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Friday, April 17, 2015

Why We Should Teach Philosophy in High School

We Are Dysfunctional Because We Have Forgotten How To Think?

Michael Shammas
From here.

The past few years give one the suspicion that American society is dysfunctional. Our Congress is useless, our institutions inept. Faced with the terror of existence, young men like Adam Lanza react with violence. Faced with manageable problems such as a “fiscal cliff,” our democracy self-destructs. Anger is everywhere; understanding is nowhere.

Although a democratic society cannot function unless its citizens are able to rationally debate one another, rationality is missing from American politics. We assail our political enemies with intractable opinions and self-righteous anger. An ugly bitterness pervades everything. Meanwhile, our country is slowly but surely committing suicide.

It seems to me that this dysfunctional political dialogue, which stems from the iron certainty we grant our opinions, is the most pressing problem confronting 21st century America. In fact, it is a crisis. For without the ability to carry on a useful dialogue, we cannot solve our greatest challenges, or even our smallest ones.

This raises the question: How can we solve this crisis? Because the capacity to debate requires the capacity to think, I believe the answer lies in philosophy.

Why philosophy? Because the study of philosophy, the “love of wisdom,” creates and nurtures thoughtful minds, minds that can — as Aristotle suggests — entertain a thought without accepting it. With a philosophic worldview, a Republican who despises any tax increase or economic stimulus could at least consider the notion of tax hikes or Keynesian economics. A Democrat facing antithetical ideas could do likewise. Thought rather than anger could become the default response to opposing worldviews.

Indeed, philosophy can do a great deal to lessen the anger that is growing like a cancerous tumor in modern America. The tools exist in both Eastern and Western thought — in the Stoic exhortation to accept the present as it is, in Buddhist meditation, in the Humanist’s transcendent appeal to reason, in Kant’s categorical imperative. Philosophy can help us inculcate virtue for, in the words of Socrates, “knowledge is virtue.”

While some philosophies obviously conduce toward peace more than others, while some philosophers (Marcus Aurelius) seem kinder than others (Nietzsche), the open-minded study of different philosophies at least opens one up to the possibility that one is wrong. One realizes, like Socrates did, that knowledge is anything but certain, that true wisdom lies in realizing how much one does not know, in understanding that our knowledge of the universe (and therefore of earthly things like politics) is utterly inadequate, perhaps comparable to the area of a pin’s tip against a table. This realization makes one less angry when confronted with opposing views, replacing counterproductive anger with productive curiosity.

Despite the benefits of the philosophic mindset, we do not cultivate this mindset in our children. In fact, philosophy is almost entirely absent from American schools. For example, there is no AP (Advanced Placement) Philosophy course. While some high schoolers may have heard of Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle, most do not truly understand their philosophies — much less the philosophies of men like Descartes, Schopenhauer, or Nietzsche. This is shameful, because a person who does not understand the history of thought does not understand the rationality behind our political system.

The first time I read a philosopher was not until my first semester of college. My professor assigned Plato’s Republic, and while at first I (admittedly) did not understand anything, eventually I became absolutely enamored with this incredible man. Here was a person who had thought about so many of the same things I had, albeit thousands of years ago and with much more sophistication than I could ever muster. What is justice? What is truth? Why do people suffer? Is there an afterlife? These are the questions that children ask their parents, the questions that scare us most, and perhaps because of this fear we do not consider them when we grow up.

I think this is a great mistake. We should consider these questions. For by reading philosophy, I became less frightened of them. I no longer shirked away from contemplating death (thanks Epicurus) or morality (thanks Kant) or misfortune (thanks Epictetus). More, I realized that anger — in both politics and everyday life — is largely a reaction to fear, and that this fear can be lessened exponentially through the sort of reflection philosophy fosters.

I don’t know why philosophy isn’t taught in high school. Perhaps the subject seems too esoteric or pretentious. Perhaps there is a fear that philosophy could encroach on the sort of questions religion purports to answer — “how should one live,” “how should one die,” and so on. Some parents may feel uncomfortable with the idea of their children receiving answers to “the big questions” from Socrates and Plato as well as from Jesus and Paul.

