Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Carnap: Radical Phenomenology, Logical Positivism and the Roots of the Continental/Analytic Divide

(This  essay was published in Philosophy Today, Volume 51, Number 3, Fall 2007, pp. 241-260.)

Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Carnap
Radical Phenomenology, Logical Positivism and the Roots of the Continental/Analytic Divide
James Luchte

It would be too simple to assert that the root of the “Continental/Analytic divide” grew out from the “dispute” between Heidegger and Carnap.  There are other, earlier candidates for this “divide” through which significant topoi separated off into differing currents of philosophy.[1] Lanfredini[2] describes one of the conflicts between the two fathers, Husserl and Schlick, of phenomenology and logical positivism, respectively, in this case, over the significance of “qualitative aspects” for the constitution of knowledge.  Schlick, pre-figuring the language of Russell, Carnap and Ayer, advocated the elimination of these aspects from the domain of rigorous, scientific knowledge.  Husserl, for his part, sought to found the qualitative aspect of the lifeworld in a phenomenology of pure consciousness.  Yet, as we can gather from Heidegger (Husserl’s dissident student) in one of his many Marburg lecture courses, History of the Concept of Time (1925), Husserl (and the Neo-Kantians) tacitly upholds the ontology of Descartes and his “mythology of consciousness.”[3] That of which Husserl and Schlick are in agreement upon is an isomorphism between the structure of experience and the logical form of knowledge,[4] even if they disagree on the ‘details’ of the project.  In light of the tentativeness of both sides of this dispute, it would be difficult to fathom any ultimate ontological difference between the positions of Schlick and Husserl.  When the latter identifies being, via his eidetic reduction, with pure consciousness (and denies the necessity of the world for its existence), he reveals his phenomenology, as Heidegger insists, as empty, formal, and thus, as un-phenomenological.  Adjacent to Schlick’s non-subjective, logico-linguistic exclusion of quality, it is not surprising that this particular “dispute” is little known.  At the end of the day, nothing was at stake.[5]

That which distinguishes the clash between Heidegger and Carnap from that between Schlick and Husserl however is that the question of the task of philosophy itself is raised and this immediately raises the question of truth and of its possible modes of disclosure.  What is “truth”, how is it constituted and how is it to be expressed?  Are there differing senses of truth which induce specific ways of expression, and are these variegated senses still philosophy?  Must these senses stand or fall on whether they find expression in a world of mere logic and empiricism (scientific fact) or are there other modalities of expression for differing topologies of truth?  This controversy follows the Davos Disputation between Heidegger and Cassirer, and it never generated the interest or the intensity to really constitute a significant “dispute”.[6] Indeed, the only real party in the disagreement was Carnap, as he was merely reacting to Heidegger’s Inaugural Address at Freiburg (and his apparent dislike for the latter during his Marburg years).  Heidegger, for his part, as Gabriel notes, gave a few sentence response to Carnap, re-affirming his desire for a criteria of rigor that would allow for the disclosure of differing topographies of phenomena (ala qualitative aspects).  The questions posed to Carnap, as the latter sought to bar him from philosophy, are: why is there something rather than nothing – and how is it with the nothing?  And, how is such a truth “encountered” and expressed?

In the following, in light of our guiding questions of the task of philosophy and of the way by which differing senses of truth can find expression, I will explore in detail each of the  texts in this “dispute”.  After an initial reading of Gabriel’s work on this topic, I will explore Heidegger’s foray into the metaphysical question of the “Nothing” in “What is Metaphysics?”[7] I will then turn to Carnap’s criticism of the Address in “The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language.”[8] I will consider the question of the force and relevance of this essay as to its pretensions to exclude Heidegger from the domain of meaningfulness, and indeed, from philosophy itself.  I will close with a provisional assessment of the status of the Continental/Analytic divide and of the question of its philosophical significance in light of the meaning of truth and of its expression in light of its diverse manifestations amidst existence.

The Heidegger-Carnap “Dispute”

Gottfried Gabriel[9], in his “Carnap’s ‘Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical  Analysis of Language’:  A Retrospective Consideration of the Relationship between Continental and Analytic Philosophy”, has sought to disclose the root of the longstanding distinction between Continental and Analytic philosophy through a consideration of what he sees as the seminal dispute between Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Carnap between the years 1929-1931.  The term “dispute” however may lead one to imagine a grand philosophical contest characterised by many jousts back and forth and the entry on either side of allies in a great decisive battle.  Yet, while what actually occurred may disappoint those who relish great wars between the giants, this conflict  is deeply rooted and has contributed to a significant extent to the protracted war that has become the Continental/Analytic divide.  And, while we may criticise Gabriel in his seeming contention that this was a privileged battle leading to our current situation of philosophical division, it would, at the same time, be fair to him to suggest that this disagreement (along with the 1929 Davos Disputation between Cassirer and Heidegger and other events of this period and afterwards), was a significant event in the grounding of the divergence between the Analytic and Continental traditions.[10] It is in this way that this quarrel deserves scrutiny with respect to the question of the task of philosophy and of the language that allows for philosophy to attain expression that is specific to each topology of truth.

The occasion for this particular “dispute” in question was the inaugural lecture by Heidegger, “What is Metaphysics?” in 1929 at the University of Freiberg.  Heidegger had just arrived in triumph from a long stay at Marburg (Carnap’s location), a habitation which was characterised by one of the most stunning outcomes in the history of philosophy, Being and Time.  This major philosophical work, which immediately became a classic, single-handedly shook the foundations of  philosophy of the era and has continued to this day to exercise its influence on all philosophy, even upon those philosophies which have systematically attempted to exclude it and its analyses from their domain of relevance and significance.  Heidegger’s essay, which we will consider below, is a short but difficult exploration of the meaning of “metaphysics.”  What makes it difficult is not only its presupposition of Being and Time (and the 1920’s radical phenomenology as such), but also a quite new designation and significance he has given to the traditional notion of “metaphysics.”  Indeed, this is apparent in his frequent use of quotation marks when referring to this term.  It could be stated outright that without at least a cursory knowledge, much less a comprehension of Being and Time, such a nuance could be easily misunderstood by those who have not undergone a careful reading (and perhaps, with Derrida, in “Ousia and Gramme: Note on a Note from Being and Time”,[11] of indeed a re-reading) of the text.  Whether or not Carnap falls into this latter category will be decided below with a consideration of his response to Heidegger’s Inaugural Address.

Yet, before we delve into each of these essays, and before we state our provisional observations and conclusions at the end of the present writing, it will be of some significance to consider Gabriel’s characterisation of the dispute, and the surprising similarity between Heidegger and Carnap with respect to their respective points of departure.  In the first instance, both Heidegger and Carnap began their philosophical education in the context of Neo-Kantianism, Heidegger under Rickert in Frieberg and Carnap under Bauch in Jena.  Both, of course, also spent a considerable amount of time in Marburg.  Moreover, each was well aware of, and had referred to, philosophers who we now, retrospectively, designate according to the entrenchment of the Continental/Analytic divide.  Heidegger had referred to Frege, and Carnap to Husserl, and both had an intimate knowledge of the life-philosophies of Dilthey and Nietzsche.  For Gabriel, the heart of the departure arose due to Heidegger and Carnap’s respective responses to life-philosophy, and each was a response which set out from the basic Neo-Kantian philosophy.  Concerning the fundamental divergence over the nature of truth and the significance of the traditional location of truth by Aristotle in the proposition, Gabriel writes:

This difference concerning the nature of truth drives Carnap and Heidegger in differing directions.  But this difference did not arise through Carnap’s having paid no attention to life-philosophy.  Instead, here too the initial situation for Carnap and Heidegger is identical.  Both experienced the contest between Neo-Kantianism and life-philosophy at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Central to this conflict was the question regarding the relationship between logic and life and – proceeding from this question – the determination of the task of philosophy.[12]

Gabriel contends that the basic severance between Heidegger and Carnap arose due to their subsequent philosophical alliances: Heidegger with Husserl and Carnap with the early Wittgenstein.  Simply put, Carnap fell to the side of a “rationalistically oriented Neo-Kantianism” and, thus, to the promotion of an “ideal language school” in philosophy.  Heidegger, on the other hand, in his affinity with the phenomenology of Husserl, was seen by Carnap, to be dangerously linked to “Lebensgefuhl” (the feeling for life) of Dilthey.  For Friedman, to whom Gabriel refers, the same starting point in Neo-Kantianism engendered two different trajectories of philosophy, two traditions, which remain with us to this day in the Continental/Analytic divide.  Indeed, Friedman in his significant work, A Parting of the Ways: Cassirer, Carnap and Heidegger, describes the historical emergence of these traditions in the severing of the movement of Neo-Kantianism between the Marburg School and the South-West German School.  The former, including such notable philosophers as Cohen, Cassirer and Carnap set forth an epistemological interpretation of Kant which set out from the “fact of science” as the primary datum, and saw the task of philosophy to trace the foundations of this “fact”.  In this way, philosophy becomes a mere adjunct of the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften).[13] Moreover, this school, according to Friedman, had a more ambitious political agenda, contending that the natural sciences, as a “universal cultural knowledge”, intimated a striving for a global cultural and political ideal.  The latter school, including Rickert and Heidegger, appropriated the work of Kant with a distinct focus upon the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) which sought to re-integrate the theoretical expression of the natural sciences into a broader concern for the lifeworld of human existence.[14] In this way, the political and cultural implications of this perspective was that of a respect for the plurality of individuated communities in terms of their own historical specificities.[15]

