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Topic: Heidegger and Aristotle on Us (what we are, who we are)

Order Description
Read the questions carefully, asking your section leader when in doubt. We will be looking for papers that try to answer the question that is being asked, including all of sub-prompts, but not questions that have not been asked. For most questions you will do well if you organize your paper along the lines indicated by the ordering of the sub-prompts here. But this order is not mandatory. We are only looking for organizations that are convincing.

We want you to engage the texts. Show this by referring to the texts in our reading list and to the Lecture Summaries. You lose points when you do not cite and refer! You can refer in your text by adding a parenthesis, citing our Reader by page number or citing convention ( for Aristotle: 1028a4, for Heidegger: book p. 45 or marginal or 48). If you use and cite another source, you may use the same mode of reference (author’s name, year, page number) and list the bibliographical information at the end of your paper under “Cited Works”. Secondary or other work you use must appear in the bibliography. Use of work without acknowledgment is plagiarism, and will be sanctioned.

I. Heidegger and Aristotle on Us (what we are, who we are)

1. Aristotle addresses us as a specific kind of animal.
(a) What are essential features of ‘being an animal’? What other things hold of many animals, and not of living beings that are not animals? What are essential features of plants? In each case give one example of how that feature is functioning, and what this function does. [You may use modern understanding of animals and plants.]
(b) What are essential features of ‘being human’? Which of them distinguishes us from other animals? Give an example for the functioning of the distinctive feature, and of actions performed using that feature.
(c) How does the distinguishing feature pervade, organize and regulate our whole being, in particular those features and functions that we share with other animals and plants?

[For this question you need to go to Aristotle De Anima Book I: 402a1-403b22; Book II: Chapters 1 through 4: (412a3-416b31.); De Anima, Book III, Chapters 4 & 5; and 10 & 11 (419a10-430a27 and 433a9-434a22) [8 pages]
Summaries 2 & 3.]

2. Heidegger addresses us as ‘beings for whom their Being is an issue/is at stake/is a concern. Also as beings that need to take a stand towards their Being.

(a) What is the difference between ‘being such-and-such’ [substantial understanding] and ‘having to be one’s Being’? [Hint: the difference between writing a paper and having to write a paper or having the project of writing a paper].
(b) In which way is there an openness in what we become when we select and pursue projects that determine who we are? Think of an example for such a project., trying to say what the project is, who you become when you choose this project, how you would need to act in order to realize your project and who you become through this project. Can you change your mind on the way, and what does that mean? What if you realize your project, and have become what you wanted to become, and do not like that ‘me’ you have now become?
(c) What is it for Dasein to be singular, and how does this singularity manifest itself in action and destiny?

3. Compare and contrast Aristotle and Heidegger! What are some of the main points of difference? Which of the two conceptions comes closer to how you feel about yourself and your life? (You may also find them equally close, or fail to find any affinity with your own life. Whatever you choose, give reasons for your choice!)

[For this question you need to go to B&T § 9, marginal and book pp. 41ff; § 41, marginal pp. 191-196 & p.199-200, Book p. 184-189 & 191-192 – care; ‘ B&T § 43 c), marginal pp. 211-212, Book p. 203-204 – care.
Summaries 4 & 5.]

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