Thursday, 28 September 2017

Thought versus Matter? Foundations of a Phylogenetic Immanentism

This is the latest instalment in our series on “The Philosophy of the Flesh”. It is difficult material, but the more discerning of our readers will be able to identify explicitly some pointers toward the overcoming of the dualism of mind and body that has been the bane of Western philosophical thought - with the help, of course, of thinkers such as Merleau-Ponty and Hannah Arendt. There are two aspects to this dualism that has been the feature of Western metaphysics from earliest pre-Socratic theological reflection to Plato’s compendium and to our days: the first aspect is the actual metaphysical separation of mind and body, of Subject and Object; the second aspect is the separation between minds understood as indivisible souls, what we know as “in-dividuals”. This separation of mind versus body and of human individual against human individual - the Platonic chorismos or transcendental “separation” - we need to substitute with that immanentist “participation” or methexis invoked by Nicholas of Cusa among others (cf. Ernst Cassirer’s invaluable intellectual biography translated as “Individual and Cosmos”). 

Merleau-Ponty, to my knowledge the only philosopher who not only tried to give an account of the organic structure of human existence but also tried in all earnest to embark upon a “philosophy of the flesh”, was still misled by the old identification of mind and soul when he defined the mind as “the other side of the body” since “there is a body of the mind and a mind of the body and a chiasm between them”. Precisely the lack of such chiasmata or crossings over is the crux of mental phenomena and Merleau-Ponty himself, in a different context, recognized the lack with great clarity. Thought, he writes, is “‘fundamental’ because it is not borne by anything, but not fundamental as if with it one reached a foundation upon which one ought to base oneself and stay. As matter of principle, fundamental thought is bottomless. It is, if you wish, an abyss.” But what is true of the mind is not true of the soul and vice versa. The soul, though perhaps much darker than the mind will ever manage to be, is not “bottomless”; it does indeed “overflow” into the body; it “encroaches upon it, is hidden in it – and at the same time needs it, terminates in it, is anchored in it” (‘LotM’, p33, this last quotation is from Augustine, De Civitate Dei).

This is not the first time that we pick on Arendt for her stubborn attachment to this distinction between “mind”and “soul”. There is indeed a distinction to be made between “emotional thought” and “abstract thought” – but both “modes of thinking” are just aspects of mental life that are different only in their “content”, not in their “fundamentality” or their ontological status. And this is what Merleau-Ponty is saying but Arendt cannot comprehend because of her attachment, again, to the distinction between “cognitive thought” which is oriented to “truth-as-certainty” (logico-mathematics and scientific regularities) and “thinking” proper, which for her includes “meaning” but which in effect ends up referring to logico-deductive and formal-rational, in short, “abstract thought”. Only in this regard does her own thought differ from Kant’s basic distinction between the thinking ego, whose eminent faculties are the understanding and reason, and the soul or the self. Kant ends up “reducing” all thinking to cognitive thought or thought directed at “certainty” and “truth”. Arendt instead categorises this as only a branch of abstract thought, of which “meaning” forms the greater part. 

But as we will see, Arendt bases her entire argument on the “otherness” of “thinking” – its being in the world and yet apart from it – precisely and ontologically on the “truth-status” of logico-mathematical abstract thinking or reasoning – on Kant’s notions of intellect and reason. Although she agrees that thought is an “abyss”, it is “fundamental”, because it is only through “thought” that we are able to pose the most fundamental questions of existence and reality, she fails to understand thereby that from the ontological standpoint even abstract thought still constitutes an “emotional” aspect of the life of the mind - however “cool” or “impassive” or “dis-interested” it may appear - of which its “intellectuality” is only a part or subset thereof. Mental activity, whether intellectual or emotional, is one and the same: the problem is that too often we con-fuse, as clearly does Arendt, the “focus” or “mode” of thought with its “real referent”, with its “object” (which, as we will see in our critique of Heidegger’s Kantbuch, is no “ob-ject” at all) – as if emotive thought dealt with “the soul” and intellectual thought dealt instead with “the mind ” as “pure activity”, and then split itself again into “rational” and “meaningful” activities. Contrary to what Arendt believes, both intellectual and emotive thought have repercussions on “the body” – and to this extent Merleau-Ponty is quite right to insist on “the mind of the body” and vice versa, rather than just “the soul of the body” and vice versa, and their chiasmata, their crossings-over. 

The stumbling block for Arendt is a distinction that she makes and that Merleau-Ponty does not tackle whilst Nietzsche certainly did and, by so doing, made one of his greatest discoveries, what we have called “Nietzsche’s Invariance”, which is that cognitive thought (logico-mathematics) and reflective thought, both of which make up “abstract or intellectual thought”, are not “separate” from other modes of thinking – and that indeed “thought and body” cannot be “separated” the way Arendt earnestly wishes they could! The mind has a “life” also in this “sense” or “meaning”, what Arendt calls “the sixth sense” (pp49-50): - that it cannot be separated from “life”, even in its most “abysmal” or “fundamental” intuitive or rational cognitive or abstract functions. Arendt clearly mistakes what Merleau-Ponty means by “fundamental”: thought is not “borne” by any “thing” not because it is in opposition to or contrast with “the world of things” – because, as Arendt herself points out, thinking beings are not just “in the world but also of the world”. Rather, thought is “fundamental” because it is only through thought that we can intuit the nature of reality. But this intuition tells us precisely what Arendt (and Heidegger, then Kant, as we are about to see) refuses to acknowledge: - that thought is immanent in life and the world, that it cannot “abstract” from the latter, even in its most “intellectual” modes and functions and operations. This is what Nietzsche, first among philosophers, discovered. And here we come to “self-evident truths”.

Arendt’s The Life of the Mind is quite evidently hinged on the misconception that Kant operated a dichotomy or an opposition – a Platonic chorismos – between “things in themselves” (the Ideas) and “mere appearances”, between the “(true) world” and its effects. Yet this is not correct – because Kant emphatically elevates those “mere appearances” to ineluctable a-spects of the thing in itself so that no real ultimate “opposition” exists between the two – which is what Arendt herself is advancing here. Where the opposition relevant to Arendt’s criticism of Kant arises is not between appearances and things in themselves but rather between pure intuition and “thing”, between perception and reflection, between perception and knowledge, between knowledge and reason, between idea and object – whence “transcendental idealism” -, and finally between Subject and Object. This is why Schopenhauer could celebrate in “the distinction between appearance and thing in itself….Kant’s greatest discovery” – because he could see immediately that in fact there cannot be any “dualism” between perception and knowledge and that therefore the real dichotomy was to be located between the Understanding or Intellect and its “representations” on one side and the Will, the true “thing in itself”, on the other – with the two making up “the world”: hence, “the world as will and representation” (or Idea). 

