Thursday, May 28, 2015
Krzysztof Ziarek on an open imagination.
On the one hand, Heidegger claims that the imagination as imaginatio conveys the usual sense of apprehending beings as present, whereby “all beyng and its opening constitute a formed image [Gebilde] that is added to what supposedly stands on its own.”[P. 247] Within this perspective, imagination forms part and parcel of metaphysical conceptuality that Heidegger specifically calls into question in the works from the late 1930s. At the same time, Heidegger suggests the possibility of another approach that would conceive of imagination neither as a faculty nor as transcendental but instead as “the event itself, wherein all transfiguration occurs.” As Ereignis, “imagination” (as Einbildung but not imaginatio) means “occurrence of the clearing itself.”[P. 247] These brief remarks leave open the door to a possible reconceptualization of Einbildung, though perhaps not imaginatio, in terms of the event and the clearing, even if Heidegger himself does not pursue this alternative in subsequent texts.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology is celebrating its 46th Year, and has made some of its classic papers available to all, until the end of the year, including two by Heidegger.
Eugene Thacker on the gathering horror.
Though it is possible to regard supernatural horror as taking up the earlier concerns of mysticism, there is one element that makes modern horror unique, and that is the function of different objects in any tale of haunting and the supernatural. In other words, what is at stake in these stories is not just the experience of a subject, but the mediation of and through an object. The concept of the supernatural is here not simply oriented toward a subject, as a locus of unmediated and authentic experience. It is also oriented toward the many objects that themselves embody or mediate the supernatural, objects that elusively slide between the everyday and the exceptional, between their artifactual transparency and their strange aura of opacity. The question, then, is whether it would make sense to think about the supernatural less in terms of a subject-oriented approach, and more in terms of an object-oriented approach—and what such an object-oriented approach might mean for us, as subjects.
There are, of course, many precedents both ancient and modern for doing this. In a modern context, there is the example of the later Heidegger, who meditates at great length on “the thing” (das Ding) as an ontological category, resulting in his tongue- twisting phrase, “the thingness of the thing.” What Heidegger calls “the thing” is defined by such characteristics as “self- supporting,” “standing- forth,” and above all the dynamic, active process of “gathering.” Less a tool or object of knowledge, the thing is for Heidegger that intersection or congealment of materials, production processes, and ideologies that is encapsulated in his phrase “the thing things, and thinging gathers.”
Pp. 113-4
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Babette Babich on what is to be done.
Žižek teases us as we listen as the good and docile sheep of the media, in the virtually real or integral order, that we suppose nothing more likely than the technological possibility of the imaginary precisely by contrast with the “can’t be done” or enjoined symbolic impossibility that would beat stake in any bid to change the order of rule, such that the world need notwork as industrial leaders, i.e., as business interests, command that everything be done for the sake of business interest or profit. We attend on the same for what we hope might one day—although it never has—yet accrue to ourselves as wanna-be capitalists. (We think we are investors if we have a bank account or a pension, and actual capitalists love that we think that.)Thus we are complicit, but Heidegger, who thinks that more is possible than what we suppose about possibility and impossibility, suggests what he called Ereignis in his Contributions and here again at the conclusion of Overcoming Metaphysics: that appropriating might bring “mortals to the path of thinking, poetizing, building.”
From "Politics and Heidegger: Aristotle, Superman, and Žižek".
Monday, May 25, 2015
In the Guardian, Jenny Judge and Julia Powles push back on the Internet of Things.
[O]ur default way of interacting with the world isn’t by peering at screens. We respond to the environment, to what it offers us, in an automatic and intuitive way. In most everyday scenarios, we don’t see our things as things at all. We just use them: we see a hammer, and we grasp it. We see a rubber ball, and we squeeze it, or bounce it.
This was Heidegger’s insight, and it also motivates the enchanted objects thesis. The world presents itself, in the first instance, as ready to hand – as being available for use. We manoeuvre things with our bodies unthinkingly, performing immensely complicated calculations without even being aware of it.
The world is full of information that we access instinctively. But so far, this knowledge has been useless in the resolutely two-dimensional digital world. The challenge, and the opportunity, is to harness our knowledge of how real, graspable and bounceable things work, and use it to shape more meaningful, fulfilling, connected experiences. But how?
