Monday, March 31, 2008
Spending spring break in the City (ob. cit. Maltese Falcon), with sporadic access to the net. If I don't answer your email right away, it's not personal.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Words as advice to all of the anarchists and radicals.
Martin Heidegger was right about one thing: human beings have forgotten what it really means to think.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Walter Benjamin in a letter to Gershom Scholem, December 1, 1920:
...I have read Heidegger's book on Duns Scotus. It is incredible that anyone could qualify for a university position on the basis of such a study. Its execution requires nothing more than great diligence and a command of scholastic Latin, and, in spite of all of its philosophical packaging, it is basically only a piece of good translating work. The author's contemptible groveling at Rickert's and Husserl's feet does not make reading it more pleasant. The book does not deal with Duns Scotus's linguistic philosophy in philosophical terms, and thus what it leaves undone is no small task.
More standards. Today, the high-end of fluency.
Achievement of fluency in a modern language other than the student’s native language. (Note: “fluent” doesn’t mean the ability to discuss Heidegger in another language; it simply means the ability to read a newspaper and have a dinner-table conversation in that language.)
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Discovered in Austin, the antithesis of trivial nonsense.
[A] trio of burly, guffawing, beer drinkers who were carrying on like they were at a backyard barbecue. An incredibly fluid musical conversation was happening onstage, but these louts were lost in their trivial nonsense. I mean, I don’t think they were discussing Heidegger.
Ontology, what is it? Michael Eldred explains on the Heidegger mailing list:
The term ‘ontology’ goes back to R. Goeckel (Goclenius) around 1600 who, in his ‘Lexicon philosophicum’, introduces _epistaemae ontologikae_ as term for one of the three Aristotelean _epistaemai theooretikai_. Ontology thus names Aristotle’s prima philosophia as the inquiry into _to on haei on_ which phrase can be variously rendered in English as “beings insofar as they are beings” or ” “beings as such” or “beings qua beings” or “beings as beings” or “beings in their being”. Unfortunately, today we have become too dumb to understand the import of such a well-thought-out formulation which is, in any case, the most open definition of ontology. When Aristotle comes to enter this investigation in Book Zeta of his Metaphysics, he first notes that “being is said in many ways”, again, an important warning which we today are too dumb to understand. He then proceeds to list some, but by no means all, of these various meanings, as “what it is and this-here, and also how and how much and each of the other such categories” (Z 1028a12). In a further step he then picks out What as a prime meaning, and this What is then further investigated as an investigation of _ousia_, which itself has many meanings.

Medieval metaphysics in particular (Thomas Aquinas) focused on the whatness or quidditas as the subject of ontology, but this is already a significant narrowing of the horizon of the original Aristotelean definition which leaves open many ways of thinking to proceed INCLUDING the possibility of not giving Whatness the priority, let alone the exclusive signification, among the various possible meanings of being.

In the famous book of definitions Delta, the first meanings of _to on_ are given as the distinction between _kata symbebaekos_ and _kath’ hauto_, i.e. being that just comes along and being for itself. The second group of meanings of _to on_ is the categories, what, how, in relation to, how much, where, when, etc. The third sense of _to on_ is the distinction between true and false, and the fourth fold into which Aristotle unfolds the meaning of _to on_ covers the distinction between _dynamis_ and _entelecheia_, i.e. between potency and completed presence, a major, major aspect of Aristotle’s ontological inquiry (in Book Theta). To dare to narrow-mindedly define ontology as “the study of what there is” therefore indicates a narrowing of the horizon and a stage of degeneration of philosophical mind horrible to contemplate.

Rather, Aristotle’s open definition of ontology as the inquiry into beings in their being still holds within itself latent historical possibilities as yet unfathomed. One of these possibilites is to ask for a unified meaning of being itself, a tack which Heidegger takes with his momentous “step back”. Another possibility is to question the unfolding of being into the distinction between what and who, a possibility not taken up by Aristotle himself, but a latent possibility nevertheless for mind that is sufficiently open to attempt to fathom this abyss.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Top of the pops in the virtual university.
Professor Hubert Dreyfus of the University of California at Berkeley, Wood's current teacher, is one of the most popular picks among iTunes U students.

