lunes, 18 de octubre de 2010

Emptied Worlds: Heidegger and the Animal

Emptied Worlds:
- Heidegger and the Animal -

Heidegger’s lecture course The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics (1931) is a transitionary work, situated between the so-called phenomenological period of the 1920’, and the Kehre (turn) of the 1930’s in which he would expound his ‘history of being’. It also marks the point of passage between Heidegger’s initial systematic project for a fundamental ontology, beginning in the existential analytic of Dasein in Being and Time (where the continuity between science and philosophy was unquestioned through the elucidation of the meaning of being) and the so-called ‘poetic turn’, where the hermeneutic task becomes rather to penetrate into the manifold epochal manifestations of the truth of being. Finally, it represents one of Heidegger’s last attempts to undertake a properly phenomenological analysis, after coming to the conclusion that ontology leads to an abyss in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1928), and symptomatically attempts to elucidate the relation between human and non-human  entities, once the phenomenon of worldhood appears restricted to the disclosure of beings for temporal Dasein.

The link between being in general and Human-being had been in fact already shown to be the principal problem for the original project delineated in Being and Time, and which found its critical point in the lecture course from 1927 Basic Problems of Phenomenology. There Heidegger attempts to locate the disclosure of Being from Time (Zeit) by showing how temporality in general (Temporalitat des Seins) became the enabling condition for human temporality (Zeitlichkeit). But in attempting to draw the ontological grounds for this problematic distinction, Heidegger finally succumbed to denying the autonomy of Time itself, reducing it to our human temporality. This way the relation of human being to being through time ultimately finds itself irresolvable in the duality between human temporality or ekstatic transcendence (ekstasis) and unified but unobjectifiable Time in general (ekstema), as Heidegger hopes to avoid collapsing the latter into the former. And this insufficiency finally entails the incapacity to clarify Sein from the existential analytic of Dasein; a task which was to be propadeutic for the full-blown development of philosophical ontology proper. As Ray Brassier notes, in trying to avoid the collapse of Being into Human-being, Heidegger’s entire criticism of subjectivist philosophy becomes suddenly threatened, as is the local radicalization of the Husserlian dyad of intentional transcendence (noesis-noema), which he scolded for having been still encapsulated by the substantialist cog of representation. I quote:

“What is ironic about Heidegger’s critique of metaphysical subjectivism is that it is precisely his refusal to hypostatize the world as present-at-hand object of representation that precipitates him towards the arch-idealist conclusion according to which ‘If no Dasein exists, no world is “there” either’” (NU: Pg. 162)

And this is of course the locus for Heidegger’s development of the central concept of FCM: worldhood, and more properly, for the restriction of worldhood to the human sphere. Heidegger begins his course by emphasizing the propriety of philosophy against science, art, religion, worldview and history. Philosophy is philosophizing, he claims, and can only be carried out performatively as it wrests thought from its ‘inauthentic’ slumber amidst beings. This means that metaphysics does not concern itself with a particular a being (God, the animal, the human…), a particular domain of beings like science does (biological, physical), or even all the different beings or domains of beings. Categorical divides and typologies are delegated to the secondary and debased ontic enterprise of the sciences, while philosophy is in turn set to unearth their ‘ground’ or enabling conditions. Philosophy is said then to elucidate the phenomenon of worldhood, the understanding of being-as-a-whole, i.e. as the unified horizon from which beings are disclosed and made manifest. Since the manifestness or disclosure of beings is properly the 'human essence' as defined by Dasein’s ekstatic transcendence, it follows that philosophy as the awakening of an understanding of the disclosure, remains man’s most 'proper' activity, its ‘home’. As fundamental, metaphysics/philosophy becomes the enabling ground for the rest of the sciences or merely ontic enquiries: “there are only sciences insofar as there is philosophy”, not the other way around."

