The partially examined podcasters raised a series of very difficult questions in their recent discussion of Heidegger, particularly during a ten-minute stretch beginning about one hour and ten minutes into the 80th episode. These questions all seemed to pivot around one central problem: what does it mean to get right with Being? Should we take this as a kind of negative theology despite Heidegger's denials, as Mark tempted us to do? Is this something like getting right with God or aligning yourself with the logos? Is this Heidegger's way of calling us to a life of contemplation, as Wes suggested? Or is it about a Zen-like mindfulness or a matter of being "open-minded in a certain way," as Mark put it? Can we get at the question via the artistic use of language, as Seth suggested?
While it isn't even clear what the question means, some of these answers led to the issue of language, particularly the novel and poetic use of language. If language is the House of Being, Seth asked, "can you actually invent a new way of talking and could that project ever work? Even poetically, could you effectuate the kind of change we're talking about"? If language is the house of Being and shapes our ways of thinking, then how is it even possible to invent new ways of talking? Shall we discuss this change using jailhouse metaphors and devise an escape plan?
I'd guess that Heidegger would expect us to be a bit mystified or disoriented because he's not just calling for a change, a kind of paradigm shift, he's already trying to talk to us from the other side or it, so to speak. It's perplexing, I think, because he wants to bring new and true things into view even while he's rejecting the way we normally construe truth as the right "view" of "things". He wants to overcome the traditional view of truth, wherein the human subject can conceptually represent the world of objects so that true ideas correspond to objective realities. He wants to overcome the traditional view of human subject too, overcome the pure cogito or transcendental subject. Heidegger's strange way of talking, I think, is meant to subvert much of the philosophical tradition going all the way back to Plato. As Seth once pointed out, Heidegger is giving a performance. He's doing what he's talking about doing. As confusing as it might be, there's an admirable consistency to it. (One does hope to avoid an error known as the "performative contradiction, which is a kind of philosophical hypocrisy.) He doesn't want to talk about truth in the usual terms, or the traditional ontological assumptions that go with it, because he's trying to effectuate the change he's calling for.
He says "Being" is closer to us than beings, for example, which I take to mean that our immediately lived experience is more real and more concrete than things or objects. The Cartesian subject, traditionally conceived as a mental being set over and against an external world, is rejected and replaced by Da-sein or being-in-the-world. The Platonic notion of seeing reality clearly - as opposed to seeing through a glass darkly or seeing only shadows on the cave wall - is dropped in favor of "World disclosure". These kinds of changes add up to create a radically different picture wherein the world is not an object of knowledge existing outside of us but the whole background of intelligible meanings in which we are always, already situated. Language is where we dwell and it's the site of "world disclosure". This Heideggerian world is a "holistically structured background of meaning". It may help to think of this "meaning" in terms of Husserl's phenomenology. In the same way that Husserl's consciousness always has a content, Heidegger is saying that consciousness always has a meaningful content. This is meaningful in an immediate, pre-reflective sense. This is a phenomenological claim about the quality of experience as such. A thirsty gal knows exactly what a cool glass of water "means" without having to think about it, for example.
I think classical pragmatists like John Dewey and Robert Pirsig can help shallow and naive Americans like myself to make sense of Heidegger's strange way of talking. They make very similar moves against subject-object dualism, against the correspondence theory of truth, against the Cartesian subject, and it seems that they also share Heidegger's desire for some kind of paradigm shift or, as one William James scholar put it, a "radical reconstruction of philosophy". If I understand this business about World disclosure, Heidegger is basically saying that art creates worlds and philosophy is a form of art. If such a claim is made from within a subject-object metaphysics, it sounds quite implausible - if not delusional. All this fancy philosophical background forms the context in which these claims can start to make sense and bring out a new "world" which rejects the old one.
As Daniel A. Palmer explains it, “Heidegger explicitly rejects the aesthetic approach to art. The aesthetic view of art is firmly entrenched within the subject-object dichotomy that is characteristic of Western metaphysics and prejudices the enquiry into art…” (Heidegger and the Ontological Significance of the Work of Art, British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol 38, No 4, October 1998, page 402). Likewise, David A. Granger’s paper compares Dewey to Pirsig and he says they “both defy traditional transcendent, foundationalist and subject-object metaphysics” (John Dewey and Robert Pirsig: An Invitation to ‘Fresh Seeing, page 1). Nikolas Kompridis (On World Disclosure: Heidegger, Habermas and Dewey, Thesis Eleven, no 37, 1994, page 31) compares some of these key ideas in Heidegger to the central ideas in Dewey and Habermas, and he says that all three of them take up new terms as an alternative to traditional subject-object dualism.
