Thursday, May 31, 2007
John D. Caputo on Being and the rose without why.
Heidegger's life without why is the renunciation of concepts and representations, of propositions and ratiocinations about Being; it lets Being be Being. Both the soul and Dasein are "admitted" (einlassen) into a realm which lies outside the sphere of influence of Leibniz's principle, where rationales and justifications have no place. In this realm things are because they are. They are resplendent--self-resplendent--with their own grounds. Here no questions are asked because things rise up from out of themselves; they are their own "because." Here there is no giving or demanding of reasons. For reasons belong to the realm of the "why?"--the realm of "time" for Eckhart, and of beings and the sciences for Heidegger.

Living without why, Dasein is appropriated by Being as Being's own; it is claimed by Being as the place of the preservation of its truth; it is claimed by the "Region" (Ver-gegnis). Living without why, Dasein admits Being into the "thing," allows Being to "condition" (be-dingen) the thing, so that the thing becomes transparent in its Being and the playing together of the four can be seen within it. Thus when Dasein is, like the rose, without why, Dasein is appropriated by the region and the thing is "conditioned" as a thing. Being, thing, and Dasein are all released into their "own" (eigen); all three attain their ownmost essential being (Wesen). All three--Being, thing, and Dasein--are, to use Meister Eckhart's expression, "ver-wesentlicht", which means "radicalized in their essence," "brought into their essential being." And Silesius's rose is the model of this three-fold process. "the rose is without why"--this means, all in one: Being emerges of itself and appropriates man and thing: a "thing"--this rose--becomes resplendent in its Being and rests on its own ground, allowing the "four" to intersect within it; and finally Dasein, dwelling among things, in the openness of Being, "first truly is, in the most hidden ground of its essence".

Pp. 191-192
Cabinet Magazine treks to the hut.
It seems that Heidegger collected his philosophical writings under the heading of Holzwege not because they were meant to lead people astray, but because he wanted his readers to think of philosophy not merely as a means to an end, as a way of getting from point A to point B, but as an activity cultivating something of which our alienated age was perilously close to losing sight. This seemed to me a fine thing to think and write about, but I felt that we were, at the moment, in need of some very instrumental reasoning.

Half an hour later, we had found no further Wegmarken, no new information point, and suspected we had inadvertently left the Rundweg and forked onto a Holzweg.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Simon Critchley interprets Wallace Stevens' reality, via the usual suspects.
Stevens is not an anti-realist. The attempt to interpret him in this way reduces the work of the imagination to the frictionless spinning of fancy.

However, to say that Stevens is not an anti-realist does not entail that he is what we might call a transcendental realist. For the latter, all human activity is equiphenomenal to a subject-independent material realm explicable by the natural sciences. Such would be the contracted world, free from the cognitive, aesthetic and moral values that give colour and texture to the world we inhabit. Steven's poetry is overwhelmingly concerned with reality but he believes that the real can be apprehended under different aspects or categories -- the contracted, the transfigured. Simply stated, his conviction is that a poeticized, imaginatively transformed reality is both preferable to an inhuman, contracted and oppressive sense of reality and gives a truer picture of the relation humans entertain with the world.

[...It is right] to link Steven's transfigured sense of the real with Kant's thesis on transcendental idealism, that is, a world that is real for us, and hence consistent with empirical realism, but which has been produced in accordance with the categories of the understanding. The source of the categories lies in what Kant calls the transcendental or productive imagination, where 'Synthesis in general...is the mere result of the power of imagination'. However, I believe that it might also be helpful to make a connection here with Heidegger's critique of the entire realism/anti-realism debate in Being and Time. Heidegger criticizes both realism and ant-realism for having an inadequate account of the real, where the question of the 'reality' of the external world gets raised without any previous clarification of the phenomenon of wold as that meaningful existential context that is most familiar and closest to us. As Stevens writes, 'Realism is a corruption of reality'.

Steven's poetic deepening of the though of transcendental idealism might be said to lead him towards a more phenomenological sense of the real. But what does this mean? What is phenomenology? Phenomenology is a description of things as they are that seeks to elicit the sense or significance of our practical involvement with the world. Again, more paradoxically stated, phenomenology brings out the meaning of the fact that, in Merleau-Ponty's words, 'we are condemned to meaning'. Phenomenology gives us the meaning of meaning. Or so we say. Phenomenological descriptions, if felicitous, foreground things as they are experienced in the everyday world we inhabit, the real world in which we move and have our being, the world which fascinates and benumbs us. From this phenomenological perspective, the problem with Kant's approach is that it presupposes two things: first, a conception of the subject as what Kant calls the 'I think' that has, at the very least, a family resemblance to Descartes' res cogitans, even if it is a cogito without an ergo sum, where it performs a logical rather than an ontological function, i.e., what Kant calls 'the transcendental unity of apperception' is logically entailed from the fact that experience has a unity and coherence, but it does not imply any ontological insight into the nature of the self or soul. Second, it presupposes that the subject's relation to the objective world is mediated through representations, what Hegel calls 'picture thinking', Kant's and Fichte's Vorstellungen. If we place in question these two presuppositions, then it might lead us to abandon the entire lead us to abandon the entire epistemological construal of the relation of thought to things and mind to world. The world does not first and foremost show itself as an 'object' contemplatively and disinterestedly represented by a 'subject'. Rather, the world shows itself as a place in which we are completely immersed and from which we do not radically distinguish ourselves: 'Real and unreal are two in one.'