In this light, to return to their basic similarities for the moment, that which is significant is that, despite the radically opposed directions each was to take, both Heidegger and Carnap were steadfast in their opposition to traditional metaphysics.  Once again, this point may be lost on those who read Heidegger’s essay without the nuances which must be brought in with a thorough reading of Being and Time, not to mention Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, his second published work, which appeared shortly after his Inaugural Address (and was the centrepiece for the Davos Disputation with Cassirer).  In this work, Heidegger amplifies and enacts another vein of his “destruction of the history of ontology” in order to set free a metaphysics of metaphysics.  The essence of this “new” direction in philosophy is a dismantling of a history of entitive metaphysics, of beings, in favour of the originary disclosive event of wonder in the face of Being (or, that which is much the same thing, the Nothing, as indicated in his Inaugural Address).  In this way, while Carnap brought together formal logic with the principle of verification in his alleged elimination of metaphysics – his annihilation of “meaningless metaphysical statements” – Heidegger sought to clear the ground of the history of metaphysics via a retrieval of the original force of the question which gave rise to these various answers in the first place.  Carnap, echoing some of Kant’s more epistemological statements in the Critique of Pure Reason, seems content to eliminate anything that does not conform to his criterion of application and to remain on his safe island of logic and scientific empiricism, complacently mocking all those who seek to venture out on uncharted seas.  Indeed, for him, these seas may not even exist, and if they do, the calls which seduce the metaphysicians are only those of the Sirens.  Heidegger, for his part, is just as unsatisfied with the traditional answers of metaphysics, not however because they are meaningless, but because they serve only – especially as these become de-temporalised or un-worlded via history (the sedimentation of temporality) – to conceal and suppress the originary event of truth.  In this light, and to remain with the metaphor, Heidegger neither wishes to remain within the narrow confines of the barren island of empirical, scientistic knowledge, nor does he allow himself to be seduced by the fruitless temptations of the Sirens.  Instead, he seeks to return home to the singularity of truth in its irruption amid the ever renewed temporalization of the event.  In this way, his reference to “metaphysics” may be seen to be ironic, and it is this irony which may have been lost on Carnap.

To be fair to Carnap, of course, he is not blind to other uses of language as he does in fact see metaphysics as a possible element in human existence, as when he describes it as an “attitude towards life.”  However, as we will see below, he states that this element of existence should best be articulated in poetry or music and should be kept far away from the necessarily narrow confines of knowledge.  For him, in a reduced Kantian vein (one which would even seem to exclude the second and third Critiques), all that which exceeds or attempts to transcend the realms of formal logic and empirical verification is beyond the horizons of possible experience, and with the early Wittgenstein should, from this criteria of application, be treated with silence.  However, for Heidegger, as with Kant of the three Critiques, there is another locus of truth, that of a primary topos of disclosure, prior to and more fundamental than empirical verifiability and logic (the locus of the proposition).  In this way, the starting point for each philosopher is uncannily the same.  Yet, the characterisations of truth which emerge are vastly different.  It is this vast difference which intimates the important aspects of the conflict at the root of the Continental/Analytic divide.  It is for us to decide, however, whether this root of conflict is destructive and irretrievable, or with Heraclitus, if it is one that is essentially creative and self-overcoming (Nietzsche).

Heidegger’s Inaugural Address: “What is Metaphysics?”

In his Inaugural Address, “What is Metaphysics?,” Heidegger states that he will not give an address about metaphysics and the history of metaphysical systems, but will instead enter into “metaphysics” through the exploration of a “metaphysical” question.  In the first instance, he intimates the meaning of metaphysical inquiry in his characterisation of philosophy as an “inverted world” (Hegel) and lays out a preliminary sketch of metaphysical questioning which exhibits a twofold character.  On the one hand, each question encompasses the “whole range of metaphysical problems.”[16] On the other hand, each question can be asked only if “the questioner as such is present together with the question, that is, placed in question.”[17] Metaphysical questions concern the “whole” from the perspective (the “essential position”) of the questioner.  He states, “We are questioning, here and now, for ourselves.”[18] Moreover, he states, in tune with the audience that he is addressing, that this “we” is the “community of researchers, teachers, and students”[19] – or, in other words, the essential position of this community is that of “science” (Wissenschaften).  Heidegger states that the sciences are diverse and deal with a variety of regions of inquiry, but that, from his perspective, the fundamental unity of these sciences, the root of these, philosophy, has atrophied and been replaced merely by the technical organisation of the university and of disciplines.  That which is essential to the sciences is their relation to beings themselves, and each region of beings determines the way of relating to these “matters.”

In this way, in attunement with Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms,[20] each science is free to investigate in its own specific way – and no criteria, such as exactness, such as explicated in logic or some forms of mathematical inquiry, is more rigorous than any other.  It is the matters themselves – as with phenomenology[21] – which must determine the criteria of rigor.  In this way, science exhibits a distinct relation to the world, just as with any of the activities of human existence.  Science is also exceptional for Heidegger in that it displays the unique situation in which one being amongst all other beings irrupts amidst an attitude of freedom into presence, amidst the world, as the seeker and arbiter of truth that discloses beings as they are.  In this way, in our relation to the world, in our attitude of freedom, and in the irruption of ourselves amidst the world, scientific existence, Heidegger contends, is concerned with beings in the world – and, seemingly taking a phrase from Nietzsche’s Will to Power, nothing else besides.[22] However, instead of merely passing over this seeming trivial (and unacknowledged) reference to Nietzsche, Heidegger makes the most of it.  He states that in its thematization of beings, scientific existence speaks of “something different” – the nothing (das Nichts) – and perhaps unintentionally.  Heidegger asks, “What about this nothing?”  In a seeming anticipation of the bulk of Carnap’s subsequent criticism of his address, he risks a reflection on the seeming absurdity of his question.  He points out that we speak in this way constantly and automatically – about the nothing – but he states that it is this nothing which is precisely rejected and excluded by the discourse of science – almost as its limiting condition (perhaps, its condition of possibility as he will later argue).  Is this talk about nothing merely an empty “squabble over words”, a symptom of a lack of seriousness, or sobriety of mind?  He asks, “The nothing – what else can it be for science but an outrage and a phantasm?”[23] Science is, in all of its variations, as we have seen, a discourse upon beings, or at least (which will become significant below) upon the matters themselves.  Heidegger contends with respect to the science of the day,

Science wants to know nothing of the nothing.  But even so it is certain that when science tries to express its proper essence it calls upon the nothing for help.  It has recourse to what it rejects.  What incongruous state of affairs reveals itself here?[24]

The question therefore that must be addressed, one that exposes a controversy at the heart of an existence which is ruled by science is: “How is it with this nothing?”[25]

The problem, of course, which Heidegger readily points out (and is the subject of most of the criticism by Carnap) is that when we engage in the particular form of the question, “What is….?” with respect to the Nothing, we immediately posit it as a being and thereby deprive ourselves of the very matter we are attempting to address.  The “is” of the copula, of the logical, factical proposition turns the Nothing into its opposite.  Therefore, every answer to this question with respect to the matter being addressed is impossible.  Heidegger states, “With regard to the nothing, question and answer alike are absurd.”[26] And, indeed, it is “logic” which declares this absurdity, as thinking must always be a thinking about something.  However, does this mean that, if logic is of “supreme importance” and its faculty, the intellect, is the seat of all thinking, than we are at the “end of our inquiry?”  Must we state, with certain interpretations of the early Wittgenstein, that what we cannot speak about must be passed over in silence?  Or, on the other hand, are we allowed to question “logic” and its intellectual faculty?  From the perspective of these rules of thought and of this faculty of thought, the nothing is merely the negated, the negation of beings – “it is nonbeing pure and simple.”[27] Or, as Heidegger asks, setting up for us an assertion upon which to meditate,

Is the nothing given only because the “not”, i.e., negation, is given?  Or is it the other way around?  Are negation and the “not” given only because the nothing is given?  That has not been decided; it has not even been raised explicitly as a question.  We assert that the nothing is more original than the “not” and negation.[28]

On the basis of this assertion, Heidegger engages in a string of conditionals.  If the negation of logic is essentially dependent upon the nothing as the more original, it would therefore not be possible for the faculty of logic, the intellect, to determine the meaningfulness or even the “existence” of the nothing.  And, moreover, if the nothing is more original than that which cannot even decide upon or determine it, it would be essential for the elaboration of philosophical questioning to find the way by which this nothing can be disclosed.  He states:

But if we do not let ourselves be misled by the formal impossibility of the question of the nothing; if we pose the question in spite of this; then we must at least satisfy what remains the basic demand for the possible advancing of every question.  If the nothing itself is to be questioned as we have been questioning it, then it must be given beforehand.  We must be able to encounter it.[29]

In this way, for Heidegger, and this is an important and longstanding move in his philosophy of this period, we already have a pre-understanding of the nothing, a pre-philosophical understanding, if only in our everyday use of the term (it “glides inconspicuously through our chatter.”[30])  Before he indicates our most direct encounter with the nothing, he begins with what he calls an access-definition of the nothing: “The nothing is the complete negation of the totality of beings.”[31] Yet, such a definition, as it relies on logic and the intellect, fails to give us an appropriate access to the nothing.  In the first instance, as we are finite beings, it is not possible for us to simply have access, before our eyes as it were, to the totality of beings.  This would be merely an “idea” and the nothing would, in this instance, be a negated idea: we would think it as negation, according to the rules of the intellect.  In this way, if we are not to be stifled in our quest by the intellect, we must instead have a “fundamental experience of the nothing.”[32]