Heidegger’s analysis of ‘being-in-the-world’, Habermas’s of the ‘lifeworld’, and Dewey’s of the ‘situation’ are analogous attempts to show that we are always already situated in a pre-reflective, holistically structured, and grammatically regulated world.
These new terms don't rhyme and they're unlikely to fit anyone's idea of poetry but they've been created and they play their roles as parts of a new vision. They are terms invented to subvert a former vision. It does seem to be a new type of language. Is this a poetic form of philosophy? Is this what world disclosure looks like? I don't know. Maybe. Heidegger, Dewey and Pirsig certainly had things to say about actual art, or rather the fine arts, and it seems that the same ideas show up there too. As we just saw, Heidegger rejects the traditional "aesthetic view" of art and Dewey also says that the traditional conception of art fails, for example (PA 523).
It fails to see or at all events to state how poetry is a criticism of life; namely, not directly, but by disclosure, through imaginative vision addressed to imaginative experience (not to set judgment) of possibilities that contrast with actual conditions.
In the final chapter of his book Art as Experience (1934), John Dewey makes a particularly striking claim about the relationship between art and morality. He said, “Art is more moral than moralities” (The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern, edited by Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1995, page 524). Like Heidegger and Pirsig, Dewey thinks art should play a larger and more central role in our lives and culture, as opposed to being displayed under glass or behind velvet ropes. “’Poetical values are, after all, values in a human life. You cannot mark them off from other values, as though the nature of man were built in bulkheads’” (PA, page 524). We aren’t necessarily talking about the class of objects we usually associate with the fine arts. The artist's vision allows us to conceive of a better future but this imaginative conception doesn’t necessarily involve actual poems, oil paints or bronze.
For Dewey, the “poet” is one who produces an imaginative vision in any medium so that figures such as Copernicus and Einstein, Lincoln and Gandhi, Buddha and Christ can be counted among the poets. Similarly, Dewey's conception of morality is not limited to taboos, behavioral codes, conventional rights and wrongs, church morals or civilized behavior. Morality also extends to whatever is taken to be correct, true, good or otherwise right in general. Morality in this sense includes the way we see the world, includes the entire inherited system of values with which we interpret the world. Morality is the status quo in the broadest sense. As Dewey himself puts it, morals should be “understood to be identical with every aspect of value that is shared in experience” (PA, page 525). Dewey’s claim depends upon these expanded notions of both art and morality.
The role of art, Dewey thinks, is to subvert and refresh the status quo and that's the sense in which art is more moral than moralities. As Dewey see it, moralities are essentially conservative and art is inherently subversive. This opposition sets up a basic dualism that we find in Heidegger and Pirsig as well, I think. Dewey was not a Satanic fan of evil, of course, and he wasn't advocating immorality, but simply saying that art offers a critique of what is deemed normal, offers an imaginative vision that subverts the status quo precisely by offering a fresh vision of something better. “The first stirrings of dissatisfaction and the first intimations of a better future are always found in works of art,” Dewey writes, “It is by a sense of possibilities opening before us that we become aware of constrictions that hem us in and of burdens that oppress” (PA 523).
As Kompridis explains it, Heidegger’s version of this dualism is found his concept of art as world disclosure. World disclosure is, roughly speaking, a more grandiose version of the disclosure of imaginative vision as described by Dewey. Roughly speaking, Heidegger thinks of this disclosure as an epic, world-shattering act of rare genius while Dewey and Pirsig see it as an ongoing process that also happens in countless, smaller ways. For Heidegger the two sides of the process, the undermining subversive side and the creative envisioning side, are described in terms of “decentering” and “unifying-repair”. He describes the decentration process as “the scrambling and defamiliarizing of existing patterns of interpretation, action and belief and he says the unifying-repair side “refers as much to the disclosure of new horizons of meaning as to the disclosure of previously hidden or unthematized dimensions of meaning”. (Kompridis, page 29 and 30).
