meaning, for example, is under investigation. In sum, Phenomenological-critical destruction assumes problems existing in conventional context. Thus, this is precisely what History should take into consideration.


Some may argue that the so-called mere “word-explanation” and vigorous work on meanings through concrete situations give foundation for consciousness. This seems to be of rationally a loophole. In reality it is challenged to the fact that word and its meaning are not always fixed due to different situations that hold sway.


At this point we are convinced that as Philosophy is factical (Heidegger’s word) life of experience so phenomenological-critical destruction as a method to factorize experience for consciousness after undergoing critical confrontations by which, Heidegger holds, fundamental illusion is unfolded and “the factical situation of intellectual history”  is faced with lived experience. The latter will become Heidegger’s thematic objective of consciousness argued in the context of history.


Heidegger offers two principal methods called “questions” for approaching problem and application of “destruction” strategy, (a) Rational question about a priori reason regarding content or experience; (b) Theoretical question ordering life in a system of concept. These two groups of question are believed to be the determinant agents that help us see if the “primal phenomenon of life” is true or false. In fact, a problem should remain open for further investigations.


As the principal methods differ in different groups so do Philosophy and the science of History. Heidegger highlights this point by exposing problem of historical relations as follows:


The science of history does not at all determine, as science, the originary (original?) relation to history; instead it always already presupposes such a relation. This is why the science of History can either deform the relation to history -  a relation that is itself always historical – misinterpret it and reduce it to mere antiquarian expertise, or else prepare essential domains of vision for the already grounded relation to history and let history be experienced in its bindingness. A historical relation of our historical Dasein to history can become an object of knowledge and a developed state of knowledge; but it need not. Besides, not all relations to history can be scientifically objectified and become scientific… The science of History can never institute the historical relation to history. It can only illuminate a relation once it is instituted … It is only in Philosophy – in distinction from every science – that essential relations to beings always take shape; and therefore this relation can be originally historical one for us today.” 8


Concerning “rational method”, one cannot help overlook Descartes’ Discourses on Method that is exhaustively treated. The French best philosopher advances problem not only empirically oriented but circumspectly worked out so seriously that it questions the consciousness of “the I” and cautions against any attempt to follow someone’s method that is although rationally well rounded. 9


3)     Scientific Philosophy and Worldview Philosophy: On the Science of History,


For Heidegger, the distinction of Scientific Philosophy and Worldview Philosophy must be made clearly before the investigation of the Phenomenology or Intuition and Expressions because they all deal with human consciousness. For myself, I hold that a true understanding of human intuition and expressions must be gained through the complexity of faculties and activities of human being. It is wise to narrow the scope of human understanding in some specific domains and ranges that are here stipulated as Scientific Philosophy and Worldview Philosophy respectively the Science of History as Heidegger’s new theme and challenge of human consciousness.


It is true that not all cultures develop a science of history due to different concepts of life, and especially to the attitudinal viewpoints of history. The word “History” in high case means a branch of knowledge, scientifically equivalent to Heidegger’s concept of History. Therefore, “History” differs from “history” in lower case that is generally accepted by common knowledge. It is also true that in some culture, such as in the primitive one, say in tribal societies, the concept of history as it is linked with past and future does not “necessarily” exist, because for them it is daily activities that matter.


 Heidegger spent a lot of times penning down veracious words and explanations to characterize historical complex in order to warn us against historical attitudinal that comes from preconceptions; which in fact come into play on historian’s work. In this regard, before becoming a science History must be essentially grounded in philosophical knowledge; namely a series of effort of presenting, expressing, and criticizing factuality. It appears that History shares with archeological discipline and ground works for the true meaning of origin, otherwise it lacks its absolute validity.


In Economic Writings, Marx rightly points out the “perpetuation of historic relations of production.” 10 but he fails to elaborate such “relations”. He correctly criticizes the individualism of the eighteenth century and more importantly sees production beginning as “a starting point” of history, not “from history”. In other words, production is determined nature. However, the role of history although not about problem-solving in regard of production, mercilessly exposes production problems and demands immediate actions. This is precisely the central issue regarding Historicity (Geschichtlichkeit) ultimately in Heidegger’s philosophy.


