Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reduction and Truth

As I sat here reading about phenomenology and Ponty's thoughts about it, I couldn't help but think a lot about Heidegger, which I'm sure no is surprised about (since he's mentioned a few times in the reading). However, the particular quote from Heidegger that I kept thinking about is one that we have discussed a couple of times: the discussion of what "standing in the truth" actually entails. Just to remind everyone, the exact quote is: "But to know means to be able to stand in the truth. Truth is the openness of beings. To know is accordingly to be able to stand in the openness of beings, to stand up to it. Merely to have information, however wide-ranging it may be, is not to know" (Heidegger, pg. 113). The more that I think about this quote, the more I think it may be impossible (if not, at least extremely difficult) to actually be able to "stand in the truth," which brings me back to my thoughts about Ponty and phenomenology. Ponty says: "The most important lesson which the reduction teaches us is the impossibility of a complete reduction... If we were absolute mind, the reduction would present no problem. But since, on the contrary, we are in the world, since indeed our reflections are carried out in the temporal flux on to which we are trying to seize, there is no thought which embraces all our thought" (Ponty, pg. 281). It seems to me that reduction and standing in the truth are both impossible because of all of the information out there in the world. We cannot grasp at one single piece of knowledge and learn every little bit of information possible about that one thing because there are so many other things bombarding us all the time for our attention, just like how "there is no thought which embraces all our thought."


  1. So, do you think there will never be anything we can truly know? On the one hand, I definitely agree particularly in terms of more scientific and rigid knowledge (like gravity for example). But what about things that are less rigid? What about a feeling you have for another person or hope or something else equally as "not-concrete" idea? I don't think that Ponty (nor Heiddeger) really addresses this, but it's an interesting thing to think about. Can we find truth in things that are solid?

  2. Another thought-- would those not-concrete things be closer to the essences Ponty described?

  3. I do agree with you post and love the connection between Heidegger and Ponty in regards to the idea of "standing in the truth". But looking at the quote "there is no thought which embraces all our thought" I took it as Ponty saying that we can not know everything about one single thought because our knowledge comes from experience and we experience many different things. Although some experiences may be more influential than others, it is that many different things we come in contact with that allow us to know what we know and that is why not just one experience can embrace all of our thoughts.