• Eros1982
    32
    I just read (in rush) Heidegger's essay "What are poets for?", and I have the impression that he is suggesting that technology will bring the end of the "Open" which pertains to humanism --or to human ability to counterpose nature/universe. In a few words, it seems to me that Heidegger is saying that technology will bring an end to humanity as we know it. What I did not grasp, however, is why Heidegger thinks so?

    Does anyone here have a broader knowledge of Heidegger's views on technology and its effects on humans and history?

    Thank you.
  • fdrake
    2.2k
    A Cliffnotes summary with no academic references of Heidegger's view on technology.

    Heidegger cares a lot about the way people examine things. He cares a lot about how problems are framed; how questions are asked. Specifically, he thinks ways of asking questions can be occlusive of the subject matter. The easiest example of this is how Heidegger differs methodologically from Husserl.

    For Heidegger, Husserl's phenomenology starts in terms of contemplating perceptual objects. Like rotating an apple in your head or seeing the colour of something; from considering those kind of things, Husserl attempts to draw out the essential nature of experience. One example of this essential nature of experience Husserl highlights is intentionality. Consciousness is always consciousness of something; it is directed towards a specific object or task.

    Heidegger thinks this is a bit wrongheaded. Specifically, he questions the way Husserl is arriving at answers; should the essential nature of experience be highlighted through abstract mental operations, or by attempting to draw out the essential character of how people experience stuff on a day to day basis? Heidegger concludes (with a lot more words and nuance) that intentionality isn't just direction towards a specific object or task, but of being in a situation.

    Say Eric Clapton is freestyling on his guitar, he's damn good at it, he's performing and composing at the same time, it's badass. This is formed from an interplay of attending to how the situation was (the previous bit of improv), how the situation is (the previous bit of improv being extended by playing appropriate notes) and how the situation could and should develop (expressing whatever theme Clapton is experimenting with). It's also an awareness that has a sense of normality to it - if one of his strings breaks the situation changes. This is a very open ended sense of intentionality; lots of things and relations of things are attended to when Clapton's playing the guitar.

    So, Heidegger's derived a different sense of intentionality by asking how humans do purposeful activity vs underpinning constancies in how humans perceive objects. This is to say, he approached the question in a different way.

    Heidegger thinks technology, fundamentally, operates on a similar level to intentionality. It's a banality to say that technological advance has changed how people relate to each other; like Tindr, Facebook, Twitter and even the phone. Heidegger wants to reveal what underpins this banality - in what ways has technology changed how people approach doing every day tasks, and what conceptual structure does this change in approach have?

    A pretty good analogy, in my book, is that Heidegger thinks technology is like Tindr. Romantic partners are reduced to a standing reserve of sexual partners, and people on Tindr are reduced to their attractiveness for the person; that is, people have become instrumentalised; put to work, appraised in usefulness with regard to a task.

    Tindr is a model of instrumental intentionality applied to people. Technology, for Heidegger, is fundamentally a way of seeing things in terms of their usefulness. Apply this to the entire world, and you get the start of the homo economicus myth: the world is a competition over finite resources.

    Technology, then, is this attitude applied everywhere. Things start to look like goods and resources. Again, it's pretty banal that most things that we encounter on a day to day basis can be seen as goods and resources; but that's precisely the point Heidegger is raising! Technology is an instrumental framing of our relationship to the world, one in which we see people as subjects for resource allocation (or as 'cogs in the machine').

    'The Question Concerning Technology', 'The Age of the World Picture' and 'The Origin of the Work of Art', are three essays of Heidegger that deal with the different parts of this account.

    The Question Concerning Technology sets up this account of instrumental rationality.

    The Age of the World Picture deals a bit with instrumental intentionality as a conceptual foundation for a scientific worldview.

    The Origin of the Work of Art deals with how Heidegger wants to get around the constraints of a technological worldview for a more 'fundamental' interpretation of our relationship with the world (of which instrumentality is one possibility).

    The introductions to Being and Time deal with his methodology more generally (even though it arguably changes a bit in his later works). I think they situate in what register Heidegger is asking questions pretty well (but they're very dense, especially the second one).
  • gurugeorge
    517
    That's an excellent exposition, but on reading it, it occurred to me - wasn't that covered, and answered in advance by Kant, when he put the CI as, "Treat people not as means ONLY but ALSO as ends in themselves?"