Heidegger has enucleated and illustrated, with characteristic didactic and analytical brilliance, this important aspect of Kantian meta-physics: for Kant there is no “opposition” whatsoever between “things in themselves” and “appearances” – nor are the latter “caused” by the former; rather, for the Koenigsberger, appearances are the necessary manifestation of “things” as “beings-in-the-world” open to perception by the thinking ego of human beings (Heidegger calls them “things for us” in What is a thing? At about p5) who then (and here comes causality) “orders” them into “concepts” or constructions from which deductions (synthetic a priori statements) can be made by pure reason. It is not the case that for Kant “appearances” are “mere” and therefore false events (Geschehen) that need to be interpreted in the light of the “things” that cause them. Arendt’s miscomprehension can be gleaned when she summarises Kant’s position as follows:

“His notion of a ‘thing in itself’, something which is but does not appear although it causes appearances, can be…explained on the grounds of the theological tradition,” (LotM, p40).
Kant was carried away by his great desire to…make it overwhelmingly plausible that ‘there undoubtedly is something distinct from the world which contains the ground for the order of the world’, and therefore is itself of a higher order,” (p42).

Yet Kant says precisely what Arendt seems to be saying: - that the “thing in itself” does appear; in fact, it can do nothing else but appear to human beings – who can never com-prehend it fully. Arendt herself comes close to grasping Kant’s admittedly intricate ontologico-epistemological position when she observes: -

The theological bias [in Kant] …enters here in the word “mere representations”, as if he had forgotten his own central thesis: “We assert that the conditions of the possibility of experience in general are likewise conditions of the possibility of the experience of the objects of experience, and that for this reason they have objective validity in a synthetic a priori statement.” (LotM, p.41)

In fact, Kant has not “forgotten his own central thesis” and, for him, both “the possibility of experience” and that of “the experience of the objects of experience” actually coincide because “things in themselves” that become “objects of experience” are known to us – that is, are “things in themselves for us” – when they are not “things in themselves of a higher order” whose “ec-sistence” (“they are not nothing”) is required by Pure Reason. What is of a “higher order” for Kant is not at all the “thing in itself” but rather the “Pure Reason “which contains the ground [not the cause!] for the order of the world. The difference between the thinking ego and “other” things in themselves is that the former is the faculty that can “give order” [Sinn-gebende] to the world…made up of other things in themselves, which are named so because they are not knowable “in themselves” and not because “they do not appear”! Unlike Plato or Mach, Kant does not sanctify the lofty philosopher or scientist who rises above the apparent world. Quite to the contrary, and this is a point that Arendt keenly appreciates (p41), Kant bases himself precisely on this world of appearances from which that of noumena can be deduced thanks to the intellect and reason. Perception is the construction from which reason can derive its synthetic deductions.

By failing to understand this subtle yet essential point of the Kantian critique, Arendt cannot undo and re-erect her own “phenomenology of the flesh” on proper ontological foundations; for the simple reason that her privileging of appearances or phenomena over things in themselves or noumena or qualitates occultae remains firmly bound to the transcendental attitude, just as Merleau-Ponty’s exaltation or elevation of perception from “secondary” (the effect of “things” or “objects”) to “primary” (the dis-closure of the “object” that presupposes its partial “invisibility” or “nothing-ness”) is tightly chained to this philosophical “framework”. Arendt amply demonstrates and corroborates this conclusion when describing her own understanding of the difference between thinking ego and the self:

The thinking ego is indeed Kant’s “thing in itself”: it does not appear to others and unlike the self of self-awareness it does not appear to itself, and yet “it is not nothing”. The thinking ego is sheer activity and therefore ageless, sexless, without qualities and without a life story…For the thinking ego is not the self” (pp42-3).

And here is the crux. The crucial characteristic of the transcendental attitude rests not on the distinction between the true world and the apparent world, but rather on the conception of human intuition as “ordering the world”, on the separation between the intuitive and the conceptual tasks of the mind. This is what Merleau-Ponty was attempting to circumvent with “the topology of being”, yet failed to achieve because of that “and yet ‘it is not nothing’”! Heidegger’s explication of this Kantian expression in What is a Thing? (at p5) genially and instructively distinguishes between two kinds of things in themselves: - those that “appear” to us [things for us] and those that do not, such as God and the thinking ego. Arendt fails to make this distinction and so believes that all Kantian things in themselves are the same and that her distinction of Being and Appearance applies to Kant and that Kant reduced the thinking ego and all thinking to pure reason ! So long as “chiasmata” are possible between body and soul, immanence is assured. But it is when the “mind” comes into play as “sheer activity”, when the ageless, sexless, thinking ego without qualities fails to appear, and yet “it is not nothing” and like God it is not a “thing for us” - when this “fundament” or “abyss” is considered mystically, then we have trans-scendence, the op-position of Subjet and Object – a theo-logy. This is the underpinning of Schopenhauer’s (then Nietzsche’s) devastating critique of Kant’s transcendentalism.

Arendt speaks of

the paradoxical condition of a living being that, though itself part of the world of appearances, is in possession of a faculty, the ability to think, that permits the mind to withdraw from the world without ever being able to leave it or transcend it,” (‘LotM’, p43). 

Yet so long as Arendt keeps speaking of “the world of appearances”, she will be stuck with this “paradoxical condition” for the simple reason that she exalts, like Kant and even Heidegger, the “primacy” or “primordiality” or “purity”, the “sheer activity” – the “transcendence”! - of thought and intuition over their “materiality” or “sensuousness” or immanence. For to say that thought can “withdraw from the world” because of its “abstract” and “inescapable” (a reference again to logico-mathematical thought) character or quality is effectively equivalent to saying that thought “trans-scends” life and the world! The “life of the mind” then becomes an “impossible chiasmus”, indeed an oxymoron. An illustration of this misconception can be gleaned from Arendt’s critical comments on P.F. Strawson’s presumption, characteristic of the Oxford analytical school, in a passage she quotes from one of his essays on Kant:

It is indeed an old belief that reason is something essentially out of time and yet in us. Doubtless it has its ground in the fact that…we grasp [mathematical and logical] truths. But…one [who] grasps timeless truths [need not] himself be timeless,” (Strawson quoted on p45).

What neither Strawson nor Arendt understand, and this is the reason why they are entangled in this “paradoxical condition”, is that “mathematical and logical truths” are neither “true” nor “timeless”! It is simply not possible for someone who is not “timeless” to be able “to grasp timeless truths” that are, by definition, “out of time” – unless one posits the “transcendence” of “reason” and its “timeless truths”! But that would be tantamount to allowing that there ec-sist entities of thought or reason that are “out of time” even though those entities are “thoughts” originating in the mind of a “thinker” who is not “time-less”! 

The prism that distorts the entire Western ontological tradition’s view of reality is precisely this notion of “self-evident truths”. This is the prism, the illusion, that Nietzsche’s Invariance smashes mercilessly to smithereens. For a “truth” to ec-sist it must be “com-prehensible” (Heidegger uses the term “umgreifen” early in the ‘Kantbuch’) and therefore, unlike the Kantian and Schopenhauerian “thing in itself”, “within” time: it must be intra-temporal and intra-mundane. But then it cannot possibly be “time-less”! A “timeless truth” does not ec-sist: it is either a tautology or else it is “a practical tool”, an “instrument”, and as such neither “true” nor “false”, just as the world is neither “true” nor “apparent”.



