Descartes’ view of truth and reality, from his book, seems to be not a static but a transient aspect defined by both the society and the changing nature of time within an environment. He picks on an example of a piece of wax to demonstrate his simple yet complex method to define a way in which he views the truth. For instance, he gives the simple characteristics which may be used to view that the wax has been taken from the honey comb, stating the simple fact that it has not lost the honey flavor and still contains some scent from the flowers it originates from. He gives his opinion on the obviousness of the wax’s shape, size and color as a symbol of the nature of truth. In order to present his perspective with even more clarity, Descartes gives an example of nature and body of a person stating that some people have believed that nature would even perish with the body while a few of them, within the lines of religion, dared to believe the contrary (Descartes 10).
Heidegger’s view of truth would seem quite contrasting to what Descartes presents to his audiences through his book. While Descartes leans on the fact that truth is a simple aspect that is viewed equally throughout all the societies, Heidegger’s perspective of truth is that it is a varying aspect. Heidegger gives an example of how the meaning of the words dwelling and building has changed over time. Dwelling originally meant having shelter, freedom, peace and community, but from then onward, it has changed to imply more a physical existence with the innate aspects, such as peace, fading away in the course of time (Heidegger 247). Of course, this has been influenced by the environment and the way culture affects people’s thinking. Research has also shown that the language has a huge influence on the way a particular group of people thinks hence there are differences in development across different places.
Heidegger also gives the example of how the meaning of the word building has changed over time. Originally, the building was associated with cultivating the land which then enabled people to continue with providing food and water for themselves (Young 47). It was also closely associated with taking care of domesticated animals which then provided a supply of food such as eggs, meat, and milk. Heidegger though states that the original meaning has been lost due a gradual deprivation of emphasis for such values. Heidegger states that the society has lost friendship with nature and within the people themselves (Heidegger 353); selfishness and hatred take a new shape as everybody endeavors to grow themselves. Perhaps this has been a reason, as Heidegger states, why the society’s perspective has changed on issues.
I suppose Heidegger’s perspective on truth and reality makes more sense as he gives convincing reasons why we view truth the way we do. Heidegger implies that the way a society views truth depends on its own cultural perspectives, advanced in the course of time. In addition, Heidegger delves deep into the subject drawing inspiration from even more detailed philosophical writings, for example, word bauen. He clearly brings out his point interpreting from a philosophical point of view when, for instance, he says, “By a primal oneness, the four – earth and sky, divinities and mortals – belong together in one” (Heidegger 351). It is also clear that the role of environment in shaping people’s definition of truth is little from what Heidegger explains. I also do not agree with Descartes perspective when he says, “For although it is quite enough for us faithful ones to accept by means of faith the fact that the human soul does not perish with the body, and that God exists, it certainly does not seem possible ever to persuade infidels of any religion” (Descartes 1). This is an indication that he relies on the approval of conflicting groups, believers, and non-believers, to validate his opinion.