Pp. 27-29
The alpha and omega of art.
As part of the early groundwork for the book, [Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk] is preparing to teach a course at Columbia University in New York this autumn which has the working title of "pictures and texts".

"It's sort of a random survey of the relationship between pictures and texts," he explained, "from Plato's cave to Heidegger's Van Gogh shoes."
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Robyn Leary interviewed Walker Percy.
RL: Freud defines anxiety as the product of intrapsychical conflict. Skinner defines it as a learned behavior. In Zen philosophy, anxiety is an evil to be removed. Heidegger, on the other hand, defines anxiety as ontological, in that it tells us about our humanness. It is for him not a by-product or a learned behavior‹or something to be avoided. To which of these definitions do you most closely subscribe?

WP: Check Heidegger. I would agree with him that we do a lot better treating anxiety (some forms, at least) as a kind of beckoning of the self to a self rather than as a symptom of illness. This is why in writing novels I often find that it works to turn things upside-down and to set forth a character‹say, a woman with severe free-floating anxiety‹as more interesting, more hopeful, possessing greater possibilities than, say, another perfectly adjusted symptom-free woman. To say this is to say a good deal more than that illness is more interesting than health.
Monday, May 28, 2007

Zebaoth on the underreported Heidegger-Lovecraft connection.
That's how I feel about my project about the 'Metaphysics of Nothingness' right now. I'm sure Heidegger was brilliant but the more I read the more I'm sure he was insane too, but still I'm sure he's on to something and it really is incredible interesting...

To you concerned souls out there, no I'm not getting more insane than I ever was. I was just reminded of some of those Cthulhu-stories and so that idea wouldn't interfere with the rest of my evening of working, I thought it better to get it out of my system.
I've wondered about those references to the "Call of Beyng" myself.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Slavoj Žižek situates Heidegger's thinking of the open.
Heidegger was arguably the philosopher of the twentieth century (just as Hegel was the philosopher of the nineteenth): all subsequent philosophers (starting with Rudolph Carnap) have had the define themselves by drawing a line of demarcation, a critical distance towards him. The majority do not simply reject him; rather, they maintain an ambivalent relationship with him, acknowledging his breakthrough but claiming that he was not able to follow it to the end, since he remained stuck in some metaphysical presuppositions. For Marxists, for example, Heidegger was right, in Being and Time, to perform the turn from the exempted subject observing the world toward man as a being always-already thrown into the world, engaged in it; however, he was not able to locate human beings within the historical totality of their social practice; mutatis mutandis, the same goes for Levinas, Derrida, Rorty, some Wittgensteinians (Dreyfus), even Badiou.

Heidegger's greatest single achievement is the full elaboration of finitude, as a positive constituent of being-human--in this way, he accomplished the Kantian philosophical revolution, making it clear that finitude is the key to the transcendental dimension. A human being is always on the way toward itself, in becoming, thwarted, thrown-into a situation, primordially "passive," receptive, attuned, exposed to an overwhelming Thing; far from limiting him, this exposure is the very ground of the emergence of the universe of meaning, of the "worldliness" of man. It is only from within this finitude that entities appear to us as "intelligible," as forming part of a world, as included within a horizon of being--in short, that we take them "as" something, that they appear as something (that they appear tout court). To put it in Kantian terms: it is because of this finitude that "intellectual intuition" is impossible, that a human being can grasp things only within a gap between their mere being-there and the mode, the "as such," of their appearance; in short, that every understanding is a contingent "projecting" of a link over a gap, not a direct apprehension. The transcendental "condition of possibility" is thus the obverse of the condition of impossibility: the very impossibility for a human being to directly intuit reality, the very failure, falling-short of the goal, in what constitutes the openness of the world, of its horizon.

P. 273
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Miguel de Beistegui on the present moment.
At the heart of presence, at the heart of the determination on which the metaphysical edifice is built, Heidegger identifies a gap that cannot be filled, an absence older than presence itself. For the present is not envisaged as the "effect" of a certain withdrawal that is infinitely rather richer and fuller than those present things with which metaphysics concerns itself, of a certain twofold horizon in excess of presence itself:
But because this abandonment in originally remembering-awaiting (belongingness to being and the call of beyng), it is in itself no mere sinking and dying away in a not-having, but conversely, it is the present that aims at and is solely carried out into decision: moment. The raptures are moved into this moment, and this moment itself unfolds only as the gathering of the raptures.

