Ladyblog argues that dressing modestly is not a requirement for those grappling with ontological challenges.
A pet peeve of mine is the belief, common among those who consider themselves intellectuals, that an interest in fashion (broadly defined, as in, could be designers, could be well-arranged thrift-store duds) takes something away from a person’s intelligence, such that each trip to H&M knocks another shelf’s worth of Hegel and Heidegger out of one’s brain.
H&M? Is that where they sell moisturizers? Can they repatch the elbows on tweed jackets? How about reinvigorating saggy black turtlenecks?
¶ 4:25 PM0 comments
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Paul Veyne on Foucault's skepticism:
Un soir où nous parlions du mythe, il me disait que la grande question, pour Heidegger, était de savoir quel était le fond de la vérité; pour Wittgenstein, c’était de savoir ce qu’on disait lorsqu’on disait vrai; ‘ mais à mon avis, la question est: d’où vient que la vérité soit si peu vraie ?’; la vérité ou du moins les grandes vérités de chaque epoque.
One evening when we spoke about myths, he said to me that the big question, for Heidegger, was to know which was the ground of truth; for Wittgenstein, it was to know what one said when one told truth; "but in my opinion, the question is: how is it that truth is not very true? '; truth or at least the great truths of each epoch.
From the 1930s onward, Heidegger increasingly refers to the unity of four dimensions of signification which Heidegger names the “gods,” the “mortals,” “world” (or “heaven”) and “earth”. In his famous essay “Das Ding” (1950), Heidegger describes how these four dimensions are to be found in unity, as a “unity of four” or “fourfold” (Geviert), within a simple thing, a Greek pitcher; pouring wine from the pitcher supposedly refers back to the gods, the mortals, heaven and earthThis concept of fourfold has long seemed quite obscure and mysterious for readers of Heidegger. However, in a work on the concept of “fourfold,” Jean-François Mattéi has argued that the fourfold is to be understood precisely as a reinterpretation and reworking of the four Aristotelian grounds. Fully in agreement with Mattéi, I would also like to claim the fourfold to be a rethought version of the threefold division of Dasein’s transcendence toward grounds in “Vom Wesen des Grundes.” “Gods,” in late Heidegger, are the dimension of the ultimate goals, aims and purposes of significance – the Aristotelian “final cause.” “Mortals” are the community of men as interpreters, reshapers and producers of reality – the Aristotelian “efficient cause.” “Earth” names the concrete content, the ground for the material and sensual presence of things in their particularity – the Aristotelian “material cause.” “World” or “heaven” is the dimension of significant, conceptual articulation which grants permanence and generality to particular things – the Aristotelian “formal cause.” All of these mutually opposed dimensions are assembled in the concrete present reality which forms their “in-between” (das Zwischen or Inzwischen) – the thing. Meaningful presence is precisely the “in-between” of these four foundational dimensions. This fourfold dimensionality of sense forms the transcendental context and background in relation to which things become comprehensible and significant for human beings – that is, the fourfold is precisely Being which in withdrawing itself lets beings come forth into presence.
Don't objectify the open or it won't open for you.
In the Parmenides lectures, Heidegger argues that "the open, to which every being is liberated as if to its freedom, is being itself". And it is "the open," he says, that "first lets beings emerge and come to presence as beings". "Man alone sees this open" and "gets a glimpse of this open while comporting himself, as he always does, to beings, whether these beings are understood in the Greek sense as what emerges and comes to presence, or in the Christian sense as ens creatum , or in the modern sense as objects". Indeed: "In his comportment to beings, man in advance sees the open by dwelling within the opening and opened project of being".
However, we see the opening of the open "without beholding it". "The Open [i.e., the ground itself] becomes an object, and is thus twisted around toward human beings." As a predominant characteristic of our time, this objectifying tendency, reducing the dimensionality of the visual field, is called "enframing" (das Gestell), and, according to Heidegger, it effects a corresponding reduction (Entschränkung) in the lighting, the presencing of which first opened up a field for our vision: "Enframing blocks [verstellt] the shining-forth and holding sway of truth [i.e., the moment, or event, of aletheic unconcealment by grace of which there is a visual field]." In his work on Nietzsche, Heidegger even asserts that, because of the enframing of the open dimensionality that takes place in the modern world, "the whole field of vision [Gesichts-kreis] has been wiped away."
When Heidegger wrote in the middle part of the last century, the paradigm he had in mind for demonstrating the ‘enframement of being’ was the electrical grid. Hydroelectric dams convert rivers into a resource for energy, that energy is distributed across the population, and everyone in the population is reliant upon the distribution system. But the new era of networked computers fits Heidegger’s model even better. Information and our relationships in the context of social networks is the ultimate resource. It can be endlessly disaggregated, remixed and redistributed.
Heidegger’s response to the "call of Being" is initially worked out in his Being and Time as he explores how the spatial and temporal fabric of human existence discloses itself as a "call of conscience," a call that summons us, especially in moments of personal crisis, to assume the ethical responsibility of affirming our freedom through resolute choice. In his later works (e.g., "Letter on Humanism," "The Question Concerning Technology"—the two primary readings for the course), this call is acknowledged as the "presencing" or "saying" of "all that lies before us" (Being) in our historical existence. With this "turn" in his thinking about the call, Heidegger makes much of the role played by language in our understanding of the world. He also offers an influential assessment of how technology affects our overall symbolic ability to respond to the call in a meaningful and truthful way.
