Monday, July 18, 2005
Ten Theses on Heidegger

9. The intrinsically hidden lack/finitude that is reponsible for the apriori opened-ness of the open guarnatess both the groundlessness and the in-principle unlimitedness of our ability to take-things-as -- for example, in theoretical-scientific knowing.

a. The in-principle unlimitedness of such theoretical-cognitive takings-as and occurences-of-being as the positive gift of our finitude and of the Welt/Lichtung/Da that it holds open. The universe is endlessly knowable and should be known as such.

b. Such unlimited knowing need not stand in inverse proportion to the understanding and embrace of one's essential finitude, nor need it entail the overlooking or forgetting of die Sache selbst.

die Sache selbst: the things themselves. Used since at least Hegel to refer to the facts. Used by Husserl for the objects of consciousness; the cogito has an intentional object--it is a consciousness of something.
Welt/Lichtung/Da: Sheehan describes these, and more, as:
-- these three that are actually one -- constitute die Sache selbst, the open that "gives" all forms, and all historical epochs, of being.

In review of the 35th Annual Meeting of The North American Heidegger Society, Michael Kelly remarks:
The conference's Saturday panel discussion began with a controversial and, perhaps according to traditional readings of Heidegger and technology, paradoxical thesis from T. Sheehan ("Eleven Theses on Heidegger and Technology," Stanford University, USA). Sheehan offered the claim that Heideggerians should move away from the word 'being' as a maker for die Sache selbst, since Heidegger quite clearly contends that things have no sense apart from human beings: it is not the "is" of being, but instead the as of being, Sheehan argues, that guides Heidegger's thought. That is, rather than 'constituting' beings in conformity with our concepts, Dasein's finitude, its lack of full presence to itself, requires an openness to beings and, as it were, entails a taking-as/understanding of entities through their being. From his discussion of this being-the-open that derives from our lack of full self-presence and marks our essence, Sheehan rereads Heidegger's notion of Ereignis as our openness to the open that results from the self-concealment in which our being hides. Being-the-open makes entities not just available to us, but, Sheehan claims, language [that might sound heretical to traditional Heideggerians], "endlessly available to human engagement and manipulation". Having grounded the theoretical portion of his project with an etymological exegesis equalled in its density and originality by its lucidity and rigor, Sheehan concludes by risking the potentially morally irresponsible claim that "far from having a philosophically negative valence, the global spread of technology is the positive force of Ereignis". That we in the twenty-first century have witnessed the mendaciousness of modern, cybernetic technicity (that until now almost undeniably appeared as the fulfilment of Heidegger's prophecy concerning technology), however, should cause us to pause before championing Sheehan's scholarship - as may conference attendees seemed quick to do. It is possible that we have misunderstood Heidegger's thought on technology. Perhaps Heidegger's own philosophical framework does indeed preclude his critical portrayal of technicity. Sheehan's bold claims, however, not only seemingly sacrifice the moral to the intellectual, but they fly in the face of decades of scholarship concerning Heidegger on technology.

In an important, and in this listener's opinion unduly neglected presentation, M. Zimmerman ("Heidegger's Phenomenology and Contemporary Environmentalism," University of Tulane, USA) attempted to work through the tensions in Heidegger's view of nature and humankind with those of environmentalists, and on the way objected to Sheehan's rereading of Ereignis, remarking that Sheehan ultimately claims "that from their own side beings 'want' to be disclosed and utilised by humankind," and such utilisation denotes progress ("technological domination," to use Sheehan's words. No one will argue the benefits of technological advances, and perhaps our being is such that entities appear as 'endlessly available' to us. Yet, Zimmerman asks: does Ereignis, the gift of openness from finitude, exculpate humankind from the crimes it has perpetrated against animals, ecosystems, and peoples of the third world, as Sheehan's reading implies? What gets lost amidst the force of Sheehan's erudite exegesis, Zimmerman notes, is that "[e]ndowed with great disclosive capacities, Dasein is also burdened with unparalleled responsibilities to 'care' for beings".
If anyone knows what the eleventh thesis is, please leave a comment.

[Thesis 10]
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