P. 268
The present is now entirely envisaged from out of the founding event, the event of being as Ereignis, which frames both past and present in terms of a belongingness to being, and of the call of being, as if time now stretched between these two horizons, at once retaining the trace of an event forever past and, at the same time, tending toward that event as always to come. We must resist interpreting this turn toward past and future in psychologisitic, even subjectivistic terms: it is the abandonment, the present itself that is structurally oriented in that way, even if such an orientation implicates man from the start and defines who he is; as a result, and insofar as grounding involves a turning toward that toward which one is always turned, "remembrance" and "awaiting" must not be understood psychologically, as possibilities or faculties that would belong to man, but as the very form of grounding itself, in which man as such takes place for the first time (as Da-sein). Any grounding, whether it is in the order of thought, poetizing, creation, leadership, etc., amounts to a remembering-expecting. These determinations must be understood historically (geschichtlich) and not anthropologically. It is not that the present remembers and anticipates in an "intentional"--retentional and protentional--sense. Rather, the present comes to be constituted in this remembering-awaiting. The source of time is not so much the present as the twofold horizon of belongingness and the call. As such, the present bears the trace of this event that is "before" and "after" it, and toward which it is extended, in a rapturous gesture, of which it is thus rememberance and the anticipation. Time is as it were stretched out on the frame of being, toward it tends as toward this past and this future, as this withdrawal that marks an irreducible event, and of which it is itself the trait. Time comes and goes, it stretches and returns, as in a bow or a hairpin turn (Kehre). In a way, we are faced here with something like yet another reworking of the Husserlian analysis of temporality, and of the tension (retention-protension) that characterizes it: with the significant difference that time is no longer so much constituted for and by a consciousness, or even by an ex-sistence, as it is temporalized from out of the twofold horizon of the event of being. Such is the reason why Heidegger, reinscribing the determination that characterized the "proper" mode of the present in Being and Time, prefers to designate the present as the "moment" (Augenblick), that is, not as an abstract point along the line of time, but as the gathering of the raptures of time, their point of convergence or intersection--their critical point, if crisiV does indeed involve a sense of decision, a point at which an incision is made is inserted into the fabric of being.

Pp. 159-160

Strigicephalous on being-with others.
The ‘others’ includes ‘me’. This, again, is necessary because an isolated ‘I’ does not make any sense, or at least it is never fruitful to analyze such a thing. “It does not seek to establish ontically that factically I am not present-at-hand alone” means that the point is not just that I happen to not be alone on a desert island, but rather that “Dasein is essentially being-with,” that we in some way “expect” there to be Others. Others do not initially show themselves as ‘things,’ merely present-at-hand, then to be deduced, at some undetermined point, to be cases of Dasein. Thus Heidegger’s derision towards “Theoretically concocted ‘explanations’ of the Being-present-at-hand of Others,” i.e. attempts to show by a kind of Hume-ian induction why we interpret some ‘things’ as Others, or “like us”—the correct Interpretation is rather, as above, that Dasein is essentially Being-with.

