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Category Archives: On Philosophy

d) The correct condition of the ψυχή  as presupposition for genuine λόγος (διαλέγεσθαι).

To summarize, λόγος [speech], in its genuine function, is founded on dialectic. But, at the same time, we see that λέγειν [to speak], if it is living speech–living in the sense that it lets others see–necessarily presupposes a readiness to see on the part of the ψυχή [soul] of those others. Yet, on the other hand, in fact most men do not possess this readiness, and διαλέγεσθαι [discussing], as Plato says explicitly in the Phaedrus, is a πραγματεία [task] (cf. 273e5), a real labor and not something befalling a person by chance. To that extent, a special task and a special kind of speaking are necessary in the first place, in order to develop this readiness to see on the part of the very one who is investigating and also on the part of the other, the one to whom something is to be communicated. Therefore everything depends on this, that the ψυχή, the inner comportment, the Being of the existence of man, lies in the correct condition with regard to the world and to itself, i.e., in the correct συμμετρία, in an adequacy to the things themselves which are to be grasped in their uncoveredness. Socrates summarizes this once more at the end of the Phaedrus, now specifically not in a theoretical explication but in an invocation of the gods. ”O dear Pan and all ye gods here”-Socrates is outdoors with Phaedrus, beyond the city-“grant it to me to become beautiful” (καλός is nothing else than the opposite of αἰσχρός, ugliness, and signifies συμμετρία versus άμετρία, the proper adequacy versus inadequacy) “ grant it to me to become beautiful, to come into the correct condition in relation to what is in myself, what comes from the inside, and grant that whatever I possess extrinsically may be a friend to what is inner, and grant that l repute as rich the one who is wise, i.e., the one who is concerned with the disclosure of things, the disclosure of beings, and grant that to me the amount of gold, the quantity of treasure, I possess in this world will have for me as much value, and that I will claim for it only as much value, as a man of understanding should claim.”(279b8-c3).  That is, he beseeches here specifically for this correct condition with regard to the things themselves, and at the same time also for the correct bounds. Thus nothing in excess, for that could again turn into ignorance and barbarism…

Heidegger (Plato’s Sophist, p.240-241)

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8. Removal of the shackles is thus not genuine emancipation, for it remains external and fails to penetrate to man in his ownmost self. The circumstances of the prisoner change, but his inner condition, his willing [WolIen], does not. The released prisoner does indeed will, but he wills to return to his shackles. Thus willing, he wills not-willing: he does not want to be involved himself. He avoids and shrinks back from the demand to fully give up his previous situation. He is also a long way from understanding that man truly is only in so far as he demands this of himself.

The second stage ends with this thwarted emancipation. The emancipation fails because the one to be freed does not understand it.

Liberation is only genuine when he who is liberated thereby becomes free for himself, i.e. comes to stand in the ground of his essence.

-Heidegger (The Essence of Truth: Plato’s Cave Allegory and Theaetetus, p. 31-32)

Decline of the critical spirit, weakening of judgment, perversion of the function of science, all point to a serious cultural disorder. To think, however, that in locating these symptoms one is attacking the evil at its roots, is to make a grave mistake. For already we hear the swelling chorus of objections from the self-styled bearers of a new culture: “But we do not want a tried and tested knowledge to rule us and to decide over our actions; our aim is not to think and to know but to live and to do.”