Reminiscing about Terrence F. Malick '65 in the Harvard Crimson.
Francis W. Metcalf ’65, Malick’s freshman year roommate, recalled an instance when Malick asked for Metcalf’s thoughts on a paper Malick had recently received back. “The title was ‘Ontology and Heidegger’ or something like that, and there was a straight A. Maybe an A+,” Metcalf said. “The comment was from the grader: ‘Could I please have this paper back after you look over my comments because I’ve never seen such a good treatment of this difficult topic.’ Right then and there, the bells went off in my head.”
Malick’s academic interest in philosophy only grew stronger as the years went on, and under Philosophy professor Stanley L. Cavell, Malick graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a Rhodes Scholarship. “He was unbelievably intelligent,” fellow Rhodes Scholar Curtis A. Hessler ’66 said. “He was renowned as probably the most brilliant student of philosophy at that time.”
Following graduation, Malick headed to Oxford University’s Magdalen College with the aim of writing a dissertation on German philosopher Martin Heidegger, which was a “no go from the start,” according to fellow Rhodes Scholar Jonathan D. Culler ’66. “These were the days [when] Oxford was analytical philosophy,” Culler said. “The last thing anyone at the philosophy department there wanted was to supervise a dissertation on Heidegger.
Has anything changed? When was the last time you read an interesting paper by someone tutored in PPE? Oxbridge are the go-tos when a firm's PR department needs a "professional ethicist" or such.
Derrida learns of the way to the saving power.
The previous summer, there had been a décade [ten day conference] at the chateau of Cerisy-la-Salle devoted to Heidegger, who also attended. This crucial encounter was still being talked about. At a reception at the home of Mme Heurgon, the proprietor of Cerisy, a recording of some of the high points of the décade was played. This was a moment that Derrida would never forget:
I was a student at the École Normale and I heard Heidegger’s voice for the fi rst time in a salon of the 16th arrondissement. I can remember one sequence in particular: we were all in the salon, we were all listening to that voice. [. . .] I especially remember the bit just after Heidegger’s talk: the questions raised by [Gabriel] Marcel and [Lucien] Goldmann. One of them put the following objection, in so many words, to Heidegger: ‘But don’t you think that this method of reading or this way of reading or questioning is dangerous?’ A methodological, epistemological question. And I can still hear – after the ensuing silence – Heidegger’s reply: ‘Ja! It is dangerous.’
P. 75
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Figure/Ground interviews Michael Zimmerman.
Two things remain viable about Heidegger’s thought. The first is his view that human existence is constituted as the clearing or openness in which the intelligibility of things becomes available or manifests itself. Heidegger’s interest was not so much in the being of entities, but instead in the clearing that allows things to show themselves (in their intelligibility) and in that sense “to be.” Heidegger was not interested in the various structures of entities, which he regarded as a matter for the sciences and other means of exploration. Nor was his main topic being (Sein) as the metaphysical tradition had understood it, that is, as the origin, ground, structure, or foundation of entities. Instead, Heidegger took a step back and asked: How is the being of entities made available to us? How can we encounter it in the first place? He answered this question by positing that human existence amounts to the open realm (existence, the clearing) in which things can show up and thus be in one way or another. If this reading of Heidegger is right, the current techno-scientific understanding of things is not an aberration but an inevitable development of humanity’s gift for understanding things in their intelligibility. Most humans inevitably pay no attention to the clearing that makes all this possible, but instead turn toward the entities that show up as affording one or another use or application.
Heidegger’s second lasting contribution was his analysis of great Western thinkers, from Aristotle to Nietzsche. Although his interpretations are at times controversial, they were often brilliant and groundbreaking, perhaps especially his extraordinary rethinking Aristotle as a phenomenologist. Unlike some of his writings, In many of his lecture courses, which are usually clearly presented, Heidegger critically investigated and entered into dialogue with the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, Kant and Schelling, Nietzsche and Augustine, among others. Arguably, Heidegger was the greatest 20th century interpreter of major Western philosophers, even though the anti-modernist “spin” he applied to his meta-analysis of that history is deeply problematic.
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

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