    IOW, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with instrumental rationality; the problems come when instrumental rationality becomes the only way of relating to the world, and squeezes out the more embedded, related, particularized way of living in the world.
  • fdrake
    2.2k


    Related but distinct. Heidegger is quite silent on ethics, even though he makes use of normativity in his account of making sense of the world.

    Technology is treated as an obstacle to forming a deeper understanding of being. This is because it is a way of interpreting being. A reasonable analogy here is being asked to give an account of sight if everyone wore blindfolds all the time and weren't aware of it; you'd have to remove the blindfolds before the account could be made.

    The Heidggerian move is: since technology is one way of relating to being and, as a framing device, invites us to view things in some ways - like as goods, resources and instruments - it must be dependent on a less conditioned sense in which we relate to being. This fundamental sense is that being itself is a concern for humans. Humans can't help but care about it.

    In the every day life, Heidegger attempts to show how this care for being; which is intimately linked with intentionality; generates contextualised interpretations of our environment that automatically prescribes what it means to be in that environment. Like the sense of being at home while relaxing there, or of being in good company when with a close friend.

    In terms of philosophy, this care is orientation towards a problem whose contours are circumscribed by adopting sufficiently precise framing devices and sufficiently illuminating examples to study the problem. This might not seem like a particularly advantageous methodology for doing metaphysics with, but it certainly suits a type of being (humans) who is always concerned with being. What is the problem? The problem that we are always concerned with, being... This iterative refinement of framing devices zooming in on a series of conceptual presuppositions is called the hermeneutic circle, and attempting to describe things in a way to exhibit their conceptual presuppositions is called formal indication.

    Technology is an obstacle for that method, as it becomes difficult to see past the constraints it places on developing an ontology; questions of how and for what applied to specific entities, properties of assemblages of entities. Inquiry guided by 'how' and 'what for' questions can never raise the question of the being of those entities; the existence they share in.
  • Eros1982
    32

    I read your replies. Thank you.
  • gurugeorge
    517
    Great stuff, thanks. I really must get into Heidegger, I've been reading more and more odds and ends that make me think it's about time I made a deep dive. :)
  • fdrake
    2.2k


    Heidegger's pretty hard to skim read. You really have to pay attention to how the sentences follow from each other until you get used to how he thinks and writes. He's also expressedly not a humanist (see the 'Letter on Humanism') like you stated in the OP.
  • Eros1982
    32


    By the way, could you share with us some cliffnotes about the role poetry holds in Heidegger's philosophy?

    I finished reading Heidegger's "Poetry, Language, and Thought", and I am amazed with the many things Heidegger seems to derive from poets. To tell you the truth, I am distrustful to the many conclusions one can draw from poets and poetry (although Heidegger seems a great reader and interpreter of poems). But before, I have a say on whether it is right or wrong to derive so many conclusions from poetry, I need more info about the scope of poetry in Heidegger's philosophy.

    Does Heidegger think that from poetry you can explain the whole universe, or does he hold the other view according to which poetry shows the role of humans in this universe?

    Thank you again for your time!
  • fdrake
    2.2k


    Heidegger's central commitments throughout his work, at least as I see it (which should be taken with a pinch of salt), are the relationship of humans to being/the world and of truth to humans and language/the world. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that Heidegger sees truth and untruth as ways of relating to being. Heidegger's use of poetry and poetic language is adopted largely because he sees it as a way of relating to his topics of interest in a manner which exhibits them well.

    Heidegger accuses most philosophy since Plato as thinking of truth as the correspondence of matter to language about it. Like 'the cat is on the mat' is true if and only if the cat is on the mat. This can be termed adequation or likening; when the words are determining the thing through truth and the thing is determining the words as their accompanying state of affairs.

    Heidegger prefers to think of truth as unconcealment or illumination. A good example here is that of a statue sculptor. The sculptor has a block of stone to work with, it has some properties and shapes which the sculptor can use to work with the block to bring a shape about. If the sculptor chooses to sculpt in way X, she cannot choose to sculpt in way Y; once the marks are made the shape arrives.

