December 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Blogs & Sites We Read

Blog powered by Typepad

Search Site

  • Search Site



  • Counter

Become a Fan

Cat Quote

  • "He who dislikes the cat, was in his former life, a rat."

« A Brinjal Brouhaha | Main | Jazz Legend Frank Foster on Love (Andrew) »

February 15, 2010


Sounds like an interesting book -- I've always found Heidegger a mystifying thinker. Plus, I'm not crazy about his quietist conformity to the rise of Nazism. But if the book helps as a way into to his thought, then I'll check it outl.

No, Andrew. You won't get much insight into Heidegger's "quietist conformity" with Nazism in this book. This one's about life and death in general and it contains some of his unintelligible (to me) musings on these topics. But there are other philosophers quoted here whose reflections on these matters are not so opaque.

Sounds like the quote means, if you want to think about being, you need to figure out some way of approaching it that doesn't make it a ground (principle, cause?) for beings. Relating the last clause to the rest of it seems tricky, but maybe it's meant to convey that metaphysics has always taken being as the cause of beings, and that this has been a mistake. (Now if you substitute in the term God for beings, he would be saying that in order to understand God, you have to stop thinking of him as the creator of the world.) Simplified a bit, it sounds like the old "ontological difference": don't explain being in terms of beings -- don't make being into a being. And there may be some motivation for it: suppose that being explains the existence of beings. If being is itself a kind of being, then presumably it exists, and then it must somehow explain its own existence. Now if we take the explanation to be causal (if it makes sense to speak that way) then being would either have to be the cause of itself, which is absurd, or there would have to be something else which causes it to exist -- but if one being was bad enough, two beings each make the other superfluous. (This does not seem unrelated to the third-man argument, on the face of it.) So whatever we mean by being, we want to conclude either that it isn't a thing -- that it doesn't exist -- or that it isn't a principle or cause that explains the existence of other beings. Now maybe you'll say, so much the worse for "being" -- but you do have these puzzles when you take the idea that there is something called being seriously.

This book must be a sequel to "Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar".

That's right, Alex. This one is the sequel. I haven't read "Plato & Platypus." Have you?

And thanks for explaining "Being & being." My sympathies still lie with St. Peter:-)

i think a great introduction to heidegger is his essay "the question concerning technology". It's, like, 20 pages, worth reading.

it's not a great overview of his philosphy, but it has remained relavant to current with the interplay between "technology" and how it impacts our sense of world, self. i put "technology" in quotes since he spends a good part of the essay defining the word. "the question concerning technology" and "the myth of sisyphus" by camus are my two favorite essays.

the trick with heidegger is to focus, less on specific sentences, and more on the paragraphs. i've always had to plow through a few sentences before the overall meanings sort of kick in. and he plays with this...he asks a question...and then spends 20 pages looking at the history of each word in the question. so that initially, he's elliptical, hard to follow, but by the end, it's a little easier to absorb. i've always thought of it as writing by gestalt...the overall picture brings meaning to the individual bits. So, read and read and by the end, maybe something will seem interesting, worth pondering. thats my favorite way of going about it.

but oy vey, the controversy. heidegger was a nazi. and disowned his mentor, husserl. appalling.

nietzsche hated women. the founding fathers owned slaves. jesus never actually existed. history is replete with great thinkers who lived suspect lives. most great artists were awful humans.

not that great works are a justification for lunacy. others have achieved great things without the pathos. tycho brahe the astronomer: brilliant, fairly well behaved. robert hooke, key player in the scientific revolution...seemed like an introvert and genuinely nice guy. Leibniz! Co-inventor of the calculus. come on! calculus! that's serious business. brought into the world by a gentle eccentric.

we never know who to read and i think it's perfect that the candidate are less than satisfactory . heidegger...he had respect during the 80's academic scene...but that turned around in the 90's, he's out of favor, now just a cartoon.

i say find his essay: :question concerning technology". he's still there, in that way...same warmings, fears, excstaties.he hasn't been dessicated yet by the academic malcontents who blow smoke into his bearace. he still sees people creating new forms of blindness, new ways of hiding what's obvious: that w'ere trapped in glass jars. culture is glass jars and we're the twitching bugs inside of them, hitting walls, tapping glass.

we want out of this.

M, I always take you seriously even though you are given to pulling my leg! So may be I will give the technology essay a try.

In a moment of overarching curiosity (or ambition) I had got myself a copy of Heidegger's "Being and Time" a few years ago. And believe me, I gave it an honest try for a few days. Then it struck me that I may not have enough time left in my life to get a hang of the "gestalt."

Camus, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish altogether - him I understand.

no, being in time is overly dense, hard to follow. "question concerning technology" has a lot of his trademark writing style, i.e. difficult phrasing, but i do think he deals with themes that have become only more relevant over the years. (i miss spelled a lot of words in that last post...i have to make a rule, no posting before coffee).

Nice parsing, Alex!

I would recommend the selection, "Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics" in Krell's _Basic Writings_ as a very clear beginning point. It anticipates many aspects of Kuhn by some 30 years, so if you know Kuhn's work, that gives you a real foothold in the essay.

If you'll excuse a shameless plug, I wrote an essay-for-essay reader's guide to Krell's anthology: _Heidegger's Later Writings: A Reader's Guide_ []. I try very hard to cut through the jargon to express his ideas as clearly as possible.

Good luck--he's worth the effort!

Speaking of essays and Camus, M, take a look at Fanny Howe's list here. I have to add that technology piece to the shortlist. I've been meaning to read it for years. As for difficult prose, I tend to approach it as poetry, which is per se difficult and, more importantly, useless.

i will definitely check out the list, thanks for the link.

The comments to this entry are closed.