enowning
Thursday, July 31, 2008
 
Shadia Drury, professor of political theory at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, demontrates a shady understanding.
Strauss’s criticism of the existentialists, especially Heidegger, is that they tried to elicit an ethic out of the abyss. This was the ethic of resoluteness – choose whatever you like and be loyal to it to the death; its content does not matter.

...

But Strauss’s worries about America’s global aspirations are entirely different. Like Heidegger, Schmitt, and Kojève, Strauss would be more concerned that America would succeed in this enterprise than that it would fail. In that case, the “last man” would extinguish all hope for humanity (Nietzsche); the “night of the world” would be at hand (Heidegger); the animalisation of man would be complete (Kojève); and the trivialisation of life would be accomplished (Schmitt). That is what the success of America’s global aspirations meant to them.
"Night of the world" ("Nacht der Welt") is one of Hegel's. Search Google books for: "night of the world" or "Nacht der Welt" inauthor:Heidegger, and it'll returns zero hits.

The resoluteness of public "intellectuals": choose whatever you like, its content does not matter.
 
 
Richard Polt remarks on Martin's style.
After reading a good deal of Heidegger, we start to hear his tones of voice and anticipate his rhetorical strategies. We recognize, for instance, that his lecture courses deliberately pile tension upon tension. We realize that he often pursues a line of thought simply in order to build a house of cards that he will then blow down. Certain words he uses drip with sarcasm, such as freischwebend (free-floating) and harmlos (innocuous). When Heidegger characterizes any viewpoint in these terms, it's a giveaway that he is offering the position a final cigarette before submitting it to his philosophical firing squad.
From a review of Andre Haas's The Irony of Heidegger. HT: Philosophy's Other.
 
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
 
Learning to be authentically real.
Contrary to its more virulent critics, reality TV is not corrupting society. Rather, it draws upon a culturally approved fetish of ‘authenticity’. Historically, this has developed hand in hand with the devaluation of social life, a growing perception of a world in which public life, work and production more generally lack meaning or purpose. Little wonder that the philosopher with whom the notion of authenticity is most closely associated, Martin Heidegger, wrote his existentialist opus, Being and Time, during the late 1910s and early 1920s – that is, when liberalism, the sustaining ideology of the nineteenth century, was ceasing to provide a framework in which to explain the social world, let alone, legitimise it.
He wrote it around 1925-7, but then authenticity isn't about correspondence with the real.
 
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Countermemory on things thinging.
The point is to see the table, for example, or the jug, as something I can pick up and use, not as a set of points in Cartesian space--as I'm sure you know.

All this said, I don't think hunting around in the German is really worth your time: Hoftstader is usually pretty good at translating and Heidegger himself isn't usually trying to deceive you or play on words in a way that would repay this. What he does when he plays on words is groups together cognates, so as to show you an affinity between them: thus he'll gather together a whole bunch of words that start with über- or Ab-, or have -schick- in them (a word in itself meaning something, for Heidegger, like destination, which, if you grant Heidegger the affinities he is trying to piece together, makes up Geschehen, history, and Schicksal, fate, etc.)--but all of this is trying to work out the phenomenon, to show you certain things are part of its structure and are so because they are related to how we attend to them and other phenomena (which we might not expect the same attention to reside within).
 
Monday, July 28, 2008
 
More on the ontological question and Beyng.

The ontological difference was opened up in Aristotle, in beings (ὄντα) and being qua being (ὄν ᾗ ὄν). ('Opened up' here means that Aristotle's thinking took place in the light of the ontological difference. Whether Aristotle thought the difference as difference, i.e., explicitly, is another question entirely and an open question.) What we call a being (Seindes) Greek philosophy called das Answende (ὄν, ἐόν): what presences, emerges, comes forth. Greek philosophy called a being das Anwesende because. as Heidegger wrote in 1965, being spoke to the Greeks as das Anwesenheit - names in Aristotle as οὐσια - which got reduced in the history of metaphysics to 'being,' 'beingness,' and even substance. This reduction is clearly demonstrated in F.E. Peter's Greek philosophical Terms, where he writes, 'Aristotle is further convinced that the problem posed by metaphysics, and indeed by all philosophy, i.e., "what is being [ὄν]?" really comes down to "what is ousia?" since being is, first and foremost substance.'

The difficulty here is that, when philosophy thinks being, over against beings and what is, it takes its queue from beings. Thus, whereas the difference is indeed thought, it is determined as what it is over against beings. The danger in this way of thinking is that it thinks being as the being of a being from out of and unto a being.

To release the thinking of being from the shape given to it in terms of beings - over against beings (as beingness, as presence) - thinking as enaction needs to 'return' the 'ontological difference' to its 'own' place within the question 'that historically decides metaphysics and decides about metaphysics and its inquiry'. Therefore, the thinking of ontological difference is an unavoidable transitional moment, from within which the inquiry into being takes place. Thinking must pass through the ontological difference, so that the necessity of asking the grounding question of be-ing can be manifest.

Pp. 26-7
 
Sunday, July 27, 2008
 
Beyng, ontology beyond the ontological difference, emerging beyond the metaphysics of presence. Kenneth Maly explains:
[P]hilosophy as the thinking of be-ing is distinct from the thinking of the 'ontological difference.' When Heidegger, already in Being and Time, introduces the notion of ontological difference, he means to think being over against beings. But, as he says in Contributions, this thinking is still bound or de-fined by beings. Thinking the ontological difference is thinking beings and being in their difference. Proceeding from what is present/extant (beings), thinking moves toward being in its difference from beings. One might say that the 'necessity of thinking' called for thinking to say the question of being as ontological difference - but then, drawn on by that very necessity, to think be-ing itself, where be-ing does not get it determination from being-as-other-than-beings, but from be-ing as such.

Heidegger calls what is present das Anwesende (beings in their presence) and the being of those beings das Anwesenheit (being as what 'grants' beings or what is present). It is possible to translate Anwesenheit as 'presence.' That translation would imply a certain static presence, maybe even a unity - a metaphysical unity. Thus one might be tempted to say that, whereas Heidegger says that his thinking moves out from within a metaphysics of presence or unity, this word here indicates that his thinking remains (imprisoned?) within that metaphysics of presence. But things are not so simple.

In a little text from a larger work entitled 'Die Seinsfrage: Der Holzweg' Heidegger says that all talk of 'being' in Being and Time is thought as Anwesenheit. 'Even the being in "Da-sein" is ecstatic, a manifold emerging to...what emerges [Anwesen zu...Anwesendem].' Then he say, 'Anwesenheit is never and in no way something present [ein Anwesendes]; in this regard it is the nothing.' Hardly a metaphysics of presence! Thus granting a certain unclarity on the level of 'grammar' or literal meanings, the saying/showing in the word Anwesenheit cannot be said adequately in English as 'presence.' So, Anwesenheit as 'presence' becomes Anwesenheit as 'emergence.'

Pp. 25-6
Continued.

Aside on translation: One problem with translating Seyn as be-ing is the ambiguity when it is split at the end of a line, the hyphen might be a continuation character. Is that instance of "be-ing" referring to Seindes, Sein or Seyn; a being, the being of beings, or Beyng?
 
