Thursday, January 31, 2008
{26} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
On the other hand, if being is taken after the manner of a thing (seiend), it is thought back into its essence (Wesen), and being immediately goes up in smoke. Thus it is that in his short work Zur Seinsfrage Heidegger dramatically writes being crossed out: (Sein). This "being" we come upon when we ask after the essence of metaphysics, says Heidegger. In this sense is nihilism thought back into its very essence, the fundamental movement (Grundbewegung), the "inner logic" ("innere Logik") of the history of the West.

But why ask after the essence of nihilism? Why attempt to think metaphysics back into its essence? As Heidegger says, we ask after the essence of metaphysics in an attempt to overcome nihilism (Überwindung des Nihilismus). And the way "over the line," the way in which we may suceed in "turning the tables" on nihilism, is to be found in the fate of transcendence (Geschick des Überstiegs). By this Heidegger means that in asing after the essence of metaphysics in order to overcome nihilism we come to a discovery of the fateful transcendence of being over things. This is not the sort of investigation that is carried on by academic philosophy (Schulphilosophie); it is rather an investigation into the other than things (das Andere zum Seienden). It is, there, therefore, in a transcending of things in favor of their being that a true overcoming of nihilism is to be achieved.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
{25} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
Still, showing how the story of western metaphysics came to an end in Hegel and Nietzsche must remain an important part of any discussion of Heidegger's views on ancient western philosophy. For only in a proper understanding of the unfortunate, but necessary, projection of nihilism from out of the thought of the ancient world can one fully appreciate the importance of the ancient Greek thinkers and their primordial thinking on being. Or taking the other side of the coin, only by understanding how the falsification of the authentic Greek Logos after Parmenides and Heraclitus and the subsequent generation of truth as inconcealedness into mere statement, and the degeneration of being as an emergent dominance (aufgeende Walten) into mere idea, can the key be found for the understanding of the nihilism which, with us at least since Plato, has become in Nietzsche the open sore of western philosophy. Only in finding this key can nihilism be recognized and overcome. Only by understanding nihilism in its original thought-projective origins can we hope, in Heidegger's view, to bring about an overcoming (Überwindung) of this falsified metaphysical tradition.

What does Heidegger mean by this nihilism which has characterized western metaphysics since the time of Plato? And what does it mean to "overcome" this nihilism? Concerning the nature of nihilism, Heidegger says in this Einführung in die Metaphysik that to concern oneself with things (das Seiende) to the total ignoring of being (Sein): that is nihilism. This is the sense in hich Heidegger can speak of the whole tradition of western metaphysics as nihilistic. It represents a forgetting of being in the failure to make the fundamental distinction between being and things, and in interesting itself in things rather than in being itsef. The importance of this the "ontological difference" between things and being cannot be overestimated in studying Heidegger. As he says, it is this distinction which sustains history. This is also what Heidegger meant when in his commentary on Anaximander's fragment he said that the whole of the fate of the West hinged upon the translation of the little word ἐόν.
The precocious; how to spot them.
Contemporary fiction lacks many things, but precocious children are not among them. Wherever one looks — from the work of Jonathan Safran Foer to that of Marisha Pessl — these overachievers are wielding their bloated vocabularies, quoting Heidegger, contemplating the void, and generally telling us what they — or just as likely, their authors — have been reading. Like overbearing Manhattanite parents, their creators feel obliged to subject their fictional progeny to a barrage of extracurricular activities. Such novelists — indeed, such parents — would appear to find their children not sufficiently interesting as children.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
{24} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.

The way in which the history of western metaphysics set itself up in the beginning among the Greeks has been briefly looked into. However, if one is to appreciate fully Heidegger's reasons for a re-calling, re-thinking of western though, it is necessary to see, at least to some extent, the way in which things have turned out for the history of being as a result of the influential philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. It is necessary to take a quick glance at the conclusion (Vollendung) to the story of western metaphysics in the philosophies of Hegel and Nietzsche.

Nevertheless, in this brief treatment of the two "ends" of the history of philosophy in Heidegger's thought, it should not be imagined that Heidegger in his overall interpretation of the history of western philosophy contents himself merely with the analysis of a few thinkers at the beginning (Parmenides, Heraclitus, Plato) and a few at the end (Hegel and Nietzsche) of the western tradition of philosophy, and leaves the matter at that. Heidegger analyzes briefly or at length what he considers key thinkers throughout the gambit of philosophical history, as these are seen to be coming back to or going further away from an authentic understanding of being.
Monday, January 28, 2008
{23} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
And the key to this drastic and fateful change in the history of western philosophy from a consideration of the being of things (Sein des Seienden) to a consideration of the "thingliness" of things (Seiendheit des Seienden) is, at least in the case of Plato, to be found in the second meaning of being which Heidegger found among the Greeks, the aspect of being as appearance. Thus can Heidegger point to two different meanings of appearance (Erscheinen) among the Greeks. There is the more "solid" (the pre-Socratic) side of appearance as the self-collecting, bringing-itself-to-stand and so staying in the collectivity; and there was the later notion of appearance as that which, as already standing there, present a front, a surface, gives us something to look at. In this latter notion of appearance it is the face (Geicht) which constitutes the thing.

It is clear that Plato does not understand appearance in its original sense at all. For him appearance is not emerging power (aufgehende Walten); it is rather the showing up of a copy (auftauchen des Abbildes). And from this one can easily see how being comes to be distinguished from φαινόμενον, whereas in more authentically original times the two aspects of Physis, that of permanence and that of appearance, were happily united and existed in perfect concord.

Heidegger offers what he believes to be an authentic historical verification to prove that he is on the right track in this regard. For he notes that ever since Idea and Category have come into their kingdom, philosophers have had a most difficult time trying to explain the relation between statement (thought as the falsified Logos) and being, whereas before the radical changes which took place in western thinking with Plato and Aristotle the problem of explaining the relation between statement and being did not exist. Logos and Physis were one.

Frayed Angel explains the E-word.
It comes from the German prefix, er-, comparable to 're-' in English and Eigen, one's own. It is a noun coming from a reflexive verb. Note that the German prefix er- also can connote an end or a fatality. A recent translation of the word by Kenneth Maly and Parvis Emad translate the word as "enowning"; that in connection with things that arise and appear, that they are arising 'into their own'. Hubert Dreyfus defined the term as "things coming into themselves by belonging together."
Sunday, January 27, 2008
{22} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
This looking to being from the side of things appears as transcendence. Thus the metaphysical tradition, as distinguished from what might be called the more authentically "ontological" in our tradition, represents the failure to make what Heidegger calls the "ontological difference" between being and things. The meta-physical tradition did make a distinction of sorts. But where Plato made his mistake, in the view of Heidegger, was in separating being from things and putting them in different places. Plato and classical metaphysics in general indeed had a "difference"; however, it was not the ontological difference. For it failed to make the fundamental distinction which is responsible for the forgetting of being that in our days has resulted in the misery of nihilism.

