• Janus
    5.9k
    But I read Heidegger, coming out of Husserl's phenomenological project and transforming it into existential phenomenology, as doing something distinctly different than the later Wittgenstein,Joshs

    That's true, but the thing they have in common is the idea of an implicit shared background. The later Wittgenstein employs the idea of "forms of life" which can be interpreted as being similar to the Husserlian notion of "Lebenswelt". Of course, Wittgenstein is not concerned with developing a phenomenology as Husserl and Heidegger, in their different ways, obviously primarily are.

    One might say that the goal is to get behind the past --as much as possible. We can't get completely behind the past. The past makes our questioning possible. But we open up our future (as I see it) by getting behind the past, since the past constrains the question that opens the future.ff0

    Can you explain what you mean by "get behind the past"? Do you simply mean to think about or understand it or are you referring to something else?
  • ff0
    120
    Can you explain what you mean by "get behind the past"? Do you simply mean to think about or understand it or are you referring to something else?Janus

    Sure. It's my favorite theme lately. Given your post above, none of this will probably sound new to you. I'm largely inspired by Heidegger, though I like the idea of making it my own --emphasizing the ideas I like and finding new metaphors, etc.

    The 'living' or 'primordial' past is the 'how' of the present. This 'how' is the method we take for granted, the pre-grasp or invisible background. The form of life. It hides in its familiarity. It's our manner of questioning that goes unquestioned as we question the 'what' of our focus.

    To get behind the (living) past is to see 'around' all the crust of yesterday's living choices that we've inherited as blind necessities. The apparently necessary (the blindly inherited paradigm) becomes optional once we strip away its familiarity. The 'living' past is the water that the fish doesn't see. It is the medium that quietly controls what can and cannot appear as the message.

    Normal discourse is 'message' focused. It uses the medium in an unconscious manner. Abnormal discourse 'attacks' or destroys this past. Just making it conscious is sufficient. A homier example:the living past is the glasses we don't realize we are wearing. But to get completely behind the past would be to pluck out our eyes, since we live in language and language is historical.
  • Janus
    5.9k


    OK, I get it now: it is not merely to understand the past in the terms which the past itself has cemented into the present forms of discourse, but to attempt to get free of those cemented forms in order to gain fresh insights. Of course, as you acknowledged, we can never becomes wholly free, because to do so would be to become blind. I agree that it does take creative effort to produce something new rather than merely to continue repeating the same old patterns of thought. Every theme contains within itself the possibility of variation; and this is well exemplified in music.

    I don't agree, though, that we live wholly in language if that is just taken to mean verbal or written speech. We live in languages. We live in visual language, musical language, mathematical language, and of course body language, as well as 'linguistic' language.

    And 'linguistic' language itself has modes: propositional, practical and poetical (which includes the religious and theological). This last is often forgotten by those who aspire to "know' in the philosophical sense; philosophy is a discipline which should avail itself of all three modes.

    Also, I don't believe we (or culture itself for that matter) are entirely socially constructed.
  • Joshs
    199
    That's the ground of being you're talking about,i presume, our situatedness or thrownness. And the most rigorous form of awareness for Heidegger, what he calls authenticity, is a not being caught up in the particulars of what comes into our horizon of concern, the this and the that of experience, but rather experiencing as a whole in its always being oriented ahead of itself.I suppose this could be understood as a getting behind the past.
  • Joshs
    199
    Derrida said there is nothing outside the text.By text he didnt mean literally written language. He meant context. There is no meaning that escapes its being framed via a context, and in fact isn't simply framed or oriented by a context, but in fact exists as what it is by being already split with itself. Very complex stuff.
  • ff0
    120
    I don't agree, though, that we live wholly in language if that is just taken to mean verbal or written speech. We live in languages. We live in visual language, musical language, mathematical language, and of course body language, as well as 'linguistic' language.Janus