This fear is unfounded. In general, philosophy does not squander religion; it merely exhorts one to understand the world by opening one’s mind. It encourages one to consider multiple possibilities (unlike our politicians), only accepting the possibility that appeals to one’s innate sense of reason. In a diseased society that is filled with so much anger and bitterness — indeed, with so much madness — we could do worse than expose our children to philosophy. In fact, such exposure would teach our children to react to problems with an inquisitive rather than angry mind — a concept that the children in Congress have not yet grasped.

To those who say philosophy is impractical (and thus that learning how to think is impractical) I say: nonsense. Our society is dysfunctional because we have forgotten how to think, if we ever truly knew how to think at all. Although we as a society believe we are in possession of all truth, we are not. To study philosophy is to learn how woefully ignorant we are, and this knowledge can perhaps teach us humility, can perhaps suggest to us that the other side may have some value after all.

So my point is this: Our diseased political system is in dire need of a hefty dose of philosophy, and the best way to inject this dose into American society is to start at the stem — to raise our children to have a philosophic mindset by teaching philosophy in schools. In the process we will, slowly but surely, be raising Americans who possess the capacity to respond to problems with inquisitive rather than angry minds, perhaps ending this suicidal gridlock.

I hope it is not too late.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Philosophy Should be Taught with STEM

“Whatever happened to the recognition that a university education has at least three purposes: helping one understand who they are and what excites and motivates them; helping understand one’s relationship to the greater world; and, also, becoming prepared for a job.” –Bernie Machen, University of Florida

“It is clear that to thrive in a society where they may have up to six different careers, business and STEM graduates need also to be curious and creative, to be critical thinkers and good communicators.” –Jim Barker, Clemson University

“The failure to incorporate studies in the liberal arts and humanities, along with STEM education, will deprive the next generation of students the critical thinking skills and context necessary to address the challenges they will face in the future.” –Charles Steger, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

“Employers send a consistent message about what they look for in a college-educated employee: the ability to write clearly, speak persuasively, analyze data effectively, work in diverse groups, and understand the competitive global knowledge environment.

“These characteristics are all nurtured and tested in a purposeful liberal arts education.” –Kevin Reilly, University of Wisconsin

Read the First Things article here.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kant on Virtue

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Deontological ethics, categorical imperative, transcendental idealism

Kant tells us that David Hume awakened him from his "dogmatic slumbers" (c.1771). Hume had stated that experience consists only of sequences of feelings, images or sounds. Ideas such as 'cause', goodness, or objects were not evident in experience, so why do we believe these to be real? Hume applied this reasoning to Christianity, stating, "The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one." Kant felt that reason could prove Hume's skepticism to be baseless, and he set out to demonstrate how this is so.

Kant synthesized early modern rationalism and empiricism, and explored metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics with great intellectual power. Kant's “critical philosophy” is set forth in his three Critiques: the Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 1787), the Critique of Practical Reason (1788), and the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790). The fundamental idea is that of human autonomy through the exercise of reason and duty. He argues that the human understanding is the source of the general laws of nature that structure all our experience; and that human reason gives itself the moral law.

In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant writes, “If we take away the subject [Humans], or even only the subjective constitution of our senses in general, then not only the nature and relations of objects in space and time, but even space and time themselves disappear; and that these, as appearances, cannot exist in themselves, but only in us. What may be the nature of objects considered as things in themselves and without reference to the receptivity of our sensibility is quite unknown to us.”

He proposes a kind of "Copernican Revolution-in-reverse", saying that: "Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but ... let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition."

Kant is regarded as the “father” of deontological ethics, asserting the necessity of duty as an absolute moral category. He agreed with Plato that it is not natural for humans to prefer evil to good, and he agreed with the Roman statesman-philosopher Cicero that every moment of our lives involves duty. He believed that true freedom rests only in fulfilling one’s moral duty, and that all people have an innate sense of moral duty.

