Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: July 2009

4 - Heidegger's Realism


Let us therefore know our limit. We are something, and we are not everything.


My reading of fundamental ontology is a Kantian reading inasmuch as it recognizes the analogy Heidegger clearly had in mind between the existential analytic of Dasein in Being and Time and the transcendental analytic of the understanding in the Critique of Pure Reason. But whereas Kant offers a subjectivist and intellectualist account of the conditions of conceptually articulated knowledge, Heidegger is concerned more broadly with the practical and mundane conditions of interpretation, or explicit practical understanding. Kant and Heidegger are both interested in the transcendental conditions of the intelligibility of entities to finite human understanding. Yet notwithstanding the formal analogy between their respective projects, Heidegger's fundamental ontology is not just a pragmatic reiteration of the Kantian critique of the mind and its cognitive faculties. For the kind of conceptual knowledge that Kant considered definitive of human understanding, whether overtly expressed in the form of assertions or silently cognized in the form of judgments, is just one instance of a more general phenomenon, namely, interpretation, that is, understanding or knowing how to cope with something explicitly as something. The analytic of Dasein can plausibly claim priority not just to epistemology, then, but to all philosophies of mind that forgo any phenomenological account of the ways in which intentionality or mental content itself becomes intelligible to us to begin with.