Saturday, July 26, 2008
 
John P. Muller and William J. Richardson explain its origins in "The Challenge of Deconstruction".
Whatever may be his influence in literary circles, Derrida's beginnings were as a philosopher whose primary masters are Nietzsche, Freud, and Heidegger—but above all Heidegger. Heidegger's question is about the meaning of Being, where Being is experienced as that which lets a being (Aristotle's on, i.e., whatever "is") be what and how it is. For Heidegger at the beginning of his quest for its meaning, then, Being is experienced, so to speak, as the "is" of what-is, precisely inasmuch as it is different from what-is, the difference being designated the "ontological difference." This question, fundamental though it may be, is for Heidegger not strictly speaking a "metaphysical" question, for metaphysics since Aristotle asks about "beings as beings" (on hei on), and this formula in turn came to mean the question either about beings in their most abstract generality (so-called ontology) or about beings in terms of the supreme one among them that founds the rest (so-called theology). By reason of its very structure, then, metaphysics becomes "onto-theo-logy". Heidegger's question is more fundamental still than the metaphysical question. According to an early metaphor, he seeks to "lay the groundwork" for metaphysics, but later on he speaks rather of the "groundlessness" or "abyss" (Abgrund) that his question opens up. In any case, the earlier, more flamboyant Heidegger claims that the task involves the "destruction" of the "traditional content of ancient ontology (i.e., onto-theo-logy) until we arrive at those primordial experiences in which we achieved our first ways of determining the nature of Being-—the ways which have guided us ever since". [P. 44] It is the thrust of such an enterprise that Derrida has transformed and made his own.

For "deconstruction," the term that most comprehensively describes Derrida's own effort, is the term by which he very neatly transforms (he would not say "translates") the Heideggerian term "destruction":
I try to respect as rigorously as possible the internal, regulated play of philosophemes or epistimemes by making them slide—-without mistreating them-—to the point of their nonpertinence, their exhaustion, their closure. To "deconstruct" philosophy, thus, would be to think-—in the most faithful, interior way—-the structured genealogy of philosophy's concepts, but at the same time to determine—-from a certain exterior that is unqualifiable or unnameable by philosophy—-what this history has been able to dissimulate or forbid, making itself into a history by means of this somewhere motivated repression. P. [6]
The full import of this formulation will appear as we proceed. For the moment let it suffice to remark that the Derridean enterprise, like the Heideggerian one, has a positive as well as a negative component in its movement, operating "at the limit of philosophical discourse" (Derrida's emphasis), perhaps, but not on the premise of its "death". His use of the word "philosophy," however, warrants pause.

By "philosophy" Derrida understands the metaphysical tradition, to be sure, but in a sense different from Heidegger’s. What characterizes metaphysics for Derrida is the emphasis on "presence" (and its correlative negation, "nonpresence"). This lies at the base of all the classic issues of metaphysics: being, unity, truth, the good, reason, identity, continuity, meaning, subjectivity, authenticity, the principle of noncontradiction, and so forth-—and their opposites. All these and like notions find their center, he claims, in the notion of presence, which in turn centers the history of metaphysics. The result is a "centrism," which Derrida characterizes, because of the master quality of the name logos for Greek thought, as "logocentrism." But the very notion of "center" here is problematic, for in his view there really is no center, and every presumed "center" yields to another that follows as its trace. Derrida's task is to deconstruct logocentrism.

Pp. 161-2
 
Friday, July 25, 2008
 
Newsweek on why Germans like Obama.
Policy details aside, Obama's appearance here had the mark of history upon it long before he ever arrived. His speech was electrifying, as usual, but even if he had fumbled his lines, it wouldn't have mattered much. They came, like so many Americans do, because of how his words make them feel, because of the promise that every once in a while politics can bypass the mundane world of the pragmatic into the realm of the transcendent. Despite their Teutonic reservoir of icy cool, the Germans have a soft spot for sweeping oratory—one of their own philosophers, Martin Heidegger, expressed this predisposition, writing that "the nature of poetry is the founding of truth."
And that's a truth we can believe in.
 
 
Robert Pogue Harrison on the other, post-Socratic, beginning, in the garden.
I think our age is ripe for a creative rediscovery of Epicureanism.

In the book, I suggest that Epicurus’s garden was a place where human and social virtues, trampled on by the so-called real world, could reflourish under carefully husbanded circumstances. The arts can play a similar role today, I believe, especially when considered in light of the broad reduction of a three-dimensional world to two-dimensional forms, the impoverishment of the real through media technologies and new forms of virtuality. While certain forms of contemporary art make interesting use of those technologies, my belief is that one of the most important vocations of art in our age is to restore to reality its full-bodiedness.
 
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Perverse Egalitarianism explains the correlationism in Quentin Meillassoux’s After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency.
[T]he correlationist insists that we can’t really think of human being without a world, but also insists upon the converse, we can’t think of a world without humans, so philosophy has to result in some sort of correlation beteween human and world. This is not very subtle, but seems to be somewhat accurate, For example, one need only look to Heidegger’s insistence that reality doesn’t cease to exist or exists when Dasein isn’t around (I’m thinking of his discussion of gravity in the beginning of Being and Time–when I get home maybe I’ll look up the passage). In fact, on page 8 Meillassoux himself provides an example from Heidegger, who even with critiques of representation and the subject/object binary still remains tied to correlationism with his antecedent or originary correlation of being and thought vis a vis Ereignis. All of this results in/demonstrates the “correlationist circle:”
We cannot represent the “in-itself” without it becoming “for us” or as Hegel amusingly put it, we cannot “creep up on” the object “from behind” so as to find out what it is in-itself–which means that we cannot know anything that would be beyond our relation to the world.
 
Thursday, July 24, 2008
 
In-der-Blog-sein

The Dream Studies Portal on the inbetween dreams and reality.
Heidegger was then dragged into the fray, as his understanding of Logos can handle this sort of ambiguity. Based on Aristotle’s hermaeneia, Heidegger envisioned logos as the hidden order of things. More specifically: Logos is the uncovering of the hidden order. This view of logos works well with dreaming thought and experience, which naturally lends itself towards making connections with deep emotional traces, as well as the revelation of conceptual and metaphoric similarities. In other words, this muddy thought has its own poetry.
 
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Aardvarchaeology on where things went wrong for archaeology.
The 1980s reaction against the technocratic natural determinism of the 60s and 70s also opened the door wide to all manner of post-modernist philosophisering from the weird fringe of lit-crit and sociology. And thus, today, we have a few Swedish university archaeologists writing about Heidegger and fake ruins in theme parks.
 
 
Tom McCarthy rates Heidegger.
Heidegger isn't just the great thinker of modernity - of motorways, power stations and skyscrapers as Being's staffs and anchors - he's also the great thinker of Being itself. For my money, he's the most important philosopher ever. He's like a switchboard into which the Greeks all run, and through which their thought is transferred onwards to the likes of Levinas, Derrida and Virilio. Where Plato expelled the poets from his Republic, Heidegger installs them at the heart of his, unravelling the lines of, for example, Hölderlin and Trakl to show that techné and poesis are the very things that place us in the world and unfold us in time.
 
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
 
{3} Concluding Slavoj Žižek on ontological violence.
What accounts for the chilling character of these passages is that, here, Heidegger does not merely provide a new variation on his standard rhetorical figure of inversion (“The essence of violence has nothing to do with ontic violence, suffering, war, destruction, etc.; the essence of violence resides in the violent character of the very imposition/founding of the new mode of the Essence – disclosure of communal Being – itself.”); implicitly, but clearly, Heidegger reads this essential violence as something that grounds – or, at least, opens up the space for – the explosions of ontic or physical violence itself. Consequently, we should immunise ourselves against the effect of the violence Heidegger is talking about by classifying it as "merely" ontological: although it is violent as such, imposing a certain disclosure of world, this world constellation also involves social relations of authority. In his interpretations of Heraclitus fragment 53 ("Conflict [polemos] is the father of all things and king of all. Some he shows to be gods and others men; some he makes slaves and others free"), Heidegger - in contrast to those who accuse him of omitting to consider the "cruel" aspects of ancient Greek life (slavery, etc.) -- openly draws attention to how "rank and dominance" are directly grounded in a disclosure of being, thereby providing a direct ontological grounding to social relations of domination:
If people today from time to time are going to busy themselves rather too eagerly with the polis of the Greeks, they should not suppress this side of it; otherwise the concept of the polis easily becomes innocuous and sentimental. What is higher in rank is what is stronger. Thus Being, logos, as the gathered harmony, is not easily available for every man at the same price, but is concealed, as opposed to that harmony which is always mere equalizing, the elimination of tension, leveling.[P. 102]
There is thus a direct link the ontological violence and the texture of social violence (of sustaining relations of enforced domination) that pertains to language.

