Chapter Two

The Problem of Presuppositions [77]

§ 16. The Epistemological Question of the Reality of the External World.
Standpoints of Critical Realism and Idealism

But perhaps all these difficulties can be overcome. Let us assume, to begin with, that proceeding from a subjective and individual sphere of lived experience we can construct a science that does not treat experience in an objectified manner. There is one thing that cannot be overcome, namely the presupposition of the experiences themselves. Under these conditions there are experiences that are laden in greater or lesser degree with further presuppositions. May I therefore without further ado presuppose these as given? This is disputed.' Let us again bring to mind the two oft-mentioned experiences: of the question 'Is there something?' and of the lectern.

In the question 'Is there something?' nothing at all is presupposed. What is asked is whether 'there is' something, not whether something exists, occurs, values, worlds. Such an experience may be rare, but it is still an experience. The greater part and certainly the entire fullness of environmental experiences is heavily laden with presuppositions. Does my environing world really exist? Is it so obvious that the external world is real and not rather only my representation, my lived experience? How shall this be decided? I cannot simply resolve to adopt one or another epistemological conception. [78] Is it (critical) realism that is correct, or transcendental philosophy? Aristotle or Kant? How is this 'burning' question of the reality of the external world to be solved?


Martin Heidegger (GA 56/57) Towards the Definition of Philosophy (2008)