However, the question “What is the perpetuation of historic relations of production” must be taken care of seriously. Let us look into the origin and development of production. First and foremost, we have no problem with the natural tendency of production as it inherently reflects human needs, or in other words, production exists due to social demands and to benefits that production enjoys its meaningfulness in economic life. In his Economic Writings, Marx points out four-point relationship or the natural laws in the economy effecting social life, in order known as “production, distribution, exchange, and consummation”.  In this connection all four elements are important, but for Marx, consummation is not an objective, but a purpose regardless of the economy save one point that while consummation “reacts upon the starting point, it introduces the whole process afresh.” 11 What does this mean? The law of economy is determined by commutation without which production would cease to exist. The Communists in post “Marxist revolution” have failed to see this paradox. Therefore, their problem is not just that they are unable to direct and then achieve a social revolution, but that they are ignorant of “economic laws” argued Marx. The Communists are sort of “intellectual” hams, verbalizing without knowing the meaning of “scientific” and “all members (elements) of “a totality” and then assume “mission accomplished”. 


For Marx, the “members of a totality” in economic laws correctly perform according to syllogism; namely logically cogent and “intuitive”. For a clear understanding of such members or functions, many questions deem to pose. And we are returning to Heidegger’s method of questioning that begins with the quest of the soundness of the science of history. He sees History as science may misinterpret “the relation to history”. Therefore, the conspiracies of Lincoln and Kennedy assassination must remain open. If they were individual’s motifs or say, the assassins acted alone, the cases in questions might have been closed for good. If they involved the structure’s motifs, then scientific synthesis of History must be able to bring to light an ideological conspiracy, not simply the relations to Lincoln and Kennedy, but about a master’s plan against both the politicians and the crucial obstacle unacceptable. So, in reality the conspiracies might reveal a crime against human rights whereby against a targeted mass that the structure, once possessed it could not relinquish, especially on the bargaining table of equality as in fact the master-slave relationship should have transformed from “possession” to “property”, whereby once one possessed something that must eventually become one’s property. So, that a slave shares equal footing with his master is not just a paradox but against racial supremacism. Lincoln and Kennedy were rhetorically the national fallen heroes, as for the bigots they were simply traitors. Do we have enough historical evidences?  There are in reality a lot of hidden variables.


We are not wasting our time spatting with each other on the validity of fact that by origin actual events determine historical concepts. We see instead it is necessary to upgrade historical knowledge for purpose of penetrating the truth that was once positive or negative yet unclear. Our continuous question of the validity of knowledge must be concrete and directional to deconstruct history and its behavioral phenomena that in fact mirror human thinking and practice. And this is precisely what Heidegger calls “attitudinal History” or “Historicity.”


In general, the Communists do not understand the meaning of sciences, history, and economics. Even the intellectual Marxists among them, have failed to attend to Marx’s writings that are probably Marx’s shortcomings, too. Marx argues that Robinson Crusoe’s Utopia is a piece of fantasy. In fact, it is a dream plan of Western imperialism that has transformed into present economic and political life. Of course for survival, Robinson’s domination must be modified. Marx failed to see the man-beast in the world and through history as Nietzsche pointed out in Origin of Morals. 12 Therefore, he is a dreamer.


If History claims its absolute validity then it stands against the relativistic or arbitrary descriptions of experience and factuality. Here we wonder if we find the a priori knowledge in History, whereby its universal consideration and generally valid knowledge? Let us go directly to section “ad VI” of Heidegger’s thesis to see his strains (evidences/ efforts) in presenting historical attributes and tacitly questioning them as follows:


a)     History as theoretical attitudinal complex, as concretizing logic of a domain of subject matter.


b)     History as that which is past, that which has occurred in its totality; a whole of being as something that has become, within the latter the historical in the narrow sense, i.e. especially according to the what: the human being as individual and standing in a community in systems of achieving with its objectified achievements in becoming and having become.


c)     History as one’s own past in the correlate of the preserving and constantly self-renewing taking-along: tradition


d)     History as past which is not one’s own, which is, however, accentuated through actual, non-specially self worldly directed tendencies of Dasein in the correlate of the being-familiar that takes guidance from itself.


