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soleo

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Everything posted by soleo

  1. soleo added a post in a topic Anyone interested in correspondence?   

    Nice post, Michio. I've had a look through the things you're interested in and although nothing jumps at me straight away, we might have a thing or two in common.

    Music is an obvious biggy. Over 55,000 songs and growing and a decent and educated % of that is electronic. Economics: I'm interested in studying and deconstructing neoliberalism/neoclassicalism. A part of this area involves picking apart its economic theory and demonstrating its weaknesses (supply/demand curves, indifference curves, pivot point income, utility etc). Philosophy: I 'have' one of those honour-uni-degree things in this field which really doesn't mean anything other than the ability to cough up dough to do the course, read a few books, sit down and write a few essays and memorise what was asked and spurt the stuff come exam time, but it might help if there are basic problems you are dealing with. Other than that, I have a general and broad interest in critical theory and continental (European) philosophy.

    Like most here, I have a broad and healthy interest in reading and cultural study in general. To this I can add that I have many, many, many volumes of notes I've made from most stuff I've read, so this might be of interest (probably over 60 volumes). As an example, the stuff I've posted recently on Heidegger is how my notes run on that particular thinker, same kindof structure runs through most other topics and writers taken from. Other than that, I'm fluent in both English and Spanish, have a decent understanding of their grammar, a pretty decent cook and cocktail maker, love films and travel.

    If you feel there might be something here, just let me know.
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  2. soleo added a post in a topic Music you like...   

    Etta James, one of the greatest singers of the twentieth century, died today. She had a fascinating, roller coaster life, the stuff of legend, the stuff you could make into a hundred films, a life you could look on and say, that was destiny. And as fitting with most musicians of any significance, she kept herself distant from mainstream banality and recognition and only belatedly gained widespread attention when some of her songs either showed up in tacky, tinsel-town Hollywood, or were 'sang' by lesser lights of wider appeal.

    It's impossible to sum a career that spanned some six decades, and indeed, a lot of her albums over that period are not really worth digging into, but anyone who pretends to have even the most minimal interest in modern music cannot be without Etta's Chess 50th Anniversary Collection and the 1960 album, At Last.

    Here's a couple of highlights from a most impressive life. ¡Viva Etta! ¡Viva!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YApNirMC9gM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1uunRdQ61M

    P.S. Sorry about the shitty videos, but it's the music that counts, right?
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  3. soleo added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   


    The Will to Power was edited by Nietzsche's sister and Geist after Nietzsche's death. Eli had her own agenda which I consider was far from Nietzsche's intentions. This book is one of the reasons why someone so bright as Berty Russell completely failed to understand the thinker, why Nietzsche ended up with a reputation for being anti-semitic and connecting his idea of the ubermensch with Hitler's Master Race. I think a more fruitful and deeper understanding of Nietzsche can be obtained from reading both, On the Genealogy of Morality and Beyond Good and Evil.
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  4. soleo added a post in a topic A Simpleton's Reading of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus   

    There's another interesting position which may arise from this sentence. I've thought about it a little this morning and offer up the following:

    One could argue that there are 'things' and 'facts' and that the latter are things given value, given cultural predicates; we lay a function of meaning onto brute things which in their collective make up the world of significance. So, for example, in this game, we have a brute paper-thing with ink-stuff on it, or a brute slab of wood and hole and they are imbued with meaning and taken up as the fact of being money or a door.

    This is a valid position and makes up the world of 'science', but could we suggest that it misses another world, a world which is already meaningful, a world already structured in significance which is already there before we are born? As we grow up in the world, when something is encountered, say the door, the chairs or the floor, they already have significance, aleady have an involvement.

    This is difficult to put into words, but let's imagiine a little toddler. I'm figuring she does not go about projecting cultural predicates onto the things out there, but discloses the meaning of the things by way of its use. The door, say, is the to go out and the baby's skillful coping, its familiarity of its world, already has an understanding of that door which is - until abstracted and thought about - not a fact, not a value, but does already have a transparent, unreflective, non-factual, unnoticeable, meaning.

    And just as importantly, none of this meaning need necessarily be 'in' the mind. It is, for example, the door which draws us to go out, it is the chair which draws us to sit upon, not that we imbue them with a cultural fact like 'that is the to go out' or 'that is the to sit on' and then behave accordingly.

    In this way, we can also suspect from the quote that it is assuming the ontology of a self-sufficient subject which is the source of meaning, the thing which melds intentional content onto the things out there, and this itself is another paradigm open to great critique.

    Just some thoughts on a morning.
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  5. soleo added a post in a topic Biketrip   

    Thinking about general safety, decent roads, gorgeous lanscapes, beautiful people, mind-blowing culture and cuisine, and good weather, I think these areas are just perfect: the Loire Valley and the Tuscany region.
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  6. soleo added a post in a topic A Simpleton's Reading of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus   

    Peter, if all statements describe possible facts and the totality of these facts is the world, then anything we say about the world, everything that might make it valuable to us, must lie outside the world. The world, in terms of the kind of logic expressed in the proposition, cannot be expressed.

    With this reading, the question of significance of the world cannot be raised so long as we are bound within this kind of logic, that is, so long as one is fettered to merely formulating statements about things or events in the world, where the world is conceived solely in terms of a multiplicity of facts. We might even want to refer to the following possible interpretations. One: the question and meaning of the world has already been bracketed from us; two: that the world is unable to be expressed in a set of propositions; and three: that perhaps the world cannot be formulated at all.