This way we can approach Heidegger’s avowal of Novalis’ ascription of philosophy as homesickness. It is the manifestation of beings to Dasein that makes being intelligible, and the world is nothing but the dwelling place where being-as-a-whole becomes disclosed. Therefore, enquiring into the structure of the world is just to enquire into man’s being-in-the-world as his very essence: Dasein is in the world amidst beings (in-der-welt-sein). As such, it is constrained by finite transcendence, insofar as he is subject to the encounter of beings which are not himself and whose way of being are different than his own. So Dasein’s proper way of being in the world is not that of an substance (whatness, Was-sein), that of an intra-temporal being or entity; nor even that of the Husserlian subject of intentional consciousness or of eidetic representation, etc. Rather, as its proper way of being, Dasein is always under way towards its completion, in the process of becoming, grounded in the threefold temporal ekstases of past, present and future. Dasein is thereby only individuated insofar as it is constrained by his finitude, projected in the resolute anticipation of being’s disclosure, and towards the end of the temporal horizon as the limit of such projection. That is of course death as the 'ownmost' (im)possibility of the closure of the world in which beings are encountered.
Heidegger speaks of metaphysical comprehensive concepts as opposed to the merely scientific categories; the latter are delegated to the ambit of technical present-at-hand manipulation (Vorhandenheit). Comprehensive concepts require that philosophizing bring one closer to ‘awaken’ certain forms of attunement or dispositions (Verhalten), which reveal the fundamental features of worldhood itself. This includes the passive receptivity of being’s unconcealment (Unveborgenheit), to the active world-forming wresting of beings from concealment. The world is thus correlative to our own capability for attunement within questioning, and never just in-itself or independent our our disclosure: "The substantive content and kind of being of a being prescribe possible manifestness (truth)...if scientific knowledge is to be gained then in accordance with its intention and its possibilities is must satisfy the essential connection between being and truth".

In doing so, Heidegger inflects Being (Sein) into the disclosure for human beings (Dasein), and thus cements their indissociability. Whereas man qua man (rational animal) is but one animal amidst the ontic distribution of species/genera, the ontological ground of his essence as horizonal ekstatic transcendence is the condition for the disclosure of all beings, from rocks to spiders, from nations to black holes. As something extreme and primary, philosophy is already comprehensive of everything, so that any application of it comes too late and is a misunderstanding. But in attempting to release worldhood from the shackles of scientific reason or mere ‘idle-talk’ (Garede), it appears that Heidegger's co-appropriation of being and thought performs rather a violent anthropomorphizing of the world as such, so that it becomes strictly impossible to speak of other beings 'in themselves' without already being delivered to the ‘emptiness’ to which he reduces scientific reason: proof, determinative concepts, beings as particulars or species, chronological time, etc. All are of no peculiar ontological interest, save as derivative abstractions, progressively becoming emptier as one withdraws from the waking richness of fundamental attunements, into the blind machinic dealings with entities presence-at-hand (this is why mathematics must remain the most removed and empty form of thought for Heidegger).

It becomes thus impossible for Heidegger to think of the phenomenon of worldhood in animals from the categories or explanations given to us by the sciences, since the latter can only describe entities derivatively as belonging to some class or other, as something present-at-hand. But however much the possibility of stepping-beyond human disclosure severely limits Heidegger's capacity to provide a description of animals in-themselves, Heidegger ventures to attempt to disclose the peculiarity of animal being apart from their relation to our dealings. Apart from the abstraction of presence-at-hand categorization, animals ‘themselves’, are said properly lack the capacity to encounter beings as beings, what Heidegger calls the ‘as-structure’, required for manifestness and worldhood: “When we say the lizard is laying on the rock we ought to cross out the word rock in order to indicate that whatever the lizard is lying on is certainly given in some way for the lizard, and yet is not known to the lizard as a rock…If we cross out the word we do not merely imply something else is in question here, whatever it is it is not accessible as a being” (Pg 198). This is the poverty of all reality outside the cohort of human manifestation: animals remain closed to their ‘encircling rings’, as beings ‘without worlds’, at the most partaking as projections deprived of their own temporalization, transfixed like automata by reflex and drive. The result is clear, being, the unconcealment of beings, is relative to the structure of worldhood and thus to man, while animals must remain strictly speaking, worldless.

But because the wealth of Nature, including animals, is not just the domain of the sciences, but the offering of non-produced beings given to Dasein, Heidegger also indicates animals and Nature (phusis) are never something merely present at hand for us, but that they concern the seizure of being-as-a-whole. Dasein is split between the passive reception of the phusei onta and his co-originary disclosing attunements, which are the ground for his world-forming capabilities. In any case, the phusei onta are still disclosed by and through Dasein; while Episteme phusika is correspondingly an enquiry into first principles, whose essence is given through the Greek ousia. But as we surmised above, for Heidegger an enquiry into such essence does not concern the determination of an Aristotelian categorical genus, or the elucidation of their regional divisions and specifications. The latter now properly becomes the task of science, but it falls to philosophy to elucidate the dispositional ways in which the ontic is opened and seized. It is our task to ‘awaken’ the fundamental attunements to access the disclosure of being; not merely to make oneself conscious-of some-thing, but to prepare an disposition in Dasein taken from his everyday slumber or ‘being away’.

To review: Heidegger develops the distinctions above along three axes:

- Being at hand / not being at hand - proper to intra temporal entities, ontic domain, the stone – relative to our encounter or dealings.
- Being awake / not being awake (being away) - proper to Dasein’s own way of being
- Being there / not being there – relative to disclosure for Dasein and thus to (1).

Crucially, the stone cannot be away since it does not have a world; it does not encounter being, it has no temporalizing structure; it could only away for us, that is to say, 'not at hand' (either zuhanden/vorhanden…). More problematically, however, this would seem to apply to animals as well as stones, since the result from Heidegger’s analysis is that the animal as such remains in-itself, encircled, without direct openness to the realm of beings. This means that as long as being is not disclosed or given as being at hand, as part of Dasein’s comportments to being, particular animals or species (any way of approaching animals from the purview of the sciences or through practical dealings) simply are not there. Animals as such are worldless, while animals qua Nature as a whole are simply anonymous phantoms we find in our immersion prior to the machinic dissection of scientific reason or presence-at-hand:

"Being at hand or not being at hand decide concerning being and non being...the stone, in its being away [in its not being at hand], is precisely not there. Man, however, must be there in order to be able to be away, and only so long as he is there does he in general have the possibility of an away." (64)

Worldhood is thus neither internal (like a concept of reflection) nor external (like an objective property). It is no-where, it does not pertain to a given space or spatial determination, but is always subject to temporalizing in Dasein’s manifold attunements. In Heidegger's own words, 'attunements never emerge in the empty space of the soul and then disappear, Dasein is always already attuned in its very way' (Pg. 68)

This priority of temporality as the horizon for the disclosure of worldhood leads Heidegger’s enquiry into the examination of boredom, and goes from the properly ontic ‘boringness’ to profound ontological boredom where the seizure of beings-as-a-whole becomes palpable. This complicity between attunements and the temporality of Dasein is made already graspable from the etymological surface of the German words: Being bored -
langeweile, means long while. The temporalizing structure of boredom thus renders transparent its link to Dasein’s co-appropriation of beings in the world. Heidegger clarifies on general terms this correlation between attunements, temporalization and Dasein, and writes: "Boredom and ultimately every attunement, is a hybrid, partly objective, partly subjective" - it plays with the thing and transfers it to it. We are seized by boredom, and delivered to an impatient dealing with beings and the temporal modifications.
There are three forms of boredom we here summarize schematically:

The first form is Being bored by - ‘ boringness’ – specifically addressed to an entity or entities. It keeps us in limbo, while time passes too slow. We try to make time pass in boredom. It is still provisionally anchored in specific knowing, on an specific entity. Dasein is said to be ‘held in limbo’.

The second form is Being bored with - 'obstructive casualness' (unconscious lingering) - unknowing ontic generality, abandoning us to ourselves, time whiles and endures, it does not release us while it leaves us empty, it is the stretching of an enduring present, or an stretched now, where we are cut off from our having-been and our future, the horizon of the earlier (the past) is closed off. (120-124)

The third form is profound boredom - whereby the world finds itself homogeneously leveled, with no specific address or duration, and where no entity or particularity seizes us, but the general wholeness of being’s offering becomes latent in time’s opening in the form of a wholesale refusal of beings. Typically, it is at the moment of greatest remove from beings that Dasein grasps more authentically the call of being as such. Not at all dissimilarly from the analysis of anxiety, such as it was approached in B&T, profound boredom becomes the sharpest index of beings-as-a-whole. Attuning oneself all the way to profound boredom represents the height of the attitude of releasement (Gelassenheit) as opposed to ekstatic concentration or objectification (making-present: Augenblink). This means that Dasein disappropriates its immediate inauthentic conceptual identifications, dealings and presuppositions, and withdraws into the passive receptacle of being’s unconcealment. It thereby lays the passive ground for what Heidegger calls the ‘world producing’ or active faculties of Dasein.

