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Vries, A.J. de

Department of Theoretical Philosophy

Sense of Wonder.

Heidegger, Wittgenstein and the question of being

"Why is there anything at all?" is the 'question of being', expressing an undeniable sense of wonder. Starting from a personal experience and a preliminary investigation into the concept of the sublime, this study critically explores the context in which Martin Heidegger posed the question of being, as well as the way in which Ludwig Wittgenstein approached it and commented on Heidegger. It does so by explicating what it means to pose different forms of why-questions in general and the question of being in particular. In analyzing the relevant texts, it also relates to the different philosophical methods Heidegger and Wittgenstein devised, and to the development of both thinkers with regard to the question of being. Finally, this thesis focuses on the experiential aspect of the question, returning the sense of wonder to its proper realm: the anthropological and therefore social and historical context that is conditional for the possibility of its being asked. Connecting to some ideas expressed by Hannah Arendt, it claims that even highly personal 'metaphysical' experiences like the sense of wonder that is being expressed in the question of being are socio-historically primed, and that the real 'transcendent' is to be found in this often overlooked realm of the transcendental: the human co-world we all, both knowingly and unwittingly participate in, and which, often in inconspicuous ways, shapes our experience, understanding and appreciation of the world.

Last modified:30 August 2016 3.02 p.m.