The world gets into our pores
and writes on us

lines with the clay of
earth, warmth of sun
bite of wind caress ;

sorrow & joy clog our faces
with our insides, the experience of
our lived Grind:connected.

Existentially, we are slow-born sculptures
that tell of a daring hand
a fiery eye, laced with Power and Love

Why hide it?
you can tell a lot by the face of a man
who hasn’t washed it all away.

c. Kate Gough


Heidegger Journal #7

Journal # 7 (3/5/04)

A “fore-having” as Heidegger uses the term here is what you bring with you to an experience that allows you to interpret it. In the most general terms, “all interpreting is an interpreting with respect to something, on the basis of it, and with a view to it” (p.60, emphasis added). As personal, historical I’s, Beings each with a particular ‘having-been’, we bring things with up to the table of our experience, every moment refreshed as the trajectory from out of our past towards our future continues on. These fore-havings, based upon ever more refined understandings of our having-been, are linked with the idea of “formal indications” in that, once we see Philosophy as a path to be traveled rather than a stationary position to be defended, these two ideas can help guide us onto the right ‘path of looking’ (p.62). As the project itself must be subject to its own content, we see Heidegger’s work illustrates the provisional character it projects.

The “everyday world”, as laid out in section 19 of Ontology: The Hermeneutics of Faticity, is purposefully described inaccurately “in order to bring an authentic analysis into sharper relief,” among other things (p. 67). Heidegger makes use of a table as an example here and says that where it has certain qualities in nature like smoothness or roughness, the ability to be burned etc, and that as you walk around it and experience it from different angles, different aspects show themselves to you. However this “being-there-in-such-a-manner… provides the possibility of determining something about the meaning of the being of such objects and their being-real… [the table] is furnished with definite valuative predicates: beautifully made, useful” etc. as well (p.68). In this exposition of the ‘everyday world’, “the total domain of what is real can… be divided up into two realms: things in nature and things of value. Heidegger says these results are not false, but are only apparently true. A better description of ‘everyday world’ is offered in section 20 where he says that the table is not simply a table but the table, a particular table “at which one sits in order to write, have a meal, sew, play… [and] this characteristic of “in order to do something” is not merely imposed upon the table by relating and assimilating it to something else which it is not” (p.69). Section 19’s description of the everyday world maps on very well to the theoretical attitude brought out in the “Worldview” lectures, grasping those ‘things’ nearest and most immediate to us and ascribing to them various qualities– not something Heidegger wants to summarily dismiss or reject, just something he wants to take a step back from and put a ground to, find the ‘from-out-of-which’ that we need in order to engage in the theoretical attitude’s activities at all. Section 20’s exposition of the ‘everyday world’ fits extremely well with the idea of environmental experience in those same previous lectures in that it shows how Dasein is bound up in its experience and absorbed in its Umwelt. There must be a reference back, a tying back into that personal, historical I, in every piece of that world which enfolds Being, making it whole with itself by giving it access to its having-been.

c. Mary Kathryn Gough
Katie Huffman (married, Gough) / Philosophy 340 / Professor Halteman

Heidegger Journal #5

Journal # 5 (2/27/04)

Heidegger addresses those who make objections to environmental experience based on its presupposition of the reality of the external world by explaining why they are precisely missing the point. At first it would seem that there are exactly two options: either reality is, or it isn’t. We must either accept the presupposition of reality as the ground from which we work, or else “declare it a fiction” (p.66). But Heidegger exposes this as being fundamentally theoretically minded, producing a need for an approach to a problem that is shown to be absurd in the sphere of environmental experience. “Certainly the entire fullness of environmental experience is heavily laden with presuppositions,” he admits, the acknowledgment of which creates this ‘burning question’ about reality that demands to be solved (p.65). But Heidegger in turn questions the very need for that question in the contexture of the environmental sphere. The question “inhibits every step forward,” he says, “because it is constantly there in its appeal to the critical consciousness,” essentially inviting the theoretical attitude to captain a ship it doesn’t know how to sail (p.65-66). Once we take up the epistemological problem of the existence of external reality, the theoretical attitude has slipped in the back door unnoticed, as we are now “presupposing epistemology and its way of questioning” (p.66). We find, in fact, that “in order to strip away the presuppositions of environmental experience… we make other assumptions” (p.66). The theoretical approach simply buries itself trying to get to the bottom of things; there is only ever more dirt. Once we “devote ourselves purely to our own sphere [the sphere of experiences],” however, “the former anxious avoidance of any kind of ‘presuppositions’ ceases. Precisely at this stage, where we are steering towards the centre of the problematic, it is not at all a matter of making ‘presuppositions’” Because it is not “in its nature a theoretical posit,” environmental experience can never be a presupposition”(p.67, 79).

The theoretical attitude hangs upon the lived experience of the personal, historical ‘I’; this lived experience is its contexture, from which certain things are focused upon, taken out and examined, or objectified. If the entire context of all our cognition were the theoretical attitude, a line would be nothing but a series of dots, a symphony nothing but a collection of notes. When Heidegger looks at the lectern, he sees not just “a sensation of brown, as a moment of [his] psychic processes. [He] sees something brown, but in a unified context of signification in connection with the lectern” (p.71). But he can objectify ‘brown’ itself by “brushing away everything until [he] arrive[s] at the simple sensation of brown” (p.71). The theoretical attitude must reside within something in order to function properly, otherwise it is stuck trying to “explain one being by another, [and] the more critical it becomes, the more incoherent it is” (p.73). That something is environmental, lived-experience. It is this lived experience which gives our cognitions dimension. The theoretical destructs (in Heidegger’s sense of the term) this dimension, lifting a now-designated-‘thing’ out of lived experience. Heidegger calls this ‘de-vivification’ [Ent-leben] and states that “reality… lies in the essence of thingliness. It is a specifically theoretical characteristic… Experience of the environment is de-vivified into the residue of recognizing something as real [and] the historical ‘I’ is dehistoricized into the residue of a specific ‘I-ness’ as the correlate of thingliness” (p.75, emphasis added). Therefore it is easy to see why the question of the reality of the external world is precisely the wrong question to be asking, according to Heidegger. This question de-vivifies the environmental experience of the personal, historical I, lifting ‘things’ out of its surroundings and reducing that I to ‘a specific… correlate of’ those things (p. 75). The dependence of the theoretical attitude upon the environmental or lived experience of this I is clear as well, as we see that it has no material with which to work without the I’s surrounding world. It needs the environmental experience to lift things out of!

The infringement of the theoretical attitude upon the environing world begins at the stage where the still historical I apprehends a ‘given’. This is the point at which the “authentic meaning of the environmental… in its signifying character [is] taken out,” and it is, as something given, “diluted to a mere thing” (p.75). The stage before this pivotal moment, the pre-theoretical environmental experience, is a not-yet intentional intuition that Heidegger characterizes as hermeneutical. Hermeneutical intuition is the understanding intuition “from which all theoretical objectification… falls out,” an “empowering experiencing of lived experience that takes itself along” (p.99, emphasis added). The motion is important here; the I must be moving, always ‘taking itself along’ in order to remain “primordially living and experiential” in the pre-theoretical sphere (p.98).

c. Mary Kathryn Gough, university paper
details: Katie Huffman (married, Gough) // Philosophy 340 // Professor Halteman

Heidegger Journal # 4

In Analysis of the Structure of Experience, Heidegger seeks to examine the question, “Is there something?” and to show that the lived experience of this question (“deliberately chosen in order to minimize pre-judgments” (p.54)) is related to the psychic subject in a wholly different way than may at first be imagined. At first one may think of asking the question ‘is there something’ and find that ‘I comport myself by setting something before me as questionable’ (p.55) is a suitable translation of the experience. However, “the simple inspection does not discover anything like an ‘I’. What I see is just that ‘it lives’ [es lebt], moreover that it lives towards something, that it is directed towards something by way of questioning, something that is itself questionable” (p.56). He then assumes the reader to be asking a certain question about the relation of the question to the questioner: doesn’t the “‘there is’ mean that it is given there, for me the questioner (p.58)? His answer to this objection is that it is “precisely because the question relates in general to an ‘I’, [that] it is without relation to my ‘I'” (p.58). So in order to experience the question ‘Is there something?’ one is reduced to taking oneself out of the equation. This takes care of the ‘is there…’ part of the question. He then moves on, examining the word ‘something’ to see what es lebt lives towards. What is this thing toward which I comport myself? Eventually, Heidegger finds that he cannot explain what ‘something’ is– which leads him to look behind the theoretical given ‘something’ to where that thing could come from.

The place he finds himself then is in what he calls ‘environmental experience’. Heidegger explains what he means by the term, saying that it is in this environmental experience that the meaningful character of something is “immediately given to me without any mental detours across thing-oriented apprehension” (p.61). When Heidegger speaks of the environing world, he means that the environment around us ‘worlds’; we are absorbed in an environing world as the backdrop of all our experience. It is the backdrop of all the things we intend as well: the backdrop of and foundation for the theoretical attitude. Heidegger uses the word ‘worlds’ as a verb here, saying es weltet, and “wherever and whenever es weltet for me, I am somehow there” (p.62). The meaning of ‘I’ here is not cordoned off from the environing world; it is fully present in it (its self and its environment). We appropriate our lived experience to ourselves not “from outside or from anywhere else” and not in a process of any kind, but by means of an ‘event’ (p.64). These “experiences are events of appropriation in do far as they live out one’s ‘own-ness’, and life lives only in this way” (p.64), and thus the only authentic appropriation of lived experience is one which