    I appreciate that this is only one of a number of possible readings, but maybe to get at the world, it shouldn’t be conceived solely in terms of what-content; that the type of logic which reduces the world, its significance and meanings to merely a multiple of whats should be itself questioned, open to critique and possible liquidation.
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  7. soleo added a post in a topic A Preparatory Reading of Being & Time   


    I think it's not so much a 'direct grab' at being but more a provisional, circumspectional understanding, a formal indication. Indeed, by the mid-thirties, Heidegger didn't think you could get at being solely through Dasein. Society and culture, structures and practices, which imbue themselves in Dasein, also need to be accounted for.

    Nevertheless, with that said, I wanted to just draw attention to the manner in which I have gone about reading B&T and which may help a little to some of the other readers. I don't know....

    The provisional claim, the one being worked over in the entire text is that being is not a substance of any kind, it is not a form, a god, a substance with predicates, or what have you, but merely "that on the basis of which entities are already understood..." (p25:6).

    This means that whatever being is, however some-thing, whatever that some-thing be, makes sense to you, it has to do with your understanding, intelligibility, a comprehension of some kind. Now, this is radical. The entire tradition has pretty much said that being is the most general property, universal, indefinable and self-evident, but if you start framing being as something which is understood by you and your kind, you're beginning to undercut some of those notions.

    If you stop to pause at page 25, already little questions should spark: Understood by what? When? How? Under what circumstances? And you can appreciate that the given answer, the ones you give youself right here, may not necessarily be universal, indefinable, a general property and self-evident.

    Indeed, playing along with Heidegger just at this page, without any need to read on, what does it mean for something to be understood? If something, for me, is understood, then as I reflect on that which is understood, I'm already having to draw on a bewildering frame of other features and characteristics. The pen, to be understood, needs to draw itself or refer to other things like ink, plastic, ball-points, paper, which again, refer to other things, like wood, oil, which in turn refer to other things, and just for the sake of argument, point to implicit understandings of language and writing, given social practices, ways of behaviour and activities in given historical times, education, and so on. The being of the pen, as something understood by me as a pen, even at this most basic level, once reflected upon has a most complex way of being.

    Okay, so we read on a little more and we get to "Being arises from the average understanding of being in which we always operate and which...belongs to the essential constitution of Dasein itself." (p28.8).

    Being belongs to Dasein! Our understanding of being arises from us. And what of this 'average understanding' what does that mean? At this point, I didn't read on. I put the book down and went for a walk, I went to college and to work, strolled the park, watched the children and the families, went to a bar and had a coffee. Certainly, I saw folk dealing with things. They were walking the streets, going in and out of door ways, picking up pens and bags, exchanging money for goods, picking up forks and knives in a general manner, dressed in a way, talking in another, going about their lives coping and struggling, and if I asked a child or an adult in class what theoretical concepts, hypothesis, theories, grammars they were drawing upon as they went about their everyday life, they, like me, couldn't give an answer.

    They were just doing their thing, skillfully doing things without, in many cases, any deep reflection and certainly not drawing upon complex theories as they went about their daily lives. Most folk I encountered had this practical comportment towards the world of being. They, like me, knew-how to go about, and generally knew what they had to do.

    And this led me to think what is the structure of that kind of fundamental understanding, what of the world these fellows move about in, what of their encountering with others, and so on. I went back to the book and read on.

    In this manner, reading, reflecting, re-reading, reflecting, will mean that B&T will take years to read, but there's really no hurry. If the language throws you, don't worry. Just reflect on what you do grasp and even that will be something very significant and life rewarding.
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  8. soleo added a post in a topic A Preparatory Reading of Being & Time   

    I figure it all a bit of an exaggeration but if I recall, William Blattner said that for a good five years or so, he didn't read anything but B&T. And Sean Kelly has said pretty much the same thing. I've read in someplace, somewhere that Dreyfus took about forty years to 'finally nail' the sense of some given lines in B&T. If it's any consolation, there must only be a handful of loons in each country, each year who ever decide to read B&T and most of those who begin, will never finish. Go slow, read, re-read, re-read. Let the book rest for a while and reflect on the phenomena Heidy is trying to expose you to. If you feel on any given section you are lost or confused, don't ignore the problem. And don't worry. Try to voice your concern, maybe someone can help. I good tip is not to read the introduction because it's not really going to be understood until the book is finished. Another, keep on asking yourself, Is this how it is? Is this how it is for me?

    Here's a nice essay on problems of translation, German philosophy and Heidegger: http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/articles/german/gerphil.pdf
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  9. soleo added a post in a topic A Preparatory Reading of Being & Time   

    David, I think you've got a good grasp and I'm comfortable with the notion of 'conscious interaction with the world' if it doesn't assume some private-experiencing subject. Even when Martin talks about 'understanding' or 'state of mind' we've got to be careful. So, if we can appreciate that at almost all times it is a type of Cartesian, Searle, Kantian, Humean, Lockean paradigm which is being panned, we're definitely on the right track.