Interestingly, I think, Kompridis says, “the phenomenon of world disclosure has been taken up and energetically pursued in two directions. The direction taken depends on whether the decentering or unifying-repairing power of world disclosure is emphasized” (Kompridis, page 37). He names Richard Rorty and Jacques Derrida as examples of thinkers who emphasize the subversive, decentering aspect and he says Charles Taylor, Hubert Dreyfus and Heidegger are among those who emphasize the unifying aspect. Both sides risk distortion, he says. The first group risks “an incoherent pluralism” and the second group risks a world “too tightly woven” (Kompridis, page 37). In other words, the first one is too dynamic and the second is too static. This is one of the areas where Heidegger parts ways with Dewey and Pirsig, I think. Because of his “too tightly woven” conception of cultural change, Heidegger paid little heed to the constant smaller changes and instead treated the phenomenon of world disclosure as a few, rare “world-historical events” or “the next verse in Being’s poem” (Kompridis, page 44, endnote #13). Kompridis thinks that Dewey strikes a good balance between these two tendencies because of the way he viewed any kind of experience as a continuous process of adjustment, of change and adaptation in an ongoing relationship. As Kompridis (page 42) explains it:
The crisis-inducing effects of disclosure, that is, its decentering effects, can be handled properly only through our constant activity of reconstructing shattered interpretations of the world in light of new ones. Dewey understood this reconstructive process as the continuous readjustment of the relationship between the ‘discrete’ and the ‘continuous’
The problem is that the “poet’s” fresh vision eventually hardens into fact and becomes the established truth. Who was it that said "truth" is a brief period between heresy and platitude? When stability turns into rigidity, when status quo becomes too oppressive, brittle, limiting or otherwise obsolete, along comes another poet to shatter that previously disclosed world. As Pirsig puts it, “In the West progress seems to proceed by a series of spasms of alternating freedom and ritual. A revolution of freedom against old rituals produces a new order, which soon becomes another old ritual for the next generation to revolt against, on and on” (Lila, page 384). Cultural change or world disclosure is rarely the aim, Pirsig thinks. The struggle is usually personal. But changes move out in waves from each center and sometimes big things happen as a result. Pirsig uses a wide range of examples, including the Bohemian revolt against Victorian morality and the hippie revolution against square America, man. He calls them “contrarians” and counts himself among them.
That’s what drives the really creative people – the artists, composers, revolutionaries and the like – the feeling that if they don’t break out of this jailhouse somebody has built around them, they’re going to die.
Finally, it would be gross negligence if I failed to mention Patrick Doorly's new book, The Truth About Art, because it was the subject of my last blog post and it includes a version of this same dualism. He takes up Pirsig's central terms, static and dynamic, and he makes a case that, in the fine arts or any other skilled activity, "this distinction refers to two facets of any high-quality endeavour". It doesn't matter if the endeavor is motorcycle maintenance and easel painting, he says, "both depend on the interaction of Static Patterns and Dynamic Quality". Innovations and creative leaps, imaginative visions and even scientific revolutions, always begin with the status quo, with the world as previously disclosed and it happens within that house of Being, if you will. The stable order and the freedom to subvert it are both necessary, are the "two facets" of art. In practice, Doorly says, "nobody becomes an accomplished painter, sculptor, writer, musician or architect without having recognized excellence in previous examples of those arts, and taken that excellence as the starting point for new work." I think it's safe to say the same thing about accomplished philosophers.
Really great post.
After the Heidegger episode I went back and listened to the Robert Pirsig episode again.
Then I went back and listened to Daniel Coffeen’s podcasts/lectures on Merleau Ponty and Bergson and Deleuze. Where he ties art and ethics.
One way to come to terms with Heidegger’s rejection of dualism is to look closely at a line of thought that has become known as Heideggerian AI. Looking at the complete human being as embedded in an existing grammatical, perceptual and spatial world and rejecting the entire notion of representation….Wheeler’s new book “Reconstructing the Cognitive World” (MIT) goes along way to explains how this could be done in a more up to date way.
Seems like an interesting book from reading a few reviews.
“His analysis demonstrates that Heideggerian continental philosophy and naturalistic cognitive science need not be mutually exclusive and shows further that a Heideggerian framework can act as the “conceptual glue” for new work in cognitive science.”
“”embodied-embedded” cognitive science”
the question/project of naturalizing phenomenology is a highly contentious one and broad one at that but I’m intrigued by this work of Wheeler’s:
“Is Cognition Embedded or Extended? “
I agree Wheeler’s work “Is Cognition Embedded or Extended? “ does seem very interesting.
This is an interesting, or to me at least, intersection of philosophy and neuroscience that’s going on. I’ve heard and read of some others posing much of the same questions.
