Every threshold is placed at an edge, and yet not merely an edge, for the threshold always carries with it a sense of opening up toward or closing away from. Only that place at the edge that anticipates or remembers can constitute a threshold. The threshold thus is not a place in which one can remain – to do so is for it to cease to be a threshold – but is always a place of movement and transition. Indeed, one (...) might say that the threshold is the coalescence of a time into the form of a place, since the threshold only appears as a threshold in that time of opening-toward or closing-away-from. The being of the threshold as a place is therefore essentially determined by the event of approach or withdrawal, anticipation or remembrance, arrival or departure, coming-to-be or passingaway. (shrink)
“In space”, declared the posters for the 1979 movie Alien, in a deliberately disconcerting juxtaposition, “no-one can hear you scream.” Yet even the space that lies beyond the earth is not utterly silent – stars and planets themselves produce sounds that radiate through the rarefied gases lying between them, although the wavelengths produced lie far beyond the range of human hearing. There are, then, not even in the spaces between the planets and the stars, any truly silent spaces, and merely (...) to be present in a space, no matter the nature of the space in question, is already to disturb that space in multiple ways – such disturbance typically being manifest acoustically no less than visually. Yet often we tend to conceptualise space and spatial presence in terms that actually give priority to the visual over the acoustic, and even to neglect the spatial character of the acoustic altogether. A classic example of this is to be found in the work of the British philosopher Peter Strawson who famously proposed, as a kind of thought-experiment, the idea of what he called a ‘No-Space world’ that was constituted in purely auditory terms, and was for just this reason taken to be a non-spatial world. 1.. (shrink)
Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, constitutes one of the earliest reflections on the way in which the cultural experience and interpretation is transformed by the advent of what were then the ‘new’ media technologies of photography and film. Benjamin directs attention to the way in which these technologies release cultural objects from their unique presence in a place and make them uniformly available irrespective of spatial location. The way in which old (...) media technologies apparently obliterate the place of cultural objects is also a feature of new media. However, the apparent obliteration of place that occurs in this way is itself problematic, in giving rise to a loss of the sense of spatial and temporal distance, and so of the relative locatedness of both experiencing subject and interpreted object. The loss of a sense of the place of the object threatens a loss of the sense of place of the subject, and with it, a loss of a proper sense of heritage as such. (shrink)
Much contemporary talk of virtual 'worlds' proceeds as if the virtual could somehow be considered as in competition with or as an alternative to the world of the 'nonvirtual' or the 'everyday'. This paper argues that such a contrast is fundamentally mistaken, and that the virtual is not autonomous with respect to the everyday, but is rather embedded within it, and an extension of it.
Ted Relph’s review of Heidegger’s Topology acknowledges the importance of Heidegger’s thought in the contemporary turn to place within the Humanities and Social Sciences, just as it acknowledges the importance of the philosophical inquiry into place as such (Relph is also particularly generous in his estimation of the role of my work, in Heidegger’s Topology and elsewhere, in contributing to this). Moreover, Relph provides a strikingly apt and vivid image of the way the concept of ‘place’ has, in recent years, (...) ‘exploded’ across many different areas and disciplines, in a proliferation of different forms and uses. While there are many works that deploy various senses of place, and that also delineate the detailed textures and forms of particular places, when it comes to the theoretical inquiry into place, the focus, for the most part, is not on place as such, but either on the effects of place or else on place as itself an effect of other processes. Thus David Harvey, as Relph notes, treats place as a social construction, claiming that the only interesting question then concerns the social processes that give rise to place (see Harvey, 1996: 293-4) – here place is nothing more than an effect; Doreen Massey, on the other hand, treats place, which she refuses to distinguish from space, as significant largely in terms of the consequences of our imagination of place (see Massey, 2005: esp. 5-8) – here it is the effects of place that are given priority. Even the work of a theorist such as Henri Lefebvre (see especially Lefebvre, 1991), so often cited as a key figure in the literature on place, turns out to be important, less for his elucidation of the concept, than.. (shrink)
The commonplace image of Heidegger is of a philosopher firmly rooted, not in the city of Freiburg in which much of his life was spent, but in the Alemannic-Schwabian countryside around the village of Messkirch in which he was born. It would seem that the distance between Heidegger and Benjamin, between Messkirch and Berlin or Paris could not be greater. But to what extent are Heidegger's own personal predilections for the provincial and the bauerlich actually tied to the philosophical (...) positions that he developed? Might it be the case that the city, perhaps even more than the countryside, has to play a central role in any serious attempt to think through the implications of Heidegger's thought of being? This presentation will explore how Heidegger might find h imself in Benjamin's city, and of the place of the city in Heidegger's own thought, with the aim of shedding light, not only on Heidegger's thought, but also on that of Benjamin himself. (shrink)