"I'm podcasting my course on Heidegger, 'On Time and Being,' which is the hardest philosophy book of the 20th century, I think, and the most important," Dreyfus said. "That surprises me that Heidegger has such an audience."
Friday, March 21, 2008
Lux Interna get inspired.
One work that has been an important source of inspiration for our new material, in the few last years, has been Heidegger’s Wozu Dichter ( What are Poets for?) for personal reasons this has been, despite its brevity, a very integral text for me. As far as traditions, the only thing that I can say is that I seem to be drawn quite a bit to philosophers known for their “anti-philosophical” or, so-called counter-enlightenment thinking. For me, for philosophy to be meaningful it must breath and sing. It must not seek to stay removed from life, on some lofty, untouchable metaphysical perch. On the other hand, I am not very interested in social theory, or constructivist philosophers…
A letter to the editor of the Jamaica Gleaner News on why volunteering is good for you.
To graduate from the school at fifth form you had to join a club or society. When you reached sixth-form you had to be involved in a 'ministry', which meant doing voluntary service at an old age home, orphanage, almshouse, shelter, inner-city primary school et al . This gave us all a sense of purpose and community, humanitarianism, philanthropy and egalitarianism. It reminds me of German philosopher Martin Heidegger and his philosophy of 'dasein', 'being there, in-the-world'.

Heidegger, an existentialist, believed that existence in the world was/is a negative experience. Anxiety, stress, confusion, doubt and all these negatives, the philosophy says, characterise our lives as humans in this world. But, unlike other existentialists like Sartre and Camus, Heidegger believed one can find purpose in 'participation'. His idea of parti-cipation, though, is not quite the same as ours. By participation, he meant being aware of our "thrownness on to death" (we are thrown into the world without choice as to who we are and we are on a progression to death, like it or not). The only way then to make meaning of life is to participate actively and consciously in the experience of existence.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Looking over recent books on Elgar, the TLS's reviewer doesn't like one of them.
First there is a rather long abstract of the contents of the book, then in Chapter Two we launch into a prolonged discussion of the work of that perennial cult figure, the Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger. Next come the two musical chapters already discussed. But at page 154 we go back, under the heading “Hermeneutics and Mimesis”, to another twenty-nine pages on the Heideggerian world, with detours to W. H. Auden, Tolkien and King Lear. Elgar’s name is mentioned four times. The following “Elgarian hermeneutics” might well be thought to give us the worst of both worlds: consideration of Elgar’s music flashes on and off, like a failing torch. The idea of putting Elgar and Heidegger together is pour rire anyway: they have no conceivable connection with each other, and Harper-Scott does not succeed in making out any comprehensible case that they do.
It's laughable that an Englishman reviewing books on an English composer in an English paper needs to reach for pour rire when there are perfectly adequate English words and expressions ready to hand, and another indication that the reviewer has no conceivable comprehension of matters discussed.
Monday, March 17, 2008
An article on PoliticsWeb compares the Rektoratsrede to the arguments of a chancellor at a South African university.
We know a good deal about Heidegger and his thinking at this time, partly because he had previously been both the teacher and the lover of the German Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt (who escaped the Holocaust, later writing On Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem) and he had taught the libertarian Marxist political philosopher Herbert Marcuse (also Jewish) from 1927 to 1932. Heidegger was also rector at Freiburg when the future professor of history at the New School for Social Research in New York and at the City University of New York, Henry M Pachter (born Heinz Pachter, also Jewish), was a student there.