    This is similar to how Heidegger thinks of truth. Bringing out the nature of a topic by relating to it adequately. But also, relating to it in some way always curtails relating to it in other ways. As things are uncovered by adopting a framing device, so too are some things concealed. Illumination also casts shadows.

    Since he sees most philosophy since (and including) Plato as an obfuscation of the truth of things and a forgetting of the question of being, it's quite natural to try to adopt a different method which illuminates in the right way and casts shadows over the irrelevances.* He sees this in poetic language; it's very expressive, metaphors function similarly to plain language, suggestiveness is incorporated explicitly in how line follows line. It is use of language without annoying methodological constraints on expression.

    Heidegger sees this use of language and its accompanying orientation towards illumination as very fundamental and basic, I agree with him here. As an example; consider as a model of truth rather than the statement like 'the cat is on the matter', the exegesis of an idea. Does how illuminating my exegesis of Heidegger is turn on the truth of the statements in it? Somewhat, certainly, but more importantly it's the use of truths to paint a picture of Heidegger's position on poetry. What matters is how readable it is, how accessible it is, whether the examples are good, whether the terminology I adopt is good and so on.

    I think I'd achieve a worse exegesis if I wrote things like:

    'poesis is close to the originary operation of alaethia in language, in some respects poesis is the use of language aimed at the hermeneutical rather than propositional as-structure; where proposition is the adequation of a concept or statement with its object'

    despite it being a more precise description using the right words. :P

    edit: * his views on technology and his nationalism about the German language slot in about there.
  • fdrake
    2.2k
    This is pretty lucid and far more detailed than my exegesis. It's also mostly jargon free (things are expressed outside of Heideggerese).
  • Eros1982
    32


    Ok, thank you for your reply.
  • clem
    2
    Ernst Junger wrote a couple of things in early 1939s that gave H. a lot of his ideas on Technology. EJ's "Worker" and "Total Mobilization" maybe.

    Neither of the EJ works have been translated, and I haven't read them, but a few write-ups on the subject make it pretty clear. Translated volume of their correspondence was interesting, chummy, but somewhat disappointing. One or two essays they "exchanged" were better.

    The way I read it, from an entirely personal and "non-philosophical" viewpoint, it's a bit hyperbolic; a useful and maybe call it metaphorical description.
  • I like sushi
    902
    Given that Heidegger was very much influenced by Husserl (and this work in particular):

    Where the basic norm is an end or can become an end, the normative discipline by a ready extension of its task gives rise to a technology. This occurs in this case too. If the theory of science sets itself the further task of investigating such conditions as are subject to our power, on which the realisation of valid methods depends, and if it draws up rules for our procedure in the methodical tracking down of truth, in valid demarcation and construction of the sciences, in the discovery and use, in particular, of the many methods that advance such sciences, and in the avoidance of errors in all of these concerns, then it has become a technology of science. This last plainly includes the whole normative theory of science, and it is therefore wholly appropriate, in view of the unquestionable value of such a technology, that the concept of logic should be correspondingly widened, and should be defined in its sense.

    Husserl goes further after questioning the view of “logic” as a “technology”. He says that the normative is dominated by the practical valuations then ...

    Hence the undeniable tendency to identify the notion of a normative discipline with that of a practical discipline or a technology. It is easy to see, however, that such an identification cannot be sustained. ... A technology represents a particular case of a normative discipline which arises when the basic norm consists in achieving a universal practical aim. Plainly, therefore, every technology includes in itself an entire normative discipline, which is not itself a practical discipline. ... Every normative discipline, conversely, whose fundamental valuation is transformed into a corresponding teleological prescription, widens out into a technology.

    Note: bold is my emphasis. Taken from sections 11 and 15 of Husserl “Logical Investigations” which Heidegger studied prior to writing B&T so it is probably worth considering in regards to the below ...

    So:

    Heidegger thinks this is a bit wrongheaded. Specifically, he questions the way Husserl is arriving at answers; should the essential nature of experience be highlighted through abstract mental operations, or by attempting to draw out the essential character of how people experience stuff on a day to day basis? Heidegger concludes (with a lot more words and nuance) that intentionality isn't just direction towards a specific object or task, but of being in a situation. — fdrake

    This is a reiteration of what Husserl thought NOT something Heidegger thought up in opposition to Husserl.

