Holding to the truth of death—death is al - ways most/just [one’s] own—shows an - other kind of cer tainty, more pri mor dial than any cer tainty re gard ing be ings en - coun tered within the world or for mal ob - jects;foritisthecertaintyof be ing-in-the-world.2 Mar tin Heidegger, Be ing and Time..
Heidegger is against the modern tradition of philosophical “aesthetics” because he is for the true “work of art” which, he argues, the aesthetic approach to art eclipses. Heidegger's critique of aesthetics and his advocacy of art thus form a complementary whole. Section 1 orients the reader by providing a brief overview of Heidegger's philosophical stand against aesthetics, for art . Section 2 explains Heidegger's philosophical critique of aesthetics, showing why he thinks aesthetics follows from modern “subjectivism” and leads to late-modern (...) “enframing,” historical worldviews Heidegger seeks to transcend from within—in part by way of his phenomenological interpretations of art. Section 3 clarifies this attempt to transcend modern aesthetics from within, focusing on the way Heidegger seeks to build a phenomenological bridge from a particular (“ontic”) work of art by Vincent van Gogh to the ontological truth of art in general. In this way, as we will see, Heidegger seeks to show how art can help lead us into a genuinely meaningful postmodern age. Section 4 concludes by explaining how this understanding of Heidegger's project allows us to resolve the longstanding controversy surrounding his interpretation of Van Gogh. (shrink)
Iain I remember reading Thomas Jefferson in high school; he wrote so eloquently about our human need for freedom that I got choked up just reading him. When I found out he'd had slaves I was stunned, traumatized intellectually, but I lacked the resources to work through it very far at the time. Reading Heidegger a few years later I had a similar experience, only magnified and more complicated. As I read Heidegger's later work in Hubert Dreyfus's wonderful "later (...) Heidegger" course at UC Berkeley, I had that strange experience Emerson describes as our own ideas returning to us with "alienated majesty"; here, I thought, was someone who had eloquently expressed ideas that I felt were at the core of my own thinking but that I had never managed to articulate adequately. I was deeply moved by Heidegger's critique of our increasingly nihilistic treatment of our world and each other as meaningless resources to be optimized and I was inspired by his vision of poetic thinking as a way out of this historical nihilism. Then I found out he'd been a Nazi. (I think Dreyfus did not drop that bomb until half-way through the semester.) I was intellectually traumatized once again. But this time I didn't let the question go: How could the greatest thinker of the twentieth century have thrown the weight of his thinking behind its most horrible political regime? That's something I've been struggling with for almost twenty years now. (It is perhaps not so surprising that this question would fascinate me, given that I was raised by a politician and a forensic psychiatrist.) I believe I made some real progress in understanding this difficult and controversial issue in Heidegger on Ontotheology: Technology and the Politics of Education , and I hope to disseminate the view I presented there to a broader audience in a book I'm working on now, an intellectual biography of Heidegger. (shrink)
In 1991 Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs made oﬀ with ﬁve Academy Awards, including the coveted "Best Picture." Merely to introduce this fact I have already had to ignore several potentially relevant questions.  But I will spare you the tedium of endlessly qualifying my choice of subject matter; both existentialism and psychoanalysis teach us that the attempt to get behind our own starting points or render our pasts completely transparent to ourselves is an impossible task. Rather, let (...) me lay my Heideggerian cards on the table up front, brieﬂy outlining the methodological understanding from which I will be working in the rest of this paper. (shrink)
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is widely considered one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century, and, thanks to his (failed) attempt to assume philosophical leadership of the century’s most execrable political movement (Nazism) and his later critique of the history of metaphysics from Anaximander to Nietzsche as inherently nihilistic, he is also certainly the most controversial.
In this paper, I suggest that the important philosophy of the future will increasingly be found neither in the “continental” nor in the “analytic” traditions but, instead, in the transcending sublation of (all) traditions I call “synthetic philosophy.” I mean “synthetic” both in a sense that encourages the bold combinatorial mélange of existing styles, traditions, and issues, and also in the Hegelian sense of sublating dichotomous oppositions, appropriating the distinctive insights of both sides while eliminating their errors and exaggerations, and (...) thereby creating new syntheses in which the old oppositions are transcended. (shrink)
As a distinctive philosophical tradition, phenomenology was founded by Husserl and then developed further Ã¢â¬â into the domain of technology Ã¢â¬â by Husserl's most original and important student, Heideg ger. Let us begin with this standard view and then develop..
This paper examines Charles Taylor's case against complete secularization in A Secular Age in the light of Nietzsche's and Heidegger's critiques of the potential for nihilism inherent in different kinds of philosophical appeals to ?transcendence?. The Heideggerian critique of metaphysics as ontotheology suggests that the theoretical pluralism Taylor rightly embraces is more consistently thought of as following from a robust ontological pluralism, and that Taylor's own commitment to ontological monism seems to follow from his own desire to leave room in (...) his theoretical account for an ontotheological creator God who stands outside the world and ultimately unifies its meaning. The Nietzschean critique contends that any such appeal to something that transcends the limits of human finitude remains nihilistic, insofar as such valorizations of the otherworldly undermine our capacity to appreciate and experience the genuine meaningfulness of human existence in its this-worldly finitude. The paper explores Taylor's response to this Nietzschean critique, showing that Taylor ?deconstructs? the crucial distinction between immanence and transcendence that any ?exclusively humanist? worldview must presuppose. Taylor's response only partly resolves the problem, however, because the Nietzschean can still draw a defensible distinction between legitimate and meaningful appeals to transcendence and illegitimate and nihilistic ones. The paper concludes by suggesting that traditional appeals to a transcendent creator God, a heavenly afterlife, and so on, continue to run afoul of Nietzsche's critique of the nihilism of otherworldliness, and that we would do better to explicitly abjure such otherworldly appeals. (shrink)
Postmodernism isn't what it used to be. As a meaningful philosophical movement (rather than a vague term of disparagement), "postmodernism" primarily designated a diverse series of Heidegger inspired attempts to situate and guide our late modern historical age by uncovering and transcending its most destructive metaphysical presuppositions. Ironically, however, the only major contemporary philosophers still willing to call themselves "postmodernists" have renounced that "utopian" quest for a philosophical passage beyond modernity. From their perspective, the definitive Heideggerian hope for a "postmodern" (...) understanding of being looks like a retro futuristic fantasy, a quaint image of what the future might have been, which (like the Jetsons or Steampunk) has now been rendered obsolete. Unfortunately, when self described "postmodernists" abandon the attempt to identify and transcend the distinctive problems of modernity, they empty the philosophical movement of its primary meaning and purpose, allowing the label to degenerate into a vague shorthand many philosophers use merely to deride and dismiss.. (shrink)
In Time and Death: Heidegger's Analysis of Finitude, Carol White pursues a strange hermeneutic strategy, reading Heidegger backwards by reading the central ideas of his later work back into his early magnum opus, Being and Time. White follows some of Heidegger's own later directives in pursuing this hermeneutic strategy, and this paper critically explores these directives along with the original reading that emerges from following them. The conclusion reached is that White's creative book is not persuasive as a strict interpretation (...) of Heidegger's early work, but remains extremely helpful for deepening our appreciation of Heidegger's thought as a whole. Most importantly, White helps us to understand the pivotal role that thinking about death played in the lifelong development of Heidegger's philosophy. (shrink)
Heidegger is now widely recognized as one of the most influential and controversial philosophers of the twentieth century, yet much of his later philosophy remains shrouded in confusion and controversy. Restoring Heidegger's understanding of metaphysics as 'ontotheology' to its rightful place at the center of his later thought, this book demonstrates the depth and significance of his controversial critique of technology, his appalling misadventure with Nazism, his prescient critique of the university, and his important philosophical suggestions for the future of (...) higher education. It will be required reading for those seeking to understand the relationship between Heidegger's philosophy and National Socialism, as well as the continuing relevance of his work. (shrink)
In Heidegger on Ontotheology: Technology and the Politics of Education, I argue that Heidegger’s ontological thinking about education forms one of the deep thematic undercurrents of his entire career, but I focus mainly on Heidegger’s later work in order to make this case. The current essay extends this view to Heidegger’s early magnum opus, contending that Being and Time is profoundly informed – albeit at a subterranean level – by Heidegger’s perfectionist thinking about education. Explaining this perfectionism in terms of (...) its ontological and ethical components (and their linkage), I show that Being and Time’s educational philosophy seeks to answer the paradoxical question: How do become what we are? Understanding Heidegger’s strange but powerful answer to this original pedagogical question, I suggest, allows us to make sense of some of the most difficult and important issues at the heart of Being and Time, including what Heidegger really means by possibility, death, and authenticity. (shrink)
The idea inspiring the eco-phenomenological movement is that phenomenology can help remedy our environmental crisis by uprooting and replacing environmentally-destructive ethical and metaphysical presuppositions inherited from modern philosophy. Eco-phenomenology's critiques of subject/object dualism and the fact/value divide are sketched and its positive alternatives examined. Two competing approaches are discerned within the eco-phenomenological movement: Nietzscheans and Husserlians propose a naturalistic ethical realism in which good and bad are ultimately matters of fact, and values should be grounded in these proto-ethical facts; Heideggerians (...) and Levinasians articulate a transcendental ethical realism according to which we discover what really matters when we are appropriately open to the environment, but what we thereby discover is a transcendental source of meaning that cannot be reduced to facts, values, or entities of any kind. These two species of ethical realism generate different kinds of ethical perfectionism: naturalistic ethical realism yields an eco-centric perfectionism which stresses the flourishing of life in general; transcendental ethical realism leads to a more 'humanistic' perfectionism which emphasizes the cultivation of distinctive traits of Dasein. Both approaches are examined, and the Heideggerian strand of the humanistic approach defended, since it approaches the best elements of the eco-centric view while avoiding its problematic ontological assumptions and anti-humanistic implications. (shrink)
Heidegger presciently diagnosed the current crisis in higher education. Contemporary theorists like Bill Readings extend and update Heidegger's critique, documenting the increasing instrumentalization, professionalization, vocationalization, corporatization, and technologization of the modern university, the dissolution of its unifying and guiding ideals, and, consequently, the growing hyper-specialization and ruinous fragmentation of its departments. Unlike Heidegger, however, these critics do not recognize such disturbing trends as interlocking symptoms of an underlying ontological problem and so they provide no positive vision for the future of (...) higher education. By understanding our educational crisis 'ontohistorically', Heidegger is able to develop an alternative, ontological conception of education which he hopes will help bring about a renaissance of the university. In a provocative reading of Plato's famous 'allegory of the cave', Heidegger excavates and appropriates the original Western educational ideal of Platonic paideia, outlining the pedagogy of an ontological education capable of directly challenging the 'technological understanding of being' he holds responsible for our contemporary educational crisis. This notion of ontological education can best be understood as a philosophical perfectionism, a re-essentialization of the currently empty ideal of educational 'excellence' by which Heidegger believes we can reconnect teaching to research and, ultimately, reunify and revitalize the university itself. (shrink)
Andrew Feenberg?s most recent contribution to the critical theory of technology, Questioning Technology , is best understood as a synthesis and extension of the critiques of technology developed by Heidegger and Marcuse. By thus situating Feenberg?s endeavor to articulate and preserve a meaningful sense of agency in our increasingly technologized lifeworld, I show that some of the deepest tensions in Heidegger and Marcuse?s relation re-emerge within Feenberg?s own critical theory. Most significant here is the fact that Feenberg, following Marcuse, exaggerates (...) Heidegger?s ?fatalism? about technology. I contend that this mistake stems from Feenberg?s false ascription of a technological ?essentialismfito Heidegger. Correcting this and several related problems, I reconstruct Feenberg?s ?radical democraticEfficacyll for a counter-hegemonic democratization of technological design, arguing that although this timely and important project takes its inspiration from Marcuse, in the end Feenberg remains closer to Heidegger than his Marcuseanism allows him to acknowledge. (shrink)
Heidegger's Destruktion of the metaphysical tradition leads him to the view that all Western metaphysical systems make foundational claims best understood as 'ontotheological'. Metaphysics establishes the conceptual parameters of intelligibility by ontologically grounding and theologically legitimating our changing historical sense of what is. By first elucidating and then problematizing Heidegger's claim that all Western metaphysics shares this ontotheological structure, I reconstruct the most important components of the original and provocative account of the history of metaphysics that Heidegger gives in support (...) of his idiosyncratic understanding of metaphysics. Arguing that this historical narrative generates the critical force of Heidegger's larger philosophical project (namely, his attempt to find a path beyond our own nihilistic Nietzschean age), I conclude by briefly showing how Heidegger's return to the inception of Western metaphysics allows him to uncover two important aspects of Being's pre-metaphysical phenomenological self-manifestation, aspects which have long been buried beneath the metaphysical tradition but which are crucial to Heidegger's attempt to move beyond our late-modern, Nietzschean impasse. (shrink)
In Questioning Technology, Feenberg accuses Heidegger of an untenable 'technological essentialism'. Feenberg's criticisms are addressed not to technological essentialism as such, but rather to three particular kinds of technological essentialism: ahistoricism, substantivism, and one-dimensionalism. After these three forms of technological essentialism are explicated and Feenberg's reasons for finding them objectionable explained, the question whether Heidegger in fact subscribes to any of them is investigated. The conclusions are, first, that Heidegger's technological essentialism is not at all ahistoricist, but the opposite, an (...) historical conception of the essence of technology which serves as the model for Feenberg's own view. Second, that while Heidegger does indeed advocate a substantivist technological essentialism, he offers a plausible, indirect response to Feenberg's voluntaristic, Marcusean objection. Third, that Heidegger's one-dimensional technological essentialism is of a non-objectionable variety, since it does not force Heidegger to reject technological devices in toto. These conclusions help vindicate Heidegger's ground-breaking ontological approach to the philosophy of technology. (shrink)