    Indeed, the more I read of Being and Time, the more I feel Heidy is having a little natter, not so much with Descartes and all that mind-stuff which follows right up to Searle of today, but more with Kant's critique. Evidently, right from the opening, Kant argues that experience requires understanding and while Kant asks himself the Cartesian question: what does understanding supply to experience, or better said, what do we supply to have experience of the world. Heidegger says to Kant, yeah, that's good, but if you do that we're going to run into problems like idealism/realism, still stumble on the endless empirical Versus rational debates of skepticism, others minds etc. What we should ask is a more passive question, something like: How does understanding arise? And the answer seems to be from a primordial, rock bottom, basic, non-cognitive familiarity in the world from a species who takes a stand on its being, who makes being an issue for it.

    Since realising this, I will need to go back over Kant and will need to re-study to see how the conversation I have in my hand really pans out between Heidy & Kant.

    Nevertheless, with that said, if you ever feel or consider that the phenomena explication of Dasein is questionable or misleading, then that ought to be brought to light. At every move, as we keep our eyes on the ball, all we have to do is ask ourselves, Is it really like that for me? This goes for the misreadings of Heidegger a la existentialism.

    Highlighting just the same phenomenon you mention above can be found here: http://www.galilean-...dpost__p__50702 . I don't know if that helps, but I brought it up just to show you that I too have read old Heidy boy in similar fashion.

    If any further enquiries arise, I'd be only too happy to post replies via email.
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  10. soleo added a post in a topic Drawing/Painting   

    Any chance of seeing some of your art work, Blood?
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  11. soleo added a post in a topic Three economic roles   

    A couple of ideas struck me as intriguing, namely:





    If you're about and the desire so takes you, is it possible to highlight what you understand by these notions?
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  12. soleo added a post in a topic A Preparatory Reading of Being & Time   

    I should have added this to the end of the other post, but no worries.

    We should by now have a more or less basic understanding of dasein and the approach H is going to take with B&T and I feel we are now ready to enter the world of Being-in which hovers around pages 78 to 104.

    This is a complex and mighty section, so I think it's a good idea for folk to digest what is going on here in their own way, under the perspective of their own understanding, before I make any more comments on the text, and I feel this may take some time. It's a big section and there's a lot of things going on.

    So, for now, I'll leave the discussion on Dasein and look forward to other folks' comments.

    Hope this has helped
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  13. soleo added a post in a topic What does your avatar/sig say about you?   

    When Dave woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself in someone else's hand, changed into a monstrous vermin. A gigantic, ugly weta-type thing.

    He was resting on his back legs and some shapely horn, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, and when he lifted his head a little, he saw his vaulted brown belly, sectioned by arch-shaped ribs...and a bloody great carrot being jammed down his throat by an invisible, unrelenting force....

    From somewhere far away, the insect thing heard a voice. It said, I won't pronounce the name of DaveT in front of this monster, and so all I say is: we have to try and get rid of it. We've done everything humanly possible to take care of it and to put up with it; I don't think anyone can blame us in the least.

    Sufficiently satisfied with the carrot for now, the vermin-weta-type-thing at last looked up and with a sardonic grin across its ugly face cried out, Naaaaaaaaa, what's up doc?
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  14. soleo added a post in a topic A Preparatory Reading of Being & Time   

    Last thoughts on Dasein, for now...

    Before moving on to the next section, I just wanted to say a word or two on some of the terminology.

    Heidegger, P32, 12:...we should reserve the term 'ontology' for that theoretical inquiry which is explicitly devoted to the meaning of entities...then what we have...in mind in speaking of Dasein's 'Being-ontological' is to be designated as...'pre-ontological'.

    Heidegger, P33, 13: Sciences are ways of Being in which Dasein comports itself towards entities...But to Dasein, Being in the world is something that belongs essentially. Thus Dasein's understanding of Being pertains with equal primordiality both to an understanding of something like a 'world' and to the understanding of the Being of those entities...So whenever an ontology takes for its theme entities whose character of Being is other than that of Dasein, it has its own foundation and motivation in Dasein's own ontical structure, in which pre-ontological understanding of Being is comprised as a definite characteristic.

    Heidegger, P34,13: Therefore fundamental ontology from which alone all other ontologies can take their rise, must be sought in the existential analytic of Dasein.


    Okay, so we've got number of things going on here.

    I think for Heidegger, the term:
    pre-ontology is the pre-cognitive and pre-explicit 'understanding' of things. Dasein has an idea of its own being, no matter how vague, and demonstrates an 'understanding' of other beings, through, for example, picking them up, using them, inspecting and staring at them, producing them, disclosing them to self and others, and all this without any need to draw on any explicit theory or discipline. At this most fundamental level we may call dasein's understanding of being a 'primordial absorption' (p76, 51). It is here, then, at this pre-ontological level, that all ontologies must arise, the being of dasein, its existence, reflected in all things conceived.

    ontology points to a more focused, detailed and explicit understanding of beings, something like an ology or science.

    theoretical ontology is any given discipline within the worlds of the ontology.

    ontic or ontical ontology is the understanding of the properties and substances of a given being, their 'present-to-hand' as understood by the given theoretical ontology.

    fundamental ontology will be the study of Dasein, the structural understanding of the being who makes being an issue for it. Why? Because as we have seen, all other ontologies depend on and are reflected through Dasein. Dasein, then, is the fundamental foundation of all ontology.

