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§6 [24-26]

a half thousand years' history of Western philosophy represent a considerable time, they are still not sufficient to allow us to draw this conclusion as regards the entire future. Second, we cannot therefore in principle conclude and decide in this way about what is yet to come on the basis of the past-the possibility that philosophy may after all one day succeed must remain open in principle.

To these two objections it must be said: We are not denying philosophy the character of absolute science because it has not yet attained this status hitherto, but because this idea of the essence of philosophy is ascribed to philosophy on the grounds of its ambiguity, and because this idea undermines the essence of philosophy at its core. This is why we gave a rough indication of the provenance of this idea. What does it mean to uphold mathematical knowledge as the measure of knowledge and as the ideal of truth for philosophy? It means nothing less than making that knowledge which is absolutely non-binding and emptiest in content into the measure for that knowledge which is the most binding and richest in itself, i.e., that knowledge which deals with the whole. Thus we do not at all need to leave open the possibility that philosophy will ultimately succeed in its putative concern of becoming absolute science, because this possibility is not a possibility of philosophy at all.

If we reject this connection between mathematical knowledge and philosophical knowledge on principle right from the start, the motive for this rejection is as follows: although it objectively comprises a great wealth, mathematical knowledge is in itself, in terms of its content, the emptiest knowledge imaginable, and as such is at the same time the least binding for man. For this reason we are faced with the strange fact that mathematicians can make great discoveries when only seventeen years old. Mathematical knowledge does not necessarily need to be borne by the inner substance of man. Such a situation is impossible in principle for philosophy. This emptiest and at the same time least binding knowledge as regards human substance—mathematical knowledge—cannot become the measure for the richest and most binding knowledge imaginable: philosophical knowledge. This is the real reason—at first indicated only in a rough way—why mathematical knowledge cannot be proposed as the ideal of philosophical knowledge.


β) The emptiness and non-binding character of the argument of formal contradiction. The truth of philosophy as rooted in the fate of Dasein.

If we meet these objections in this way and uphold the proposition that philosophical knowledge, in short, is not mathematical in the broad sense, that it does not have this character of absolute certainty, are we not then threatened by another, much more acute objection which undermines all our discussions hitherto? Cannot someone without difficulty come up to us and say: Stop—you keep saying in an uncompromising tone that philosophy is


Martin Heidegger (GA 29/30) The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics