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.
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?”
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."
In a message dated 7/19/2010 4:10:55 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time,
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.
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.
In a message dated 7/19/2010 2:25:46 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, d...@djbloom.com
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
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?
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
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.
In a message dated 7/19/2010 1:38:53 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time,
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
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
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
On Jul 19, 2010, at 4:06 PM, Philip Brownell wrote:
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.
Sean, Dan, and
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
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
Guten abend, fraulein Stein. Here is a gas chamber for
You know I'm
into anniversaries just now, so let me rant and
On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:18 PM, Dan
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,
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
Heidegger acknowledged it himself. He said he didn’t
intend for it to be there.
But Heideggerians have worked this out. Levinas, for
On Jul 18, 2010, at 3:48 PM, Sean Gaffney
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.
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.
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 industry...so I'm
pinning my hopes on Edith...and/or me in the last
On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 9:28 PM,
Philip Brownell <philbr...@logic.bm>
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
attitude when we conduct therapy. We are
not doing a philosophical
"thing" when we do therapy.
While not lost in scientism, we are more
to neurology than philosophy when we are engaged in a
pursuit such as psychotherapy:
other words, the natural sciences/ neurology does not
the epoché and thus remains in
attitude’. As outlined, Husserl’s main
procedure was to bracket or
‘all our natural attitudes towards the objects in the
and towards our psychological
suspending all our theories about these matters,
believed it will lead] back our
to [the] pure essences of consciousness’. See Moran, p.
Neurology does not
undertake such a
‘bracketing’ towards an object. Thus neurology
in what Husserl termed
the ‘natural attitude’ (die