We do not comprehend the totality of beings. As finite, we find ourselves amidst a specific topos of beings as a whole, an event and situation that constitute our existence.  It is through our pre-occupation and embeddedness in the beings of the everyday, and through the attitude, the mood, of this finite involvement, that beings as a whole are somehow revealed, disclosed to us.  We irrupt amidst beings in the world, in our finitude, in our projective relations amidst the world.  But, there are many situations, and many moods – boredom, joy, fear – in which we are attuned to the world.  A mood is a founding mode of attunement that reveals the world as it is – it is a “basic occurrence of our Da-sein.”[33] It is not the intellect, but more properly (though inadequately) feeling[34] which discloses beings as a whole and the existence of the questioner who is bound up amidst these beings and who asks the question of Being.  In this light, the question of the nothing will not be grasped through the negations of logic, but through an original mood.  Heidegger asks, “Does such an attunement, in which man is brought before the nothing itself, occur in human existence?”[35] He answers in the affirmative: it is the fundamental mood of anxiety.  For Heidegger, anxiety is not fear, a fear for or of this or that – a threat amidst the world which could just as well be otherwise, but one which still makes us “lose our heads.”  Anxiety, on the contrary, is characterised for Heidegger by a “peculiar calm.” It is indeterminate, impossible of determination, it makes us feel “ill at ease”.[36] Heidegger states,

All things and we ourselves sink into indifference.  This, however, not in the sense of a mere disappearance.  Rather, in this very receding things turn toward us.  The receding of beings as a whole that closes in on us in anxiety oppresses us.  We can get no hold on things.  In the slipping away of beings only this “no hold on things” comes over us and remains.  Anxiety reveals the nothing.[37]

Anxiety leaves us hanging, we slip away from ourselves, all things slip away… it allows us to encounter the nothing amid human existence.   These are Heidegger’s descriptions, his attempts – after the fact – to articulate the fundamental mode of attunement, anxiety, the original mood, that reveals the nothing.  In such a situation, the problematic of the appropriate language to express this disruptive truth becomes forcefully thematised.  Our usual, simple way of speaking which indicates the familiarity of being-in-the-world, of our everyday involvements, of the inconspicuous world of things where everything has a place and name, slips away as anxiety tears the fabric of our safe island of certainty, clarity and distinctness.  Heidegger states:

Anxiety robs us of speech.  Because beings as a whole slip away, so that just the nothing crowds round, in the face of anxiety all utterance of the “is” falls silent.  That in the malaise of anxiety we often try to shatter the vacant stillness with compulsive talk only proves the presence of the nothing.  That anxiety reveals the nothing, man himself immediately demonstrates when anxiety has dissolved.  In the lucid vision sustained by fresh remembrance we must say that that in the face of which and for which we were anxious was “properly” – nothing.  Indeed: the nothing itself – as such – was there.[38]

Having revealed the topos amidst human existence in which the nothing reveals itself, in the original mood of anxiety, Heidegger reflects upon that which has been disclosed in his phenomenology of the nothing.  In the first instance, nothing, as we have already fathomed, is not a being, a thing that can be disciplined by the logic of the proposition.  Anxiety is not an instrument by which we reveal the thing, “nothing”.  Instead, the nothing is disclosed amidst the mood of anxiety, an event that we neither control, nor can we summon at will – or replicate with the precision of a scientific experiment, as in a laboratory.  At the same time, the nothing, as it is not the logical negation of beings (by the intellect), occurs amidst beings as a whole as disclosed from amidst the finitude of our everyday being-in-the-world.  It is revealed in anxiety in our powerlessness, in the overwhelming situation of our existence.

Heidegger states,

In anxiety there occurs a shrinking back before…. that is surely not any sort of flight but rather a kind of bewildered calm.  This “back before” takes its departure from the nothing.  The nothing itself does not attract; it is essentially repelling.  But the repulsion is itself as such a parting gesture toward beings that are submerging as a whole.  This wholly repelling gesture toward beings that are in retreat as a whole, which is the action of the nothing that oppresses Dasein in anxiety, is the essence of the nothing: nihilation.  It is neither an annihilation of beings nor does it spring from a negation.  Nihilation will not submit to calculation in terms of annihilation and negation.  The nothing itself nihilates.[39]

In this nihilating movement, in this radical submergence of beings as such in the face of the nothing, the utter strangeness of beings (and Being) reveals itself.  Beings are radically other than the nothing; they are amidst an insurrection against nothingness, in that and as they exist.  In this way, as science seeks to know beings, it cannot know them without this nothing; it cannot know their specificity, their strangeness in that they exist without the pressure of the radical other.  Heidegger states, “In the clear night of the nothing of anxiety the original openness of beings as such arises: that they are beings – and not nothing.”[40] From his perspective, beings (the objects of science) can only be revealed in the first place “on the ground of the original revelation of the nothing.”[41] This may seem a very strange thing to say, and it is.  However, from this perspective, it is also true.  For instance, in the disclosure of the theoretical attitude in Being and Time, it is the break in the familiar, the breach of the broken or the absent that allows for an originary grasp of the scientific (theoretical) comportment amidst existence.  If we were merely to persist in the familiar, amid the instinctiveness of animality – if we were merely, as Bataille writes, “water in water”,[42] then there would never emerge the irruption of the scientific attitude, of that being “man” which among all other beings, seeks to know beings in that and how they are.  Through the breach of disorder, or in this context, of anxiety, that which is there, existence, is disclosed for us.

In a deeper sense than the merely technical sciences, and returning to the broader sense of science mentioned earlier, it is anxiety which reveals the specific temporal character of our existence, not only in that it reveals the strangeness of existence and of beings, but also, and perhaps most especially, in our utter lack of control over anxiety.  It comes to us, we cannot summon it at will.  Indeed, it is such an uncanny guest, that when it does come, it is seen as a pathological disorder which we often remedy with a cure – in other words, it is treated “psychologically” according to the modernist interpretation of technical science.  For Heidegger, on the contrary, it is an essential occurrence of our existence which not only reveals that which we are as temporal beings, but is the ground for our specific character as the one who knows – and does not know.

Indeed, Heidegger states that we ourselves – that which he calls Dasein – is “being held out into the nothing.”[43] But what does this mean?  He attempts to help us by giving us a more tangible mode of expression, something upon which we can hold.  He brings us in from the cold of anxiety which his own discourse has provoked in us, stating,

Holding itself out into the nothing, Dasein is in each case already beyond beings as a whole.  This being beyond beings we call ‘transcendence’.  If in the ground of its essence Dasein were not transcending, which now means, if it were not in advance holding itself out into the nothing, then it could never be related to beings nor even to itself.  Without the original revelation of the nothing, no selfhood and no freedom.[44]

In this way, far from being the “idea” of a mere negation, of the “not” of intellectual logic, the nothing – in its nihilating – has, enigmatically, an essentially positive role to play in existence.  It makes possible our own transcendence beyond the facticity of the familiar, it makes possible the “openness of beings” for our gaze, it awakens for the first time our “consciousness” of ourselves amidst the world.  This is that which Heidegger means by the nihilation of the nothing: it is a positive grounding of phenomena in the paradoxical submergence of beings as a whole.  It is in this way not a nothing – it is not a thing – it is instead no-thing, the ground of things, or as Kant would say, the transcendental condition of possibility for experience.  And, in this way, while the nothing may be explicitly revealed in anxiety, it does not rely on anxiety for itself to exist and fulfil its role as that which makes transcendence possible.  In its positive role, it ceaselessly directs us towards beings, as these constantly strive, and irrupt into existence – and seek to maintain themselves in existence.  After all, as we are finite beings, we are completely submerged in a temporal existence which is incessantly dynamic.

In this context, as in the Greek sense of dynamism, there is a constant coming to be and passing away: a coming to being from potentiality to actuality (from the no-thing to the thing) and a passing from actuality to non-being, (from the thing to no-thing).  From this perspective the nothing is the source and destination of existence, of beings as a whole and of ourselves as the questioners.  Our very questioning arises from the incongruity of existence brought about in the wake of the nothing, as with being-towards-death in Being and Time.  In this way, Heidegger will drive his point home with respect to his earlier discussion of the primacy of either the “not” of logic, the negation of the intellect or the nothing of existential phenomenology, a decision that will set the tone for his own culpability in the “dispute” which would be one fateful event in the founding of the Continental/Analytic divide.  For, he states:

If the power of the intellect in the field of inquiry into the nothing and into Being is thus shattered, then the destiny of the reign of “logic” in philosophy is thereby decided.  The idea of “logic” itself disintegrates in the turbulence of a more original questioning.[45]

Indeed, not only the nothing, but many typologies of behaviour are specified as more original than the negations of logic and its “not”.  We have already apprehended that the nothing has an intrinsically positive role to play in human existence; it is human existence in its transcendental relationship to the world in its free irruption amidst beings as a whole.  Heidegger states:

Unyielding antagonism and stinging rebuke have a more abysmal source than the measured negation of thought.  Galling failure and merciless prohibition require some deeper answer.  Bitter privation is more burdensome.[46]

Yet, even these examples of nihilative phenomena are still positive in that they are phenomena which disclose that which exists amidst human existence – they serve to make up the uncanny play of human existence, even at its most negative.  Yet, these modes, though examples of the nihilation that characterises human existence, for the most part serve to conceal the fundamental mode of attunement which is anxiety.  And, it is this original mood, as we have detected, which discloses the nothing which, in other words, is the basic character of transcendence which typifies human existence.  Indeed, our being held out into the no-thing reveals that human existence is transcendence, transcending.  It is in this way that the question of the nothing is at once the metaphysical question par excellence.  It reveals, in this light, a deeper place of turbulent questioning, and a topos that provokes Heidegger to undertake his destruction of the history of ontology – his deconstruction of metaphysics to its primal ground in an originary event of transcendence.  His excavation back to the root of transcendence is a re-awakening of the basic occurrence amidst our existence of the philosophical impulse, that response to the uncanniness of existence which provokes the questioner to ask after the meaning of Being.  As Heidegger has stated, each question of metaphysics not only concerns the whole range of metaphysical problems but uniquely situates the questioner amidst the whole.

