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!)