    @Eros1982 it is worth noting I appear to be less of a fan of Heidegger compared to the majority of people on this forum so keep that in mind too ;) I am by no means an expert of either Heidegger or Husserl. I don’t honestly think either knew what they were talking about (the difference being Husserl was aware that he could never reach a ‘conclusion and repeatedly acted out his thoughts with skepticism and attention to what he called ‘obvious’.)
  • fdrake
    2.2k
    This is a reiteration of what Husserl thought NOT something Heidegger thought up in opposition to Husserl.I like sushi

    I've never seriously studied Husserl. So pretty much all I 'know' about Husserl is Heidegger's straw Husserl.
  • I like sushi
    902
    My knowledge is not that great either. I may be completely wrong and somewhat blinded by my own unseen biases.
  • fdrake
    2.2k


    Regardless, whether the idea came from Husserl or Heidegger, Heidegger still thunk it.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k


    Good posts, fdrake. A lot of stuff to question in them insofar as Heidegger goes, though (unsurprisingly enough from me, haha). For example:

    "should the essential nature of experience be highlighted through abstract mental operations, or by attempting to draw out the essential character of how people experience stuff on a day to day basis? "

    People actually experience stuff in a wide variety of ways on a day to day basis. It would probably be just about impossible to give anything like a comprehensive list of that, and it wouldn't be surprising if anything we can imagine would be on the list.

    "Say Eric Clapton is freestyling on his guitar, he's damn good at it, he's performing and composing at the same time, it's badass. This is formed from an interplay of attending to how the situation was (the previous bit of improv), how the situation is (the previous bit of improv being extended by playing appropriate notes) and how the situation could and should develop (expressing whatever theme Clapton is experimenting with). It's also an awareness that has a sense of normality to it - if one of his strings breaks the situation changes. This is a very open ended sense of intentionality; lots of things and relations of things are attended to when Clapton's playing the guitar."

    I doubt that most people doing something like playing guitar typically have anywhere near all of that stuff in mind when they're playing. I certainly don't when I'm playing.
  • pomophobe
    41
    I doubt that most people doing something like playing guitar typically have anywhere near all of that stuff in mind when they're playing. I certainly don't when I'm playing.Terrapin Station

    That's the point. So much of what we 'know' is not consciously known. At the same time such skill is fundamental to our success or failure at a task. From this point of view, Socrates (in Plato) is misguided when he tries to humiliate poets or others who are skilled by revealing their inability to give an explicit account or justification of that skill. To be sure, this kind of insight is already in Nietzsche, and I think it's implicit in the empiricists.
  • fdrake
    2.2k
    I doubt that most people doing something like playing guitar typically have anywhere near all of that stuff in mind when they're playing. I certainly don't when I'm playing.Terrapin Station

    You're highlighting something that happens a lot on the forum, but ironically not in real life. Once you've mastered Heidegger's jargon and have an overview of his system of ideas, it makes people make posts consisting entirely of jargon and Heidegger references. A focus on the richness of the everyday and the personal and their unique structures turns into an endless Heidegger exegesis.

    This isn't to say he doesn't have insights; he opens lots of doors for philosophical thought - about the link between norms, their understanding, and personal behaviour, about what metaphysics is and should be, about logic. There are a lot of commonalities in emphasis with late Wittgenstein; but Heidegger ends up concluding that there's a dire need for good philosophy, whereas W wants to burn most of it to a crisp.

    He deserves careful study, especially if you're a Cartesian (which most posters here are and don't realise!); the critique of how Descartes (or Heidegger's version of Descartes!) thinks about experience and the subject/object distinction is especially devastating.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.2k
    That's the point. So much of what we 'know' is not consciously known.pomophobe

    Intentionality can't be unconscious.

