Metaphysics of presence


Metaphysics of presence

The concept of the metaphysics of presence is an important consideration within the area of deconstruction. The deconstructive interpretation holds that the entire history of Western philosophy and its language and traditions has emphasized the desire for immediate access to meaning, and thus built a metaphysics or ontotheology around the privileging of presence over absence.

Deconstructive thinkers, like Jacques Derrida, describe their task as the questioning or deconstruction of this metaphysical tendency in philosophy. This argument is largely based on the earlier work of Martin Heidegger, who in Being and Time claimed the parasitic nature of the theoretical attitude of pure presence upon a more originary involvement with the world in concepts such as the ready-to-hand and being-with. Friedrich Nietzsche is a more distant, but clear, influence as well.

The presence to which Heidegger refers is both a presence as in a "now" and also a presence as in an eternal, always present, as one might associate with God or the "eternal"laws of science. This hypostatized (underlying) belief in presence is undermined by novel phenomenological ideas — such that presence itself does not subsist, but comes about primordially through the action of our futural projection, our realization of finitude and the reception or rejection of the traditions of our time.


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