Our course focuses on these related matters. Two case studies — 1) the life and death of Ms. Terri Schiavo, and 2) the ongoing debate over the benefits and burdens of biotechnology for improving our lives — are presented as ways of illustrating the practical application of Heidegger's ontological project, as well as its limitations.
We no longer believe that truth remains truth when the veil is pulled off it, — we have lived long enough to believe this... At present it is regarded as a matter of propriety not to be anxious to see everything naked, to be present at everything, to understand and "know" everything. Tout comprendre — c’est tout mépriser... "Is it true that God is everywhere present?" asked a little girl of her mother. "That is indecent, I think" — a hint to philosophers!... One ought to have more reverence for the bashfulness with which nature has concealed herself behind enigmas and variegated uncertainties. Is truth perhaps a woman who has reasons for not showing her reasons?... Is her name perhaps, to speak in Greek, Baubo?... Oh these Greeks! they knew how to live!
Beyng, from two of his letters to his wife, Elfriede.
November 22, 1939, Heidegger wrote from Messkirch:
Every day I think of Hölderlin's words:
'Long is the time, but the true comes into its own.' And we must now realise that for a long time to come the future will lack any space in which anything essential might take shape; indeed the very possibility of creating space is destroyed.
And nonetheless - the knowing closeness to Being [Seyn] is - & that we may do something small for it & in the process remain certain of the silent consent of a few gives the most inconspicuous activity its essential purpose.
And on November 26th:
At a time when the invisible devastation is more far-reaching than the visible destruction, even the paths of daily reflection must head in the direction of the invisible. In this realm there is a coming-together of the invisible & uniquely real few who have given man his grounding upon existence. Firstly, these are the individuals who are today involved in the immediate struggle of war & who find no support in anything present, not even in community and comradeship. In their way they must have a premonition of something else for which they're willing to make the sacrifice, something they cannot say, yet only create in the sacrifice. How many such people there are out there, nobody knows. But that there are such people is certain. And then there are the women who out of an originary love keep secluded spaces ready for the soarings of what is noble & by virtue of this love is indestructible. Who they are eludes all publicity. And thirdly we may count those who, running on far ahead in their poetizing & thinking, belong to another history. Where they are & whether they are remains so well hidden that not even this questioning after them can awaken, let alone make itself generally heard. These three invisible and uniquely real figures prepare the 'poetic', upon the ground of which alone the history of man is founded. To these three figures belongs the gift of Being [Seyn] - that it is given to them, each in their different way, to be open to the coming of originary decisions & each in their way protect it.
What the philosopher must always already know, others too may now perhaps learn - that the invisible is more existent [seinder] than the visible. -
Graham Harman's Object-Oriented Philosophy reviews the presence and readiness of handy tools.
The best objection a Heideggerian can make to my reading of tool-being is that for Heidegger tools are always part of a system, and broken tools are the only one that exist in isolation from their context: “hence, Harman’s reading has it backwards because he says that tools are individual entities and presence is relational.”
McGrath sees here a “hermeneutic circularity” to Heidegger’s argumentation that allows him to overturn Heidegger’s phenomenology which “proceeds in principle, without religious and ethical presupposition”. McGrath pushes back against such prejudice by identifying terms (fallenness, guilt, conscience, temptation, etc) in Heidegger’s vocabulary that, according to McGrath, find their origin in Luther’s, Eckhart’s, and Dun Scotus’ theology. In drawing these connections from theological sources, McGrath attempts to uncover the religious ghosts that allegedly haunt Heidegger’s corpus—something that many others have already done in the field of Heidegger studies.
One of the perverse consequences of this paradox is that the path back to Eden is littered with ruins, corpses, and destnucrion. Our attempts to re-create Eden amount to an assault on creation. That is the danger of the era. Precisely because our frenzy is fundamentally aimless while remaining driven, we set ourselves goals whose main purpose is to keep the frenzy going until it consummates itself in sloth. If at present we are seeking to render the totality of the earth's resources endlessly available, endlessly usable, endlessly disposable, it is because endless consumption is the proximate goal of a production without end. Or better, consumption is what justifies the frenzy of production, which in turn justifies consumption, the entire cycle serving more to keep us busy than to satisfy our real needs. Martin Heidegger describes this syndrome with great acuity in his otherwise portentous and abstract prose:
The consumption of all material, including the raw material "man," for the unconditional possibility of the production of everything, is determined in a concealed way by the complete emptiness in which beings, the material of what is real, are suspended. This emptiness has to be filled up. But since the emptiness of Being can never be filled up by the fullness of beings, especially when this emptiness can never be experienced as such, the only way to escape ir is incessantly to arrange beings in the constant possibility of being ordered as the form of guaranteeing aimless activity. [Pp. 106-7]
There is nothing objectionable about consumption per se, which is directly related to the biological rhythms of human labor. It's when consumption enables or necessitates hyperactive production that it signals a distinct pathology. If Heidegger is right, then the goal of creating an earthly paradise on earth is not so much the teleological end that guides our activity as the fiction thar sponsors our blind demand for endless activity — a demand that arises from our unacknowledged suffering from, and denial of, the emptiness of Being. If one understands boredom as fundamentally related to that emptiness, then the attempt ro escape from the emptiness of Being could be seen as another symptom of our boredom. Or perhaps boredom is the consequence of our inability to experience that emptiness in a genuine way. Be that as it may, the endless productivity mandated by endless consumption, and the endless consumption mandated by endless productivity, becomes in the present age the only way to "escape" — but not to fill — that emptiness.