A House at Pooh Corner asks Does Heidegger think philosophy is a science?
In other words, the meaning of death is meaninglessness, the most universal and emptiest of concepts, which Heidegger had ontically determined beforehand. The same “remarkable relatedness backwards and forwards,” the dialectical tension created by forcing apart Dasein’s simulataneously ontical and ontological characters, deprives ontical facticity (and pre-ontological experience) of any meaning in view of the existential-ontological analysis of Dasein’s Being-towards-death. If Heidegger had carefully followed his theoretical definition of the simultaneously ontical and ontological characteristics of Dasein, his own Dasein, he should have concluded that Dasein, he himself, was already dead.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Sean Dorrance Kelly ends a paper on the understanding of time as Retention versus the understanding of time as the Specious Present, with this.
The temporally articulated understanding of being that characterizes our existence, according to Heidegger, is the condition of the possibility of truth. This is because it is only in virtue of Dasein’s understanding of being that it can encounter entities at all. And truth, the agreement of knowledge with its object, is possible only if the knowing being can encounter the being that is to be known. The capacity to encounter objects in the full-fledged way that truth requires is unique to Dasein. And temporality of the sort that Husserl begins to understand is the condition of the possibility of encounter. Thus Heidegger writes:
[I]f Dasein is to be able to have any dealings with a context of equipment … a world must have been disclosed to it. …[T]his world has been disclosed, if Dasein indeed exists essentially as Being-in-the-world. And if Dasein’s Being is completely grounded in temporality, then temporality must make possible Being-in-the-world and therewith Dasein’s transcendence [i.e., truth].[P. 415]
While truth may be only understood in the context of Dasein, I don't find Heidegger indicating that: transcendence, as truth = "the agreement of knowledge with its object"; i.e., agreeing that truth is correspondence.
Further proof that mixing philosophy with politics is ill-advised: The case of the grateful Romanian angel.
Hardly surprising, next in the polls comes Gigi Becali, who is dead serious about his claiming to be God’s messenger in Romanian politics and repeats the name of philosopher Heidegger when he is questioned about Banel the footballer, as if Heidegger were a German striker that he, Becali, wants transferred to Steaua. In his speech, after the exit polls were made public, Traian Basescu thanked Becali for giving him his votes. He needn’t have thanked him.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Wozu Dichter?
Heidegger once said that our essences
Were to be found within our existences
And that existence is in each case mine.
But when we peer inside our own abysses,
Seeking the solace of our core selves,
Dread Sartrian nothingness returns our gazes.
We seem to be fully as centerless
As the universe within which we reside.
The centerless universe is just some artifact of abstract astro-geometrical calculation. My existence is at the center of the world bound by the hermeneutical horizon.
Despite all the computations
You could just dance to a rock 'n ' roll station
And it was alright.
    -- The Velvet Underground
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Geworfenheit is also on about our favorite bon mot.
Meanwhile, Heidegger described lethe as a horizon from which things/beings emerge and to which beings rest. So it does not create beings or make it appear. It is actually Ereignis that allows beings to appear within our field of vision (see Discourse on Thought). This Ereignis appropriates Being and beings to their own most. If lethe then appears as a “movement”, it is, in my opinion, because of this Ereignis.

Philsophical Conversations has a post on Ereignis.
Ereignis is often translated as event---the event of appropriation. If philosophy used to think in terms of idea, as energeia, as actualitas, does it now think in terms of appropriation? I've always suspected the background to all this is Aristotle and a metaphysics of becoming. Heidegger’s concern is as not “being” (the givenness or availability of entities for human engagement) of classical metaphysics, but rather what brings about being, namely Ereignis, the opening of clearing within which entities can appear as this or that. It is an enabling power.
Monday, May 21, 2007
In his review of Mindfulness, Miguel de Beistegui revisits the issue of translating Heidegger's neologisms. He has this to say about Ereignis.
Is Ereignis one of those words that we should leave untranslated? If we are to listen to Heidegger, the answer is yes, since he declared the word untranslatable. There is already a precedent in that respect: Dasein is usually left untranslated in English. But the problem is that Ereignis is a word that contains many other words within it, and especially the verbs ereignen, ent-eignen, übereignen, and zueignen. In a way, and in certain contexts, we find ourselves forced to translate Ereignis, because of the many other verbs and names associated with it. Is "en-owning" the correct translation, then? Not believing that the prefix en- does any work in that neologism, I can't support such a translation. In addition, how can one forget entirely the fact that Ereignis normally means "event," and that there are very good reasons to believe that, by understanding Sein verbally, and transitively, Ereignis does designate something like the recurrent event of being, as the giving or granting of ownness or properness? This is why I suggest "event of ap-propriation" as a possible translation. According to the OED, "to appropriate" means "to make something over to someone as his own." This is the sense that we need to bear in mind. Ap-propriation signals the granting of the own, of the proper. The other, more common sense of the term, on the other hand, needs to be ignored, for Heidegger's Ereignis does not involve the act of taking possession of something for one's own. Ereignis can be understood as an event only to the extent that it is a granting of the proper or the own, and not in the sense of an actual event, no matter how great, taking place in space and time (for Ereignis is also the event or the unfolding of time-space, the advent of History). It's an event that is forever recurring, and recurring differently: the different ways in which this event recurs are what Heidegger calls "epochs." In the case of the event of ap-propriation, I believe hyphenation is justified: it emphasises the process by which man and being are mutually and reciprocally brought into their own, and erases the temptation to understand appropriation as a form of violent reduction of something external and different to something like a pre-given and self-enclosed identity. At the same time, it retains the link -- crucial, in my view -- with the ordinary sense of the word, that is, the event. Most of all, it has the advantage of evoking something that is not altogether unfamiliar to the Anglophone ear.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Miguel de Beistegui explains thinking outside the three dimensional box. Hint: events are happening.
The attempt to think the unity of time and space from out of the turning of Ereignis, and this means away from our classical geometrical conception of space and the linear or chronological account of time, is still more evident in the following passage, in which Heidegger derives this unity from the organizing axis or poles in the space of which Ereignis turns. In doing so, Heidegger remains faithful to the phenomenological demand that we return the problems to their original, pre-reflexive soil, and this means to the level that remains buried beneath our metaphysical representations and scientific constructions. But the question, from our perspective, is precisely to know the extent to which phenomenology, and Heidegger in its wake, does not mistake the pre-ontical for the prereflexive, the extent to which it is conceivable to articulate this pre-ontical zone of the between or the fold in a way that would not include the human as the being for whom it unfolds; in other words, the question would be to know the extent to which time-space, as the very there-ness of being, can be accounted for in terms of an event in the unfolding of which the human would find itself implicated while not being the recipient or the destinee of such a singular event:
Time-space is the ap-propriated fissuring open of the strips within which Ereignis turns, of the turning between belongingness and call, between abandonment by beyng and hinting (the trembling of the echo of beyng itself!). Nearness and remoteness, emptiness and gift, echo and hesitation--all of this cannot be understood on the basis of preconceptions regarding space and time, but the other way around: in it lies the concealed essence of time-space.
P. 260
Ordinary spatial representations, then, such as nearness and remoteness, proximity and distance, are not envisaged on the basis of a pre-given, objective, and measurable sense of space and time. Rather, space and time, in their originary unity, are thought from out of the play of remoteness and nearness born of the contrary tendencies of the truth of beyng, in the counter-play of which beyng unfolds as Ereignis. As the unfolding of this counter-play, Ereignis is simply the trembling or the echo of this strifely event. It takes place, literally, as the place of the encounter between proximity and distance, between gift and emptiness, or refusal and granting. It is itself this oscillation. Far from being the measure of events and deeds within the world, then, space and time can be genuinely understood only on the basis of that time and that space opened up and held open by a certain configuration of Ereignis, that is, by a certain configuration of man's belongingness to beyng and beyng's calling onto man, a specific and singular way in which the world worlds from out of its specific relation to earth. This, in the end, is what Heidegger means by "there": the concrete, historical place or site opened up and held open by a configuration of truth, the scene of the eternal strife between two tendencies or forces that oppose one another and yet reciprocally implicate one another--a space that is quartered between the contrary tendencies of truth, a place that stretches from within a differential: a differentiating time-space. The free space of time is thus indeed this gaping born of a differential rapport between opposed tendencies, and where a manifold of events and possibilities come to be inscribed, thus constituting the general landscape and the historical contours of the world. This gaping is precisely what Heidegger means by the Augenblicksstätte. Not the occurrence of something in a measurable instant and identifiable place, not even the vision of the essence of time and space in the sense of their idea--something which, to a certain extent, drives the entire unfolding of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, a Platonic novel, indeed, for which "pure" time can only be outside time--but the occurrence or the event of time-space. The essence of time and space, in a way. Except that, here, essence can be understood only as the happening or the unfolding not of some essence that would itself not be entirely implicated in the happening, but as the unfolding or the taking place of a configuration of time-space, a specific and singular time-space assemblage, jointure, or articulation.

