Monday, October 10, 2011
Will McNeill on the event of presencing, Marburg, 1924.
In the Sophist course, Heidegger had already used the concept of "transparency" to analyze an intrinsic moment of phronesis. While the particular end of praxis has already been anticipated, chosen or projected in advance in each case, the concrete situation and the means toward achieving this end are initially concealed and must be uncovered so as to make the action itself transparent in its constitutive aspects. (GA 19, 148) Phronesis has the task of making an action transparent, via correct deliberation. The result of correct deliberation is "the correct openness of resolve [Entschlossenheit] as the transparency of the action.... The directional uncovering of the complete situation ends in an authentic openness of resolve for..., in engaging." (GA 19, 150) Yet correct deliberation is itself dependent upon the disclosure of the eschaton, of the concrete situation in its temporal particularity, which occurs as the "glance of the eye" or Augenblick. Phronesis, whose essence lies in deliberative excellence (euboulia), is thus not only dependent upon the end projected (via logos), but also, and indeed primarily, upon the disclosure of the situation as that disclosure bears upon the approaching moment of action. In this sense, phronesis is not a hexis meta logou monon, not a merely logical disposition; it is not merely an uncovering (aletheuein) that occurs via Logos. Although phronesis guides and directs all human action, it remains dependent upon something other than itself, namely, "the action itself" and is thus, unlike a pure contemplation or theorein, not an independent form of disclosure. (GA 19, 170) As Heidegger also puts it, "Phronesis lies more in praxis than in the logos." (GA 19, 139) This also helps to clarify why Heidegger, earlier in his discussion, had identified phronesis with conscience (Gewissen) and assigned to the latter the task of achieving transparency: "Phronesis is nothing other than conscience set in motion [das in Bewegunggesetzte Gewissen], which makes an action transparent." (GA 19, 56) This statement occurs at the point where Heidegger first discusses Aristotle's brief justification for saying that phronesis is not merely a logical disposition, because a purely logical or discursive potentiality can be forgotten or fall into concealment (lethe). (NE, 1140 b28) A purely logical disposition or habit is one that can be repeated and learned (such as a techne), "whereas phronesis is new on each occasion." "Conscience cannot be forgotten." (GA 19, 56) It is clear that "conscience" here cannot mean conscience as experienced in the modern guise of subjectivity, where part of its role is the reinforcement of self-presence and permanence of self produced by various practices of repetition. Rather the phenomenon of conscience in phronesis is concerned with the unfolding disclosure (presencing) of the concrete situation in and throughout the entire process of phronesis, from its beginning to its end. Both situation and process are finite. In other words, "conscience" here does not belong to an already existing subject; it does not refer to the activity of an individual who "has" "conscience," but rather to the full unfolding and accomplishment of praxis itself, where this unfolding is to be understood as the coming into full, concrete presence of a finite action. It is the event of presencing itself that cannot be forgotten, for insofar as we are, we always already "stand in" this very event. To say that the event of presencing (which Heidegger would later call Ereignis) cannot be forgotten does not of course mean that it cannot become obscııred as such an event. "Presumably," Heidegger notes , "one can let that which conscience uncovers become hidden and ineffective, through hedone and lupe, through [certain] passions. Conscience announces itself again and again [or: conscience always returns, repeats itself, recurs: [Gewissen meldet sich immer wieder]." Conscience thus shows itself not as the activity of an already existing individual, but as the very process of becoming finite, of individuation itself as a finite event (as the futural modification of one's having-been). Praxis, as radically finite and originary, shows itself as a coming out of concealment, unfolding into presencing, returning back into concealment.
From "The Time of the Augenblick".
Re-perusing the Sophist klassic one notes the emphasis on practical skills/intelligence which I think relates to "phronesis" (per googlin')--ie, fishing/hunting, etc. And to Praxis as well. The ancient greeks even when in abstract thought do not lose sight of labor and dare we say...the commodity (tho' the Heideggerian jargon---tends to obscure the issue). at times Plato via "the Stranger" seems to have been--mocking the sophist philosopher's pretensions and endless speculation. There may have been more of a..comrade to him then some think (also evident at times in.... the Republic)
The notion that Plato is mocking the Eleatics is especially strong with the Parmenides. Although most commentaries try to follow the arguments through their many convolutions, I heard one recently that argued that Plato is just taking the piss and ridiculing typical Eleatic explanations for why things never change when all we see is change. And closer to home, he is ridiculing On the Nature of Not-Being by proto-pomo sophist Gorgias from Leontini.
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