Here we have the pivotal point of the present crisis of civilization: the conflict between knowing and being, between intelligence and existence. There is nothing novel about it. The essential insufficiency of our understanding was already realised in the earliest days of philosophy. The reality in and through which we live is in its essence unknowable, inaccessible to the processes of the mind, absolutely disparate from thought. In the first half of the nineteenth century this old truth, already understood by a Nicolaus Cusanus, is taken up again by Kierkegaard, whose philosophy centres upon the antithesis of existing and thinking. It served him to found his faith all the more firmly. It was not until much later that other thinkers forced this thought on to tracks away from God and let it derail in nihilism and despair, or in worship of earthly life. Nietzsche, deeply convinced of man’s tragic exile from truth and interpreting the will to life as will to power, repudiated the intellectual principle with all the poetical vigour of his genius. Pragmatism deprived the concept truth of its claim to absolute validity by placing it in the flow of time. To the pragmatists truth is what has essential validity for those professing it. Something is true when and in so far as it is valid for a particular time. A crude mind could easily think: something is valid, therefore it is true. A truth-concept reduced to only relative value was bound to bring a kind of ideological egalitarianism, an abolition of all differences of rank and value of ideas, in its wake. Sociological thinkers like Max Weber, Max Scheler, Karl Mannheim and Oswald Spengler have of late introduced the term of the Seinsverbundenheit des Denkens, which may be very imperfectly rendered with “the environment or life-conditioned nature of thought.” The concept itself makes them next-door neighbours to historical materialism, which is professedly anti-intellectual. Thus the tendencies of a whole age which, to avoid the vagueness of “anti-intellectual,” we venture to call anti-noetic, merged into a mighty stream which shortly was to threaten what were long thought to be insurmountable barriers of intellectual culture. It was Georges Sorel who, in his Réflexions sur la Violence, formulated the practical political consequences of all this, thereby becoming the spiritual father of all modern dictatorships.

But it is not only the dictators and their followers who desire the subjugation of the will to knowledge to the vital impulse. We have here the most fundamental element of the cultural crisis as a whole. This revulsion of the spirit is the essential process dominating the situation in which we find ourselves to-day.

Was it philosophical thought which led the way and society which followed? Or do we have to reverse the order and admit that it is a case of thought dancing to the tune of life? The doctrine itself which subjugates knowledge to life seems to impose the latter view.

Have earlier generations ever renounced the intellectual principle in this way? It seems impossible to find historical parallels. Systematic philosophical and practical anti-intellectualism such as we are witnessing, appears to be something truly novel in the history of human culture. To be sure, the past has often known reactions of thought whereby a too exclusive primacy of the understanding was succeeded by a revindication of the will. This is what happened, for instance, when the thought of Duns Scotus took its place beside that of Thomas Aquinas. These spiritual reactions, however, were not concerned with practical life or the worldly order but with the Faith, the striving for the ultimate meaning of life. And this striving itself always remained an “apprehending,” however far reason was left behind. The modern mind too often confuses intellectualism with rationalism. Even those forms of approach which, transgressing the purely intellectual, were intended to attain through insight and contemplation what was inaccessible to the understanding, always remained directed towards knowledge of truth. The Greek or the Indian word for it, gnosis or jnâna, makes it clear enough that even the purest mysticism remains a “knowing.” It is always the spirit which moves in the world of the intelligible. To have truth was always the ideal. There are no instances known to me of cultures having forsaken Truth or renounced the understanding in its widest sense.

When earlier currents of thought repudiated allegiance to Reason it was always in favour of the super-rational. What parades as the culture of today does not only disavow Reason but also the knowable itself, and this in favour of the sub-rational, the passions and the instincts. It votes for the will, not in the sense of Duns Scotus, however, but for the will to worldly power, for “existence,” for “blood and soil,” instead of “understanding” and “spirit.”

-Johan Huizinga (In the Shadow of Tomorrow, p.99-104)

Sometimes I wonder what we think about books and quotes and “thinkers” and concepts or ideas.

Take this quote for example:

The Greek word φιλόσοφος is put together from σοφός and φίλος. A σοφός is someone who understands something, who has reliable knowledge in a particular area, who understands the matter at hand and who enacts an ultimate decision and law-giving, φίλος is friend,φιλόσοφος someone whose Dasein is determined through φιλόσοφία(Philosophy): not someone who pursues ‘philosophy’ as a matter of general ‘education’, but someone for whom philosophy is the basic character of the being of man and who, in advance of his age, creates this being, lets it originate, drives it forward. The philosopher is someone possessed of the drive and inner necessity to understand beings in the whole, φιλόσοφία , φιλόσοφεῖν(to philosophize) does not mean science (research within a delimited region of beings and with a restricted problematic), nor is it primary and fundamental science, but is an openness to the questioning of being and essence, wanting to get to the bottom of beings and of being as such. In short, the philosopher is the friend of being.

– Heidegger (The Essence of Truth, p.66-67)

Where is this thought?
And I don’t mean physically within your brain or physical being.