    Right. Life is bigger than language. It's even bigger than all of those languages you mention. The way the body moves through the world comes to mind. The way we claim stairs, step into the bathtub, embrace those we love, chew out food, etc. I was just focusing on the blind know-how of speaking/writing at that particular moment. It's a fairly new theme/realization for me. It's so easy and traditional to snap into a certain artificial mode when doing philosophy.
  • ff0
    120
    That's the ground of being you're talking about,i presume, our situatedness or thrownness. And the most rigorous form of awareness for Heidegger, what he calls authenticity, is a not being caught up in the particulars of what comes into our horizon of concern, the this and the that of experience, but rather experiencing as a whole in its always being oriented ahead of itself.I suppose this could be understood as a getting behind the past.Joshs

    Right. I more or less read the authentic mode as the phenomenological mode. It's one of the slippier themes in Heidegger (to me), but he does speak in The Concept of TIme of authentic Dasein attaining clarity about its temporal being. I suppose one can bear the angst of abnormal discourse without thematizing it, however. But I doubt anyone could thematize it without experiencing it.

    But I really don't like the word Dasein anymore. It sticks in my throat. It becomes theological in its association with a famous brand name. 'Idle talk' can itself become part of idle talk, for instance. This is not at all directed at you. I've just read lots of Heidegger criticism, lately (and the man himself). It's fascinating how any particular approach to describing factic life can 'harden' into a crust that blocks the phenomenon. The words become academic and lose their force. Everything tends to become clever and precious as it succeeds. I feel the need to keep reaching for new words. I think slang evolves for the same reason.
  • Janus
    5.9k
    Derrida said there is nothing outside the text.By text he didnt mean literally written language. He meant context. There is no meaning that escapes its being framed via a context, and in fact isn't simply framed or oriented by a context, but in fact exists as what it is by being already split with itself. Very complex stuff.Joshs

    I have read somewhat of Derrida, and to be honest I was not impressed by his ideas or his degree of clarity and rigour. If he means 'context' then why not just say "context" instead of 'text' since the latter definitely implies written language?

    Of course I agree that all meanings are relative to contexts, but I do not agree that all contexts are merely confined to language; whether written or spoken.

    What do you mean by "in fact exists by being split with itself"? Is this a reference to Hegelian dialectic; that every idea holds within it its own negation? It might be complex stuff, but unless it can be clearly expressed I can't see that it could have any use beyond the merely poetical.
  • Joshs
    199
    Im not sure how to start here. The complaints against major philosophers from Leibnitz and Spinoza through Kant, Hegel and Heidegger are legion. It is clearly a different style of presenting ideas than that of the Anglo-American analytic tradition. i was initially wedded to an empirical language and believed that this mode had usurped the role that philosophy had historically played, thanks to Darwin and the rise of the social sciences.
    Then I read Heidegger's Being and Time. Apart from the content of the work, I had never come across a way of formulating questions like that. It immediately had a profound effect on me. Heidegger wasn't simply offering a new set of ideas couched within the conventional methods of exposition. He was offering a genuinely, from the ground up as it were, new way to approach thinking. If you take it as your project to do something so audacious(as did Kant , Hegel and other), then what you are doing is essentially inventing a new language, and you will be accused of being unnecessarily turgid. There is a big difference between obscurantist language and vocabulary that is initially impenetrable because it is introducing strikingly new concepts.

    I had a friend who told me anything worth saying should be summarizable in a sentence or two. Of course he would believe that. He was in the corporate world. By definition they deal in product that must be accessible to as large a population as possible in order to maximize profit. Only goods whose purpose and value is already widely understood by a culture will be desired by the masses. Such goods are of course summarizable in one or two sentences.

    The problem with Derrida's ideas is that they are rich enough, as is the case with all great philosophy, that they are accessible from a myriad of cultural fields, Like the blind men and the elephant, Derrida has been embraced within literary criticism, architecture, religious studies, political theory, and finally philosophy. From my vantage, only the philosophers have 'gotten Derrida right'.

    I have read just about everything Derrida has written. I dont have patience for bloated, superficial thinkers, I cant tell you that my interpretation of Derrida is 'correct'. What I can tell you is that I find his ideas to be just as powerfully original as Heidegger's. I havent found an unnecessary word in anything I've read of his.I can explain my interpretation of him to you in systematic terms. And I'm not the only one. I recommend 'The Tain of the Mirror' by Rodolph Gasche for a clear exposition of his idea. Also 'Derrida' by Geoffrey Bennington..

