Friday, February 04, 2011
Barbara Cassin indicates Heidegger's neglect of Gorgias.
My own growing rigid, in this context, has to do with the determination of the origin and the dawn. The Greek morning which Heidegger arranged for us is monomaniacal and kleptomaniacal. It robs an entire array of texts and possibilities so that they may fit under the aegis of Parmenides’ poem. Heidegger’s Parmenides of 1942–43 reads polis merely as pelein, the old Greek verb for einai: if the polis in itself is only the “pole of pelein,” then “it is only because the Greeks are an absolutely non-political people” that they could found the polis, and did. The first reading that I found impossible to perform using Heidegger alone, in the truly grandiose perspective of Parmenides’ unveiling, was Gorgias’ Treatise of Non-Being. Approximately a halfcentury after the dawn, this treatise provides a full-fledged demonstration of the mechanisms or strategies thanks to which Parmenides’ “Poem” conforms to Heidegger’s dream. It is a text which critically exceeds ontology in its nascent state. Thus there was a different way of being pre-Socratic.
Of the pre-Socratics, Heidegger is interested in the Ionians and the Eleatics. He ignores the sophists, until Socrates starts asking them questions. Yesterday's post on perspective, is in the context of Socrates questioning Protagoras.
All that for "reducing ethical discourse to something dangerously inane"?

"Dangerously" seems to me to require a defense. So far as I am aware, "ethical discourse" is only dangerous under severely primitive conditions; e.g. I saw a news item recently of a boy in an Islamic milieu whose life was taken, and it was attributed to something he wrote on ethics that was contrary to someone's interpretation of the Quran. But I doubt that fits with the topic.

There is lots of interesting stuff here. In my quick skim, I also saw items that seem to me very questionable. But the ambition of it is breathtaking and admirable.
I don't think the day of the boy's stoning has arrived yet. It may be a while, as prosecuting blasphemy laws presents subtle cunundrums.
One reason Badiou seems a bit set-off from PoMo gang may be his opposition to modern sophists and relativism. (whether Nietzschean, or Darwinian-naturalist etc). Yet I doubt neo-Platonic fever will be catching on soon--even Miss C here grants that the battles between anti-relativists and sophists, including contemporary ones, seem rather antiquated if not mostly futile.

The Gorgias gang (in the platonic chestnut) was not we might recall comprised of clever decadents, or ancient Toastmasters (like Protogoras), but...macho men as well. Gorgias seems..in the pinche ingles translation, like a shyster... but Callicles, one of Gorgias's students--McCain like RealPolitik, circa 400 bc--or Nietzschean, in the usual fratboy jargon. An authentic platonic society would probably demand far too much of humans, really.
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