Kant defines virtue as “the moral strength of a human being’s will in fulfilling his duty.” According to his definition, the moral person fulfills his duty even when not inclined to do so, and not because he fears the consequences of failing to perform the duty. Further, he who does his duty only to appear virtuous is not moral. Only the person who does his duty because it is his duty is moral. This is Kant’s argument for the universal nature of duty:

Everyone recognizes that they had duties and obligations.

Therefore, duty is a universal human experience.

Duty is the basis of Moral Law.

As all humans recognize duty, the Moral Law applies to all humans.

To Kant, one acts morally only when one acts out of an innate sense of duty. Acting to please others or to achieve personal happiness cannot be regarded as moral. Such acts are done out of self-interest or as a slave to inclination. Such a person is not truly free since, for Kant, true freedom requires that the individual be completely autonomous and guided only by the categorical imperative. Kant’s categorical imperative is granted to maxims that are universalized. If a proposed action can be shown to be true for all people, in all places, at all times - it is binding and absolute, allowing no exceptions. If it cannot be universalized, one ought not to perform the proposed act.

According to Kant, intentionally telling a lie is always immoral since the universalizing of lying would lead to social disorder and disintegration.

For Kant, recognition of one's duty depended on one's own autonomous reason and "holy will." Kant’s categorical imperative is tied to his argument for the existence of God. He believed that God is just and will judge all people according to His justice. Since it is evident that immoral people are not judged in this life, Kant argues there must necessarily be an afterlife in which the Moral Law will be fulfilled. The truly free individual performs his duty at each moment out of his free will because his will has been made holy. This is how Kant, the theology professor, balanced the question of free will and divine calling/appointment/election.

Related reading: Why You Have to Love David Hume; Theories of Knowledge: Hume and Kant

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pioneers of Logic

Alice C. Linsley

Ancient logic

Plato’s view of reality was based on his belief that pattern can be seen in the order of nature and that we recognize pattern because it reflects the pattern intuitively grasped by the soul or inner person. The observable patterns in nature include the binary sets uniformly applied in the logic of the ancient world.

In mathematical terms, a binary set would be 1a+1b = {1} (binary set) in which the two entities are not equal. An example is male + female = human, but the male is larger and stronger than the female. The paradoxical nature of this is evident. This paradox was rejected as logical by modern pioneers in logic who, like Frege, insisted that 1+1 = a set of 2 and 2 = 1+1, a set of equals.

The anthropologist Levi-Strauss has demonstrated how binary logic is reflected in the thought of primitive peoples, and Jacques Derrida has shown how binary thinking is inescapable even in modern logic. This is because in a binary set we have more than one thing. Through disclosure or deconstruction, we find there are sets within sets.

Derrida saw the middle as a function by which binary opposites acquire extended meaning as merisms and reversals. These thinkers discovered in analysis of primitive myths that there are some universal ideas related to the most fundamental of human experiences such as birth, the Sun, and nourishment. This suggests weakness in nominalism, the view that there are no universal essences; that no abstract entities, essences, classes, or propositions have real existence.

Syllogistic reasoning

Aristotle (384-322 BC) is often credited with being the "father" of logic. He taught his students syllogistic logic. A syllogism attempts inference of one proposition from two premises. Each premise has one term in common with the conclusion. If (1)A = B, and (2)B = C, then (3)A = C. A standard-form categorical syllogism meets the following four conditions:

  1. All three statements are categorical propositions.
  2. The two occurrences of each term are identical.
  3. Each term is used in the same sense throughout the argument.
  4. The major premise is listed first, the minor premise second, and the conclusion is last.

Aristotle also deserves credit for modal logic because his evaluation of involves concepts like possibility, necessity, belief and doubt. He also identified several common fallacies

Aristotle dealt with the logical constants and, or, if ... then ..., not, and some and all. This is referred to as Naïve Set Theory because it relies on natural language to describe sets and the words and, or, if ... then, not, for some, for every are not subject to rigorous definition. Syllogisms may be useful in training young minds to reason according to a pattern, but they do not lead to discovery of anything new.

Naive sets are common in informal logic, but the 19th and 20th centuries saw the rise and refinement of formal logic, initiated by John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and the brilliant mathematician Gottlob Frege (1848–1925).