    BTW, the root of text is tissue or woven. He means text , not context. And he richly and complexly inscribes this word alongside a chain of other terms to arrive at what his project is about .Derrida would never mean one word to carry the weight of depicting what text, difference, deconstruction, the trace, the gram point to.
  • Janus
    5.9k
    The complaints against major philosophers from Leibnitz and Spinoza through Kant, Hegel and Heidegger are legion.Joshs

    Sure, but I have read something of Leibniz; and quite a bit of each of the rest and found them to be understandable, despite their idiosyncratic language. I find them to be as easy to read as Wittgenstein, Davidson, McDowell or Brandom for example. You just need to know what their beginning assumptions are; these are the key ideas and keystones of their thought.

    I don't agree with the key ideas of Derrida's thought, and from what I have read I don't even believe he consistently elaborates his ideas based on these key axioms, as the other's you mentioned do. So, I certainly don't find his ideas " to be just as powerfully original as Heidegger's"; in fact I believe he is a clever charlatan, and that he will disappear into the "dustbin of history".

    BTW, I don't say the same about Deleuze, Foucault, Badiou or Henry.
  • Joshs
    199
    Have you read Jean Francois Lyotard, or Jean Luc Nancy? They are closer to Derrida's ideas than are Deleuze or Foucault. (I dont see Badiou and Henry as post-Heideggerian in their thinking).
    I'd love to hear your take on the key ideas of Derrida's thought, so that I can compare my Derrida with your Derrida. I would like to build you a 'Derrida machine', a kind of subpersonal architecture.
    One of the reasons Derrida may be so difficult for you is that his ideas challenger your assumptions in ways that the others don't. That might lead to the impression of incoherence on the part of the writer when in fact the incoherence is in the reading. i also find his writing to be more theory-dense than that of Foucault, with his long-winded genealogies, and Deleuze's semi-literary style.
    It would help for me to have a sense of what family of ideas and writers are most relrevant to your own thinking. Since individual philosophers are interpreted in so many often contradictory ways, I like to understand another's idea via a network of philosophers. That would help me situate your orientation to Derrida. Consider it a kind of genealogical triangulating. I do know that those most hostile to his ideas havent yet made it into Husserlian territory and so cant make to jump from Husserl to Heidegger to Derrida..
  • Dzung
    42
    I'm actually most interested in why people choose to believe one or the other,Janus
    Do you think most have a chance to choose what to believe in? I know you didn't intend to say so.

    So, it may be that we often say things are not physical ( when we really mean 'material') simply because they are not immediate objects of the senses.Janus
    I think this has roots in an open question: what is matter? hasn't been resolved completely because Quantum and string theories and so on ...have not merged.

    To me now - in a multiverse belief - any imaginable is matter. Furthermore, that may be just a trivial subset of what matters constitute. I will explain if any aspect has a question.
  • Janus
    5.9k


    Apologies for the late reply: I just saw your post now. I don't have time to respond in detail, but let me just say that I have not made a really consistently concerted effort to persist with reading Derrida, because every time I have tried reading him (The gift of Death, On Grammatology are the two I can right now remember attempting) I have gotten the impression that the reward will not justify the investment of time and energy.

    I also read along with this thread: https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/23390#Post_23390 ( although I didn't actively participate) and it seemed that none of the participants could make much sense of Derrida's 'arguments' in his critique of Husserl's philosophy. On the other hand I certainly see Henry as a post-Husserlian thinker (See Material Phenomenology).

    I am not saying my view of Derrida is definitive, but it is the view I have; and I'm not interested enough, due, amongst other things, to already not having enough time to study what I really am interested in, to engage with anyone wanting to 'educate' me as to Derrida's significance.
  • tEd
    16
    Many people seem to be very concerned about the ontological status of things which we ordinarily think of as 'mental'. I sometimes wonder whether that is because it is (perhaps even unconsciously?) felt that their ontological status has some implications for religious belief, and most especially belief in an afterlife.Janus

    I think you've nailed it. If I had to pick one issue as an indicator of others, I'd go with afterlife.