In 1932 Heidegger rejected Marcuse's post-doctoral dissertation, substantially on ideological grounds. In his Herbert Marcuse and the crisis of Marxism (Macmillan, London, 1984), Professor Douglas Kellner noted that Pachter "said it would be strange if Marcuse found Heidegger's involvement with National Socialism surprising because: (1) Nazi students filled Heidegger's classes and enthusiastically clamoured around him; (2) Heidegger's wife was an enthusiastic member of the party and supporter of national socialism; (3) at the Davon debate with Ernst Cassirer [a German Jewish philosopher] in 1929, Nazi students supported Heidegger and shouted down Cassirer with slogans and insults; and (4) Heidegger's lifestyle and thinking were sympathetic to fascist volkisch ideology: he wore Bavarian peasant clothes and affected peasant manners; he spent as much time as possible in his mountain retreat in Todtnauberg; and he was becoming increasingly nationalistic and political in the 1930s (conversation with Henry Pachter, New York, June 1980).
I hadn't come across the testimony of Henry Pachter before, nor his vignette about Nazis at Davos, in any of the accounts of that debate.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Florian Zeller explains how to keep the oblivion of being at a distance, in the Fascination of Evil.
There wasn't much of any interest in the debate. Banal comments fired off, one after the other. When my turn came, in a rather hesitant voice I just quoted a comment made by Husserl, in the mid-Thirties, about the crisis in European humanity. He saw the roots of this crisis (so deep that the phenomenologist even wondered if Europe would survive it), in the beginning of modern times, that is at the moment after Descartes and Galileo, when science had begun to reduce the world to a simple object of technical exploration. According to him, it was from that point onwards that man, launched into specialised disciplines of knowledge, began little by little to lose sight of himself, to the extent that he sank into what Husserl's disciple Heidegger called 'the oblivion of being'.

In one of his books, Kundera returned to this analysis, adding a most important correction. According to him, there was a close link between the roots of the crisis and the European art of the novel (the qualifier 'European' designating not a geographical entity, but a spiritual identity born with ancient Greek philosophy and which one might ultimately associate with the word 'western'). Because for Kundera, the founder of modern times was not only Descartes, it was also Cervantes:

"If it is true that philosophy and the sciences have forgotten man's being, it seems all the more evident that with Cervantes a great European art was formed, which is none other than the exploration of this forgotten being."

In other words, the precise raison d'etre of the novel is to protect us from this oblivion of being by maintaining life in a perpetual blaze of light. Thus, the art of the novel is a positive deduction from a malaise beginning with modern times. Expressed in this way, one could better understand the terms of the problem: if the Islamic world generally had difficulties with the novel, it was because it was living to a large extent in an era that belonged to the period before modern times, bogged down in archaisms that were by their essence incompatible with the foundations of the novel: freedom, fantasy, complexity, the ambiguity of all truths and suspension of moral judgement. In this respect, the novel could easily become the battle ground between two civilisations.

Pp. 99-100
Truth offered in Lacan's seminar on Poe's The Purloined Letter.
That Dupin accuses the French of deception for applying the word analysis to algebra will hardly threaten our pride since, moreover, the freeing of that term for other uses ought by no means to provoke a psychoanalyst to intervene and claim his rights. And there he goes making philological remarks which should positively delight any lovers of Latin: when he recalls without deigning to say anymore that "ambitus doesn't mean ambition, religio, religion, homines honesti, honest men," who among you would not take pleasure in remember ing . . . what those words mean to anyone familiar with Cicero and Lucretius. No doubt Poe is having a good time....

But a suspicion occurs to us: Might not this parade of erudition be destined to reveal to us the key words of our drama? Is not the magician repeating his trick before our eyes, without deceiving us this time about divulging his secret, but pressing his wager to the point of really explaining it to us without us seeing a thing? That would be the summit of the illusionist's art: through one of his fictive creations to truly delude us.

And is it not such effects which justify our referring, without malice, to a number of imaginary heroes as real characters?

As well, when we are open to hearing the way in which Martin Heidegger discloses to us in the word aletheia the play of truth, we rediscover a secret to which truth has always initiated her lovers, and through which they learn that it is in hiding that she offers herself to them most truly.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Mark Kingwell on cities as a work of art.
"The philosopher Martin Heidegger has an essay called `The Origin of a Work of Art.' He says the mere object is not the work of art. I always think about that when I look at art, but also when I think about other things being like art.

