Dreyfus’s Concept of the ‘Background’

Denis McManus

in Heidegger and the Measure of Truth

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199694877
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745706 | DOI:
Dreyfus’s Concept of the ‘Background’

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The most influential interpretation of the issues that Chapter 3 raises is that found in Dreyfus’ reading of Heidegger. Central to it is Dreyfus’ notion of ‘the background’ and this chapter examines some of the considerations upon which he draws in arguing for the need for such a ‘background’ and in identifying just what the ‘background’ is. In particular, two arguments are explored that appear to show that, without such a ‘background’, we face an unstoppable ‘regress of rules’. But if recognition of the ‘background’ is meant to provide solutions to those problems, then it is not clear that the supposed solutions that emerge work. Drawing on parallels with ideas of McDowell's, some of which Heidegger anticipates, an alternative interpretation is identified, according to which that recognition forms part of an attempt to ‘dissolve’ those problems. But this alternative interpretation raises other serious doubts about Dreyfus's characterisation of the ‘background’.

Keywords: Dreyfus; background; rule; proposition; regress; McDowell; representationalism; ceteris paribus clauses

Chapter.  10174 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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