Oars sweep against resisting calm, the arc of their pull marking out a disturbance that clusters round each bite of the blade, their swing marking a measured passage across the lake’s expanse. The oars’ rhythmic movement, their muffled thudding resounding in the wooden curve of the hull whose upturned vaulting duplicates the sky’s own arch, reverberates in two realms, under air and above water, connecting at the same time as it disrupts. The movement of the oar, and of the boat, (...) is also the movement of the oarsman, the strength of arm and shoulder at one with the outstretched oar, reaching, grasping, pulling, releasing, and reaching again. A horn challenges the expectant quiet of the sky, a shotgun shatters it, the sounds repeating themselves in rolling waves, re-enacting a ritual long past, subsiding back into heavy stillness. The sound of the horn announces an arrival, declares an audience, proclaims an event – the gunshot commands it. In this place, in which the very light has the character of an immersive medium, in which the earth beckons toward its green embrace, one watches for the appearance, the imminent presence, of a hidden majesty, a concealed wonder, a secret – one that does not reside only in what is awaited, but in the place itself. (shrink)
Gadamer was fond of telling of his last meeting with his old teacher Martin Heidegger: ‘You are right’, said Heidegger, ‘language is conversation [Sprache ist Gespräch].’1 We might argue as to what such a comment, assuming Gadamer remembered it aright, would really have meant for Heidegger – whether it would have constituted a significant revision of any view to which Heidegger was himself committed.2 The fact that Gadamer felt it worth repeating, however, does indicate something of Gadamer’s conception of the (...) relation between his thought and that of Heidegger, as well as of the centrality of the idea at issue in his own thought. Indeed, elsewhere Gadamer has commented that. (shrink)
Water, its presence or absence, and the forms in which it appears, is fundamental to any and every place on earth. Indeed, along with soil, air and light, water is elemental to place, and so also to all life and dwelling in place. Moreover, human life is itself essentially determined through its entanglement in place and places, and so is constituted, if indirectly, perhaps, through water and its forms. The centrality of place that I am alluding to here arises out (...) of a conception of the relation between human being and place, according to which who and what we are is fundamentally determined by the places in which we live – and this is so even while places are also shaped by the lives that are formed within them. (shrink)
The venture into the public realm seems clear to me. One exposes oneself to the light of the public, as a person. Although I am of the opinion that one must not appear and act in public selfconsciously, still I know that in every action the person is expressed as in no other human activity. Speaking is also a form of action. That is one venture. The other is: we start something. We weave our strand into a network of relations. (...) What comes of it we never know. We’ve all been taught to say: Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do. That is true of all action. Quite simply and concretely true, because one cannot know. That is what is meant by a venture. And now I would say that this venture is only possible when there is trust in people. A trust— which is difficult to formulate but fundamental—in what is human in all people. Otherwise such a venture could not be made (from the transcript of the interview of Hannah Arendt by Günther Gaus, 28 October 1964 – see EU). (shrink)
For anyone interested in the place of spatiality in Heidegger’s thinking, one of the key problems presented by Being and Time is Heidegger’s attempt, in §70, ‘to derive existential spatiality from temporality’1 – an attempt he himself referred to as ‘untenable’.2 This attempt turns out to not to be merely peripheral to Heidegger’s overall analysis, but is instead tied to certain central and problematic features in the argument of Being and Time, including its treatment of spatial and topographic concepts in (...) general, that can themselves be seen as associated with the failure of the project attempted there. The argument of §70 does not raise questions only about Heidegger’s treatment of spatiality, however, but also regarding the notion of ‘derivation’ itself – about how and whether such derivation is indeed possible in general, and how the dependence that it entails might be understood. (shrink)
The life of Gautama, who came to be known as the Buddha, the Enlightened One, is famously said to have been irrevocably changed by his experience of three things: poverty, old age, and death – it was this experience that started him on the road to enlightenment. There is no doubt that the encounter with death can be a life-changing experience, perhaps more so than either poverty or old-age, and not only because death may be construed as an especially powerful (...) emblem of human suffering. Quite aside from the emotional impact of death, it would seem to have an inevitable and irreducible strangeness that challenges our sense of our own existence. (shrink)
