Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



I examine the question of realism and idealism in terms of a tension in Martin Heidegger’s thought between entity realism and being idealism. Entity realism is the idea that entities exist independently of humans, whereas being idealism is idea that the being of entities is dependent on humans in some way. The question then is how to reconcile entity realism and being idealism without collapsing to an unattractive position like subjectivism or naïve realism. I appropriate Heidegger’s tension to answer the question of realism and idealism in terms of what I call ecological realism. Ecological realism is a way to combine the insights of both realism and idealism without collapsing into logical inconsistency or an undesirable form of either realism or idealism. We want to account for how entities exist independently of us while their being depends on us. I account for these two theses in terms of the concept of sense-making, which concerns how we make sense of the entities we encounter. Appropriating insights from Heidegger as well from modern scientific theory, I defend ecological realism against several objections, and develop an answer to the question of realism and idealism that does justice to both the reality of entities and the ideality of their being.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Schufreider, Greg