    I don't buy unconscious mental content in general, but even if someone did, it wouldn't make any sense to posit unconscious intentionality.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.7k

    Excellent cliff notes there, by the way. I'd like to add that I think Heidegger was trying to get to some sort of original stance the human consciousness takes towards the word (which you already alluded to). That is to say, how does the human interact with something like a tool for an intended purpose versus, examining its make-up, how to improve it, what are minute details that go into producing such tool and its relation to other objects of the world. My question to you is, how do you think Heidegger thinks we jump from ready-at-hand to present-at-hand thinking?
  • pomophobe
    41
    Intentionality can't be unconscious.Terrapin Station

    That's matter of how you want to play 'intentionality.' If I trip and start to fall, I don't consciously decide to put my arms out between my face and the ground. Yet my hands find the ground.

    I don't buy unconscious mental content in general, but even if someone did, it wouldn't make any sense to posit unconscious intentionality.Terrapin Station

    As you seem to use the words, I don't buy unconscious mental content either. If mental == conscious, then of course unconscious mental content is absurd. I get that Heideggerized gobbledegookers tend to wonder around in the fog on their 'profundity.' I think we both object to that style. I notice on your profile that you like Mach. So do I. That said, one piece of Heidegger continues to ring true for me.

    [The] less we stare at the hammer-thing, and the more we seize hold of it and use it, the more primordial does our relationship to it become, and the more unveiledly is it encountered as that which it is -- as equipment … If we look at things just ‘theoretically’, we can get along without understanding readiness-to-hand. But when we deal with them by using them and manipulating them, this activity is not a blind one; it has its own kind of sight, by which our manipulation is guided and from which it acquires its specific thing character …

    The ready-to-hand is not grasped theoretically at all, nor is it itself the sort of thing that circumspection takes proximally as a circumspective theme. The peculiarity of what is proximally ready-to-hand is that, in order to be ready-to-hand, it must, as it were, withdraw in order to be ready-to-hand quite authentically. That with which our everyday dealings proximally dwell is not the tools themselves. On the contrary, that with which we concern ourselves primarily is the work – that which is to be produced at the time.
    — Heidegger

    What I also like here is that to grok what's great about the Wittgenstein of Philosophical Investigations we need only think of language as the hammer. All of that said, I think these insights are a footnote to thinkers like Hume, Hobbes, and Bacon.
  • Joshs
    657
    I think these insights are a footnote to thinkers like Hume, Hobbes, and Bacon.pomophobe
    If that's the case, then are Hume, Hobbes and Bacon merely footnotes to Plato and Aristotle? Or do you want to imbue these Enlightenment thinkers with a radicality you don't find in Heidegger? (I just noticed your moniker. Guess that answers my question)
  • Joshs
    657
    how do you think Heidegger thinks we jump from ready-at-hand to present-at-hand thinking?schopenhauer1

    Heidegger discusses this in Being and Time. When we go from experiencing a world in terms of our significant, concernful, involvement 'for the sake of which ' we do or think something, to making an object AS object the focus of significance, we transition from ready to hand concernful relevant understanding to the 'objectifying' present to hand, which forgets this larger context of relevance in refiying things. .This reification is the essence of the subject-object propositional 'statement'

    "How does the statement become a derivative mode of interpretation? What has been modified in it?" Heidegger says predication points something out in a way that we sheerly look at it. By transforming the circumspective 'something "as" something' into 'this subject "as" this object', "the 'as' is forced back to the uniform level of what is merely objectively present. It "dwindles to the structure of just letting what is objectively present be seen by way of determination."When we just stare at something, our just-having-it-before-us lies before us as a failure to understand it any more." Heidegger recognizes the theoretical as an impoverished, 'cut-off' modification of understanding. But because, ontologically, it originates from and never departs from heedful circumspective care, it is not in-itself devoid of transformation.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.7k

    I gotta admit that that post was hard to unpack- perhaps you can put that in more clear everyday English :chin: .

    It sounds like RAH is about concern for getting something done and PAH is about an object in itself.