Pp. 146-147
Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rooney hosts some Chuck Palahniuk ruminations.
The philosopher Martin Heidegger pointed out how human beings tend to look at the world as a standing stock of material, ready for us to use. As inventory to be processed into something more valuable. Trees into wood. Animals into meat. He called this world of raw natural resources: bestand. It seems inevitable that people without access to natural bestand such as oil wells or diamond mines, that they'd turn to the only inventory they do have—their lives.

More and more, the bestand of our era is our own intellectual property. Our ideas. Our life stories. Our experience. What people used to endure or enjoy—all those plot-point events of potty training and honeymoons and lung cancer—now they can be shaped to best effect and sold.

The trick is to pay attention. Take notes.

The problem with seeing the world as bestand, Heidegger said, was it leads you to use things, enslave and exploit things and people, for your own benefit.

With this in mind, is it possible to enslave yourself?

Martin Heidegger also points out that an event is shaped by the presence of the observer. A tree falling in the forest is somehow different if someone is there, noting and accenting the details in order to turn it into a Julia Roberts vehicle.

If only by distorting events, tweaking them for more dramatic impact, exaggerating them to the point you forget your actual history—you forget who you are—is it possible to exploit your own life for the sake of a marketable story?
Friday, May 18, 2007
Proof publishers are idiots.
When a question forms the title of a book, one reasonably expects to find that question answered within. But this being a philosophy book, you would be looking through those pages for a very long time. Pop philosophy seems to come in two varieties: books with short chapters on historical figures, and the rarer but no less formulaic attempt at whimsy. This is one of the former, though some thought has gone into making it appear as unthreatening as possible. There were 30 essays in the original Polish edition, but the British publisher apparently wanted a small book; hence the "23 questions from great philosophers".

