Tag Archive: Heidegger


 

In a comment to my last post on triads and divinities, my frequent commenter/interlocutor “dmf” points out a nice essay by Robert Gall called “From Daimonion to the ‘Last’ God: Socrates, Heidegger, and the God of the Thinker,” which Mark Fullmer has made available beyond the restricted-access community.

Gall distinguishes between the god of the religious believer, the god of the philosopher (“all those abstract ‘ultimate realities’ that have accumulated throughout the history of Western philosophy that complete some comprehensive, intellectual view of all that is”), and the “god of the theologian,” including those theological “knockoffs,” as Rorty calls them — like Tillich’s of Heidegger, Mark Taylor’s of Derrida, Richard Kearney’s of both (among others), process theologians’ of Whitehead, and, earlier, Aquinas’s of Aristotle — that appropriate philosophy for theology.

To these three Gall adds a fourth: the “god of the thinker.”

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Elixir as child’s play

Marina Zurkow’s Elixir videos are wonderful, as is her Renatured blog. (Thanks to Tim for posting about her work.)

There is something sad and elemental about them, in their depiction of the self-containedness of our worlds and their ultimate vulnerability in the face of the chaos beyond. At the same time, the title suggests an alchemical remedy of sorts. Is this the elixir (of self-awareness) that will heal the rift between us and the cosmos, the child-like Aeon about to be born into the storm, or is it just another placebo, the child’s toy of Heidegger’s account of the Heraclitean Aion (which, after all, is as good as things get in this part of the universe)?

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happy hallowe’en

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As occasionally happens, I was invited to speak last week at a local Unitarian Universalist service (in Stowe, Vermont). Since today/night is Hallowe’en/Samhain and that’s part of what I spoke about, I thought I would share a brief summary of the talk, which was called “Hallowed Ground, Sacred Space, and the Space Between the Worlds.”

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ScGLdfqdYo&hl=en&fs=1&

There’s something about the flare-up over Carlin Romano’s Chronicle of Higher Ed article “Heil Heidegger!” that manages to crystallize both the virtues and the potential utter barrenness of the web as a site for direct philosophical action (i.e., constructive debate that contributes, however marginally, to philosophy).

Romano’s article takes advantage of the forthcoming publication of a translated text by Emmanuel Faye to deliver what he imagines will be a death-blow to Heideggerian studies. Heidegger, Romano claims, was not only a Nazi, in a brief and passing phase of his career, at a time when many Germans were caught up with the political zeitgeist astir in their country and before the really twisted stuff started happening (pogroms and death camps and all). No, he was the philosopher of Nazism, somehow responsible for it through and through.

To anyone who has taken time to study Heidegger, it sounds like a silly argument, or at least a dramatically overdrawn one. So it fails — if one reads the readers’ comments, which at the time of my writing this post have nearly reached a hundred. But if one doesn’t read the comments — which is more likely the case with readers of the Chronicle – or if one reads them with that skepticism that, among American readers, is all too typically directed at pointy-headed philosophers, “continentalists,” theory-headed “academic leftists,” and the like — then the article succeeds. CHE has made its point: Heidegger is out.

The reactions the article has elicited, both in the comments and on other philosophy blogs, have been understandably steaming hot. Reading them makes one feel like a bicyclist silently passing by a massive car pile-up, at which drivers are screaming at each other, taking sides and forming alliances, lobbing pieces of glass and metal at each other, or throwing remains of broken-up cars into a big bonfire and waiting for a cop or an ambulance who, like Godot, will never materialize. It’s a little like the eight-minute traffic jam in Godard’s mock-apocalyptic Weekend (see above).

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I’ve been reading Graham Harman’s Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects and Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics. More accurately, I’ve been dipping into and sipping from the first and systematically digesting the second. Given the amount of blogging that goes on under the rising star(s) of ‘object-oriented philosophy,’ ‘speculative realism,’ and Graham Harman himself, I figure it’s okay and may even turn out productive for me to air some of my reactions in public.

To start with, I will say that Graham is one of the most engaging, entertaining, enjoyable, rhetorically satisfying, and utterly lucid of the contemporary philosophers I have read in recent memory. And his project, as far as I can discern it so far, is of fairly direct relevance to the thinking through of socio-ecological issues, or at least to the philosophical working-out of some of the dilemmas, the conceptual blockages and theoretical miasmas, that have made it difficult for us to think our way through the complex socio-ecological issues that confront us.

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Paul Ennis has posted an interview with me over at Another Heidegger Blog. It follows a few great interviews with distinguished company — philosophers Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, and Lee Braver — and I hope it and the rest of the series generate productive cross-currents and conversations between philosophers, greens, and others.

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Meanwhile, I’m in Amsterdam for a meeting of the ISSRNC, an interdisciplinary association that’s been producing some very interesting conversations about the intersections of religion, nature, and culture — without taking any of those three terms for granted — since its inception just a few years ago. More on that soon.

But what a lovely city. Last night, as the sky was finally beginning to darken after 10 pm, the lanterns on the streets were aglow and the lights beneath the bridges reflected on the canals, all of it blanketed by the soft hum of people’s voices, and I could imagine myself enjoying the same scene in the fall, with red and orange leaves on the ground, and in the spring, with smells of blossoms in the air, and in a winter covered in snow, skaters lazily moving down the frozen canals. (I’m told, though, that the snow doesn’t stay around long any more when it does fall. Europe’s warming, too.)

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As ecocriticism expands and deepens in scope (of subject matter & media examined), extent (internationally), and diversity (in approaches, connections with other schools of thought, etc.), its interactions with non-literary fields such as cinema studies, theatre/performance studies, and musicology (as I posted about recently) are starting to develop in healthy ways. The ASLE conference had several sessions devoted to film — four panels, several papers within other panels, and a pre-conference session on film and media — which, I believe, is more than the conference has ever had. Since then, an Ecomedia Studies Wiki has been started, as has an Ecomedia listserv (with very little activity yet, only because I started it and I’ve been too preoccupied to get any conversation going). Among related ventures, the Media Ecology Association‘s 2010 convention will be on “Media Ecology and Natural Environments” (e-mail Paul Grosswiler for further info on that). A group of us are hoping to make a little splash at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies conference next year. If you have any interest in such things, feel free to e-mail me directly, but expect a slow response during the summer, as I’m on the road through much of it (between the cabin where I’m blogging from in Vermont and Amsterdam the week after next, then the west coast of British Columbia & Alaska, then New Mexico in mid-August).

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Responding to a post on this blog, Kvond, a little while ago, raised the question of the relationship between Arne Naess, originator of “deep ecology,” and Spinoza – which made me think of the interesting if sporadic/uneven/episodic relationships between the main traditions of continental philosophy and environmental thought. A glance at the changing editions of Environmental Philosophy, a reader originally edited by Michael Zimmerman but now collectively edited and in its fourth edition, shows us how the place of continental philosophy has grown from barely a mention in the first two editions (1993, 1998) to an entire six-chapter section in the fourth. How that came to be is a story that has yet to be written, though a few brief accounts exist, such as Michael Zimmerman’s chapter in Rethinking Nature , comments scattered through Zimmerman’s Contesting Earth’s Future, and Bruce Foltz’s brief but excellent piece in John Protevi’s Dictionary of Continental Philosophy, which I discovered as I was wrapping up this post.

What follows is a highly selective and episodic overview of key moments in that unfolding relationship. But I start with a few caveats.

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