In comparing the experience of the question ‘Is there something?’ to environmental experience, remembering that he had to remove himself from it in order to grasp it, Heidegger finds it to be posed ineffectively. Because “the ‘anything whatsoever’, about whose ‘there is’ I ask, does not ‘world’… we grasp every potential environing world as ‘anything whatsoever’… [and] this grasping,” Heidegger says, “this firm fixing of the object as such, occurs at the cost of forcing back my own ‘I’” (p.62). In calling the as yet indeterminate thing an object as such, it is robbed of its context and its relation to me, and therefore the experience of the question is empty and we find ourselves chasing a theoretical meaning without being able to pin down anything about it. This taking an experience out of the context of life, isolating and objectifying it, Heidegger calls ‘de-vivification’ or Ent-leben. “For every experience that I want to consider,” he explains at the very end of the Analysis, “I must isolate and lift out, break up and destroy the contexture of the experience so that in the end and despite all efforts to the contrary, I have only a heap of things” (p. 64).

c.  Mary Kathryn Huffman (Married: Gough) 2/25/04 /
Philosophy 340 / Professor Halteman / Journal #4

Continental Assignment 1

[response to a selection of handouts on Continental Philosophy]

c. Mary Kathryn Gough (maiden: Huffman), 2003(?)

It seems to me that the ‘reorientation of philosophy in this tradition’ is essentially a very healthy one The idea of saving philosophy as a discipline from itself definitely has a lot of merit. Although philosophy is a worthy calling in life, somehow the academization of the pure impulse tends to homogenize the minds of young thinkers, boxing their horizons in and sidetracking the entire discipline, making the fluidity necessary for sincerity all but impossible. This is what I gleaned from Schopenhauer’s well-stated (if rather bleak) distinction between ‘state-financed’ philosophy and Philosophy, the love of Wisdom that could “shed some kind of light on the mysterious enigma of our existence” (handout 1).

There seems to be a theme among these philosophers of breaking with institutions and appealing to more organic, internal guides in struggling with the issues of origin and foundation. Heidegger broke with Catholicism in 1919, ten years after Schopenhauer published The World as Will and Representation, not because he was strongly against Christianity itself but because he wanted to show that his phenomenology of religion was an objective enterprise. In fact, he held on strongly to Christianity and “metaphysics– though, admittedly in a new sense” (handout 2) as he continued his work. He had simply found that his metaphysics clashed with the medieval Catholic view of the world, and as he did not have the same respect for the Catholic Church of his day, he split from it and remained loyal to his new vision. He believed that his spiritual development he “owed to his freedom from ‘extraphilosophical ties'” and that “through research and teaching [he was] doing everything in [his] power to further the spiritual life of man and work in the sight of God” (handout 2).

Husserl’s later essay on Shaw and the Vitality of the West comments on Shaw’s incredible ability through his art to arrest society midstep, “arous[ing] our conscience and instill[ing] the belief that no world existing for us simply is, but that any world is what we make it or let it become through strength or weakness” (handout, p. 356). He clearly expresses his solidarity with Shaw in intent and vision and echoes Heidegger’s concern for ‘the furtherance of the spiritual life of mankind’ stating that “the only genuine meaning of science is to impart to universal life the clarity of the mind’s eye, so that this life understands itself and the meaning of its goals. It can thereby become in practice what George Bernard Shaw longs for and seeks on his part” (handout p.357).

I appreciated the opportunity to see Husserl’s personal interaction with Arnold Metzger. The glimpse inside of him and seeing how he worked and felt about things was an experience I see as very valuable, because it cemented in my mind certain things about him that will always ground my reading of his work. He comments on the “lack of clarity, immature vaguness, and incompleteness” that haunts all philosophical work up to his time, and his intent to change that, providing clear foundations in the theoretical realm of “truth and science”. “Not that I consider truth and science the highest values. Quite the contrary, “Intellect is the servant of the will,” and so also I am the servant of those who shape our practical life, of the leaders of humanity” (handout p. 361). Here he echoes, once again, the concern to see humanity come out of its blurry mistaken illness and flourish and the concern for the necessary fluidity necessary for the survival of a living philosophy that can make it happen.

I agree with Godamer that we need to be aware of our bias, and this was probably a very good place to start, considering where the next piece took us (learning to stand solidly and yet work fluidly upon tradition. The excerpts from Godamer’s Truth and Method were extremely interesting in their distinction between hermeneutical consciousness and historical consciousness, hermeneutical experience and historical experience. The idea that perfected experience as science sees it cancels out its very being while as in philosophy as he supports it perfected experience remains open to newness and therefore preserves its meaningful existence– it’s fabulous! I found so many echoes from my own heart in these pieces, but placed in context so adroitly, so nimbly and precisely… I feel a kind of sympathy with his project, although I’m sure I could not have much to add. His reference to an I-Thou relationship is very helpful, and the personal quality of it, the reverence, is what opens the door for a new way of living forward with the past rather than turning back to it as an object.

