A Critique of Martin Heidegger’s Understanding of lumen naturale: Towards a Phenomenology of René Descartes’ Natural Light

  • Author / Creator
    Garrett, Ryan W
  • Martin Heidegger claims that René Descartes ushered in an era of thinking that gave humans the power to limit the realm of what “is” to whatever can be calculable and dominated. Being itself is consequently taken for granted and glossed over. This understanding of Descartes leads Heidegger to dismiss that the lumen naturale, Descartes’ most trustworthy power for discovering truth, guides thinking into the clearing where thinking and Being “presence” to each other. Heidegger suggests that the lumen naturale, or natural light, is a faculty that projects light only onto entities to dominate them. However, this appears conjectural on Heidegger’s behalf as Descartes never fully defined the power of the natural light. In fact, when looking at Descartes’ philosophy and the scholarly work of John Morris, Deborah Boyle, and James D. Collins, the natural light, on its surface, appears to be an experience where a light strikes the intellect to reveal foundational axioms of metaphysics. This surface level account of the natural light, interestingly, seems to correspond to Heidegger’s own phenomenological account of thinking. Heidegger’s phenomenology of thinking thus appears as a worthwhile theory to properly illuminate the natural light. When illuminating the natural light through Heidegger’s phenomenology, it is discovered that the lumen naturale, actually, calls Descartes into an experience where Being and thinking “presence” to each other. In turn, Heidegger’s understanding of the lumen naturale in Descartes’ philosophy shows itself to be uncharitable.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
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