Pp. 70-71
 
Sunday, July 20, 2008
 
The latest Hannah and Martin production. This time in Tulsa, OK.
 
 
{2} Continuing along with Slavoj Žižek on ontological violence.
So when, in his reading of the famous chorus from Antigone on the "uncanny/demonic" character of man in the Introduction to Metaphysics, Heidegger deploys the notion of "ontological" violence that pertains to every founding gesture of the new communal world of a people, accomplished by poets, thinkers, and statesmen, one should always bear in mind that this "uncanny/demonic" dimension is ultimately that of language itself:
Violence is usually seen in terms of the domain in which concurring compromise and mutual assistance set the standard for Dasein, and accordingly all violence is necessarily deemed only a disturbance and an offence...The violent one, the creative one who sets forth into the unsaid, who breaks into the unthought, who compels what has never happened and makes appear what is unseen--this violent one stands at all times in daring...Therefore the violence-doer knows no kindness and conciliation (in the ordinary sense), no appeasement and mollification by success or prestige and by their confirmation...For such a one, disaster is the deepest and broadest Yes to the Overwhelming...Essential de-cision, when it is carried out and when it resists the constantly pressing ensnarement in the everyday and the customary, has to use violence. This act of violence, this de-cided setting out upon the way to the Being of beings, moves humanity out of the hominess of what is most directly nearby and what is usual.[Pp. 160, 172, 174, again, & 179]
As such, the Creator is, hupsipolis apolis (Antigone, line 370): he stands outside and above polis and its ethos; he is unbounded by any rules of "morality" (which are only a degenerative form of ethos); only as such can he ground a new form of ethos, of communal being in a polis...Of course, what reverberates here is the topic of an "illegal" violence that founds the rule of the law itself. Heidegger hastens to add how the first victim of this violence is the Creator himself, who has to be erased with the advent of the new order that he grounded. This erasure can take different forms. The first is physical destruction--from Moses and Julius Caesar onwards, we know that a founding figure has to be killed. But there is also the relapse into madness, as in the case of great poets, from Hölderlin to Ezra Pound, who were blinded by the very force of their poetic vision. Interestingly, the point in Antigone where the chorus bewails man as the most "demonic" of all creatures, as a being of excess, a being who violates all proper measures, comes immediately after it is revealed that someone has defied Creon's order and performed the funeral ritual on Polyneices body. It is this act which is perceived as a "demonic" excessive act, not Creon's prohibition. Antigone is far from being the [;ace-holder of moderation, of respect for proper limits, against Creon's sacrilegious hubris; quite the contrary, the true violence is hers.

Pp. 68-70
There are minor differences between the excerpts from Introduction to Metaphysics above and the translation by Polt and Fried referenced in Violence. After pointing out a couple paragraphs earlier the verbal ("essencing") element of Wesen, as different from the metaphysical static understanding of essence, I was surprised to find that Zizek changed "essential de-ciding" to "essential de-cision".

Continued.
 
 
The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article lamenting the inattention paid to three German thinkers in Anglo universities.
That is the argument of John McCumber, a scholar of Hegel and Heidegger who himself decamped from philosophy to German. His book Time in the Ditch: American Philosophy and the McCarthy Era (Northwestern University Press, 2001) savages the contemporary American philosophical profession and its flight from history. He notes, for instance, that 10 years after the 1987 "breakthrough anthology" Feminism as Critique, not one of its contributors, from Seyla Benhabib to Iris Marion Young, still taught in a philosophy department. The pressures that force — or tempt — big names such as Rorty and Martha Nussbaum to quit philosophy, McCumber observes, exert equal force on those outside the public eye. He charges, for instance, that senior editors dispense with peer review and run the major philosophy journals like private fiefdoms, and that a few established professors select papers for the discipline's annual conferences. The authoritarianism and cronyism drive out mavericks.
I expect journals rise and fall based on their quality (As calculated by citations?). Today mavericks have the internet to work around the inefficiencies in traditional academic publishing; witness this story in the New Yorker on Garrett Lisi publishing his paper on E8 and the Standard Model.

John McCumber wrote Metaphysics and Oppression: Heidegger's Challenge to Western Philosophy and co-edited Endings: Questions of Memory in Hegel and Heidegger.
 
 
In Utusan, readers of the Borneo Post get a column on thinking about thinking.
[O]ur lived experience tells us that things are never so clear cut as either-or. For instance, how do you tell the difference between art and trash? Where is the borderline between classical music and hip-hop? The 20th century philosopher Martin Heidegger even proposed that logic can work only with objects in the natural world, and not man’s human, aesthetic, and spiritual world. Therefore, if God is almighty, he cannot be ruled by the laws of logic.
I find a good nose to be invaluable in distinguishing art from trash.
 
Friday, July 18, 2008
 
{1} Slavoj Žižek on ontological violence.
Reality in itself, in its stupid existence, is never intolerable: it is language, its symbolisation, which makes it such. So precisely when we are dealing with the scene of a furious crowd, attacking and burning buildings and cars, lynching people, etc., we should never forget the placards they are carrying and the words which sustain and justify their acts. It was Heidegger who elaborated this feature at the formal-ontological level when, in his reading of "essence or Wesen" as a verb ("essencing"), he provided a de-essencialised notion of essence. Traditionally, "essence" refers to a stale core that guarantees the identity of a thing. For Heidegger, "essence" is something that depends on the historical context, on the epochal disclosure of being that occurs in and through language. He calls this the "house of being." His expression "Wesen der Sprache" does not mean "the essence of language," but the "essencing," the making of essences, that is the work of language:
[...]language bringing things into their essence, language ‘moving us’ so that things matter to us in a particular kind of way, so that paths are made within which we can move among entities, and so that entities can bear on each other as the entities they are... We share an originary language when the world is articulated in the same style for us, when we "listen to language," when we "let it say its saying to us."[Pp. 94-95]
Let's unravel this a little. For a medieval Christian, the "essence" of gold resides in its incorruptibility and divine sheen which make it a "divine" metal. For us, it is either a flexible resource to be used for industrial purposes or a material appropriate for aesthetic purposes. Another example: the castrato voice was once the very voice of angels prior to the Fall; for us today, it is a monstrous creation. This change in our sensitivity is sustained by language; it hinges on the shift in our symbolic universe. A fundamental violence exists in this "essencing" ability of language: our world is given a partial twist, it loses its balanced innocence, one partial color gives the tome of the whole.

Pp. 67-68
Continued.
 
 
Some of Heidegger's lectures and readings of Hölderlin are on YouTube.

Was heißt Denken?

Der Satz der Identität

Die Sprache

Der Feldweg

Heidegger liest Hölderlin

Im Denken unterwegs
 
 
Michael Woods narrates Martin Heidegger's Black Forest. There's little philosophy in the video, but it is an excellent look into the man's background. Dr. Woods visits Meßkirch, the church where young Martin rang the bells, the Heidegger museum in the castle, his home, the Todtnauberg hut, Freiburg university. Recommended.
 
 
Robert Pogue Harrison (host of the brilliant Entitled Opinions podcasts) laments the oblivion of being.
 
Thursday, July 17, 2008
 
An article in today's Economist notes that the long tail is missing from academic articles.
He has found that as more journals become available online, fewer articles are being cited in the reference lists of the research papers published within them. Moreover, those articles that do get a mention tend to have been recently published themselves. Far from growing longer, the long tail is being docked.
I have simple explanation for this phenomena. Although more articles are appearing online, the bulk historical articles are not online, so citations tend to be limited to the articles that are accessible online.

I expect most historical articles are not online because their publishers would like to get some revenue from them. However the consequence of such behavior is not the publishers getting revenue, but instead, my reading of the Economist's story, the articles witheld slip into irrelevancy through obscurity. That certainly appears to be the case in philosophy, where the most popular articles this century are the one's whose authors have made them accessible.
 