We ask after the meaning of our existence as the peculiar timeliness of being is revealed to us through anxiety – through the visitation of the nothing in our midst.  And, it is this question of the nothing which not only is, for Heidegger, the root of all metaphysical questioning, but is also that which reveals that metaphysics is not only possible, but is a necessary constituent of our existence.  It is also in this way that science and logic, as each seeks to repress the question of the nothing with its displays of rigor and exactness, not only do not “attain to the seriousness of metaphysics”, but also are essentially derivative of the originary irruption of an authentic metaphysical contemplation of the nothing.  For Heidegger, this authentic metaphysical contemplation is philosophy.  He states:

Philosophy gets under way only by a peculiar insertion of our own existence into the fundamental possibilities of Dasein as a whole.  For this insertion it is of decisive importance, first that we allow space for beings as a whole; second, that we release ourselves into the nothing, which is to say, that we liberate ourselves from those idols everyone has and to which they are wont to go cringing; and finally, that we let the sweep of our suspense take its full courses, so that it swings back into the basic question of metaphysics which the nothing itself compels: Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing?[47]

Rudolf Carnap: The Elimination of Metaphysics through the Logical Analysis of Language

In his 1931 essay, “The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language,” Carnap seeks to set out in a broad stroke an elimination of metaphysics via the construction of an ideal language, or in other words, a way of strictly defining the constitution of meaningfulness in language.  The character of this language is defined by a subjection of expression to what he calls a criterion of application.  While I will go into this criterion in more detail below, suffice it to say for now, that he is seeking to define meaningfulness as that language-use which adheres to a strict application of formal logic and empirical verifiability.  That which will result from such a procedure is the formulation of philosophy as a “logic of science.”  Gabriel gives the following characterisation of Carnap’s attitude toward the results of his proposed elimination of metaphysics, to which I will return in the following pages:

Whereas Wittgenstein’s farewell to metaphysics was not without sadness, Carnap cheerfully issues the command for philosophy of science to ‘clean up’ and allows philosophy to be absorbed by the logic of science.  This ‘way out’ is ruled out for Wittgenstein because for him a metalogic that attempted to ‘say’ once again what can only ‘show’ itself is impossible.  The categorial discourse that sets out the logic of our language is compelled to overstep the limits of this logic.[48]

However, before I turn to this criticism of Carnap’s attempted elimination of metaphysics, and of the relationship between this criticism and the statements articulated in the philosophy of Heidegger, I will first set out Carnap’s doctrine of meaning and his radical criticism of Heidegger’s Inaugural Address.  I will emphasise the specific results which follow from Carnap’s starting point, one that by definition, seeks to exclude other types of meaningfulness from philosophy.  For as Carnap will himself admit, there are other types of meaningfulness expressed in the diverse fields of metaphysics, mythology, poetry and music.  Yet, that which is at stake is the “task of philosophy” itself and that which is considered to be the truth.  Indeed, his reference to Nietzsche’s Zarathustra at the close of his essay is most significant in this regard.  He claims that this text was a self-conscious attempt by Nietzsche to disclose a poetic vision, which while it might disclose an attitude toward life, was not itself philosophy.  It is this claim and others like it which I will consider over the following pages.

Carnap begins his analysis with three historical typologies of criticism with respect to metaphysics: it has been criticised for being false, uncertain and sterile.  While these criticisms can be seen to be in themselves quite devastating (and recall Mendellsohn’s reaction to the anti-metaphysical implications of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason), they are (ala Kant) clearly indecisive.  As one can readily detect in the Transcendental Dialectic, with these types of criticisms, there will always emerge an antinomy of reason, and therefore, the possibility of a re-emergence of any particular metaphysical position.  Kant’s own solution to such antinomies was to compartmentalise various claims to their own domains of relevance.  It was such a compromise that was facilitated by his architectonic of reason, or, in other words, in his mutual limitation of theoretical and practical reason.  This type of solution seems to have been unsatisfactory to Carnap, although his logic of differentiation was to a great extent one and the same.  Yet, instead of the limitation of the various domains of reason to their own philosophical domains, Carnap seeks to lay out a logic of exclusion, one that sets up the unambiguous and clear differentiation of philosophy and non-philosophy.

Carnap claims that, with modern logic, it is no longer necessary to rest content with the older criticisms of metaphysics, ones which, as we have seen, are ultimately indecisive and perhaps self-defeating.  He claims instead that the modern typologies of applied logic and the theory of knowledge allow us to contemplate and enact the elimination of metaphysics by means of, as his essay title announces, a logical analysis of language.  He writes that such analysis has a positive and a negative result.  For the former, which is to be the meaning of philosophy as such hereafter, there is the analysis and clarification of the statements of empirical science.  However, with respect to the latter, he writes:

In the domain of metaphysics, including all philosophy of value and normative theory, logical analysis yields the negative result that the alleged statements in this domain are entirely meaningless.  Therewith a radical elimination of metaphysics is attained, which was not possible from the earlier antimetaphysical standpoints.[49]

Just as with the flamboyant rhetoric of Heidegger, it is important to take a closer look at the meaning of his elimination of metaphysics.  Admittedly, Carnap’s position is quite radical, and self-consciously so – one could contend that his reading of Nietzsche was not completely without its effect.  He speaks explicitly of the sharp tool of modern logic which will cut away metaphysics from that which he regards as true philosophy.  Indeed, one could, if proper care were not taken, imagine a dystopic and one-dimensional world in which almost nothing could be said outside of the most banal and trivial of statements, eg. “This is a hammer”; “Socrates is a man.”  However, it is important to read his words closely, especially in light of the last section of his paper, “Metaphysics as Expression of an Attitude Towards Life.”  For he is not rejecting  poetic and historical-grammatical usages of language, but only their relevance to philosophy conceived as a logic of science.  In this light, by meaningless, he means this term in the “strictest sense.”  He writes:

In the strict sense, however, a sequence of words is meaningless if it does not, within a specified language, constitute a statement.  It may happen that such a sequence of words looks like a statement at first glance; in that case we call it a pseudo-statement.  Our thesis, now, is that logical analysis reveals the alleged statements of metaphysics to be pseudo-statements.[50]

In this way, in order to understand Carnap’s contention that the utterances of metaphysics are in fact meaningless, we must delve into that which he designates as meaning.  The topos for such a designation lies in his analysis of language as a system of vocabulary and syntax, as a set of words or terms with meaning and rules for the construction of sentences or statements.

For Carnap, a word is a term with a meaning within a specified language.  Meaning in this context is the explicit relationship with a concept: a word designates a concept.  Yet, how is the sense of a word constituted, not just its conventional associations, but its explicit meaning?  Carnap writes that for a word to have a meaning, its syntax must in the first instance be determined, and this is accomplished by means of its location in an elementary sentence, eg. X is a stone.  Furthermore, if such an elementary sentence S is to be meaningful, it must answer the following questions:

1)      What sentences is S deducible from, and what sentences are deducible from S?

2)      Under what conditions is S supposed to be true, and under what conditions false?

3)      How is S to be verified?

4)      What is the meaning of S?[51]

In order to understand the intent of these questions, and therefore the process by which we determine the meaning of a word (if it is to be at all meaningful), we can turn to an example which Carnap provides: “’arthropodes’ are animals with segmented bodies and jointed legs.”  In terms of the first question, this statement is deducible from three other sentences: “x is an animal”, “x has a segmented body” and “x has jointed legs”.  These in turn are deducible from the original sentence.  What this indicates therefore is the correct formulation of a statement.  The second question concerns the truth condition, and Carnap, in his sparse treatment, implies that such a test is easily accomplished by means of the rules of logic.  The third question, of verification, indicates for Carnap a “theory of knowledge.”  And, while he admits that the question of that which is “given” still abides a relative degree of uncertainty, it is clear that his criteria of the given is that of empirical verification (cf. Carnap’s summary of his analysis on p. 64).  Be that as it may, however, the basic point to ascertain is the relation of the word to the sentence in which it occurs.  In terms of this sentence, the meaning of the word is fixed.  Indeed, the first three questions constitute for Carnap what he designates as the “criterion of application,” and it is from this criterion that the meaning of the word is disclosed.  He writes:

Since the meaning of a word is determined by its criterion of application (in other words: by the relations of deducibility entered into by its elementary sentence-form, by its truth conditions, by the method of its verification), the stipulation of the criterion takes away one’s freedom to decide what one wishes to “mean” by the word.[52]

In this light, Carnap contends, it is from this criterion that the exact meaning of a word is assigned.  Moreover, if a word does not fulfill the conditions of such a criterion of application, it is, from this perspective, meaningless.[53]

Carnap gives two brief examples of meaningless words from the history of metaphysics: principle and God.  In the former case, he is not speaking of a “principle of knowledge”, but of a principle of being.  What distinguishes the latter sense of principle from the former is its inability, for Carnap, to be specified according to his notion of a criterion of application.  He writes that to such questions of deducibility, truth, verification and meaning, the metaphysician is able to divulge only vague and ambiguous utterances.[54] For instance, to the question of the meaning of principle, specified in the sequence of “x is the principle of y”, only such things as “y arises from x” or “y exists by virtue of x” can be generated.  Carnap rejects these sentences as meaningless as there can be no verification, deducibility or determination of truth from the stipulations of his own philosophical standpoint.  Indeed, it could only be wondered if he would reject the entire transcendental standpoint of Kant and the latter’s notion of the “conditions of possibility of experience”, or indeed, of certain uses of Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason.  Such a rejection does seem likely in his rejection of various metaphysical words in this section, including that of the noumenon.  What is significant is that such notions have power in the Kantian philosophy due to his transcendental logic, a logic which exceeds the conditions of formal logic in its attempt to answer the question of the possibility of a priori synthetic judgments (which Carnap at this point also rejected).