    Rounding up for now, then, what we get is the following superficial sketch of Dasein, of you and I, which will be given its detailed portrait as we move on through B&T.


    A Brief Sketch of Dasein

    In some fashion, we make being an issue for us, we take a stand on it, which as we have seen means for Heidegger, the way we express ourselves through our activities, behaviours and social roles, often conducted in an absorbed manner, without much thought or reflection.

    In taking up activities and behaviours and social roles, Dasein manifests an understanding of being: that of the being of other things and that of itself. So, for example, when I pick up a drill , I 'understand' the being of that drill as a hole-making-thing (a what) and I do this for some reason (my why).

    This way of using stuff is one way Dasein 'understands' being.

    But Dasein can also sit about and stare at stuff. It can contemplate things , wonder about them and try to understand their ontic composition, their properties and characteristics. This is the game of traditional philosophers and scientists and this way of being exhibits another understanding of being, namely, present-at-hand.

    So, for Heidegger, we've got three fundamental ways of being in the world:
    Dasein - the being which makes being an issue for it
    Present-at-hand - the properties, predicates, characteristics, categories of things
    Stuff dasein can use, equipment, tools, means to an end and stuff like that.

    Now, all these ways of being highlight one important feature, they're all ways Dasein has a relationship with the world. The first is the way it relates itself to itself, the second and third is the way Dasein relates to things out-there and all three are reflected through Dasein and its way of being.


    Thus, Dasein reflects its being onto all beings and so ontology must start with Dasein.

    So, being and the understanding of being - whatever it is, be it a god, an octopus, or other human - is always in terms of analogy and metaphor, always in terms of ourselves, who carry and project our being towards and onto the being of all other things.

    It follows that if we want to understand existence, ontology, what there is, the three dominant ways of being, ourselves or any other, we need to lay out the fundamental structures of Dasein which any type of intelligibility of being depends upon.

    Now this doesn't make Heidegger an idealist. He's not questioning whether there would be substances and entities and properties in existence if there was no Dasein. Indeed, it would be a little odd to figure that existence per se depended on dasein. But clearly, there just wouldn't be this type of (human, all too human) understanding we have of being without Dasein.

    Thus Being and Time is going to be an existential enquiry, an existential analytic, a book which will try to lay out the fundamental structures of existence which afterall is Dasein itself.

    I hope all this has made some sense.


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  15. soleo added a post in a topic The greatest works of comedy   

    A golden oldie for TGL:
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  16. soleo added a post in a topic A Preparatory Reading of Being & Time   

    Thanks for your support on this project, David.

    Let's go back again to page 33, for I feel there's something important here being said:



    The first thing to get out the way is the terminology.

    The investigation into the ontological structure of Dasein, its existence, the fact that Dasein makes being an issue for it, is Heidegger's existential analytic and that is pretty much what Being and Time is all about. It is a narrative which will try to lay out Dasein's fundamental ontological structures.

    Any given Dasein's understanding of its existence - and it is not necessary for Dasein in the particular to ponder such things - Heidegger calls Dasein's existentiell and from here we can highlight some interesting features:


    Dasein's understands itself always in terms of its existence, and this, due to existing, must be manifest in everything that it does, right?

    So, by growing up in this understandiing, I feel that Heidegger is hinting at the given historic, contingent, public understanding of what it means to be human, and, in most cases, this is accepted passively and this, I feel, cannot be treated as a negative condition.

    We are all socialised and since every human, in order to be human, must be born into a given society and culture, there can be no escape from growing up in some given understanding of what it means to be human. Aristotle and Marx were right, we are social animals. In this fashion, the stand one takes on one's life, the extent to which one makes their life an issue for themselves, the answers one gives to one's living have, to a massive extent, already been learnt, grown up within, picked up from the culture, society and family one is born into.

    By getting itself into, I think Heidegger is just saying one gets into the public understandings and interpretations on offer. Of course, this could be contested, one could argue equally as well, that one gets-into by stumbling into something without much thought or conviction, as in, I got myself into a bit of a mess yesterday, but I prefer to think of Heidegger as being pre-rock n roll.

    One digs or grooves the possibilities of being within their culture. This is no longer passive acceptance or absorbtion as we have seen in the growing up in socialisation, but actively identifying and participating in the understandings and social roles on offer. In our culture, for example, we could say that one gets into and identifies with being a student, a self-sacrificing mother, a victim, a hard-worker, an artist, a hippy, a sport's freak, a tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, beggarman, or theif, and so on.

    Heidegger will have more to say on all this and by way of forwarding the chat a little, this manner of taking a stand on one's life is to disown or cover up our fundamental doubts, anxieties and unsettledness. An anxiety which, for Heidegger, arises from the fundamental structural feature of what it is to be human - a self-interpreting creature and thus a creature with no fixed nature. Getting into some social role, then, is the manner in which we can surrender our anxieties, cover them up, forget about them, whilst appearing in the eyes of others as if we have won and chosen ourselves.

    Interestingly, the capitalist market choice offered today as a means of getting over identity crisis or a means to answer the questions What do I do? or Who am I? is, for Heidegger, an inauthentic (need not carry negative connotations) way of being. In Heideggerean terms, we are quite literally falling away from ourselves, for we are denying and failing to acknowledge the full range of possibilities and existential freedom we could really have. We live a degraded life in this condition, a life levelled down to the most common denominator, the gratuitous everyday condition. It is a lostness in the Everyone, the Anyone, an aggressive form of conformism.