This then paves the way for Heidegger's description of the phenomenon of worldhood itself, in which the comportments towards beings is elucidated, elliptically extending on the very distinctions made in B&T. Dasein is world producing, it encounters beings, and doing so it must encounter them as something. This structure of the ‘as’ is prerequisite for the determination of beings as beings, and their subsequent explication of the pre-logical logos in the spoken word (legein). We wrest beings from their removal or concealmente precisely through the logos and its disclosing capabilities. This does not yet presuppose the apophantic disclosure of propositional discursivity (logos apophantikos), but it already determines a ‘pre-ontological’ understanding in givenness, which is co-constituted by Dasein and his apprehending (Vernehmen). More fundamentally, Dasein finds the horizonal disclosure of worldhood seized in the threefold temporal ekstases:

Being-with - respect - present
Being already - retrospect -having being (past)
Being towards - project - future

The play of these temporal dimensions of Dasein in attunements allows us to understand how the categorical abstraction undertaken by the sciences constitute a reduction of temporality into mere endurance, or being-present. This is already the derivation of what Heidegger calls presence-at-hand, in which the individual categorical divides of entities occur, already derived from the primary engaged practice with the world of equipment (Zeug) or readiness-to-hand (275)

"And yet here the beings that surround us are uniformly manifest as simply something present at hand in the broadest sense- the presence of land and sea, the mountains and forests, and within this the presence of animals and plants and the presence of human beings and the products of human work, and amongst all this the presence of ourselves as well" (275)

But because presence at hand is merely an 'uprooted', technical grasp on beings, it is debased into the mere object for human calculation, void of ontological value. At a loss for any further ontological insight into animals, Heidegger finds the barren lands of metaphysics projecting an image of an equally barren non-human world: ‘animals are not merely present at hand’, he strives to say in a sophistic move to grant them independence, but find themselves encapsulated without exit (transcendence) in the 'encircling struggle of encircling rings'. This is not a mere fixation on enduring presence, for presence is only ever a derivative comportment relative to the pre-logical logos and thus already pressuposing the temporalizing horizon of Dasein. Rather, the animal is fixed by reiterative behavior, with no capacity to alter his drive or 'attune' his dispositions. This is also why Heidegger conveniently excludes from his analysis mammals and other animals which would intuitively exhibit more dynamic capacities to deal with things, and constricts himself to insects. Animality becomes thus reduced to the descriptive poverty of the phenomenological exile, that is, the leftovers of human existential richness. Behavior and environment do not show a comportments or worldhood respectively; the animal essence is only to remain within the encircling ring of captivation. So Heidegger rejects the thesis that:

"Beings as such are given to all animals'…the concept of world we have indicated... means the accessibility of beings as such rather than beings in themselves. according to this, beings do indeed also belong to world, but only insofar as they are accessible, insofar as beings themselves allow and enable something.”

And this subordination of beings to conditions of access should be read analogously to the subordination of ontic time to ontological time, or human temporality, Sein to Dasein, which fatally seals the fate of fundamental ontology into the explication of human temporality itself. As Heidegger makes clear in his Introduction to Metaphysics (1935):

”[S]trictly speaking we cannot say: there was a time when there were no human beings. At every time, there were and are and will be human beings, because time temporalizes itself only as long as there are human beings. There is no time in which there were no human beings, not because there are human beings from all eternity, but because time is not eternity, and time always temporalizes itself only at one time, as human, historical Dasein”

But if so it is clear that Heidegger’s attempt to draw crucial distinction among beings which are non Dasein, such as stones and animals, faces a fundamental irresolvable difficulty. Heidegger tries to assuage the explanatory poverty induced by his ontological commitments by saying that while stones are worldless animals are ‘poor in the world’. But this is a copout, since it is made abundantly clear that only within the temporalizing structure of Dasein’s transcendence beings as such become manifest, and that worldhood indeed admits of no degrees. To this end, Brassier concludes:

“Heidegger’s attempt to wriggle out of this dichotomy by claiming that the distinction at issue is not between having or not having a world but rather between entities that are ‘rich in world’ (i.e. human beings) and those that are ‘poor in world’ (such as animals) is a desperate sophism since he makes it perfectly clear that there can be no common measure for degrees of ‘richness’ or ‘poverty’ in world and hence no possible transition from one to the other.”