 
In-der-Blog-sein

CultureCat on the pedagogical imperative.
My dissertation didn't have to do with pedagogy, but I put in a section in the conclusion about pedagogy anyway, as I wanted to align myself explicitly with composition, and I was coming out of a program that (at the time) was more known for technical communication.
“It’s not necessary,” [a faculty respondent writes], “to write five chapters about Heideggerian philosophy’s importance for broadening our conception of the rhetorical basis of epistemology only to turn to the last chapter and talk about teaching Heidegger to first-year students. I have seen people try similar moves, [and] have heard colleagues make such demands.
Like this faculty member, my committee members didn't think it was necessary, and I suspect that they felt it was a little tacked-on. But they didn't make me take it out. All this being said, I have four thoughts about the pedagogical imperative:

1. A pedagogical implications section is not necessary, but it's impressive if the researcher can explain implications for pedagogy. Along the lines of the argument that you don't really understand something unless you can explain it in clear, simple terms to a non-expert, it would really be something if the person in the Heidegger example COULD connect that research to first-year writing.
It seems to me that there are two factors that make Heidegger's way of thinking difficult. The first is the need to question the ontological assumptions on which the modern world operates. The assumptions are implicit, not spoken, so the typical path is to first revisit (learn) the pertinent bits from the history of philosophy, in order to make ontology an issue. The second factor is the lack of a concensus on how to describe or speak Heidegger's way of thinking, at least in English. Ontology is simple, once those factors are addressed, and one gets it.
 
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
 
You can't calculate your way to the truth.
All calculation lets what is countable be resolved into something counted that can then be used for subsequent counting. Calculation refuses to let anything appear except what is countable. Everything is only whatever it counts. What has been counted in each instance secures the continuation of counting. Such counting progressively consumes numbers, and is itself a continual self-consumption. The calculative process of resolving beings into what has been counted counts as the explanation of their being. Calculation uses all beings in advance as that which is countable, and uses up what is counted for the purpose of counting. This use of beings that consumes them betrays the consuming character of calculation. Only because number can be infinitely multiplied, irrespective of whether this occurs in the direction of the large or the small, can the consuming essence of calculatdon hide behind its products and lend to calculative thinking the semblance of productivity - whereas already in its anticipatory grasping, and not primarily in its subsequent results, such thinking lets all beings count only in the form of what can be set at our disposal and consumed. Calculative thinking compels itself into a compulsion to master everything on the basis of the consequential correctness of its procedure. It is unable to foresee that everything calculable by calculution - prior to the sum-totals and products that it produces by calculation in each case - is already a whole, a whole whose unity indeed belongs to the incalculable that withdraws itself and its uncanniness from the claws of calculation. Yet that which everywhere and always from the outset has closed itself off from the intent behind calculation, and yet, in its enigmatic unfamiliarity, is at all times nearer to the human being than all those beings in which he establishes himself and his intentions, can at times attune the essence of the human being to a thinking whose truth no “logic" is capable of grasping. That thinking whose thoughts not only cannot be calculated, but are in general determined by that which is other than beings, may be called essential thinking. Instead of calculatively counting on beings by means of beings, it expends itself in being for the truth of being. Such thinking responds to the claim of being, through the human being letting his historical essence be responsible to the simplicity of a singular necessity, one that does not necessitate by way of compulsion, but creates the need that fulfills itself in the freedom of sacrifice. The need is for the truth of being to be preserved, whatever may happen to human beings and to all beings. The sacrifice is that of the human essence expending itself- in a manner removed from all compulsion, because it arises from the abyss of freedom - for the preservation of the truth of being for beings. In sacrifice there occurs [ereignet sich] the concealed thanks that alone pays homage to the grace that being has bestowed upon the human essence in thinking, so that human beings may, in their relation to being, assume the guardianship of being. Originary thinking [Das anfängliche Denken] is the echo of being’s favor, of a favor in which a singulur event is cleared and lets come to pass [sich ereignen]: that beings are. This echo is the human response to the word of the silent voice of being. The response of thinking is the origin of the human word, which word first lets language arise as the sounding of the word into words. Were there not at times a concealed thinking in the ground of the essence of historical human beings, then human beings would never be capable of thanking — granted that in all thinking of something and in every thanking there must indeed be a thinking that thinks the truth of being in an originary manner. Yet how else would a particular humankind ever find its way into an originary thanking unless the favor of being, through an open relation to such favor, granted human beings the nobility of a poverty in which the freedom of sacrifice conceals the treasure of its essence? Sacrifice is the departure from beings on the path to preserving the favor of being. Sacrifice can indeed be prepared and served by working and achievement with respect to beings, yet never fulfillled by such activities. Its accomplishment stems from that inherent stance [Ibständigkeit] out of which every historical human being through action - and essential lhinking is an action - preserves the Dasein he has attained for the preservation of the dignity of being. Such a stance is the equanimity that allows nothing to assail its concealed readiness for the essential departure that belongs to every sacrifice. Sacrifice is at home in the essence of the event [Ereignis] whereby being lays claim upon the human being for the truth of being. For this reason, sacrifice tolerates no calculation, which can only ever miscalculate it in terms of utility or uselessness, whether the ends are placed low or set high. Such miscalculation distorts the essence of sacrifice. The obsession with ends confuses the clarity of the awe, ready for anxiety, that belongs to the courage of sacrifice which has taken upon itself the neighborhood of the indestructible.

P. 235-237
 
Monday, July 14, 2008
 
The fourfold crosses out Thing in Michael Lewis's Heidegger And The Place Of Ethics: Being-with In The Crossing Of Heidegger's Thought.
...[T]his cross will be shown to be the fourfold 'thing' that holds the place of this abyssal void within beings as a whole, that point which escapes a totalizing grasp and thus organizes the whole that surrounds it, the mark within beings of being as void and thus the instantiation of Seyn as the cut between being and beings.



P. 85-6
 
 
The fourfold in Krell's epilogue to Nietzsche IV.


Not a crossing out, but a crossing through.
 
 
The fourfold, unnamed in "The Origin of the Work of Art". Françoise Dastur explains:
We have therefore to think together, as a whole, the holy dimension of the world, the opening of the world as the setting forth of the earth and the world as the locus of the historicality of a collective singular being. We could then consider that this conception of world in the middle of the thirties is midway between the human Umwelt from 1927 and the world considered as the Geviert [Fourfold] in the fifties. Heidegger says explicitly in The Thing that the fourfold--earth and sky, divinities and mortals--is the worlding of the world.*

* All the dimensions of the fourfold are already present in 1935 except the sky. But we can perhaps consider that what is called in 1935 "earth" and which is understood as "the whole" (das Ganze) and linked to the Greek Physis, i.e., to the emerging and coming into light of everything, posseses a lighted side which later will be called sky. On the same page [Freiburg Version of "The Origin of the Work of Art"], Heidegger underlines that physis has the same root as the word phaos, phos, meaning light.

P. 131
I expect Heidegger wrote φάος, φῶς. This indicates that in 1935, he had not yet turned from “The Lighting” to “The Clearing”.
 
 
The fourfold in the Contributions.

From this perspective one can already see which unifying and enjoining power of projecting-open is needed in order to enact the enjoining leap as the enspringing of Da-sein and to prepare sufficently the grounding in questioning-knowing.

P. 218
The "E" is also "E" in the German, so I assume it stands for Ereignis. The "t/there" looks like a typo of "t/here".
 
 
{5} Continuing “What is Metaphysics?”: nothingness and the disintegration of logic by Richard Polt.
Two common misinterpretations should be avoided at this point. First, Heidegger does not deny that non-Westerners may participate in modern science. They obviously do, and very successfully. But according to him, this is not because science is independent of culture, but because our planet’s cultures are being Westernized. Secondly, Heidegger is not a radical relativist who would say that Einstein’s theories are on a par with astrology. Einstein’s theories are true: that is, they do unconceal things, and much more so than astrology. However, this unconcealment is made possible for us by a historical context which, like all historical contexts, is limited and is open to innovation. Every theory inherits a past that both submits the theory to certain prejudices and makes possible other approaches that may someday prove to be more illuminating.