    Clearly, this condition echoes the concerns of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. That contemporary life filled with the weak willed and unimaginative mass of humanity who have no taste for difference and adventure.

    But stop! We're jumping ahead of ourselves. We'll have a look at mineness and authenticity a little later.

    The final way one can take a stand on their being is to choose those possibilities, to choose oneself. In the whole of Being and Time, it is never made clear how we go about doing this, but the general idea is that we create projects for ourselves, life defining projects which steer from the ethical and rational demands of the communal life. In a sense, it should be so that we could say at our death, without regret or pity, This was what I chose. I did it my way. It was my destiny.

    Although Heidegger may deny that he was ever putting forward a normative philosophy, this, for me, seems the opening to what will be a subtle critique of industrial society, a critique of modern life which raises the suspicion that most folk are living it inauthentically and simply following the herd.

    It's as if within that difficult and bizarre terminology, that paragraph exposed above, that Heidegger is beginning his cry to arms and his message is that to take a stand on one's being, make being an issue for it sincerely is not to forget "that man is impossible without imagination, without the capacity to invent for himself a conception of life, too ideate the character he is going to be" (Ortega y Gasset).
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  17. soleo added a post in a topic The Internet: Panopticism 2.0?   

    It's an interesting idea but I feel it is a little over-enthusiastic.

    As I understand it, F's analysis focused on the way a given institution's spatial arrangement could be organised to enable and enhance a greater visibility and thus lead to new forms of internalised disciplinary practices. It is the notion that spatial-architectural arrangements lead to given configurations of power and I think - being enthusiastic myself - the notion could be traced back to the prison-worlds created by Piranesi.

    Okay, so in this prison-world, one is forced to act as if one is constantly being surveyed even when one is not and an example could be closed circuit TV on the streets where knowledge of them is supposed to deter crime.

    The key to F's argument regarding to Panopticon, then, is that from given spatial organisation a new form of power relation can arise. The individual within such a spatial arrangement plays upon itself both the role of oppressor and oppressed. The individual "who is subjected to a field of visibility and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power" (Discipline and Punish, p 202) which is to say, the subjected quite literally internalises the behavioural codes of the oppressor.

    So, rather than power being exercised by some authority, a top down affair, by someone in-power on someone who is not, the oppressor can now be physically absent, but the 'oppressed' will continue to behave as if they were still being watched.

    As we can appreciate, I think it is going to be extremely difficult to draw an analogy from this to the internet.

    You write:



    This may well be so and it reminds me of what Baudrillard wrote in his essay, Forget Foucault, but as we have seen, I think its going to be a troubling step to get from the social body to the internet and in the strictest terms, if you are going to do this, we need stronger arguments than those you have supplied.

    But all is not lost!!

    What you offer is a very clear idea of how the They or the Other, those members of a community we all live in, promulgate standards of action and behaviour and expect all others to conform to these. In this sense, the They extends its presence into virtually all aspects of life, from language acquisition, to the way we hold a fork, to the lifestyles we happen to 'choose' for ourselves.

    Foucault's influential analysis of power, which I feel is basically a reading from Heidegger's das Man, was to point out that power was always relational (as is consciousness), and that rather than emanating from any given site (the government, the economy, the army or police etc), it is diffused in all social relations. In other words, the subject-objects-to as well as being objected-to and objectified-by (I think there's an essay knocking around TGL where a given writer called Qualia spelled out this relational form).

    Thus, you might want to critically re-examine your analogy of the Panoptican device to the internet and investigate the various forms of the limit-experience whereby members of a given community (government, CIA, school, forum or what have you) attempt to define and circumscribe the boundaries of legitimate action, behaviour and thought and how these power 'impositions' are contested, debated, troubled, made unstable, exploited and resisted by the Other.

    Hope this has helped a little.
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  18. soleo added a post in a topic A Preparatory Reading of Being & Time   

    Thanks for the post, David. I will try to reply to your questions but for now I just wanted to tidy one more thing from the quote above:




    Existentia is a medieval term for existence and I think what Heidegger means when he says, "ontologically existentia is tantamount to being-present-at-hand" is that the tradition, the philosophical tradition, has generally understood being as substance. That is, all subjects and all entities have properties, categories or predicates which often, at their most basic level, are self-sufficient; they don't need other properties to make them that way.

    Existentia seems to be the atomistic account of being.What Heidegger terms as the being's 'what'. The question could be, what determines an entity as the type of entity it is?

    Accordingly, you get a subject like Descartes' ball of wax and you throw upon it the speculative gaze and through reflection, comprehension and theoretical study and practice, you can begin to predicate it and discover its properties which will make it known what is it made of, what makes it soft like, what makes it useful for light and burning etc,Detached from the world, the theory runs that if you can show all the predicate-properties-categories of things and show how they are related to each other, then you have essentially described the world.

    Now, Heidegger doesn't disagree with this type of ontology, nor does he think it is a useless way of going about investigation. All he is arguing at this stage is that it doesn't work for all kinds of being, so we can't mistake it for being The Ontology.

    Existentia, or present-at-hand, is, for the sake of argument, the world of science. It is the world of the cool-gaze, of numbers, atoms, particles, and the such, it is a way of being, but cannot be being itself because it doesn't explicitly exhibit the type of being that is the being of Dasein, which Heidegger is going to call existence.

