Monday, May 07, 2012

William Koch is blogging about the Heidegger Circle meeting last week.

It was my first time attending a Circle, and I thoroughly enjoyed my intellectual vacation. I have been to a few seminars, but this was my first time at a philosophy conference so I didn't quite know what to expect. It was different from all the other conferences I've attended in the last few decades in several respects. No Powerpoint! Unlike the multitasking that attendees engaging in at typicalconferences, at the Circle sessions the only computers out were being used to follow the text.

Typical sessions had a couple of papers, each read or summarized for half an hour. Then a respondent would comment on the papers, expanding on the papers or raising questions. The authors would then respond to the respondent and take questions from the audience. Some of the papers were closer my interests than others, but they were all cutting edge and illuminating.

On Saturday afternoon the first session had a single paper and three respondents. Tom Sheehan presented a paper, "Making Sense of Heidegger", on his proposed paradigm shift; that Heidegger's question throughout his career was: how do we make sense of things? There were three respondents. Kate Withy said the new generation had largely absorbed the new paradigm but that there were issues to be worked out. Richard Polt argued that in addition to considering Heidegger's central theme as meaning, a new understanding also needs to account for excess and event. Charles Guignon, whom I had expected to argue for the dreydegger interpretation was surprisingly noncontentious. It was the audience's questions that raised several objections; many along the lines of: how can the new account explain this aspect of Heidegger's thought. It's a pity there isn't a transcript of the session to recall all those questions.

In the following session Richard Capobianco celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Time and Being lecture, where Heidegger said that being itself means Ereignis. Then William Richardson, who was at the lecture in 1962, recalled meeting Heidegger in Freiburg as a graduate student and soliciting his advice on a dissertation subject. He ended by questioning the need for a new paradigm, and how it could explain several aspects of Heidegger's thinking.

Each evening after dinner, buoyant discussions continued in the patio outside the venue into the early hours, elaborating different understandings of being, and toasting Andrew Mitchell and his colleagues at Emory for the hosting this gathering.
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