To Heidegger’s three distinctive modes of death: perishing, demise, and dying, Secomb adds dispatch and dwelling-with-death. Perishing, which connotes the ending of any living thing, demise an inauthentic legal pronouncement of death, and dying which stands for the way that Dasein is towards death remain incomplete in their consideration of primordial Being-with.
Yet another review of the Martin and Hannah play A Report on the Banality of Love. I found the Google Ads, based on key words in the page's text, pretty amusing.
¶ 11:24 AM0 comments
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Roberto Calasso on the post-metaphysical present.
Like a Tibetan monk endlessly spinning his prayer wheel, Heidegger, with prodigious virtuosity, goes over and over the whole history of thought from the Greeks to Nietzsche, dropping down into abandoned gorges and irrevocably twisting the meanings of accepted terms. The history of metaphysics, a history that is a destiny, has never attained such terrifying clarity as in Heidegger’s analyses. It is, to be sure, a clarity gained at the price of much violence and injustice; it is a destiny retouched by a masterful cosmetician so that its line leads directly to the threshold of Heidegger's hut in the Black Forest. There he would like to take it by the hand and carefully guide it beyond itself, over "slender little bridges" to the "overcoming of metaphysics."
But even those who, with constant suspicion, follow this trail of the destiny of metaphysics must admit that it involves an original and illuminating design. No one has succeeded in reconstructing with such compelling exactitude the cage within which western thought has fatally operated from Plato to our own day, repeatedly doomed to call itself into question until all its possibilities are exhausted. This limit, Heidegger states, may be said to have been reached with Nietzsche, last thinker in metaphysics and its closing sign, who evoked that devastating and intoxicating "will to will" that governs us today. (The subtle revenge inflicted by Heidegger at this point is clear: He sends the most elusive philosopher of the West back to the garden of Armida, from which he always tried to escape; this is already a good example of Heidegger’s strong-arm tactics.)
What happens to thought after Nietzsche? Here I must return to the fundamentals of the Coca-Cola bottle, which I mentioned at the beginning. Besides being a fascinating interpreter of classical philosophical texts, as well as a surprising contriver of strings of verbal associations, Heidegger was an indispensable guide to the present. To verify this, one need only turn to two of his essays: “The Question Concerning Technology" and “Overcoming of Metaphysics.” How many congresses, how many vexed reflections on the evils and blessings of technology we have had to put up with throughout the twentieth century! How many vacuous disputes between "scientists" and "humanists"! How many recommendations of different ways of using technology! As though any of it actually depended on our will! When technology has already set its stamp on our will! Technology, to all intents and purposes, means metaphysics, Heidegger suggests. Having run off the tracks of history, the West synchronically relives the destiny of metaphysics in the eloquent silence of its own operation. It is impossible to account for the Coca-Cola bottle without going back to Plato’s Ideas. It is impossible to speak of the Coca-Cola bottle as a thing without explaining that it could only appear in a world that has already destroyed things as things.
All this may seem abstruse. But it is an attempt to approach the supreme abstruseness of what surrounds us. If very few in our midst feel the need for metaphysics (a word now almost always used in a derogatory sense), it is because everything is already metaphysics. And — ultimate joke! - philosophy has now become primarily a useful fact. Useful for what? For Ge-Stell. I will skip the usual ironic remarks about Heidegger’s linguistic acrobatics and abuses and merely specify that this word, ordinarily used in the sense of "scaffolding" as well as "bookshelf," becomes in the late Heidegger the black sun around which he arranges, in eccentric harmony, compounds of the verb stellen (to put), from the vorstellen (to represent) of classical metaphysics to the bestellen (to order, in the commercial sense) chat is heard every day in the business world. And what, finally, is Ge-Stell? Ge-Stell indicates above all the appearance of all that exists (and therefore including man) as availability, material to be used, exploited. Man becomes "the most important raw material," capable of being ravished ad libitum, and is employed such. In a vein of metaphysical irony, it then turns out that the employee is the figure corresponding in every sense to this stare of the world. And so—and it may come as a surprise to many—only Heidegger could have come up with a definition of Hitler as first among employees. And it is significant how the obscure Ge-Stell accords perfectly with the analyses of the visionary Marx in the first book of Capital which depicts the world as a "warehouse of commodities," a place of total availability and exchange.
Another review of the new Martin and Hannah play A Report on the Banality of Love.
