Methodological Introduction Philosophy, Factical Life Experience, and the Phenomenology of Religion

Chapter One

The Formation of Philosophical Concepts and Factical Life Experience

The Peculiarity of Philosophical Concepts

It is necessary to determine the meaning of words of the lecture’s announcement preliminarily. This necessity is grounded in the peculiarity of philosophical concepts. In the specific scientific disciplines, concepts are determined through their integration into a material complex; and the more familiar this context is, the more exactly its concepts can be fixed. Philosophical concepts, on the contrary, are vacillating, vague, manifold, and fluctuating, as is shown in the alteration of philosophical standpoints. This uncertainty of philosophical concepts is not, however, exclusively founded upon this alteration of standpoints. It belongs, rather, to the sense of philosophical concepts themselves that they always remain uncertain. The possibility of access to philosophical concepts is fundamentally different from the possibility of access to scientific concepts. Philosophy does not have at its disposal an objectively and thoroughly formed material context into which concepts can be integrated in order to receive their determination. There is thus a difference in principle between science and philosophy. This provisional thesis will prove itself in the course of these observations. (It is due to the necessity of linguistic formulation alone that this is a thesis, a proposition, at all.)

We can, however, take a more efficient route in order to realize that a preliminary understanding of the title’s concepts is necessary. We speak of philosophical and scientific “concepts,” of “introductions” to the sciences and to phenomenology. This shows a certain commonality despite the difference in principle between them. From where stems that commonality? Philosophy, one might think, is just as much a rational, cognitive comportment as science is. This results in the idea of the “proposition in general,” of the “concept in general,” etc. But this conception is not free from the prejudice of philosophy

Martin Heidegger (GA 60) The Phenomenology of Religious Life