University of Sussex
Al-Saraf, Ethar.pdf (2.19 MB)

A phenomenological ontology of freedom: obscuration and the light

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posted on 2023-06-09, 12:54 authored by Ethar Al-Saraf
The thesis argues that for Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger, the free will debate has been rendered intractable by a fundamental misunderstanding of the terms involved. This is exacerbated by a failure to identify and adopt an appropriate methodological approach to the problem. Both philosophers argue that this error in the free will debate is symptomatic of a broader misunderstanding of philosophical enquiry and the method it necessitates. For Heidegger, the entire history of ‘analytic/western’ ontology has been fatally misconceived as a result of an effort to define the being of entities in static terms. The insistence on the question of what a being ‘is’ obstructs any meaningful enquiry by conceding its existence at the outset of the investigation. Sartre’s project is founded on Heidegger’s argument, pushing it into a definitive claim about the nature of consciousness. He argues that as the only being for whom ‘meaning’ is possible, consciousness is distanced from beings by ‘nothingness’ which ensures its ontological freedom. The thesis will argue that Sartre has misconstrued Heidegger’s work, making comprehension of his freedom all the more complicated. We propose that a thorough investigation of their projects will reveal an account of ontological freedom that does not suffer from the shortcomings of existentialism whilst avoiding the methodological missteps of the traditional discourse.


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