Arendt fans will be shocked to see Amy McKenna's portrayal of the cool-headed thinker in the early scenes: giggling, girlish, and nervous. Slutty too. Early trysts show an Arendt who cannot wait to give it away, melting in the hands of a Heidegger, who's as transparent and manipulatively lecherous as any playground child molester. In his office, he cries that their meeting has been "led by a force that transcends social morality!" while his hands fumble after Arendt's teenaged tit. It's icky and feels historically and dramatically irrelevant.
Nothing in the execution of this naughty thing suggests that these are two of the 20th Century's great minds. The addition of actual snippets of Arendt and Heidegger's correspondence to the dialogue doesn't help matters: People usually don't talk the way they write, and no one talks the way Arendt and Heidegger wrote.
Pierre and Camille meet in the park. "I'm happy to see you." "Won't you sit?" "Did you publish your thesis?" "No, it's really a stale thesis." "It goes on for years." "I'm not done with the old bugger." "Heidegger." "You remember?" "I think I even remember the title." "A bit compIicated..." "'Heidegger' coma 'the pre-Socratic to the new German thought'. More or less." "The title has changed. It's shorter. 'Heidegger, the jealous one'." "Hell!" "Isn't it?"
Later Pierre and Sonia work on his texts. "I printed the Iast modifications." "I was about to reread it, before dumping it." "Very funny. I read it." "And?" "And...first a kiss. It's good." "You think so, or is it to encourage me?" "To encourage you to sort it out." "How do you find yourseIf in this mess?" "And what does it mean, Gelassenheit?" "Impassivity." "So, why don't you put 'impassivity'?" "There is a history of impassivity, 'by which man became an animal open to the world,' etc..." "It's still incomprehensibIe, but less..." "Less pretentious, you're right." "I'll fix and reprint it? With the German word in parentheses." "I love you."
[H]is phenomenologies are phenomenological ontologies: they look at the coherence of something appearing precisely as how it exists, in its being (taken intransitively, as be-ing or is-ing: Levinas said helpfully once that Heidegger's contribution to philosophy is in restoring an intransitive character to being). So the being of building is a sort of coherence, its remaining proper to itself as a phenomenon--but doing so not in the aspect of how it looks or feels, say, but in how it exists, how it just remains there in its activity as an activity, how it "just works" as we like to say, implying some process but at the same time implying that it just does this process in being typically itself. So he's looking at the way building is properly being building.
Crucially, the co-dependence between our creative agency and our experience of nature goes all the way down. For, in the total context of life that they presuppose there is, as William James put it, no way of "weeding out" and isolating the contributions of the human and the non-human. And it is a codependence that goes all the way back, as well. For all creative engagement with nature is "always already" informed by a way of experiencing nature, just as the way nature presents itself to us is "always already" shaped by our purposive engagement with it. This is Heidegger's point in the celebrated passage on the Greek temple in his essay on "The Origin of the Work of Art". The temple - more generally, Greek art and craft - gave to natural things, like eagles and rocks, their "look", and enabled "earth" to emerge for the Greeks as it did. But, at the same time, the "look" of things and the emergence of "earth" helped to shape the Greeks' "outlook on themselves," as manifested in their culture, politics and creative ambitions.
It is all too easy, of course, to take for granted not only the purposes and practices familiar in our own culture but our prevailing perceptions of the natural order. And when these are taken for granted, the rich context of co-dependence between purposes and perceptions is forgotten. That is, perhaps, why Heidegger chose an ancient culture to illustrate his point, and why we too, if we are properly to appreciate deep co-dependence, do well to reflect on purposes and perceptions unfamiliar or alien to us; to reflect, for instance, on the design of the Japanese tea house garden, or on aboriginal rock art. Reflection, in both cases, must soon indicate the extent of co-dependence in the context that makes such practices possible - for these are practices that presuppose ways in which nature shows up for people, but ways that themselves owe their possibility to just such practices of design and depiction.
A review of A Report on the Banality of Love, the latest reenactment of the ballad of Hannah and Martin.
McPhillamy seems every inch the preoccupied, absent-minded professor when McKenna's timid Hannah first enters his office. Soon, though, he's using his plummy voice as an instrument of seduction, the married man with power convincing his besotted student to have an affair on his terms.
Through five encounters played out in Brechtian fashion against shifting black-and-white cityscape sketches, the two discuss their careers, relationships (including Arendt's two marriages), and what the Nazi rise to power means for Germany.
Wouldn't Brechtian imply it's an operetta or musical? Show me the way to the next whisky bar please don't ask why.
¶ 6:43 AM0 comments
Monday, January 12, 2009
Slavoj Žižek on why "Why Lacan Is Not a Heideggerian".
The Lacanian 'subject' names a gap in the symbolic, its status is real. This is why, as Balmès has pointed out, in his crucial seminar on the logic of the fantasy (1966-7), after more than a decade of struggling with Heidegger, Lacan accomplishes his paradoxical and (for someone who adheres to Heidegger's notion of modern philosophy) totally unexpected move from Heidegger back to Descartes, to the Cartesian cogito. There really is a paradox here: Lacan at first accepts Heidegger's point that the Cartesian cogito, which grounds modern science and its mathematical universe, announces the highest forgetting of Being; but, for Lacan, the Real of jouissance is precisely external to Being, so that what is, for Heidegger, the argument against the cogito is, for Lacan, the argument for the cogito - the Real of jouissance can only be approached when we exit the domain of being. This is why, for Lacan, not only is the cogito not to be reduced to the self-transparency of pure thought, but, paradoxically, the cogito is the subject of the unconscious - the gap/cut in the order of Being in which the Real of jouissance breaks through.
