Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Philosophy

Committee Chair

Albert Borgmann

Commitee Members

Deborah Slicer, Robert Baker


Heidegger, moral philosophy, narrative, orientation


University of Montana


Through the concept of orientation, this essay attempts to establish a philosophical account of the structure of our daily lives. By examining Kant’s notion of orientation and Heidegger’s response to Kant, I highlight the importance of the fact that orientation comes from the world, not simply from our ability to determine our position in the world by means of a coordinate system. Consequently, I argue, the concrete instantiation of a life given in a narrative can supplement the structure that the theoretical framework of justice, which establishes the principles guiding the institutions of our society, claims to leave undetermined. This texture fills the space of justice and culture with tangible things and practices that make up our daily life. The novel America America is used as a diagnostic tool to illuminate the forces and opportunities found in our culture that need to be either recognized and avoided, or discovered, revealed, and spoken for. I suggest that instrumental reason and the attainment of mere pleasure, as a cultural forces guiding our practices, fail to provide a tenable answer to the question of the good life and that they should be avoided when we are considering the ultimate how and what of the practices that make up the structure of our lives. In response to the failure of instrumental reason, I propose a deepening of our practices by way of familiarity (through closeness) and accomplishment (through engagement) with the things that are integral to practices such as making maple syrup and preparing a meal.



© Copyright 2010 Maxwell Haus Clark