The notions of “truth” and “timelessness” require precisely that “com-prehensive being or grasping-from-the-knower” [Jaspers’s Um-greifende or Heidegger’s Totalitat] or “totality” or “being-in-itself” - not “for us”, that belongs to “what is not and yet it is not nothing” (cf. Kantbuch, pp18-22) - that directly contra-dicts both their ec-sistence (either in space-time or in “place”) and the “finitude” of the knower!  The prism that distorts the entire Western ontological tradition’s view of reality is precisely this notion of “self-evident truths” as “comprehensive being” or “totality” or “being-in-itself”. This is the prism, the illusion, that Nietzsche’s Invariance smashes mercilessly to smithereens. For a “truth” to ec-sist it must be “com-prehensible” (Heidegger uses the term “umgreifen” early in the Kantbuch, at par.5, p20) and therefore, unlike the Kantian and Schopenhauerian “thing in itself”, “within” time: it must be intra-temporal and intra-mundane. But then it cannot possibly be “time-less”! A “timeless truth” does not ec-sist: it is either a tautology or else it is “a practical tool”, an “instrument”, and as such neither “true” nor “false”, just as the world is neither “true” nor “apparent”. As Heidegger’s discussion in par.5 of the ‘Kantbuch’ reveals (at p19 especially), the whole notion of “comprehensive grasping” or “totality”, indeed the entire Kantian effort to tie intuition to thinking and then both to knowledge, has to do with the “communicability” of intuition.

Knowledge [and therefore thinking] is primarily intuition, i.e., a representing that immediately represents the being itself. However, if finite intuition is now to be knowledge, then it must be able to make the being itself as revealed accessible with respect to both what and how it is for everyone at all times. Finite, intuiting creatures must be able to share in the specific intuition of beings. First of all, however, finite intuition as intuition always remains bound to the specifically intuited particulars. The intuited is only a known being if everyone can make it understandable to oneself and to others and can thereby communicate it.

 The whole pyramidal structure from perception to conception, from intuition to the intellect and reason, from conduction to deduction, has no other aim than to explain how it is possible for human beings “to share perceptions as knowledge”! It is this “crystallisation” of symbolic interaction, that Nietzsche shattered by exposing its con-ventionality. And it is instructive to see how Benedetto Croce deals with this critique in the Logica. Having already tersely lampooned the “aestheticist” critique of “pure concepts” which denies their validity and existence in favour of sensuous “experience” and activity such as the artistic, and then the “mystical” critique which, like Wittgenstein, insists that what is truly worthwhile is what cannot be spoken of, Croce then turns to the “arbitrary” or “empiricist” critique (which surely must count Nietzsche among its proponents):

C’e’ (essi dicono) qualcosa di la’ dalla mera rappresentazione, e questo qualcosa e’ un atto di volonta’, che soddisfa l’esigenza dell’universale con l’elaborare le rappresentazioni singole in schemi generali o simboli, privi di realta’ ma comodi, finti ma utili,” (‘Logica’, p10).

Croce does not accept that concepts are “conventions” or, as he prefers to call them on behalf of the critics, “fictions”. As proof of the erroneity of this “critique”, Croce enlists the “tu quoque”; in other words, this “arbitrarist” critique of logic and pure concepts is itself a logical argument based on concepts – and therefore it is either equally false like all logic, or else it must claim validity on logical grounds, and thence confirm the validity of “its” concepts, and therefore the validity of “conceptual reality” in any case (see ‘Logica’, p12). What Croce fails to grasp is that, so far as Nietzsche is concerned, the “crystallization” critique does not deny the “reality” of concepts; indeed, if anything, it highlights and warns against their “efficacity”. But this “efficacity” is made possible not by their “transcendental” or “pure” status – as “timeless truths”, for instance – but rather by their “immanent” status, by their “instrumental” character as “an act of will”. Not the “innateness” of these concepts, but their “instrumentality” is what matters – not Augustine’s “in interiore homine habitat veritas” (cited and discussed by Merleau-Ponty in ‘Phenom.ofPerception’, at p.xi) but the content of the act of perception is what constitutes “life and the world” for us. Earlier, Croce had emphasized the “active” side of concepts as human representations of intuited reality – privileging yet again the “spiritual” nature of “concepts” as dependent on intuition and experience yet “separate” from it.

Il soddisfacimento e’ dato dalla forma non piu’ meramente rappresentativa ma logica del conoscere, e si effettua in perpetuo, a ogni istante della vita dello spirito,” (p13).

Now, again, Croce draws a stark contrast between the two positions, his idealism and what he calls “scetticismo logico” (p8):

La conoscenza logica e’ qualcosa di la’ dalla semplice rappresentazione: questa e’ individualita’ e molteplicita’, quella l’universalita’ dell’individualita’, l’unita’ della molteplicita’; l’una intuizione, l’altra concetto; conoscere logicamente e’ conoscere l’universale o concetto. La negazione della logicita’ importa l’affermazione che non vi ha altra conoscenza se non quella rappresentativa (o sensibile come anche si suole dire), e che la conoscenza universale o concettuale e’ un’illusione: di la’ dalla semplice rappresentazione non vi sarebbe nulla di conoscibile, (pp7-8). 

But this contrast is almost palpably fictitious, opposing high-sounding concepts in what is almost a play of words, and simply fails to tell us why and how concepts and representations differ ontologically. Croce ends up rehashing the Kantian Schematismus with the “pure concepts” of “beauty, finality, quantity and quality” and so forth whose content is furnished by “fictional concepts” such as universals (nouns) and abstract concepts like those of mathematics (cf. Logica, ch.2 at p18). But in fact, as we have tried to show here invoking the aid of Merleau-Ponty’s “phenomenology of perception”, neither of Croce’s “pre-suppositions of logical activity”, that is, intuition and language (see pp5-6 of Logica), is such that logical activity can be separated onto-logically from them. Croce insists that a concept must be “expressible” – whence the essentiality of language to it, no less than intuition or “representation”:

Se questo carattere dell’espressivita’ e’comune al concetto e alla rappresentazione, proprio del concetto e’ quello dell’universalita’, ossia della trascendenza rispetto alle singole rappresentazioni, onde nessuna….e’ mai in grado di adeguare il concetto. Tra l’individuale e l’universale non e’ ammissibile nulla di intermedio o di misto: o il singolo o il tutto… (Logica, pp.26-7).

We have here once again the Platonic chorismos, the Scholastic adaequatio, the Kantian noumenon, and the Fichtean hiatus irrationale – in other words, that “antinomy” that requires a “leap” (trans-scendence) from experience to thought. Except that what Croce believes to identify as a “particular” is already and immanently identical with a “universal”: not only is a concrete experience already a universal, but so is a universal abstraction also a concrete experience! Both are “representations” (cf. Croce’s contrary argument on pp.28-9). 

