Subject Lines

1 view
Skip to first unread message

Sean Gaffney

Jul 20, 2010, 7:02:01 AM7/20/10

You remind me of how I must really be explicit about the Subject line. If I go off on a tangential journey, I can support this list by changing the Subject line. This will also help me to better follow particular threads in our complex weave.

Thank you for reminding me of our exuberances. Mine as you know are Kierkegaard and Lewin, so I often do with them what you and Sylvia do with Heidegger, and Phil does with God - and I have little doubt Elizabeth will do with embodiment!

So fasten your seat belts and away we go!


On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 12:51 PM, Dan Bloom <> wrote:
I do recall that… yet how could I restrain myself? 
I think when any of us posts something that triggers a reaction, we need to pursue that side-thread to closure.
This Heidegger thread began with questions about his foulness viz a ziz his profundity. We’ve ended it, I think, off-point, but with a sense of closure between me and Sylvia. This feels good to me. Also, I think we’ve helped build our sense of Stein’s world.

That said, I get your point. My exuberance get exuberant. 

I’ll check out the Cambridge Companion reference. Interesting.

On Jul 19, 2010, at 11:55 PM, Philip Brownell wrote:

Okay... BTW do you recall this is an Edith Stein study group?  Here's a tid bit:  in the Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty Edith Stein is referenced pages 116-122 in a chapter on "Motives, Reasons, and Causes."


On Jul 19, 2010, at 10:43 PM, Dan Bloom wrote:


We are in different places. I have lots of respect for where you are and how you got there. I like the way we are discussing these things.

I agree that it is important to go beyond the thinkers we study. To study thinkers is to think their thoughts and make them our own uniquely our own.
I think I go beyond Heidegger, for example, when I bring my understanding of his philosophy into GT. I think I did this with Husserl. I think you’ve done this with Husserl.
This is all hot stuff!!!!

Heidegger was furious with Sartre’s flip comment that “existence precedes essence.” Heidegger’s friend and translator into French, Jean Beaufret (I think) asked him to respond. And he did in Letter on Humanism.
Existence and essence (being) are equiprimordial. Existence and being may not be severed. 
“Existentialism” and “existentialist” were meaningless words to Heidegger and worse, they made travesty of his philosophy of existence.

Here’s a funny anecdote about Heidegger and Sartre. 
At the end of the war, Heidegger was obviously a mess. He was impoverished. Shamed. Banned from teaching. He had previously read Being and Nothingness, that is, when it was first published, and had at first and enthusiastic reaction and then when he read further, a much less favorable view.
But in the post-war years, Sartre was a “hot” commodity. What would your opportunist genius do?
He sent a letter to Sartre telling him how much he admired B and N, that it was an extension of his own B and T, that Sartre was a genius, and so on. He invited Sartre to visit. Sartre was delighted. But post-war circumstances precluded their meeting.
Jump forward.
It is now the late 1960’s and the young Heidegger scholar Hubert Dreyfus is interviewing Heidegger in the Todtnauberg hut. He sees a copy of Being and Nothingness on a table.
“Dr Heidegger, I see Sartre’s Being and Nothingness there. What is your opinion of it?”
“Dreck.” Shit. 



On Jul 19, 2010, at 10:09 PM, wrote:

Hi Dan,
I also think it's important to understand the text.  And to go beyond it.  You and I are at different places in our intellectual odyssey.
I have to confess that I haven't read H's letter on humanism.  I was mainly speculating on why H was so insistent on being understood as an ontologist, and to head off any possibility of being categorized narrowly as "just another existentialist."
Love, Sylvia
In a message dated 7/19/2010 4:10:55 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, writes:


I confess to being more or less an orthodox Heideggerian these days. I am studying him closely. It is also how I’ve been taught to read him. Critchley encouraged us to read Heidegger as inphenomenological traditon and to try to understand B and T as his response to Husserl. He also encouraged us to understand it backwards, that is, to read Div I in terms of Div II. This is also the perspective of another Heidegger scholar, Reiner Schürman, formerly of The New School. This gives a tight understanding of the text.

This approach enables me to appreciate Levinas’s understanding of him, for example. I don’t think we can understand Totality and Infinity unless we understand that Heidegger was Levinas’s interlocutor. 

Letter on Humanism was nothing more than a response to Sartre? Nothing more than Heidegger’s rejection of Sartre’s existentialism? 
Hmm. I don’t agree. It is more than that. 

I’ve read some of his Zollikon Seminars and indeed his comments on intersubjectivity are interesting. These are just about the last things he contributed. There is hardly anything spiritual in these seminars.

