Tuesday, November 04, 2014
In NDPR, Henry Somers-Hall reviews Simon Lumsden's Self-Consciousness and the Critique of the Subject: Hegel, Heidegger, and the Post-Structuralists.
For Heidegger, this move from das Man to a concernful relationship to the world occurs through the call of conscience. As Lumsden notes, conscience has a divided structure, as while Dasein calls itself to conscience, the caller and the hearer are not the same Dasein: one is individuated while the other is lost in das Man. Lumsden claims that this model of the self is antithetical to that found in German idealism. 'Conscience calls itself; it does not posit, determine, or legislate for itself. . . . The call comes to Dasein in such a way (in silence) that it cannot be understood as spontaneous or self-caused, even though it issues from Dasein itself.' Given the similarly complex relationship between the transcendental ego and the empirical ego that Kant develops in the paralogisms, and the centrality of possibility to Dasein, we might take issue with this characterisation. Perhaps more important is Lumsden's conclusion that 'Heidegger . . . is content to let the divisions [at the heart of self-consciousness] lie.' The use of the word 'content' here captures one of the central problems with Lumsden's account of post-structualism. He appears to suggest that Heidegger's refusal to accept a Hegelian account of self-consciousness amounts to something like bloody-mindedness, rather than being a motivated (if potentially flawed) attempt to account for aspects of our existence such as thrownness and the intentional nature of consciousness that may rule out such an account.
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