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Martin Heidegger, Man with Mustache, Introduction to Metaphysics, translation by Gregory Fried, assistant professor of philosophy and humanities at Boston University, and Richard Polt, associate professor of philosophy at Xavier University, 2000, The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics pg 1-7

WHY ARE THERE beings at all instead of nothing? That is the question. Presumably it is no arbitrary question. "Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?" - this is obviously the first of all questions. Of course, it is not the first question in the chronological sense. Individuals as well as peoples ask many questions in the course of their historical passage through time. They explore, investigate, and test many sorts of things before they run into the question ''Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?" Many never run into this question at all, if running into the question means not only hearing and reading the interrogative sentence as uttered, but asking the question, that is, taking a stand on it, posing it, compelling oneself into the state of this questioning. And yet, we are each touched once, maybe even now and then, by the concealed power of this question, without properly grasping what is happening to us.• In great despair, for example, when all weight tends to dwindle away from things and the sense of things grows dark, the question looms. Perhaps it strikes only once, like the muffled tolling of a bell that resounds int~ Dasein1 and gradually fades away. The question is there in heartfelt joy, for then all things are transformed and surround us as if for the first time, as if it were easier to grasp that they were not, rather than that they are, and are as they are. The question is there in a spell of boredom, when we are equally distant from despair and joy, but when the stubborn ordinariness of beings lays open a wasteland in which it makes no difference to us whether beings are or are not - and then, in a distinctive form, the question resonates once again: Why are there beings at all instead of nothing? But whether this question is asked explicitly, or whether it merely passes through our Dasein like a fleeting gust of wind, unrecognized as a question, whether it becomes more oppressive or is [2] thrust away by us again and suppressed under some pretext, it certainly is never the first question that we ask. But it is the first question in another sense-namely, in rank. This can be clarified in three ways. The question "Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?" is first in rank for us as the broadest, as the deepest, and finally as the most originary question. The question is the broadest in scope. It comes to a halt at no being of any kind whatsoever. The question embraces all that is, and that means not only what is now present at hand in the broadest sense, but also what has previously been and what will be in the future. The domain of this question is limited only by what simply is not and never is: by Nothing. All that is not Nothing comes into the question, and in the end even Nothing itself-not, as it wer~, because it is something, a being, for after all we are talking about it, but because it "is" Nothing. The scope of our question is so broad that we can never exceed it. We are not interrogating this being or that being, nor all beings, each in turn; instead, we are asking from the start about the whole of what is, or as we say for reasons to be discussed later: beings as a whole and as such. Just as it is'the broadest question, the question is also the deepest: Why are there beings at all ... ? Why-that is, what is the groUJ?d? From what ground do beings coIt;le? On what ground do beings stand? To what ground do beings go. The question does not ask this or that about beings - what they are in each case, here and there, how they are put togethet, how they can be changed, what they can be used for, and so on. The questioning seeks the ground for what is, insofar as it is in being.3 To seek the ground: this means to get to the bottom (ergronden). What is put into question comes into relation with a ground. But because we are questioning, it remains an open question whether the ground is a truly grounding, foundation-effecting, originary ground; whether the ground refuses to prOvide a foundation, and so is an abyss; or whether the ground is neither one nor the other, but merely offers the. perhaps necessary illusion of a foundation and is thus an unground.4 However this may be, the question seeks a decision with respect to the ground that grounds the fact that what is, is in being as the being that it is.s This why-question does not seek causes for beings, causes of the same kind and on the same level as beings themselves. This why-question does not just skim the surface, but presses into the domains that lie "at the ground:' even pressing into the ultimate, to the limit; the question is turned away from all [3] surface and shallowness, striving for depth; as the broadest, it is at the same time the deepest of the deep questions. Finally, as the broadest and deepest question, it is also the most originary. What do we mean by that? If we consider our question in the whole breadth of what it puts into question, beings as such and as a whole, then it strikes us right away that in the question, we keep ourselves completely removed from every particular, individual being as precisely this or that being. We do mean beings as a whole, but without any particular preference. Still, it is remarkable that one being always keeps coming to the fore in this questioning: the human beings who pose this question. And yet the question should not be about some particular, individual being. Given the unrestricted range of the question, every being counts as much as any other. Some elephant in some jungle in India is in being just as much as some chemical oxidation process on the planet Mars, and whatever else you please. Thus if we properly pursue the question "Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?" in its sense as a question, we must avoid emphasizing any particular, individual being, not even focusing on the human being. For what is this being, after all! Let us consider the Earth within the dark immensity of space in the universe. We -. can compare it to a tiny grain of sand; more than a kilometer of emptiness extends between it and the next grain of its size; on the surface of this tiny grain of sand lives a stupefied swarm of supposedly clever animals, crawling all over each other, who for a brief moment have invented knowledge [d. Nietzsche, "On Truth and Lie in the Extramoral Sense:' 1873, published posthumously].6 And what is a human lifespan amid millions of years? Barely a move of the second hand, a breath. Within beings as a whole there is no justification to be found for emphasizing precisely this being that is called the human being and among which we ourselves happen to belong. But if beings as a whole are ever brought into our question, then the questioning does come into a distinctive relation with themdistinctive because it is unique - and beings do come into a distinc- tive relation with this questioning. For through this questioning, beings as a whole are first opened up as such and with regards to their possible ground, and they are kept open in the questioning. The asking of this question is not, in relation to beings as such and as a whole, some arbitrary occurrence amid beings, such as the falling of raindrops. The why-question challenges beings as a whole, so to speak, outstrips them, though never completely. But [f] this is precisely how the questioning gains its distinction. What is asked in this question rebounds upon the questioning itself, for the questioning challenges beings as a whole but does not after all wrest itself free from them. Why the Why? What is the ground of this why-question itself, a question that presumes to establish the ground of beings as a whole? Is this Why, too, just asking about the ground as a foreground, so that it is still always a being that is sought as what does the grounding? Is this "first" question not the first in rank after all, as measured by the intrinsic rank of the ques- tion of Being and its transformations? To be sure - whether the question ''Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?" is posed or not makes no difference what- soever to beings themselves. The planets move in their orbits without, this question. The vigor of life flows through plant and animal without this' question. But if this question is posed, and provided that it is aeti1ally carried out, then this questioning necessarily recoils back from what is asked and what is interrogated, back upon itself. Therefore this questioning in itself is not some arbitrary process but rather a distinctive occurrence that we call a happening. This question and all the questions immediately rooted in it, in which this one question unfolds - this why-question cannot be compared to any other. It runs up against the search for its own Why. The question "Why the Why?" looks externally and at first like a frivolous repetition of the s~e interrogative, which can go on forever; it looks like an eccentric and empty rumination about insubstantial meanings of words. Certainly, that is how it looks. The only question is whether we are willing to fall victim to this cheap look of things and thus take the whole matter: as settled, or I whether we are capable of experiencing a provocative happening in this recoil of the why-question back upon itself. ,But if we do not let ourselves be deceived by the look of things, it will become clear that this why-question, as a question about beings as such and as a whole, immediately leads us away from mere toying with words, proVided that we still possess enough force of spirit to make the question truly recoil into its own Why; for the recoil does not, after all, produce itse~ on its own. Then we discover that this distinctive why-question has its ground in a leap by which human beings leap away from all the previous safety of their Dasein, be it genuine or presumed. The asking of this question happens only in the leap and as the leap, and otherwise not at all. [5] Later; we will clarify what we mean her~ by "leap." Our questioning is not yet the leap; for that, it must first be transf~rmed; it still stands, unknowing, in the face of beings. For now, let this comment suffi~: the leap (SPrung) of this questioning attains its own ground by leaping, performs it in leaping (er-springt, springend erwirkt). According to the genuIne meaning of the word, we call such a leap that attains itself as ground by leaping an originary leap (Ur-sprung): an 'attaining-the-ground-by-leaping. Because the question "Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?" attains the ground for all genuine questioning by leaping and is thus an originary leap, we must recognize it as the most originary (urspriinglich) of questions.

