Authenticity and inauthenticity in Martin Heidegger's philosophy of history
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This dissertation explores the philosophy of history that Heidegger presents in his early magnum opus, Being and Time. I argue that his philosophy of history differs importantly from several influential philosophical studies of history by his predecessors (particularly Heinrich Rickert and Edmund Husserl), and that it makes a valuable contribution to subsequent philosophy of history. Heidegger’s existential analysis emphasizes the interpretive character of the individual’s relation to history and, as a consequence, the hermeneutical features of any philosophical approach to history. An essential part of his analysis is his insistence on the individual’s frequently shirked responsibility for her interpretations. I argue that this focus on personal responsibility for historical interpretation places a burden upon the individual but also opens a possibility for creative engagement with the world. The value of the future is opened through the individual’s responsible engagement with her history. In the first the two chapters I introduce general sorts of problems that have beset the philosophy of history in the last two centuries, in particular, the problems presented by the prospect of an objective interpretation of history. Since the objectivity of an interpretation implies that the interpretation has some authority over those who understand it, I contend that the prospect of objective historical interpretation raises specific and daunting questions about one’s responsibility with regard to such interpretations. I continue the theme of responsibility and authority in the latter two chapters. There, I am interested in dissuading the reader from the view that Heidegger adopts an irresponsible attitude toward historical interpretation in Being and Time. By way of presenting a defense of Heidegger’s analysis of authenticity and inauthenticity, I argue that his philosophy amounts to a robust defense of historical responsibility. Through his analysis of conscience, guilt and resoluteness, Heidegger demonstrates Dasein’s capacity to recognize itself as a kind of entity that can and, indeed, must take responsibility for its interpretations and thereby for its historicity.