One of the most influential and significant developments in the philosophy of language over the last thirty years has been the rise of externalist conceptions of content. This essay aims to explore the implications of a form of externalism, largely derived from the work of Donald Davidson, for thinking about history, and in so doing to suggest one way in which contemporary philosophy of language may engage with contemporary philosophy of history. Much of the discussion focuses on the elaboration of (...) the externalism that is at issue, along with the holistic approach to content with which it is connected. It will be argued that such holistic externalism is itself thoroughly in keeping with the very character of historical inquiry itself, and can be seen to provide an underpinning to certain contemporary developments in historical thinking. (shrink)
It is often argued that there is a connection between certain forms of environmental or place-oriented thinking and conservative or reactionary politics. Frequently, the philosopher Martin Heidegger is taken to exemplify this connection through his own involvement with Nazism. In this essay, I explore the relations between Heidegger's thought and that of certain other key thinkers, principally the ethologist Jakob von Uexküll, and the geographers Friedrich Ratzel and Paul Vidal de la Blache, as well as with elements of Nazi ideology. (...) While Heidegger, Ratzel and Vidal de la Blache are shown to have a similar commitment to a holistic conception of the relation between human being and the world, and to also give priority to ideas of geographic space, or, as we may also say, to place, this is shown to run counter to the essentially subjectivist and biologically determinist position that is associated with Nazi thinking on these matters, and that can also be seen as a key element in the work of von Uexküll. It is argued that the clarification of these issues is not only important for matters of intellectual history alone, but also to ongoing discussions about the role and significance of place. Given the influence of geographical considerations on contemporary historiography, as well as in a number of other disciplines, and given also the role played by Ratzel and Vidal de la Blache, as well as Heidegger, in the rise of such 'place-oriented' thinking, the exploration and clarification of the differences at issue here is especially important. (shrink)
What is the relation between our beliefs, or thoughts in general, and the perceptual experience of the world that gives rise to those beliefs? Donald Davidson is usually taken to have a well-known answer to this question that runs as follows: while our beliefs are, at least in part, caused by our experience, such experience does not thereby count as providing a rational ground for those beliefs; our beliefs are thus evidentially grounded in other beliefs, but not in the experience (...) that gives rise to them. John McDowell, among others, has challenged this Davidsonian picture on the grounds that it actually severs the connection between beliefs and their proper evidential grounds. Against such a view, this paper argues the Davidsonian position grounds belief in the specificity of our own locatedness in the world, and in the more general and prior embeddedness of belief in the world that is a part of the very concept of belief. (shrink)
On the one hand, most of us would take honesty to be a key ethical virtue. Corporations and other organizations often include it in their codes of ethics, we legislate against various forms of dishonesty, we tend to be ashamed (or at least defensive) when we are caught not telling the truth, and honesty is often regarded as a key element in relationships. Yet on the other hand, dishonesty, that is, lying and deceit, seems to be commonplace in contemporary public (...) life even amongst those leading figures in our society whom we might otherwise take to be the exemplars of public virtue. So, is the emphasis on truth and honesty just a sham? Does the fact of our actual practice mean that truth and honesty matter only rhetorically, and, if so, does that mean that whatever it is we mean by ‘ethics,’ truth and honesty are not a part of it? What I will suggest is that truth is indeed central to ethical practice, and not only to ethical practice, but also to a properly democratic politics, and that the apparent breakdown in the commitment to truth in public life is indicative of a deeper ethical, as well as political, breakdown. (shrink)
The thirteen essays in this volume represent the most sustained investigation, in any language, of the connections between Heidegger's thought and the tradition of transcendental philosophy inaugurated by Kant. This collection examines Heidegger's stand on central themes of transcendental philosophy: subjectivity, judgment, intentionality, truth, practice, and idealism. Several essays in the volume also explore hitherto hidden connections between Heidegger's later "post-metaphysical" thinking—where he develops a "topological" approach that draws as much upon poetry as upon the philosophical tradition—and the transcendental project (...) of grasping the conditions that make experience of a meaningful world possible. This volume will interest philosophers in the continental tradition, where Heidegger's thought has long had a central role, as well as those many philosophers in the analytic tradition whose own approach to knowledge, semantics, and philosophy of mind traces its roots to Kant. (shrink)
Responding to criticisms raised by Christopher Norris, this paper defends an anti-relativist reading of the work of both Davidson and Heidegger arguing that that there are important lessons to be learnt from their example - one can thus be an anti-relativist (as well as a certain sort of realist) without giving up on Davidson or on Heidegger.