    I always took RAH to be a sort of flow-like use of an object. It is how we encounter things in our natural state before we analyze them. Thus if RAH is more original to our being, tool-use is our natural state. Analyzing the tool and the world itself is not a natural state.However, being that we are very inventive creative beings, they seem to go hand-and-hand (no pun intended). RAH and PAH are two sides of the same coin. But, I could be interpreting this wrong.
  • matt
    124
    ready to hand vs present to hand differs in terms of what is conscious. I forget which is which,

    The hammer is consciously recognized as an object distinct from its environment when it malfunctions and we have to consider it as an object.

    from my understanding "to hand" refers to conscious focus. One can see the pragmatic coloring here.
  • pomophobe
    41


    'Pomophobe' is just a word that amused me when I chanced on it. If I seem a little aggressive toward a certain style, then that's yet another style (one that Heidegger himself sometimes used.) I'd never try to censor anyone. I might just ask who's calling when I hear being, being, being, being, being. Turns out that Eckhart Tolle uses 'Being' in The Power of Now. I opened the book expecting to annoyed and was not disappointed.

    In the first chapter, Tolle introduces readers to enlightenment and its natural enemy, the mind. He awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain and shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present. The journey is thrilling, and along the way, the author shows how to connect to the indestructible essence of our Being, "the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death." — Amazon

    Lots of fun.

    Thus four ways of owing hold sway in the sacrificial vessel that lies ready before us. They differ from one another, yet they belong together. ... The four ways of being responsible bring something into appearance. They let it come forth into presencing. They set it free to that place and so start it on its way, namely into its complete arrival. — Heidegger

    The problem might be translation, since

    The German language speaks being, while all other languages merely speak of being. — Heidegger

    OK then. Maybe I'll justify my preference for Hume and the gang in terms of English being the one true language of philosophy.

    Basically he's a shady guy who still really nailed it at times. Given some of his indulgences, I'm surprised that his fans are surprised that he and his ilk inspire some humor at their expense. Science doesn't think. Reason is the stiff-necked enemy of thought. Them's fightin' words. (Not really. But let's not pity poor earnest pomo.)

    But this obscurity in the profound and abstract philosophy, is objected to, not only as painful and fatiguing, but as the inevitable source of uncertainty and error. Here indeed lies the justest and most plausible objection against a considerable part of metaphysics, that they are not properly a science; but arise either from the fruitless efforts of human vanity, which would penetrate into subjects utterly inaccessible to the understanding, or from the craft of popular superstitions, which, being unable to defend themselves on fair ground, raise these intangling brambles to cover and protect their weakness. Chaced from the open country, these robbers fly into the forest, and lie in wait to break in upon every unguarded avenue of the mind, and overwhelm it with religious fears and prejudices. The stoutest antagonist, if he remit his watch a moment, is oppressed. And many, through cowardice and folly, open the gates to the enemies, and willingly receive them with reverence and submission, as their legal sovereigns. — Hume
  • Joshs
    657
    There's no getting around metaphysics, and certainly Hume was not able to do so. As William James pointed out, Hume was not able to resist the temptation to ground the haphazard self spun out from the stream of consciousness in an a priori.

    Hume:
    "But setting aside some metaphysicians of this kind, I may venture to affirm of the rest of
    mankind that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeeded
    each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perceptual flux and movement."

    James:
    "Hume is at bottom as much of a metaphysician as Thomas Aquinas. No wonder he can discover no ’hypothesis.’ The unity of the parts of the stream is just as ’real’ a connection as their diversity is a real separation; both connection and separation are ways in which the past thoughts appear to the present Thought; - unlike each other in respect of date and certain qualities - this is the separation; alike in other qualities, and continuous in time - this is the connection. In demanding a more ’real’ connection than this obvious and verifiable likeness and continuity, Hume seeks ’the world behind the looking-glass,’ and gives a striking example of that Absolutism which is the great disease of philosophic thought."

    Heidegger followed and radicalized James and Nietszche in placing intersubjective becoming before either subjective idealisms or objective reifications.

    I dont like reading later Heidegger because of the looseness of the terms. Many might say the same of Being and Time but I find it profound and as precise as anything Hume wrote.
  • Joshs
    657
    Ready to hand vs present to hand differs in terms of what is conscious. I forget which is which,The hammer is consciously recognized as an object distinct from its environment when it malfunctions and we have to consider it as an object.matt
    .

    When something is missing or malfunctions and it disrupts our seamless ready-to-hand involvement with tools , we don't revert to a present to hand mode of understanding unless we explicitly thematize what was missing , which means to point to it and define it as an object , in isolation from what we need it for. Normally, when our seamless involvement is interrupted by a missing tool, the way in which what was missing played a role in terms of the totality of relevance of the context of our involvement is what becomes explicit, not as a thematized 'object'. It's not a distinction of conscious vs unconscious but of whether we are understanding a thing in terms of its relevance to our purposes and activities or simply as a defined entity with properties and attributes, independent of the way it matters for us in a particular context.