As for the question/project of naturalizing phenomenology. It’s kind of inherently problematic. To start with direct lived experience in the present moment setting aside preconceptions, the epoche, of phenomenology to them move to thinking about the experiences and creating concepts and extending out to make a philosophical system or to try to make it fit into a metaphysical system.
Of course Husserl and Heidegger made a system in a way but there has to be some way to communicate to others.
“Naturalism” is problematic as is “super-naturalism” which I think is kind of what Heidegger is getting at in his essay as is any belief/view/-ism. Which is very zen like. (But I am open to the possibility that I have no idea what he’s talking about at all.)
3. Zen as Anti-Philosophy
Linking back to Heraclitus the One and the Many
zen says Not One and Not Two (not Many)
“That is to say, it must go beyond “the one” and “the two,” as both of these stances are prone to generate a one-sided, and hence incomplete world-view.”
But I’m getting way off. It’s just interesting in a beautiful Deleuzian rhizomic way how they all and interact and interconnect and contrast. Which is why I liked this post above.
well not sure that Deleuze thought that all things interact let alone interconnect but to the degree that you enjoy making such connections have at it.
Wayne Schroeder says
Deleuze was the interconnector of all things (at the speed of light) through the reality of the virtual and the actual, by means of differentiation, taking each point on the curved line, a curve becomes actualized from its virtuality, etc., in a rhizomatic fashion, everything folding and unfolding back on itself in the flux of life, in the eternal recurrence.
WS, in your reading where does the work of creating, assembling, machines, processes/events, multiplicities, and individuation, fit in?
Wayne Schroeder says
“creating, assembling, machines, processes/events” are terms employed throughout Anti-Oedipus to describe how desire is manifest not only intrapsychically but also physically and socially.
“Multiplicites, and individuation” are terms throughout Difference and Repetition:
The virtual is embodied in actual situations and also, the changes in actual situations also effect changes in the virtual multiplicity. Existence, then, is a combination of actual multiplicities – states of affairs – and virtual multiplicities – particular intensive movements of change.
In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze states that individuation precedes
differenciation. Individuation is real material development; differenciation
is the relation of differences to each other, that is, how one individuation
relates to another. Individuation reflects the interplay of both the virtual and the actual.
yes those are good working definitions but can’t see how they fit in with your more circular (as myth-logos is cyclical) take on the Nietzschean myth/parable above of eternal recurrence, what is recurring?
Wayne Schroeder says
The cosmological reading of Nietzszsche’s eternal return is the fundamental axiom of a philosophy of forces in which active force separates itself from and supplants reactive force and ultimately locates itself as the motor principle of becoming. The eternal return is at the heart of the theory of power and its vicissitudes as expressed in Anti-Oedipus.
What is at stake is not the repetition of a universal sameness (as in Nietzsche) but the movement that produces everything that differs. Eternal return is therefore properly understood as a synthesis of becoming and the being that is affirmed in becoming. It appears as the fundamental ontological principle of the difference and repetition of forces that are the Will to Power.
Whatever we will, we must will it in such a way that we also will its eternal recurrence and eliminate reactive states of being which proceed as copies, rather than as copies with no original. These breakthrough times are preceded by a sense of impossibility and negation, an overcoming of the negation by a courageous power of the will resulting in a truly affirmative and active force, and finally a dissolving of the will once again. The eternal return eliminates reactive and negative forces while affirming becoming.
see what you think of the take here on “Innigkeit”
David Buchanan says
I have a hunch that Wheeler’s new book (Reconstructing the Cognitive World) is an answer to Hubert Dreyfus’s books. He is one of the top Heidegger scholars. As the Wikipedia article says, he has been a critic of artificial intelligence since the 1960s. One of his books in particular, “What Computers Can’t Do” (1972; 1979; 1992) presents a “pessimistic assessment of AI’s progress and a critique of the philosophical foundations of the field”. Apparently, the basic idea is that artificial intelligence will never work until the computer scientist ditch subject-object dualism, which provides then with a very misleading picture of intelligence. You might say Wheeler is offering Heideggerian AI because he understands why Cartesian AI won’t work. I haven’t read either book but I’d still bet ten bucks on this hunch.
