Scientific Orientation by Ontotheology

All realms of science are shaped not only by the information produced by their growth and development, but by the very questions directed toward the entities which occupy them. The ultimate goal of science is to understand these entities with as great of clarity as possible, and this is accomplished by methodical investigation and the accumulation of as large a knowledge-base as possible. There are moments, however, where the sought-after knowledge requires the revision of what questions are asked due to some inconsistency between the object of study and what is known about it. During these moments of ?crisis? study comes to a halt, the path forward now invisible under an incomplete system of inquiry. Martin Heidegger believes that philosophical thought is the proper tool needed for determining how to create more and more appropriate ways of pursuing the knowledge about each scientific subject during times of crises. Heidegger asserts, in his novel Being and Time, that at these crucial junctures, when the foundational assumptions that provide direction for scientific interrogation are brought into question, it is inappropriate to continue delving into the matter analytically. He instead maintains that he who would continue his inquiries is left with the task of ?jumping ahead? and re-evaluating the way that this field will be approached, and thereby with altering the way that the field will develop in the future. I will first provide background information explaining some key concepts that provide the roots for this proposition. Next I will specify how this conclusion is drawn by following along with Heidegger?s thoughts about philosophy and ontotheology. After the argument has been defended, I will examine modern studies and demonstrate that this is, in fact, an unavoidable process.
Heidegger?s theory on how man associates with the world around him must first be explicated somewhat. The individual man, as a self-aware existence, is both contained within and is an integral part of ?Being,? or the sum of all entities that exist. The word ?Dasein? is used to reference this self-aware aspect of Being, and, in fact, is used solely to refer to man due to the fact that there are no other such entities in existence (the supporting arguments behind this statement will be omitted for brevity?s sake). Because of Dasein?s self-awareness, there are natural tendencies toward the exploration and experiencing of Being with insatiable curiosity.
How, then, does Being go about making itself the object of its own study? A glaring, strange paradox is revealed on the matter, explained here in Heidegger?s words: ?If we must first define an entity in its Being, and if we want to formulate the question of Being only on this basis, what is this but going in a circle? In working with our question, have we not ?presupposed? something which only the answer can bring?? (1, pg 27) Dasein?s questioning of Being does not seem feasible without already having in its possession some part of Being. Dasien comes to grasp these presuppositions unconsciously, which leads to the conclusion that these insights into Being are an integral factor in the phenomenological experience overall. For without this a priori guidance, Dasein would be unable to function, exploring an infinite number of possibilities in a world filled with overwhelming subjects of investigation. Science, generally speaking, can be viewed as the concentration of Dasein?s investigative energy onto specific aspects of his experienced world. Man?s vision is narrowed, bent on choosing and understanding a small fraction of Being to which he has access. ?Basic concepts determine the way in which we get an understanding beforehand of the area of subject-matter underlying all the objects a science takes as its theme, and all positive investigation is guided by this understanding.? (1, pg 30)
Just as positive scientific observation, once directed, allows us to pursue questions such as ?What is this?? and ?What is that?? or ?How does this work?? so philosophy allows us to pursue the question ?What IS?? in a more general sense. Heidegger claims that ?the ontological posits that guide each of our positive sciences come not from some fundamental ontology beneath Western history, but rather from our contemporary age?s reigning ontotheology.? (2, pg. 118) This is an important note to consider because Heidegger makes clear distinctions between the scientist and the philosopher, and between fundamental ontology and ontotheology. First of all, when Dasein?s intent is to further explore an area