This is the basis of Schopenhauer’s critique of Kant’s separation of intuition from understanding and again from pure reason, in the sense that the Kantian “universal” is toto genere different from the particular and cannot therefore represent it separately in an ontological sense! Croce’s own categorization of these notions is at p.42 of the Logica:

La profonda diversita’ tra concetti e pseudoconcetti [identified with “l’idea platonica” on p.41] suggeri’ (nel tempo in cui si solevano rappresentare le forme o gradi dello spirito come facolta’) la distinzione tra due facolta’ logiche, che si dissero Intelletto (o anche Intelletto astratto) e Ragione: alla prima delle quali si assegno’ l’ufficio di elaborare cio’ che ora chiamiamo pseudoconcetti, e alla seconda i concetti puri.

Evident is Croce’s obstinacy in seeking to differentiate, however vainly, “thought” from “perception” or “representation” or “intuition”: - an effort that must remain vain because no onto-logical priority can be given to “thought” over “matter” and because indeed no “thought” is possible without perception and vice versa. A world without thought would be a world without life, and a world without life would not be a world at all! That is not to say that thought takes precedence ontologically over the world – because it is essential to the “world”; the two are “co-naturate”, Deus sive Natura. For universals and particulars, for abstract thought and concrete intuition, to be able to enter into a practical real relation with each other, they must “participate” (Nicholas of Cusa’s “methexis”) in the same immanent reality! Indeed, it seems obvious to us that perception and thought are immanently connected: methexis replaces chorismos. Here is Merleau-Ponty:

The true Cogito does not define the subject’s existence in terms of the thought he has of existing
and furthermore does not convert the indubitability of thought about the world, nor finally does it replace the world itself by the world as meaning. On the contrary it recognizes my thought itself as an inalienable fact, and does away with any kind of idealism in revealing me as 'being-in-the-world'. (PoP, p.xiii).

To seek the essence of perception is to declare that perception is, not presumed true, but defined as access to truth. So, if I now wanted, according to idealistic principles, to base
this defacto self-evident truth, this irresistible belief, on some absolute
self-evident truth, that is, on the absolute clarity which my thoughts
have for me; if I tried to find in myself a creative thought which bodied
forth the framework of the world or illumined it through and through,
I should once more prove unfaithful to my experience of the world,
and should be looking for what makes that experience possible
instead of looking for what it is. The self-evidence of perception is not adequate thought or apodeictic self-evidence. The world is not what I think but what I live through [m.e.]. I am open to the world, I have no doubt that I am in communication with it, but I do not possess it; it is inexhaustible. 'There is a world', or rather: 'There is the world';
I can never completely account for this ever-reiterated assertion
in my life. This facticity of the world is what constitutes the
Weltlichkeit der Welt, what causes the world to be the world; just as
the facticity of the cogito is not an imperfection in itself, but rather
what assures me of my existence,” (PoP, pp.xvi-xvii).


Merleau-Ponty reiterates here the Nietzschean “vivo ergo cogito”, with the peccadillos that he refers to the “self-evident truth of perception” (what is truth if, as he immediately yet unwittingly corrects himself, it is not backed by “some absolute self-evident truth”?) and then the obvious reference to the ‘I’, the Husserlian “transcendental ego” or “subject”.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

HEIDEGGER AND HISTORY

I am putting out here my notes on Heidegger and his conception of the "historiality" of Being. The critique of Heidegger is of course, in reverse, as it were, a first adumbration or approximation of a proper ontogeny of thought that overcomes the limitations of Nietzsche's strictly "onto-genetic" approach - which is characteristic of the entire negatives Denken from Hobbes to Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer and beyond - to a phylogenetic and immanentist perspective that we are championing here.
The references to Gianni Vattimo are to his Textos sobre Heidegger, which is itself a translation of Introduzione a Heidegger, both available on scribd.com, as is Karl Lowith's Heidegger in Spanish translation (original: Heidegger: Denker in durftiger Zeit). I apologise for the Spanish quotations, of course.
  



En Ser y tiempo, el hombre no es pensado como sujeto, porque esto haría de él una cosa «simplemente presente»; es, por el contrario, Dasein, ser-ahí, es decir, sobre todo, proyectualidad. El sujeto, piensa Heidegger, tiene una sustancialidad que el ser-ahí como proyecto no tiene; el hombre se define, no como una sustancia determinada, sino como «poder ser», como apertura a la posibilidad. El ser-ahí sólo se piensa como sujeto, esto es, como sustancia, cuando se piensa en términos inauténticos, en el horizonte del «ser» público y cotidiano150. (p.98 – the note is to parr.10 and 25 of SuZ.)


La muerte es la posibilidad de
la imposibilidad de toda otra posibilidad, “la posibilidad de la pura y simple
imposibilidad del Dasein”64; La muerte es la posibilidad más propia del Dasein:
esto se puede ver atestiguado por el hecho de que todos mueren, es decir, que esa
posibilidad es coesencial al Dasein; pero la raíz del hecho empírico de que todos
mueren es la circunstancia de que la muerte es la posibilidad más propia del
Dasein en cuanto lo afecta en su mismo ser, en su esencia misma de proyecto,
mientras que cualquier otra posibilidad se sitúa en el interior del proyecto mismo
como su modo de determinarse65. (Vp.41)

The “authenticity” of Dasein, its “openness” to the being of being, its “liberation” from the “inauthenticity” of its “thrown-ness” as being-in-the-world, can be located in its totality only upon its comprehension of death, of its “contingency”, upon its “appropriation” of its “being-toward-death”! One may reflect bitterly or ironically about the authenticity of a Dasein whose “care” for the world ultimately cowers wimpishly into the “Angst” of its apprehension of Death!

El miedo a la nada, que es la angustia, se explica sólo admitiendo que en ella aquello de que se siente amenazado el Dasein no es este o aquel ente en particular, sino qué es la existencia misma como tal. En cuanto proyecto que abre e instituye el mundo como totalidad de los entes, el Dasein no está “en medio” de los entes como un ente entre los demás; cuando advierte este hecho - y, como podemos decir ahora, cuando advierte su propia trascendencia - se siente en un ambiente extraño, ajeno en el mundo, en el cual no se siente como en su casa porque justamente advierte que no es un ente del mundo como los otros entes. En cuanto modo de existir en la trivialidad cotidiana, el Dasein se concibe como ente entre otros entes, y hasta
se siente protegido y tranquilizado por los entes que lo rodean; el simple miedo atestigua esto, ya que tener miedo de algo significa concebirse siempre como “dependiente” de ese algo de alguna manera. La angustia, como miedo que no se puede explicar de ese modo, como miedo de nada, coloca al Dasein frente a su propia trascendencia, frente a la existencia como tal (y para entendernos major diremos también, frente a su propia “responsabilidad”: porque es el Dasein el que abre e instituye el mundo). (p.61)



