Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics (MA)

First Advisor

Dr. Hans-Herbert Kögler

Second Advisor

Dr. Erinn Gilson

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew Buchwalter


This thesis develops an account of human understanding on the basis of an analysis of German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, and in relation to the thought of the Kyoto School philosopher Watsuji Tetsuro. The aim is to describe shared human intelligibility as founded upon a historical tradition and maintained by concrete practices, and yet as expressed only by interpretive projections, and therefore always open to revision. An analysis of the significance of anxiety and authenticity in Being and Time, as aspects of the existential interpretive process of our lives, is accompanied by a philosophical description of everyday acts, which finds that the world is interpreted in relation to the others with whom the world is co-inhabited. This social relatedness between, on one hand, authentic, ‘individualized’ interpretation, and on the other hand, the everyday basis of intelligibility, is shown to support a potentially radical philosophy of social transformation. The first half of the text discusses the central significance of interpretation for Heidegger’s phenomenology, and argues for a reading of authenticity as a contextual, practical and individualized project. The second half develops an account of social existence in reference to Watsuji’s phenomenological ethics, and concludes with an examination of social opposition movements and the revision of the ground of intelligibility provided by a tradition and expressed in social practices.

Included in

Philosophy Commons