Wayne Schroeder says
Yes, Wheeler backs off from Dreyfus’ early position that computers will never do AI because they are not human/embodied (which I think he moderates in his later lectures, if I recall correctly). He states an intermediate position, interpreting Heidegger as taking the view “that science need not wait for philosophy, not that philosophy must wait for science.” (p. 127)
Current interesting positions regarding AI is taken by Jeff Hawkins in “On Intelligence,” and Metzinger takes a viable phenomenological position in his upgrade of Merleau Ponty: Being No One, and Ego Tunnel.
hopefully we will get around to Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature at some point but until than a bit of Rorty, pace Heidegger:
“The utility of the ‘existentialist’ view is that, by proclaiming that we have no essence, it permits us to see the descriptions of ourselves we find in one of (or in the unity of) the Naturwissenschaften as on a par with the various alternative descriptions offered by poets, novelists, depth psychologists, sculptors, anthropologists, and mystics. The former are not privileged representations in virtue of the fact that (at the moment) there is more consensus in the sciences than in the arts. They are simply among the repertoire of self-descriptions at our disposal.”
If being more inclusive/democratic is the same as emphasizing ” the subversive, decentering aspect” than so be it…
Dewey scholar and philosopher of embodiment Mark Johnson making the case against there being anything like a deep/universal moral faculty/grammar (working with folks like Owen Flanagan & Churchland, and against the Chomsky-ites):
Wayne Schroeder says
Excellent article. The author of Moral Minds, Hauser, had to step down from his teaching position due to scholarly cheating.
David Buchanan says
If being more democratic is the same as being subversive? Please, connect the dots for me. I don’t see how they are the same or even how they are related.
Also, I don’t know how Rorty uses the concept of the “strong poet,” exactly, but I have a hunch that it would be the road to follow if one wished to connect Rorty with the topic of this article.
Rorty’s supposed crime is risking an” “an incoherent pluralism” for being more inclusive, for “decentering” as your chosen author-ity puts it, no?
Rorty uses strong poet in support of the idea that I quoted above. If you don’t know that central/defining idea of his work why use him here?
I’m outside of the paywall these days but for anyone with access this old gem might be of interest:
“Dreyfus and Spinosa’s ‘Coping with Things-in-themselves’ assumes that the line between the familiar and the strange coincides with the line between the ‘for us’ and the ‘in itself’. But their opponents would urge that the familiar-strange distinction be dealt with pragmatically rather than ontologically”
David Buchanan says
Oh, you’re defending Rorty. You’re not equating democratic inclusiveness with subversion, as I thought, you’re characterizing the quote from Rorty as inclusive and opposing it to subversion and decentering. I guess your point wasn’t quite explicit and direct enough for me. As you may have noticed, you have to spell it out if you want me to get your point.
Without any context, the quote itself is a bit confusing. I can see that Rorty is talking about “the utility of the ‘existentialist’ view” but it’s not clear if he’s describing his own view or the view of the existentialists. Is Heidegger the existentialist he has in mind, I wondered? That sounds like Rorty view, a brief summary of “Lumps and Texts”, I thought, but does Rorty call himself an existentialist, I wondered?
And so your meaning and intentions were pretty mysterious to me. Thus my request for dot-connecting.
If you’d care to unpack the point, please tell me about the context and aim of the quote. Please explain how Rorty uses the strong poet in support of the idea in the quote. And, more to the point, how does that quote count as a defense against Kompridis’s charge? I imagine he’d say it supports his case, that the quote fairly describes an incoherent pluralism. It’s not a slam dunk or anything but some people are going to object to the idea that science “a par with the various alternative descriptions offered by poets, novelists, depth psychologists, sculptors, anthropologists, and mystics”. Some people are going to call that relativism, which might not be right but it’s not crazy.
Wayne Schroeder says
It is interesting that Rorty pragmatically avoids subject-object dualism by declaring metaphysics and epistemology off limits, except for epistemological behaviorism: “we see knowledge as a matter of conversation and of social practice, rather than as an attempt to mirror nature.” (PMN 171), however this just seems to shrink reality into a social tunnel vision which arbitrarily excludes nature, and the traditional metaphysical and epistemological concerns, declaring the new Truth as “matters of conversation and of social practice.”
well there is no new “Truth” in Rorty and he is following folks like Kuhn and Fine on our doing of science and such, if you get a chance see what you think of:
Wayne Schroeder says
ok, not a new “Truth” but a Rorty Truth. I will definitely check out your reference.
probably the most important/influential pragmatist thinker today is the sociologist/anthropologist Bruno Latour, his work may come closer to giving a more up to date take on the issues you raise:
Rorty as I suggested above opened the door for folks outside of Philosophy like Latour and Paul Rabinow, but despite gentle prodding from many of us never really went through it himself.