For it only after Plato that thinking concerning the being of things as that which looks up to (Aufblicken) the ideas comes to be called philosophy and finally metaphysics. For Plato's "difference" dis-placed being from things, and then Plato proceeded to concern himself with the other place, a place which ceased to be being, but became Idea.

Heidegger does not find it so strange, however, that Physis should have come to be characterized by Idea. What he does find strange is that Idea should have come to be the only and the authoritative interpretation of being. This in his view was the totally decisive factor.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Edward St Aubyn, on fear and relief.
His last novel, the scathing, hilarious and universally acclaimed Mother's Milk, recently won the Prix Fémina Etranger, France's most prestigious literary award for foreign literature. Hence the interest. He sighs. "And then I went on the radio. France Culture. So intimidating: whenever I'd listened to it it'd been, you know, Susan Sontag talking about her production of Waiting for Godot while the bombs were falling on Sarajevo, or Malraux talking about Greek tragedy or Borges speaking in flawless French about Beowulf, and I thought, I just can't do this. I didn't sleep for three weeks, I thought they were going to ask me about Heidegger or something. And then finally they said, you know, Monsieur Saint-Aubyn" – his French, like his English, is beautifully enunciated – "Do you think you're in the tradition of PG Wodehouse?" He gives an exultant shout of laughter. "PG Wodehouse! Ha! Ask me about Heidegger!"
P.J. O'Rourke explains the upcoming presidential selection to Europeans.
After the events of the 20th century, God, quite reasonably, left Europe. But He's still here in the United States. The majority of Americans are Christians, and Christians can be divided into two kinds, the kind who think you should get Jesus and the kind who think Jesus is going to get you. Mike Huckabee is one of the latter. Then there are the Mormons such as Mitt Romney who believe some unusual things--things that no sensible European like Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, Benito Mussolini, Karl Marx, Emanuel Swedenborg, or Cherie Blair would ever believe.
Friday, January 25, 2008
{21} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
How could this have come about? Heidegger gives a brief sketch of this process of degeneration. The idea is the "looked at" (das Gesichtete), that which stands be fore us (vor uns steht), that which presences (an-west) itself, that which is a presence (Anwesen), a presencing, i.e., that which in an original sense is. For as has been notes, οὐσία can mean two things: it can mean the presence of its presencing; it can also mean the present in "the what" of its outward appearance (Aussehen). These dual aspects of the Greek notion of being have already been noted as the "permanent" (Phu-) and the "appearing" (Pha-) sides of Physis. But soon it is idea which comes to constitute (Ausmacht), as well as "to make out" (in the sense of "see") the being of things. Plato's theory of ideas simply drives a permanent wedge between these two aspects of being, that which was in Parmenides and Heraclitus the peculiar "togetherness" of Physis and Logos, Logos and Physis; such that Plato's theory of ideas can be said to represent the completion, though a rather unfortunate completion, to the great beginning of the pre-Socratics. As Heidegger says in his work on thinking, Plato drove a wedge between things and being, between things and their being. He put them in different places as well. And this is why Heidegger feels justified in speaking of the Meta- (μετά-) as the whole sense of Greek thought. Indeed, this is true of western philosophy in general. For as Heidegger say in his recent work on Nietzsche, all western philosophy is Platonism. Further, metaphysics and Platonism and also Idealism are the same thing.

Thus regarding the meta-physical sense of Greek philosophy Heidegger notes, that being at rest remained for Greek thought totally other than changeable things. This difference, this character of the other, which lay between being and things, appears, then, looking from the side of things in relation to their being, as transcendence, i.e., as meta-physical. Thus can Heidegger say that with Plato's interpretation of being as Idea indeed begins metaphysics. And from Plato until Nietzsche we are dealing with the history of metaphysics.

The New Shelton wet/dry on existentialism's eureka event.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
{20} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
Historical (Dasein) was unable to hang onto the delicate and fragile pre-Socratic notion of truth. It was a house bound to collapse.

However, with this falsification of the true Logos as one with being as Physis, the science of logic was rendered possible, and came into being. It was Plato and Aristotle who were the true founders of logic; and as will be seen in the following section, it was with the help of logic that western philosophy has so successfully arrived to nihilism. Of course, any resemblance to the original notions of truth and being in the pre-Socratics and their intimate relation to one another, any inkling of being as the unconcealed (Seins als Unverborgenheit), is completely lost through the falsified Logos of logic. For the source of the essence of a thing is in being and in truth, a fact which logic cannot comprehend.

And even worse than all this, logic has come to determine our view of language, language which is itself the very dwelling place of being. All this begins when the being of things appears as Idea, or becomes simply the object of some science or other.

For when the Logos which anticipates the falsified Logos of logic comes to be the court of justice (Gerichtshof) over being, we have the beginning of the end of the great beginning of Greek philosophy. In Heidegger's view this end of the Anfang and the beginning of the Beginn of Greek philosophy comes to be in Plato and Aristotle. For as he has noted, in Plato it is Idea which becomes the predominant name for being.
Think you know your stuff? Then you should have no trouble with the Philosopher ... or Warrior? quiz.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
{19} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
In this process truth as unconcealedness completely changes its essence as well, and comes to mean a mere declaration or statement; and form the various ways in which things can be declared are the categories (κατηγορεῖν, "to accuse") of Aristotle created. And thus it is that metaphysics can become a mere theory of categories. The Logos has completely parted company with Physis. Statement has come to be the arbiter over the being of things. And with the transformation from Physis to εἶδος and Logos to κατηγορία the original or primordial (ursprünglich) revelation of the being of things has been completely set aside in favor of the correct (Richtige). It is in this sense, as Heidegger says in his article on Aristotle's concept of Physis, that the Meta-physics of Aristotle is in a completely essential sense nothing more than his Physics. Being is rendered subjects to the categories in accordance with a falsified Logos of logic, and then applied to all things.

Nevertheless, this transformation from Physis to Idea or statement find the inner ground of its possibility in the change in the every essence of truth as the unconcealed to truth as the merely correct. There was a reciprocal process of degeneration which took place here. The original meaning both of truth and of being were misinterpreted. And each further misinterpretation of the one only served further to falsify the other, until logic came to dominate over all and being vanished in a puff of smoke.
The American Conservative, in a review of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, argues that the author is not a Nazi.
Conspiracy theories run amok not just among Nazis and anti-Bush leftists but across the political spectrum, doubtless because they have more cognitive appeal than the counterintuitive models needed to understand how the modern world actually works. Goldberg’s own tendency to blame the world’s ills on a handful of evil philosophers from Rousseau to Heidegger is itself a kind of conspiracy theory. That does not make Goldberg an unwitting Nazi.
This tendency to label anyone who's not a libertarian or anarchist (and even then...) a fascist tends to dilute the resposibility of those who were literally dues paying, ballot casting, card carrying, party pin wearing, fascists. That said, there's a tendency amongest conservatives to simply dismiss Heidegger's thinking because he was a Nazi (and because the some French intellectuals read him), whereas his politics can best be described as conservative; respect tradition, do what father says, and so on. On the other hand, metaphysics is a conspiracy to hide the ontological difference from the masses.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Wozu Dichter?