Last year, at 28, Chalayan was honored with the prestigious Designer of the Year award at this year’s annual British Fashion Awards. From his cramped studio near Covent Garden, Chalayan has developed a reputation for being a serious man of ideas who avoids fashion’s social circuit like the plague, preferring a spot of Heidegger to the 'it' clubs. Such modesty and talent has earned the admiration of many fashion VIPs. "I like his attitude and way of thinking," comments the ultra-elusive Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.
Andy Merrifield on thinking, from The Wisdom of Donkeys.
Martin Heidegger spent many a lonely hour in a simple wooden ski hut in his beloved Black Forest near Freiburg, Gribouille, where he was rector of the university. He could see the Alps out of the window of his nineteen-by-twenty-two-foot cabin. Here was Heidegger’s "elemental world or Being," the quiet sustenance for his thinking, base camp for his comprehending the "hidden law" of the mountain forest. Heidegger saw the dark forest as a metaphor for life, for all reality. Truth tends to conceal itself in the forest undergrowth, he said, in the quietness, where some routes — "blind alleys," Heidegger labeled them — trail off and lead you nowhere. But others take you to the truth, to the open ground, to the clearing, if only our thinking can find this clearing, can find the right feldweg, the right forest way, a path known only to the local woodcutters, to the local lumbermen.
Heidegger pinpoints two types of thinking: calculative thinking, and meditative thinking. Calculative thinking, he says, "computes ever new, ever more promising and at the same time more economical possibilities." It never stops, never collects itself, races from one subject to the next. Meditative thinking is thinking that "contemplates the meaning which reigns in everything that is." The latter "is what we have in mind when we say that contemporary man is in flight-from-thinking." Of course, nobody profits from meditative thinking; critics say it has lost touch, that it finds itself floating above things, unaware of reality, beyond the "real world," that it's worthless in business, a waste of productive time; and time is money.
Yet meditative thinking doesn’t just happen by whim. In fact, it demands greater effort than calculative thinking, which usually requires no effort at all and isn't hard to do. Meditative thinking, Heidegger says, needs as much delicate care as other genuine crafts. There's no instant gratification. It must be able to bide its time, wait like the farmer for the ripened seed, or the buchheron who doesn’t chop down all the trees, nor burn them all at once. He bides his time, as the vigneron lovingly guards his wine, storing his logs away, drying them, making ready for when it really gets cold.
Heidegger believes each of us can follow the path or meditative thinking; each of us, in our own manner, within our own limits, can find the woodcutter's path, can seek the clearing. "Why?" he asks. Why, "because man is a thinking, that is, meditative being." As such, there’s nothing "high-flown" about meditative thinking, about turning down the sound, about tuning in to something more meaningful for a while. It's enough, he reckons, to dwell on what lies close up, to meditate on what concerns us, each of us, here and now: here, on this patch of ground; now, in our present moment of history.
Yet what's closest to hand is easy to miss, easy to overlook, and often hardest to grasp. Meditative thinking asks that we let ourselves go, engage in what "at first sight does not go together at all." So we ponder, we wait, we meditate on what's there, grope for openness, for a clearing, for light, an expanse in the distance, on the horizon somewhere. We see close up but we reach out toward this horizon. Meditative thinking draws us into the distance while we stay put, while we stay near. It brings these two realms together, is a sort of nearness of distance—a "coming-into-the-nearness of distance," Heidegger calls it. Finding the "nearness of distance" boils down to finding our path to Being, to full awareness, to releasing ourselves.
When Daniel Birnbaum and Anders Olsson asked about man's difference from animals' way of eating, Derrida replied:
I have become increasingly interested in the philosophical border between man and animal, which also becomes an examination of the traditional boundary between culture and nature. I have chosen to tackle this issue via the thinkers who seem to have questioned the self-sufficiency of humanism most deeply: Heidegger and Lévinas. Despite their critique of a traditional concept of the subject, they remain humanists by insisting on an absolute distinction between humans and animals. The establishment of man’s privileged position requires the sacrifice and devouring of animals. Not even Lévinas is willing to sacrifice the sacrifice.
But in Heidegger, the interpretative act is surely not about interiorizing or incorporating, right?
No, not in any simple way, given that he dissolved the idea of a subjective interiority. But the difference itself between what is one’s own and what is foreign remains—understanding is still an assimilation. Heidegger is not as voracious a philosopher as Hegel; not everything for him can be assimilated. What Heidegger calls the “ontological difference” between “being” (Sein) and “beings” (Seienden)—which is of course the very essence of his philosophy—indicates such a limit. Being always remains inaccessible. Being is never given as a being, a thing in the world that can be named and captured with the question What? Being transcends beings—it evades linguistic naming.