Where does it lay within the whole of what can be thought?

I mean thinking and thoughts take us places. We travel, by ultimately coming to conclusions based on our more or less immediate reactions and our interpretation of our, much too personal, gatherings of experience.

But if we can actually take a moment to ‘look back’ upon our decisive moments of answer creation…to experience Religio, so to speak, and become religious. Then we could see more clearly where we’ve come from and therefore see more clearly into where we are in the present.

That right there is a travelling. And even φιλόσοφία could here be said to be the way to seeing Being and Man. Ie. the Philosopher notices what is essential in the being that is undergoing the experience of religio. And then seeks to establish the –how–it comes to be by its “law-giving”.

And contained herein is a possible path into the essence of φιλόσοφία.

In short, in the above passage, I see a way to the beginning of thought. To seeing the whole of thought so as to see how it is best done. And to seeing the importance of History and of being historical.

If we can come look and see, we shall notice that every concept or idea or institution is invariably attached to man, him or herself. To his/her actual being.

Therefore History can not be accomplished without someone actually becoming the being that is capable of thinking, and therefore being, the way that can create history. Either in the form of a book or in a more direct physical action.

The same applies to all “systems” of thought. Ie. the institution of science. It requires a person to be a particular way. Although science is not the way to look-back, religio, nor the way to seeing Being, as a whole, φιλόσοφία.

This then can also become another train of thought into the depths of the essence and Being of Man. What is the essence of Man? What allows him to become able to have or take on “other” ways of being?

 

And even later, through Psychology, we can even make a trip to a distinction between the sexes, by seeing how Feminine and Masculine development differs substantially in how they tend to comport themselves to the overcoming of Fear.

The great, to some extent ultimate, task posed here is that of understanding fear in all its forms as an instrument of the self. Fear of the unknown and of all that is ego-alien turns out to be fear of the unknown aspects of “one-Self” and of “one-Self” as the unknown. In this sense the transformation process of becoming one-Self again and again embraces new unknowns, indeed, ever-new worlds of fear-inspiring unknowns.

In development through the archetypal stages, the individual must overcome fear with each transition from one phase to another, which, of course, always means the new phase of an existence unknown until that time. In this context we cannot take up the various ways in which men and women overcome fear, nor can we address the striking and as yet not well understood fact that the manner in which the ego overcomes fear is symbolically “genital,” i.e., is coordinated with the specific form of the genitals. Thus the male form of overcoming fear is active, intrusive, and pugnaciously heroic just as the typical form of fear appears as “castration” fear. Conversely, women’s fear is the fear of rape, and her way of overcoming fear is not actively heroic but passively heroic, accepting and incorporating it in her surrender to fear.

– Neumann (Fear of the Feminine, p.278-9)

With all of these possible places to go, all this seemingly infinite ability to travel; to imagine, combine and create, why do we still remain stuck in a singular way? Where is our Heroic tendency towards conscious, continuous development? Why do we not see all the possible ways one could think or exist? Why do we destroy that which we fear and do not understand? Isn’t the real point to travel freely through all thoughts, to never stay too long in one view as things should be in consciously constant flux to remain, even remotely, tied to reality?

 

solitudinus

The Greek word φιλόσοφος is put together from σοφός and φίλος. A σοφός is someone who understands something, who has reliable knowledge in a particular area, who understands the matter at hand and who enacts an ultimate decision and law-giving, φίλος is friend, φιλόσοφος someone whose Dasein is determined through φιλόσοφία(Philosophy): not someone who pursues ‘philosophy’ as a matter of general ‘education’, but someone for whom philosophy is the basic character of the being of man and who, in advance of his age, creates this being, lets it originate, drives it forward. The philosopher is someone possessed of the drive and inner necessity to understand beings in the whole, φιλόσοφία , φιλόσοφεῖν(to philosophize) does not mean science (research within a delimited region of beings and with a restricted problematic), nor is it primary and fundamental science, but is an openness to the questioning of being and essence, wanting to get to the bottom of beings and of being as such. In short, the philosopher is the friend of being.

– Heidegger (The Essence of Truth, p.66-67)