"You're not looking to nail down the object or even to focus on the material reality. The work of art is in the way the experience makes you think or puts you in touch with bigger ideas about what it means to be here. I think of the city as a work of art in that sense. It's never finished. It's always open-ended, but if we can sort of shift our perspective in the right way, it gives us these opportunities for insight."
If a city is a work of art for living in, mine's kitsch.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chamber Music Today, commenting on the performances of Viktoria Mullova and Katia Labèque, notes that:
There is an immediacy and Heideggerian ‘thrownness’ in every musical interpretation, in every performance by every performer, no matter how scrupulous the attention to historical detail. Mullova’s and Labèque’s performance reminds me of this. Specifically, their accounts of the Ravel and of the Stravinsky remind me of this. Although relatively few passages in Heidegger’s books pertain directly to music, in his correspondence he did frequently express his esteem for Stravinsky’s and Ravel’s and Orff’s music. He was very fond of Trakl’s and Celan’s and Rilke’s poetry. Of painters, he was enthused about Van Gogh, Braque, Klee, and Cézanne.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The Escapist on where sci-fi gets it right.
In an interview he gave in 1966, Martin Heidegger spoke about precisely this experience. Heidegger is arguably the most influential philosopher of the 20th century; he is inarguably the most controversial. His thinking on what it means to be human in a technologically advanced world still informs debates on genetics, medicine and artificial intelligence today. He was also a Nazi. You just have to deal with this sort of thing in contemporary philosophy.

Heidegger had a reaction different from mine. "I was certainly shocked when I recently saw photographs of the Earth taken from the moon," he said. He fears estrangement; I fear liking it. For Heidegger, if you want to destroy humanity, you don't need nuclear weapons or a giant asteroid or pollution or disease, you just need to convince people that they live on a planet rather than on the ground. The image of the Earth from space is something we cannot accept without becoming inhuman. I pretty much live for ideas like that.

Science fiction always takes a position on Heidegger. Star Wars, Star Trek, old Battlestar Galactica and Mass Effect all believe Heidegger was wrong. They believe humanity can endure among the stars. Theirs is a humanist sci-fi.

Others are transhumanist. They agree with Heidegger without necessarily siding with him. They tell us we cannot go out into space and remain human. The stars are too many and the void between them too dark. But that's OK. We don't need to be human. Heidegger was right about humanity's limits but wrong about the implications of exceeding them. The most important question of our time may be "Should we lose our humanity?" Mass Effect scares me by making me want to say "yes."

The Financial Philosopher uses a popular quote to convey some advice.
"Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man." ~ Martin Heidegger

I believe one of the greatest distractions from knowing ourselves is language. With regard to personal finance, how are we to find "success" without first defining it for ourselves? You will find it quite challenging to find a personal finance book without the words rich, wealth, retirement, freedom, or success on the cover. Those words are defined by social conventions and will only lead you down the path of others, and away from your own, if you do not define them first for yourself...
Alain Badiou on what Lacan got from the pre-Socratics via Heidegger.
First, Lacan believes he can go so far as to say that there is at least a similarity between the Freudian theme of repression and the Heideggerian articulation of truth and forgetting. It is significant for Lacan that, as Heidegger remarks, the name of the river of forgetting, Lethe, can be heard in the word for truth, aletheia. The link is made explicit in the first seminar where, in his analysis of repression in the Freudian sense, we come across the following observation: 'In every entry of being into its habitation in words, there's a margin of forgetting, a lethe complementary to every aletheia." Such a repression, then, can with good reason be called 'originary'. Its originary character accords with the correlation in origins Heidegger establishes between truth and veiling, a correlation constantly reinforced through etymological exegesis of the Pre-Socratics.

Secondly, Lacan takes from Heidegger's commentary on Heraclitus the notion of an intimate connection between the theme of the One and that of Logos. This, for Lacan, is an essential thesis. It will later be formulated in structural fashion: the aphorism "there is something of (the) One" (il y a de l'Un) is constitutive of the symbolic order. But starting in Seminar III, in a discussion of the Schreber case, Lacan confirms Heidegger's reading of Heraclitus. Commenting on the fact that Schreber only ever has one interlocutor, he adds:
This Einheit (oneness) is very amusing to consider, if we think of this text on 'Logos' by Heidegger I have translated, which is going to be published in the first issue of our new journal, La Psychanalyse, and which identifies the logos with Heraclitus's En (One). And in fact we shall see that Schreber's delusion is in its own way a mode of relationship between the subject and language as a whole.
It is in the most intimate part of clinical practice - that which deals with psychoses - that the clarificatory power of Heraclitus' aphorisms, supported by Heidegger, now reappears.

