The question of being

Authors: Haines, David
Advisor: De Koninck, Thomas
Abstract: The difficulty of approaching the question of Being is described, by Étienne Gilson as follows, "in a domain where dialectical demonstration loses its rights, one can do no more than look, say what he sees, and invite others to turn, like himself, their eyes towards the truth." In fact, says Gilson, earlier in this same article, "Take two metaphysicians who are equally competent and in possession of equal ability in the handling of dialectical arguments, it is possible that neither of them will ever succeed in convincing the other, because they do not see the same things." This seems to be the fate of the true philosopher, as he is described in the Sophist, who is hard to see "because that area is so bright and the eyes of most people's souls cannot bear to look at that which is divine." If the philosopher, the person who questions Being, is difficult to see, because of that which he is pursuing, then that which he is pursuing must be even more difficult to grasp. As Josef Pieper puts it, "The philosophizing person finds himself in just such a situation; this is precisely what singles him out, that is, that he is obliged to speak of something undeniably encountered but that cannot be expressed exactly in words." This dissertation can be divided into two major sections. The first major section could be portrayed as an interpretative section. We here attempt to establish, as accurately as possible, the differing attempts to answer the question of Being that were proposed by Plato, Aristotle and Martin Heidegger. We are, in a sense, attempting to map out the paths they took in their quest to attain the summit of Mount Being. Each of these sections contain our own contributions to what we propose is the proper interpretation of these three philosophers. These contributions take into account a preliminary interpretation of these authors, followed by the attempt to wade through a veritable swamp of interpretative writings that purport to tell us, once and for all, how to properly understand the ontological claims of Plato, Aristotle and Martin Heidegger. Our contributions to philosophical thought surrounding these particular thinkers do not constitute, however, the primary goal of this dissertation. Rather, they will serve to help us in our attempt to climb the mountain of Being. Having mapped out their paths, we should be better able to plan out our own approach to the question of Being. Thus, in the second section, we will use what we have learned in the first section in order to approach the question of Being anew. This second section should be seen as a philosophical section-the active pursuit of wisdom. In this second section we propose to approach the question of Being, first of all, through a comparison, analysis, and critique of the three thinkers we examined in the first section. This will be followed by our own humble attempts to answer the question of Being. We will conclude with some brief thoughts about how our discoveries about Being may affect other domains of knowledge.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2017
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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