“La liberación anticipante por la propia muerte libera de la dispersión en
las posibilidades que se entrecruzan fortuitamente, de suerte que las posibilidades
efectivas, es decir, situadas más acá de aquella posibilidad insuperable, puedan
ser comprendidas y elegidas auténticamente. La anticipación abre a la existencia,
como su posibilidad extrema, la renuncia a sí misma y así disuelve toda
solidificación en posiciones existenciales alcanzadas... Puesto que la anticipación
de la posibilidad insuperable abre al mismo tiempo a la comprensión de las
posibilidades situadas más acá de ella, ella lleva consigo la posibilidad de la
anticipación existencial del Dasein total, esto es, la posibilidad de existir concretamente como poder-ser-total.”66 (pp.395-6)…. “Así la muerte se revela como la posibilidad más propia, incondicionada e
insuperable.” (Ibíd., pág. 378).
43


Heidegger’s notion of “authenticity-totality” opposed to the “inauthentic-fragmented” quotidian reality of the “one” (German, man, Arendt calls it “the Many”) invites the obvious parallel with Lukacs’s earlier vision of the scientific “totality” of the proletariat escaping its “alienated” condition as “the individual Subject-Object” of history! (The link is drawn by L. Goldmann in his Lukacs et Heidegger who even argues that Sein und Zeit was written as a reply to Lukacs’s ‘Geschichte’.) In sharp contrast, Nietzsche saw “the perspective of the herd” as a “need-necessary” out-come, result (Folge) of the Will to Power in its operari, in its manifestation as the ontogeny of thought in life and the world: his entire focus is on the historical significance of the Will to Power in its physiological, albeit ontogenetic, manifestations – in morality, in science, in politics, with art playing only an “illustrative” and marginal role despite Heidegger’s efforts to place it at the centre of Nietzsche’s thought – as “creativity”, thus wrongly defining the “content” of the Will to Power (see discussion below). This explains why human history and institutions are so much more central to Nietzsche’s explorations of the Will to Power: physis and istorein are much more intimately connected with and central to Nietzsche’s philosophy than they are to Heidegger’s where they play a marginal, if at all congruous, role. (In this regard, one may well agree with Cacciari’s judgement that Nietzsche’s attitude to “mass democracy” is far more complex and even favourable than many imagine. We will revisit this argument later.)




This is indeed a far cry from Nietzsche’s affirmation of life! Heidegger’s petty-bourgeois revulsion at the “mundanity” of everyday life, at its “inauthenticity”, is nonchalantly betrayed by Vattimo – who seems blissfully unaware of the enormity of what he is saying:

“…el Dasein auténtico es tal precisamente y sólo en cuanto se relaciona con el mundo
en términos de posibilidades. Y, de manera más general, en el análisis
preparatorio de la primera sección de Ser y tiempo, la autenticidad permanecía en
suspenso y en cierto modo “abstracta”, pues era todavía principalmente la
estructura de fondo que la reflexión existenciaria descubre sólo en la
inautenticidad de lo cotidiano. El concepto de anticipación de la muerte pone de
manifiesto lo que es, precisa y concretamente, la existencia auténtica.” (p.44)

Heidegger in the end finds himself precisely back at the point upon which Hobbes erected his entire axiomatic political theory and psychology – the decision:

En sustancia, ahora que se ha precisado la noción de autenticidad-totalidad mediante el concepto de anticipación de la muerte, se trata de ver si en el plano existencial, no en el de la reflexión filosófica sino en la vida concreta, el ser para la muerte se presenta como término efectivo de una alternativa que el Dasein puede elegir…. La busca de una posibilidad existencial de la anticipación de la muerte conduce a Heidegger a elaborar una compleja doctrina de la
45
decisión, que implica el empleo de conceptos objetivamente “enredados”70, como los conceptos de conciencia y de culpa…



(This about “com-prehension” is a point entirely similar to Heidegger’s exposition of Dasein in SuZ [cf. Vattimo’s first essay in ‘Introduction to H.’.] But note how Heidegger’s understanding of Dasein differs from the Wille zur Macht in that the latter is “physiological” rather than “existential” and phenomenological! Nietzsche is concerned with conflict in life and the world as an immanent physiological – almost “biological” - process, whereas Heidegger’s final concern is exquisitely “ontological”, and therefore “transcendental”; it is the phenomenology of Being within the horizon of time, and therefore “being-toward-death” and philosophical anthropology – authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) and art above all. Worse still, Heidegger is able to understand the passage from “com-prehension” to interpretation of life and the world by the Dasein purely in terms of “authentic” individual experience that is not “mediated” by the “doxa” of “public opinion” or of socially-constructed reality! The mere “thought” of “authenticity”, so dear to Heidegger in his openly bourgeois vision of the world, would seem scandalously artificial to Nietzsche who sees the ontogeny of thought itself as a manifestation of the Will to Power in life and the world – as a “perspective of the herd”, but as a “need-necessary” perspective that cannot be subjected to the moralizing “examen” of Heideggerian “authenticity”! Here is Heidegger:

En el pasaje en que habla del círculo comprensión-interpretación, Heidegger dice que:
“en él se oculta una posibilidad positiva del conocer más originario, posibilidad que es captada de manera genuina sólo si la interpretación comprendió que su tarea primera, duradera y última es la de no dejarse imponer nunca pre-disponibilidad, pre-videncia y precognición (son los terminus constitutivos de la precomprensión) por la situación o por las opiniones comunes, sino que debe hacerlas surgir de las cosas mismas con lo que quedará garantizada la cientificidad del tema”59.
[Again, Vattimo, ibidem.]

The difficulty of Heidegger’s position, its profound a-historicity, its dis-embodiment of the Dasein from its “physiological” roots - which are the crucial focus in Nietzsche (however “ontogenetically” he may understand these) - is neatly evinced by Vattimo in what is a desperate, unconvincing attempt to validate his “socio-historical” credentials (much in the manner Cacciari does in ‘PNR’):

Hay pues una precomprensión que no se limita a expresar que la situación histórico-social pertenece al mundo del se; trátase de una precomprensión que surge de alguna manera de la cosa misma: no evidentemente en el sentido de que la cosa se dé de algún modo como simple presencia, sino en el sentido de que la comprensión que realmente abre al mundo es nuestra relación concreta con la cosa. La charla habla de todo y especialmente de las cosas con las que no tiene una relación directa; la autenticidad es apropiación fundamentalmente en este sentido: se apropia de la cosa al relacionarse directamente con ella. (p.36)


But far from anchoring the existential Dasein in physiological and historical concreteness, one detects immediately in Vattimo’s churlish (the Spanish translation mentions “charla”, gossip), - dare one label it “inauthentic”? - “apologia” for Heidegger’s clumsy “pre-comprehension of the historico-social situation” its yawning “abstrusion” and “asportation” from the world of “common opinion” (again, Vattimo calls it “gossip”, “charla”!) - an esoteric revulsion at that very phenomenological world of “quotidian life” from which Heidegger ostensibly derives the “concreteness” of his existential analytic! With mindless disinvoltura, Vattimo brilliantly epitomizes the gnawing self-disgust of the estranged intellectual in the bourgeois era. – A presumption echoed, perhaps surprisingly, by Hannah Arendt in The Life of the Mind:

[W]hat for common sense is the obvious withdrawal of the mind from the world appears in the mind’s own perspective as a “withdrawal of Being” or “oblivion of Being – Seinsetzung or Seinsvergessenheit (Heidegger). And it is true, everyday life [Heidegger’s Alltaglichkeit], the life of the “They” [man], is spent in a world in which all that is “visible” to the mind is totally absent, (p88).



