Thursday, May 17, 2018
Andrew J. Mitchell on thinking things after Heidegger.
To be a thing is to exist relationally, not objectively. Such a state thus requires that there be no subject present who objectifies the thing in question. But this is not to say that the human is to do nothing in the face of things. Doing nothing is still doing something. Rather it is a matter of doing that which facilitates the relational unfurling of the thing. Heidegger terms this comportment guarding (bewahren). This non-objectifiying coming-intorelation with things allows them to reach us. And because we are not doing nothing in this relation, it allows us to reach them as well. This contact is the appeal of things—that we might touch them and that they might touch us. Heidegger does not term this relation ethical, but, in my view, it is the ethical end of any thinking after Heidegger. Across the history of philosophy, there seems to have been an increasing expansion of the beings toward which we are willing to behave ethically. We have accorded such respect to other rational beings, to other human beings, to other living beings, and now after Heidegger we should continue the thought and accord that respect to things (and objects and commodities as well!). Ethical action would be measured action and measured action need not be restricted to beings like us. It can apply to all, especially those least like us. Perhaps that is where both an ethics after Heidegger and a thinking after Heidegger should begin.
P. 308
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