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The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 11, 2007

Contemporary Philosophy

Elif Çirakman
Pages 41-47
DOI: 10.5840/wcp2120071187

Heidegger's Concept of Human Freedom
From Metaphysical to Its Tragic Sense

In this paper, I examine how and why Heidegger's early conception of freedom as the ground of the self-appropriation of Dasein had been gradually transformed after 1930. The approach of Heidegger to the issue of human freedom displays how his thinking proceeds from Kant's formulation of the problem in "The Third Antinomy" of the first Critique to Sophocles' tragedy of Antigone. I argue that the reason behind this transformation resides in the attempt of thinking the relation between freedom and natural necessity over and beyond the constraints of critical philosophy. What seems pivotal in this transformation is Heidegger's growing concern with the "tragic" in which he envisages the possibility of a genuine exposure to the "truth" of the conflict between freedom and necessity and, more primordially, to the "abode" wherein the encounter between man and Being {Sein) occurs. Here, the "tragic" is pointing to the limits of representation and what is presented. In other words, it exhibits the limits of human freedom in its relation to the truth of Being. In the passion for disclosure of Being {aletheia), man is driven into the freedom of instituting its truth. In Heidegger's late thinking, human freedom is determined not any more by the obligation of choosing oneself but by the necessity of clearing the truth of Being. Human freedom is tragic in the face of this necessity that it has to answer. Therefore, man is envisaged as having no right or mastery over his freedom for there is no total clearing of its origin. Finally, I argue that it seems impossible to understand the transformation in Heidegger's concept of freedom without an appeal to his emphasis on the "tragic" as being an attempt to deepen and to transfigure the problem as treated in Kantian critical philosophy. In its tragic sense, Heidegger's concept of human freedom displays what lies beneath the Kantian antinomy: the incomprehensible origin of human freedom conceived as the event of the historical appropriation of Being {Er-eignis).

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