John Stuart Mill

Mill was a British empiricist who formulated five principles of inductive reasoning in his A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (1843). These are 1 Direct method of agreement2 Method of difference3 Joint method of agreement and difference4 Method of residue and 5 Method of concomitant variations.

John Stuart Mill
As an empiricist, Mill insisted that there is no metaphysical necessity. All necessity is conveyed in language and a matter of propositions. The world we describe propositionally is the world of our ordinary experience and observation. The ontology of the world is reflected in the language we use. Knowing the meaning of terms enables us to evaluate the importance of propositions.

Mill's Nominalism

Mill believed that the early versions of nominalism held that "there is nothing general except names." He was mistaken in this, as anthropologists subsequently demonstrated.

The earliest nominalism, as reflected in ancient lexemes, involved general names and complex related experiences including attributes and related ideas. Lexemes are the basis for early scripts such as ThamudicA solar lexeme such as Y or T or O represented a deified or divinely appointed ruler, his territory, his people, and all his resources such as water and gold. The Horite rulers are identified with the solar symbol Y: Yaqtan, Yishmael, Yitzak, Yisbak, Yacob, Yosef, Yeshua, etc. Other ancient lexemes include V, W and X.

Mill was correct that names of entities (nouns) have levels of meaning, or connotative variables. He showed that names denote either individuals or the attributes of individuals. A general name - white, for example - connotes an attribute and denotes all individuals that have that attribute. White connotes the attribute whiteness, and denotes all things that have that attribute.

Mill explored the variability of names through analysis of syllogisms. Here is one he used to illustrate that there is a connection between attributes connoted by terms, but the attributes are logically independent.

Consider the syllogism:
Man is mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Ergo, Socrates is mortal.
In the syllogism "man" and "mortal" are attributes. Given Mill's claim that attributes are logically independent, the major premise - Man is mortal - adds nothing to the truth of the propositions concerning Socrates. What matters is the particulars - Socrates and the attributes man and mortal. In other words, deductive inference cannot advance knowledge. There is nothing new discovered by the syllogism.

George Boole
George Boole (1815-1864) was an English mathematician and philosopher who developed some of Leibniz's ideas about the relationship between mathematics and logic in his book The Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847). His later work An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic (1854) presents a more complete system of symbolic reasoning.

Boolean logic is easy to understand. Begin with the idea that some statement (P) is either true or false. (He applies the law of the excluded middle). Then other statements can be formed, which are true or false, by combining these initial statements together using the fundamental operators And, Or and Not.

Boole's syllogistic reasoning did not place importance on the existential question, as happened with Aristotle. For Aristotle any proposition involving unicorns or satyrs, for example, would render an argument invalid. In Boole's view, anything named in a proposition does not imply that it in fact exists.

Consider the difference in their views:

All men are humans.  This implies the existence of men.
No maple trees are oaks.  This implies the existence of maple trees.
All unicorns are grand creatures.  This does not imply the existence of unicorns.

All men are humans.  This does not imply the existence of men. (Heidegger would love this!)
No maple trees are oaks.  This does not imply the existence of maple trees.
All unicorns/satyrs are grand creatures.  This does not imply the existence of unicorns/satyrs.

Gottlob Frege

Gottlob Frege
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege is considered another founder of modern logic and the father of analytic philosophy. Frege's logic is now known as second-order logic.

His first major work was Begriffsschrift, published in 1879. In 1884, The Foundations of Arithmetic appeared, and this was followed by two volumes known by the German title Grundgesetze.

Frege's writings were largely ignored when first published, partly because the English philosophers were not capable of reading the original German. That would change with Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), whose knowledge of German made it possible for him to understand Frege and even to refute him.

Russell was introduced to the significance of Frege's work in logic through Giuseppe Peano (1858–1932), who he met at a conference in Paris in and both of whom saw the merit of his work.

In 1903, Russell wrote an appendix to The Principles of Mathematics in which he presented deficiencies in the assumptions that Frege made in Grundgesetze, which Russell recognized led to paradox or contradiction. Russell communicated this to Frege by letter and Frege's response was to accuse Russell of undermining the whole of mathematics.

