Heidegger: Thinking of Being (book review) Lee Braver

260317 this is a much later later addition (3 years): so now reading john dewey on art [book:Art as Experience|75291], thinking rather more about hd, about how hd sees art, and how radically different is both the attitude and conception of art. dewey is, not surprisingly, all about the 'pragmatic' aspect of both creation and interpretation. dewey does not address in any 'artistic', 'conceptual', 'philosophical', 'spiritual' realm, the very unique power, which must be essential to be artwork. perhaps dewey does not see this. i have to read more dewey too. much prefer hd, so far...


this is a later addition: this is an expansion of and i hope better than, the earlier review of this book...


220814 first review: this is a new favourite heidegger book. this is about both 'being and time' (hereafter bt) and everything after. once again i am rating this so high not because it explicates hd's work so well, but because it interests, it stimulates further thought, further reading. this book is deliberately separated between bt and everything after, though braver does insist the central concern, central question, remains same in both phases of hd's career. this is the 'question of being', and how this has been ignored since the pre-socratics, not for stupidity, for difficulty, for ignorance- but because it is so obvious it is invisible...


after a brief intro, laying out this question, explaining how hd continues with it, never 'solving' it simply because hd wants the question to compel 'thinking'- not to be offered so hd may promise an answer, and how, despite hd's obvious change in poetic writing, hd never abandons this question. after this 'orientation' braver continues with exploration of bt, following the shape, however incomplete, hd outlines, beginning with understanding the introduction...


first in bt I.I to IV, about 'being in', not passive observer but participating in our nature, of necessarily 'being in the world', hd will investigate aspects of our human engagement, our being-in, this world as 'meaningful', rather than some abstracted universe following co-ordinates, such as descartes instigates, that science follows, rather there is an awareness of 'mineness' and 'authenticity', of how we are 'da-sein', we are be-there, who alone bring meaning- 'free'- objects of 'the world' from merely 'present-to-hand' to useful 'ready-to-hand'...


next in bt I.IV-VI is 'there' and 'care' in hd. which suggests our 'being' and how we are connected to the world, not as objects among any objects, not in thoughtful contemplation, abstraction, judgement- but in 'care', and this is not intellectual but in 'moods', the inescapable feeling of any being one way or the other, never indifference, and so how we beings must 'care' to be 'in-the-world'...


next in bt 2.I- III 64 is the charge, the assertion, the exhortation, of how we as 'da-sein'- the 'be-there' should inhabit the world into which we as beings have been 'thrown', and in face of threatening dissolution, of chaos, of anguish, of death- we need to be 'resolute' and thus live in an 'authentic' way. which seems to be mostly how we should recognize our own death as inescapably our own, not something we can delegate to another, not something we can avoid, not something to try and forget... and with this recognition we will face our ‘finality’ and act truly in eternity...


next in bt 2.III 64 to VI is the other half of the title bt which hd finally gets to- 'time'- and this is his radical restructuring of time- of 'past' as 'having been', present 'present', to future as 'will have been'- where hd insists it is the future we live towards what we 'have been', not the illusory future/present/past way time is to often conceived, but how the 'being' of each is intertwined, interwoven, of being 'having-been' (past) is not less sort of being, nor being 'will-have-been' (future) only exist beyond our senses... this is all great stuff. no wonder hd could be so influential, so inspiring, as hd explores 'time' in a way never 'having-been' for all those historical philosophers...


so, braver gives you a sort of glancing appreciation of bt, and i even less, though i am sincere, convinced but perhaps not entirely following it. and if you want to read hd it is important to try to understand bt, to read his later texts, all his new words, all his philosophically-twisted common words- in order to follow his work before and certainly now in work after bt. and here is where i really love this book: usually i have been lost with hd, with bt, confused, frustrated- but i am not confused in this book. not simply in reading hd's work after bt (someday...) but in reading how other books have taken it apart, have 'destruktured' it, how hd in fact 'changed his mind'. i almost think i can read and understand hd when hd gets all into time, even more so when braver admits as philosopher he does not follow hd here, or that hd contradicts himself. with such simple admission i no longer feel myself a fool but simply someone who does not (yet) and maybe never will understand hd or bt....


after this short intro to 'the later heidegger', braver enters the dark woods of history... but here, since i already know the crucial error, 'the stupidest mistake', of hd: his 'nazi error', i am no longer caught up in horror but try to incorporate it to hd's later thought... because it is the big shadow, the big block, that affects the way we will ever see hd or his philosophy, but after this error we still find great worth to his thoughts...