Finally, Lacan believes he can also connect the Freudian concept of the death drive to Heidegger's existential analysis, which defines Dasein as being-for-death. The emblematic figure of Empedocles serves, in the "Rome Report", as the vector for this connection: "Empedocles, by throwing himself into Mount Etna, leaves forever present in the memory of men this symbolic act of his being-for-death".

You will note that in all three occurrences of Heidegger - truth and forgetting, One and Logos, being-for-death - the Pre-Socratics are a required reference. Indeed, they are necessary to the extent that one cannot decide if the Pre-Socratics are a point of suture, or projection, between Lacan and Heidegger; or if, on the contrary, it is Heidegger who allows Lacan access to a more fundamental concern with the Pre-Socratic genealogy of psycho-analysis. I, for one, tend towards the second hypothesis.
Benjamin D. Crowe on Heidegger's account of the metaphysical ground of modernity.
For Heidegger, macro-level cultural phenomena are symptoms of this underlying ground. What ties these together is the larger phenomena of meaninglessness. In an unpublished manuscript, "Die Geschichte des Seyns" (1938-1940), Heidegger argues that a general loss of meaning is characteristic of the modern age, a trend that he rather dramatically calls "devastation" or "desertification [Verwüstung]". In the late 1940s, he prefers the term "decrepitude [Verwahrlosing]". This term shows up in an address delivered in Bremen in 1949 called "Die Gefahr," "The Danger." Here, "decrepitude" means that things are torn away from "world," from a richer network of meaningfulness, and are instead substitutable, indifferent items in the technological ordering of reality. At its most extreme, this situation means that nothing has any intrinsic normative force to it any longer. In other words, the meaning and value of things is determined by their position in a system of preference-satisfaction. there are no longer any limits on human self-assertion, as Heidegger dramatically argues in "Die Geschichte des Seyns." "Annihilation" and "violence" become ends in themselves, and "criminality" on a colossal scale becomes a real possibility.

P. 31-32
Monday, March 10, 2008
My Dinner with André
WALLY: If I understood it correctly, I think Heidegger said that if you were to experience your own being to the full, you would be experiencing the decay of that being toward death as part of your experience.

ANDRÉ:(Pause): Yes. You know, in the sexual act there's that moment of complete forgetting which is so incredible, and in the next moment you start to think about things—work on the play, what you've got to do tomorrow. I don't know if this is true of you, but I think it must be quite common. The world comes in quite fast. Now, that may be because we don't have the courage to stay in that place of forgetting, because that is again close to death. Like people who are afraid to go to sleep. In other words, you interrelate, and you don't know what the next moment will bring. And to not know what the next moment will bring, I think, brings you closer to a perception of death. So that, paradoxically, the closer you get to living, in the sense of relating constantly, I guess the closer you get to this thing that we're most afraid of.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Advice for the year of investing daseinishly.
Once in a while, I shudder at the thought of what would have happened to them had three of us turned out to be irresponsible or unsuccessful children. I have no scintilla of doubt that my father, in the words of the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, “lived dangerously.” How can a man with a wife and five children fail to save money or have some investment? Supposing something negative, such as serious illness or accident occurs and bulk money was needed for treatment?
Jorge Alemán find the therapy for the forgetting of Being.
Heidegger glimpses the problem. Forgetting cannot be understood as mere omission-it is not always a lapsus. Though he tries to outline a certain structural hypothesis ("forgetting should not be understood as a merely human act or departure"), he attempts to de-psychologize forgetting ("it is not the umbrella left behind by the philosophy professor, it belongs to the 'thing of Being'").
But the aforementioned forgetting of the being, decisive in interpreting the history of metaphysics, has not been sufficiently developed through its specific logic. From the status of that forgetting the conditions of the "overcoming of metaphysics," its end and the possible corresponding twist, may be fixed. Then forgetting is "the promise of a discovery," while the question of forgetting in Heidegger reveals the thinker as a perceptive commentator on this yet unknown experience: psychoanalysis.