Others influenced by Frege's work include Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947), Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951), Willard van Orman Quine (1908-2000), and the Logical Positivist Rudolf Carnap (1891–1970). In his Der logische Aufbau der Welt, Carnap attempted to apply the concepts of Principia Mathematica to his discourse about sense data, the external world and logic. Quine would go beyond the Vienna Circle’s position that philosophy is properly defined as the philosophic study of the language of science. Though Quine was not a scientist, he saw his philosophy as science.

Proper Names and Cognitive Value

Leibniz developed an approach to questions of necessity, possibility, contingency that served an important function within his metaphysics and epistemology. This is called modal metaphysics and it has important implications for logic. Carnap thought one could give a possible world semantics for the modalities of necessity and possibility by giving the valuation function a parameter that ranges over Leibniz's possible worlds. We will explore this under "Modal Logic."

Frege agreed with Leibniz that natural language is unsuited to formal logic. This led Frege to create a symbolic language in which logical relations and possible inferences would be clear and unambiguous.

Frege’s term for such a language -“Begriffsschrift” - may have been borrowed from a paper on Leibniz written by Adolf Trendelenburg, considered by Søren Kierkegaard "one of the most sober philosophical philologists I know."

Leibniz’s Problem: Why doesn’t ‘2+3 = 5’ reduce to ‘5 = 5’? Frege does not address this problem, but instead recasts it. Frege’s Puzzle is about the semantics of proper names.

(1) Hesperus is Hesperus. (Hesperus is a proper name for the planet Venus.)
(2) Hesperus is Phosphorus. (Phosphorus is a personification of the planet Venus.)

Each of these sentences is true. 'Hesperus' refers to the same object as 'Phosphorus' (the planet Venus). Nonetheless, (1) and (2), though synonymous, differ in what Frege called "cognitive value." Frege thus rejects John Stuart Mill's view that a proper name has no meaning above and beyond the object to which it refers. Frege develops this in his book Sense and Reference.

David Kaplan demonstrates how it is rationally possible to believe one while denying the other with this:

"I am David Kaplan", spoken by David Kaplan.
"He is David Kaplan", spoken by someone pointing at David Kaplan.
"David Kaplan is David Kaplan", spoken by anyone.

All express the same content and refer to the same individual. Yet each has a different cognitive value. Kaplan explains this by associating cognitive value with character rather than content, thus providing what seems a remedy to Frege's problem.

Frege's Concept-Writing

Frege's most famous work is Begriffsschrift (Concept-Writing: A Formal Language for Pure Thought Modeled on that of Arithmetic). It marked a turning point in logic. Here Frege demonstrates that true contents do not follow directly from other true contents. This requires a mediating system or what has come to be called axiomatic predicate logic. The book includes a rigorous treatment of functions and variables.

Frege declared nine of his propositions to be axioms, and justified them by arguing informally that, given their intended meanings, they express self-evident truths. In contemporary notation, these axioms are:










Frege wanted to show that mathematics grows out of logic, and devised techniques that took him beyond syllogistic and propositional logic to symbolic or formal logic. He accomplished this through his invention of quantified variables, which solved the problem of multiple generality.

Frege's symbolic logic was able to move beyond the logical constants and, or, if ... then ..., not, and some and all to more complex inferences. He prepared the way for the analysis of logical concepts by  Bertrand Russell (theory of descriptions), Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorems, and to Alfred Tarski's (1901–1983) theory of truth. All owe a great debt to Frege's work.

Other philosophers who have responded to Frege's work include Saul Kripe (Naming and Necessity, 1980), David KaplanRuth Barcan Marcus, and Hilary Putnam. (We will look closer at Kripe's contribution when we study Modal Logic.)

Frege's Intention

In his work Frege intended to set forth a system to isolate logical principles of inference. He perceived the need for this because he saw that only formalized logic could be applied to the sciences. No longer would an intuitive element be permitted as an assumption/premise. It would be isolated and represented separately as an axiom. The proof was to be logical and without gaps.