Construed in this purely “negative” or, to adopt Vattimo’s terminology, “weak” sense (Italian debole, hence Vattimo’s label of his own philosophy as “pensiero debole”, weak thought), Heidegger’s discussion of metaphysics as the history of Being rapidly turns into a vapid and meaningless abstraction – a novel edition of the qualitas occulta, the inscrutable quality of the prima philosophia, from Plato’s Ideas to the Kantian thing-in-itself or Schopenhauer’s Will to Life! Even if we agreed that the “subject-matter” of Western metaphysics, Nietzsche’s included, was a “presence”, an essence, a substance and finally a Subject whose totality stood as a timeless “quality” or quidditas or “value” inscrutable to human reflection but “knowable” to philosophical reflection at least from its “subjective” side (cf. Vattimo, ‘Intro’, p.73), - even then we would fail to see the difference between Heidegger’s own “position” and, say, the exordium of Genesis, where the whole quaestio of the complementarity of Being and Nothing, of “creatio ex nihilo” is most vividly posed (cf. Lowith), to the near entirety of German Idealism in which, as Nietzsche always acknowledged, there is always a “side” of Being that “conceals” itself and that philosophy consciously aims to comprehend “theoretically” but never “empirically”, except in the case of Fichte for whom the Subject posits the non-Subject (the “empirical I”), and whose solipsism, in any case, has been universally repudiated ever since. (Schopenhauer was most scathing in this regard.)




Heidegger insists on interpreting Nietzsche’s Will to Power as a relation of Will with itself, with a “self”, with “oneself”. Hence, for him, Will is “resoluteness toward oneself” (ch.10) and will to power is “to go further than oneself”, self-assertion. Yet in this self-assertion Heidegger, the phenomenological and existentialist philosopher, cannot see “beyond” the self-assertion to the very “object” of that assertion – which is not “self” but… another Will! Will to Power is not self-assertion as self-mastery – resolve as “resoluteness”, Heidegger’s “dis-closure” (Ent-schlossenheit) of the Dasein. Rather, it is mastery and command and domination over others!

Nor is Nietzsche’s Will to Power filled with the Angst, the fear of death that characterizes its “decision” or “responsibility” from Hobbes to Hegel through to Kierkegaard and Heidegger. In the former couple, the fear of death comes from an external, objective “threat”. In the latter couple, it always originates “ec-sistentially”, hence “transcendentally”, in the “possibility of death”, of non-existence, of “nothing-ness”. In all cases, its ultimate foundation, as Nietzsche discovers, is nihilism – despair in the worth of existence.


Heidegger perceives the ec-sistence of Da-sein, its “thrown-ness” into the world of beings, its lack of “totality” and therefore its “contingency” as a “fall” (Verfall), as a lack of “authenticity” in a “quotidian life” whose “triviality” he execrates. It is this “de-jection” (Geworfenheit) that reveals the brittleness of Heidegger’s Sorge (care) which no sooner is articulated than it turns into its real essence – anxiety and alienation, fear and loathing (Kierkegaard), “nausea” (Sartre)! Angst for the “finitude” of ec-sistence; loathing for its “error”, for the “averageness”, the anonymity (man) of “publicity”, for the “triviality of quotidian life”. And therefore a wish for that “totality”, the totality of Being, which is only accessible to Dasein as the “anticipation of death”, as the “apprehension of nothing-ness” (“why is there something rather than nothing?” is the leitmotif of the Einfuhrung).

Al ser-para-la-muerte Heidegger llega, en efecto165,
planteando un problema que a primera vista parece exquisitamente «metafísico»,
en la forma y en el contenido: ¿la analítica existenciaria, desarrollada en la
primera parte de la obra, nos ha puesto a disposición el Dasein en la totalidad de
sus estructuras? Pero, se pregunta en seguida Heidegger, ¿qué significa para el
ser-ahí ser una totalidad? Este problema, perseguido coherentemente, lleva
justamente a ver que el ser-ahí se constituye en una totalidad, y por consiguiente
se «fundamenta» (ya que la asignación del Grund, en que consiste la
fundamentación, ha significado desde siempre el cierre de la serie de las
conexiones, la constitución justamente de una totalidad, contra el regreso in
infinitum) en la medida en que se anticipa para la propia muerte. Traduciendo el
lenguaje heideggeriano un poco libremente diremos: el ser-ahí está ahí
verdaderamente, es decir, se distingue de los entes intramundanos, en cuanto se
constituye como totalidad histórica,…(p.113)

But however he twists it, Vattimo simply cannot extract from the mere “being there”, the sheer “thrown-ness” of the Dasein, from the “contingency” of its being and its “anticipation of death”, the sense of “ontic” reality requisite for historical analysis and action:

Heidegger
insiste mucho sobre el hecho de que no se debe leer esta relación con la muerte
en un sentido puramente óntico, y por tanto tampoco en sentido biológico. Sin
embargo, como todos los momentos en que la filosofía encuentra análogos
puntos de paso (ante todo aquél entre naturaleza y cultura), también esta
distinción heideggeriana es densa de ambigüedades. Si, en efecto, es cierto que el
ser-ahí es histórico - tiene una existencia como discursus continuo y dotado de
posibles sentidos - sólo en cuanto puede morir y se anticipa explícitamente para
la propia muerte, es también cierto que él es histórico, en el sentido de disponer
de posibilidades determinadas y cualificadas, teniendo relaciones con las
generaciones pasadas y futuras, precisamente porque nace y muere en el sentido
literal, biológico, del término. La historicidad del ser-ahí no es sólo la
constitución de la existencia como tejido-texto; es también la pertenencia a una
época, la Geworfenheit que, por lo demás, califica íntimamente el proyecto
dentro del cual el ser-ahí y los entes se relacionan el uno con los otros, vienen al
ser en modos improntados de vez en cuando de manera diversa. Es este doble
significado de la historicidad, en su relación con el ser-para-la-muerte, uno de los
puntos en que más explícitamente, si bien problemáticamente, sale a la luz el
nexo fundamentación-desfundamentación que es uno de los sentidos, más aún,
quizás el sentido, de Sein und Zeit. (p.114)


But Vattimo misses the essential point! And that is that it is not sufficient to conceive of Da-sein as a “contingent” and “mortal” mode of Being – even in the “active” sense of “Lichtung” – to make it “historical”! The very fact that Vattimo refers to “historical totality” means that Da-sein cannot be situ-ated within that “totality”! The “historical” point about human beings is not that they die or that they must die – the “finitude” of their “being”, its contingency – but rather the manner, the causes and reasons of “how” they live and die! This is the biggest difference between Hobbes and Hegel, on one side, and Heidegger on the other to the extent that they theorise the human “apprehension” of death. (On the centrality of death in Hegel’s phenomenology, see of course Alexandre Kojeve’s masterly studies.) Heidegger instead is almost exclusively concerned with the “anticipation” of death - that is, with death as an event that occasions the distinction between being and not-being, the relationship between Being and nothing-ness.