So you take Heidegger’s ontological difference to be the boundary between what can be eaten and what cannot be eaten?
Yes, exactly. The ontological difference is the boundary between what can be assimilated and what is already presupposed in all assimilation, but which itself is inaccessible. This is the most profound and most difficult to comprehend movement in the Heideggerian concept of being. Being makes beings accessible in the world, yet itself withdraws. This movement is what Heidegger called das Ereignis—the event (or “the coming-about”).
But as far as Heidegger’s qualified humanism is concerned, which transfers the specifically human from man’s interior to his hand, the boundary between human and animal still remains something which is impossible to call into question. It is not a traditional humanism, but a determination of the location—the place (Dasein) where meaning can be received. The location is not explicitly determined as Man, but Heidegger nonetheless provides a description of this place that excludes animals. Only man has hands, says Heidegger, and, through the hand, he has access to a world of meaningful action. The ape, however, possesses only “Greifsorgane” (organs for grasping) and is therefore excluded from the realm of the human. This distinction between hand and organ for grasping is not something Heidegger arrived at by studying apes in the Black Forest, but rather has a purely stipulative character. Here, as always, humanism rests on the sacrifice of the animal, on the implicit swallowing up of the animal.
“Ten years ago, what goes loosely under the name of ‘post-modernism’ was much more an ‘item’ in the general cultural conversation,” Blackburn said in a recent NCR interview. “Its heyday was in the 80s and 90s.”
“People like Richard Rorty, Jacques Derrida in France, some aspects of Heidegger, had led people in academic and semi-academic conversation to doubt authority and to doubt even their own judgment – to become, as it were, paralyzed because of familiar thoughts about plurality of opinions, the difficulty of proof, cultural relativism.”
That mood, Blackburn said, was in some ways “killed off” by 9-11.
More from Reiner Schürmann on the unconcealing event.
One can nevertheless attempt to follow three ways of access. (1) If the event of appropriation is to be understood along the lines of the neutral 'and' as well as of the 'fourfold', the concealment which, as expropriation, is operative in it cannot be broached through questions either about man or about entities that are epochally present or absent. Such arrival and withdrawal of entities within the arena where man is co-present to them was precisely stressed by the recapitulatory incidence, 'unconcealment'. But neither the 'and' nor the 'fourfold' refers to entities or man. The concept of event (if it can be called a concept) is, in a sense, the one most devoid of content that is conceivable. It carries less beingness than Aristotle's category of relation. Indeed: (2) To think being and time "is to think of the most difficult thought of philosophy, namely being as time." [P. 20] The play of appropriation and expropriation seems to address this 'as' prior to, and without regard for, being and time. In the most difficult though of philosophy - since it entails breaking with philosophy - being "disappears." [P. 43] This 'as', always finite and always other, would be permeated with a motility of its own. It would be the locus of the motility that hides and shows. In these hints one should see primarily a way of stating that the moving constellations of presencing continue to operate beyond the metaphysical closure: no longer (as indicated by the transitional category) in an 'epochal fashion, but acknowledged as inconsistent, transient. (3) The 'fourfold' does not signify anything other than the constellations - no longer of entities, nor even of presence and absence - of the event in which the particular 'presences'. In the idiom borrowed from Hölderlin, it signifies the ceaseless newness with which 'the earth and the sky, the gods and the mortals' determine 'the thing', each thing.
Heidegger describes that newness as so radical that one wonders whether it is still possible to speak of things in terms of species and genera. Manifestly, the movement of expropriation accuses extreme finitude. The category of 'event' complements that of 'world and thing' in pointing out the process character in that finitude. The category of 'event' complements that of 'world and thing' in pointing out the process character in that finitude. It brings into focus, not the present particular, but a particular presencing as particular, that is, as permeated with its unique negativity. While 'unconcealment', the recapitulatory incidence of this third category, indicates general constellations of presence endowed with a certain duration, its anticipatory incidence, the 'event' scatters the general, disregards even the particular thing, and fragments any thought-content other than this or that presencing singularized by its distinct absencing. Such plurification is impossible to transcend and thinkable only as a movement of 'rising' or 'clearing'.
Verbeek distinguishes his views from Heidegger’s widely influential philosophy of technology, building on several analyses of Heidegger that have been offered (e.g. Feenberg, Dreyfus, and Ihde). The project of Heidegger’s later philosophy in works such as “The Question Concerning Technology” and “The Origin of the Work of Art” is the attempt to uncover the general mode through which reality becomes disclosed to us (1971; 1977). As Verbeek puts it, “Reality always already” is “in a certain way when human beings enter a relation with it-being always already has a meaning for them” (2005, 55). These days, Heidegger observes, reality is disclosed as a “standing reserve,” as a resource available to be tapped for human ends. This mode of disclosure is dangerous since it limits us to seeing our world, and even ourselves, only as means to ends. While others have criticized Heidegger’s view as totalizing, abstract, or nostalgic, Verbeek claims that the real problem with this position is that it relies on faulty transcendental reasoning, taking limited instances of our experience to count for all possible relations to technology.
