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In Heidegger's shadow: a phenomenological critique of Critical Realism

Abstract

The field of International Relations (IR) although in many quarters still immersed in the epistemological trenches surrounding the fourth debate between positivism and post-positivism saw the emergence of a renewed interest and debate about the state and rigour of ‘our’ ontological assumptions. One currently very prominent contribution to this emerging or re-emerging interest in ontological questions can be found in the Critical Realist (CR) approach.

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1 See for instance Patomäki Heikki and Wight Colin, ‘After Post-Positivism? The Promise of Critical Realism’, International Studies Quarterly, 44 (2000), pp. 213–37; Wight Colin, Agents, Structures and International Relations: Politics as Ontology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

2 Ibid., p. 29.

3 See for instance Odysseos Louiza, The Subject of Coexistence. Otherness in International Relations (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007); Shapcott Richard, Justice, Community, and Dialogue in International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Dillon Michael, Politics of Security. Towards a Political Philosophy of Continental Thought (London and New York: Routledge, 1996).

4 The literature on Heidegger's position within the realism/anti-realism debate is vast. A variety of positions and treatments of the matter can be found in Glazebrook Trish, Heidegger's Philosophy of Science (New York: Fordham University Press, 2000); Stepanich Lambert V., ‘Heidegger: “Between Idealism and Realism”’, The Harvard Review of Philosophy (Spring 1991), pp. 20–8; McManus Denis, ‘Heidegger, Measurement and the “Intelligibility” of Science’, European Journal of Philosophy, 15:1 (2007), pp. 82105; Glazebrook Trish, ‘Heidegger and Scientific Realism’, Continental Philosophy Review, 34 (2001), pp. 361401; Dreyfus Hubert L. and Spinosa Charles, ‘Coping with Things-in-themselves: A Practice-Based Phenomenological Argument for Realism’, Inquiry, 42 (1999), pp. 4978; or Malpas Jeff, ‘The Fragility of Robust Realism: A Reply to Dreyfus and Spinosa’, Inquiry, 42 (1999), pp. 89101.

5 Stepanich, ‘Between Idealism and Realism’, p. 20.

6 Wendt Alexander, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 15.

7 Alexander Wendt, Social Theory; Heikki Patomäki and Colin Wight, ‘The Promise of Critical Realism’; Colin Wight, Agents, Structures and International Relations; Kurki Milja, ‘Causes of a divided discipline: rethinking the concept of cause in International Relations theory’, Review of International Studies, 32:2 (2006), pp. 189216; Wight Colin, ‘Inside the epistemological cave all bets are off’, Journal of International Relations and Development, 10 (2007), pp. 4056; Wight Colin, ‘A Manifesto for Scientific Realism in IR: Assuming the Can-Opener Won't Work!’, Millennium: Journal for International Studies, 35:2 (2007), pp. 379–98; Kurki Milja, ‘Critical Realism and Causal Analysis in International Relations’, Millennium: Journal for International Studies, 35:2 (2007), pp. 361–78; Joseph Jonathan, ‘Philosophy in International Relations: A Scientific Realist Approach’, Millennium: Journal for International Studies, 35:2 (2007), pp. 345–59.

8 Ibid., p. 2.

9 Ibid., p. 28.

10 Wight, Agents, Structures and International Relations, p. 25.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid., p. 2.

13 Ibid., p. 29.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid., p. 55.

16 Ibid., p. 29.

17 Ibid., p. 25, emphasis added.

18 Ibid., p. 29, emphasis added.

19 Heidegger Martin, Being and Time, trans. Stambaugh Joan (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), p. 196, §212.

20 Ibid., p. 172, §183.

21 Ibid., p. 196, §212.

22 Ibid., p. 172, §183.

23 Stepanich, ‘Between Idealism and Realism’, p. 22.

24 Heidegger, Being and Time, p. 190, §205.

25 Ibid., p. 191, §206.

26 Glazebrook, ‘Heidegger and Scientific Realism’, p. 377; see also Heidegger, Being and Time, p. 188, § 202.

27 Stepanich, ‘Between Idealism and Realism’, p. 21.

28 Ibid.

29 McManus, ‘“Intelligibility” of Science’, pp. 82, 86.

30 Heidegger, Being and Time, p. 188, §202.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid., p. 192, §207.

33 Ibid., p. 196, §212.

34 Glazebrook, ‘Heidegger and Scientific Realism’, p. 368.

35 Ibid.

36 Wight, Agents, Structures and International Relations, p. 29.

37 Ibid.

38 On the problem of positing objects as objects see for instance McManus, ‘“Intelligibility” of Science’, p. 85.

39 Glazebrook, ‘Heidegger and Scientific Realism’, p. 375.

40 Ibid., p. 376.

41 Heidegger Martin, ‘The Age of the World Picture’, in Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper, 1977), pp. 126–7.

42 Glazebrook, ‘Heidegger and Scientific Realism’, p. 382.

43 Heidegger, ‘The Age of the World Picture’, p. 118.

44 Ibid., emphasis added.

45 Ibid., pp. 127–9.

46 Glazebrook, ‘Heidegger and Scientific Realism’, p. 381.

47 Heidegger, ‘The Age of the World Picture’, p. 118.

48 Ibid.

49 This view of the nature of language can be described as ‘designative’ and traced back to philosophical influences from Hobbes to Locke and Condillac; see for instance Lawn Chris, Wittgenstein and Gadamer. Towards a Post-Analytic Philosophy of Language (London and New York: Continuum, 2006), pp. 1417; and Merleau-Ponty Maurice, ‘On the Phenomenology of Language’, in O'Neill John (ed.), Phenomenology, Language and Sociology. Selected essays of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (London: Heinemann, 1974), p. 81. Charles Taylor famously contrasted this view with an ‘expressivist’ understanding of language in which language is the medium in which human existence is immersed and according to which it allocates meaning. Such a view can be traced back to Hamann, Herder and Humboldt and it can also be found in twentieth century philosophy, for instance in Heidgger, Gadamer and the later Wittgenstein. See for instance Taylor Charles, ‘Language and Philosophy’, in Human Agency and Language. Philosophical Papers 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 215–47; and Chris Lawn, Wittgenstein and Gadamer, pp. 14–17.

50 Glazebrook, ‘Heidegger and Scientific Realism’, p. 371.

51 For such a view see for instance Kratochwil Friedrich, Rules, Norms, and Decisions. On the Conditions of Practical and Legal Reasoning in International Relations and Domestic Affairs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 21; Kratochwil Friedrich, ‘Of communities, gangs, historicity and the problem of Santa Claus: replies to my critics’, Journal of International Relations and Development, 10 (2007), p. 72; and Fierke Karin, Diplomatic Interventions. Conflict and Change in a Globalizing World (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p. 7.

52 Glazebrook, ‘Heidegger and Scientific Realism’, p. 388.

53 Heidegger, Being and Time, p. 196, §212.

54 Blattner William, Heidegger's Being and Time. A Reader's Guide (London and New York: Continuum, 2006), p. 16.

55 Hubert Dreyfus, Being-in-the-World, p. 3.

56 Schmitt Richard, Martin Heidegger on Being Human. An Introduction to Sein und Zeit (Lincoln: iUniverse.com, 2000), p. 166.

57 Haugeland John, ‘Heidegger on Being a Person’, Nous, 16:1 (1982), p. 22; and Richard Schmitt, Martin Heidegger on Being Human, p. 19.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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