e)     History as ownmost past in the correlate of a ‘having’ that is motivated in only self-worldly directed tendencies.


f)      History as occurring in the event character of factual life related to factual self-world and environing world. 13


As a result, Heidegger’s explanation about “relation” in History in cases “c,d,e” concerns the phenomenological characterization of origin by bringing in all senses directions of the sense-complexes. This raises our eyebrows on the paradox that while History is being and time; its constraint appears obvious for it be not a science as Heidegger is quite clear about conditional attitudinal-ness and sense-complexes in historical relationship. He also holds that: “We do not investigate the historical processes in their peculiarity with regard to the contents, but that we seek to comprehend historical being. “ 14 It needs clarification of the contents of historical processes and being as true History? Do they have no relation at all?


Somewhere in Phenomenology of Intuition and Expression, Heidegger argues that


The characterization of relation itself is always ‘had’ in enactment, the prospect is opened to grasp in a phenomenologically even more concrete way the sense-complexes in question which are designated by ‘history’ by bringing in the articulation of enactment and to carry out the phenomenological characterization of origin by bringing in all senses directions of the sense-complexes.”


Keywords in this paragraph that immediately strike us home are “articulation” and “enactment”; namely “depiction/perform” for the latter, and “clear expression” for the former. Such requirements if fulfilled would bring history to Dasein – or to concrete existence before-hand as does Heidegger discourse in Sein und Zeit.15


The sense of relation reveals at least a few more problems in History in connection with “a field of facts”. Generally, one agrees with fact presentation without questioning fact meaning, and the true knowledge that fact pretends to encompass. For example, a fact about a case of self-defense would not tell us essential motifs that make “History” or event impossible to the knowledge of truth. We even demand a concrete knowledge of a criminal case, i.e. what constitutes on the mind of the murderer?


According to Heidegger, “relation” and “enactment” inherently constitute their relationship to each other in a process, NOT to being.  On “Characterization of relation, he writes:


The relationship is something sense-according, something thar contains sense; we therefore speak of the sense of relation (that is of) a sense direction of the actual whole of a sense complex … objectively temporal. (So) the sense of relation presents itself as a set-apart, isolating and piecemeal one. 16


“Enactment” according to Heidegger is the articulation of the sense complex and is either primordial or on-primordial. He explains:


An enactment primordial if, as enactment of a relation that is at least co-directed in a genuinely self-worldly way, it requires, according to its sense, an always actual renewal in a self-worldly Dasein. It does not precisely in such a way that this renewal and the ‘necessity’ (requirement) of renewal inherent in it co-constitutes self-worldly existence.” 17


Even though in some case, It seems, “relation” and “enactment” have their peculiarity (primordial or non-primordial) that disturbs History, but understanding of being would not always follow certain direction that challenges the science of man in terms of intuition and concept-formation, too. It is true that the correlation of “relation” and “enactment” appear to be a challenging and probably impossible task of investigation of the historical past owing to the absence of Dasein, could it be plausible to see such a correlation in the process of current History, say, China has unilaterally exercised its power redefining the fly-zone for reason of “national security” regardless of the de facto and de jure of its neighbors’ territorial sovereignty in East China Sea? Have International Laws and Conventions ever recognized Chinese claim before the dispute?


The rising apprehension and its consequence due to miscalculations and aggressions have already appeared to be both fact and allegory (fictitiousness) that show no disparity but paradoxically unfold being as human nature that charters a new world map according to the law of jungle.


Generally speaking, Heidegger’s thought is fascinating but sometimes the fascination is transformed into the luxury of language that is plausibly (persuasive but deceptive) so stagnant that his thought becomes inaccessible. History has its responsibility to present cases that decidedly demonstrate the beast-man’s behavior in all of its “relation” and “enactment” and pose question on what we are.


4)     Method  of  Reconstruction: Subjectification and  Objectification

The Contribution of Psychology to the Apprehension of Intuition and  Expression.


a)     The Role of Psychology: Subjectification.

If History no longer an object but being would embrace Psychology then the discussion above will be fascinating, but not without complexity and sense-complex. Psychologically our way of seeing things in the world directly comes from our sense. This corresponds to Pierce’s Semiotics in which things are first procured emotionally, not yet epistemologically concrete knowledge of perceiving things. Modern trend of psychology in Heidegger’s time made a grave mistake as it pretended to read into subjective perceptions as objective consciousness. How was it possible to objectify subjective perceptions and what kind of method did it use to collect “genuine apprehension or fundamental experience” to determine the subjective as the objective? 18


In order for subjectivity to be genuine epistemic apprehension Natorp, through Heidegger’s interpretation, suggested new direction of psychology should adopt inductive method to capture the concrete complex of lived experience. 

The first role of psychology is to perceive thing subjectively or by sense description, which is in fact known as “subjectification”.

When consciousness and expression present psychological problems they depict the subjective. The problem of contemporary psychology according to Natorp whom Heidegger quotes, shows its attempt to objectify the subjective by way of systematization of such a depiction conceptually. We should keep vigil of conceptualization that in fact treats experiences abstractly instead of clarification for our apprehension.

We gain a better perspective, from pure possibilities to concrete living experience by the experiencing I; namely the “I” as subjective-ness is objectified to lay bare phenomena. Strategically, it shows the return to the content of lived experience not living experience. Why? The answer is to ascertain the pure possibilities becoming living experience is a challenging task. It shows on the outset, probably Heidegger first makes use of Husserl’s phenomenology, and then he sees skepticism, not about the nature of phenomenological investigation, but about  the means to an end. That how to conceptualize it is Heidegger’s question.


Since we do not have in advance an experiencing “I”, it is necessary that we have to constitute or express such an “I” psychologically not epistemologically. Psychology, according to Heidegger, does not ask about “the abstract unity (or concepts) of consciousness”, but about the concrete unities.” 19 In other words, psychology cannot participate in the task of knowing the abstract. Rather, it procures whatever existing “there”. The word “concrete” in Heidegger’s Phänomenologie means “the phenomenal aspect gained by “lived experience” that consists of vitality, process, and actuality to make up what Heidegger calls “the character of the soul”. Furthermore, the concreteness of apprehension only reaches its “possible approximation”.


So, according to Heidegger, “method” simply means “direction” to deal with a host of lived experiences of knowledge; which, in Marberg Philosophy, primarily and strictly demands order without which pure knowledge of lived experience is impossible.


Heidegger’s Reconstruction strategy for concrete knowledge proposes hierarchical steps as follows:

(a)   Determination of objects

(b)   Curiosity of facts

(c)   Predetermination and constitution of the area of knowledge by way of strict investigations of the possible and mishandling, which inherently happen in the complexity of our lived experience.

(d)   Confrontation of our lived experience and method

(e)   Re-open the problem of method  


So, step “e” or the critique of the method in use comes from the method itself; whose problem must be “radically” under our firm hold. While step “a” suggests a strategy called “subjectification”, steps “b” and “c’ bring objects and facts into “objectification”. A deeper aspect of Psychology must therefore deal with subjectification and objectification in order to become a transcendental Psychology.


In reality, warns Heidegger, transcendental Psychology might run into a big problem because both subjectivity and objectivity have their own principle or constitution. As such how can they maintain a relationship? It seems that their relationship can only be possible argued in terms of logic, precisely of Kantian synthetic a priori, not in lived experience!  20


In order to unite subjectivity and objectivity for the sake of a priori knowledge, Heidegger posits a concept called “potency”. But first of all, the concept of potency must attain its pure state that neither exists in subjectification nor objectification. Secondly, we cannot ignore the unity and manifoldness in the complex of lived experience. That how can the concept of potency become “pure” and be articulated between subjectification and objectification; namely to reach pure correlation or the concrete unification for the a priori knowledge remains a problem of strategy or how to make disjunction and conjunction completely evaporate. (a ˅ b) and (a ˄ b)


Fichte holds that neither practical reason nor theoretical one is sufficient for the foundation of knowledge, The logical validity or concrete knowledge must be a condition in the objective sense. For Natorp, theory is not a fixed direction or a matter of will, although knowledge is our aim. Meanwhile for Kant, knowledge is based on judgment that is precisely a matter of will.