    The question is, how does Heidegger argue that the essence of Dasein is existence and not, say, its DNA structure, or its will-to-power? And he does this by referring the reader to his methodological claim, what he calls his 'privisional' narrative' (p38.17).

    What he says is that any enquiry has to start somewhere, that's all we got, that's the best we can do and if you bear with him, he'll make some provisional claims about dasein, existence, and the such which at the end of the investigation, we'll be able to see if he got it partially right or not.

    So, the enquiry, right from the beginning, is only provisional and whether we decide his narrative is succesful or not will depend on whether he can offer up a fuller picture, or a more coherent understanding of the being of Dasein, than say, an ontology like biology, or theology or physics, or chemistry can do.

    - - - - - -

    Okay, David. I think now we on the same page:



    Dasein solely conceived as present-to-hand is to be understood by its categories and general structure of substances and characteristics that given ologies (biology, psychology, physics, chemstry) have imbued upon it or discovered.

    Aristotle probably began this project of present-at-hand, of listing the properties of objects having causal relations in time and space, and Kant continued it. Heidegger fully understands and backs the project but he notes that "what we call categories, characteristics of being [are] for entities whose character is not that of Dasein" (p70.44).

    So, we could argue that there is no problem understanding Dasein as only its present-at-hand categories and properties, and, indeed, we could imagine the case of a hardcore-doctor treating other Daseins only on this ground, merely as a present-at-hand being, a being merely of causal substances and categories and nothing more, but for Heidegger, something really important is still missing from this picture.

    So, present-at-hand, although it underlies or grounds Dasein, which means to say there would be no Dasein if it weren't for its DNA, etc, this viewpoint still doesn't capture everything there is to say of this being. First, it is a tradition which has overlooked another type of being, the being of tools, and has also overlooked the essential, defining feature of entities like Dasein, which according to Heidegger is that they exist which is just another way of saying, they take a stand of their being which things like numbers, atoms, DNA, chromosones, do not seem to do.



    We'll be getting to Heidegger's critique of Descartes in a wee bit, but for now we can say that Heidegger is extremely critical of the mental, of understanding the world as subject and object, the bifurcated self, and so on. Putting it bluntly, along with Dennet, and Hume, Heidegger thinks such talk of an I is myth talking.

    I'm not entirely sure if Heidegger really addresses the 'freedom' of Dasein, its metaphysical, Aristotelian type of freedom as something Sartre did do a lot. I've looked through my notes and cannot find a little, self-created title with something like, Freedom according to Heidegger. Indeed, if we take into account Heidegger's das Man, the World, anxiety, and so on, a picture comes across as an extremely limited amount of freedom for Dasein and I'm convinced that many of the structural limitations mentioned in Being and Time influenced folk like Foucault massively.

    But with that said, for Heidegger we are still not solely our DNA, we are not only a given substance or two, for our way of being is to take an issue on it and we do this by taking up activities, we are what we do, we are Dasein, we are human because we take up practices. Dasein makes an issue of being by taking up activities using equipment (readiness-to-hand) and acts in the world. By doing this, it gives itself an interpretation of what it is to be a human in the particular and as a human in a given culture.

    By inference, it seems that this way of being is determined, we have no choice but to take a stand on our being, it is our existence, our essence, our very way of life, so to ask if we are metaphysically free not to do this, is, I think, not too important a question in Heidegger's enquiry. It is a human condition. It is the way of being for Dasein which it isn't for trees, cats and gold.

    Has this helped a little?
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  19. soleo added a post in a topic A Preparatory Reading of Being & Time   

    I think we're now in a greater position to understand what Dasein is for Heidegger, so once again, let's enter the labyrinth










    Okay, so we've got a number of things going on here which we ought to break down into smaller parts and investigate a little. For this reason, I will divide this part of our investigation into a number of smaller, bite-sized posts.

    1

    The first thing which springs to mind is that existence is Dasein's way of being and Dasein's essence is existence. With what we know already, we can now say, the essence of Dasein is to make an issue of its being and this way of being for Dasein is its existence.

    This insight has a number of fascinating implications.

    The first is that it was probably at this junction that the whole philosophy of Existentialism took its lead. Indeed, Sartre's well-worn slogan, 'Man's existence precedes his essence' is basically summing what Heidegger has already written above.

    As we can appreciate, for Heidegger, Dasein has no other defining characteristic other than coming into existence and by inference, it is only through the course of life, through our activities and experiences, do we come to express given ways of taking over our selves, taking issues on our being; transforming and becoming through living a life.

    Pascal says much the same thing when he asks of us:





    So, What is it to be human? This has been a big question and it is exactly this question Heidegger is asking here. For the most of history, people have answered it in terms of some essential essence.

    For the sake of brevity and argument, we could argue that:

    Religion says we're creatures of some god, or some divine source or energy, and usually with a soul, or eternal essence.

    Aristotle and Marx say we're essentially social creatures.

    Schopenhauer says we're wills to survival, Nietzsche, wills to power and Frankl, wills to meaning.

    In their fashion both Mill and Freud say we're essentially libido maximising beings.

    Plato, along with a million others, says we're essentially rational creatures.