But I am not saying Heidegger can’t be read as a spiritual philosopher. Ernst Cassirer accused him of asking theological questions but refusing to give theological answers.



On Jul 19, 2010, at 4:39 PM, wrote:

Hi Dan,
No, I don't think we're really at odds, yet it sometimes appears that you delimit Heidegger too strongly!  what I mean is, I will "do violence" to Heidegger as I read him backwards from his later writings.  The essay on truth is very suggestive of a deeply spiritual and Buberian understanding of interpersonal relationships, as well as how to understand authenticity for an individual.  Anyway, I agree that he denied the ethical interpretation of key terms in his thought, and I can hardly imagine that he was unaware of them.  And, as I said, I believe he was deadset against being categoried as an existentialist.  Sartre also did ontology, but he was clearly political and ethical in  his primary interest; Heidegger didn't want to be thrown in with him, as nothing more than that.
Love, Sylvia
In a message dated 7/19/2010 2:25:46 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, writes:

We are talking about different things. Aren’t we?

I am referring precisely to Being and Time.

I’ve read Lawrence Vogel’s (The Fragile We) on ethics in B and T and discussed authentic solicitude with Bob Stolorow.   So I know that there are different constructions — but within the limits I described in my email. 

I know that Dasein is inclusive of Dasein-mit and  fundamental ontology is social and historical. 
So authentic choosing is never a deworlded act.

Heidegger abandoned existence after B and T and paid attention to Being. I think you know that. Many say that his lack of a moral compass followed this turn. I don’t know about that.  

Heidegger rejected philosophy, praised “thinking,” lectured on Parmenides, Hölderlin, Heraklitus, and, famously, Nietzsche. In short, he became more and more poetic. 

He did find a kind of ethics, though. He strongly lamented technology’s interruption of the presenting of Being. (I believe I am using the right term here.)

This later Heidegger is not one who speaks to me.  But I really haven’t studied him much. 

One can construe philosophers in many ways!
Heidegger was famous for this.
In his infamous study of Kant, he told us that the proper way to read philosophical texts is to DO VIOLENCE TO THEM. He really said that. 
So, construe away!!!

Simon Critchley said to us, “How dare philosopher know what they meant by what they wrote?”
So, let’s construe away!

I don’t think we are miscommunicating. Are we?



On Jul 19, 2010, at 3:59 PM, wrote:

Hi Dan,
I think we keep on miscommunicating on this point.  I agree that Heidegger did not construe his concept of authenticity in any moral/ethical sense.  Yet it is open to such a construction.  I have taken it in that direction in my book (Essay 7 on living well as an individual).  The great strength of Heidegger, in my opinion, is the fecundity of his thought.  His vision was limited, but he laid the foundations--not only in B and T but in his later works--for existential truth and living, by which I mean what is involved in living well as a person and as a citizen.  He did not do this, but it can be done, and this can be accompanied by the clear statement that this constructivist path was suggested by Heidegger's thought, but not developed by him, certainly not in B and T.
When I have read Heidegger I have felt stimulated to think in ways that felt rich and true to me.  His rigid denials only indicate his own blind spots.  Or perhaps he did not want to be dismissed as just another existentialist!  He was a more serious fundamental thinker than that.
Love, Sylvia 
In a message dated 7/19/2010 1:38:53 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, writes:

I don’t entirely agree.
But I don’t think we are any of us can settle this here when the world of philosophers still is mashing this around.

You err if you think Heidegger’s “authenticity” is an ethical consideration in any usual sense of the word. And he never used the terms “good or bad faith.”

In Heidegger’s reply to Sartre in his famous “Letter on Humanism,” Heidegger was explicit. He said his and all philosophy has its limits. He never proposed an ethical way of living or a guide for proper choice-ful behavior. 
We can understand that to mean that  authenticity and resoluteness are existential conditions for choice and not directions for choice. 

Unfortunately, one can make authentic choices among possibilities that are repugnant. This may be so even when one is fully engaged with others. This is a tragedy, of course. One can authentically choose to be an heroic fighter for either side in a war. 

There is evidence that Heidegger opposed the Nazis as the regime continued in its brutality. There is evidence that he did it too secretly.

But Heidegger the person is not relevant to Heidegger the philosopher who rekindled ontology as a serious concern. I will try to scan a quote from Levinas that addresses this and attach it to this discussion.