On the last afternoon of the conference
the phenomenologists visit La Rocca.
They are surprised there is no entrance fee
for such a tourist attraction.
Then, by the cold inside.
Ruts of the rock breathe dark red air
from the fifteenth century at them,
making it hard to light cigarettes.
The phenomenologists cluster
in a passageway,
a point of Dasein from
the morning's seminar.
Some exit by a wrong door,
tumbling in a sudden light.
A small phenomenologist
from Brussels
plans to writ an article about the place
for a publisher in New York. He is eager
to ask the curator about the mirror,
and about hoarding,
but the question
is not understood
(She perceives him
to be inquiring
after the difficulty
of piloting herself about La Rocca
on high-heeled shoes, such as she
is wearing.
She asserts vigorously, "E difficile.")
From Anne Carson's Canicula di Anna

La Rocca Paulina, Giuseppe Rossi
La Rocca Paulina, Giuseppe Rossi
Estaba pensando sobreviviendo con mi sister en Bit Torrent
Ella me dijo que es una vida buena alla,
Bien rica, bien chevere. Y voy! Puneta cabrona!

Vamos a jugar por el rio.
Monday, January 21, 2008
{18} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
The attack upon this original unity between truth and being came from two sides. And the original notion of truth, delicate and fragile as it was, was totally unable to withstand such a two-pronged attack. As Heidegger says, the room made for truth as unconcealedness caved in, and all that could be salvaged from out of the ruins was Idea, statement, οὐσία, etc.

For after the pre-Socratics the question as to what being may be is no longer "Was ist das Sein?" but rather, "Was ist das Seiende? (τί τὸ ὄν)." And ultimately it becomes a mere questioning after the "thingliness" (Seiendheit) of things (Seienden), which as οὐσία becomes ἐνέργεια in Aristotle and ἰδέα in the philosophy of Plato. But in asking the question as to the meaning of being after the fashion of substance, the Logos is forced to vacate the premises it originally shared with being and comes to mean theoretical knowledge (ἐπιστήμη θεωρητική). Aristotle in reality answers the question as to what being is before he really asks it.

The original and authentic meaning of Logos was collection (Sammlung), the happening of uncovering, of revelation, of truth. As Heidegger says, originally the Logos was grounded in this truth and served it, whereas now Logos has come to mean statement (Aussage) in the sense of correctness or rightness (Richtigkeit), the exact opposite of the place of truth. For after this, as Heidegger explains in his study on Plato's allegory of the cave, when "substance" becomes "idea," truth is no more as unconcealedness the principal feature of being itself; rather, as subservient to idea, it becomes mere correctness, henceforward to be the mere marking out (Auszeichnung) of our knowledge of things. And with Plato's basically different view of Physis as Idea, the Logos can only come to be the tailor-made straitjacket of discourse.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Wozu Dichter?

One phenomenologist has a coughing fit.
Another begins to insist on the limitations of the text.
Tautologies, enigmata, drift in like an autumn.
The Seinsfrage is growing haggard.
Uncombed hair. Rough and cranky,
rubbing its eyes,
trying to make the Greek temple visible.
It bends forward; it takes tiny notes.
The color as color, the stone as stome.
Small syllables escape it.
"Scaredness is what is at issue."
Never mind the Greek temples
were butcher shops. What is at issue is,
there are two ways to visit Assisi.
One is naïve.
One loves Giotto. That is,
a being is inclined
to place itself
in front of another. (Except,
where we have to deal with crypto-Hegelians.
A crypto-Hegelian will try
to place himself behind Hegel.)
That is,
one is prior to two. (Of course,
the reverse is also true.)
From Anne Carson's Canicula di Anna

Temple of Poseidon, Paestum

Giotto - St. Francis Preaches to the Birds
The web, good for art, says Bryan Appleyard. Great thinkers and poets, you can find them, in that long tail.
I could go on, but the point is clear: it’s all out there, from a video of Heidegger on YouTube to all the sheet music you’ll ever need for your euphonium at music-scores.com. The web is what you make it, the long tail is what matters, and all you need to make sense of it is what Stevens called a “blessed rage for order”. And you don’t have to take my word for it – you can hear him say it now.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
{17} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
There is, however, another and an even more disastrous falsification which took place after the great pre-Socratics; and this was with reference to that which grasped being, or rather that which in a more original sense was one with being. For in the view of Heidegger truth is no mere adjunct (Zugabe) to being; truth belongs to the very essence of being. There is, indeed, a reciprocal relation here: the Greek notion of truth is possible only when it is one with the Greek notion of being as Physis. And the authentic Greek notion of being can be thought only from out of its truth.

There was, then, a mutual degeneration which took place here. From out of the original unity of being and thinking, Physis and Logos, a distinction came to be made between the two; and this was particularly true in the thought of Plato and Aristotle. And with this the perfect harmony which had earlier existed between Physis and Logos became an ugly dissonance. For as Heidegger says with special reference to Parmenides, in its origins being for the Greeks was Physis, Logos; just as it was in the thinking of Heraclitus. In the pre-Socratic thinkers Physis and Logos were intimately united.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Wozu Dichter?

The phenomenologists are in each others way today.
They cough, drop pencils.
"You question, which is an excellent question..."
They smile.
They point a finger.
"Very crucial."
Affection hovers.
"But you, you know that text very well...."
Chairs scrape.
"My interpretation is fourfold..."
"On the way to..."
"I would like to say, ja, just the opposite...."
"You could?"
A door slams.
"You can, but it's wrong."
"Our understanding of it must come from..."
"From art..."
"From the Spiegel interview..."
Papers fall.
"Could we ask you to translate?"
"I would say, the Geschichte of Geschichte...."
A woman asks for matches.
"Not tragic...."
"A sort of phenomenological pastoral..."
"Heidegger, ja, liked farmers very much...."
From Anne Carson's Canicula di Anna
I hadn't checked up on the Uncyclopedia article on Martin in a while. I note that it has grown quite, er, content rich.
Heidegger now, obviously, has to answer the question whether Christianity is opposed to neo-kantian idealism. This is one of the core questions of his essays. He solves the question in a for his period completely unforseen way: proto-aristotelian existentialism. If Kant was able to understand the way Aristoteles considered the idea of Apfelkuecher (an other one of those Heideggerianianian pearls, literally phased being, but he implies that the phases follow not the moon, as expected, but the outer rings of Saturn), philosophy can not and may not have been as post-colonial Aquinian as we may have considered.

This turns around our worldview (or as Heidegger puts it, in the language of philosphy, Heideggerian, shakes us to the very core of our being). This is because being can no longer be considered to precede Frau Arendt, but now logically has to follow her every move. Frau Arendt, is thus logically proven to be the creator of all things, Arendt is God, Kant is Christian. All questions in the universe are answered. In doing this, Heidegger wrecked philosophy for all of us.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
{16} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.

According to Heidegger, we must be very careful when we speak of Parmenides and Heraclitus as pre-Socratics. For example, to speak of Parmenides as a pre-Socratic or as pre-Platonic can be a value judgement as well as a chronological judgement. or we account Plato the greatest thinker in the West because his thinking has exercised the greatest influence upon western thought. However, to think of Parmenides as not having gone as far as Plato, and for this reason to be classed as pre-Socratic is about as absurd as saying that Kant is really pre-Hegelian because Hegel went beyond and further than Kant.

Heidegger does not think of Plato and Aristotle as the authentic fulfillment of pre-Socratic thinking. Though later and more influential, Plato and Aristotle represent rather a degeneration and falsification of a truer and more original and more authentic tradition. This falsification of the authentic tradition of being can be seen taking place in the thought of Plato and Aristotle in two ways, corresponding to the two aspects of being for the Greeks. The germ of this falsification, its possibility, was already contained in pre-Socratic thinking, as has been seen; and it is in this sense that Plato and Aristotle do indeed represent the completion and fulfillment of pre-Socratic thought. For the tragic ambiguity of the "presencing of the present," the "twofold" (Zwiefalt) was already present in the thinking of the pre-Socratics.
In the London Review of Books Eric Hobsbawm reviews a book on the Weimer Republic.
For the basic achievements of the Weimar Republic and the reasons non-Germans take an interest in it are not political but intellectual and cultural. The word today suggests the Bauhaus, George Grosz, Max Beckmann, Walter Benjamin, the great photographer August Sander and a number of remarkable movies. Weitz picks out six names: Thomas Mann, Brecht, Kurt Weill, Heidegger and the less familiar theorist Siegfried Kracauer and the artist Hannah Höch. One could as easily add, say, Carl Schmitt on the (rare) intellectual right, Ernst Bloch on the far left and the great Max Weber in the middle.
A surprising list, given that both Heidegger and Schmitt not only opposed Weimer, but actively supported the Nazis.

Hannah Höch's Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany
In the New Statesman, a review of a book on the pursuit of happiness.
By the end of the book, Weiner has taken the readers on a breathtaking journey from familiar ancient philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato to relatively modern ones such as Schopenhauer and Heidegger, psychoanalysts such as Freud, pleasure-giving substances and services such as Moroccan hash and Thai massage, calming experiences in ashrams and on mountaintops. He has also expressed delight over the craftsmanship of an expensive pen or the texture of an exquisite chocolate, and pored over obscure academic journals.

The result is open-ended: there are no right answers, and each individual's pursuit of happiness must remain unique.
To each her own then.
In today's Spectator, the horror of truth as correspondence. Are you who you really are?
It is obvious, for example, that the only people now capable of accessing my bank account details are criminal hacking gangs. No one with any lesser degree of skill could possibly get through the labyrinthine process that my bank has just installed on its internet portal.

I put my most valiant efforts into it just now. I applied every bit of patience and brainpower. I entered my pass code and the last four digits of my debit card. I got the little calculator thingy called PINsentry™ and inserted my debit card into it. I pressed Identify, while balancing the contraption in sunlight. It flashed up a code. I entered it into the box on the computer screen. I waited. Nothing. I did the whole thing again. The solar powering failed. I couldn’t see the code. The computer told me in no uncertain terms that I was not up to the job of looking at my own bank account details.
And then she tried convincing a phone operator...
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Wozu Dichter?

A phenomenologist from Louvain-la-Neuve
is telling us what Heidegger thought during the winter term of 1935.
There was an interrogation of art.
There was circle to be made.
Anna was nowhere in question. And yet
all was not perfect. He warns
of a mistranslation (read "essence"
for "nature"). He moves his feet
on the marble floor.
The phenomenologist
has blood red feet.
An attack.
He confronts the circle in Heidegger
with the circle in Hegel.
On the blue-black marble
his flushed feet confront
the beautiful white feet of Christ.
What is at issue,
The phenomenologist from Louvain tells us,
is a surplus. The other
phenomenologists are growing restless.
"It is too easy to say
Ich bin ich. It is too easy
to let these hot feet presuppose
the cool feet of Christ."
From Anne Carson's Canicula di Anna

Vannucci - Adoration of the Magi (detail)
In an article on the status of cars, Morgan Meis elaborates.
Later, in his own, much different version of fascism, a fascism of resistance to the modern world in the name of a more authentic (poetic, “peasanty”) relationship to the earth, Martin Heidegger talked of the automobile as something that "chews up kilometers." He was not impressed by this chewing. He wanted a return to slowness, one in which our capacity to dwell poetically (sic) would give us the "power to let earth and heaven, divinities and mortals enter in simple oneness into things". He saw the automobile as a threat to the basic structure of human experience.
Sic in the original; must not be in the spellchecker. I've never come across the "chews up kilometers", nor kilometres, quote, anywhere; perhaps its poetic license, of a different version.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
{15} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
In his historical studies on the Greeks, however, Heidegger does not derive the Greek notion of a finite being from out of an analysis of a finite Greek Dasein. It is true that Dasein finds its way into many of Heidegger's commentaries on the pre-Socratics. However, the purpose of this introduction is not in order to prove that being for the Greeks was finite. It is rather the other way around. From the very beginning the Greeks conceived being (das Sein) as the being of things (Sein des Seiende), the wrong kin of de-finiteness, because it blurred over the ontological difference between being and things. In fact, being became just another thing. This "finiteness" of being falsified not only out notions being but also of Dasein.

Indeed, the reason for introducing Dasein into his various historical studies of these ancient philosophers who opened themselves up to being or thought being from out of its truth is because in Heidegger's view Dasein is already there. For that is exactly what Dasein means, i.e., his relation, his confrontation with being. Thus in his Einführung in die Metaphysik Heidegger does not introduce the Greek Dasein in order to prove the finiteness of being, but rather Dasein is shown in his authentic finiteness as defined from out of his relation to being.

But being became just another thing. And the two sides of the Greek notion of being, namely permanence and appearance, came to take separate roads in the historical process of degeneration leading through Plato and Aristotle. Upon the accentuation of one or the other of these two aspects of being, and their separation one from the other, has hung the whole destiny of being in the West.

Splintered Sunrise demonstrates why you want the Irish on your side.
[T]his leads me back to an old favourite, the question of why the Brits don’t get modern French thought. On reflection, the practitioners of Analytical Philosophy who dominate Britain’s philosophy departments are far from being the worst – in general, they just aren’t that interested in continental thought, which is why you can get a PhD in philosophy without having read a paragraph of Heidegger. No, what really annoys my brain is that element of the punditocracy that fancies itself intellectually sophisticated – it might be Johann at the classier end of the market, or it might be Nick and Francis at the Beavis and Butt-head end. Fuelled by a potent mix of philistinism and Francophobia, they operate on the basis that modern French thought is a load of pretentious gibberish, while occasionally plucking out quotes from the more facetious French philosophers, taking them literally, and holding them up as examples of how silly the French are. Exhibit A is Baudrillard on the Gulf War, when in fact the simulacrum was one of the few things Baudrillard got right.
Monday, January 14, 2008
What's on your bucket list?
"Write your own obituary," the professor told his students. "What do you want your obituary to look like?"

In other words, what kind of life do you want to live? It is a question that underlies "The Bucket List," the new film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two men who make a list of all the things they want to do before they kick the bucket.


So what do the philosophers tell us about the path to happiness and meaning? "Heidegger said the only way to really feel alive is to be constantly aware that you're going to die," replies Klein, then adds with a laugh: "In other words, you haven't really lived until you've thought about death all the time." The point, he says, is that "if you think you have an infinite amount of time, it's easier not to appreciate the here and now. We spend a lot of time postponing our satisfactions."
{14} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
At this point one might make a brief comparison of Heidegger's own notion of being with the meaning of being which he finds among the Greeks. In a passage in Was ist Metaphysik? in which Heidegger refers to Hegel's Logic, saying that being and nothing indeed belong together; however, they belong together not because both agree in their character of indeterminateness or immediacy, but rather because being is finite (endlich) in its very essence. This statement occurs in the epilogue to Was ist Metaphysik?, which dates from 1943. However, it correctly characterizes Heidegger's view of being from his earliest to his most recent works. Being for Heidegger is finite and limited.

And in heidegger's view being for the Greeks was finite as well. To be infinite for the Greeks would have been to be indefinite, which was indeterminate; and undefined would have have been not to be. And even when the Greeks spoke of being as infinite or as eternal, such infinity and such eternity could only mean "many presences," an eternal string of present moments. In Heidegger's view being for the Greeks could only be finite and limited, even though it became finite only because it was limited by itself.

Nevertheless, there is a difference between the way in which time as the transcendental horizon of being is established in Sein und Zeit, and the way in which Heidegger discovers the finite character of being among the Greeks. The finite character of being is derived from, as Heidegger says, and is made clear only in the transcendence of a Dasein projected out of nothing. This is the fundamental difference between the finite character attached to the notion of being which Heidegger finds among the Greeks, and the way in which the same finiteness of being is doctrinally worked out in Heidegger's thought. In Heidegger's Sein und Zeit the finite and limited character of being is derived through the existential analysis of Dasein, which analysis reveals being as finite, as time-bound (zeitlich).
What jazz pianist Jack Reilly will be working on next:
AAJ: What can we next expect from the prolific Jack Reilly?

JR: The biggest work, opera is in my next life, but the biggest work I have in mind is to combine choral forces, symphonic forces with a jazz quartet, two pianos and a narrator. This is a large group at my disposal, based on the work of a very controversial, twentieth century philosopher, the German, Martin Heidegger. To me he has changed the whole philosophical thinking of the twentieth century; him mainly, also people like Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is more like the Lennie Tristano of philosophy. Heidegger is the Verdi. He has a book called Being and Time (1927). Those will be the two main singers. One will be a soprano and the other will be a tenor. The book is like five hundred pages and no one knows what he is saying yet. I bought another book almost twice as thick trying to explain what he is saying and the genesis of it. He has a lot of books out and they are easier to read than this, so there is something in there and once I get it I'll write the music. It will be a two hour work.

Meanwhile, our synonymic compeer, Ereignis, the blog, travels to bilayati, to overcome metaphysics. Someone's got to act.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
{13} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
But although in the very beginning of western thought being was de-finite--in Parmenides, for example, it was thought as definately not nothing--it was a definite which emcompassed all things. As Heidegger says, "The Greeks name things as such within the whole as Physis." And this meant that for the Greeks the presence of the presencing alone was being.

And it is exactly at this point, where the ambiguity of the "twofold" (the presencing of the present) firs comes to light; it is here that the tragic flaw in western thinking on being lies, right in the very beginning of philosophy. For it is this ambiguity which gave an opening to the course which metaphysics has taken in western thought. And it is this which has governed the destiny of being as a forgetting of being. As Heidegger has said, metaphysics says that it is interested in being, but it is rather things that it takes, or rather mis-takes, for being. This has been the tragedy of occidental thought. And the most tragic thing about it is that it was inevitable (notwendig). In the very beginning of western thought philosphers failed to ask the authentic question concerning being (Seinsfrage). The question was, indeed, broached by the greatest thinkers among the great Greeks; howeer, their answer was always with reference to the presencing of the present (Anwesen des Anwesenden), and the ambiguity contained in this "twofold," the tragic flaw contained in this failure to make what Heidegger calls the "ontological difference" was to haunt western thought concerning the tiny word "is" from Parmenides' famous maxim to the "is" of Hegel's speculative propositions. Such has been the total fate of being.
Dancing about architecture. Ontology about dance. Tangible about ontology.
In the Origin of the Work of Art, German philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote: “Meditation on what is art is entirely and decisively determined by the sole question of being. Art is not taken as a special domain of cultural production, nor as one of the manifestations of the mind. Art comes out of the lightning flash from which alone the ‘sense of being’ is determined”.

This “sense of being”, defining a “sense of spirituality”, is that for which Indian art strives. And whether filigreed in its presence or bold, it runs along as a fine thread, holding together and expressing things that cannot be otherwise expressed. The intangible is often given a tangible form in Indian art.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
{12} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
One might inquire more deeply as to why Heidegger insists upon translating the various words for being which he finds among the Greeks, such as Physis and Parousia, by the German word Anwesen (presence). Since Heidegger often writes the word hyphenated, An-wesen, that means that it is to be understood in its root meaning. He further insists that the word Wesen is to be understood verbally, not as a noun meaning essence or substance, its normal meaning in philosophical German. The word Wesen may very possibly have been chosen by Heidegger to describe the Greek notion of being because of its connection with living substances; and as was noted, Heidegger insists upon the connection of the Greek notion of being with that life. And the particular form An-wesen may also have been chosen by Heidegger because of its added association, along with that of "presence," with property, a piece of land which has been held for generations in the same family. This aspect of solidity was also one aspect of the Greek notion of being in Heidegger's view. On this score Heidegger goes back to the etymologies of the Old German to the word wesan, which meant Währen (i.e., bleiben, remain), the Sanskrit Vasati, which means to dwell, for the meaning of Anwesen as "bleibendes weilen," the "staying around for awhile" by which he translates the Greek word for being. And in translating the Greek word for being by the German word Anwesen Heidegger claims that the true meaning of the presence which comes out from the unconcealed, i.e., from out of truth, is preserved.

