Heidegger’s Materialism

Siby K. George 
Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

In this paper I want to defend a view of materialism, which is historical but not deterministic, with respect to Heidegger’s philosophy, with an aim to suggest how such a view can become handy for all contemporary attempts to forge concrete ontologies. Heidegger like Marx disavowed philosophies, whether versions of materialism or idealism, that were abstract and not historically embedded. While Marx’s subject, formed within praxis and swept along the purposive winds of history, mirrors Dasein in some ways, the history that envelops Dasein is fissured by discontinuities and ruptures, and Dasein is not the subject juxtaposed against objects of the world. The intentional existence of Dasein is possible only as an unfounded, not recallable knot that hooks it upon the material-social history of the world wherein it finds itself. In this sense, as Marx said, it is not the discrete consciousness of humans that determines their existence but it is their social and historical existence that determines the shape of their consciousness. As for Heidegger, in the contemporary age, communities are overwhelmed neither by class conflicts nor merely by economic interests but by all interests of their concern, especially technological interests that uniformly give shape to the global technological society. This uniformity wrought by techno-capitalism is the danger that conceals the realm of meaning—the historically and materially inscribed world—from the concerns of existence. Phenomenological examination of the world of our existence is, thus, called upon to carefully uncover the historical layers of oppressive concealments, sealed off from view by the imperial signatures of techno-capitalism.