hd decides that rather than an ahistorical constant of dasein, there is now reference to 'man', who is 'fundamentally historical', it helps here that hd is dividing thought now 'historically' and not denigrating essential thinkers in each era from antiquity, medieval, modernity- thinkers who do not establish that eras 'worldview' but manage to best express it, and how some key thoughts are possible only at the right time. for some questions are only possible in a different 'world' of thought- using the fact both observers and galileo would see the same falling of an object, but would interpret it so differently, one in which something 'wants' to return to its proper place, and one in which there is this invisible, 'action at a distance', this 'force', this thing called 'gravity'...


hd examines first descartes, d’s particular modern idea of substance, of independence, the autonomy of thinking, thus guarantee of free will... to d, it is no longer god(s) who promote and answer the question of being, it is this historical 'man' who does so. man is now the measure of all things. d adopts his extreme, radical doubt, to face the world, to know the world, to transform in thought and eventually technology, all the universe of objects stripped of religious quality- now everything is relative to man's finding usefulness in nature, and it is this ‘calculation’ hd sees as the great loss, the great conflict, in our era- it is not this world war one or world war two, that resolves this conflict, these are only extremes to which our 'technological' thinking has caused 'alienation' from true human values...


hd then examines gratitude, language, and art. we must first recognize our 'guilt' at being, we must offer our 'gratitude' in 'ways' not 'works'- it is not the truth, the being, which we create, for now it is the discovery of a 'clearing', like a place in the forest where trees open to the sky, and rather than 'man's work it is a gift from 'being'... this is where the quote that we do not speak but 'language speaks us' actually makes sense... which we can find in poets' useful renewal of worn-out words, in artists' work of all kinds, not an accomplishment but a witnessing of this 'clearing' where 'truth happens' even if our technological world does not recognize it, for it cannot be ‘calculated’, cannot be rendered into mere 'standing reserve', it is ‘being’ and is beyond any one man or man in general. we can only be alerted to these true human values by art, which includes even modern abstract art not elsewhere (in my limited reading) found in much philosophical reading...


hd then examines technology, nietzsche, and nihilism. technology is a big bad, primarily but not exclusively because it 'levels' all 'being', that is in a ‘calculating’ way that reduces a mountain to only so much this coal or ore, to this forest is only so much wood to build a house. hd thinks because of this technological thought we humans lose contact with a ‘higher realm’, with the world that precedes our 'mathematization' of the world. hd also does not like the way technology drives science, not the common thought as other way round, as if man is only another object...and so confronts nietzsche's arguments about technology devaluing man- but here hd sees n only furthering nihilism by claiming we humans establish meaning, relatively, arbitrarily, as if in our solitude we are ourselves now god(s). hd is definitely not so enamoured of these possibilities, not convinced of our merely human identification of all value is a good thing...


braver then sums up with short chapter that traces hd's influences on levinas, gadamer, foucault, deleuze... yes, this book makes me want to actually read more heidegger, not reject hd's thought in confused horror... and can i really ask for a promising perspective beyond this book? well after the first long, career survey on hd i read: [book:The Philosophy of Heidegger|13238145] i had decided not to read any more by hd... but of course i have, and this is worthwhile... there is so much to hd. i have not even talked about hd's thoughts on art, on how light usually reveals only the world, and not itself as light, on how any work of art 'strives' to capture/express being not in the usual sense of the 'invisible' tool becoming 'visible' only when it fails somehow, but how whatever it expresses, whatever medium, whatever art, 'reveals' or 'unconceals' truth... how a peasant's entire world, life, suffering, being, is revealed in this painting of his work boots... does this not sound like the buddhist conception that we are all individual waves, but we are of the same essential substance of the sea?... i can follow hd's thoughts less to nietzsche than to schopenhauer. to Buddhism... this is not a bad thing...


and of reading braver concurrently with noe? [book:Varieties of Presence|13157955]. braver does suggest the great triumph of hd is that he manages to unify the discourses of existentialism and phenomenology, not an easy thing to do, and i end up thinking noe just has not read enough of hd to critique successfully this philosophical mash-up...

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com 220611: this is probably the most academically accurate of the translations I have read of this book, but still prefer commentary o

Victor H. Mair (Translator) 220322: have decided to read various translations i have of this text, not that the renderings are necessarily much different but to read accompanying texts, in this case n