It has been suggested that Kosinski named the character of Chance after a teacher of transcendental meditation he had met at the local TM Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, named Jerry Jarvis, who resembled the calm and simple manner of Chance Gardiner. The TM Center was located at the corner of Chauncy and Garden Streets. Given the phenomenological flavor of the film in which Chauncey invariably responds to people and phenomena as they present themselves, it is perhaps significant to note that the title 'Being There' is a direct translation of the term Dasein used by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger to describe the essential nature of human beings.
Protests to the contrary notwithstanding, I would insist that we are in fact a global community and all members have much in common. In part, this rests upon my understanding of technological and natural networks. As Nietzsche once said, everything is entwined, enmeshed. Ontology harbors axiology – is implies an ought. On a more specific level, what everyone has in common is the prospect of imminent climatic disaster, which will mark the end of human life on this planet. For Heidegger, being-towards-death constituted the singularity of each person; when death is universal, being-towards-death holds out the prospect of creating community.
I also enjoyed this response:
EEÇ: What could be the role of political and cultural jounals in a changing media enviroment?
MT: Books and journals as we have known them are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, the last to understand this fact are universities and academics.
Malpas argues that Heidegger’s thought is not just helpful in elucidating place, but that place is at the root of Heidegger’ s philosophy of being. Being and place are inextricably bound together in that being emerges only through place; and place, through being. Malpas suggests that, for the latter Heidegger, “event” and “place” often mean the same; they are both the starting point for thinking and both offer possibilities for disclosure, appropriation, appearing, and gathering--categories that disclose being-in-place.
Continuing Reiner Schürmann on the unconcealing event.
What is called 'the event' of appropriation' here would thus be setting in with technological enframing. Technology is "the liminal appearance of the event of appropriation," [P. 32] the limen of a possible era determined solely by surface fluctuations. "Between the epochal formations of being and its transformation into the event of appropriation stands enframing." [P. 53] The most pertinent description the phenomenology of reversals can give of this turning is that it is "the entry into dwelling in the event of appropriation." [P. 53] These threshold metaphors must not hide the fact that the event of appropriation has been operative 'always already', although it emerges from the rubble of principles only with technology. Also, if principal constructs could foul its recognition, this indicates that the event of appropriation is simultaneously and event of expropriation. The very possibility of 'denial' and 'neglect' must be traced to this ultimate, although radically finite, condition of the self-structuring designated by the categories of world and of favor. Expropriation, Enteignis, accounts for the tendency toward negativity in a given economy - all and any negativity in all and any economy. It accounts for concealment (lethe) in unconcealment, which in turn accounts for withholding (epechein) in the epochs. It is the undertow in all surface fluctuations. "The event of appropriation is in itself an event of expropriation; this word takes up, in a manner commensurate with the event, the early Greek lethe, in the sense of concealment." [P. 41] The play of appropriation and expropriation conveys something aletheia cannot say. This shows once again how mistaken one would be to place Heidegger in the company of the German Romantics and to read in him a ploy for reviving experiences inspired by pre-classical Greece.
The anticipatory incidence of this transitional category 'event' as the play of appropriation and expropriation, thus reveal a 'motility'. This is opposed to the 'destiny of being' as the anticipatory incidence is to the recapitulatory incidence: "The absence of destiny from the event of appropriation does not imply that it lacks all 'motility.'" [P. 41] In Anaximander, we saw that the early Greek understanding of aletheia indicates in entities a movement of arrival from absence, lingering in presence, and withdrawal back into absence. This is no longer the way hiding-showing is thought of here. Heidegger suggests two paths toward understanding 'expropriation': the event supersedes epochal-destinal unconcealment in such a way that, firstly, "it can be retained neither as being nor as time; it is, so to speak, a neutrale tantum, the neutral 'and' in the title "Time and Being.'" [P. 43] The motility of appropriation and expropriation is secondly thematized in relation to the fourfold. These two paths are however no more than suggested. The seminar dealing with this 'motility' cuts short the discussion of the "expropriation that belongs essentially to appropriation. This includes the question: expropriation whither? The direction and sense of this question were not discussed any further." [P. 43] The event of appropriation-expropriation is the thought of the most tenuous issue for philosophy ever and therefore a tenuous thought, only yo be hinted at. It is the thought of the phenomena's simple entering, always particular and precarious, into intercourse.
Fromm, Marcuse, and Zizek represent distinctive but still related experiments by middle-class radical intellectuals to synthesize psychoanalysis and Marxism. Fromm, a practicing psychoanalyst, laid the foundation for Freudo-Marxism at the Frankfurt School. Marcuse, a left-Heideggerian philosopher with no training in psychoanalysis, adopted Freudo-Marxism in opposition to Fromm's rejection of libido/drive theory. Zizek, who has links to Heidegger and Marcuse, is a philosopher in the Freudo-Marxist tradition, specifically, Lacanian-Marxism. What is notable in all three cases is the degeneration of the experiment to synthesize psychoanalysis and Marxism, and its collapse into forms of subjectivism.
