Circular arguments in Philosophy post Wittgenstein


I am aware that this may seem rather naïve, but I feel I must ask it anyway: Are Heidegger's meditations on "Being" in "Zeit und Sein", and Derrida's deconstructions of Lacan's Freudian reflections on structuralism circluar? If Wittgenstien (later work) is applied to both, surely neither hold credance in terms of progressive thought - or was that their essence of what they were adressing?


Posted 2016-09-08T23:37:05.487

Reputation: 648

Could you explain what you mean? Meditations and reflections are supposed to be circular: you look at the whole, then you zoom in on the details, then with better understanding of the details you contemplate the whole again, etc. This is called the hermeneutic circle Circularity is disallowed in logical arguments (vicious circle), and undesirable in informal ones approaching them, but most of philosophical narration combines logical and hermeneutic moments. Also, what do you mean by "applying" late Wittgenstein?

– Conifold – 2016-09-08T23:59:08.547

@Conifold I mean by applying, applying the "rules" of logic as set out (as best as one might decifer) from his latter arguments. I am not familiar with Hermenutic cycles - after reading, and if I am still unsure, would you be willing to elaborate? – martin – 2016-09-09T00:04:37.183

@Conifold If I was pressed, I would elaborate on Heidegger's arguments on "Being" in particular (Derrider's are somewhat beyond the time I could currently put into such an argument, and are liable to be as filled with holes as might be expected) - I feel that (and please bear in mind tis is more than not, based on intuition, and not logical parsing) Heidegger's arguments are so clouded in circlularity as to almost be designed to be inpenetrable... – martin – 2016-09-09T00:11:15.053

.... This is not hard to achieve, as Gödel proved quite rigourously, but it seems to me to err on the form of rhetoric rather than pure reason, in strictly Kanitian terms. – martin – 2016-09-09T00:11:25.167


I agree on Heidegger's obscurity. But he is an existentialist, so his approach is to evoke "the truth of Being" (non-intellectual and not directly expressible) in the reader, rather than to argue logical points. Keep in mind also that even Quine embraces hermeneutic circularity:"If we are out simply to understand the link between observation and science, we are well advised to use any available information, including that provided by the very science whose link with observation we are seeking to understand".

– Conifold – 2016-09-09T00:21:24.203

@Conifold thanks for the explanation and link - both helpful. – martin – 2016-09-09T00:27:24.520

@Conifold - His thoughts on Art are fairly transparent in comparison - why the disparity? – martin – 2016-09-09T00:38:28.867

Sorry, I do not follow. Whose thoughts and what disparity? – Conifold – 2016-09-10T21:39:56.693

@Conifold I believe you answered that in my other question in that I was really referring to the opacity of the arguments, which you helped me understand, we're necessarily circular in that they there existential in their essence. Perhaps I should restudy Sat removals and Camus and work backwards - rather than trying to construct and idea out of a deconstruction. – martin – 2016-09-11T20:05:44.830



I'm not overly familiar with Heideggers thought, however a review of his Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy states that

despite the revolutionary impact of Being and Time, Heidegger developed some of his most central ideas by the most traditional of routes: commentary on the Philosopher.

For example, in De Anima Aristotle suggests that one of the markers of consciousness is an awareness of time - so 'to leap ahead'; this is quite suggestive given how H rephrased consciousness - Dasein - that being for which being is a question.

Heideggers prose, it seems to me, lends itself to bad translations, hence the charge of obscurity becomes self-fulfilling: bad commentaries on bad translations; the recent translation by Joan Stambaugh is particularly clear.

Mozibur Ullah

Posted 2016-09-08T23:37:05.487

Reputation: 1

bad translations are one thing, but I don't think this can account for his opacity, though I appreciate, and find your answer useful. Prose comes under the umbrella of narrative, and I don't think any German native speaker has been able to expand upon his thoughts, though I may be wrong here. – martin – 2016-09-09T01:11:19.850

@martin: Well, I don't read German so I can't say; if Stambaughs translation is clearer - and it is to me - it can only have come from scholarship which is attempting to establish what exactly Heidegger is saying and what words are best used to explain it - especially in translation; difficult things by their nature are obscure even after, and maybe especially after, they have been made transparent - I mean it has been made to look easy when it isn't. – Mozibur Ullah – 2016-09-09T03:58:08.253