    Biology says we're essentially DNA,

    and so on, blah, blah, blah.


    What is important here, as we have already seen from Heidegger's three-fold structure of the question, is that the answer you make will lead to different ideas about what it is to be a human, and in many cases, these different interpretations will lead to potentially different ways of being, that is, what it is a human should do and how it should behave.

    Heidegger, though, is making the claim that none of these theories, no matter how persuasive, actually capture what it is to be human. At best, there are different interpretations and Dasein will be socialised into one of them and only then, will it manifest a given nature, and no doubt, come to believe that this socialised, contingent nature, is really the nature and essence of humankind.

    In other words, a Heideggerian might argue that society, our socialisation, 'tells' us through its practices and behaviours, for example, what it is to be a man or woman and our behaviour and nature follow from this, but once we step back and realise what is going on, that there isn't, nor ever has been, a final and correct answer to the question, what is it to be human. we are capable of conjuring for ourselves other possibilities and understandings.

    For me, Heidegger is not telling us, Listen guys, your nature is like this, you are children of god, or homo-economicus, nor is he trying to persuade us that one theory is any better than another. Not even his own, as we find out later on p274.231!

    This whole stance, for me, is really quite a humble position to take, because I feel at this junction, Hedeigger is asking us to see all the theories and possible answers to that fundamental question of what is it to be human as fascinating thought experiements, not to be squabbled over, nor to take ever so seriously, but mere narratives to take pleasure in and laugh along with and laugh at.

    If existence is our essence, then we are born, we come into a world, we become accustomed to it, we adopt its practices, paradigms, ideas, and ways of being, and only then, do they appear to be part of our nature.

    As Pascal infers, custom does seem to be our nature.

    Bye for now
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  20. soleo added a post in a topic Religious attitudes   

    Nice post, Heretic and very informative. At last something of substance! If you have more notes, please post them up, they help stretch my narrow mind.

    I'm uncertain whether what I'm going to write will be of any use to the thread, but with regards to the distinctions offered, my own have included that between religion and religiousness.

    The religiousness, for me, is the represention of a personal way of living, a deep and profound faith-in, whilst the religion comes across as something more institutional. Another way of putting this is that the former would be Kierkegaardian whilst the later the Church, the institutional-display per se.

    Accordingly, for me, outside the religiousness of the market, career and jobbing-sloth world, for example, there are very few religiousness-people I am aware of in Europe, but there are thousands of religion-people.

    Although not beariing too much on what has been written, I also think there occurs a trend or theoretical distinction in many debates between the religiousness of god and the religiousness of the analytic or scientific.

    We can witness appeals to such arguments as: religiousness of god is something personal, grounded on faith and the religiousness of the analytic is not; or again, if the religiousness of god is attacked the subject feels threatened and insulted, whereas the analytic is non-personal whose domain insulates it from subject critique.

    And I feel that such assertions are unsound and often misleading.

    The implications suggest that the former is more of a subjective-truth (an oxymorom for many an old-time philosopher) and the latter, a more objective-truth (the traditional understanding of the term) and no doubt this distinction can be maintained in many instances. I'm thinking, for example, in the hard sciences, or maths, but outside this, what is interesting to ask is what is it that distinguishes the personal from the analytic? What is the necessary condition to make the inquiring consciousness non-personal?

    I don't have much time for institutional-religion other than seeing it as an interesting form of the will-to-power and meaning, and more creatively, a means through which socities and individuals have mythologized their being, and for this reason, I think that religiousness is lot more interesting.

    It seems to be a relationship between one’s self and all that-is, and that the optimal religiousness relationship will reside in reality and a self conceived within a single totality.

    If this is so, an interesting question arises. Where exactly does the distinction lie between the religiousness of differing human disciplines and discourses?

    Thanks for a great post!
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  21. soleo added a post in a topic A Post of Concern   

    Thank you for the replies especially the thoughtful posts by Michio and Heretic. Of course, you're both correct in your observations and I apologise if it sounded a little rough.

    Speaking of apologising, I would like to apologise to Michio if Soleo or Qualia has ever offended him. I really hope that isn't or has never been the case but of so, Michio, please accept my deepest apologies.

    Heretic, I get it and I got it
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  22. soleo added a topic in Community   

    A Post of Concern
    Keeping it brief, over the last few weeks I've been witnessing a trend toward frivolity saturating the boards of TGL and to be honest, in all my time spent here - which has now run into a good number of years - I cannot remember the forum ever being reduced to such a worrying degree of banality.

    I cannot be certain but my suspicions are peaked. There are moments when I feel TGL is simply being trolled, other times I get the impression that it's participating in a school-project where our words will be cut and pasted into high-school essays. Other times I just think there are a number of dense and immature and superficial individuals taking the piss.

    Now all of this wouldn't be a problem if there were things like arguments being set forth. You know, a set of propositions offering a thesis and that thesis being a position, an issue, so to say, which is then defended.

    But all of that has gone out of the window. When regulars like Dave or Michael or David or Heretic or Peter or Maddog, the Saintly Scotty, or the devil myself try to offer sound, informative, kindly arguments, they seem to be treated as, "Thank you for your opinion! Now, fuck off while I come out with my dribble of worrying and hateful cliches and opinions."

    What's going on here! TGL was never like this!