Thus is Heidegger’s position about obtaining a priori knowledge. Strategically, he believes that we have not yet engaged the problem of unification. The ultimate or categorical foundation of subjectivity and objectivity must be discerned and then ultimately projected into divisions that allow us to see special directions of knowing in terms of subjectification and objectification. Heidegger calls this preliminary task an “ought” or “inevitable generalization of the transcendental problem” or “ the system-thought” that is although not yet clarified.


5)     General Logical Determination:  The Singularity of the Individual.


Another challenge for the science of History involves the idea of the Singularity and the Individual. Although we have no problem with Heidegger’s suggestion of a quest for synthetic consolidation of sense following logical steps, we are left with the complex of   the singularity of the individual determined by the law of sequence; namely the moments of the individual strictly manifested as logical order and explicitly in its Dasein (continuum of existence) and Existenz that Heidegger calls “the dimensional infinite”. As that such anything as concrete is generally logical determination appears absolutely true in terms of words and language. However, regarding the conceptual analysis of Being in History it could lead to the situation between a rock and a hard place.


Here is how Heidegger tackles the problem. He proposes a search for the origin of History begins with conceptual analysis of Being in the Philosophy of Heraclitus and in the thought of the great poet Parmedides. Whereas for the latter Being always remains unchanged or non-transforming; Heraclitus sees Being as panta rhei or “in flux” 21. Heidegger agrees with Heraclitus as clearly seen in his attempt of deconstructing all of the phenomena of Being. Language plays an ultimate role of describing such phenomena and is central to Heidegger’s innovation and complex of his texts, probably unreadable and untranslatable in some cases unless the readers are familiar with his thought and writing style.


Although History is man, would the analysis of the “I” be satisfactory is fruitful always remains questionable or in uncertainty. Heidegger’s argument on the singularity of the individual leads to the question of the ‘I’ with regard to consciousness that has already been inscribed on Delphi “Know Yourself” by Socrates. This famous saying suggests “Knowing of The-I” is an infinite effort. Certainly this point is also related to the inquiry of Descartes’ famous dictum “Cogito ergo sum/ I am thinking therefore I exist,” which in reality only touches on individual’s feeling and speculation.


The next question that we should pose involves whether the ‘I’ have consciousness itself.


The ‘I’ is not the object of consciousness. Why? Because the ‘I’ cannot be presented as clear as possible. It is felt but not manifested or describable. We can question and feel about the ‘I’, but we cannot objectify it. Supposing we can bring the ‘I’ forward and put it in front of us, what kind of object of the ‘I’ we might have? NONE! So, we can only speculate on the ‘I’, not to grasp it objectively in terms of Dasein, Existenz, and factuality that require tremendous efforts of unifying and operating. In other words, when we call the ‘I’ as consciousness, in reality this kind of the “I-consciousness” is just presupposition.


Can the ‘I’ be described?

In order to describe the ‘I’ we have to refer it to some conscious content. It turns out that the psychology of the ‘I’ remains purely assumptive, not concrete about the apprehension of the ‘I’. Here arises another question about the relationship between reference and the ‘I’, especially in confrontation with particular cases and the manifoldness in lived experience.  In order for the ‘I’ to be consciousness, it must be “knowing’ and “being known” as an ‘ought’ relation. In reality, both cases of “I am knowing’ and “I know myself’ are not correlated. Take Descartes’ famous dictum for an instance, the proposition “Cogito ergo sum/ I am thinking therefore the I exist” is inadequate in terms of episteme and of lived experience.  


In summary, Heidegger raises ultimate questions for History only to challenge the scientific foundation of the field and hints at the truth that turns around very disturbing to human consciousness. In fact, no theory of knowledge, including the “Philosophical Concept Formation (Theorie der Philosophischen Begriffsbildung) assumes direction to concrete understanding. The art of expression may be excellent but its content is falling behind. The following addendum called Semiotics set in pragmatic approach requires tenacity, dedication and exploration that are all finite. In some case, Deductive knowledge is indeed hard-nut-to-crack epistèmè.   


