Essays on Heidegger and Others by Richard Rorty

Cambridge Core - History of Philosophy - Essays on Heidegger and Others - by Richard Rorty

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In this volume Rorty offers a Deweyan account published volumes of Richard Rorty's philosophical papers v. 2. Essays on Heidegger and others.

Phenomenology, per se, is a branch of philosophy, owing its origin to the work of Husserl and later writers [e.g., Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, who took the ideas into existentialism]. The aim of phenomenology, as propounded by Husserl, is to study human phenomena without considering questions of their causes, their objective reality, or even their appearances. The aim is to study how human phenomena are experienced in consciousness, in cognitive and perceptual acts, as well as how they may be valued or appreciated aesthetically. Phenomenology seeks to understand how persons construct meaning and a key concept is intersubjectivity. Our experience of the world, upon which our thoughts about the world are based, is intersubjective because we experience the world with and through others. Whatever meaning we create has its roots in human actions, and the totality of social artefacts and cultural objects is grounded in human activity.

Essays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical Papers, Volume 2

Rorty contends that the European philosophers who rank as Nietzsche's principal successors, most notably Heidegger and Derrida, can be viewed as quite similar to the American pragmatists. Instead of asking, "How does the mind correctly represent the world?" they claim that one should instead ask, "What ideas are useful for us now?" Rorty denies that reality has an essence independent of anyone's way of thinking about it. The nature of something depends on the description one gives it; this in turn is relative to the goals we have. Similarly, our goals vary and do not constitute a fixed edifice determined in advance of our choices to pursue them. Thus, in "Unger, Castoriadis, and a National Future," Rorty celebrates the sense of open possibility and continual experiment that both the political writers he discusses there possess in abundance. Rorty's fascinating presentation of recent intellectual history is impressive in its scope and penetration. Only adherence to its lessons prevents one from calling it "essential" reading. For another assessment of Rorty's views in other areas of philosophy, see his Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers , Vol. 1, reviewed below.--Ed.

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Essays on Heidegger and Others (Philosophical Papers, …

Essays on Heidegger and others

Epochs in the history of being are brought about through what Heidegger calls an , a word meaning "event" but tied to the idea of "owness" or "appropriation" (), and so suggesting "an event of coming-into-its-own>." If unconcealment results from an event within being and so is not something humans do, it follows that the concealment running through the history of metaphysics is something that happens within being itself. Concealment inevitably accompanies every emerging-into-presence in this sense: just as the items in a room can become visible only if the lighting that illuminates them itself becomes invisible, so things can become manifest only if this manifesting itself "stays away" or "withdraws." This first-order concealment is unavoidable and innocuous. But it becomes aggravated by a second-order concealment that occurs when the original concealment itself is concealed. That is, insofar as humans are oblivious to the fact that every disclosedness involves concealment, they fall into the illusion of thinking that nothing is hidden, and that everything is totally out front.

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[...L]ater Heidegger's notion of the event of appropriation (), which gathers mortals together into the luminous cosmic dance with gods, earth, and sky, bears important similarities to Buddhism's mutual coproduction and Lao Tsu's , both of which are regarded as nonanthropocentric. these may be different names for the acausal, spontaneous arising and mutually appropriating play of phenomena. In suggesting that "gives" time and being, Heidegger opens himself to the criticism that he is inventing a "metaphysics" of nothingness. Nevertheless, Dogen (1200-53 A.D.), founder of Zen's Soto sect, analyzed the temporality of absolute nothingness in a way that has significant affinities both with early Heidegger's notion of temporality as the "clearing" for presencing and with later Heidegger's notion of the mutually appropriative play of appearances.


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The implication of this is radical. Whereas light and consciousnessafforded Levinas the means by which to sublate the apriori-a posteriori distinction in 1947, and therewithHeidegger's ontological difference between Being and beings, here, the everyday facticityof the face-to-face encounter destabilizes transcendental versuspragmatic distinctions. Transcendence is “anthropological,”a human affair, or it is nothing. Any philosophical translation ofembodied concrete life must consider the human subject as it isconstituted through relations with others in a simultaneous occurrenceof particularization and loss of self.

Essays on Heidegger and Others.

Being, in Levinas, is never Heidegger's disclosure andwithdrawal. Thus, Being is not an event per se. Levinas neveraddressed the question of whether an ethics could be derived fromHeidegger's ontology. But it is clear that no thinking whoseprimary focus was on an openness toward the world, and a confrontationwith one's mortality, afforded the means necessary for graspingthe hidden meaning of consciousness, which begins in the doubleconstitution of the subject by life and by the encounter with theOther. For Levinas, Heidegger's philosophy was a thinking of theneuter, a recrudescent paganism that sacralized natural events andanonymous forces. Worse, it was a thinking that drew its inspirationfrom an ancient structure of temporality, Paul's kairos,which was the time of awaiting the messiah's return for the earlyChristian community. If the evacuation of lived, religious content gaveHeidegger access to a temporality more substantial than what wasavailable to the neo-Kantian, formalist tradition, one questionremained: How can one preserve the living source of human facticitywhile removing all connection to its contents? It is for this reasonthat Levinas returns to a conception of Being more familiar to themetaphysical tradition than to Heidegger's Being, glimpsed in the‘moment’.

Essays on Heidegger and Others (Philosophical Papers, Volume 2)

The question of transcendence continues in these middle-periodessays. The meaning of transcendence is refined to the temporaltranscendence promised by “fecundity,” or the birth of theson. The partial transcendences of pleasure and voluptuosity, sketchedin 1935, receive a fuller development and variations. As to the son, heis myself and not-myself, Levinas will say. The open future of thefamily responds to two significant limits imposed on human knowledgeand representation: death and the other person. While not denyingHeidegger's intuition that death (if viewed from a stance of theliving) is the “possibility of impossibility,” Levinasargues that we witness death only as the death of the other, but evenas such it escapes understanding as an absolute limit. Hence he willqualify it as a radical alterity; the same sort of alterity as thatwhich the other human being presents me. Against these enigmas, everymode of comprehension runs aground. For this reason, Levinas insiststhat death is really the impossibility of (all our) possibilities. Theother person is an event I can neither predict nor control.