    "When something at hand is missing whose everyday presence was so much a matter of course that we never even paid attention to it, this constitutes a breach in the context of references discovered in
    our circumspection. Circumspection comes up with emptiness and now sees for the first time what the missing thing was at hand for and at hand with. Again, the surrounding world makes itself known. What
    appears in this way is not itself one thing at hand among others and certainly not something objectively present which lies at the basis of the useful thing at hand. It is "there" before anyone has observed or ascertained it. It is itself inaccessible to circumspection insofar as circumspection concentrates on beings, but it is always already disclosed for that circumspection." Being and Time
  • Joshs
    657
    It sounds like RAH is about concern for getting something done and PAH is about an object in itself.

    I always took RAH to be a sort of flow-like use of an object. It is how we encounter things in our natural state before we analyze them. Thus if RAH is more original to our being, tool-use is our natural state. Analyzing the tool and the world itself is not a natural state.
    schopenhauer1

    I read Heidegger as saying that that the idea of the present to hand object is a contrivance. In 'What is a thing' he talks about how it has become ingrained among people in the modern era to assume that self-identical persisting objects with attributes and properties exist , independent of the activities, thinking and purposes of individuals who encounter them. He calls this the "natural conception of the world". He goes on to say that what people today assume as natural and universal was in fact an invention of the West , beginning with the Greeks, and would have been considered an ailen notion to many cultures. Heideger argues that RAH underlies the PAH conceptualization, as well as all other possible variations of it. Why can there not be an 'object in itself? Because the notion of 'in itself' for Heidegger already implies a self-transcendence. His whole project begins from rethinking the 'is', attempting to show us that the simple copula is not just an inert glue between subjects and objects, but transforms what it articulates. This is a strange notion, but the upshot is that to experience is to alter. The meaning of anything is in the way in which it is an alteration with respect to our current situation. To point to a moment of experience and say 'object' is to do violence to this dynamism at the heart of meaning by attempting to freeze what was mobile, and thus actively significant and relevant, and make it inert , dead, meaningless. This PAH thinking which underlies our logic and empirical science allows us to do many things, but runs the risk of making us forget its basis in pragmatic involvement with the world.
  • pomophobe
    41


    I agree that the empiricists sometimes tried to bolster their spirit or attitude with an obsolete metaphysics. That's where the footnotes to the empiricists become valuable. But this spirit or attitude is anti-metaphysical and directed toward engagement with the world and experience. Their style is part of that. It's aimed at active personalities who take life or experience as the primary authority. It expects revision. So I agree with James against Hume on that point. James is taking the empirical attitude and giving a better description of experience. Still, he's ultimately on my team.

    There is absolutely nothing new in the pragmatic method. Socrates was an adept at it. Aristotle used it methodically. Locke, Berkeley, and Hume made momentous contributions to truth by its means.

    Pragmatism represents a perfectly familiar attitude in philosophy, the empiricist attitude, but it represents it, as it seems to me, both in a more radical and in a less objectionable form than it has ever yet assumed. A pragmatist turns his back resolutely and once for all upon a lot of inveterate habits dear to professional philosophers. He turns away from abstraction and insufficiency, from verbal solutions, from bad a priori reasons, from fixed principles, closed systems, and pretended absolutes and origins. He turns towards concreteness and adequacy, towards facts, towards action and towards power. That means the empiricist temper regnant and the rationalist temper sincerely given up. It means the open air and possibilities of nature, as against dogma, artificiality, and the pretence of finality in truth.
    — James

    Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy; for it neither relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay it up in the memory whole, as it finds it, but lays it up in the understanding altered and digested. Therefore from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never yet been made), much may be hoped.
    ...
    Truth will sooner come out from error than from confusion.
    ...
    It is not the pleasure of curiosity, nor the quiet of resolution, nor the raising of the spirit, nor victory of wit, nor faculty of speech … that are the true ends of knowledge … but it is a restitution and reinvesting, in great part, of man to the sovereignty and power, for whensoever he shall be able to call the creatures by their true names, he shall again command them.
    — Bacon

    The 'true names' are those that command --ideas that work and don't only make promises. The 'general root of superstition' is 'that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss; and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other.' When I look at Heidegger on technology, the general feel seems to be a kind of hippy rejection of Bacon's pragmatism. To be clear, I do understand that the world is indeed in some trouble. All I'm saying is that Heidegger looks pretty vague and spiritualist on these matters. 'Only a god can save us.' OK, then. Thanks for playing.