But if there is no standard to measure intra-temporal beings except from the worldly disclosure for human being, then how can Heidegger's correlationism explain the scientific fact of the fossil record: that there existed life and a world prior to the possibility of conditions of manifestation? Heidegger subjects ontic or metric time (of boringness) to ontological time, which is relative to the manifestation to Dasein. But if ontic time is only ever understandable as presupposing the time for manifestation, how can Heidegger explain that there was a time prior to even the possibility of manifestation? For if what science tells us is correct, then human time emerges within ontic time, at one point; it is relative to ontic time. But if there is no time except for Dasein, then how does the idea of a time or a reality independent of ourselves, and which will endure after we are gone become intelligible? This is precisely the problem Quentin Meillassoux raises against correlationism through the challenge of the ‘arche-fossil’. And this is perhaps the crucial question for phenomenological accounts which begin from the primacy of experience or to access the world, i.e. what Graham Harman has called ‘philosophies of access’. Correlationism results in the impossibility of thinking a world independently of ourselves and forces the denial of the independent being of all intra-temporal beings. As Heidegger puts it, ‘an eye taken independently is not an eye at all’. It thus firmly establishes the grounds for a prolonged noocentrism, which clogs philosophical thought in drawing its entire stock from the straightjacket of the post-Kantian aftermath and its obsession with finitude.

36 comentarios:

ethnotic dijo...

As much as I would like to believe Brassier, I can not see that he has any argument whatsoever, there appears - I am reading nihil unbound just now - to be nothing except an unrelenting faith in the self evidence of scientific fact. But there is not one word on how we as humans arrive at scientific fact (this stuff is long ago discredited by all kinds of people working on epistemology! Pragmatism etc.). It is rather astonishing, because Brassier appears quite diligent.

What is this thing "fact". Surely we must define "fact": We as humans. Then we go find some of them, and some '‘arche-fossils' while we are out there finding the "facts" we ourselves invented in the space of reason. I find Brassier totally inexplicable, what on earth is his argument? I find none, but would like.

I feel like the faithless who wishes to believe. But, without any reason I can not.

Of course, go do science. It is no problem. But why this overweening desire to make science absolute truth? Brassier is a true fanatic, inexplicable.

Daniel Sacilotto dijo...

I just read your comment and your blog entry on Ray's book, and I do share many of your concerns. Although his use of Laruelle's determination-in-the-last instance helps Brassier advance towards a 'postural' realism, it just does not help the prospect for scientific realism he seems to have taken at heart.

However, you should know that currently Ray has distanced himself somewhat from Laruelle, and has found in the work of Sellars and Brandom more substantial resources to advance towards a proper scientific realism. You should grab a hold of his forthcoming paper on Speculations, where he gives a programmatic 'preview' of his forthcoming research. Needless to say, the project of Pete Wolfendale over at Deontologistics goes after many similar concerns, and his Essay on Transcendental Realism gives a good idea of how Brandom's insights can serve to radicalize so-called deflationary realism and advance towards a proper 'transcendental realism'.

As for the explicit argument in Nihil Unbound, it is not just incomplete, but defective. As Ray himself acknowledges, he failed to appreciate the complex interplay between the manifest image and scientific discursivity, in what was timidly suggesting an overhaul of the former by the latter. Part of Sellar's insight concerns elucidating how scientific phenomena are explained in complex dependence rules with perceptual phenomena, or put differently, how unperceivable noumena enter in relation with perceptual phenomena. This seems a rehabilitation of the whole cog of representation, but I think Brassier and Wolfendale are bold in their resistance to that entire rhetorics (which permeates from Bergonism/Deleuze, to OOO). Part of Wolfendale's work seeks to elucidate how we can arrive at normative standards for objectivity and truth in discourse, while maintaining concepts essentially reviseable. Similarly, Ray wishes to show how science gains traction on real, as the latter continually infiltrates the phenomenal realm, and as we update our scientific theories. This is all admittedly abstract at this stage, so it will be interesting to see how it develops.

However, I must emphasize that for all its shortcomings, Nihil Unbound is filled with extraordinary moments of philosophical insight. The indictment against Meillassoux's use of intellectual intuition, the undecideability of metaontology in Badiou's discourse, the appropriation of Laruelle, and the assault on Heidegger/Deleuze's appeals to temporalization, are quite invigorating. In particular, the criticism of Deleuze comes a long way from the somewhat more predictable accusations found in Alien Theory.

That being said, it is true that NU doesn't quite advance towards the scientific realism it seeks to move. For this we'll have to wait for his future work.

ethnotic dijo...

I feel like there is something wrong with this whole attack on Heidegger. It has something to do with the need to talk on sevral levels. Kant allows us still to do so called faithism, because there are some things out of our grasp, reason can't get to them, but okay do some speculations.

So it is the same with the way Heidegger does his thing, you make some speculations about that that you can't speak on, just you need to know that they are merely speculations or if one likes play with beliefs.

Daniel Sacilotto dijo...