The irony in this rejection by Carnap, of course, lies in the fact that Kant saw this answer as the condition by which the validity of science, especially that of mathematics, could be demonstrated.  Kant’s rejoinder to Carnap would of course come from the Introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason: while knowledge is occasioned by experience, it in no way arises out of experience and formal logic can have no legitimate applicability to experience.  Kant could not in this way submit to the stipulations of empirical verification, especially if he would wish to preserve the analyses in his second and third Critiques.  But, it seems that Carnap has already thrown such normative and reflective considerations off the island of philosophy.

Carnap’s second example is that of God.  He points out three usages of this term, according to historical usage.  The first, mythological, most prominently articulated in the sacred poetry of the Greeks, is not metaphysical in that it refers to beings which are in the world.  Carnap states, however, that such a mythological sense of God (one even present in many examples of theology) must, as its refers to beings amidst the physical world, be subject to empirical verification.  The second usage, one with a metaphysical “sense,” sets forth a notion of God, which, as Kant would say, exceeds the horisons of possible experience.  Moreover, as we have seen in the examples of teavy and toovy, such a usage does not admit of a criterion of application and is therefore meaningless.  The final sense of the word God, that found in theology, is for Carnap ambiguous as it remains suspended between the other two senses.  In this way, Carnap makes the strong contention that, in this sense, the God of theology is either meaningless or must be subject to empirical verification.  Or, in other words, it must be subordinated to scientific truth.

Having set forth his diagnosis of meaningless metaphysical words, Carnap specifies a second source of meaninglessness in the violation of linguistic (read logical) syntax.  It is not in this case that the words have no conditions of verification, etc. but that the very rules of the combination of words, the syntax, is faulty or in some cases, incomplete.  What Carnap is driving at here are not the obvious misconstructions of language, which the most rudimentary of logic could exclude from the island of genuine sentences, but those which, while being grammatically correct, fail to form a genuine statement due to what may be called, with Chomsky, selection mistakes.[55] His example is “Caesar is a prime number.”  Now, it is obvious that this sentence is grammatically correct.  It is equally obvious that it is meaningless, as it violates the rules of logical syntax as exhibited in the criterion of application.

Carnap writes:

This example has been so chosen that the nonsense is easily detectable.  Many so-called statements of metaphysics are not so easily recognized to be pseudo-statements.  The fact that natural languages allow the formation of meaningless sequences of words without violating the rules of grammar, indicates that grammatical syntax is, from a logical point of view, inadequate.  If grammatical syntax corresponded exactly to logical syntax, pseudo-statements could never arise.[56]

It is here where we begin to gather the sense of Carnap’s advocacy of an “ideal language” or one that corresponds most readily to the task of “building a logical syntax.”  From this perspective, metaphysics could not only be eliminated, but also would need to be eliminated.  And, it would be from this standpoint that the task of philosophy would be determined: in a positive sense, to construct such a logical syntax, and from a negative sense, to police the use of language in order to eliminate not only existing metaphysics, but also the possibility of its re-emergence in whatever guise.  On this basis, Carnap next turns to Heidegger whom he sees as one of the representatives of a new and dangerous trend to resurrect the ashes of the Phoenix of metaphysics from the fire of logical analysis.

In order to demonstrate the power of his own analysis, Carnap takes his arsenal of “sharp tools” to the Inaugural Address of Heidegger whom he considers to be the main representative of “that metaphysical school which at present exerts the strongest influence in Germany.”[57] He accuses Heidegger most forcefully of violating logical syntax in a way which is “especially obvious”, even if, however, his sentences “accord with historical-grammatical syntax.”[58] That which he intends to do is to subject the metaphysician Heidegger to the criterion of application and his own assertion of the adequacy of an ideal, or logically correct language.  As stated earlier, it is not clear if the irony of Heidegger’s use of the term “metaphysics” has been lost on Carnap.  Moreover, it is neither certain if Carnap has really bothered to attempt to understand the philosophical project of Heidegger as such, nor to comprehend the many anticipations by the latter of the type of criticism which Carnap attempts in his Elimination.  Indeed, Heidegger read Carnap’s essay and gave a rather terse response, one which merely re-articulated many of his statements in “What is Metaphysics?”  Gabriel quotes:

The suspicion against ‘logic’, of which logistics may be considered a consistently developed degeneration, emerges from that knowledge of that thinking which finds its source in the experience of the truth of Being [Sein], but not in the consideration of the objectivity of the being [des Seienden].  Exact thinking is never the strictest thinking…[59]

The suspicion that is aroused in light of Carnap’s inadequate account of the philosophy of Heidegger, and of his seeming rejection of the possibility of thinking differently, is that he either did not have a complete text of the address, or did not read it, if he had.  This is suggested in his method of quotation from the Inaugural Address, as we will see.  In the first instance, there is no stage-setting, no contextualisation, no synopsis or exegesis of the philosophy of Heidegger and no references to Being and Time (or any other works), especially to the notions of the ontological difference and the “destruction of the history of ontology.”  On its face, this way of approach indicates a philosophical attitude which is not concerned with the linguistic context of the emergence of specific statements.  This seems to be problematic in light of not only Carnap’s own specification of the importance of linguistic context in elementary and protocol sentences, but also in the lack of agreement which he admits with respect to the character of these sentences and the status of the “given”.  Yet, it is the method of quotation which confirms these suspicions of unconcern for the topos of emergence.

To put Carnap’s approach simply, two factors can be specified.  On the one hand, he gives a string of quotations from the Inaugural Address in one lump, as it were.  It includes most of the references to the “nothing”, the “not”, and “negation”, the context and meanings for which we saw in our earlier reading of “What is Metaphysics?”  On the other hand, Carnap lays out a schema of different senses of statements using these words, a schema which ranges from “meaningful sentences”, to “transition from sense to nonsense” and finally to “logically correct language.”  Carnap, all-too-certain of his own position, writes with respect to the schematisation of Heidegger’s statements:

The fault of our language identified here lies, therefore, in the circumstance that, in contrast to a logically correct language, it admits of the same grammatical form for meaningful and meaningless word sequences.[60]

Carnap gives a few examples of violations of logical syntax by Heidegger.  The first example seems to be a rather harmless one, though one based on a misunderstanding of Heidegger’s particular brand of usage.  This objection concerns the use of “nothing” as a noun, because,  Carnap writes, “… it is customary in ordinary language to use it in this form in order to construct a negative existential statement. (see IIA).  In a correct language, on the other hand, it is not a particular name, but a certain logical form of the sentence that serves this purpose (see IIIA).”[61] A second example (IIB2) concerns what Carnap calls the fabrication of the meaningless word ‘to nothing’.  This sentence, therefore, is senseless for a twofold reason.  We pointed out before that the meaningless words of metaphysics usually owe their origin to the fact that a meaningful word is deprived of its meaning through its metaphorical use in metaphysics.  But here we confront one of those rare cases where a new word is introduced which never had a meaning to begin with.[62]

This is an obvious reference to the verbal form which has been translated above as “nihilate.”  It is interesting that Carnap not only rejects the introduction of novel indications (we are not “free” to assign meaning), but also does not seem to be interested why Heidegger would have done so.  He is simply content to point out that this is a rare case.  In this way, we are brought back to our suspicions that Carnap has given no heed to the philosophy of Heidegger.  Indeed, in his next example, we may even be led to believe that he did not even bother to read the Inaugural Address with any thoroughness.  In this example (IIB3), he again objects to the use of “the nothing” as a noun, but also implies that its use involves a contradiction.  Carnap writes:

For even if it were admissable to introduce “nothing” as a name or description of an entity, still the existence of this entity would be denied in its very definition, whereas sentence (3) goes on to affirm its existence.  This sentence, therefore, would be contradictory, hence absurd, even if it were not already meaningless.[63]

What is significant in this example, as with the others as well, is the fact that Heidegger himself pointed out this very contradiction (p. 97, quoted above).  Moreover, he too used the word “absurd” laying out the rhetorical question of whether or not “our” analysis was at its end.  This apparent oversight by Carnap is telling and underscores the irony that bleeds from these lines where he presumes to give Heidegger a lesson in logic.  As I have already stated, Heidegger had already anticipated these objections and criticisms on his way to laying out the philosophical topos upon which the “nothing” is disclosed.  Yet, after these examples of the violation of logical syntax, Carnap makes the most astounding observation, one which shows that he, however against his own inclinations, seems to be following Heidegger, however blindly:

In view of the gross logical errors which we find in sentences IIB, we might be led to conjecture that perhaps the word “nothing” has in Heidegger’s treatise a meaning entirely different from the customary one.  And this presumption is further strengthened as we go on to read there that anxiety reveals the Nothing, that the Nothing itself in present as such in anxiety.  For here the word “nothing” seems to refer to a certain emotional constitution, possibly of a religious sort, or something or other that underlies such emotions.  If such were the case, then the mentioned logical errors in sentences IIB would not be committed.[64]

That which is astounding in these observations is that Carnap is correct, though is not able to interpret his discovery due to his obvious unfamiliarity with Being and Time.  Moreover, Heidegger says much the same thing, and even speaks about “feelings” in relation to the primordial attunement of the mood of anxiety.  Now, Carnap seems to suggest that if Heidegger is speaking of the emotions in the sense of psychology or in a religious way then the logical errors would not be committed, perhaps due to the specification of a criterion of application.  Yet, he rejects this possibility due to the fact of Heidegger’s (now suddenly apparent to Carnap) explicit references to the logic of “negation” and the “not” – and of the absurdity of using the term Nothing as a name of a being or object.  He gives a few of Heidegger’s polemical sentences against logic ending with the question: “But will sober science condone the whirl of counter-logical questioning?”  And: “Thus we find here a good confirmation of our thesis; a metaphysician himself here states that his questions and answers are irreconcilable with logic and the scientific way of thinking.”[65] A first response to these statements is what I have already affirmed: the nothing is being used in a different way.  Moreover, this means that it is not being in the sense of a being or object.  Yet, it is not being used, as Carnap contends, to be merely a reference to an emotional state.  Indeed, this is not the meaning or sense of anxiety, as this is not a mere feeling in the modern sense as opposed to logic or rationality.  Moreover, Heidegger’s reference to the absurdity of the nothing being a being only confirms that he is not talking about a being or an object, as in this case a feeling.  In this way, Heidegger, contrary to a superficial reading of his anti-logical rhetoric, is not engaging merely in an irrational diatribe or a whirlwind of anti-science and unreason.

Instead, in the context of the “ontological difference,” the nothing, as it indicates transcendence, intimates a transcendental dimension of existence, and, contrary to the limitations of Kant, not merely as a negative phenomenon, but one that participates in the positive constitution of being-in-the-world.  This is further indicated in Heidegger’s project of a “destruction of the history of ontology” (read ontical metaphysics) in which the nihilating power of the nothing clears the ground by which the topos of primordial questioning – philosophy – can be retrieved.  Indeed, the upshot of Heidegger’s foray into metaphysical questioning is that traditional metaphysics must be overcome as it does not allow for the disclosure and expression of a more primal or radical questioning.  And, for Heidegger, logic and empirical verification are propped up and embedded in this traditional metaphysics even though they have attempted, with those like Carnap to apply Ockham’s razor to the worst excesses of speculation.

In this way, Heidegger is attempting to disclose a diversity of existential topoi, and his novelty of expression is an attempt to indicate a phenomenological region that has for all-too-long been forgotten.  In his 1949 edition of “What is Metaphysics?,”[66] Heidegger laments that the “nothing” has been our best word for the transcendental, while re-affirming the significance of the no-thing as that which, as with Being, is elsewhere than the ontic realm of beings.  One of the most significant differences between Heidegger and Carnap is apparent in their respective treatments of anxiety.  For the latter, it is merely emotional, for the former, it is ontological, even a “structural” methodology for the disclosure of a differing, deeper sense of truth.  For Heidegger, Carnap’s failure to ascertain the possibility of differing regions of philosophical truth is itself a repetition of traditional metaphysics and the forgetfulness of Being.  In other words, Carnap may have secured his island, but he has lost the world.  And, in this light, it is far from certain if Carnap’s criterion of application, this amalgam of formal logic and empirical verification, has any real power against the existential phenomenology of Heidegger.

With the presumption that he has overcome one of the most powerful examples of metaphysics in the Germany of his day, Carnap begins a summary of his views in the context of a criticism of all metaphysical pseudo-statements in the history of philosophy.  Without going into the details, of which there are not many, it is clear that Carnap is satisfied with his attack on Heidegger and the alleged vindication of his methodology of logical analysis.  His main contention is that logical analysis which is the heart and soul of the new philosophy.  Its model must be that of the tautology (or the analytic judgment as specified by Kant) which can be used to determine, via the principle of contradiction, the truth and falsity of alleged statements by their very form.  Moreover, all statements must not only follow the protocols of formal logic but must also be empirically verifiable.  This then is the topos and procedure of logical analysis, and what is left over for philosophy once the clouds of metaphysical speculation have been dissipated.  And, the implications of such a reduction of philosophy is radical – but not in Heidegger’s sense of returning to the root of existence prior to theoretical and practical objectifications.  Indeed, as I have suggested, such a methodology has its own tacit metaphysical position.

But, it is a metaphysics, which as suggested by Gabriel above with respect to the attempt at any meta-logic, that seeks to “say” the limits of knowledge but not “show” them.  This point brings to mind Heidegger’s contention of the implicit reliance on something else when science and its adherents state that there is only beings – and nothing else besides.  It is that which tacitly grounds the assertion of beings, for the very assertion always already moves beyond beings to the ground of these beings – whatever we call this, the nothing, Being, forms of life, the world, conditions of possibility – it is something more than facts, empirical objects ordered by means of formal logic.  In this way, there is something else beyond beings which indicates an ontological difference that discloses the radical diversity of regions of existence, and the necessity for not only differing methodologies of inquiry, but also differing methods of expression.  In this way, new words may disclose, indicate, that which was always already there, but covered up, suppressed, forgotten.

Carnap has already been given the verdict of the methodology of logical analysis that its statements are meaningless – at least for the strict requirements of a logic of science.  However, Carnap, as I have suggested, is not really interested in the forceful elimination of metaphysical statements, or, in other words, their eradication from any expression, but only their exclusion from the domain of knowledge and what for him has become of philosophy.  Thus, the question must be asked: what then is left for metaphysics?  It is certainly not the washing ashore onto the safe island of philosophy.  For Carnap, there is no going back, no return to the indecisive conclusions of the anti-metaphysical movements of the past.  As he has made clear, metaphysics is to be excluded from the island of truth.  However, that which lies at the basis of these speculations is not to be excluded but allowed to be in its own proper domain.  Carnap contends that at its basis, metaphysics is a certain emotional attitude toward life, a certain desire to transcend the limits of the restrictions of the empirical world toward a vast vision of the whole.

However, since such an attitude of transcendence and its works can never submit to the confines of formal logic and the criteria of empirical verification, its ownmost domain cannot be that of science, but of art.  He states that it is in poetry and especially music that such an attitude can most forcefully be expressed.  And, it is interesting that Heidegger would agree with Carnap on this, yet, with the caveat that poetry and music would, for the former, exist as differing phenomenological regions within a radically pluri-vocal philosophy.  Carnap cites Nietzsche as one who, having more poetic ability than perhaps any other philosopher, met the challenge of poetic expression in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  Carnap sees this as Nietzsche leaving the narrow confines of philosophy (in its reduced sense) with the explicit affirmation of an attitude toward life.  In this way, for Carnap, the battle between Neo-Kantianism and life-philosophy has been decided, but much in a Kantian way, through the assignment of each of these comportments to life to its own proper realm.  The problem of course is that so much has to be, for Carnap, eliminated from the domain of philosophy, and thus, of a truth which irrupts amidst beings to disclose how and what they are.  And, it is more than certain that neither Heidegger and Nietzsche, nor Kant would have been satisfied with this radical reduction of truth to logic.  And, it is far from certain that Carnap has succeeded in his quest to re-cast the philosopher as the policeman of an ideal language, much like Plato, with his uncertain success in eliminating the poets from the polis.

On  the Analytic/Continental Divide: Provisional Observations and Suggestions

There has been an increasing focus upon the status of the Continental/Analytic divide over the last few decades, not only in light of the emerging influence of Continental/European philosophy, but also due to the recognition by Analytic philosophers (Dummet,[67] et. al.) of the historical (and dare I say it, tacitly metaphysical) character of their own typology of philosophy.  Some however seek to deny, for whatever reason, that there is any divide at all.  Nevertheless, for those in the real world, this divide has disclosed itself  in quite different ways with respect to the mortal, temporal perspectives of the two camps.  And, camps they are, and no one should be naïve, even if it could be plausibly suggested that even within these cultural formations, there exists a significant amount of diversity.  We should at least attempt to be honest ande act and speak in the daylight.  Continental philosophers have recognised their own dangerous situation.  It has been one of exclusion and disruption, to the extent that philosophy of the Continental tradition has been described by Analytic philosophers as either being not philosophy at all, or, at best, bad philosophy.  We have been, as Bataille wrote, cast among the lot of the heterogeneous forces.[68]

Yet, as Babette Babich has pointed out, this is not merely an intellectual matter as the vast majority of philosophy departments (and hence, the available employment for philosophers) are dominated by some variant of Analytic philosophy.[69] There is, of course, a tragic irony which has accompanied the triumph of Analytic philosophy as philosophy departments (especially in the United Kingdom) have increasingly closed due to a lack of interest among students (or, have become merely adjuncts to departments of the sciences or arts).  Related to this, as Babich has argued, since Analytic philosophy has from the beginning had a “deflationary” agenda, it has in effect, within the short history of its existence, exhausted itself.  But, as she also points out, the tragedy is now becoming a farce in that Analytic philosophy is now attempting to colonise themes which have been the longstanding subject matter of Continental philosophy.[70] And, indeed, in the context of this evident exhaustion of its own proper domain, it would not be entirely out of place to point out the foundations of sand upon which most of the early logical positivist edifice was initially constructed.  The tenuousness, and indeed falseness, of much of this “philosophy” has been admitted, even very early on, by notable Analytic philosophers themselves, such as Wittgenstein, Quine, Ayer, and even, Carnap himself.[71] Indeed, Wittgenstein’s criticism of Carnap’s meta-logic seems to have been decisive in its dis-allowal of a “saying” of the limits of the possible, of a “legislative” restriction, which vastly overshadowed the philosophical task of showing or indicating, which is the authentic essence of language.  Indeed, how can the principle of verification itself be verified on its own terms?  However, this fatal problematic should not be cause for a retrospective celebration amongst Continental thinkers of a definitive victory and re-absorption of the analytic revolution within the mainstream of the history of philosophy.[72]

That which seems to be significant is instead a retrieval of the question of the tasks of philosophy in the wake of significant historical contestations between philosophers.  This is radically evident in the conflict between Carnap and Heidegger.  Despite the prevailing interest in the roots of the Continental/Analytic divide, there seems to be a peculiar inability or reticence to specify the reasons for the divide beyond mere differences in style or modes of expression.  For what is essential is not a question of rhetoric or the repetition of a question of the style of writing, of logical form versus poetry, or even a middle-voice of concept-poetry (Gabriel), but instead that which is allowed to be disclosed as the “matters themselves” of philosophical truth.