Heidegger’s position, then, is that factors such as culture and mood are always operative in the background of scientific statements. This is so because some particular way of Being-in-the-world is always at work, bringing with it some configuration of sense and non-sense, some relation to Being and to nothingness that precedes and sustains our relationships to particular entities. As Heidegger explains in detail in Being and Time, our moods, which are ways of experiencing our thrownness, disclose the world more fundamentally than any propositions, affirmative or negative, that we may express. Our sense of beings as a whole is what allows us to take up particular relationships to entities, including scientific relationships. According to “What is Metaphysics?” we get a sense of beings as a whole, and of Being itself, when we “transcend” the whole of beings in anxiety and experience nihilation. This transcendence makes it possible to relate to particular entities, including ourselves - and thus Heidegger writes, “Without the original revelation of the nothing, no selfhood and no freedom” [P.103].

This is why logic, as a theory of propositional truth, is not of primary importance for philosophy. When Heidegger dramatically declares that logic “disintegrates”, he means that logic can deal only with the surface phenomena of meaning - theoretical propositions. These would be meaningless without the more primordial unconcealment that accompanies our existence. As we are about to see, thinking about this primordial truth calls for an investigation of the mysteries of human freedom - and here, logic is no help to us.

We may have explained this controversy; we have not resolved it. As late as 1964, Heidegger speculates about “the still hidden center of those endeavors towards which the ‘philosophy’ of our day, from its most extreme counterpositions (Carnap –> Heidegger), tends”. He proposes that he and the logical positivists have some common ground. They are concerned with the same questions: what is objectifying, what is thinking, and what is speaking? [P.24] Today logical positivism has fallen out of fashion, and Heidegger’s thought has made inroads into the English-speaking world. This moment should not mark the beginning of a new, Heideggerian dogmatism. It should serve as an opportunity to ask the same questions that were asked by Carnap and Heidegger.

Pp. 125-126
Hat tip to Bob Guevara's post to the Heidegger mailing list.
 
 
In Hubert Dreyfus's Later Heidegger lecture of 10/21/2001, on "The Thing", he says, around minute 55, that the joining of the fourfold crosses out being. He says that a diagram in another essay shows that, but I haven't found that diagram yet.
 
Sunday, July 13, 2008
 
The outpouring is the sangria, or hot chocolate, that comes from the jug, making the jug the thing it is. The thing that gathers the fourfold.
In the gift of the outpouring dwells the simple singlefoldness of the four.

The gift of the outpouring is a gift because it stays earth and sky, divinities and mortals. Yet staying is now no longer the mere persisting of something that is here. Staying appropriates. It brings the four into the light of their mutual belonging. From out of staying's simple onefoldness they are betrothed, entrusted to one another. At one in thus being entrusted to one another, they are unconcealed. The gift of the outpouring stays the onefold of the fourfold of the four. And in the poured gift the jug presences as jug. The gift gathers what belongs to giving: the twofold containing, the container, the void, and the outpouring as donation. What is gathered in the gift gathers itself in appropriately staying the fourfold. This manifold-simple gathering is the jug's presencing. Our language denotes what a gathering is by an ancient word. That word is: thing. The jug's presencing is the pure, giving gathering of the onefold fourfold into a single time-space, a single stay. The jug presences as a thing. The jug is the jug as a thing. But how does the thing presence? The thing things. Thinging gathers. Appropriating the fourfold, it gathers the fourfold's stay, its while, into something that stays for a while: into this thing, that thing.

Pp. 173-4
There's a bit, on the round dance of Ereignis in the fourfold, on P. 180. It worlds the world.
 
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Mormon Metaphysics on the transformation of Husserl's categories.
Nearly as interesting are Heidegger’s use of Husserl’s noematic obejctivity, noesis and making present. These three categories of Husserl are roughly the content-meaning or intentional object, the relational meaning or manner of intending, and enactment-meaning or performance or temporalizing-meaning.
...
With Heidegger’s appropriation of Husserl these become world, care and temporalizing. This transformation occurs because Husserl is caught up in only a kind of theoretical knowledge or knowledge as only present-at-hand. For Heidegger or engagement with things is much more than an idealized theoretical stance and those engagements must be brought into philosophy. In the much later Heidegger, according to van Buren content-meaning, relational meaning and temporalizing meaning then become the Fourfold (earth, sky, gods and mortals), poetic dwelling and the destiny of being.
 
Saturday, July 12, 2008
 
Emphasis on difference.
The ontological difference, as we saw, is not a difference between identifiable entities - Being and beings--but is rather the condition of possibility for identifying and differentiating between beings. The ontological difference is itself, to use Deleuze’s terminology, a differenciator of difference. Furthermore, Heidegger will also refer to the ontological difference in its capacity as differenciator of difference by the term 'event’ (Ereignis). Thus, in Time and Being. Heidegger claims, 'What determines both, time and Being, in their own, that is, in their belonging together, we shall call: Ereignis, the event of Appropriation. This event, moreover, is not simply one state of affairs among others, or one identifiable occurrence among others, but as the differenciator of difference the event is the condition of possibility for identifiable occurrences: an "event" is not simply an occurrence, but that which makes any occurrence possible'. Heidegger also refers to these events, as does Deleuze, as singularities, or as a condition which is non-identifiable, unique, and incomparable: ‘The term event of appropriation here no longer means what we would otherwise call a happening, an occurrence. It now is used as a singulare tantum. What it indicates happens only in the singular, no, not in any number, but uniquely.

These obvious parallels between Heidegger and Deleuze did not go unnoticed by Deleuze. In Difference and Repetition, for example, Deleuze argues that with Heidegger's notion of the ontological difference he appears to set forth an understanding of the differenciator of difference, though Deleuze believes that ultimately Heidegger did not follow through on this attempt to set forth a philosophy of difference which thinks difference as difference. To see why Deleuze makes this claim, it will be helpful if we first turn to Deleuze’s critique of Aristotle. This will prove useful, for although both Deleuze and Heidegger believe Aristotle never adequately thought difference as difference, an examination of Deleuze’s critique of Aristotle will ultimately reveal why Deleuze feels this same criticism applies to Heidegger as well.

Deleuze’s criticism of Aristotle occupies only a few pages of his work Difference and Repetition; and yet the significance of these pages, especially as they relate to Deleuze’s criticism of Heidegger, should not be underestimated. Deleuze's criticism of Aristotle, in short, is that while Aristotle recognizes the importance and productive nature of difference, this difference nonetheless is subordinate to identity, and in two fundamental ways.

P. 131-132
 
 
Prospect has an entertaining comic strip on public intellectuals; from self-selected polling. Apparently the cult of Chomsky was trumped this time around. Scroll to the bottom.
 
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Toddled Dredge on Romeo and Juliet, Abelard and Heloise, and
Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt - Heidegger was a famous historian who had an affair with his student, the political theorist Hannah Arendt. They wrote letters to each other for years, and I tried to read the published collection. I tried, but Heidegger’s first letter to Arendt began by congratulating her on how the affair was going to develop her womanhood and keep her from de-feminizing herself with all that book learnin’. I dropped the book after the first few pages, wondering, Why, why, WHY would anyone sleep with this jackass?
I like that: Martin the famous historian, of being. Famous, but apparently not well known.
 
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Irene Lancaster's Diary on what you don't get with Ereignis.
the event [Ereignis] seems to include advent and redemption, presence and owning, but not the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, and its repeated disowning.
 