    The individuals in questions, and we all know who they are, may get a rounding applause for defending a position that I disagree with, they may get a boo for upholding a position I agree with. And what does this demonstrate? Merely, that I do not care about their opinion. What I care about here at TGL is how one reasons for it, and this I care about very much.

    I care so much about how one reasons on the boards, that I am going to base their position of the post on how well they reason. This is because critical thinking is about arguments, not about dribbling opinions and clichés. Indeed, having an opinion does not require critical thinking.

    Everybody, every fucking loon in the world has an opinion, but few have reasons for their opinions, and fewer still, have good reasons for them. So, like I say, I don’t have any interest in what they believe, but more in the reasons why they believe it and how they got to those reasons.

    If one gives no reasons, then one isn’t doing philosophy. So, what I'm trying to say is, hasn't the end of the road arrived?

    And why not?
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  23. soleo added a post in a topic Pascal's Wager -- a re-invitation to Alvira   


    You have failed to answer any question I have asked from you and by means of last resort you end up throwing out at Ad Hominems.

    You're new here, so let me try to explain something. What’s important at TGL is the advancement of arguments. Offering premises (reasons) and conclusions. As best as possible the conclusions one endorses should derive their support from the reasons put forward. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen all the time, but is an ideal we ought to all strive towards.

    The construction of arguments helps avoid making unfounded assertions, generalisations, and common, everday fallacies.

    This kind of strategy is important because it aids communication, strengthens understanding, comprehension and creativity. It can also help oversome the fetters of dubious traditions, customs and dogmas by evaluating the ideas and reasons put forward and weeding between them. For by virtue of our own assumptions and prejudices, we may be impoversihing not only our own life, but also other animals, human and not.

    This critical method means we’re no longer dealing with the case of receiving and spewing information. We become active participants in the process of doubt and wonder, we raise questions and objections, we reflect and once again object. This attitude is radical. It denies the dogma of authority, opinion, prejudice and tradition, and being radical it is clearly not a game for all, right?

    In other words, critical thinking isn’t about just having mere opinion, or bandying about ad homs, Alexander, but, instead, trying to rigorously search, evaluate and give reasons for those opinions. No one can avoid making fundamental asumptions, but sloppy generalisations, unfounded assertions and irritating fallacies should not be the possessors of truth. Instead, we ought to adobt the relentless pursuit of doubt, of wonder, of inquiry which itself should be experimental and open minded throughout via the continuous questioning of our most fundamental assumptions.

    The most beautiful string of words is not, ‘I’ve the truth’ or 'The Bible is true', but, ‘I don’t know.’ It grounds humility, kindness, compassion, love, and so much more.

    Hasta la vista
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  24. soleo added a post in a topic Pascal's Wager -- a re-invitation to Alvira   


    No doubt the unerring word of the Christian god is imprecise. But I wonder if a Christian would not treat such accusation as blasphemous? You see, the Bible must be superlatively perfect for the believer, like his god itself, and if not, why not? So any accusation of error or contradiction must surely be treated as an act of impiety. Ambiguity or imprecision just does not arise from god’s inspired words, or do they?

    A god which was most perfect, most intelligent and knowledgeable and good, which created mankind and human understanding, would not produce a mere book which was not clear and precise to every human mind who inturn, would come to understand it perfectly. Or would their god do such a thing?

    This most benevolent god would not have created a work which people could not agree upon; would not have created a book which would cause so much suffering and conflict, war and strife, bigotry and hatred, would it? The Christian god could not have created a book which is so imprecise that non-believers dismiss it and those who believe it cannot agree on its interpretations, or would their god do such a thing, and why and to what end, and on whose authority would we accept that given answer?

    From all this, I can imagine a pressing concern for the thoughtful Christian: from so much imprecision and ambiguity, war and bloodshed, bigotry and hatred which have arisen from the interpretations of the Bible, how can they accept it as the unerring, infallible word of god?

    Narrowing our focus just a little, if the commandments are ambiguous and open to endless interpretation and debate as suggested, on whose authority, on what grounds, if any, could a Christian now found their acknowledgement and understanding of them? If the Bible can have multiple and potentially conflicting interpretations, how could a Christian know which one was the right one? Again, the same type of question may be asked of the proverbial balance alluded to above. Indeed, how exactly does that balance function?

    Reflections such as these bring me once again to exactly the same conclusion I wrote above. Namely, that to be a Christian must be a terrifying experience, if only because some believers might come to suspect not only that their own and other people’s interpretations have been fallible, absolutely untrustworthy, not only that the type of commandments I hinted to above carry a lot more weight than the feel-good rationalizations bandied about which try to minimize the seriousness of what has been said herein, but that perhaps, after all, arises the suspicion that the Bible was never anything more than a creation forged from the minds of talking baboons.
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  25. soleo added a post in a topic 4 Questions   


    Thanks for the replies, Alvira.

    Personally, I'm not entirely convinced that belief does not contain doubt. Sure, imagine I said:

    I think this apple tastes good.
    I believe this apple tastes good

    One could argue that the verb 'think' denotes a lesser confidence in the truth of the clause than the verb 'believe' and thus conclude, belief contains lesser doubt.

    But what are we to make of the woman who in the superlative knows there is a heaven? If I asked her, Do you believe there is a heaven? She should reply, No, no I don’t believe it. I know it.

    And this is an important first distinction: belief contains doubt.
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