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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 6, 1998

Contemporary Philosophy

A. Kadir Çüçen
Pages 57-64

Heidegger’s Reading of Descartes’ Dualism
The Relation of Subject and Object

The problem of traditional epistemology is the relation of subject to external world. The distinction between subject and object makes possible the distinction between the knower and what is known. Starting with Descartes, the subject is a thinking thing that is not extended, and the object is an extended thing which does not think. Heidegger rejects this distinction between subject and object by arguing that there is no subject distinct from the external world of things because Dasein is essentially Being-in-the-world. Heidegger challenges the Cartesian legacy in epistemology in two ways. First, there is the modern tendency toward subjectivism and individualism that started with Descartes' discovery of the 'cogito.' Second, there is the technological orientation of the modern world that originated in the Cartesian understanding of the mathematical and external physical world.

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