At best, such a de-finition can situate the Da-sein within the “ontic” sphere as opposed to the “ontological” one – and then only as “philosophical anthropology”. After all, it is precisely Heidegger who claims originality in his “remembering” the question of Being as against that of being-as-essent. But Da-sein remains “locked” within its philosophical “birth certificate” precisely because its very “concept” is incurably philosophical and abstract – indeed, transcendental, as Vattimo keeps reminding us. Da-sein remains “walled” within its own self-referential phenomenological categories. It describes the “existential” questions confronting human beings to the extent that they are “beings” – only in this onto-logical dimension. Da-sein cannot even remotely begin to tell us how Da-seins inter-act, not only with one another in social relations, but not even with the natural world in a manner that goes beyond the most remote “existential” categories that, again, concern the Da-sein only as Da-sein, only as “being” in its ontological acceptation.

Contrast Nietzsche’s ‘Of First and Last Things’ in HATH which deals very much not with either “thing” – but with the “be-tween”! Heidegger is more concerned with the “sum” (Latin, I am) of the cogito – Nietzsche with the “vivo” (I live)! (Heidegger says “sum ergo cogito”, Nietzsche actually wrote “Vivo ergo sum”.)



It is symptomatic that Heidegger refers to Hegel’s Phenomenologie and the preparedness of German Idealism (even in Schelling) to include negation and death in the concept of Being (ch.13) – because his own ontology reflects and contains this nihilistic longing for “totality”, for the com-prehension of Being from purely philosophisch and therefore subjectivist and idealist – trans-scendental – premises! Small wonder, then, that Heidegger should seek to understand the Will to Power in terms of “creativity” and “art” (in his Nietzsche, chpts.10-12). One may well agree with Vattimo that it is no longer Heidegger who interprets Nietzsche as a thinker unable to overcome nihilism but rather the other way round! It is Nietzsche who shows us why Heidegger’s ontology remains within the “circle” of metaphysics; why it is unable to grasp the materiality of life and the world, the physio-logy of the Will to Power.




This is where Hobbes and Heidegger meet, as it were - in the Heideggerian “decision in anticipation of death” whose “authenticity” is founded on the transcendental anxiety of the Dasein in its being-toward-death that prescinds from the conventional “inauthenticity of quotidian life”.





El discurso sobre el ser-para-la-muerte, incluso estructuralmente, es paradigmático del modo como Sein und
Zeit, partiendo en busca de una fundamentación, aún en sentido amplio, metafísica, llega luego a resultados nihilistas, al menos en el sentido del término al que he aludido. (Vattimo, p.113)

But this is a lucus a non lucendo! This “negativity” of the truth that “un-conceals” itself and the Being that “gives itself”, which supposedly is what introduces “historiality” in our reflection on life and the world are only “historial” in the flimsiest, most dis-embodied, ontological, transcendental sense. As Vattimo observes, with praiseworthy objectivity, Heidegger’s “negative” approach to Being may itself justify a charge of nihilism (p.111). Despite his insistence on articulating the “foundation” of Being, Heidegger was never able clearly to delineate its Grund, its “positive” or “strong” basis. (It may be said, jokingly, that “Being and Time” is like “Hamlet without the Prince”, in the sense that it does not discuss Being itself.)

It is not “history” that Heidegger engages with, but rather “metaphysics as the history of Being” – and then again only to emphasise its Vollendung, even going so far as to revive, in the Einfuhrung, the notion of Abendland (the Occident as “land of the setting sun”) as the geographical site of the “retreat” of Being. But if Nietzsche denounces the shipwreck of metaphysics on the rock of nihilism, it is only because he can see that the metaphysical quest for truth has de-throned the very “subject” of that quest – not just God, but Man above all! And in this “de-throning” of Man as the auto-phagous subject of life and the world, Heidegger’s Dasein is fully implicated! And this “implication” in nihilism only serves to highlight the pre-eminence of Nietzsche’s thought over Heidegger’s as a “guide” to the “overcoming” (Uberwinding) of nihilism.

Ya en Sein und Zeit el ser es «olvidado como fundamento»; en el lugar del ser capaz de funcionar como Grund se percibe - precisamente en la centralidad que asume la analítica existencial y la elucidación del nexo con el tiempo - un «ser» que, constitutivamente, no es ya capaz de fundar, un ser débil y depotenciado. El «sentido del ser», que Sein und Zeit busca y al que, al menos en cierta medida, llega, debe entenderse sobre todo como una «dirección» en la que el ser-ahí y el ente se encuentran encaminados, en un movimiento que los conduce no a una base estable, sino a una ulterior permanente dislocación, en la cual se encuentran desposeídos y privados de todo centro. La situación descrita por Nietzsche (en el apunte que abre la vieja edición del Wille zur Macht) como característica del nihilismo, aquella en que, a partir de Copérnico, «el hombre rueda fuera del centro hacia la X», es también la del Dasein heideggeriano: el Dasein, como el hombre poscopernicano, no es el centro fundante, ni habita, posee, coincide con, este centro. La búsqueda del sentido del ser, en el desarrollo radical que tiene en Sein und Zeit, saca progresivamente a la luz que este sentido se da al hombre sólo como dirección de desposesión y desfundamentación. Por tanto, también contra la letra de los textos heideggerianos, será preciso decir que la búsqueda comenzada en Sein und Zeit no nos encamina a la superación del nihilismo, sino a experimentar el nihilismo como la única vía posible de la ontología. Esta tesis choca contra la letra de los textos heideggerianos porque en ellos nihilismo significa el aplastamiento del ser sobre los entes, es decir, el olvido del ser, que caracteriza la metafísica occidental y que al fin reduce el ser a «valor» (en Nietzsche), a validez puesta y reconocida
112
por el y para el sujeto. Así sucede que, del ser como tal, no queda ya nada. No es aquí el lugar de discutir si y en qué medida el nihilismo entendido de este modo caracteriza fiel y completamente la posición de Nietzsche. Pero está claro que también y sobre todo el uso, por parte de Heidegger, de la noción de nihilismo para indicar la culminación del olvido del ser en el momento final de la metafísica es responsable del hecho de que de su pensamiento, en cuanto alternativo o, en cualquier caso, esfuerzo de superación, uno se espera, en cambio, que el ser, contrariamente a lo que sucede en el nihilismo, recupere su función y su fuerza fundamentadora.



Heidegger’s attempt to historicise his existential phenomenology is flawed from the outset precisely because his Dasein lacks a physio-logical dimension, which is instead crucially indispensable in Nietzsche’s conception of the Will to Power, and is therefore condemned to an abstract “temporality” that flounders in an ethereal, ontological “transcendental intuition of time” (the explicit phrase adopted in the Kantbuch) without ever being able to ground the Dasein and this “temporal intuition” (a pale shadow of istorein) in the immanence that the very “materiality” of the intuition of time, of the istorein (in-quiry), requires.