Domination and Mastery on the enslavement in enowning.
Mastery itself, especially in the idea of a “Discourse of Mastery”, is very much frowned upon in postmodern circles, this in spite of the fact that “vom Ereignis”, in the subtitle of Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy, could as easily (and more frugally in terms of adding new verbiage to an already verbose language), be translated as “from Mastery”. Translating Ereignis as the “Event of Appropriation” as it was in earlier translations only underscores this meaning, as what is “ Appropriation” if it doesn’t involve both “taking” and “placing into the appropriate, or proper, positions”? Of course the “ appropriate” position of a human being could be egalitarian viz another human being, and I would promote any laws upholding this idea. But self chosen servitude or mastery, appropriately enacted, should be a choice available to the individual. I often see the term “enowning” as a correspondent term to “enslaving”, in that the slave or subject “enables” the Master to own them, just as simultaneously the Master enslaves the subject in his/her submission.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Messing Up the Paintwork is the first conference to examine the work of The Fall, against which the relevance of any contemporary art must be compared to.

Particularly interesting is that a group is planning to cover This Nation's Saving Grace. I was privileged to attend the first project to cover that album, by San Francisco band Triple Gang back in 2000.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Finitude: it's not just for dasein anymore.
Dark energy will have an enormous impact on the future of the universe. With cosmologist Glenn Starkman of Case Western Reserve University, Krauss explored the implications for the fate of life in a universe with a cosmological constant. The prognosis: not good. Such a universe becomes a very inhospitable place. The cosmological constant produces a fixed “event horizon,” an imaginary surface beyond which no matter or radiation can reach us. The universe comes to resemble an inside-out black hole, with matter and radiation trapped outside the horizon rather than inside it. This finding means that the observable universe contains only a finite amount of information, so information processing (and life) cannot endure forever.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Michael Eldred questions money as equipment.
The analysis of equipment is headed A. The Analysis of the Worldliness of the Surrounding World and Worldliness in General; § 15. The Being of Beings Encountered in the Surrounding World. The being of what is first encountered is to be determined. These are the 'things' that the Greeks call πράγματα. Their being consists in "being-good-for...", (something or other) which comprises "serviceability, flexibility, applicability, handiness," (SZ 68) etc. Marx would call this use-value: things are useful in everyday dealings. For his part, Heidegger puts producing in the foreground: "...the work, what is to be produced in a specific situation, is what is primarily taken care of and therefore also what is primarily at hand." (SZ 69f) The relationship to equipment when manipulating, using and producing is always a relationship to a totality of equipment in an referential network of utility. One piece of equipment refers to the next, and so on. What is striking is that Heidegger only talks of producing, of production and not of circulation, although they mutually depend on each other (as Marx expounds at length in the introduction to the Grundrissen). How is circulation to be understood as a mode of being? Above all in relation to a particular piece of equipment, a special being encountered within the world, does something paradoxical become apparent when circulation is blanked out: Money is equipment that does not fit very well into the analysis of equipment. What is the being of money? If it is something at-hand, then its essence must lie in being-good-for.... For what can money be used, what is it good for? To buy things. Money is (good) for buying. Can buying be interpreted as a taking-care-of...? Buying is useful for, e.g. taking care of the supply of food; a supply of food is for meeting daily nutritional requirements. Meeting daily nutritional requirements is for the sake of maintaining Dasein's standard of living on a certain level, that is, for the sake of a possibility of its existence. (Cf. SZ 84) But buying is a very general taking-care-of..., if it remains a taking-care-of... at all, insofar as money is also good for buying to make more money by reselling. Money-making and especially making-more-money are useful for something special which cannot be traced back or tied back to a for-the-sake-of (a possibility of Dasein's existence) easily and perhaps not at all.
The Revd Dr Giles Fraser on the nihil at the end of techne.
Metaphysicians want something more than poetic raids on the unspeakable. They want something more solid. Forget the frustrating obfuscations of the mysterious: they want some sort of science of God, a way of measuring and predicting the contours of the divine. All this leads to what Heidegger calls a “forgetfulness” of the primordial, reverential, or poetic approach to things.

Fair enough: it is too much to blame Plato for all that came after him. Yet what Heidegger warns us of is a world without reverence, where all is simply physics and technology. Its name is nihilism.

