The ‘science’ of phenomenology beckoned in the late 19th century as offering a whole new approach to reality, and we still have a few of the writings of Edmund Husserl to indicate to us, something of the character of the inner journeys and ‘European projects’ for which it was hoped. What is often not appreciated is how much of this effort borrows from Leibniz, who gives us a model of charting experiences in many minds, without the assumption they share a common world in an ordinary sense. Then too there is inspiration to be found in Heidegger’s emphasis on realism, and a story to be learnt concerning how his specific claims to have contact with the real excited censure from his teacher, Husserl. With Heidegger we move away from the great dreams of phenomenology but as these are only poorly understood, perhaps we gain more through his demands, we do not deny what we surely do know, and do not – contra Aristotle – act as if everything has to be proven. Heidegger we may interpret as claiming, what exists beyond experience are potentialities for experience which can be known even apart from experiential ‘confirmation’: Quine will later talk about these as a ‘core’ beliefs in our web of experience, i.e. in that section of the web that contains judgments regarding the conceptually contingent. There is then a way forward for Physics with Heidegger, despite Heidegger’s criticisms of use of the scientific model for philosophy, as now we have a way to both stay in experience and also remain confident, our models are more than mere historical constructs or prejudices.
However, the Heideggerian emphasis on experience and phenomenology does lead to a further claim of pluralism, that we must speak of ‘worlds’ rather than the world. Physics so far has not seemed to find much use for this notion of subjects in the same world, somehow also at the same time, living in different worlds. These are notions more confined to the humanities and ideas of ‘the subjective.’
I outline something of how Leibniz can intersect with Husserl’s approach, also noting that Heidegger tries to add a ‘realism’ to this Leibnizian-Husserlian pondering. I then point out, it is difficult for Philosophy, that Physics has given us little in terms of definite grounds for using Heidegger-inspired models for Physics. Also I offer some wondering about how Heidegger studies are going to proceed as other than non-historicist, antiquarian pursuits. If neither ethics nor physics are to be area of contribution, how do we apply Heiddeger?