A totality that is “truth” – a truth that can only be accessible “partially” to the Dasein and that therefore can “reveal” itself objectively – not under the “control” of Dasein. It becomes clear why Heidegger conceded in a seminar in 1964 that Being and Time should have been titled “Being and Lichtung” (in Vattimo, p.62)! But Heidegger equivocates sybillinely between the Lichtung as a “revealing light” that is thrown actively by the Dasein onto individual beings (essents) or instead as an “unconcealing light” with which Being “illuminates” the world for the Dasein (recall Heidegger’s ambiguity of Being as “es gibt” [“is there” or “it gives”] to which we drew attention earlier and which we owe to Karl Lowith, in Heidegger). Vattimo is so caught up in this obfuscation that he fails to notice it even as he falls prey to it almost in mid-sentence!

Aquí importa subrayar la expresión en cuanto: que de la nada provenga todo ente en cuanto ente no quiere decir que de la nada provenga la “realidad” del ente entendida como simple presencia; ha de entenderse en cambio que el ser del ente es como un colocarse dentro del mundo, como un aparecer a la luz que el Dasein proyecta en su proyectarse. Contrariamente a la concepción del ser como simple presencia, la concepción del ser, que se anuncia como implícitamente supuesta en Ser y tiempo y en estos escritos posteriores, es precisamente la concepción del ser como “luz” proyectada por el Dasein como proyecto103. El hecho de que empero el Dasein sea siempre proyecto lanzado, como hemos visto, descarta que el ser pueda concebirse como su “producto” y que la filosofía de Heidegger se reduzca a una forma de idealismo empírico o trascendental. Estas dos doctrinas suponen siempre, inseparablemente, una concepción del ser como simple presencia y una concepción del Dasein que olvida el carácter de ser lanzado: ambas lo resuelven todo en la relación sujeto-objeto, en la cual el sujeto o bien funda y produce directamente la realidad (simple presencia) de las cosas (idealismo empírico: esse est percipi) o bien por lo menos funda y ordena el mundo como mundo de la experiencia (trascendentalismo kantiano o neokantiano). En ambos casos, no se pasa más allá del sujeto y aun éste, lo mismo que el objeto, es concebido como presente y se olvida su carácter de “lanzado”. (pp.62-3)

Note that Vattimo initially speaks of “the being of the essent appearing in the ‘light’ that the Dasein projects in its projecting”. So here it is the Dasein that “projects” light (Lichtung) onto the essent. Yet in the very next sentence Vattimo says the opposite! He speaks of “the conception of being as ‘light’ projected for the Dasein as project”. Here it is “being”, not the Dasein (and certainly not the essent!) that “projects ‘light’ for” the Dasein!


We have come full circle now with the “turn” (Kehre) – from the phenomenological anthropocentrism of Being and Time to a new theo-logy! (Lowith). Indeed, time itself has disappeared from view. All that remains is the “immateriality” of Lichtung, the “e-venientiality”, the “historiality” of truth as the essence of Being – a truth and Being that are entirely “negative”, from which the Dasein is wholly estranged – alienated. (Cf. Negri’s essays.) And the alienation is tangible, becomes “material” in science and technology. As we have shown, Heidegger’s “time” differs from Nietzsche’s in this “syndotic” respect despite its “historical” pretensions that never manage to go beyond the phenomenological and that more often than not – as in the being-toward-death and the anticipation of death and the existential status of decision that mark the “freedom” of Dasein as authenticity (an aspect developed by Sartre) – relapse inevitably into sheer transcendental ontology, the prima philosophia of the metaphysica generalis. [On Heidegger’s inadequate comprehension and integration of physis and istorein in his Entwurf, cf. Lowith in Heidegger.]



It simply will not do to assert, as does Heidegger, that the very fact that we can pose the question about the “occultation of being” or “obscuring of the world” perpetrated by metaphysics as “the history of Being” of the last two thousand years constitutes already a sign that Being “gives” to the Dasein. It is hard to see how this “occultation” differs from the “noumenality” of Kant’s thing-in-itself” and indeed Schopenhauer’s Will to Life as (precisely!) a qualitas occulta. Or even, as Vattimo discusses it (p.86), of Hegel’s Aufhebung!

En efecto, si el pensamiento liberado de la metafísica fuera ese pensamiento que recuerda el ser en el sentido de asumirlo finalmente como contenido temático propio, entonces verdaderamente Heidegger no se distinguiría sustancialmente de Hegel y el Schritt zurück sería sólo un nuevo disfraz [disguise], más o menos disimulado, de la autoconciencia hegeliana.

Again, we may contrast Heidegger’s truly “obscurantist” stance – indeed, obfuscatory sophistry! – with Nietzsche’s infinitely more specific ontogeny of thought. In a perceptive and valiant attempt to give a “strong”, positive slant to Heidegger’s ontology, Vattimo even comes very close to proposing Nietzsche’s own intuition of time (as we have presented it here) in its extra-temporal, extra-mundane immediacy – as opposed to the intra-temporal and intra-mundane one:






This should put paid to the fumblings and insinuations of post-heideggerians about any precedence over Nietzsche by Heidegger who, if anything, merely copied from the genius from Rocken even in the characterization of the ontogeny of thought, which Heidegger re-christened “quotidian life” (Alltaglichkeit). (The “screen” of Max Scheler used by Heidegger cannot disguise the evident Nietzschean matrix of their phenomenology and sociological analysis, as in terms like “ressentiment”. Vattimo, much to his credit, is only too keen to stress the “continuity” of Heidegger’s thought with Nietzsche’s. What we are doing here obviously is to reaffirm the immanentist and materialist superiority of the philosopher of Rocken over any and all of his epigones.) Note that Heidegger in his Kantbuch seeks to “re-interpret” Kant exactly in this “anthropological” sense already indicated by Scheler – much to the dismay of Cassirer and the neo-Kantians at Marburg [see chronicle of their Swiss encounter] -, away from metaphysica specialis [epistemology, philosophical anthropology] to the metaphysica generalis [ontology]. Husserl perhaps best intuited, as his marginal notes to Heidegger’s Kantbuch reveal, the “anthropological” affinity of Heidegger’s tendentious interpretation of Kant with Nietzsche’s Entwurf. We have reviewed these matters in detail in our Heidegger’s ‘Kantbuch’.)


Sólo a un
proyecto definido y “finito” las cosas pueden manifestarse en su verdadera
esencia de cosas. Antes de llegar a la noción de estado-de-yecto y a la noción de
autenticidad, “podía parecer que el ser en el mundo era una armadura rígida en
cuyo interior tuvieran lugar las relaciones posibles del Dasein con su mundo sin
que la ‘armadura’ misma estuviera implicada en su ser”63; es decir, el Dasein
parecía poder cambiarse por el yo trascendental. Pero la idea de Geworfenheit
nos mostró que el proyecto mismo está históricamente definido y, por lo tanto,

que es “finito”. (c. p41)