Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Graham Harman untangles the fourfold.
It is actually not so difficult to discover which two dualisms are in play here. One opposition recurs throughout Heidegger’s philosophy so repetitively that it often seems like the only idea he ever had: the distinction between a thing’s shadow concealment and its explicit appearance. This is also known as the temporal interplay between past and future, or between the equipment that silently functions and the signs and broken equipment that show themselves “as” what they are. Even in the fourfold of 1949, it is quite easy to split up the terms along these lines. Ever since the essay on artworks in the 1930s, Heidegger used “earth” as a term for mysterious concealment that withdraws from all appearance. By contrast, “sky” is defined in terms of specific visible examples such as the cycling of the seasons and the course of the planets and stars.

It is just as easy to classify the other two terms. Heidegger tells us that “gods” are never visible, but merely hint, making it clear that gods belong with earth on the side of concealment. Meanwhile, “mortals” are defined as the ones capable of death as death, putting mortals on the side of clearing or revealing, due to the role of the explicit as-structure here. Mortals and sky, then, are terms of “future” or of the revealed realm, whereas earth and gods belong to “past” or the concealed realm.

P. 133
I don't find the terms of the fourfold 'dance' together in quite the way Harman asserts. In particular it is his placement of the ecstases in compartments that unsettles me. Since "the past comes to us out of the future," those are not neatly divisible. But I confess his suggestion is not something I have thought about.

The shortcuts I lean on relate to my recollection that Kunstwerkes uses "earth" and "world" rather than the later "sky." So I think "sky" in terms of "world."

I understand the divinities, "the gods" as messengers of beyng. The flight of the gods is a repeated theme for MH, hence the abandonment of beyng. Yet doesn't MH allow the possibility of a return of the gods? I thought I saw that in the Beitrage.

I am still musing the absence of causality in beyng. Concealment and disclosure as elements in the destiny of beyng seem causal. But I'm way over my head there.
I assume that beyng is the same, for people who understand causality in their world and for those who don't. Thus, beyng is the necessary condition for the possibility of causality.
Thus, beyng is the necessary condition for the possibility of causality.

What is...The Principle of Sufficient Reason, Alex. (though MH's variety rather... polytheistic compared to say Leibniz). Interesting. But.......not necessary. So one's tempted to call it ...aesthetic

Hillary Putnam I'm not but at times reading MH's ontology (or at least the cliffsnotes) one's reminded of Kant's admonitions against "introspection", or supposed non-phenomenal or non-axiomatic knowledge (though the Kantian schema has its own issues).
[This is January's comment at 9:52, which I deleted by mistake. I get the comment moderation emails, click "publish" comment, and then click "delete" email. Twice I've clicked "delete" comment instead of email by mistake. Sigh.]

It seems to me that the only alternatiuve to beyng is non-beyng, which then takes us back to Descartes and scepticism.

Husserl said, to the things themselves was a better place to restart our thinking, since the western sciences were already in crisis.

I'd rather try to move forward from that rather than go back to pre-Descartes or remain servants of technicity.
I agree to an extent, as I have said a few times, at least in the sense of respecting some of H's. concepts...as alternatives to purely mechanical views of ..."nature". Though...from a skeptical point of view....Realism (of an Aristotelian sort) did not just disappear when the empiricists started wielding Occam's ...longsword, or something. The catholic church for one has consistently Ari.'s views, such as causality, has it not (not saying that's MH's thinking, exactly...but related, IMHE). One might say monotheism as a whole posits....Design, of some type. Deists and followers of eastern religion also claims to offer alternatives to mechanism.

Id say the ...skeptical views are the minority, actually. RW Emersons rule the roosts (ie, even among... non-believers, there is often nature mystcism of a sort)-- A Melville...or Schopenhauer's deterministic gloom's not too PC. "Being" were It said to exist...creates plagues.

That said, I agree students at least should read some of MH's stuff re Techne. But it's part of an overarching critique, IMHE, or systemic, "Process,". Hegel had criticized empiricism in 1800. Marx another critic. As had pragmatists. Various anthropologists. The fiendish Russell himself had called for "wisdom" apart from mere technical acumen in the 50s.
I, too, see echoes of Aristotle in MH now. The comment about the absence of causality associated with beyng called to mind the unmoved mover, who in beyng's case is just unmoved.

That then helped me better understand MH's insistence that any god of religion is a being within the structure of the ontological difference. Maybe we monotheists can come to terms with "the last god" as meaning that there's only one god at a time, but at different times appears different.

I am struggling to see things phenomenologically, so abandoning the idea of any kind of seeing of beyng helps. There may be an association between beyng as unseeable and Merleau-Ponty's (and Froment-Meurice's) "meaning" as invisible. Just a hunch.
While Im not one to belabor the Heidegger/nazi connection, we might recall that some nazis (Himmler, for one) had an interest in paganism of various types--and for that matter, german philologists of 19th century (including Schopenhauer) were interested in showing the sanskrit roots of the german language (and greek, latin, celtic so forth). Heidegger's interest in pre-socratics...and myth (at least tangentially) seems somewhat related to that pan-germanic impulse (Nietzsche as well, though a different way)--though it may be a bit trite at this stage, the greek myths often have hindu parallels--Apollo...as Vishnu figure, etc

though I haven't as yet noted any interest in sanskrit/hindu/buddhist ideas in Heidegger IIRC (then, my study of MH's mainly via Basic writings and the good parts of SZ). Schopenhauer at least sees a sort of continuum from the...deities of the Rig-veda and the myths of greeks, and later the norse (as did Wagner). The norse sky gods themselves--AEsir ---most likely derived from proto-indo-euro roots (e.g. the "asuras" in Rig Veda...tho' later Gautama terms the evil titans--supposedly)--thus, German was in a sense purified of semitic influences. However scary, Himmler and Co were into those sort of grand mythological readings of the roots of aryan kultur.
The German and then American historian/theologian Eric Vogelin writes that there are three cultures that are complete as universalistic: Hebrew, Greek, Christian. I find no reliance on the Hebrew and active disdain of Christian in MH (though the latter is only a few brief comments so far in the Beitrage).

Rather MH's admiration is focused on the Greeks. His claim that only the German language is adequate for interpretation of Greek is frequently ridiculed. While other scholars of Greek can contend with his interpretations, he can hold his own with them.
[This comment if from J. My butter fingers mistakenly pushed delete instead of publish on my smartphone.]

Thanks for clarification, J. I find it a bit interesting, however, that both Heidegger and Nietzsche are mostly disdainful for christianity, and the traditional Athenian greats-- Plato/Ari/Soc./Pythagoras (Nietzsche perhaps more so than MH, who does use the Ari. terms right)--preferring the earlier, "pagan" thinkers such as Heraclitus (tho...is Parmenides a ...pagan? Not sure). And ... there were some in Third Reich who shared similar views. Ergo, Pagan ontology's good for...War? (also recall Dreyfus's praise of...homeric heroes, etc). Some, at least while in a somewhat ...Kantian-lutheran mood might note something like that. Sort of like HBO's pop-pagan spectacle of the month--Spartacus moves product.

I respect Schopenhauer to some extent because he seems quite aware of western/greek heroics, and the hindu pantheon (not to say muslim and jewish aggression), and ...he decides (after quite a bit of detailed argumentation) that the Buddha's....negation (and dare we say...Christ's) in some sense overcomes the heroics of the...Asuras, or the tragic-Aristotelian mind (including Achilles et al). The Buddha reminds us of the futility--not to say danger-- of Achilles of whatever race (including the Aryan).
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