What, then, in the view of Heidegger is being for the Greeks? It is, in general, the presence of the present. It is not true to say, says Heidegger, that being for the Greeks is eternal. Being for the Greeks is rather finite and determined. It has limits. Physis is de-finite, in the sense that it is delimited and defined even though it is delimited and defined by itself. In its more solid aspects being is that which breaks forth into unconcealment and in unconcealment stays around for awhile. It is this aspect of the original Greek notion of being as Physis which becomes petrified, as will be seen in greater detail in the next section, in the metaphysics of Aristotle, just as, on the other hand, it is the appearing aspect of being (the Pha- of the related Phy- of Physis) which emerges as dominant in the philosophy of Plato, where being becomes Idea.

BookFox designates the min and max of reading rates.
[T]hat's what I always emphasize to my students - that you don't only want to be a speed reader, you also want to have the ability to switch between gears, to be able to ponder Heidegger at 100 words a minute and fly over Harry Potter at 800.
Friday, January 11, 2008
{11} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
But in spite of this "linguistic devolution" of the word being, something which most certainly contributed to the general forgetting of being in the West, the Greek view of being remains fundamentally the western view. And what the Greeks understood by the word being, namely as a standing there (Da-stehen), a coming to stand (zum Stand kommen), and a remaining there in place (im Stand bleiben) still remains the way in which being is designated in the West.

Also implied in this Greek conception of being, Heidegger notes, is the necessity of its own limit (πέρας). And continued within the "coming to stand" (Zum Stand kommen) is the added notion that being somehow establishes its own boundaries or limits (er-grenzen). For only in this way, says Heidegger, interpreting being in accordance with Dasein's future possibilities, can it be explained how for Aristotle being could have come to mean ἐντελέχεια, i.e., "holding-itself-within-certain-limits," "das Sich-in-der-Endung (Grenze)-halten (wahren)." And just as this, the more solid (ständig) aspect of Physis in the philosophy of Aristotle came to mean ὀυσία; so also the other aspect of the Greek notion of being, the aspect grounded in the Greek root Pha-, namely, being as appearance, also suffered mutation at the hands of later philosophers. Thus it was primarily in the philosophy of Plato that the appearing aspect of being was changed over into something entirely different. For the true meaning of appearance among the Greeks as that which having a face could thereby let itself be seen (the original meaning of είδος in the view of Heidegger) came to mean the mere appearance or the look (Aussehen) of the thing.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The Heidegger issue of the International Journal of Zizek Studies is out! With a lead article from Slavoj himself, and responses from Richard Polt, Gregory Fried, Miguel de Beistegui, Bernhard Radloff, and Michael Lewis. Phew!
{10} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
There are several reasons why this becomes so, one of them being the factor of the "twofold" and hence the ambiguity contained in this very "presence of the presenting"; however, Heidegger also offers a linguistic reason as to how being (das Sein) could become just another thing (seiend). According to Heidegger the infinitive is the last form in the linguistic development of the verb. But because of its indefinite, one might also say its abstract, character it communicates the least of any of the verb's meanings. And this, Heidegger maintains, is one of the reasons why being has become one of the emptiest of all words. For the verbal substantive is the emptiest of all forms expressing the meaning of the verb. And to the indefiniteness of the already indefinite infinitive is added the further stabilizing factor, the article (τό, das); and thus is the verbal substantive das Sein formed. And thus also does being become just another thing. Heidegger warns that we must beware of the abstraction of being which the substantialization of the infinitive naturally brings along in its wake. For in this fashion has being become abstract in our language, becoming a word which does nothing but name the indeterminate. The question becomes whether a sufficiently basic view of language can bring out the true meaning of this word being, the ground word (Grundwort) of our whole philosophical tradition.

Nevertheless, Heidegger does not think that the word being is as empty as some of the more recent philosophers have made it our to be. After all, he says, we can tell the difference between being and non-being. Non-being is not. In another equally valid sense, then, being is a most determinate word, in that what is not being is nothing.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
{9} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.
However, Physis is an "emerging holding away" (aufgehende Walten) has two sides to it. As contrasted with becoming (Werden), it is a standing presence (ständige Anwesenheit), a permanent presence. But as contrasted with appearance (Schein als das Erscheinen), it has to connotation of a revealing presence (offenbare Anwesenheit). On this latter score Heidegger, somewhat outrageously, etymologizes that the φυ- of φύσις. And thus the Physis of the Greeks also had the meaning of a "coming forth into the light" (ins Licht aufgehende), the root sense of Physis in this context meaning to light up, to shine, and thus to appear. And in another passage Heidegger states that the two word stems φα- and φυ- really mean the same thing, namely, being. Being reveals itself to the Greeks as Physis, but both as the emerging dominance which abides (aufgehendverweilende Walten) and as the appearing appearance (scheinende Erscheinen). In Heidegger's view there is no opposition between appearance and being for the Greeks.

Another Greek word for being which Heidegger uses in order to help him better understand the Greek notion of being is the word παρουσία (παρ- and ἀπουσία); and this he translates by the German word Anwesen. Thus his characterization of the fundamental meaning of being for the Greeks as Anwesenheit (presence). And the appearance of being as this presencing of the present ("Anwesen des Anwesenden"), as this presence of the presenting ("Präsenz des Präsenten") marks the beginning of occidental history. It is this meaning of being which guarantees that authentic thinking on being can only be a "leap in the dark" (Sprung ins Dunkle).

Thelema.nu on the connection between Martin and Aleister.
I like the way Heidegger incorporates the negative as part of the whole. Hinduism separates the creation cycle into three parts: arising, sustaining, and destroying. If man is god, all three of these parts have to be integrated. Crowley understood this.
Heidegger for poets, by Adam Kirsch.
Heidegger regards poetry as the truest form of language, and most language as merely defective poetry. "The nature of poetry," he goes so far as to declare, "is the founding of truth."