Wayne Schroeder says
Yes, Rabinow keeps metaphysics open and defines the contemporary as a (re)assemblage of both old and new elements and their interactions and interfaces. This means, among other things, that contemporary problems and objects are emergent and consequently, by definition, contingent. Emergence refers to “a state in which multiple elements combine to produce an assemblage, whose significance cannot be reduced to prior elements and relations.”
Rorty on the other hand restricts metaphysics/epistemology to “knowledge as a matter of conversation and of social practice.”
Within his world view Rorty gets at some great concepts, such as we should “treat the idea that physics gets you closer to reality than morals as an updated version of the priests’ claim to be in closer touch with God than the laity.” And: The pathos of representationalists and antirepresentationalists alike is driven by “urges previously satisfied by religion,” showing up everywhere as another “obsequious Name[s] of God,” etc.
“a (re)assemblage of both old and new elements and their interactions and interfaces. This means, among other things, that contemporary problems and objects are emergent and consequently, by definition, contingent”
this sounds like classic Rorty to me, what Rorty underplayed was the way that our inter-actions/co-operations with materials/objects are not so one-sided, this is why work like ANT (actor-network-theory) is more in the spirit of Rorty’s own insights than his own bibliophilia/archive-fever allowed for (ironically in the context of this thread Rorty actually overvalued the role/impact of language/literature, and didn’t really think through all of the implications of poetic-dwelling/tool-using/etc, see the Noe lecture I left @ the Jung podcast discussion) he missed what Andrew Pickering calls the mangle of practices:
Wayne Schroeder says
David Buchanan also did a previous blog on Pragmatism:
David Buchanan says
Actually, Wayne, this blog post is my 16th for PEL and all but one or two are about pragmatism in one way or another. I write from that perspective because that’s what I studied in school – Master of Humanities – with a thesis comparing Pirsig and James. David Granger wrote a Doctoral dissertation (2005) comparing Pirsig and Dewey. (His work is cited in this blog post.) They’re all pragmatists and radical empiricists (not to mention English-speaking Americans), so these comparisons are pretty straight forward. But comparing their collective view to Heidegger’s is not so simple. He belongs to an entirely different school of philosophy, I don’t speak German (I’m still working to master English), and Heidegger is a freaking Nazi. Despite all that, I think these pragmatists are far more radical than most people suppose and they can offer a way into Heidegger for Americans like myself, who are mostly baffled by his strange way of talking. The PEL facebook page has a thread well over a hundred comments long in which one side is trying to convince the other side that Heidegger isn’t just incoherent nonsense. It’s a problem. You know?
Wayne Schroeder says
“It’s a problem. You know?”
That’s hilarious–an eternal problem.
Heidegger never puts a foot into the subject-object dualism (2 realities), resulting in sentences with subjects and no objects, a poetry verging on mysticism. And I both follow and like his efforts.
But in never putting foot into the subject-object dualism, he leaves out the whole field of the object, the ability to speak to the objective world, which apparently exists as well or there wouldn’t be such confusion.
On the other side, blatant realism/rationalism makes the error of monism (1 reality) of the objective and excludes communication with the subjective.
I am just now appreciating the power of Pragmatism as an entity between the two, thanks to you, dmf and PEL’s elaborations. Guess it must be time for a PEL Podcast on Pragmatism, and you as a guest.
I would never have guessed that Robert Brandom, the Hegelian, would be plotting an analytic version of pragmatism. Wonder how he is coming with that, although I can imagine.
The position of nihilism (0 reality) is the third form of error possible. So, If there is error in 0 reality (nihilism), 1 reality (monism) and 2 realities (dualism), perhaps we have a progression of unreality leading a reality of infinity=multiplicity?
David Buchanan says
I can’t be sure about Heidegger but if he’s making the same moves as my pragmatists, he is denying objective reality. That’s very much part of the bathwater, so to speak, being tossed out along with subject-object dualism. Instead, phenomenal reality itself or experience as such, is the starting point. Heidegger and my pragmatists are starting from a phenomenological perspective that is far more empirical than empiricism. I think they’d both insist that so-called objective reality is actually quite conceptual and theoretical and not a primary ontological reality at all. In this view, as James says, experience and reality amount to the same thing. What we say about reality is always secondary and derived from that primary empirical reality. Let’s drop these metaphysical assumptions and return to the phenomenal world the world of experience, they say. As William James puts it in “A World of Pure Experience”:
“The first great pitfall from which such a radical standing by experience will save us is an artificial conception of the relations between knower and known. Throughout the history of philosophy the subject and its object have been treated as absolutely discontinuous entities; and thereupon the presence of the latter to the former, or the ‘apprehension’ by the former of the latter, has assumed a paradoxical character which all sorts of theories had to be invented to overcome. All the while, in the very bosom of the finite experience, every conjunction required to make the relation intelligible, is given in full.”