Leszek Kolakowski is Poland's foremost philosopher, though living in the West since 1968, when his critiques of Marx became too much for the authorities and he was banned from teaching. He is also perhaps the most esteemed philosopher to have produced a general introduction to his discipline for the mass market since Bertrand Russell. So it is a surprise that the result is so attenuated, each chapter consisting of a brief presentation of the question, a sketch of its origin and suggestions for further thoughts. Sometimes this offers the opportunity for humour. The chief question raised by Schopenhauer's work, it seems, is whether his ideas even make any sense at all. It would have been interesting to see the culled chapter on Heidegger, whose work often punishes rather than repays careful study.
They publish a book titled Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? and remove the chapter on Heidegger? Why is there publishers rather than printers? It appears readers would be better served if authors sent their manuscripts directly to market.
Ewan Morrison's reason number six why the art world hates Digital Art.
6. Heidegger's opposition between art and technology. The debate on art and technology is always prefaced by some reference to Heidegger. For Heidegger, technology keeps humanity from recognising 'being': we deny ourselves when we see the world 'technologically' - that is, as a tool for our own use. Against the evils of technology Heidegger set the virtues of art, through which 'being' expresses itself to us. Heidegger's views on art were dominant in the 50s and have had a lasting impact.

Although very few contemporary artists would support Heidegger's philosophy and its endorsement of the notion of the autonomous individual, the ethically existing subject and the expression of inner truth, the art world continues to distrust technology.

The postmodern rejection of Heidegger should have seen an abandonment of the old opposition between art and technology and paved the way for a reconciliation of the old opposites. However, the result has not been a new belief in the compatibility of art and technology, but the belief instead that both art and technology are equally lacking in an ultimate justification. In this way Heidegger's split is reconciled - through mutual failure.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Abraham Stone examines the controversy between Carnap and Heidegger on who's just doing metaphysics. To summarize:
The problem is not that Heidegger challenges logic, but that he thinks he can challenge it by asserting something which is not a judgment about any being, and over which logic therefore has no sovereignty. This means that, like it or not, Heidegger has in fact placed a limit on the reach of science: he has himself “come to the determination that his questions and answers are not unitable with the mode of thinking of science”. And it is due to that mistake that he remains, as Carnap says, merely one of “the numerous metaphysicians of the present or the past”-rather, that is, than becoming, as he might have, a rare philosopher of the future.

So, in summary, what is Carnap’s accusation against Heidegger? He accuses him of trying to use assertions where only expression is appropriate—and where, given the danger involved, even expression ought to be limited to brief hints. He accuses him, in particular, of putting himself (or leaving himself) in a position where he must treat religious dread as if it revealed a being, an object—accuses him, that is, of idolatry, or (what comes to the same thing from a Kantian point of view) of putting a theoretical dogmatics before ethics. This is a very serious criticism indeed. Without claiming (as I certainly would not) that it is one against which Heidegger could have no defense, I would point out two things about it. First, it is a criticism to which, as I understand it, Heidegger seriously and repeatedly responded. Second, it is a criticism which finds echoes in later members of Heidegger’s own, Continental, philosophical tradition (e.g. in Levinas). This, I think, is enough to establish what I set out to here: not an attack on or defense of either Carnap or Heidegger, but simply a case for taking the one as a serious reader of the other.
It comes back which is more fundamental: logic or ontology? Does logic depend on ontology? Is logic something that can be put in a box, bracketed, by ontology--by thinking outside the box. Or is logic privileged, and anything not covered by logic merely so much ado about nothing?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Millions wallops Clive James for his naff biographies.
In light of Sartre's socialist sins, Being and Nothingness is written off here as an update of Heidegger's "high-flown philosophical flapdoodle" the product of "a mind that could not grant itself freedom to speculate in [...] its own compromises with reality." Now, in Heidegger, we have a man whose conduct under totalitarian rule deserves all the opprobrium that can possibly be heaped upon it. But Being and Time cannot be dismissed as "flapdoodle" on the grounds of biography alone. Nor can Being and Nothingness, whose author has the advantage of having participated in the Resistance. In fact, both Sartre and Heidegger were keenly interested in the mind's compromises with reality, though they didn't conceive of it in those terms (see, for example, Being and Time, Part One, Division I, Section V).

It's likely that Heidegger's agnosticism on the subject the Other (later critiqued by that self-interested Witch-Doctor Emmanuel Lewinas) enabled his early political enthusiasm for Hitler. But it's also possible to hang Heidegger out to dry on the grounds of his own definition of authenticity. Sartre, too, for that matter . To the extent that they endorsed or downplayed (respectively) totalitarian regimes, Heidegger and Sartre could be seen to have fallen short of their own philosophies. But to reach this nuanced verdict, one has to have actually tried to understand the philosophies in question, and James can't be bothered with philosophy (not a great quality in a cultural critic). Even Hegel and Kant get his goat. I had always thought of the anti-intellectualism and paranoia as a combination peculiar to the American far right, but apparently it can afflict Aussie humanists, too.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Chicken soup for the thinker.
Havi Carel, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of the West of England, goes beyond the war of words to show how great thinkers can make a real improvement to modern lives. She has LAM disease, an incurable lung condition. When she was diagnosed, it was a brutal shock. However, reading the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus and the German thinker Martin Heidegger - who sought to address the ancient questions afresh - she found new strength.
Francis Fukuyama at the deep end--it's where you lose your footing.
This problem of how our post-religious societies come up with values was the critical issue for two celebrated thinkers from the University of Chicago—Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind, and Leo Strauss.