Frege was an important influence on Russell who influenced Quine. Russell's work inspired Quine to pursue logic. Quine wrote, “Russell’s name is inseparable from mathematical logic, which owes him much, and it was above all Russell that made that subject an inspiration to philosophers.” In 1962, Quine wrote to Russell that “Principia Mathematica was what, of all books, has influenced me the most.”

Wittgenstein also studied Frege's work and in 1911, he wrote to Frege concerning his solution to Russell’s paradox (see below). Frege invited him to Jena to discuss his views. The two engaged in a philosophical debate, and Wittgenstein reported that Frege “wiped the floor” with him. However, Frege was impressed with Wittgenstein and suggested that he study with Russell at Cambridge.

Russell's Paradox and Wittgenstein's solution

Russell's paradox Z = {x : x is not a member of x}

If Z is a member of Z how can it not be a member of Z?

Is Z a member of Z? If yes, then by the defining quality of Z, Z is not a member of itself. This forces us to declare that Z is not a member of Z. Then Z is not a member of itself and so, again by definition of Z, Z is a member of Z. What we have here is the following contradiction: Z is a member of Z if and only if Z is not a member of Z.

In 1923, Ludwig Wittgenstein proposed to "dispose" of Russell's paradox as follows:

The reason why a function cannot be its own argument is that the sign for a function already contains the prototype of its argument, and it cannot contain itself. For let us suppose that the function F(fx) could be its own argument: in that case there would be a proposition 'F(F(fx))', in which the outer function F and the inner function F must have different meanings, since the inner one has the form O(f(x)) and the outer one has the form Y(O(fx)). Only the letter 'F' is common to the two functions, but the letter by itself signifies nothing. This immediately becomes clear if instead of 'F(Fu)' we write '(do): F(Ou). Ou = Fu'. That disposes of Russell's paradox. (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 3.333)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

David Bradshaw on the Relationship between Philosophy and Theology

University of Kentucky Professor of Philosophy, Dr. David Bradshaw, is interviewed in Moscow about the connection between Philosophy and Theology. Dr. Bradshaw is an Orthodox theologian and philosopher who explores the historic and current links between theology and philosophy.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Truth, Not Slogans

Alice C. Linsley

Americans love slogans as evidenced by the bumper stickers that adorn our vehicles. Campaign managers and public relations experts are not the only people who specialize in slogans. Christian congregations ride the slogan band wagon as well, reducing deep truths to cliches.

Terrorists have slogans designed to intimidate and inspire. Slogans can rally people to a cause, but people do not sacrifice their lives for slogans. They die for truth. When ISIS terrorists kidnapped 21 workers in Libya, a non-Christian from Chad was caught in the net. He could have joined his captors, but instead he chose to die. It is reported that some who watched Christians being killed in the Roman "games" jumped into the stadium to die with them.

The Obama campaign of 2008 gave us the slogan: Hope and Change, and hoisted this mantra: "Change we can believe in." These became so popular that hardly anyone paid attention to the 2012 slogan: "Forward" and many doubt that the present administration can take the nation forward. We are still waiting for change we can believe in.

In reality, nothing has changed. There is no moving forward as a people.

Read it all here.

Related reading: The Removal of Wisdom's Tongue; Seats of Wisdom; Who Laid the Foundations of Science?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Challenge of Heidegger's Terms

Alice C. Linsley

In our study of ontology, we have investigated Martin Heidegger's early thought and attempted to understand his contribution to the philosophical project. As with all contributions to the philosophical project, he builds on the work of others, especially Aristotle and Husserl, and he reacts against the work other philosophers, namely Descartes. Heidegger's replacement for terms such as subject, object, consciousness, and world is "Being-in-the-world", a term he created to avoid the subject-object (mind-body; extended-not extended) discourse that had dominated Western philosophy. He also exposed the weaknesses in Husserl's approach to consciousness.