Being's Poem on why those expecting to find God must mind the gap.
Forgetting the question of being in the incessant mobilization of technology results in the age's nihilism- the disregard for the being itself, and its utter disposability. The 'event of appropriation' is thus becoming attuned to how we have become historically led astray in the process of technological reproduction. The gap of ontological difference must be restituted from confronting our own history, the history of Western metaphysics itself. It is in this sense that we should understand Heidegger's reading of Hoelderlin's famous line 'There where the danger lurks, the saving power also'. The saving power is not the advent of the God of salvation, materialized effectively. On the contrary, the Gap which allows for the expectation of the Gods is to be found in the gap of ontological difference, as the unbridgeable void sustaining the order of being within the symbolic.
Read the whole thing. Best blog post so far this year.

In the post, the term communal Gelassenheit is used. That is a sense of Gelassenheit similar to the Amish usage, here of giving one's self up to the Volk, and not the Gelassenheit Heidegger used in his later writings.
Monday, March 03, 2008

Philsophy Bites talks to Stephen Mulhall about philosophy, film and Blade Runner. Stephen Mulhall's book on Being and Time is currently the second most popular.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Michael Wheeler's recent book on recent developments in Artificial Intelligence takes into consideration some of the problems philosophers have with AI.
Wheeler wants to claim that Heidegger's analysis of the ready-to-hand constrains explanations of mechanism by excluding implicit rules and symbolic representations. Following McDowell, Wheeler argues that there must be an 'intelligible interplay' between micro and macro levels (133). Surely an effective causal explanation of, for example, smooth coping in terms of implicit rules operating on representations would be exactly such an intelligible interplay, so the question is really an empirical one that can't be settled a priori. This would be of less concern were it not for the fact that Wheeler does not mention modern linguistics, which appears to provide an exact counter-example to his claim. Linguistics shows (arguably with greater success that any other aspect of cognitive science) that it is possible to explain our possession of a skill that has a phenomenology of smooth coping (linguistic competence) on the basis of the operation of unconscious rules and representations.

Wheeler's textual treatment of Heidegger is I think also somewhat problematic here: there is little doubt that Heidegger would have been as appalled by Wheeler's brand of cognitive science as he was by cybernetics (of which the 'embodied, embedded' movement is a descendent). Wheeler's claim that Heidegger endorses Wheeler's own view of the relation of philosophy to science (in which philosophy critically articulates the regulative principles of a science so as to guide it away from a degenerating research program) hangs on little more than one sentence in §10 of Being and Time where Heidegger says 'the scientific structure of [the human sciences] . . . needs to be attacked in new ways'. This hardly licenses his claim that those who think Heidegger is not a naturalist about the mind are 'just wrong'. Heidegger consistently maintains that the question of the Being of human beings is hermeneutic or interpretive in nature. Nowhere does he countenance a naturalistic and causal answer to this question along the lines of modern cognitive science. Wheeler of course does not need to claim any of this since his view can be saved simply by saying it is inspired by Heidegger rather than trying to show that Heidegger must have held it. Indeed Wheeler is right that his is the most convincing direction one would have to go it in order to naturalize Heidegger and effect contact between Heidegger's work and cognitive science. But one would have thought that the project of naturalizing Heidegger ought to presuppose that Heidegger is not already a naturalistic thinker.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Wozu Dichter?

her amnesia an approach to understanding her life

her face the war years
her hair a banner of rain
her hands blue in the well
her wet skirt wrapping her legs

hills thinning at the world's edge
his absence fills with passing clouds, the script of birds, and
    schoolchildren's voices
his ashen hands having passed through the window of his truck
his can of dark tabacco, his yellow finch in a cage
his footsteps disapearing as he walked
his grave strewn with slipper flowers and sardine cans
his hands, detritus reaching through a window washed away
his words sparkling in the raw air

history branded with the mark of uncertainty
history decaying
history decaying into images

horse clearing an obstacle
horses, poppies, trees with trunks like sycamores and leaves like maples
hot, the burry of stars
hour of no matins
house of being
From Carolyn Forché's On Earth.

The photograph on the cover is by Adam Fuss, a mate of mine in high school.
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

Appropriation appropriates! Send your appropriations to enowning at gmail.com.

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