Strauss called this "the crisis of modernity." The question is whether there is a way of establishing values through reason and philosophical discourse without reverting to religion. His central argument was that classical political philosophy—the Greeks with their emphasis on "natural right," or nature deciphered by reason as a source of values—had been prematurely rejected by modern philosophy.

The way to think about this is that we have both a deep philosophical problem and a practical political problem. The two may be related, but not necessarily.

The deep philosophical problem is whether you can walk Western philosophy back from Heidegger and Nietzche and say that reason does permit the establishment of positive values—in other words that you can demonstrate the truth of certain ideas.

The practical problem is whether you can generate a set of values that will politically serve the integrating liberal purposes you want. This is complicated because you want those values to be positive and mean something, but you also can't use them as the basis for exclusion of certain groups in society.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
This morning I found this article on pop(ular) philosophy and BS.
The Vienna Circle’s preferred term for bullshit was ‘metaphysics’, and so their 1929 manifesto, the Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung (“Scientific World-Conception”), led off with the worry that “metaphysical and theologizing thought is again on the increase today, not only in life but in science.” The “Scientific World-Conception” would be the antidote. It was an embrace of modern science and a scientific attitude toward things, as well as the “new objectivity” (or neue sachlichkeit) pursued by many artists, designers and architects in European culture.

The Vienna Circle’s target was not the intellectual diversity that surrounded them, but the putative parts of it that were presented (even accepted) as meaningful—indeed, profoundly meaningful—but in fact amounted to nothing. In 1932, the Circle’s Rudolf Carnap criticized Martin Heidegger, perhaps the most prominent German-speaking philosopher of the time, on precisely these grounds.

In his 1929 book, What is Metaphysics?, Heidegger ruminated on the nature of Das Nichts (literally, “the nothing”), and inspired Carnap to figure out exactly what was wrong with such supposedly deep and insightful metaphysical inquiries. In statements like Heidegger’s ‘Das Nichts selbst nichtet’ (“The nothing nothings”), Carnap concluded, there was only the appearance of a meaningful statement. Behind that appearance, there was Nichts, leading Carnap to suggest that metaphysicians were like “musicians without musical ability.”
Had Carnap read more carefully, he'd have discovered that Heidegger was a great critic of metaphysics, and that he goes on to demonstrate that the proposed antidote, scientific attitude, is also metaphysics.

Listics has a review titled: David Weinberger IS Heidegger’s Hammer, from which I gather HH is a simile good thing.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Michael Wheeler is now listed as the future author of the article on Heidegger for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Thomas Sheehan used to be have the honor of being so listed. I wonder what happened there? Based on the drafts of the article I read a few years ago, it would have been one of the key documents on Heidegger on the web. Perhaps the explanation was too controversial for an encyclopedia. Or perhaps the encyclopedia got tired of waiting for the final draft and decided to try the luck with someone else.
Cecilia Sjöholm on a problem with cosmopolitanism, in Cabinet Magazine.
The problem is, however, that cosmopolitanism may too easily do away with that which Heidegger has told us belongs to our state of “thrownness”: our belonging to a nation (or a people, as he puts it) which will define us precisely through that which escapes identification—pointing to that which will remain foreign through any kind of “technical” definitions of belonging that we may use. Paradoxically, Heidegger in his seemingly nationalist discussions of the poeticizing of the “earth” in The Origins of the Work of Art, shows that poetry (the epitome of art, according to Heidegger) will carry with it an excess in relation to any kind of world it will unravel, an excess that will point to the foundation of a people and the history that makes the definition of a people possible. The search for foundation, however, opens a lack of ground, and the need to establish a foundation elsewhere than in the values one has become used to apply. Thus the idea of the nation as foundation of the community must give way for the realization that the nation is nothing but the history of its origin, and thus the product of a kind of creation that can be seen in a work of art: uncanny, foreign, and excessive. It is no longer the nation that defines the work of art, but the work of art that defines the nation. The nation, therefore, cannot be anything but the investment in uncanny cultural products that will define and redefine its origin. If cosmopolitanism, therefore, is useless as a remedy against nationalism because it fails to acknowledge the passionate investments in the nation that the fiction of the nation itself seems to propel — in terms of love or hatred ­— then Heidegger is right at least in acknowledging that the nation will continue to haunt us because it is part of our state of thrownness.

