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Heidegger’s conception of freedom 1927-1930: guilt, transcendence, truth

Barnard, Matthew James (2018) Heidegger’s conception of freedom 1927-1930: guilt, transcendence, truth. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates Heidegger’s concept of freedom between 1927 and 1930. In it, I argue that Heidegger advocates a radical reinvention of the positive concept of freedom in confrontation with Immanuel Kant and Henri Bergson. I also argue, against the grain of recent literature, that this conception remains the same as it is found in Being and Time and in the key texts concerning freedom from the period immediately after its publication: ‘The Essence of Ground’ [WG], Metaphysical Foundations of Logic [GA26], The Essence of Human Freedom [GA31], and ‘On the Essence of Truth’ [WW]. In Chapter 1, I interpret the argument of the lecture course The Essence of Human Freedom as Heidegger’s attempt to dismiss the question of the freedom of the will. In doing so, I argue, he critically repeats the arguments that Bergson provides in Time and Free Will. In Chapter 2, I turn to Being and Time to follow the thread of Heidegger’s argument, leading to the claim that Dasein is fundamentally free but, as inauthentic, also typically unfree. In Chapter 3 I investigate this apparent paradox further, showing that Heidegger, without using the term, is advocating a positive, rather than a negative, conception of unfreedom in evaluating inauthentic Dasein as unfree. In Chapter 4, I show how this positive conception also arrives as a critical confrontation with Kant and Bergson, where authenticity is conceived as Dasein’s being-its-self in an ontological sense. In Chapter 5, I build on the above to demonstrate that the arguments in Being and Time concerning guilt, the arguments in WG and GA26 concerning transcendence, and the arguments in WW concerning truth all complement each other in a single concept of freedom: Dasein’s being its self by choosing to be the ground of its world, rather than fleeing from this existential responsibility.

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