Even though they’re dropping the notion of objective truth and an objective reality to which our ideas must correspond, it’s still very empirical. One can reject physicalism and ontological dualism and still take empirical evidence as a legitimate epistemological constraint. This is what Rorty’s verbal behaviorism overlooks. He thinks epistemology is not possible anymore and the linguistic constraints, which slip and slid too easily, are the only kind left. I don’t know if this is what prompts Kompridis’s accusation against Rorty, but it’s certainly what distinguishes his post-analytic neo-pragmatism from the classical pragmatists like James, Dewey, and Pirsig. I’m with Hilary Putnam, who says Rorty isn’t a pragmatist at all and his view should just be called Rortyism or something.
Wayne Schroeder says
I don’t think Heidegger denies objective reality in the sense that he sees “objective reality” as primordial, and a given, secondary to our already being, our phenomenal reality as you indicate.
Heidegger’s empirical/experiential is definitely phenomenological and not based on empiricism/objective representationalism. Yes , experience/phenomenology/empiricism is reality for Heidegger.
When Rorty claims by his epistemological behaviorism: “we see knowledge as a matter of conversation and of social practice, rather than as an attempt to mirror nature” (PMN 171), (or verbal behaviorism as you state) he clearly establishes his epistemology (Rortyism, Wittgensteinism, etc).
Wittgenstein similarly posits: “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” I think Rorty is very much a pragmatist, but has overly defined his position, if that makes sense.
Wayne Schroeder says
Great article. Really appreciate the focus from Heidegger (unifying) outward to other philosophic positions (decentering). Looking forward to exploring this theme.
another way to see this perhaps (since we have veered into Delueze and Guatarri) is that Heidegger (and those attracted to philosophia perennis) was busy excavating the hidden roots of the family-tree (home-base, footnotes to Plato as Whitehead prescribed), while those who work against such character-types (Derrida, Rorty, D&G, Foucault,etc) are rhizomatic nomads
via enowning:”In NDPR, Michael Zank reviews Richard Velkley’s Heidegger, Strauss, and the Premises of Philosophy.The circle of young thinkers around Bultmann and Heidegger all aimed for the same thing that Heidegger modeled, though imperfectly: a retrieval of the original voice of philosophy before it was distorted (in a neutral, acoustic sense of the term) by revelation. For Gadamer, also part of this circle, this became a question of method.”
Wayne Schroeder says
Very interesting review.
“Heidegger, Strauss, and the Premises of Philosophy: On Original Forgetting”
“the “original” philosophical question developed by Socrates, which established the supposed baseline of the “natural difficulties” of philosophizing. Yes, there’s a difference in degree between the historical ballast of over two-thousand years of philosophical tradition-formation and the radical moment when Socrates overturned the pre-Socratic preoccupation with nature and “the whole” as such and turned to the city, a secondary world of human making, and to the opinions of ordinary men as the beginning of his philosophical interrogations.”
“This extrication held out the ideal of an extrication from all situatedness, represented by the term “city.” Velkley clearly admires the radical thinker who holds out this possibility for “man” to pierce every illusion without thereby creating new ones. ”
which lead me to think of
“A great Zen master said, “Do not seek the truth; simply cease cherishing illusions.” If there is a primary practice or path to enlightenment, this is it—to cease cherishing illusions. Seeking truth can be a game, complete with a new identity as a truth-seeker fueled by new ideas and beliefs. But ceasing to cherish illusions is no game; it’s a gritty and intimate form of deconstructing yourself down to nothing. Get rid of all of your illusions and what’s left is the truth. You don’t find truth as much as you stumble upon it when you have cast away your illusions. ”
“As the master said, “Do not seek the truth.” But you can’t stop seeking just because some ancient Zen master said to. Seeking is an energy, a movement toward something. Spiritual seekers are moving toward God, nirvana, enlightenment, ultimate truth, whatever. To seek something, you must have at least some vague idea or image of what it is you are seeking. But ultimate truth is not an idea or an image or something attained anew. So, to seek truth as something objective is a waste of time and energy. Truth can’t be found by seeking it, simply because truth is what you are. Seeking what you are is as silly as your shoes looking for their soles by walking in circles. What is the path that will lead your shoes to their soles? That’s why the Zen master said, “Do not seek the truth.” Instead, cease cherishing illusions.”