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""Why the Why?" looks externally and at first like a frivolous repetition of the s~e interrogative, which can go on forever; it looks like an eccentric and empty rumination about insubstantial meanings of words. Certainly, that is how it looks. The only question is whether we are willing to fall victim to this cheap look of things and thus take the whole matter: as settled, or I whether we are capable of experiencing a provocative happening in this recoil of the why-question back upon itself. ,But if we do not let ourselves be deceived by the look of things, it will become clear that this why-question, as a question about beings as such and as a whole, immediately leads us away from mere toying with words, proVided that we still possess enough force of spirit to make the question truly recoil into its own Why; for the recoil does not, after all, produce itse~ on its own. Then we discover that this distinctive why-question has its ground in a leap by which human beings leap away from all the previous safety of their Dasein, be it genuine or presumed. The asking of this question happens only in the leap and as the leap, and otherwise not at all. [5] Later; we will clarify what we mean her~ by "leap." Our questioning is not yet the leap; for that, it must first be transf~rmed; it still stands, unknowing, in the face of beings. For now, let this comment suffi~: the leap (SPrung) of this questioning attains its own ground by leaping, performs it in leaping (er-springt, springend erwirkt). According to the genuIne meaning of the word, we call such a leap that attains itself as ground by leaping an originary leap (Ur-sprung): an 'attaining-the-ground-by-leaping. Because the question "Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?" attains the ground for all genuine questioning by leaping and is thus an originary leap, we must recognize it as the most originary (urspriinglich) of questions"