    If the mind needs the brain and the brain dies, then the mind dies. So the believers in afterlife seem to need something that can float away from the brain and remain intact.

    It occurs to me that more rigid metaphysical beliefs might also need an independence of mind from the brain. After all, the brain is a fragile piece of gear. It's also spongey. It's counter-intuitive that this spongey, organic, fragile piece of gear is going to make for non-spongey surgically-exact symbols that somehow get reality right. And this whole intuitive notion of getting reality right may itself be problematic as we push it beyond the everyday sense of factuality.
  • Joshs
    199
    So forget about Derrida and give me a sense of what family of thinkers inform your own philosophy. I'm curious. Since Henry offers a theological approach to phenomenology, is that your approach also?
    (BTW, I wrote a paper for the journal of the British Society of phenomenology analyzing Derrida's reading of Husserl).
  • Janus
    5.9k
    I can't say which philosophers have influenced my thinking the most. The philosophers I have been most interested in have been Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger and Whitehead. I have looked somewhat into Merleau Ponty and Deleuze. Lately I have been exploring Buchler's ideas.

    In any case, I'm an amateur, a dilettante, when it comes to philosophy. My abiding interests are more in painting, music and literature, particularly poetry. I have always tended to mostly think for myself, and then been attracted to philosophers that seem to be in accordance with the ideas that i am currently entertaining. I have no aspiration for or interest in becoming an academic. I am interested to know, though, what are the key ideas in your reading of Derrida's reading of Husserl.
  • Pollywalls
    67
    I don't think there is anything special about the universe. it's just a universe just like the simulations in our minds. our minds can simulate the universe. the only difference is that we might depend on the universe. the universe does not depend on our simulations. I think a universe is a big concept. the universe has a name: Physical Universe. that's where "physical" comes from. ironically, that universe might not even exist.
  • Janus
    5.9k


    So, then do you think "non-physical" things exist, or are real, and, if so, then what is the nature of that existence or realness? Could it be completely independent of the physical world?
  • Dzung
    42
    the universe does not depend on our simulationsPollywalls

    have you thought about phenomena like quantum collapse and its philosophy aspect?
  • Pollywalls
    67
    the universe is a structure of information. where are the boundaries of this universe? if the universe was a simulation, I would call it physical, because there is no significant difference. I have no data about anything else than this universe, because I only exist in this universe. some things could be completely independent of the physical universe. It is impossible to justify any theory about non-physical existence without any data.
  • Pollywalls
    67
    it might just be a natural law. we do not have enough data or theories about it to know about it. I usually believe the simplest theories.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    What does it mean to say that something is physical or not?

    Thinking a bit about this distinction. We live phenomenally and we conclude a realty behind our experience, as we try to understand what our experience means. I am not sure about the distinction, however it seems to me that the reality of our self (body/spirit) lies outside of the distinction between "physical or not", straddling this presumed divide.

    "my body simultaneously sees and is seen. That which looks at all things can also look at itself and recognize, in what it sees, the "other side" of its power of looking. It sees itself seeing; it touches itself touching, it is visible and sensitive for itself. It is self, not by transparency, like thought, which never thinks anything except by assimilating it, constituting it, transforming it into thought--but a self by confusion, narcissism, inherence of the see-er in the seen, the toucher in the touched, the feeler in the felt--a self, then, that is caught up in things, having a front and a back, a past and a future. " Merleau-Ponty

    The self's being is whole, it is not divided up into physical and non-physical parts. While parts can be abstracted, studied as if they were separate, in reality, and as it is experienced, none of it is separate.
  • Janus
    5.9k
    It is impossible to justify any theory about non-physical existence without any data.Pollywalls

    So, if we were to say that there is some immaterial reality completely independent of this physical universe we would just be talking nonsense; we would not know what we are saying?
  • Janus
    5.9k
    The self's being is whole, it is not divided up into physical and non-physical parts. While parts can be abstracted, studied as if they were separate, in reality, and as it is experienced, none of it is separate.Cavacava

    Yes, I agree the self is neither physical nor non-physical. And I would say the self is not independent of the physical nor the non-physical. If we say the physical is presence and the non-physical is absence; then the physical is not independent of the non-physical and nor is the non-physical independent of the physical. As you say, "in reality and as it is experienced" there is no separation at all.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    I would join the convo in one of those physical vs. non-physical threads that have been going on for a few weeks, but they look so heavy such that if you join in them, you'll pretty much have no time for any other threads... >:O No wonder I haven't been hearing much from you Janus - like you live in a parallel universe now.

