Heidegger's Generative Thesis

Fisher, Tony (2009) Heidegger's Generative Thesis. European Journal Of Philosophy, 18 (3). pp. 363-384. ISSN 0966-8373


For William Blattner, Heidegger's phenomenology fails to demonstrate how a nonsuccessive temporal manifold can 'generate' the appropriate sequence of world-time Nows. Without this he cannot explain the 'derivative' status of ordinary time. In this article I show that it is only Blattner's reconstruction that makes failure inevitable. Specifically, Blattner is wrong in the way he sets out the explanatory burden, arguing that the structure of world-time must meet the traditional requirements of ordinary time logic if the derivation is to succeed. He takes this to mean: mundane 'tasks', the contents of 'world time' nows, must form a transitive series, importing back into 'world time' the very structure that Heidegger says is derived by its levelling off. I argue, instead, that 'world time' nows, seen at the level of lived content, can be quite 'irrational' but this is perfectly consistent with the generative thesis. Adapting Blattner's useful suggestion that temporality is sequence building or 'iterative' I show that iteration does not manifest itself at the level of tasks but at the 'existential' level of my involvement in a task. Depriving that involvement of its expressive content is what accounts for the levelling off of the world-time now and thus the derivation of the ordinary concept of time.


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