I'm afraid I just don't see the big deal about the possibility of speculation. You think 'certain things' are out of our grasp; but i'm just not sure how to understand that statement. Are you implying that there exist objects outside the possibility of all cognition? How do you know this; is it because of the argument from facticity in Heidegger and Kant?

Then, we should ask how can we claim anything about what there is in-itself, without relapsing into a religious, fideistic avowal of the mystical? Is it a datum given to us phenomenologically and which yet remains unobjectifiable? If the in-itself must remain as an unknowable given our 'facticity' and finitude, then don't we solicit a fideist return of the anonymous Otherness lurking beyond the grasp of our presence? This is one of Meillassoux's crucial observations about the aftermath of correlationism.

And yet affirming facticity through the contingency and finitude of the human beng, haven't we already absolutized unwillingly the absoluteness of the contingency of every entity, given we accept the unreason for anything to be such as it appears to us? This is a vulgar rehash of some of Meillassoux's most base intutions, but it makes the point. This is what the Speculative Realists are attacking, and you haven't yet explained how your position resists their criticism.

To spell the obvious example from After Finitude: your suggestion about the realm of unknowable things delegated to faith or speculation works only by absolutizing contingency to things themselves; since the possibility of things being other than they appear cannot merely be a possibility for us, unless we want to cede everything to the idealist. If you accept this, then it falls to you to explain how to taxonomize between knowable things and the unknowable.

If you disagree with Meillassoux on this point, since at least in Nihil Unbound Brassier advocates this part of the attack on correlationism, then you owe us an explanation of how you can defend correlationism from such an attack.

I should state, however, that in his more recent work Brassier actually presents a stronger disagreement with the argument against correlationism presented by Meillassoux than the one in NU, even though he still contends correlationism. The paper I mentioned has more on these details, but you can read some of the preliminaries and basic ideas from Graham Harman's 'Prince of Networks'. As you can see there, Brassier thinks that we can dispute the plausibility of the circle of correlation once one disambiguates between concept and object. Review the problem of Stove's Gem to catch a glimpse of this problematic. This alternative facilitates Brassier's attempts to rehabilitate the grounds for realism, by insisting that the concept is determined by the object, while the latter remains nevertheless indifferent to the former. Of course this is already intelligible through his appeals to Laruelle, but he moves further than that in his latest work. All of this while not having to relativize the object to the concept, or being to thought. In this he remains adamantly resistant to the phenomenology of Heidegger.

ethnotic dijo...

What I don't like in this speculative realist school is just this sort of forced tendentious play, like you say how are we to do such and such "without relapsing into a religious, fideistic avowal of the mystical?" But, if that is how it is, then why are we to dismiss it, simply because it does not suit our taste or what?

That said, I'm not saying ultimately or absolutely transcendent ("outside the ;;;possibility;;; of all cognition") I'm saying beyond our present ability to access (because I conceive of our senses as plastic and mutable [I understand 'thing in itself' merely as outside the present purview of a given agent or entity (these may be fundamental difficulties as with the Space and Time of Kant or possibly Syntax in Chomsky], differing in scope and 'vector' by species, by individual, by time (because we are never stricto sensu the same) etc., and our technological-prosthetic additions to our senses are obviously [or perhaps it is more problematic] changing our ability to get at things all the time: I see the two as influencing one another in the long run genetically-evolutionarily).

"haven't we already absolutized unwillingly the absoluteness of the contingency of every entity" I don't get this continued "absolutized" banging. I see nothing absolute in it. It is like that now, sure, but it is not absolute. We just admit that some things we don't have access to (but can indeed speculate on obliquely) at the moment or indeed anytime in the foreseeable future - even perhaps never - but still, it is not "absolute" since we can conceive of an end to it.

" taxonomize between knowable things and the unknowable." I think this is only done be means of noticing that when we have dots that don't connect in some manner of deterministic causation (on say a physical systems model of some kind) there is something escaping our preview, but then we have to increase our perceptive abilities (but so long as we are ignorant, our ignorance itself constitutes the realm of the thing in itself, and the speculations of theory in physics are also like a search into this realm [multiple dimensional thinking and so forth, perhaps such theories that function but are beyond our understanding, as we are told by quantum physicists, can be said to blindly stretch into das ding an sich]).