 

Is this leaping related to the "leaping in" and "leaping ahead" of authentic Being? anyone? Or just completely diff. concepts with coincidentally the same word?

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Ontology does not “come first,†but is negotiated pragmatically through the practice of coming up with conceptual schemes that map onto the world in useful ways. Ontological statements are no more or less privileged than factual ones and are subject to empirical falsification. To reject the facts at hand in order to look at ontology first misses the point entirely.

Quine 1961 (William Van Orman, liberator of analytic philosophy from the philosophy of language and vanquisher of rationalism, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism†section V, http://www.ditext.com/quine/quine.html)

[[CARD HAS BEEN EDITED FOR GENDERED LANGUGE]]

The totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most casual matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or even of pure mathematics and logic, is a [human]-made fabric which impinges on experience only along the edges. Or, to change the figure, total science is like a field of force whose boundary conditions are experience. A conflict with experience at the periphery occasions readjustments in the interior of the field. Truth values have to be redistributed over some of our statements. Re-evaluation of some statements entails re-evaluation of others, because of their logical interconnections -- the logical laws being in turn simply certain further statements of the system, certain further elements of the field. Having re-evaluated one statement we must re-evaluate some others, whether they be statements logically connected with the first or whether they be the statements of logical connections themselves. But the total field is so undetermined by its boundary conditions, experience, that there is much latitude of choice as to what statements to re-evaluate in the light of any single contrary experience. No particular experiences are linked with any particular statements in the interior of the field, except indirectly through considerations of equilibrium affecting the field as a whole.

If this view is right, it is misleading to speak of the empirical content of an individual statement -- especially if it be a statement at all remote from the experiential periphery of the field. Furthermore it becomes folly to seek a boundary between synthetic statements, which hold contingently on experience, and analytic statements which hold come what may. Any statement can be held true come what may, if we make drastic enough adjustments elsewhere in the system. Even a statement very close to the periphery can be held true in the face of recalcitrant experience by pleading hallucination or by amending certain statements of the kind called logical laws. Conversely, by the same token, no statement is immune to revision. Revision even of the logical law of the excluded middle has been proposed as a means of simplifying quantum mechanics; and what difference is there in principle between such a shift and the shift whereby Kepler superseded Ptolemy, or Einstein Newton, or Darwin Aristotle?

For vividness I have been speaking in terms of varying distances from a sensory periphery. Let me try now to clarify this notion without metaphor. Certain statements, though about physical objects and not sense experience, seem peculiarly germane to sense experience -- and in a selective way: some statements to some experiences, others to others. Such statements, especially germane to particular experiences, I picture as near the periphery. But in this relation of "germaneness" I envisage nothing more than a loose association reflecting the relative likelihood, in practice, of our choosing one statement rather than another for revision in the event of recalcitrant experience. For example, we can imagine recalcitrant experiences to which we would surely be inclined to accommodate our system by re-evaluating just the statement that there are brick houses on Elm Street, together with related statements on the same topic. We can imagine other recalcitrant experiences to which we would be inclined to accommodate our system by re-evaluating just the statement that there are no centaurs, along with kindred statements. A recalcitrant experience can, I have already urged, be accommodated by any of various alternative re-evaluations in various alternative quarters of the total system; but, in the cases which we are now imagining, our natural tendency to disturb the total system as little as possible would lead us to focus our revisions upon these specific statements concerning brick houses or centaurs. These statements are felt, therefore, to have a sharper empirical reference than highly theoretical statements of physics or logic or ontology. The latter statements may be thought of as relatively centrally located within the total network, meaning merely that little preferential connection with any particular sense data obtrudes itself.