The personal is not political. The New Yorkeron Arendt:
The most intense curiosity about Arendt in the past few years has had less to do with her work than with her life. Above all, the publication in English, in 2004, of Arendt’s correspondence with Martin Heidegger, after decades of speculation about their relationship, brought renewed scrutiny to her intimate life. To a thinker who believed that the personal was emphatically not political, this kind of attention would have been very unwelcome. She derided the “pseudoscientific apparatuses of depth-psychology, psychoanalysis, graphology, etc.” as nothing more than “curiosity-seeking.” Yet Arendt’s deeply ambivalent relationship with Heidegger—her lover, teacher, and friend—has a more than personal significance, since it casts light on the most vexed issue in her work: her tangled relationship with Jewishness and Germanness.
Arendt’s legend—or, perhaps it is better to say, her image—has become as important to posterity as her theories. In part, of course, this is because Arendt is one of the few women in the traditionally male pantheon of political philosophy. It makes sense that it is feminist readers who find the most food for thought in Arendt’s image—even though Arendt denied that she was a feminist. Julia Kristeva devotes some pages of her recent book on Arendt to her changing appearance, as documented in photographs: from the girlish “seductress” of the nineteen-twenties, gazing poetically at the camera, to the confident intellectual of the fifties, whose “femininity . . . beats a retreat” as her face becomes “a caricature of the . . . battle scars” received during her public career.
Kristeva’s reverie on Arendt’s “psychic bisexuality” is not the kind of attention that gets paid to Kant or Heidegger.
The prospective category aletheia designated a play of hiding and showing whose variations make the epochs. Each reversal articulates anew what remains hidden or concealed and what is shown or disclosed, so that a crisis in history appears as a redistribution of shade and light, as a rearrangement of the 'clearing' within which life and thought are possible for a while. The corresponding retrospective category, justice, shows conformation to have been as anthropocentric undertaking since the Greeks. such notions as homoiosis, adaequatio, 'justice' have had the effect of committing lethein and concealment to oblivion and of restricting unconcealment to a human comportment: assimilation to the Good, assertion of correct judgements, and finally done to chaos.
Under the anticipatory incidence of the transitional category which corresponds to aletheia and to justice, the hiding-showing can be neither epochal nor humanist. Indeed, what is the 'favor' that announces itself in the danger of transition and thanks to which the 'world' can appear as a self-regulating play, as the 'fourfold'? "In the essence of the danger a favor dwells and prevails, namely, the favor that the oblivion of being turn about into the truth of being...We have thought the truth of being in the worlding of world as the mirror play of the fourfold of sky and earth, mortals and divinities. When oblivion turns about, when world as the safekeeping of being's essence turns in, then there comes to pass (ereignet) the lightning stroke of world." [P. 44] As if to point out the threshold upon which the Ereignis, event of appropriation, starts coming into play, Heidegger adds: "The lightning stroke is the event in which the constellation of the turning [comes about] in the very essence of being, and that in the epoch of enframing (des Gestells)." [P. 46] The categorical transition from 'unconcealment' to 'event of appropriation' is datable: it occurs with contemporary technology.
Music, better with the transcendent than jargon. Lack of semantics cited.
In the same way that the metaphysicians - Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Jaspers - try to approach the unsayable and the unknowable, to break out of the limits of language and give at least an inkling, however illegitimate an inkling, of the nature of being and time (and I have to say that their attempts have never persuaded me, not that I'm a philosopher), music grapples with the sublime and the transcendent. In doing so it uses a language which, in its very lack of a proper semantics, its lack of definition, its continual striving to speak without actually speaking (or in the case of vocal music, saying so much more than is actually said), reaches outside itself more credibly than the jargon of the philosophers.
The question in Jim Holt's Stop Me If You've Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes.
The best philosophical jokes tend to be evoked by the most persistent incomprehensibilities. Take the question that Martin Heidegger deemed the deepest and darkest in all philosophy: Why is there something rather than nothing? When I put this question to the great Columbia philosopher Arther Danto a few years ago, he brusquely replied< "Who says there's not nothing?" Another Columbia philosopher (and another kibbitzer of the sidewalks of Upper Broadway) the late Sidney Morgenbesser had an even better response when a student asked him the same question: "Even if there was nothing, you still wouldn't be satisfied!"
Artforum reviews Michael Fried's Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before.
Fried’s efforts to bring Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Hegel to bear on contemporary photographic practices are, in my view, less convincing. For instance, his effort to associate Wall’s pictures with Heidegger’s notion that the world reveals itself when functional assignments fail or are disturbed (e.g., when the hammer breaks) prompts the question of why such breakdowns are not more evident in Wall’s work. Although Fried suggests that the artist’s “Diagonal Composition” series is about such breakdowns, the neglected sinks and mop buckets of those pictures seem to be more about the loss of an incalculable “liquid intelligence” in a digital age of dry precision—a loss that Wall has written about with laconic brilliance—than about instrumental failure and its revelatory effects. Wall’s mop, one might say, seems closer to William Henry Fox Talbot’s abandoned broom than to Heidegger’s broken hammer.
What for us today is called world is the inestimable entanglement of a technological apparatus of information that confronted the unscathed φύσις and took her place, while the function of the world became accessible and tractable only by calculation.