I am suggesting only an operative method in theory such as that of the sciences in regard to a margin of error, used in measurement (used in leeway for strict consistency of argumentation). In specific, here, I do not think Brassier keeps in the spirit of Heidegger's project even if his objection is perfectly correct. The 'hunting ground' of the animal's perceptive access (that thus generates its world) is different then ours, but it is most likely overlapping also, their is no absolute reason not to speculate - although we may be quite wrong (even for readily suggestible reasons) - that the animal is simply limited in its access to the total picture (and the stone more so). After all stricto sensu - on a Heideggerian like map - all individual Dasein are incommensurable and incomparable, and something like this picture is also useful for other purposes, as in Levinas ("infinite uniqueness").

In this he remains adamantly resistant to the phenomenology of Heidegger. - I think these views are not so irreconcilable as the 'speculative realists' make out. It is more a question of talking on several levels at once and using the acceptable dominant language patterns (similar to making various religious ideas come alive for the zealotic atheist by pointing out that we can read theologians as hypothesizing, and by explicating their thought in the current dominate terms etc.).

ethnotic dijo...


Could one have said adquationism instead of correlationism? (As in adaequatio intellectus et rei.) It is strange because in English correlation tends to imply relation and not fundamental identity, so in putting it this way it is like a slight on the view from the start and thus there is this theater of polemics, one does not step onto the fiery grounds of the view, but plays only against one's own rendering of the foreign view. This is just the impression I get about the genre of this general assault on Kant, Heidegger etc..

Daniel Sacilotto dijo...

I'm afraid I just don't understand your objections.

I think you misunderstand the concept of absoluteness in Meillassoux account. The absoluteness of contingency simply means it is certain that things could be different than they are, i.e the principle of sufficient reason fails. In order to accept things could be different than they are NOW you have to accept that this is because it is necessary that they could be different than they are. That is the whole ordeal behind the necessity of contingency. I don't see how this enters in conflict with the 'plasticity' of our being, and the possibility of change, since Meillassoux's absolute leads into a vision of the chaosmos which precisely eludes the necessity of any entity.

I find your last considerations on the affinity between Heidegger and Brassier incomprehensible. The point about the animal world, or lack of world thereof, is that Heidegger cannot affirm it given that it makes no sense in what way an animal posseses ekstatic transcendence, which provides the as-structure, and the capacity to encounter beings as beings. Without this, beings are not even potentially unconceales, or apt for concealment, which is why animals must be circumscribed in his view to their encircling rings, like temporality void automata.

The difference between Dasein and Dasein is different and utterly trivial ontologically, since the sphere of shared practices in the logos goes from practical activity to apophantic discourse, and thus involves uncovering of beings and comporment towards beings through and through. There is nothing like that available for animals, i'm afraid.

rakis dijo...

I dont think Heidegger is a correlationist. His words like:

"To say that I am in the first place oriented towards sensations is all just pure theory. In conformity with its sense of direction, perception is directed toward a being that is extant. It intends this precisely as extant and knows nothing at all about sensations that it is apprehending.

in opposition to the subjectivist misinterpretations that perception is directed in the first instance only to something subjective, that is, to sensations, it was necessary to show that perception is directed toward the extant itself.

Nevertheless, the walls [in a lecture hall] are already present even before we think them as objects. Much else also gives itself to us before any determining of it by thought. Much else – but how? Not as a jumbled heap of things but as an environs, a surroundings, which contains within itself a closed, intelligible contexture

intraworldliness does not belong to the being of the extant, or in particular to that of nature, but only devolves upon it. Nature can also be without there being a world, without a Dasein existing…The being of beings which are not a Dasein has a richer and more complex structure and therefore goes beyond the usual characterization of that extant as a contexture of things"

show that he accepts an independent nature.

Daniel Sacilotto dijo...

It is important to separate Heidegger's claims from his arguments; of course Heidegger wants to be a realist: the entire project of Sein und Zeit intends to clarify the meaning of being from the analytic of Dasein; but it is being that is ultimately in question.

Likewise, Heidegger wants to say that animals have some form of world, albeit one which is 'poor'. Yet the strictures Heidegger has set for himself ultimately make the hypothesis of a world or nature independent of us unintelligible. In the passage you quote (I believe it is from the Basic Questions of Philosophy lecture course?), it should be noted that Heidegger already says that this allegedly independent nature would not occur as extant beings or as worldhood.

That is the first point I tried to make: the entire wealth of phenomena as described by the natural sciences is allotted to mere givenness as present-at-hand objects ('extant' is another translation for Vorhandenheit). These are in turn derived already from readiness-to-hand, or Zuhandenheit, where there are no particulars but merely an equipmental-whole.

