Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Zizek on the Event of the disclosure of being.
While the transcendental turn is a specific move that characterizes the core of Kant’s philosophical revolution, it is, at a deeper level, a name – arguably the name – for the move that characterizes, constitutes even, philosophy as such, i.e., philospphy in its difference from knowledge about positive reality. Heidegger saw this very clearly when, in his Being and Time, he proposes his redefinition of hermeneutics as ontology proper, as fundamental ontology, not only as a science about understanding and interpreting texts. Let us take the example of life: the proper topic of philosophy is not the real nature of life as a natural phenomenon (how did life evolve out of complex chemical processes, what are the minimal scientific characteristics of a living organism, etc.). Philosophy raises a different question: when we encounter living entities, when we treat them as such, we already have to possess a certain pre-understanding which enables us to recognize them as alive, and philosophy focuses on this pre-understanding. The same goes, say, for freedom: in what way do we understand “freedom” when we ask the question “Are we free or not?”. The basic transcendental-hermeneutic move is the move towards this horizon of pre-understanding which is always-already here, and this is what Heidegger means with the Event of the disclosure of being: history at its most radical is not the change in reality, but the shift in how things appear to us, in our fundamental pre-understanding of reality.
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