Heidegger is not simply an anti-logical poet, but is criticising the alleged seat of truth in the proposition in that it, with its tacit ontological and metaphysical commitments, suppresses a comportment to the truth of existence which is different and perhaps deeper than merely discursive truth.  In this way the Continental/Analytic divide is neither a question of science versus romanticism (Critchley[73]).  That which is significant is the reason why various forms of expression become necessary in the articulation of philosophical truth.  As stated earlier, the decisive question for Carnap and Heidegger was the relationship between logic and life, and this, after the clearing of the topos of disclosure, is the question of the expressibility of truth in terms of the language that is available.  However, it is quite possible that, as Wittgenstein alludes in 1929 and beyond,[74] that Heidegger is pushing at the limits of language – is criticising language – in a way that obversely resembles the critique of language expressed in Carnap’s search for an ideal language.  In both instances, language seems to fail, in its historical-grammatical usage, to facilitate the expression of philosophical truth.  However, we have also seen that their respective senses of truth are indeed radically distinct.  But again, each in his own way is seeking to overcome metaphysics, one due to its unverifiability, the other due to its suppression of the truth of Being under the weight of de-temporalised entities.

It could be stated that Heidegger, as with Schopenhauer’s notion of the will, contends that his sense of Being is indeed more original than the empirical and logical objects of Carnap.  For Heidegger, such a sense is disclosed by means of a differing mode of access, as for instance, for Schopenhauer, who uncovers a differing mode of access to truth, to that of the Will, by means of a departure from the representational labyrinth of theoretical consciousness (of the Principle of Sufficient Reason) towards “knowledges” of the body at its moments of intense pleasure and pain and of the Idea amidst the apprehension of the will-less subject.  In a similar way, Heidegger (and Wittgenstein) is seeking to disclose a differing topos of philosophical truth, beyond the limited island of empirical verifiability and the empty speculations of traditional metaphysics in the fundamental disclosures of mood and pre-theoretical and pre-practical comportments in the ready-to-hand of praxis.  In this way, Heidegger is neither merely repeating metaphysics in a reactionary manner, nor is he simply engaging in bad poetry or bad music, but is retrieving a sense of Being through the formal indication of phenomena amidst existence.[75]

Language, as Being and Time expresses, is that which merely indicates the phenomenon, allows it to speak for itself, to express itself.  Language is read off of the phenomenon in a ‘dedicated submission’ to the disclosure of the truth of existence.  And, for Heidegger, if logic cannot serve to allow for such an expression of the phenomenon of existence, then it must step aside for a language that will, even if that language is ultimately that of silence, or, of pure beholding of the phenomenon of existence.  Perhaps Caputo[76] is correct, to some extent, in his assessment that the Continental/Analytic divide and its “cure” is a question of an ethical comportment amongst philosophers, who all share in the “dark night” of existence.

Yet, it is not merely a question of ethics or tolerance since that which is at stake is not merely the various styles of philosophy and philosophers, but the distinct apprehension of differing senses and regions of truth.

For, we could adapt a phrase of the later Wittgenstein and suggest that we all may share the “form of life” and the divergent “language games” of the philosopher, but it is also certain that the dispute underscores the attempt of some philosophers to exclude others from the domain of philosophy itself.  And, for those like Carnap who do not recognise the normative claims of ethics (while asserting the normative restrictions of a meta-logic which polices the true), an appeal to ethics or even to a “form of life” will perhaps hold no resonance.

That which is essential in such a situation is that the disjunction between differing aspects of a community (as in Kant’s category of modality and in his sensus communis) indicates a divergence which can be not only a productive opposition within the community, but also points to differing and often contradictory apprehensions of truth.  Our solution will perhaps not remain for long the compartmentalisation of philosophical tendencies within distinct, though, for Kant, complementary, regions of the phenomena (Carnap) and noumena (Heidegger), but perhaps, with Hegel, a decided embracing of the conflict of reason with itself and of the creative dialectic which emerges in the myriad attempts to disclose the truth of existence.

As Nietzsche, following Heraclitus, writes in the Preface to his Beyond Good and Evil, there have been many attempts to lighten the tension of the bow, but it is his task of wakefulness to harness this tension and to perhaps find the target.  After all, as philosophers, our target is the truth, and no mere pragmatic compromise will ever satisfy our yearnings for this truth.[77] And, those who have been excluded from whatever pristine domain of the truth may find some inspiration in the fact that, as Reiner Schürmann has written in his posthumous Broken Hegemonies,[78] any attempt to assert a totalization of the truth will have already always announced its own demise and will thus have exposed itself as a fleeting hegemony.  It is in this way that we can be assured of ever new eruptions of truth in the long term, and it is this philosophy of the future which will, looking back, one day, witness the overcoming of our own seemingly insurmountable divisions.


[1] Indeed, one could go back a bit further to the purported demise of idealism, especially in its British manifestation with T.H. Green (1836-1882), Bernard Bosanquet (1848-1923), and, perhaps, most significantly, F.H. Bradley (1846-1924). In fact, it was through the radical critique of Bradley et al. by G. E. Moore and disciple Bertrand Russell that analytical philosophy established itself in the first place as a “common sense” and “rational” alternative to idealism.  Yet, as idealism still exists as an unbroken tradition, a conflict is thus revealed of yet another aspect of the ‘divide’, and with Critchley, of the specific and longstanding divisions in British philosophy and culture.

[2] F.N. Lanfredini, Roberta. “Schlick and Husserl on the Essence of Knowledge”, in Logical Empiricism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, University of Pittsburg Press, 2003.

[3] Heidegger, M. History of the Concept of Time, Indiana University Press; cf. also Husserl, E. Cartesian Meditations, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997.

[4] For a thorough investigation of the relation between Husserl and Schlick, cf. Livingston, Paul, ‘Husserl and Schlick on the Logical Form of Experience,’ Synthese 132:2 (2002), pp. 239-72.

[5] Of course, it would be too simple to find myriad examples of the Continental/Analytic divide in philosophy today, especially as Continental and/or European philosophies are increasingly gaining in esteem, influence, and voice.  Moreover, this dissemination of Continental/European philosophy is occurring in tandem with and amidst an Analytic philosophy that is now beginning to feel the angst of its own historicity, its finitude, isolation – and is showing a vast retreat from the extravagant rhetoric which characterised its founding texts.  Of course, “Continental Philosophy”, so-called, is also internally divided amongst itself – so-much so that there are actually debates in the United Kingdom and the United States over whether one should use the term “Continental”, or instead, and safer (within the “British” and “American” philosophical establishments”) term “European” – or better, even safer ‘modern european’ so as to exclude all those irrational ‘postmodernists’.  Indeed, ‘modern european’ “term” has seemed to “win out” for various diplomatic, strategic and aesthetic “reasons” (and despite the pitfall that will surface, again, in the charge of Euro-centrism – but “europe” was only highlighted due to the insularity of the British and the Americans.  In this context, being “european” is expansive and liberating, but only as a step toward an authentic, earthly world.)  There are, of course, also more substantive, philosophical differences within the “European” aka “Continental” camp, as exhibited in the now historical criticisms of Foucault by Habermas or the criticisms of Heidegger by Arendt, Jaspers, Adorno, and a vast muster of other and subsequent “criticisms”.  Not to mention Deleuze, Baudrillard, Bataille and those myriad hosts of other others, Iriguray, Kristeva, Butler, etc.  Not to mention Badiou and Ranciere, et al…. and their supplicants on the British Isles and elsewhere…

Indeed, amid the internal dissensions within these so-designated exclusive adversaries, we would expect that there would be many convergences and divergences amidst this so-called “divide” – dissensions and desertions.  And, in fact, there are many overtures and working networks all the time; yet, there are no symphonies, as of yet.  But there are departures and catastrophes also – philosophy has become a very motley city.

[6] Cassirer gives an in depth criticism of Heidegger’s Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics in “Remarks on Martin Heidegger’s Interpretation of Kant, in Kant: Disputed Questions, ed. Molke S. Gram, Quadrangle Books, Chicago, 1967.

[7] Martin Heidegger, “What is Metaphysics?”, Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell, Routledge, 1999.

[8] Rudolf Carnap, “The Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical analysis of Language,” Logical Positivism, ed. A.J. Ayer, Free Press, 1959.