Friday, July 11, 2008
 
Scott McLemee reintroduces Kenneth Burke's thinking on the cleavage between earth and man. The fantasy movie WALL-E serves as an analogy for that thinking.
Furthermore, Burke now thought that the wasteful imperative was subsumed under what he called hypertechnologism — the tendency for technology to develop its own momentum, and to reshape the world on its own terms. We had created machines to control and transform nature. But now they were controlling and transforming us. Our desires and attitudes tended to be the products of the latest innovations, rather than vice versa. (And to think that Burke died well before the rise of today’s market in consumer electronics.)

This wasn’t just a function of the economic system. It seemed to be part of the unfolding of our destiny as human beings. Borrowing a term from Aristotle, Burke referred to it as a manifestation of entelechy — the tendency of a potential to realize itself. “Once human genius got implemented, or channelized, in terms of technological proliferation,” wrote Burke in 1974, “how [could we] turn back?
In the movie, WALL-E the robot is the messiah who leaps across the abyss from Earth to the space station, and there calls the humans back to planet Earth, but the humans only return because that's what was planned into the system that runs their lives. The station is named the Axiom, and the plant triggers the calculation of a proposition. The robot is the dasein - for whom things shine - in the movie. The viewer identifies with and is emotionally invested in the robot and not with the humans.

Heidegger explains the station's name:
What "axiom" could mean when taken on its own lacks objective meaning. The axiomatic form of scientific thinking that lacks an object in this sense today stands for unforeseeable possibilities. This axiomatic thinking already circulates without our noticing it or fathoming its import in so changing human thinking that it adapts itself to the essence of modern technology.

P. 19
 
 
{4} Continuing “What is Metaphysics?”: nothingness and the disintegration of logic by Richard Polt
Just as great art often comes from troubled artists, the nothing has the potential to provide fresh illumination. It can help us recognize that, despite the threat of senselessness, there is a difference between something and nothing. Beings can now have more meaning than they did in the hackneyed, dull interpretations of everyday life. Being itself is now open to creative transformation.

Nihilation . . . discloses . . . beings in their full but heretofore concealed strangeness as what is radically other - with respect to the nothing. In the clear night of the nothing of anxiety the original openness of beings as such arises: that they are beings - and not nothing. [P.103]
This means that the nothing plays a role in Being. Being can be meaningful only if there are limits to its meaning, a boundary where Being verges on meaninglessness. “Being itself is essentially finite and reveals itself only in the transcendence of Dasein which is held out into the nothing” [P.108].

We can easily imagine Carnap’s response: if by “the nothing” Heidegger means some sort of emotion, such as anxiety, then the expression is a misnomer; it does refer to something. However, it has no relevance to the universe at large, or to the nature of truth or Being itself - it just expresses one possible subjective attitude to life, perhaps an attitude typical of teenagers. Heidegger is trying to put this feeling into ontological language, when it would be expressed better in music. [P. 23] Or as Russell puts it, talk of nothingness is psychology disguised as logic. This is a serious charge (and especially ironic, in view of the fact that the young Heidegger had himself argued against such “psychologism”).

What is really at stake in this controversy? One crucial point is that for the logical positivists, there are some propositions that can be stated objectively, independently of the quirks and particularities of mood, language, and culture: “Einstein’s theories are expressible (somehow) in the language of the Bantus - but not those of Heidegger, unless linguistic abuses to which the German language lends itself are introduced into Bantu.” Philosophy should be logic (not anthropology, linguistics or psychology); it should study the rules of objective, scientific propositions.

Heidegger, in contrast, insists that all “unconcealment” is bound up with mood, language and culture. Einstein’s theories are meaningful only to someone trained to approach nature in a certain way, the way of Western modernity. Science requires a special mood and a special use of language. Facts are always interpreted in terms of particular, historically grounded ways of thinking: “there are no mere facts, but . . . a fact is only what it is in the light of the fundamental conception, and always depends upon how far that conception reaches” [P.272].

Pp. 124-125
Continued.
 
Thursday, July 10, 2008
 
Meanwhile, at the center of the fourfold.
The center, so called because it centers, that is, mediates, is neither earth nor heaven, God nor man. The in-finity that is to be thought here is abysmally different from that which is merely without end, which, because of its uniformity, allows no growth. On the other hand, the "more tender relation" of earth and heaven, God and man, can become more in-finite.

P. 188
I'm going to hazard a guess that the German for that abysmally different in-finity had an ab-grund in it.
 
 
I got the June 27 TLS today. It has a neon H on the cover. George Steiner reviews Daniel Morat's Von der Tat zur Gelassenheit: Konservatives Denken bei Martin Heidegger, Ernst Jünger und Friedrich Georg Jünger 1920-1960.

It starts:
Acts of constant questioning


Even computerized bibliographies cannot keep pace. Martin Heidegger's life and works have already occasioned more than a thousand books and articles. In recent years, the Heidegger industry has overtaken research on Plato and Aristotle. Attempts to elucidate Heideggerian ontology, or the celebrated, if debatable, Kehre or "turnabout" between his early and his later teachings, keep commentaries and exegesis busy in numerous languages and cultures. He is the object of fervent study in Japan. From the epistemological treatises of Sartre to the hermetic language games of Derrida, from Levinas to Lacan and Foucault, Heidegger and Heidegger's ambiguous relations to Husserl's phenomenology animate existentialism, post-structuralism and deconstruction. A recent survey of "Heidegger in France", already rendered incomplete, fills two ample volumes. The Heideggerian presence in Italy, via such voices as Massimo Cacciari's and Giorgio Agamben's, increases steadily. "The century of Martin Heidegger" has become almost a cliche.

The impact and aura of Sein und Zeit extend far beyond philosophy in either a technical or a general sense. Artists such as Anselm Kiefer look to Heidegger for direct inspiration and seek to illustrate his idiom, albeit ironically. Heidegger's idiosyncratic but profoundly suggestive readings of poetry, from Pindar to Trakl, have generated vivid echoes. Heidegger is present in René Char, as in Paul Celan (a tireless reader and annotator of Heidegger's publications). Architects cite Heidegger's meditations on the relations between buildings and the earth. All this secondary work, moreover, remains provisional. It is only lately that seminal texts, those of the pre-1925 lectures and seminars, or those composed but left unpublished during the 1940s, have become available. The collected edition, which is expected to exceed eighty volumes, is still in progress. It continues to generate disturbing uncertainties as to editorial method. Has there been "cleansing" on political grounds? A praetorian guard surrounds Heidegger's prodigal, sometimes fragmentary legacy.

What makes this situation bewildering, perhaps unprecedented, is the polarization of opinion as to Heidegger's stature. To many, his name can be set confidently next to those of Plato or Kant. To Gadamer he was simply "the greatest of thinkers". His sometime lover and publicist, Hannah Arendt, and his dissenting critic Leo Strauss hailed him as "incomparable". To others, he is an impene-trable, loquacious charlatan, a mystificateur pouring forth vatic, rapturous tautologies. Analytic philosophers, those whose habits of mind derive from Wittgenstein, are especially allergic to Heideggerian incantations. From Carnap to Jacques Bouveresse, professional logicians and academic cognitive philosophers (categories Heidegger despised) have regarded Heidegger's tomes as hectoring verbiage fatally tainted by and inwoven with his politics.
 
 
{3} Continuing “What is Metaphysics?”: nothingness and the disintegration of logic by Richard Polt.
Heidegger’s next move is precisely where Carnap saw the first logical error [P. 23]. Heidegger asks: “what about this nothing?” [P.95]. “What is the nothing?” [P.96]. He immediately anticipates that people will say he is just playing with words [P.95]. In fact, he is playing with words: “nothing” does not mean the same in “nothing else” and in “What is the nothing?” In the first phrase, “not anything” can be substituted for “nothing”; in the second phrase, it cannot. But Heidegger is not just making a pun: he is claiming that the first meaning of “nothing” (”not anything”) is dependent on the second meaning that he is about to explore.