As an empiricist I continue to think of the conceptual scheme of science as a tool, ultimately, for predicting future experience in the light of past experience. Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries -- not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits18b comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer. Let me interject that for my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer's gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.

Positing does not stop with macroscopic physical objects. Objects at the atomic level and beyond are posited to make the laws of macroscopic objects, and ultimately the laws of experience, simpler and more manageable; and we need not expect or demand full definition of atomic and subatomic entities in terms of macroscopic ones, any more than definition of macroscopic things in terms of sense data. Science is a continuation of common sense, and it continues the common-sense expedient of swelling ontology to simplify theory.

Physical objects, small and large, are not the only posits. Forces are another example; and indeed we are told nowadays that the boundary between energy and matter is obsolete. Moreover, the abstract entities which are the substance of mathematics -- ultimately classes and classes of classes and so on up -- are another posit in the same spirit. Epistemologically these are myths on the same footing with physical objects and gods, neither better nor worse except for differences in the degree to which they expedite our dealings with sense experiences.

The over-all algebra of rational and irrational numbers is underdetermined by the algebra of rational numbers, but is smoother and more convenient; and it includes the algebra of rational numbers as a jagged or gerrymandered part.19b Total science, mathematical and natural and human, is similarly but more extremely underdetermined by experience. The edge of the system must be kept squared with experience; the rest, with all its elaborate myths or fictions, has as its objective the simplicity of laws.

Ontological questions, under this view, are on a par with questions of natural science.20b Consider the question whether to countenance classes as entities. This, as I have argued elsewhere,10a21b is the question whether to quantify with respect to variables which take classes as values. Now Carnap ["Empiricism, semantics, and ontology," Revue internationale de philosophie 4 (1950), 20-40.] has maintained11a that this is a question not of matters of fact but of choosing a convenient language form, a convenient conceptual scheme or framework for science. With this I agree, but only on the proviso that the same be conceded regarding scientific hypotheses generally. Carnap has recognized12a that he is able to preserve a double standard for ontological questions and scientific hypotheses only by assuming an absolute distinction between the analytic and the synthetic; and I need not say again that this is a distinction which I reject. 22b

The issue over there being classes seems more a question of convenient conceptual scheme; the issue over there being centaurs, or brick houses on Elm Street, seems more a question of fact. But I have been urging that this difference is only one of degree, and that it turns upon our vaguely pragmatic inclination to adjust one strand of the fabric of science rather than another in accommodating some particular recalcitrant experience. Conservatism figures in such choices, and so does the quest or simplicity.

Carnap, Lewis, and others take a pragmatic stand on the question of choosing between language forms, scientific [and] frameworks; but their pragmatism leaves off at the imagined boundary between the analytic and the synthetic. In repudiating such a boundary I espouse a more thorough pragmatism. Each [person] is given a scientific heritage plus a continuing barrage of sensory stimulation; and the considerations which guide [them] in warping [their] scientific heritage to fit [their] continuing sensory promptings are, where rational, pragmatic.

 

EDIT: Fixed Quine's name.

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apparently their deal is a tremendous inferiority complex

 

Inferior to what, exactly?

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William Van Orme [Quine]

It's "Willard Van Orman Quine" or "W.V.O. Quine."

 

Also, all this hating on analytic philosophy is ridiculous and probably speaks more about the ignorance of the poster than the subject itself.

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but it shouldn't be

I mean, it's not the WORST card in the world. Not fantastic, but it does the job if you feel like it. It tries to make some ontology turns epistemology/realism claims in conjunction with ontology first, but it doesn't do a great job of either. I would just read this as "ontology first" and then read "more ev" hoping they would just altogether drop the part of the card that implicates other modes of thought. In reality, though, it doesn't have much strategic value. I was just surprised that nobody had mentioned it yet on an ontology first thread.

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it was really more a comment on the motivation behind posting an answer to ontology in a thread requesting evidence for ontological framing

 

Your armchair psychology is stunning in its perspicacity.

 

EDIT: LAWL AT BIG WERDZ

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it was really more a comment on the motivation behind posting an answer to ontology in a thread requesting evidence for ontological framing

It wasn't a particularly insightful comment, then. If you wanted to call someone out for posting something contrary to the point of the thread, then do that. There's no reason to malign an entire field.

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