Gadamer notes, 3

Now we are getting into the meat of it.  Gadamer is setting the stage for what goes into “understanding a text” (which he fully develops in the next part).  He introduces several key concepts which he will later exploit with great skill: fusion, God’s-eye-view of history, etc.  The most important concept is “horizon,” and the limitations and finitude it implies.

Of great importance are his sections on Heidegger and Husserl.  And in true Heideggerian fashion, you don’t need to “analyze” them, but just approach them and let them open new horizons of being.


Historical preparation

  1. To understand means to come to an understanding with each other.  It is to come to an understanding about something.
  2. Schlieiermacher: the act of understanding is a reconstruction of the production
    1. We must also understand the psychology of the author.
  3. Dilemma of universal history: historical research can lead to a universal view of history.
    1. Power is the central category of the historical worldview (209).
    2. Power exists in expression.  It cannot be measured by its expressions but only experienced as an indwelling.
    3. The historian applies the Boethian view of time to the historical method:  all historical phenomena are equally available to him.
  4. Dilthey’s entanglement in the aporias of historicism
    1. Experience (Erfahrung) is a fusion of memory and expectation (225).
    2. The ultimate presupposition is experience–the identity between consciousness and object.
    3. Husserl: intentionality is not a psychic component but an ideal unity.
    4. Historical consciousness is a mode of self-knowledge (237).
  5. Overcoming the epistemological problem through phenomenological research
    1. Husserl: consciousness is not an object but an essential co-ordination
    2. Phenomenology: bracketing all positing of being and investigating the subjective modes of givenness.
      1. Every experience has implicit horizons of before and after and finally fuses with the continuum of experiences present in the before and after to form a unified flow of experience (246).
      2. Every intentional experience has a two-fold horizon.
      3. Df. horizon = not a rigid boundary but something that moves with and invites one to advance further.
      4. Everything that is given as existent is given in terms of a world and hence brings the world horizon with it.
      5. As a horizon phenomenon “world” is essentially related to subjectivity, and this relation means also that it exists in transciency.”
    3. We cannot conceive of subjectivity as the opposite of objectivity, because this concept of subjectivity would also be conceived in objective terms (250).
  6. Heidegger’s project of a hermeneutic of phenomenology
    1. The whole idea of grounding itself underwent a total reversal (257).
    2. Temporality is ontologically definitive of subjectivity.
    3. The “there” for Heidegger (Da-sein) functions as a “clearing in being, a distinction between beings and being (258).
    4. Understanding is the original form of the realization of Dasein (260). It is potentiality for being and possibility.
      1. Understanding is also self-understanding because you project yourself upon a new field of possibilities.

Early notes on Heidegger, Basic Writings

HarperPerennial Edition.

I read this in 2011.  I didn’t have quite the understanding of Heidegger that I do now.

The book begins with Heidegger’s introduction to Being and Time. The main thoughts are fairly simple. Heidegger’s argument runs along the following lines:

Being (Sein): when capitalized, Heidegger is talking about the Western tradition’s tendency to ground all of reality in an abstract entity known as “Being.” This is a presupposition from Plato onwards that is rarely challenged.

Being-there (Dasein): a better way to speak of Being. It is when beings (human entities) exist in a certain location. Heidegger suggests that the pre-Socratics operated on this principle.

Conclusion: The nature of being is time. Heidegger places being and existence in a radically temporal frame.

Thus armed, the reader is allowed to approach Heidegger’s other essays. We can take the above thoughts and condense them into one sentence: Being is the coming to presence.

Heidegger on Truth

In one of his essays Heidegger dwells on a Renaissance painting about a peasant. Heidegger takes the Greek word for Truth–aletheia–and shows its real meaning–unconcealment, the presencing of something (160-161). The truth of art, therefore, is the setting to work of a thing for what it was designed to do. However, Heidegger means something much richer than a crass utilitarianism. He notes that “to set to work” actually means “to bring to stand.” Well, what does “to bring to stand” mean? He really doesn’t say here, but I think we can guess.

The main point of this essay (“On the Origins of the Work of Art”) is to present an epistemology contrary to the typical ones offered by the step-children of “Being” (in the bad sense of the word). Heidegger is attacking Descartes’ subject-object distinction as it relates to language. The correspondence theory of truth. For example, Heidegger takes a coin and the statement “this is a coin.” He asks, “How can what is completely dissimilar, the statement, correspond to the coin? It would have to become the coin and in this way relinquish itself entirely. The statement never succeeds in doing that” (120-121).

Let’s apply this discussion to iconography and Christian art for a moment. Heidegger notes that “beauty is a mode of knowing” (181). He is not attacking the legitimate aspects of the correspondence theory of truth; he is simply showing its limitations and allowing other modes of knowing to arise.

My own take on the Alt Right

The “Alternative Right” came out around 2010 and few took them seriously because it seemed more keyboard warriors than anything else.  Now that Donald Trump has given them concrete existence, people are paying attention.

I’m not part of the Alt Right, whatever it is.  As Dugin says, we shouldn’t be “Right-wing” or “left-wing” or “Alt-Right,” but simply “Heideggerian.”

It’s hard to find a good analysis of them.  Milo did a decent job, but given Milo’s own eccentricities, few took him seriously. National Review does a piece on them every few weeks, but it seems like “They are racists.  It’s 2016” and little of substance.  In other words, it’s basically any usual NR piece.

