• Ow(n)ing Existence: Human Meaning, Identity and Responsibility in Heidegger's Being and Time

      Hoff, Shannon; Richard, Bryan Samuel; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2013-09-02)
      This thesis pays attention to the nature of human being that comes to light in Martin Heidegger's Being and Time. In particular, it attempts to show that his notion of authenticity allows for a distinctive and fruitful conception of ethical responsibility, albeit one that challenges us to rethink ethics and responsibility anew. I claim that if authenticity is ‘owning’ one's existence in a way that is properly fitted to Dasein's ontological way of being (as nonself-identical, ecstatic temporality), this ownership of self will necessarily be the stance of recognizing and responding to that which always already includes a network of relations involving world and others. On such an understanding, genuine existential care for oneself is also care for others in the most originary way possible. Such an ontological picture has been criticized by some commentators as being too formal, insufficiently historical, and lacking genuine mediation – in short, for being ineffectual as a normative force in real-life situations. The main contribution of this thesis is to argue against such an interpretation by showing that Heideggerian authenticity is a properly dialectical concept, capacious enough to account for the legitimate concerns raised by such criticisms, while also being productive for new articulations of what is really normative about human relations.
    • Relationship Issues: Forgiveness and Promising According to Hannah Arendt and Jacques Derrida

      Hoff, Shannon; Ratzlaff, Caleb; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2015-08-31)
      In retrospect this learning experience lead me to two conclusions. First, the way we hold someone responsible must reflect the openness and vulnerability of the actor and those to whom she relates. What we do when we hold someone responsible, administering a sentence, for example, must respond to the unending process of interaction and transformation that defines the human person in intersubjective life. This essentially describes the meaning and limits of holding someone responsible. The second lesson was more directly addressed in this thesis. It concerns the idea that the uncertain and vulnerable characteristics of the self that accompany our transformability, are not simply detriments to responsibility. Rather, the uncertain nature of a self as it exists in relationship with others is a condition of meaningfulness, responsibility, and love. As a condition of responsibility, our finitude calls for the sustaining ethical practices of promises and forgiveness. Uncertainty, even in its greatest manifestations as birth and death, is something we can embrace.