    I'm actually most interested in why people choose to believe one or the other, and also whether religious faith of whatever stripe is necessarily (not historically) more aligned with one position than with the other.Janus
    I'm not sure how helpful the distinction is. I see the world as more hylomorphic than either physical or non-physical. The reason for that being that if you analyse physical things, you will actually end up with non-physical things, ie patterns which can often be recorded in mathematical equations. So I would agree with the Aristotelian version that matter is potency and form is act. So matter, by itself, without form, is nothing.

    Well, yes, it is the experience of the world in itself; but, by mere definition it cannot be experience of the world as it is in itself. The 'for us' and the 'in itself' is a logical distinction that circumscribes our epistemic limits, according to Kant.Janus
    Can the world ever be "in itself"? I think this distinction is itself incoherent for those of us who don't buy into Kant's TI.

    Generally speaking, I think non-physical things that are real are mostly patterns, relatively stable patterns of behaviour, of interaction, etc., of physical things.gurugeorge
    Exactly - so how can physical things be said to exist if they don't / can't interact at all? And the only way they can interact is precisely if they're not just physical - if they take part in a certain pattern.

    OK, I certainly agree that abstract concepts do not exist extra-mentally. But the problem seems to be that, for example, numbers are independent of any particular mind. Does that mean they are independent of all minds, or independent of the totality of minds? If so, then does that "independence" constitute some kind of existence or being or reality? If we answer in the affirmative, then should we call that existence or being or reality physical or non-physical. If non-physical, then mental? But if mental, then numbers are not independent of mind, not "extra-mental".Janus
    I think that numbers (or more specifically ratios) exist both mentally and extra-mentally.

    there is another order of being beyond the merely physical; an order that may be even be thought to be independent of the physical, and I can't see why this would not amount to a dualistic hypothesis.Janus
    Hmm, see, I think the "order" that you consider to be physical, is actually non-material.

    HeideggerJanus
    Tell us more.

    I have no aspiration for or interest in becoming an academic.Janus
    I've always been much the same. I also personally have a certain distaste (and distrust) of academics.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Yes, I agree the self is neither physical nor non-physical.Janus

    Bang goes the law of the excluded middle! Why do philosophers waste their time on these things?
  • Janus
    5.9k
    I'm actually most interested in why people choose to believe one or the other, and also whether religious faith of whatever stripe is necessarily (not historically) more aligned with one position than with the other. — Janus

    I'm not sure how helpful the distinction is. I see the world as more hylomorphic than either physical or non-physical. The reason for that being that if you analyse physical things, you will actually end up with non-physical things, ie patterns which can often be recorded in mathematical equations. So I would agree with the Aristotelian version that matter is potency and form is act. So matter, by itself, without form, is nothing.
    Agustino

    I don't have much time: (it's the Christmas rush and all my projects are expected to be complete in a few days time :-} ), but you don't seem to have answered my question here; which was really concerned with whether ontological standpoints such as idealism and materialism are necessarily implied by the various forms of religious belief. I don't think so; for example, there were apparently materialists who were Buddhists more than a thousand years ago, as there are today.
  • Janus
    5.9k
    Obviously when I say "physical" or "non-physical" I am referring to these as categories as we conceive them. In fact I would say our conceptions are not all that clear; yet clearly the conception of "physical" is clearer than that of " non-physical" (which is really on an apophatic conception based on "physical" and is thus even less clear than its contrary).

    So I don't see it as a contravention of the LEM to say that the self is neither physical nor non-physical; it is just to say that the self cannot be coherently thought in either of those ill-formed categories.
  • tom
    1.5k
    So I don't see it as a contravention of the LEM to say that the self is neither physical nor non-physical; it is just to say that the self cannot be coherently thought in either of those ill-formed categories.Janus

    Is a computer program physical or non-physical?
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