To understand exactly what Heidegger means by this numinous formula, it's necessary to sketch his complex argument. To answer the abstract question "What is art?" Heidegger begins by setting the reader before a particular artwork—a Van Gogh painting of a pair of shoes. When you wear shoes, he points out, you seldom think about them. Shoes, like all kinds of tools and equipment, are at their best when they are most reliable, that is, when they perform their function silently and unobtrusively. In fact, you only begin to pay attention to your shoes when they stop working properly—when they pinch your foot or when the sole comes off. And most of the objects that surround us share this quality of being instruments, things that we use and ignore.
The matter of ousia from Douglas R McGaughey's "Heidegger’s Ontological Difference in Light of Aristotle’s Dynamis and Energeia".
Heidegger is particularly aware that the common reading of Aristotle’s notion of οὐσία as raw Substance is far from Aristotle’s own understanding. Heidegger observes that the “central phenomenon” explicated in Aristotle’s Physics is “das Seiende im Wie seines Bewegtseins” ([individual] being in the how of its movement). Neither Aristotle nor Heidegger is concerned with things as mere objects, but with the world as it is encountered. The most vivid paradigm employed by both to represent and to reflect upon this encounter is the experience of the production of an artifact. Heidegger describes ποίησις (creating, production) in terms of a Fore-having of the world as a fundamental ontological structure. He then asks, “How does this ontological structure arise?” and responds: “The investigations ... must impart a possible access to the actual origin of Aristotle's ontology.”
In circumspection, life is “there” in the concrete “how” of a that of engagement. The Being of this “that” is ... characterized ... as that which can be other [than what it is in contrast to] that which is necessary and always what it is.38 One arrives at this ontological characteristic through negation of an other, actual Being. This [other, actual Being] ... arises in its categorial structure out of a definitely executed, ontological radicalization of the idea of a moving being. Exemplary for this possible identification of its meaning structure is the movement of production ... The Being of life occurs as a transpiring movement ... This movement is ἕξις [habit] as σοφία [wisdom]. In fact, the Being of life must be seen in the temporality of σοφία as such ... Every movement is ... a being under way ..., a not having yet arrived at its goal ... The Being character of ἕξις [habit] and thereby of ἀρετή [excellence, virtue], that is, the ontological structure of humanity, is understood in terms of an ontology of beings as the “how” of a definite movement and in the ontological radicalization of the idea of this movement. (emphasis added)
Heidegger later says that what is decisive is to demonstrate for Aristotle that the traditional ontology based on categories of Being and Non-Being, otherness, and difference is incapable of understanding the phenomenon of movement.
This phenomenon gives itself from out of its own original and final structures: δύναμις [possibility, ύλη], that is always a definite having at one’s disposal, ἐνέργεια [actuality, ἐιδος], that which is taken in application at one’s disposal, and ἐντελέχεια [goal], that is the applied in the custodial holding of what is at one’s disposal.
The typically Aristotelian formulation of the ontological structure of human experience is clear in Heidegger’s vocabulary and description of the human activity of the production of an artifact, for Heidegger’s description is a classic example of the triadic structure of becoming in Aristotle: Metaphysics Γ6 and Κ6 both describe this structure as one of contraries related by privation to a “substrate.” According to Aristotle, however, this “substrate” is nothing tangible. The production of an artifact is unequivocally and radically grounded in movement or possibility inseparable from a concrete circumstance. Although in no way tangible, possibilities are never a “mere nothing” or “arbitrary.” Possibilities are the conditio sine quo non of any and all event, and they are inseparable from a given situation. This is precisely how Aristotle speaks of ύλη (matter).
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
{8} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continued.

Heidegger ties up the original meaning of being among the Greeks with what he is convinced to be its original etymological associations with living. He insists that the first and essential name for being among the greeks was φύσις, which as related to φύειν, means not merely to grow or increase, but rather to emerge (aufgehen), which notion for the Greeks included both the aspects of presencing (Anwesen) and that of appearance (Erscheinen). And Heidegger insists that even where this basic word in early western thinking on being does mean growth (Wachstum), it still never meant increase in the sense of evolution (Entwicklung) or sheer becoming (Werden). It rather meant a certain "coming out into the open." And as deriving itself from φύειν, then, Physis means coming forth and "staying around for awhile."

This original Greek notion of being had a certain solidity to it, a certain permanence (Ständigkeit), and it was this aspect of Physis which later became hardened among the greek into οὐσία. Nevertheless, this was not some sort of ungenerated permanence, something which for the Greeks would have been coterminous with nothing. Physis was, rather, a "being-brought-forth" (Her-vor-bringen), a "bringing-around" in the highest sense; Physis for the Greeks brought to the fore the unconcealed (Unverborgenheit) from out of the concealed (Verborgenheit).
Monday, January 07, 2008
{7} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continues.
However, one sees that the tragic flaw which was later to manifest itself in an almost total forgetting of being was already there in germ in the thinking of the great pre-Socratics. There was the ambiguity of the "twofold," the presencing of the present, which later turned into simply "the present"; and there was the factor of inevitable translation, as the attempt was made to put being over into truth, instead of thinking being from out of its truth as "unconcealedness." The Greeks, as Heidegger says, experienced this forgetting of being as the fate of concealedness.

Being's misfortune was there in germ form from the very beginning. And this fact leads to the next question: first of all, the meaning of being for the Greeks, for here the tragic flaw of the ambiguous "twofold" would seem to lie; next, how the great beginning among the pre-Socratics came to be falsified, how it came to work itself out in the thought of Plato and Aristotle; finally, how the "why" of the dead end, the consummation of this metaphysical tradition in Hegel and in Nietzsche is to be understood.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
{6} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continues.
And both Parmenides and Heraclitus are of one mind in this regard, namely, truth's belonging to being and the necessity of thinking being (in accordance with the authentic Logos) from out of its truth. Heidegger does not agree with the opposition which is often set up between Parmenides ("All is permanence") and Heraclitus ("All is flux"), a dramatic presentation of their respective ways of thinking which goes back to Plato. In Heidegger's view Heraclitus would not be one of the greatest of the great Greek thinkers were he to say something other than Parmenides. In fact, Anaximander can also be found to say essentially the same thing as Parmenides and Heraclitus. But although it is true that behind Parmenides and Heraclitus there stands Anaximander, and although in Heidegger's view it is the τὸ Χρεων in Anaximander's first fragment that the oldest name wherein thinking brings the being of things to speech, nevertheless, it is upon the translation of Parmenides' ἐόν that the fate of being in the West has hung. This does not simply mean the way in which the Latins translated Physis into natura, a translation which in Heidegger's view destroyed the philosophical force of the Greek word, but also the way in which Parmenides' notion of being was "put across" (Übersetzung) in the thought of Plato and Aristotle that the whole fate of the Occident hung in the balance. Thus even though certain things which were to come later were pre-thought (vorgedacht) in Anaximander, and even thought Anaximander was the first to think the being of things (Sein des Seienden), it nonetheless remains true to say that he does not have the decisive significance for the fate of thinking on being in the West that Parmenides has. And Heidegger's primary interest in all his historical investigations is the fate of being in the West.
Saturday, January 05, 2008

Reading Heidegger on the meaning of being.
Heidegger wants to (basically) illustrate that beings are already understood in the being-there; in existence; in Dasein. Dasein is the one who questions; Dasein is the one who’s existence is an issue for itself. Our understanding of Being, as mentioned, lies in our being-there, however, this understanding is based on the way we cope and interact with things.
Have some time this summer? Consider a few days learning Hermeneutic Phenomenology in Indiana.
Text for 2008

