April 01, 2004

picking up the traces

I'm back in Adelaide after a long month of contract work in Canberra. I'm certainly experiencing a life of decline and fatigue at the moment. It will take some time to find some energy.

My previous two posts indicate or suggest that Heidegger is critical of the way that man is God. So how does that reading relate to Trevor's interpretation of Heidegger?

A suggestion. The people he is relying on are referring to the Heidgger of Being and Time. Heidegger turns against Being and Time, the existentialist reading of his work, and addresses the modernist humanist/individualist metaphysics through a confrontation with Nietzsche.

Trevor, you have the (4 volumes) of Nietzsche texts on your bookshelf.

Being and Time tackles the classical essential problem of ontology as understood by Aristotle-- "What is being?" Heidegger breaks from the classic concept of "being" as an abstract pondering of existence and throughout this work refers instead to Dasein or "being-there," which implies a more thorough connectedness to the world that unfolds over time or being-in-the-world.

In between Being and Time and the postwar Letter to Humanism addressed to the French, stands the difficult Contributions to Philosophy written in the mid-to late thirties. This text is an expression of Heidegger's struggle to think at the edge of words and to bring to language what remains beyond the written or the spoken. What we have in this turn against Being and Time is the transformative turn from prepositional thought to the poietic, performative character of thinking and language.

The turn is well under way with Heidegger's Letter on Humanism that is directed against an existentialism that stands for a world of human subjectivity, with absolute human freedom, and complete human responsibility—resonate with a humanist worldview. If we define humanism strictly as the belief in human centrality, then existentialism is a version of humanism—albeit an extreme one.

In contrast, human beings are not, in Heidegger’s philosophy, accorded the central role demanded by humanism after Being and Time.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at April 1, 2004 11:55 PM | TrackBack
Post a comment