Heidegger however knows that beings or nature are never something merely present-at-hand, since the openness of the world subsists in its givenness irrespective of apophantic disclosure or making-present. However, the problem is that however back Heidegger wishes to dig into the pre-originary, he can never exceed conditions of disclosure into being in general, beyond Dasein. For nature qua phusis is still apprehended only in its givenness to Dasein, and this givenness is entirely correlative to Dasein's ekstatic transcendence. The problem for Heidegger then becomes the impossibility to clarify the nature of the ekstematic horizon of being as such, from the specific disclosure or unconcealment of being by temporal Dasein.

This is why Heidegger IS a correlationist. He does not claim a reality independent of our access does not exist, but that this reality remains strictly speaking unthinkable. We can say nothing of this 'nature' behind our modes of disclosure; science and engaged practice only give us Dasein-specific comportments, and it is only within this horizon that the wealth of beings populated by nature *are* qua beings. Quiddity or essence remains relative to Dasein's enpresenting, as modes of intra-temporal entities. While Nature 'as a whole' remains the horizon of disclosure of worldhood, as a unified phenomenon which becomes authentically appropriated through fundamental attunements, i.e. anxiety, boredom, etc. This is why the idea of understanding the world as such is never tantamount to understanding a being, or domain of beings, but being-as-a-whole. And this is why phusis is irreducible to the categorical divisions obtained by science, which for Heidegger must remain the most human-specific abstractions. Phusis is given to Dasein, and Dasein as finite is seized by the attack of phusis and taken on by the grip of beings. But we cannot enquire into the 'mode of being' of nature, since being is only opened as given to Dasein's care (Sorge); being qua being pressuposes the pre-discursive logos of apprehension and Dasein's world-forming capabilities. So whatever there is 'independently' of us must remain veiled in darkness. There is no 'philosophy of nature' for Heidegger. Finally this is what delivers Heidegger into digging for the pre-originary in the epochal manifestations of the 'truth' of being.

Incidentally, I think something similar can be said apropos of Zizek's 'materialism', which however bluntly he seems to advocate it, is ultimately delivered back to an idealist hypothesis in virtue of his Hegelianism. I also think the same holds for Deleuze, and his followers such as DeLanda and Nick Land. And I also think the same fate ultimately falls to Latour and the batch of OOO, which end up cornered into a descriptive metaphysics where the real becomes inaccessible, but pressuposed from its irreducibility to relations.

rakis dijo...

Thanks for answer.

But I don't see any problem.

On the contrary a realist has a serious problem trying to compromise for example newtonian and quantum physics because they represent two different realities.

What is your alternative thsesis?

Daniel Sacilotto dijo...

It is a problem for Heidegger to claim Nature in independent, while rendering it unthinkable or vacuous in content, given his own assumptions.

You're quite right in saying that naturalistic realism faces a problem with respect to changes in theory. The possibility of revision must be taken into account within the sciences, but it is far from clear what implications this has for the status of scientific knowledge. In the work of Brassier, science gains traction of being through conception, while keeping the two relatively independent from each other. There is a progressive infiltration of the real imperceivable noumenal into the conceptual through complex dependence rules with the phenomenal perceivable realm. He draws from Sellars and Robert Brandom. Ray hasn't yet fleshed out his account on this regard, but I suspect there will be a strong continuity between his work and the preliminary advances brought forth by Peter Wolfendale, particularly in his excellent Essay on Transcendental Realism. I leave a link to the essay below.

As for myself, I am still struggling with these views and am particularly unsure about a) the necessity of making epistemology methodologically prior to ontology/metaphysics, b) the necessity to rehabilitate the cog of representation to reinstall normativity at the center of philosophical deliberation, radicalizing Kant. My thoughts on this subject are complicated, but i'm still unsure about whether the disavowal of correlationism inspired by Stove which Ray follows in his latest work is really effective in dissolving the circle of correlation. I am still a Badiouean in ontology, and am less convinced in the necessity of salvage realism from the natural sciences as opposed to pure mathematics, like Badiou or Meillassoux attempt. I would love to be more insightful, but as for now I am still in a phase of learning.

rakis dijo...

Well, I still think that heideggerian Befindlichkeit is very helpful in such problems we talk about.

Anyway, my thesis is some kind of interactivistic constructivism but I realize that such a tenet is not enough for human beings. My thesis is that we need to see how psychoanalysis sees the Ego, (that means like a symptom), against all positivist theories.

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