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Episteme

Abstract

Dostoevsky laments: is everything truly permitted? This article illustrates how Heidegger avoids the phenomenological and ethical deficiencies found in Sartre’s philosophy. The author argues that a rejection of ethical absolutes does not inevitably lead to Sartrean relativism, because Heidegger’s account of Being critiques Sartre and considers shared practices of ordinary experience, which is necessary for values and ethics. Sartre’s phenomenology is characterized by Husserl’s influence and the subject/object distinction that finds values to arise necessarily from Nothingness. The author exposes why Sartre believes what he does and why Heidegger provides a substantially different ontology. Contrary to Sartre’s problematic phenomenology, Heidegger emphasizes how humans use things in the environment of the world. Humans are always already in a public, situated context. Ethical values are not grounded in objectivity, sure; but they come from the context, not by the subject’s invention. In the ordinary experience of Dasein, Dostoevsky’s worry is not made real: not everything is permitted.

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