manwithoutqualities on Michael Wheeler’s Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step:
In much the same way as he approaches Descartes, Wheeler approaches Heidegger. The reasons here are somewhat more complicated. First, interpretation of Heidegger has been notoriously divergent: though there is no such thing as a “definitive” commentary on Heidegger, there are less contentious ones (Taylor Carman and Richard Polt are two commentators that spring to mind but are not at all referenced by Wheeler.) Second, Heidegger is a philosopher that has been (mis?) appropriated in areas where there is no philosophical culture. This has given rise to a caricatural Heidegger: the paradigmatic anti-realist, anti-naturalist, relativist and social contructivist pressed into service for those promoting some ideological sub-text. This does no favors for Heidegger in particular and so-called Continental philosophy in general – more on this later. Last but by means not least, Wheeler has the influential work of Hubert Dreyfus to negotiate, again a very distinctive Heidegger on offer.

Wheeler’s overall task is to reject the view that Heidegger’s philosophy is incompatible with or irrelevant to a science of the mind. Heideggerian smooth coping, real-time environmental interplay constitutes a form of knowledge, namely embodied knowledge-how. Embodied know-how emerges as our primary way of gaining epistemic access to the word and takes epistemic primacy over knowing-that (propositional knowledge).
Read the whole thing.
Friday, May 04, 2007

Larval Subjects has been there.
I would like to confess that I am a recovering Heideggerian. Yes, I know this is scandalous and it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Upon my bookshelves I have dozens of his lectures and enough secondary sources to kill a man in an avalanch.
Ork! Ork!

Phonetic vagary weighs ballot choice.
Pro: Could potentially deliver his home state of Nebraska to the Republicans.
Con: Risks losing votes of near-sighted supporters of Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, and Nietzsche who think the ballot says "Hegel."

Spurious on Will Oldham's (filed under: Palace) career choices, Seinkönnen, and more.
God lies within - what does this mean? Shared between artist and audience is that doubling up of the world that occurs in the work. This might sound mysterious. We can think of it with Heidegger: there is a difference, he says, between being, understood as the horizon against which things come to appear, and beings, those particular things, people, which appear to us. Anything is more than it appears to be. Or rather, this 'to be' watches over the indeterminability of the experience of the world and gives itself to be experienced as the engagement in question.
Thursday, May 03, 2007

Still griping about English translations? I Guess; that I do, the blog, ventures further.
It was the most difficult philosophical text I have read so far, and this difficulty was multiplied by the fact that it is in Tagalog.

Summa Philosophiae on 10 Things I Hate About Graduate Philosophy, including that equal and opposite Heideggerian view to intelligibility. And for some time I've cpnsidered his views to be all about intelligibility. Well, at least the ones that didn't stray far from philosophy.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Johann Hari bashes Slavoj Žižek in a review of Zizek!:
Pseud's corner

The star philosopher Slavoj Zizek commits intellectual suicide in his latest film.
"Latest film" is an interesting phrase to attach to a philosopher. There are three DVDs on Žižek out in the market. The only others philosophers who have had films made about themselves, that I'm aware of, are Derrida (1: self-titled, and which Zizek! clearly used as a model) and Heidegger (1: The Ister). So Žižek is something of an unusual philosopher. I can't help being bemused by Hari's criticism. How much of the criticism is sour grapes?

The actual film being reviewed, Zizek!, has been available for a while, but I guess it is now getting released in the theaters in the UK, hence the New Statesman review. The latest one available on DVD is The Pervert's Guide to Cinema; which the picture with the New Statesman review is taken from. The earliest DVD is The Reality of the Virtual, a single lecture. You can view extracts from them on youtube. Žižek also appears on the recent Children of Men DVD--in a ten minute appreciation of the movie.

So what's with the intellectual suicide of this most video prolific philosopher, who apparently won't keep the hemlock down? Straight off the bat, Hari dislikes postmodernists, whatever those are, and he appears to carry the continental-aren't-proper-philosophers chip on his shoulder. I'm not a big fan of Lacan or Hegel, probably the two figures most cited by Žižek, but he does appear to know his stuff when he jaunts through the bits of philosophy I'm familiar with, and he does ask good questions that make you think. Hari accuses Žižek of being a communist because of his remarks, and although he's definately some variation of a socialist, Žižek explains--in the movie Hari reviews, when questioned about the portrait of Stalin on his wall--that he used to be a libertarian democrat when he was a dissident under a communist regime, but now that's all behind us, in our world of global capitalism, he will crack jokes about totalitarians in order to provoke a reaction. If he didn't do so, he'd be just another obscure academic philosopher, and Hari wouldn't be writing about his films.
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