Other Beginnings: Heidegger's Linguistic Narcissism

Dissertation, State University of New York at Stony Brook (1990)

A cross-cultural analysis of Heidegger's notion of historical temporality that attempts to establish cross-cultural distance as a necessary component in philosophical criticism. The focus is on how Heidegger's particular linguistic strategies link up with, and perpetuate, the Aristotelian notion of linear time, embodied in the German academic model of history preoccupied with singular Greek origins of "world history," and how they function as a justification for intellectual colonialism. The analysis also shows how Heidegger, and the European intellectual tradition for which he speaks and that continues to be practiced in present-day Western academic institutions, radically suppresses the subject--in the individual, cultural, ethical, and political sense. As a consequence, Heidegger's notion of the destiny of being that emerges with that of historical temporality precludes the very possibility of "dialogue," "discourse," or "responsibility." This radical foreclosure of the Heideggerian project itself is critically called "linguistic narcissism." The perspectives from which the analysis receives its inner determinacy and philosophical impact are a discussion of "beginning" in the Rig Veda, historical origins of ancient Indian culture; the role of context in determining the problem of linear continuity in Madhyamika philosophy; and Japanese aesthetic considerations of linguistic formations. This is to show the dangers of mistaking the Indo-European myth of the origin of rational languages as scientific truth and that philosophy of change and process, which determines truth in the ontological, must not be tied absolutely to the European tradition, as Heidegger claims
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