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Philip K. Dick
“For decades, a classic joke has circulated among Lacanians to exemplify the key role of the Other’s knowledge: a man who believes himself to be a grain of seed is taken to the mental institution where the doctors do their best to finally convince him that he is not a grain but a man. When he is cured (convinced that he is not a grain of seed but a man) and allowed to leave the hospital, he immediately comes back trembling. There is a chicken outside the door and he is afraid that it will eat him. “Dear fellow,” says his doctor, “you know very well that you are not a grain of seed but a man”. “Of course I know that,” replies the patient, “but does the chicken know it?” Therein resides the true stake of psychoanalytic treatment: it is not enough to convince the patient about the unconscious truth of his symptoms, the unconscious itself must be brought to assume this truth.”
by Rupert Read
The way I take this koan is that the man grasped that he wasn’t a grain on an intellectual level but not on I’ll call it existential level.
In zen this is often refered to “sickness, old age, and death”
We all know that at some time we will get sick, grow older, and lose loved ones and friends and ourselves.
This is something that Heidegger shares with zen
Hekiganroku case 41 Joshu and the Great Death
Joshu asked tosu, “What if a man of Great Death comes back to life again?” Tosu said, “You should not go by night; wait for the light of day and come.”
Sam Harris – Death and the Present Moment
(warning watching this may induce Buddhism)
I don’t know about down loading from this site but you can press play on the player and listen
FF: The Philosophy of Nietzsche – Joseph Brisendine
Once knowledge has been “deposited” in the Other, the subject is transformed. This is why psychotherapy works. When a suffering subject articulates its suffering to an other, that suffering is transformed because not only do I know that I am suffering, but the Other knows as well, and therefore my knowledge becomes efficacious because it is reflected in the Other.
Another connection of Heidegger with zen is zen master dogen’s “Uji” “Time-Being”
Uji The Time-Being
by Eihei Dogen Zenji
An ancient buddha said:
For the time being stand on top of the highest peak.
For the time being proceed along the bottom of the deepest ocean.
For the time being three heads and eight arms.
For the time being an eight- or sixteen-foot body.
For the time being a staff or whisk.
For the time being a pillar or lantern.
For the time being the sons of Zhang and Li.
For the time being the earth and sky.
“For the time being” here means time itself is being, and all being is
time. A golden sixteen-foot body is time; because it is time, there is the
radiant illumination of time. Study it as the twelve hours of the present.
“Three heads and eight arms” is time; because it is time, it is not separate
from the twelve hours of the present.
Even though you do not measure the hours of the day as long or short, far or
near, you still call it twelve hours. Because the signs of time’s coming and
going are obvious, people do not doubt it. Although they do not doubt it,
they do not understand it. Or when sentient beings doubt what they do not
understand, their doubt is not firmly fixed. Because of that, their past
doubts do not necessarily coincide with the present doubt. Yet doubt itself
is nothing but time.
The way the self arrays itself is the form of the entire world. See each
thing in this entire world as a moment of time.
Things do not hinder one another, just as moments do not hinder one
another. The way-seeking mind arises in this moment. A way-seeking moment
arises in this mind. It is the same with practice and with attaining the way.
Thus the self setting itself out in array sees itself. This is the
understanding that the self is time.
Know that in this way there are myriads of forms and hundreds of grasses
throughout the entire earth, and yet each grass and each form itself is the
entire earth. The study of this is the beginning of practice.
When you are at this place, there is just one grass, there is just one
form; there is understanding of form and no-understanding of form; there is
understanding of grass and no-understanding of grass. Since there is nothing
but just this moment, the time-being is all the time there is. Grass-being,
form-being are both time.
Each moment is all being, is the entire world. Reflect now whether any
being or any world is left out of the present moment.
A follow up thought/link on Heidegger and zen master Dogen.
Dōgen Zenji (19 January 1200 – 22 September 1253) was a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher born in Kyōto. He founded the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan after travelling to China and training under Rujing, a master of the Chinese Caodong lineage.
Dōgen is known for his extensive writing including the Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma or Shōbōgenzō, a collection of ninety-five fascicles concerning Buddhist practice and enlightenment.
The Standpoint of Dogen and His Ideas on Time and Dogens view on Life-Death