Friday, October 25, 2013


  In the comments recently, Still made the following remark en route to a worthy point regarding the differentiation of Seyn

"While Seinsvergessenheit holds sway, for instance, the mystery *cannot be thought from itself*, and the thinker is powerless from himself alone to open the space in which it may be so thought"

I will here permit myself the license to tear this quote from its context in order to consider it solely as an indication of the nexus of a peculiar seynsgeschichtlich ambiguity: the time during  which seinsvergessenheit holds sway can be said in more than one way. 

On the one hand,  there is an extensive sense of the time of seinsvergessenheit. The extensive time of seinsvergessenheit is the time that began with the "first beginning," i.e. the time which began with Greek thinking --a beginning of Western thought which also eventually buried the hidden possibility of that same thinking. In this sense, seinsvergessenheit has (increasingly) reigned as long as metaphysics has actually existed. According to this sense, the "mystery," as Still says,  "cannot be thought from out of itself," insofar as it is epochally withheld in order to provide the ages of Western history -- the ages which metaphysics each time grounds for a while. 

On the other hand, there is an intensive sense of the time of seinsvergessenheit. In this sense, the time of seinsvergessenheit is only the present age, the age, that is, where metaphysics consummates what has always been most distinctive of it, namely how Being withholds itself from metaphysics. In this case, the time of seinsvergessenheit is the dissipation of actual metaphysics into the various fields of the sciences, as the latter is ordered in advance into the constellations of technology, the invisible center of whose gathering is Das Gestell. But in this case, if seinsvergessenheit actually comes about through the actual loss of metaphysics in the present age of technology, then it is precisely at this time of the present age that the mystery may yet be thought from out of itself. That is to say, only now, in the reigning of seinsvergessenheit, is the possibility granted to think Being differently than metaphysics was ever eventually able to. Seinsvergessenheit thus becomes the mystery first giving itself to thought, namely in the offering of nothing ---but concealment. And this concealment is none other than the concealment of Being itself (Seyn). This is why Heidegger speaks of technology's essence as a Janus-Head: the sending of Sein as Nothing (seinsvergessenheit) is the giving of the refusal of Seyn. No longer an understanding of Being (Sein) but Being itself (Seyn) is finally given --given as the unthought. Seinsvergessenheit is yet to be thought as Seynsvergessenheit. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Teleology in Reverse Part 2: Revisiting Scholastic Idea-logy with Heidegger

Just Thomism has offered a succinct sketch of one possible Scholastic objection to Aristotle's claim that the middle term of a syllogism in scientific demonstration offers fundamental causal knowledge of the truth of that syllogism:
To know what is first requires knowing its ratio or logos.
The ratio or logos of anything is what an infinite mind intended it to be.
The human mind can only understand the intention of an infinite mind by a multitude of finite ideas it cannot reduce.

This is a fascinating objection to me, since it seems to espouse a very peculiar sort of idealism over naive realism (insofar as the latter fittingly names the direction of knowing toward “what is”). The primacy of “ratio or logos” in the knowledge of what is (“to know what is first requires knowing its ratio or logos”) means the privileging of the intentionality of infinite mind over Being, at least in terms of our finite conception. This is initially interesting simply with regard to whether and how this "scholastic" objection is compatible with Aquinas:

1.) How does this square with Aquinas’s claim that the first thing that falls into the intellect is what is, i.e. ens (Ita quod primo cadit in intellectu ens).
2.) How this can be reconciled with the primacy of the transcendental of Being over that of Truth.

It is further of interest to me because the claim that a logos precedes the comportment toward “what is” could also be considered to be Heidegger’s claim. How so?   By understanding that this logos is a seinsverstaendnis, whose wherein (worin) is Welt. Such a logos  would accordingly be the a priori condition for the possibility of encountering what is, i.e. any being (ens, seiend). But Heidegger subtly escapes any form of idealism such a logical precedent would imply by further insisting on the ontological difference --i.e. that what is can mean "a being" only if it already has an other meaning, and that Being makes possible both a being and the understanding of Being. Thus the logos that enables knowledge of what-is (seiend) hides within it a sense of what-is (Sein) that is not brought to light by the logos save as that which conceals itself in logos as what is unthought, indeed as what precedes thought. It is this precedence of what is unthought in the ontological difference that requires Heidegger to return to the Greek thought of τέλος and interpret it differently than the scholastic interpretation of "aim" or "goal" or "intention" (an interpretation which, as I have discussed elsewhere, is led by the Vorgriff of Mind as the ground of Being). This is a fundamental problem which provides Heidegger's rereading of τέλος the justification of its hermeneutic: the Greek meaning of τέλος, because it belongs to the first inquiry into Being, necessarily escapes us. However, and here is the crucial insight: precisely this is the Greek meaning of τέλος. In other words,τέλος, as opposed to the later causa finalis, does not refer to what presupposes mind but what is presupposed by mind, namely Sein as the unthought meaning of what is. This is why Heidegger translates τέλος as that which "circumscribes the bounds" in terms of which something "begins to be what, after production, it will be". τέλος so translated now names the beginning which precedes the thing whose own beginning it is. τέλος destines something, from a long time before, to a teleology in reverse, one for which Heidegger has also reserved the name Seynsgeschichte.