Of course, Carnap would say that there is no second meaning: “nothing” makes sense only as a way of expressing a negation, of denying something.’ We can see this in the ham sandwich joke. The proposition “A ham sandwich is better than nothing” just means that eating a ham sandwich is better than not eating anything. The proposition “Nothing is better than God” means that there is not anything better than God. “Nothing”, it seems, reduces to the “not”; it has no independent reality apart from propositions. From the logical point of view, asking what the nothing is makes sense only as a question about how negation works. If we keep insisting, as Russell puts it, “that nothingness is something positive”, then by trying to ask about nothing, we will fail to ask about anything. Here Heidegger anticipates Carnap’s objection: “the question deprives itself of its own object” [P.96].

But can “the nothing” have another meaning aside from the “not”? Heidegger now turns to the process of “nihilation”, as revealed in the experience of anxiety. As he said in Being and Time, anxiety is not about any particular being. [P.185-6] It is about beings as a whole. It is impossible to know all beings, but it is possible to feel the totality of beings in a mood [P.99]. Profound boredom reveals the totality as dull or repellent. The joy of love, when one sees the world in one’s lover’s eyes, reveals the totality as miraculous and beautiful.

Anxiety, too, reveals beings as a whole in a particular way; as we put it in Chapter 3, in anxiety all entities seem irrelevant, inconsequential, insignificant. This disturbing meaninglessness is the “nothing” that Heidegger wants to explore. In a way, Carnap is right: the nothing is nonsense. It is the non-sense that constantly threatens the sense of the world. If Being is the difference it makes to us that there is something rather than nothing, nihilation is what tends to eliminate this difference. In nihilation, everything threatens to lose its significance: “All things and we ourselves sink into indifference” [P.101].

This may sound very abstract and nebulous. But to someone actually experiencing anxiety, it is much more concrete and powerful than any logical doctrine. It affects our Being-in-the-world, and not just our propositions. For instance, teenage Angst, clichéd though it may be, is a real phenomenon: young adults often experience a crisis of foundations, in which the established interpretation of Being-in-the-world becomes unstable and unsatisfying. According to Heidegger, this experience is always possible for Dasein.

Pp. 123-124
Continued.
 
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
 
New, in the world of art.
[Material Exchange's] newest project at ThreeWalls Solo, "The Way Things Drag Their Futures Around," was inspired by Martin Heidegger's discussion of a hammer in a carpenter's workshop in the philosopher’s seminal work "Being and Time." As a thing in the world, the hammer is understood in terms of its future use, how it points to its own definite and uncertain possibilities—to hammer a nail, to join separate pieces of wood, to make a table. In this exhibition, one large mulberry tree and several smaller branches slated for removal by the city have been transported to the gallery and reassembled horizontally with an additional tree house to resemble a backyard disaster of yore. The questions are manifold, but Material Exchange is centrally concerned about the tree's entropy and new life: do the dried leaves, the wood, the bark call out for specific uses, or do we bestow its utility, its identity, its futurity?
 
 
Nietzsche, last metaphysician or first postmodernist?
At the conclusion of this lecture [The Ends of Man, 1968], Derrida brings this logic of undecidability to bear on the two strategies that have appeared in connection with the deconstruction of metaphysical humanism. The first strategy, which Derrida associates with Heidegger, proceeds by means of a return to the origins of the metaphysical tradition and uses the resources of this tradition against itself. In adopting this strategy, "one risks ceaselessly confirming, consolidating, relieving [reléve] at an always more certain depth that which one allegedly deconstructs". The second deconstructive strategy, which Derrida identifies with French philosophy in the 1960s, affirms an absolute break with tradition, seeking to change ground in a discontinuous and irruptive fashion. However, such a strategy fails to recognize that one cannot break with the tradition while retaining its language. The inevitable consequence of this blindness to the powers of language is a naive reinstatement of a "new" ground on the very site one sought to displace.

When applying these deconstructive strategies to Nietzsche and the "end of man", two very different interpretations result. For Heidegger, Nietzsche emerges as the last and consummate metaphysician, in whose writings the end of man appears as the culmination of metaphysical voluntarism. The Übermensch, as pure will, thus assumes for Heidegger the form of a metaphysical repetition of humanism. For the French, as perhaps is most clear in the case of Foucault's The Order of Things, Nietzsche emerges not as a repetition but as the first break from modernity.
 
 
The difference between Heidegger and Lacan, by a Lacanian.
For Heidegger, all sciences belong to and continue the metaphysical tradition of forgetting the question of the being of beings. For Lacan, every proper science means a break against, within and in regard to the metaphysical tradition of philosophy. From a Heideggerian perspective, Lacan is unable to see the metaphysical implications and presuppositions of all the sciences. From a Lacanian perspective, Heidegger’s interpretation of a science is, in the end, naive and totalitarian. In other words, Heidegger includes all discourses into the totality formed by the history of the question of (the meaning of) the being of beings. Besides this, Heidegger includes all sciences into a homogenic and homological group, the totality of science, which seems to be, not only a coarse judgment, but also simply a totally blind and incompetent misjudgment. In Lacanian jargon, this means that Heidegger himself presupposes the Other of the Other: for Heidegger, the question of the being of beings functions, in the last analysis, as the Other of the Other criticized by Lacan.
This article has zero citations indicating where Heidegger actually said what is attributed to him. Instead of incompetently promulgating totalizing pronouncements about an imaginary Heidegger in order to blindly pass symbolic judgements, I'd recommend reading the real Heidegger, who distinguishes between Aristotelian and Newtonian science, between empirical and social sciences, and so on. Certainly there are many differences between the two, but how to correlate this "important" difference with those seminars where Lacan concurs that the real is hidden by metaphysics?

Earlier on enowning: Badiou on Lacan, Heidegger, and the pre-Socratics; Zizek cites Richardson on Lacan and Heidegger.
 
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Mormon Metaphysics on the here, there, and the open, as it were.
 
Monday, July 07, 2008
 
I found Besinnung/Mindfulness on Google books. It's incorrectly titled: Gesamtausgabe. It is that, but only volume 66.
 
 
{2} Continuing “What is Metaphysics?”: nothingness and the disintegration of logic by Richard Polt.
Through Carnap’s essay, which was widely read in the Anglophone world, Heidegger’s philosophy got the reputation of being the worst sort of verbal trickery, a wooly-headed and dangerously confused concoction that did not deserve the ame “philosophy” at all, and certainly was not worth reading.For example, in a popular history of philosophy, Bertrand Russell writes about Heidegger:
Highly eccentric in its terminology, his philosophy is extremely obscure. One cannot help suspecting that language is here running riot. An
interesting point in his speculations is the insistence that nothingness is something positive. As with much else in Existentialism, this is a psychological observation made to pass for logic.’
That is the entirety of Russell’s entry on Heidegger, and it expresses everything that most English-speaking philosophers felt they needed to know about Heidegger until relatively recent times. An analytically trained teacher of mine once quipped, “The argument of Being and Time can be summed up in three lines: a ham sandwich is better than nothing; nothing is better than God; therefore, a ham sandwich is better than God”. In short, Heidegger is illogical - he says so himself - and thus is not worth taking seriously. This rather smug attitude is often extended to all “continental” philosophy (a misleading term, for the roots of analytic philosophy are at least as German as they are British).

At this point, I recommend that readers turn to Heidegger’s brief essay itself, and follow this carefully-constructed piece through its obscurities, its puzzlement, and its final question: “Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing?” Carnap’s essay is also well worth reading as a statement of an approach to philosophy that is diametrically opposed to Heidegger’s. One may then wish to consider the following suggestions for how to interpret “What is Metaphysics?” and how to adjudicate the conflict between Heidegger and Carnap.

Heidegger’s lecture begins with an account of “our existence” as researchers [P.94] and proceeds to the “metaphysical” issue of “the nothing” that he finds in the background of our existence. (”Metaphysics” is an ambiguous term in Heidegger. It refers sometimes to a tradition that needs to be overcome, and sometimes, as here, to genuine thinking about Being.)

Heidegger starts by emphasizing science’s “submission to beings themselves” [Pp.94-95]. Good chemists, economists or historians all have this in common: they want to know what is the case, what is true and only that. They are devoted to beings alone - and nothing else.