Heidegger's Being and Time (Sein und zeit) is one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century. It is both a systematization of the existential insights of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and a radicalization of Husserl's phenomenological account of intentionality. It is an original interpretation of the human condition expressed through Heidegger's unique use of terms. Because of the challenging vocabulary, Being and Time is one of the most difficult books to read. The fact that we are reading an English translation of a work written originally in German adds to the challenge.

Being and Time represents Heidegger's attempt at Destruktion of the Cartesian tradition that he believed was "ossified" - a rigid fossil. Or perhaps the Cartesian tradition is a stagnant pond covered with a film of algae so that everything important is hidden. That is how I would express Heidegger's concern, but by using this analogy, I run the risk of reimposing the very subject-object discourse that Heidegger sought to get beyond. I (subject) observe the pond scum (object). We can move away from this a few steps by speaking instead of Dasein's consciousness of water concealed by something. My awareness of the water is not based on my observation of the water, but on my prior experience that a pond holds water and algae grows on the surface of the water. There is something prior, as Heidegger notes in his understanding of being-in-the world. He has oriented ontology to Dasein rather than to objects. However, one must wonder how far we can move from the subject-object/mind-body discourse. (We do keep coming back to this binary feature, to merisms. In telling the story of ontology, we cannot escape it. Think Mobius strip: two edges, a single, indivisible unit.)

As we wrap up our study of Heidegger, it is helpful to review some of the neologisms that appear in Being and Time to see how Heidegger employs them.

Aletheia: Heidegger's German word for aletheia (truth) is Unverborgenheit, meaning unconcealment.

Attunement: Mood, neither knowledge nor contemplation. It is like background music that compels us to act according to the beat. Mood is the background of discourse in which we are already engaged and are expressing in our situation. Attunement arises from being-in-the-world. A mood manifests how one is and how one is faring; having a mood signals attachment (concern/care) to Dasein. Mood is why "being there" matters.

Being-in-the world: the basic and inescapable state of Dasein

Dasein: Human existence; "being there" in the sense of daily existence; being with
When a particular Dasein talks about its Being, it is as the self-evident "my Being". Dasein has two modes: authentic and inauthentic. Inauthenticity is expressed when Dasein flees in the face of its Being, its search for one's possibilities of Being; that is of not facing up to and acknowledging the meaning of one's existence. Authenticity requires facing the reality of our extinction/negation and coming to grips with the anxiety posed by our mortality.

Discourse: The articulation of the situation in which we currently find ourselves. The manifestation of our everyday existence. Called "uncovering" by Aristotle. Discourse in not simply articulation of Dasein's situation. It is also being-in-the world.

Clearing:  Heidegger uses the German word Lichtung, which relates to a clearing, as in a clearing in the woods. Since its root is the German word for light (Licht), it is sometimes also translated as "lighting," and refers to the necessity of a clearing in which anything at all can appear, the clearing in which some thing or idea can show itself, or be unconcealed. Hubert Dreyfus writes, "things show up in the light of our understanding of being." ( Being-in-the-World. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995. p. 163)

In the Eucharist, when the consecrated bread is broken in half and the two sides set apart, there is a clearing made for those who come to receive Christ.

Covering up: hiddenness, concealedness, disguise, buried

Ontic:  Heidegger often uses the term ontic in contrast to the term ontological. Ontological pertains to existence in general, whereas ontic is descriptive of a the plain facts of an entity's existence. What is ontic is what makes something what it is.

Present-to-hand:  There are three kinds of presence-at-hand:
  1. Entities within the world understood ontically 
  2. Dasein as Being-in a situation or a context 
  3. Understanding of Dasein which a particular Dasein already has. Dasein is always something "pre-ontological" in that it signifies being in such as way that one already has an understanding of Being.
Ready-to-hand:  Dasein's use of equipment, like a hammer, and our discovery or (uncovering) of the hammer's equipmentality. An object in the world with which we have meaningful dealings.

Towards-which: What our activity is directed toward, the goal of an action; for the sake of

Unheimlich : not being at home, unsettledness, existential groundlessness

Related reading: Glossary of Terms in Heidegger's Being and Time; Heidegger's Later Thought; George Pattison on Martin Heidegger; Merisms in Genesis; Heidegger and Aristotle