    Enframing means the gathering together of that setting-upon that sets upon man, i.e., challenges him forth, to reveal the real, in the mode of ordering, as standing-reserve. Enframing means that way of revealing that holds sway in the essence of modern technology and that it is itself not technological. — Heidegger

    While this is far too fuzzy initially to either hit or miss, my suspicion is that it's a maximally pretentious way to say something pretty simple. These days we look at reality as a resource. If we were more religious, we'd be standing in God's beautiful garden. We'd stop using one another and raping nature. Only a 'god' or explosive shift in our understanding of Being can wake us up from our nihilism. Something more like this:

    Everything is functioning. That is precisely what is awesome, that everything functions, that the functioning propels everything more and more toward further functioning, and that technicity increasingly dislodges man and uproots him from the earth. I don't know if you were shocked, but [certainly] I was shocked when a short time ago I saw the pictures of the earth taken from the moon. We do not need atomic bombs at all [to uproot us] -- the uprooting of man is already here. All our relationships have become merely technical ones. It is no longer upon an earth that man lives today. Recently I had a long [209] dialogue in Provence with Rene Char -- a poet and resistance fighter, as you know. In Provence now, launch pads are being built and the countryside laid waste in unimaginable fashion. This poet, who certainly is open to no suspicion of sentimentality or of glorifying the idyllic, said to me that the uprooting of man that is now taking place is the end [of everything human], unless thinking and poetizing once again regain [their] nonviolent power.
    ...
    As far as my own orientation goes, in any case, I know that, according to our human experience and history, everything essential and of great magnitude has arisen only out of the fact that man had a home and was rooted in a tradition.
    ...
    If I may answer briefly, and perhaps clumsily, but after long reflection: philosophy will be unable to effect any immediate change in the current state of the world. This is true not only of philosophy but of all purely human reflection and endeavor.
    ...
    The essence of technicity I see in what I call "pos-ure" (Ge-Sull), an often ridiculed and perhaps awkward expression.28 To say that pos-ure holds sway means that man is posed, enjoined and challenged by a power that becomes manifest in the essence of technicity -- a power that man himself does not control. Thought asks no more than this: that it help us achieve this insight. Philosophy is at an end.
    — Heidegger

    On the importance of tradition he sounds like Jordan Peterson. I think he's right on that point, but also that the point is obvious. We're all embedded in a culture. The uprooting of man reminds me of the Romantics and Marx. Again I agree, but it's fairly standard stuff. Our technology is running away with us. Our power is increasing faster than our wisdom, etc. The fatalism is 'only a god can save us' is also familiar. I sure don't see any obvious solution. Our species may just not be able to deal with running out of frontier to exploit. The spooky 'thought' that's supposed to help us see this looks like a pretentious faculty that's just philosophy with a new green coat of paint. In short, this is all reasonable but not profound. Take away the ghastly prose style of

    Enframing means the gathering together of that setting-upon that sets upon man, i.e., challenges him forth, to reveal the real, in the mode of ordering, as standing-reserve. Enframing means that way of revealing that holds sway in the essence of modern technology and that it is itself not technological. — Heidegger
    and apparently there's nothing profound. I venture that most of us these days share the hippy complaint while also seeing that some return to tradition is not going to work. I like the Green New Deal. It seems like a start. But it's not metaphysical. Reducing carbon emissions and rethinking energy policies are concrete proposals. We will want to quantify the success of our experiments, and our goal will be the Baconion power over an environment that we must obey in order to control. Critics might say that this attitude will subvert the project, but then why should they mind unless they share the project and ultimately want to control nature --however greenly they want to phrase it.
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