Pp. 122-123
Continued.
 
 
I just came upon this two year old introduction to Terrence Malick's films: Searching for a New World. A good starting point if you are curious about this director.
What if we strive, as Malick does, to represent the world as it is, in all its turbulence and unanswered anxiety? Rather than finding creative—though unnatural—ways to package the answers, shouldn't we first focus on honestly portraying the questions?
 
Sunday, July 06, 2008
 
Philosophy good for you, all of it, from the boring to the impossible.
Philosophy is the one thing that everyone in the world does, according to retired Midwestern State University philosophy professor Dr. Alfred D. Stewart.

“Philosophy isn’t something we learn, it’s something we do, and we do it all the time. We may not be very good at it, but we all have philosophies that organize our lives,” he said.

“To study it is to learn how human beings got to be the way they are,” he said.

...

The difficulty of philosophy texts is often overrated, he said, though Kant can be difficult to understand and “Heidegger is impossible,” he joked.

“Even the people that bore you in philosophy, you have to read them,” he said. “It all works together.”
 
Saturday, July 05, 2008
 
{1} “What is Metaphysics?”: nothingness and the disintegration of logic by Richard Polt.
“What is Metaphysics?”: nothingness and the disintegration of logic
In 1929, on the occasion of his inauguration as professor at Freiburg, Heidegger delivered one of his most famous lectures, “What is Metaphysics?” This concentrated, powerful exploration of anxiety and its relation to nothingness owes much to Being and Time, but its spirit is one of opening new questions and provoking fresh thought. The lecture was not meant as a clear statement of a doctrine, but as a challenge to philosophize.

In this regard, it had only mixed success. On the one hand, it attracted a great deal of attention and soon became a key text for existentialists. One listener reports, “When I left the auditorium, I was speechless. For a brief moment I felt as if I had had a glimpse into the ground and foundation of the world. In my inner being, something was touched that had been asleep for a long time” . [Pp. 12-13]

On the other hand, “What is Metaphysics?” led indirectly to Heidegger’s banishment from the world of Anglo-American philosophy, and for decades this banishment prevented most English-speaking philosophers from using Heidegger as food for thought. For in this lecture, Heidegger makes two statements in particular that are calculated provocations. The first is the pronouncement das Nichts selbst nichtet: “Nothingness itself nothings”, or “The nothing itself nihilates” [P.103]. The second is the statement, “The idea of ‘logic’ itself disintegrates in the turbulence of a more original questioning” [P.105]. The first statement sounds like utter gibberish, while the second sounds like reckless
irrationalism.

So thought Rudolf Carnap, at least, who denounced Heidegger in his essay “The Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical Analysis of Language” (1932). For Carnap and other logical positivists, philosophy should clarify the rules of coherent, meaningful discourse. Meaningful discourse is scientific; it expresses objective facts in unambiguous propositions. Philosophy, then, is a system of propositions about systems of propositions in general. In other words, philosophy is logic, theory of theory. Now, some sentences seem to be neither science nor logic - for example, “that flower is beautiful” or “justice is good” or metaphysical propositions such as “substantiality implies unity”. But these are just pseudo-propositions: they are nonsense, or at best, a symptom of the speaker’s emotional state. When we use the tools of logic to clean the Augean stables of philosophy, babble such as das Nichts selbst nichtet will be the first to go.

Pp. 121-122
Continued.
 
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Joseph S. O'Leary homepage hosts his essay "Theological Resonances of 'Der Satz vom Grund'."
The word that came most easily to Heidegger’s lips was: Wesen (essence). The method and content of his work can be summed up under the rubric: a thinking of essence. Whenever he brings the essence of something into view, in a phenomenological Wesensschau, in the course of one of those stubborn, patient analyses where he has us think – ‘into the wind of the matter’ (GA 13:78), the result is so illuminating that we are likely to overlook the rarefied character of his constructions. History, to the X-ray vision that cuts through mere contingencies and distracting loose ends, knows no other movement than a parade of shining essences, e. g.:
The metaphysical beginning of the modern period is a transformation in the essence of truth, of which the ground remains hidden… In the beginning of the modern period the beingness of beings undergoes a transformation. The essence of this historical beginning resides in this transformation. (Nietzsche, Pfullingen, 1961, II, pp. 295-6)
Beginning, essence, transformation, ground… if these constructions have any validity at all they can only benefit from being reinserted in the pluralistic texture of empirical history.

...

[A]ssociation of the finitude of being with history applies in the case of the limited mittences of being that happen in the course of the history of being, but as far as I can see the field of being that is brought into view in the thought of the Ereignis is not finite in any historical sense, but only in so far as its dimensions are those of a world, a dwelling for mortals, on whose mindfulness it depends for its radiant deployment. As a prophet of the Ereignis Heidegger shows no modest sense of the limits of Western tradition. The word is put forward as a name for the very essence of reality itself, and Heidegger boldly suggests that its status and scope are comparable to the Chinese Tao. In alluding to the world-formula sought by Heisenberg (Zur Sache des Denkens, p. 1) he betrays the immoderate ambition to think time, space and being from their unifying origin. I feel that he overreached himself at this point. In erecting the Ereignis as the caput mortuum of his thought he consigned his critical reprise of Western metaphysics to a closed system of essence instead of opening it out into a pluralistic dialogue. Still the variety of trails that lead to this dogmatic summit exhibit the pluralistic texture of Heidegger’s own thinking, and his efforts to force them to converge remain blessedly inconclusive.
 
Thursday, July 03, 2008
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Countermemory on the un/ground of mis/interpretation.
In other words, things in the world (I have to use this awkward phrase because to use "what exists" or "beings" is already to submit to a Heideggerian interpretation) do not admit of looking any deeper behind them for what their residence in the world is grounded within (even if this ground is an ungroundedness, an abyss, an Abgrund). And this "looking deeper" for a ground is precisely what Heidegger always does with whatever Nietzsche asserts about the world (again, precisely by conceiving of its ground as ungrounded: to assert that Derrida is wrong because he misses this aspect of Heidegger--which I have seen happen often, especially on the part of Heideggerians--is to willfully misinterpret what Derrida is saying).
 
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
 
The recursive problem when criticizing language, or Rorty on Derrida on Heidegger.
One can generalize Derrida’s comment on Heidegger as follows: anyone who says something like ‘I must repudiate the entire language of my culture’ is making a statement in the language she repudiates. She will be doing so even if she rephrases her repudiation in the form of a metaphorical, rather than a literal, use of the terms of that language. Alternatively: someone who wants not to talk about beings is compelled to spell out his intentions in — what else? — terms used to talk about beings. Any attempt to do anything of the sort which Heidegger wanted to do will trip itself up. So, Derrida concludes, we must try for something very similar to what Heidegger attempted, but also very different.

Derrida thinks of Heidegger’s attempt to express the ineffable as merely the latest and most frantic form of a vain struggle to break out of language by finding words which take their meaning directly from the world, from non-language. This struggle has been going on since the Greeks, but it is doomed because language is, as Saussure says, nothing but differences.
 
 
How to succeed, with a little help.
[A]fter his televised debate with Noam Chomsky in 1971, Michel Foucault was partially paid in hashish. For weeks afterward, his friends in Paris referred to it as the "Chomsky hash." Should we be surprised by that anecdote, related by Foucault biographer James Miller? Let's be honest here: No one could have written History of Madness or Discipline and Punish while sober.
Reading some texts, I've often wondered what the author was on...
 
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
 
Columnist Amy Alkon on the career value of enceptual thinking.
It's wonderful if you can read Heidegger in the original German, but as a newly single mother, adrift at, say, 31, that qualifies you to be an unusually well-read salesgirl at Dress Barn.
 
 
John Banville's radio play, on the meeting between Martin Heidegger and Paul Celan at Todtnauberg in the 1960s, has been published as Conversation in the Mountains.
 
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

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