Monday, January 30, 2017

Review of Introducing Heidegger

I liked the cartoony style of the book which kept it semi-interesting, but I ended up deciding Heidegger is hardly worth the effort.  I'm sure he helped move some thought along in his time by loosening terms and experimenting with idea-games, but I'm not convinced he did much more to earn his place as one of the fathers of existentialism. I'll be honest and say that his Nazi sympathies and lack of post-war remorse was the final straw for me, but he also struck me as a academic playboy vying for first-chair in the philosophy department.  The very fact that "Being And Time" was practically unfinished and rushed into publication so he could fill the vacancy left by the former chair of his department, Husserl, tells me just about all I need to know about him. No wonder he makes very little sense...he didn't have to! Is this an Emperor-with-no-clothes kind of thing?

It wasn't all a waste, I suppose. I like the idea of 'Da-sein' (human beings defined as 'there-being'--better translated as 'being-there') as a deconstruction and broadening of the idea of what it means to be human--that humanity is a more complex first-principle than what religions, sciences, and philosophies have reduced it too. The idea of Da-sein as being in-the-world is a reminder that Da-sein can't be separated from it's environment, and that it is always Da-sein itself that is considering itself as separate object while not being truly capable of separating itself as idea or object from the environmental fabric with which it is partly identified. The world and even time itself is 'bent' by Da-sein (a foreshadowing of Einstein's rather unoriginal idea) and can therefore only be understand as part of the holistic picture with no beginning/end.

Heidegger expanded on Husserl’s Time-Consciousness which expanded on Bergson’s work. "Husserl believed that time ‘appeared’ in consciousness in much the same way that a musical melody is known. The melody is knowable only through the simultaneous operation of three acts of consciousness:

  1. Retention: notes which are no longer sounding have to be retained in memory
  2. Attention: a ‘primal impression’ of each note, as it sounds, must be gained
  3. Protention: the auditor must ‘listen ahead’ and construct expectations of what might or might not follow.
Time must be viewed in the same way. Not linear, but simultaneous consciousness of all principles at once."

There ya go. The rest was gobbleygook. Well, not really, but it did feel like a spiral into meaningless theology (which I admit I can no longer stomach in the least), politics, academic pedantry, wishful thinking, and ice cream I want ice cream. Plus, he was a friggin Nazi. So...

Well, it was nice to met you Heideggar, but I'd like my sanity back now. As one redditor said about a completely unrelated subject (and I have no idea why I remember this): "Ride free into the scintillating frog sunset, you mad bastard."

Credit for frog sunset quote:


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