Both Kant and Davidson view the existence of mental states, and so the possibility of mental content, as dependent on the obtaining of a certain unity among such states. And the unity at issue seems also to be tied, in the case of both thinkers, to a form of self-reflexivity. No appeal to self-reflexivity, however, can be adequate to explain the unity of consciousness that is necessary for the possibility of content- it merely shifts the focus of the question from (...) the unity of consciousness in general to the unity of self-reflexivity in particular. Through a comparison of the views of Kant and Davidson on these matters, the nature of the unity of consciousness is explored, in relation to both the idea of the unity of the self and the unity that would seem to be required for the possibility of content. These forms of unity are seen to be indeed connected, and to be grounded, in Davidson and perhaps also in Kant, in organized, oriented, embodied activity. (shrink)
Hubert Dreyfus and Charles Spinosa's argument for 'robust' realism centres on the possibility of our having access to things as they are in themselves and so as having access to things in a way that is not dependent on our 'quotidian concerns or sensory capacities'. Dreyfus and Spinosa claim that our everyday access to things is incapable of providing access of this kind, since our everyday access is holistically enmeshed with our everyday attitudes and concerns. The argument that Dreyfus and (...) Spinosa provide in support of this conclusion seems, however, to depend on illegitimately combining what are really two separate issues: that concerning the independence of the things themselves with the independence of our means of access to those things. Contrary to Dreyfus and Spinosa, the fact that our everyday access to things is necessarily dependent on our everyday attitudes and concerns does not mean that we therefore have access to things only as they 'appear' rather than as they are 'in themselves'. (shrink)
To what extent is our being as social creatures dependent on our having a grasp of sociality? Is a purely solipsistic space, a space that can be grasped without any grasp of the existence of others, possible? These questions are examined and the possible connection between space and sociality explored. The central claim is that there is indeed an intimate relation between the concept of space and the idea of the social: that any creature that has a grasp of the (...) concept of space must also be a creature that has a grasp of sociality in the sense of having a grasp of itself as one creature existing alongside a multiplicity of other creatures. (shrink)
Donald Davidson has argued that 'most of our beliefs must be true' and that global scepticism is therefore false. Davidson's arguments to this conclusion often seem to depend on externalist considerations. Davidson's position has been criticised, however, on the grounds that he does not defeat the sceptic, but rather already assumes the falsity of scepticism through his appeal to externalism. Indeed, it has been claimed that far from defeating the sceptic Davidson introduces an even more extreme version of scepticism according (...) to which we cannot even know the contents of our own minds. This paper argues that these criticisms are mistaken and that Davidson does indeed have grounds to argue that scepticism is false. The externalism that figures in Davidson's antisceptical arguments is shown to be merely an element in Davidson's overall holism according to which the very possibility of having beliefs that could be true or false depends on most of those beliefs being true and their contents known. (shrink)
Foreword to the new edition Acknowledgements Introduction: radically interpreting Davidson I. From translation to interpretation 1. The Quinean background 1.1 Radical translation and naturalized epistemology 1.2 Meaning and indeterminacy 1.3 Analytical hypotheses and charity 2. The Davidsonian project 2.1 The development of a theory of meaning 2.2 The project of radical interpretation 2.3 From charity to triangulation..