[9] Gottfried Gabriel, Carnap’s ‘Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language’.  A Retrospective Consideration of the Relationship between Continental and Analytic Philosophy,’ Logical Empiricism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Paolo Parrini, Wesley C. Salmon, Marrilee H. Salmon, Pittsburgh, 2003. Translated by Andrew Inkpin.

[10] We must criticise the implication of Gabriel that the traditions are monolithic, though this is more certain in retrospect – it is clear that many in the Continental tradition would not wish to be associated with Heidegger, just as many in the Analytic tradition would not want to be associated with the logical positivism of Carnap – even Carnap himself after a certain point.

[11] Derrida, J. Margins of Philosophy, translated by Alan Bass, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1982.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Cassirer, like Wittgenstein, moved away from this narrow approach to a broader consideration of “symbolic forms” which saw science itself as another “metaphor” or transference.

[14] Heidegger criticises Rickert in History of the Concept of Time for his lack of a theory of intentionality in his attempt to coordinate the psychic and the physical.

[15] Of course, with hindsight, one could ascertain the limitations of each of these culturo-political perspectives, with respect to the phenomena of globalisation and nationalism.  Yet, we could equally point out the limitations of each of the underlying philosophical perspectives, and may begin to comprehend the necessity of a reflection upon the prevailing situation of a division of philosophy into entrenched camps.

[16] Heidegger, “What is Metaphysics?,” p. 93.

[17] Ibid., p. 93.

[18] Ibid., p. 94.

[19] Ibid., p. 94.

[20] Cassirer, E. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Vol. 1-4, Yale University Press, 1965.

[21] It is interesting that Carnap references “phenomenology” as well in his essay.  This is an indication, once again, of the radically divergent possibilities of meaning and interpretation which are evident between Heidegger and Carnap.  Yet, it is also clear that Carnap is not speaking of Husserl, but of empiricism.

[22] Nietzsche, F. The Will to Power, trs. Walter Kaufmann, Vintage Books, 1968, No. 1067, p. 550.  It is interesting in this connection that Heidegger did explicitly think upon Nietzsche in this connection in a series of essays entitled The End of Philosophy, most notably in “Overcoming Metaphysics,” (1954), published by Condor in 1973.

[23] Heidegger, “What is Metaphysics?,” p. 96.

[24] Ibid., p. 96.

[25] Ibid., p. 96.

[26] Ibid., p. 97.

[27] Ibid., p. 97.

[28] Ibid., p. 97.

[29] Ibid., p. 98.

[30] Ibid., p. 98.

[31] Ibid., p. 98.

[32] Ibid., p. 99.

[33] Ibid., p. 100.

[34] The term used in Being and Time and History of the Concept of Time (1925) is Befindlichkeit, which can be translated as disposition.

[35] Heidegger, “What is Metaphysics?,” p. 100.

[36] Ibid., p. 100.

[37] Ibid., p. 101.

[38] Ibid., p. 101.  It is this notion of speechlessness and silence which may give us a differing way to read Wittgenstein with respect to his imperative that we remain silent.  Perhaps, we have no other choice.

Heidegger, “What is Metaphysics?,” p. 103.

[40] Ibid., p. 103.

[41] Ibid., p. 103.

[42] Bataille, G. Theory of Religion, Zone Books, 1987, pp. 17-26.

[43] Heidegger. What is Metaphysics?, p. 103.

[44] Heidegger, “What is Metaphysics?,” p. 103.

[45] Ibid., p. 105.

[46] Ibid., p. 105.

[47] Ibid., p. 110.

[48] Gabriel, ‘A Retrospective Consideration…”

[49] Carnap, Rudolf, “The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language,” Logical Positivism, ed. A.J. Ayer, pp. 60-61.

[50] Carnap, p. 61.

[51] Carnap, p. 62.

[52] Carnap, p. 63.

[53] As an example of his analysis, he introduces two words, teavy and toovy, the former having no empirical referent and thus no criterion of application, and the latter having a criterion as that, which although a novel word, it is defined in reference to an established word with meaning.  In the case of teavy, since there is no criterion, nothing is asserted when the term is uttered, while, since toovy has been given a definition, its meaning is thereby fixed.  This example is significant as it illustrates not only the positive criteria by which meaning is constituted in the context of elementary sentences, but also the negative criteria by which one can judge the meaningless of words, even of words which we feel we know their meaning or sense.  And, Carnap, having revealed the conservatism of his methodology, brings the full gravity of this analysis to his assessment of metaphysical words.

[54] For a contrary view, we may wish to mention Schopenhauer’s The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which offers a very detailed and rigorous explication of the principle of being as being one of the four types of the principle of sufficient reason.

[55] Chomsky, N. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1965.

[56] Carnap, p. 68.

[57] Carnap, p. 69.

[58] Carnap, p. 69.

[59] Gabriel, “A Retrospective Consideration…”

[60] Carnap, p. 69.

[61] Carnap, pp. 70-71.

[62] Carnap, p. 71.

[63] Carnap, p. 71.

[64] Carnap, p. 71.

[65] Carnap, p. 72.

[66] In Kaufmann, W. Existentialism, Meridian, Cleveland, 1962.

[67] Dummet, M. Origins of Analytical Philosophy, Duckwork, 1993; Glock, H.J. The Rise of Analytic Philosophy, Blackwell, 1977.

[68] Bataille, G. “The Psychological Structure of Fascism,” Visions of Excess, University of Minnesota, 1985.

[69] Babich, Babette.  “On the Analytic-Continental Divide in Philosophy: Nietzsche’s Lying Truth, Heidegger’s Speaking Language and Philosophy,” A House Divided: Comparing Analytic and Continental Philosophy, ed. C.G. Prado, Prometheus/Humanity Books, 2003.

[70] This has even gone to the extent that there are now Analytic versions of notable Continental personages as Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, (and even Deleuze) and a host of others.

[71] Babich has also indicated the phenomenon of a “post-analytic philosophy” which, while rejecting the pretensions and purported agenda of analytic philosophy, has still managed to maintain the parameters and methodological strategems of analytic philosophy in such philosophers as Putnam, Nagel and Davidson.

[72] Such a view seems to be the central message of Peter Dews in his essay, “The Limits of Disenchantment”, The Limits of Disenchantment: Essays on Contemporary European Philosophy, Verso, 1996.  The real question is, of course, is whether Continental philosophy could digest such a diet without becoming nauseated (Sartre), dis-pepsic (Nietzsche), inauthentic (Heidegger), schizophrenic (Deleuze), or a simulacrum (Baudrillard), etc.

[73] Simon Critchley, Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, 2003.

[74] Ibid.

[75] Bataille, for instance, did not merely engage in poetry for effect, but in order to disclose that which could not be expressed in the discursive language of a detached intellect.  He writes, for example, in his Theory of Religion, “Intimacy cannot be expressed discursively.”  In this way, the question of style is secondary to the matter at hand.

[76] John Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project, Indiana University Press, 1987.

[77] This is the reason that “pragmatism” cannot be a bridge between Continental and Analytic perspectives, since, at the end of the day, what is called for is a determination of the task of philosophy itself.  It is not that there can be no compromise; instead, a simple blurring of fundamental distinctions will only diminish the original force of the articulated perspectives, which, as has been made all-too-clear, are radically distinct.

[78] Reiner Schürmann, Broken Hegemonies, Indiana University Press, 2003.

5 Comments

  1. alastair moody said,

    July 2, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I enjoyed this essay. Thank you.
    I became interested in Heidegger’s (initially later) writing during a transition from working as an engineer to making paintings commenting on engineering (or rather the technological landscape). Eventually I traced the tension in my output in something like the Carnap-Heidegger misunderstanding. In 2009 I found a statement of this in the short Simon Critchley work which you cite above. In that book, Critchley refers to the “Two Cultures” debate between Charles Snow and F R Leavis. Critchley is somewhat dismissive of what he regards as Leavis’s “elitist nose-holding”. However, elsewhere I have seen Leavis’s essay, “”Two Cultures”? The Significance of C P Snow”, described as “possibly the finest polemic of the [20th] century”. I was certainly immensely impressed (and in the right emotional and intellectual state to be so impressed) by the way that Leavis shows the significant deficiencies of Snow’s address, even while indicating a realm of understanding that can at best be “shown”, and without mentioning philosophy.

  2. alastair moody said,

    July 3, 2011 at 12:12 am

    I also wanted to say that the source of dispute between Carnap and Heidegger seems to have been given significant treatment in the work of Karl Popper, around his concern with the demarcation between science and non-science. It seems Popper hated Heidegger, but his modification of Kant seems to have put the boot into scientism and Logical Positivism too, while leaving space for the metaphysical. I recently read a biography of early Popper by Hacohen, and I found it a brilliant pendant to a book I already had, the biography of Heidegger by Safranski. Does Popper hold any interest for you? I sometimes wonder why there seems to be so little (or no) mention of his work in texts I have read on the Analytic/Continental divide?

    • luchte said,

      August 23, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      The significance of Popper – although I have been aware of his work, especially as I have taken note and mentioned the radical difference between the principle of verification and that of falsification – there is an interesting sidenote to this with respect to the interface between a Popperian and a Nietzschean philosophy of science – I think Popper has suffered due to the politicization of his work, The Open Society, to the exclusion of his radical and ambiguous status, with Wittgenstein, upon the topography of Analytic philosophy, whatever that is…

  3. January 24, 2014 at 10:08 am

    […] via Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Carnap: Radical Phenomenology, Logical Positivism and the Roots of the C…. […]


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