6)     ADDENDUM: Peirce’s Theory of Knowledge or the true meaning of sign (Semiotics). 22

Different from Heidegger’s Theory of knowledge, Peirce introduces Semiotics, a concept equivalent to Phenomenology

One must understand that Syllogism is a method of a priori knowledge; namely the concreteness of apprehension. Peirce proposes a strategy called epistemology of three principal states to confirm the a priori of or ideal meaning of sign.


            First, confront an object, say “A”, we see “A” is itself a sign, we are prone to interpret “A”. By this action we are called “interpreter”.  In application, Semiotic axis of knowledge mainly consists of three stages, an equivalence to Syllogism:



Let “A” as an object a “possible sign”, which is called “ICON”

Generally, we perceive or “abduct” this possible sign (Icon).

Peirce calls this stage of perception ABDUCTION.







Supposing “A” is a real sign, then “A” is no longer a perceived object.

We can talk about “A” and get all references of “A” a real sign.

Peirce calls this stage of knowledge INDUCTION.









Now that “A” becomes a symbol, which is an Archetype sign, then we can infer it as “instrumental generality”; namely an a priori or concrete knowledge of “A” that demonstrates  apodictic apprehension.


Quynh Nguyen

December 3, 2013.




All notes that are cited without page number refer to the source’s content).

The punctuation mark colon (:) such as :73 is identical to the common form: p.73.


1.     Spinoza, Benedict de,1952, Ethics (in Great Books: Descartes and Spinoza) Vol. 31: 355-359.

2.     Heidegger, Martin,2009, Logik als die Frage nach dem Wessen der Sprache, SUNY Press.

3.     Heidegger, Martin. Ibid. : 84. Logos: Discussion, Argument, language, Word, Pervading Cosmic, Idea and the Spirit of Creativity. In Heraclitus’ Philosophy, Logos means “Axiom”, for example, “Do not listen to what I say, but to Logos or God’s Word. It is wise to know that all things are one.” (B50) and, “The Word on Delphi is neither revealed (implicit) nor veiled (implicit), it is but a Sign (B93).

4.     Heidegger, Martin, 2010, Phenomenology of Intuition and Expressions/ Phänomenologie der Anschauung und des Ausdrucks. :2. Continuum.

5.     Heidegger, Martin,2000. Einführung in dies Metaphysik: 110. Yale University Press.

6.     Heidegger, Martin, 1962.Sein und Zeit. Harpper and Row: 2. Harper and Row. See also Heidegger, Martin, 2010,  Phenomenology of Intuition and Expressions. :21. Continuum.

7.     Husserl, Edmund, 1913, 1970 Logische Untersuchungen. Routledge and Kegan Paul.

8.     Heidegger, Martin,2000. Einführung in dies Metaphysik.:46.Yale University Press.

9.     Descartes, René, 1952 Rules for Direction of the Mind, Great Books, Volume 31: 41-71.

10.  Kamenka, Eugene,1983. The Portable Karl Marx : 377, Viking Penguin, Inc. 1983

11.  Ibid. :383

12.  Nietzsche, Friedrich,1887, 2000, On the Genealogy of Morals (ZurGenealogie der Moral, 1887)

13.  Heidegger, Martin, 2000, Einführung in dies Metaphysik :46. Yale University.

14.  Heidegger, Martin, 2009,  Logik als die Frage nach dem Wesen der Sprache :98. SUNY

15.  Heidegger, Martin, 1962. Sein und Zeit  : 46. Harper and Row.

16.  Heidegger, Martin, 2010, Phenomenology of Intuition and Expressions/ Phänomenologie der Anschauung und des Ausdrucks. :46, Continuum.

17. Heidegger, Martin, ibid. :57

18. Heidegger, Martin, ibid, :78

19. Heidegger, Martin, ibid. :86

20.  Heidegger, Martin, 2009, Logik als die Frage nach dem Wessen der Sprache. :2, SUNY Press.

21.  Heidegger, Martin, 2000 Einführung in dies Metaphysik, :101-113. Yale University Press.

22.  Nguyen, Quynh, 2003, Introduction to Semiotics: A Workbook for Graduate Students, Towson University, MD.


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