I’ll offer a different sort of thesis:  if you aren’t familiar with the intellectual background, then any thesis you have will be little more than a variant of “you are a racist.”  Okay, fair enough: some alt-right guys are racist.  But let’s get to the more substantial issues.  If you want to understand where these guys are coming from, you need to be familiar with the following thinkers and ideas.

Robert E. Howard.  The Conan guy?  Yes, hear me out.  Howard represented an era where barbarian honor was more important than quantified civilization.  In other words, men revert to who they really are at the pre-theoretical level, which means they probably aren’t interested in global markets.

Julius Evola.  Evola is a pagan and so quite wrong on many levels.  His criticism of democracy is not easily dismissed, however.   The forms exist.  Do rights and binding law flow from the flux of the demos or from a transcendent realm? If all is flux and Platonic forms do not exist, then what exactly grounds liberal idols like “democracy” and “rights?”  Nothing.

F. Nietzsche.  As in Evola, if rights and morality derive from the realm of flux and time, then they are arbitrary and all we have left is power.  That probably explains why attempts to spread neo-liberal markets overseas are always bloody.

H. P. Lovecraft.  Okay, he is a racist.  And to be honest I don’t think his stories are that scary.  But you can sort of see him as a Freud in action.  Men aren’t cold, neutrally rational beings. There are dark, simmering forces underneath each one of us.  In fact, that sounds kind of like Augustine.

Martin Heidegger. Ignoring the Nazi stuff, Heidegger created modern philosophy.  More pertinently, Heidegger attacks rationalist compartmentalization.  We are “thrown” into a world of facticity. The borders are porous.  Even more, his essay “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” is a frontal attack on Globalism.

Alexander Dugin.  Unlike Dugin’s critics, I’ve read Dugin.  He isn’t saying “Nuke America.”  He is saying that the neo-liberal is a product of a very specific set of cultural presuppositions that cannot be made universal. Any attempt to make them universal is racist.  Liberals, obviously, are the most racist people in the world. In other words, neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism are wrong.

Ironically, Dugin isn’t what the Left calls a “nationalist,” since he sees that as an Enlightenment abstraction.  Dugin is more pro-EU than most right-wing critics.  If you actually read his stuff, he is the most humble and gentle of thinkers.

Can Wilson even deal with Heidegger

So after I finished Heidegger’s Being and Time I went to the leading “Evangelical spokesman” to see what he said. Long story short, if you go to and type in “Heidegger” you will get three pages of “see how stupid they are” or “muh Nazis!”  What you won’t get in a sustained, mature interaction.  

The only time he remotely gets close to understanding Heidegger is when he is citing Leithart’s discussion of Westphal’s discussion of Heidegger.  And it’s clear that Wilson is out of his depth, which he kind of admits.

(Is he speaking in tongues in this post?)

Here he shows himself mentally incapable of dealing with a godly and renowned philosopher like Merold Westphal.  (Mind you, I have some differences with Westphal.  I think he too closely identifies ontotheology with metaphysics).

Being and Time (Heidegger)

In one sentence:  Being is always being-there. Heidegger is examining the question of the meaning of Being.  If we ask “What is Being?” we have already presumed some understanding of the meaning of being by our use of the word is in the question.  Heidegger lists three common answers:

Heidegger uses Husserl’s category of “intentionality.”  We are always intending-towards or -about something.  We don’t simply “think.” We think about something.  Consciousness is consciousness about something.  

There are different modes of intentionality.  We don’t simply “think.”  We are “involved” (what Heidegger called “care”). Heidegger shifted the discussion from the cognitive to the sub-cognitive level, from the head to the kardia.

Dasein manifests itself in falling, thrownness, and projection (329ff). Care–my being-in-the-world is wrapped up/alongside with others’ being-in-the-world.  I exist in the world within an already-existing-network-of-relations. (2) Thrownness: my Dasein in the world is already-in-a-definite-world.  This world has facticity.  Its boundaries are fluid. (3) Projection: we can only understand Dasein in terms of the world. You can’t transcend yourself to understand yourself.  You are finite. (4) Being-as-falling: this is the threat to being. Dasein has to face flux, uprootedness, and anxiety.

Death and Time

“Ahead-of-itself” = in Dasein there is always something still out-standing which has not yet become actual (279).  Death reveals this limit of Dasein.  Death is the end to which Dasein is thrown.  The possibility of death releases us from the illusions of the “they” (311).

Death reveals the contingency and flux of all that is.  Death manifests finitude.  Grasping this finitude “snatches one back from the endless multiplicity of possibilities…and brings Dasein into the simplicity of its fate” (435).

In the second section Heidegger revisits many of his main points in his analytic of Being (care, mood, falling, etc), but now he situates them within temporality.  If being is always a being-there, then it is always a being-there-in-time.  Temporality establishes our horizon.

In conclusion Heidegger is important because he shows how the truth found in Plato’s forms is manifested in everyday experience.

Heidegger’s Game of Throwns

A summary of pt. 1 of Being and Time.


To Da-sein’s state of being belong:

(1) Disclosedness-in-general: Care–my being-in-the-world is wrapped up/alongside with others’ being-in-the-world.  I exist in the world within an already-existing-network-of-relations.

(2) Thrownness: my da-sein in the world is already-in-a-definite-world.  This world has facticity.  Its boundaries are fluid.

(3) Projection: we can only understand Dasein in terms of the world. You can’t transcend yourself to understand yourself.  You are finite.

(4) Being-as-falling: this is the threat to being. Dasein has to face flux, uprootedness, and anxiety.