Mindfulness, Heidegger (1997/2006). This is a central text for coming to terms with Heidegger’s thinking from enowning (Ereignis) and is crucial in engaging the thinking of Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning). The careful language of this text—both the original German and now the English—rings true to what is ownmost to be-ing as emergence and to mindfulness. It enriches the possibility of thinking’s enacting character and challenges philosophical thinking to undergo the experience of the dynamic of be-ing as emergence.
{5} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continues.
But in his later works the distinction of the ontological difference becomes hard and fast. Thus he notes that the philosophers after the great thinkers Parmenides and Heraclitus cease asking after being itself (Sein selbst); such philosophers as Plato and Aristotle, on the way to determining the being of things (Sein des Seienden), ground this being upon the "thingliness" of things (Seiendheit des Seienden). And this is what Heidegger means by the forgetting of being: it is the forgetting of the distinction between being and thing. The inquiry has turned from being to things, even though philosophers in this tradition of forgetfulness still speak of being. And it is with the forgetting if this distinction that the fate of being as the forgetting of being begins. This is, as Heidegger says, the significant and far-reaching event (Ereignis) that is metaphysics.

Nevertheless, not all the blame for being's subsequent misfortune should be put upon the shoulders of Plato and Aristotle; for as Heidegger says and as will become clearer in the following chapters, from the very start, even in the thought of the great pre-Socratic thinkers, being was destined to be forgotten. For there is a fundamental note of ambiguity to be found in the very notion of being as it is to be found among the pre-Socratics themselves. Being was characterized by the early Greek thinkers, says Heidegger, as the "presencing of the present" (Anwesen des Anwesenden). And the whole of the histry of western metaphysics might be said to be nothing but the destiny of this "twofold" (Zwiefalt). The fate of being hinged upon the ambiguity of the "twofold" because buried and unthought in this "twofold" was the failure to make the necessary ontological distinction between being and thing. Thus is Heidegger able to trace the destiny of being toward a forgetting of being back even to the thought of the great thinker Parmenides. As he says, the history of being begins and this, indeed, by necessity with a forgetting of being. Parmenides' celebrated maxim certainly names (nennt) being itself, but it thinks (denkt) the presencing (Anwesen) not as the presencing from out of its truth. And for Heidegger in the authentic truth "relationship" truth belongs to being. Being itself is being in its truth; and as such it can be thought only from out of its truth, a truth which as "unconcealness" (Unverborgenheit), as openness, is being's.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Loss of Greek learning lamented; fingers pointed.
If the carnival spirit of the 1960s and its aftermath and the baneful influence of Michel Foucault and Martin Heidegger contributed to the death of the “formal study” of Greek and Latin, how culpable are Adam Smith, Henry Ford and the laisser-faire capitalism of the preceding seventy years?
It's ironic to blame the influence of Heidegger for the decline in classical education, given that a certain amount of Greek is necessary in order to read and understand him.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
If philosophers used paid political consultants, there'd be more of this. Fortunately, truth doesn't depend on caucus goers.
{4} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continues.
This was what was involved in the first step into philosophy. For right here from the very beginning, in Heidegger's view, was the failure of the Greeks in general, and for that matter of all subsequent metaphysics, to take into account "the not" (das Nicht) between things (Seinde) and being (Sein). This represents the failure to note what Heidegger calls the "ontological difference." This is the beginning of metaphysics. Here also begins the forgetting of being. As Heidegger says in his Nietzsche volumes, inasmuch as metaphysics thinks things from within their being, it fails to think being as being (Sein als Sein).

This note of the "ontological difference" is not something absolutely new in the thought of Heidegger. It had already been struck, although very lightly, in Sein und Zeit with the distinction between the ontological (ontologisch) and the merely ontic (ontisch) and the related distinction between authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) and inauthenticity (uneigentlichkeit). The note of the distinction was struck a little more lightly in Sein und Zeit because the ontological or the authentic always came from out of the ontic and the inauthentic. Thus Heidegger speaks of a preontological understanding of being. He also notes that it is from "the they" (das Man) that Dasein gains this preontological interpretation of his being.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
{3} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continues.
However, there is yet another reason given by Heidegger for his rethinking of ancient thought. Philosophy, as the very indicates, is Greek. And the Greek word indicates our being grounded in and attached to a historical tradition. Just as we dub our present age "atomic," so also, Heidegger insists, is our philosophical tradition Greek, which means that if we are to understand any word or principle in the western tradiion of philosophy, we are obliged to carry on a dialogue (Gespräch) with the thinkers of Grecian times where these words or statements were first spoken and made philosophically current. And particularly is this the case when we arrive back to words and statements of such original and decisive importance as those of Parmenides and Heraclitus. These men were not yet philosophers, but this was exactly because they were great thinkers. But with the step into philosophy something original and authentic was lost; hence the importance for a re-analysis of thinkers whose words and statements were made at such a decisive moment in the history of western thought.

What was this first step into philosophy? And what did it involve such that it could so substantially affect the course of western philosophy? As Heidegger explains in his short essay Vom Wesen der Wahrheit, there were three things which are essentially the same and which all happened at the same "time": namely, the original uncovering of things as such (Seienden als solchem), and the beginning of western history. It was here that western metaphysics began. It was also here that the forgetting of being occurred. For in the metaphysical questioning after things as such, being is not asked after. It is already forgotten. Indeed, metaphysics talks about being, but it really means things as things.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
{2} The Western Tradition of Philosophy continues.
But just as Sein und Zeit represented "one way" back to an authentic thinking on being, so the re-study of the pre-Socratics can also represent a recalling re-thinking (Andenken) on being. In Parmenides and Heraclitus, according to Heidegger, we find a way of thinking which remembers to think on being, as contrasted with the thinking which has tended to forget being. Thus this re-calling return to the way in which the great pre-Socratic thinkers authentically thought on being is not done in order to revivify these thinkers in some new and artificial form; rather it constitutes a return to that area where metaphysics obtained and still retains its origins, even though after the concealed fashion of the forgetting of being. Neither does Heidegger return to the ancient Greek thinkers or insist that they still have authority or something to say to us simply because they are old. Heidegger is no mere antiquarian. Nor is he interested in promoting some sort of renaissance in pre-Socratic thinking. Any such attempt, he maintains, would be vain and absurd.

Heidegger does not return again and again to the thinking of the pre-Socratics simply because of his insistence that their thought still supports our world, even though through the general forgetting of being in the West we have lost awareness of this. Even more than this, we return to the origins of this our western tradition of philosophy in order to rebuild anew, to build in an authentically historical manner upom the basis of these origins. In other words, Heidegger's re-study of the pre-Socratic origins of western thinking is meant to be historical in the full Heidegerrean sense of the word, namely, creative for the future possibilities of Dasein.
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

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