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UCLA W14 Wittgenstein What Cant Be Said Discussion

Part 1 : M14. Assignment: Being in the World

Martin Heidegger constructed new words to express his philosophy which focuses on Dasein.  The word may seem mysterious to us, but it is simply the German word, das sein, or Being.  In our text’s discussion of this, we find that Heidegger uses the following words to express his vision of Being: Being-in-the world; present-at-hand; and ready-to-hand.  He uses these terms to illustrate the world and our activities in it in a dramatically new way–a way which he says is closer to reality than the way we usually think.  Heidegger is a difficult philosopher to understand, but we can make an attempt at it by first, explaining the terms he uses, and second, seeing how those terms relate to his discussion of everyday objects, in his case a hammer.

So the assignment this week is to do a close reading of the pages in our reading that have to do with Dasein.  Heidegger uses the method of phenomenology to help him with this question.  So begin by explaining what phenomenology is.  Our reading continues with a discussion of “Being-in-the-World” which explains his conception of ready-to-hand and his famous example of a hammer.  Why does he use an example like that?  What is he getting at? Then finally the chapter deals with “The ‘Who’ of Dasein.”  It is here that he explains the difference between living an authentic or an inauthentic life.  Explain what he means about that and “averageness.”  

Once you have finished looking at these individual aspects of his thinking, write a paragraph explaining your overall impression of what Heidegger has to say.  

Hammer Splash

Hammer.  Source:  Flickr.  Creative Common.

Part 2 : M14. Discussion: Wittgenstein, What Can’t Be Said

Topic

What does Wittgenstein mean when he says he “wonders at the existence of the world”?

Shadows

Shadows.  Source: Flickr.  Creative Commons.

One simple thought experiment we can do to help us understand Wittgenstein’s thought, is to try what he suggests. What if you were to write a book called The World As I Found it? What kinds of things would you mention?  Try to think of things about the world like its climate, its seasons, its peoples and geographies.  Things like that.  What would you say to an alien who wanted to know what our world is like?

After you have done this, try to figure out what is missing in your picture.  The text describes what is missing.  Think about what the reading says about that.  Then compare that explanation  to the example of our eyes.  Our eyes see, but they do not know they see; they do not know themselves for what they do.  Finally, take this information and apply it to Wittgenstein’s statement about wondering about the existence of the world.  Wittgenstein’s wondering is a special kind of wondering; it’s very deep and profound inching us closer to a better understanding of what the world might be.

It’s a good thing to wonder deeply about such things.  It creates a seriousness about us that leads us to many understandings that in the end, serve us well in life.  So this is an important discussion–really an exercise in deeper thinking.  Please learn from each other as you post.

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