Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Eugene Thacker on the problem with life.
For many, however, all of this is a false problem. The opening sections of Being and Time provide what is perhaps the clearest statement on this point. There Heidegger effectively glosses over the fields of anthropology, psychology, and biology as fields which must presume being in order to begin their inquiries about man, mind, and organism. While each of these fields, according to Heidegger, deals in some way with Life, none of them are capable of posing the question of Life as an ontological question:
…in any serious and scientifically minded “philosophy of life” (this expression says about as much as the “botany of plants”) there lies an inexplicit tendency toward understanding the being of Da-sein. What strikes us first of all in such a philosophy (and this is its fundamental lack) is that “life” itself as a kind of being does not become a problem ontologically.[Pp. 43-4]
This “missing ontological foundation” is itself what grounds these fields. The question that Life is, is displaced by the question of what Life is – or, more accurately, what the domain of the living is. The anthropological category of man, the psychological category of mind, and a general biology of the organism all presume a Being of Life. Where Heidegger leaves off, however, is at the question of whether Life is a species of Being, or whether the ontology of Life in effect transforms Life into Being. His last words on the topic are at once suggestive and opaque: “Life has its own kind of being, but it is essentially accessible only in Dasein.”[P. 46]
Horror of Philosophy vol. 1, pp. 127-8.
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