On Jul 19, 2010, at 4:06 PM, Philip Brownell wrote:

Hi Sylvia,
Good to see you jump in here.  I have been stimulated by the difficulty that Heidegger presents, and by the sense that we understand Stein, or Buber, or anybody really by the context of their lives and the narrative that exhibits their choices.  That is, a body of work is often best understood against the background of who the person is who produced it.  I don't think this is as simple as part for whole error (mistaking the whole forest for a blight in one part of it). Rather, as Seán (I think it was) illustrated in contrasting what I might call a repentant attitude with Heidegger's, I think there is a quality of character in the mix that for some gives the lie to Heidegger's values statements.  What we come away with is not feeling that the values were wrong, but that the person was false.  Authenticity?  Good faith/bad faith?  These are relevant. Instead of the forest for the trees metaphor, I am reminded of another one: a little leven affects the whole loaf.  


On Jul 19, 2010, at 2:49 PM, wrote:

Sean, Dan, and All,
I think getting hung up on Heidegger's personal failing--vast and despicable as it was--and thus dismissing his contribution to philosophical thought, is like looking at one blighted part of a forest and dismissing the whole forest as "ruined."  There aren't many pivotal thinkers in philosophy, east and west, but Heidegger will certainly prove to be one.
In a message dated 7/18/2010 3:27:17 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, writes:
Sorry, Buddy, but you pushed a button or I did or something. "We are all beings-with others" - WOW. So let's exterminate 6 million of those others and philosophise about their beings-in-absence.

"Solicitude"??? Guten abend, fraulein Stein. Here is a gas chamber for you.

You know I'm into anniversaries just now, so let me rant and rave...


On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:18 PM, Dan Bloom <> wrote:

From what I can tell, the best Heidegger can offer you in this regard is this. 
We are all beings-with others. Others are always already there. Period. We are bound to one another as common beings in a common relational home. We have a common history. We are also with one another by virtue of a common mood, atmosphere, dispossedness. 

Heidegger refers to our feelingful relation to one another as authentic solicitude. That is a kind of grounded human concern. But he doesn’t explore that much. It is in B and T, though. Bob Stolorow points this out.

So he offers a philosophy that is the foundation, the basis, for intersubjectivity — but not intersubjectivity itself. The subject is not Dasein. Dasein is the existential being that is the possibility for the human subject.

But Heidegger does not have either a morality or an interpersonal ethics. That is a limitation in his philosophy pointed out by Stein and later by Levinas. 
(There is an interesting book I’ve been reading. It examines 3 possible kinds of ethics in Heidegger. The story continues.)

Heidegger acknowledged it himself. He said he didn’t intend for it to be there. 

But Heideggerians have worked this out. Levinas, for example. 


On Jul 18, 2010, at 3:48 PM, Sean Gaffney wrote:


Yes. And yes again. I have long contended that our profession as psychotherapists, engaged and paid by patients/clients for a professional service needs much more attention in our literature than it gets. My therapy clients, my supervisees, my consultancy clients are not paying me to philosophise on their or on my own behalf.

I see our work certainly as informed by our knowledge - psychology for some, philosophy for others, spirituality for others - though always within the context of our professional service. My clients are at least deserving of an expectation that my being me is supportive of them, and, basically, worth their money.

My sense is that Edith's essential humanism - a typical Jewish competence - will reach through her methodology and touch the other...Lewin got close to this, Buber both lost and found the other in God, Levinas I don't know enough about (yet!), I doubt Husserl's interest other than as a hypothetical abstraction, and Heidegger lost the plot when he gave his support to an ethnic cleansing I'm pinning my hopes on Edith...and/or me in the last resort.


On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 9:28 PM, Philip Brownell <> wrote:
In scrolling through the article sent by Haydn, I found this in a
footnote, and I am thrilled to find, because I have contended just
this very thing about gestalt therapy–that we remain in the natural
attitude when we conduct therapy.  We are not doing a philosophical
"thing" when we do therapy.  While not lost in scientism, we are more
similar to neurology than philosophy when we are engaged in a clinical
pursuit such as psychotherapy:

12 In other words, the natural sciences/ neurology does not perform
the epoché and thus remains in
the ‘natural attitude’. As outlined, Husserl’s main methodological
procedure was to bracket or
suspend ‘all our natural attitudes towards the objects in the world
and towards our psychological
acts, [by] suspending all our theories about these matters, [Husserl
believed it will lead] back our
attention to [the] pure essences of consciousness’. See Moran, p. 136.
Neurology does not
undertake such a ‘bracketing’ towards an object. Thus neurology
operates in what Husserl termed
the ‘natural attitude’ (die natürliche Einstellung)







Dan Bloom

Jul 20, 2010, 7:10:29 AM7/20/10

Good suggestion.
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages