Wednesday, 11 December 2019 at 20:48
You may not know it, but you are probably a Marxist. Marxism is the basis of all the so-called Left and Right political and philosophical creeds of our time -anarchism, communism, socialism, liberalism, libertarianism and conservatism. Marxism grew out of Spinozism. The modern world to this extent is a Spinozist world - a world obsessed by oneness, wholeness, togetherness.
Spinoza understood man to be a mode of existence of the one and infinite originating Substance.
In my reading I have been immersed in two views opposed to the Spinozist-Marxist.
The first I will describe as the Renaissance and Romantic standpoint, with a philosophy of man and his apartness from nature, in the sense of being a repetition of the divine in terms of having the capacity for creative imagination and impact upon the cosmos. Dante has Beatrice explain the position in Paradise I. "Just as form is sometimes inadequate to the artist’s intention, because the material fails to answer, so the creature, that has power, so impelled, to swerve towards some other place, sometimes deserts the track." In other words, within the description of the order of the cosmos, Beatrice emphasises that human beings are the odd ones out, with the power to deviate from the cosmic order.
The second opposing view is that of Heidegger who emphasised that death is the defining factor in what it means to be human. As the end point, death delimits the bounded place within which being appears. "Only man dies. The animal perishes. It has neither death ahead of itself or behind it." (Heidegger, The Thing.) Between his birth and death, man is the clearing in the wood across which being fleetingly passes.
The first is an active standpoint, the second is passive. Can they be reconciled as a common opposition to Spinozism?
© John Dunn.
Dwelling place of being
Sunday, 8 December 2019 at 20:31
“Only man dies. The animal perishes. It has neither death ahead of itself or behind it.” (Heidegger, The Thing)
To be capable of death is the defining characteristic of being human.
Only man has the externality of death as a boundary.
Human beings dwell within this boundary.
Death is the place within which to dwell.
Place cannot be understood with the old transcendental mode of thinking
This is not place that contains appearances like a box holds chocolates. To think in such a way is sacrilegious.
“As the shrine of Nothing, death harbours within itself the presencing of Being. As the shrine of Nothing, death is the shelter of Being.” (The Thing)
Death is the shelter of being - the boundedness of being.
It takes a holy place for that which is holy to appear, holy in the sense of meaning real and authentic.
One cannot make the authentic as such, a place must be made in which to wait for the divinities. Authenticity had nothing to do with making gods or worshiping idols. These belong to the old metaphysical way of thinking.
The divinities are being. The appearance of being cannot be presupposed.
To see death as the mere liqidation of the physical is to succumb to the enframing power of technology, which turns human beings into human resources or commodities.
To see death in this way takes away death.
It reduces man to the status of animal
It deconstructs the dwelling place of being.
It suppresses the appearance of being.
It leaves us with nothing.
© John Dunn.
Monday, 2 December 2019 at 17:01
The use of the present tense by historians is no accident.
We live in the first era without a history - a timeless time of self-absorption in technological activity.
The fashionable newspeak of historians highlights the radical forgetting of historical time in society as a whole.
We are familiar with the impact of globalisation in a two-dimensional sense i.e. the erasure of difference and the imposition of a uni-culture or non-culture.
Well there is another less familiar dimension in which a similar pattern of differential erosion has occurred - that of historical time.
Heidegger's notion of the Gestell, a unity that orders the structuring of our experience, attitudes, values, and manner of engagement with the world, but is nevertheless not itself a thing, has extended its grip in a 3-dimensional way.
We all reside within a ‘timeless time’ conditioned by the precision of the self-absorbed immediacy of technological activity. Ironically, it is a timeless time promoted openly by historians.
© John Dunn.