I would say the core of what Godamer is driving at here is that

“the truth of experience always implies an orientation toward new experience… The consummation of [the experienced person’s] experience, the perfection that we call “being experienced,” does not consist in the fact that someone already knows everything and knows better than anyone else…The dialectic of experience has its proper fulfillment not in definitive knowledge but in the openness to experience that is made possible by experience itself” (p.355).

This is the difference between the historical consciousness and the hermeneutic, or historically effected consciousness. We must “think within our own historicity” (p. 361), refusing to fall into the trap of “trying to master the past” or “reflect[ing] ourselves out of relationship with it” in order to preserve the ‘moral bond’ that is there (p360).

The need for a healthy philosophy is always apparent in a culture in some way, and the twentieth century was a century of tumultuous moral and ethical concerns, met by many with apathy or bitterness and others with overzealous fervor. But all met it with a blindness never (or at least seldom) felt before on such a scale and with such intensity. Philosophy strained to produce a feasible and solid ground for people to stand on.

‘Transcendence & Temporality’

The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic

*Section 12: Transcendence and Temporality*
(nihil originarium)

by Martin Heidegger

Final Continental Philosophy Paper turned in to Professor Matt Halteman by Mary Kathryn Gough (Katie Huffman) PHIL 140 // Spring 2004

Time is a central theme for Martin Heidegger, recurring often in his philosophical writings. One of his goals is to properly link our conception of it with our conception of the nature of our own Being, and he therefore spends quite a bit of time attempting to discern and describe its nature. His various works show the development of his thought on this subject (the title of Being and Time seems to be more deeply significant when seen in this light). One good example of this development is found in his Metaphysical Foundations of Logic: leading up to and centering around the twelfth section is a condensed and careful exploration of the idea, within which it is easier to get a bird’s-eye view of the interconnectedness– and meshing– of the multiple naming concepts involved. “Time,” Heidegger says, “claims a central systematic function in metaphysics as such” because it has “some relation, however obscure [that relation] may still be, to the understanding-of-being as such” (p.197). The metaphysical notion of time must therefore be interpreted with that in mind.

The unity of the various aspects of Dasein’s character are very important to Heidegger, who holds that we are only (freely) existing when these aspects are fully integrated and thus applied (world-entry). The structure of the integration should be quite clear once the eleventh section is briefly reviewed and the text of the twelfth expounded upon. Following that, the question of responsibility is examined in light of Dasein’s free, transcendent being-bound-to-time and it is asked what this clarified understanding of time might demand of us in order that we may be Being authentically. A speculation on a theological approach to understanding the ecstatic character of time as related to Being will conclude the paper.

Martin Heidegger spends the eleventh section of his Metaphysical Foundations of Logic laying out the importance of freedom and world in their connection to the transcendence of Dasein. In fact, he shows that Dasein itself is the bridge, or conduit of the act of transcendence, or crossing over: that “to be a subject means to transcend” at the most basic, organic, or primordial level one can imagine (p.165, emphasis added). In the same way that Dasein does not ‘achieve’ a crossing over every once in a while, transcendence does not consist in crossing a barrier, per se between itself and an object.1 Dasein is already factically IN the world, ‘thrown’ amidst nature: beings to which it belongs (p.166), and the only way it is able to perceive the objects within nature at all as bodily existent is if it is already and has already/always transcended, or surpassed objects because it is in the very nature of its being to do so. Heidegger de-specifies the ‘object,’ stating that anything which can be encountered is surpassed (p.166) and “that towards which the subject transcends is what we call world” (from ‘Being-in-the-world’) (p.166).

Freedom is bounded; always it is bounded by Others, and thus it is rooted in responsibility. If we look at nature all around us we see this; every shape is held together as a shape by being collected within lines, every body of water is water, free to flow only because of its surface tension and the extent to which its constituent molecules obey chemical laws, evaporating slowly rather than all at once. We are sadly mistaken, according to Heidegger, if we think we understand “freedom most purely in its essence” if we “isolate it as a free-floating arbitrariness” (p.196). We ought to understand it in a way that is “precisely the reverse, to conceive freedom in its finitude and to see that, by proving boundedness, one has neither impaired freedom nor curtailed its essence” (p. 196, emphasis added).

Heidegger moves forward to address transcendence and temporality in section twelve. The common conception of time has these qualities: a) it passes, b) it is dependent upon its relation to the internal subjective world of an observer, making our idea of the soul (or our exact conception of the nature of Being) very important, c) it is not singular or central to Being because it is tied to space, and therefore our senses become involved in its perception, and d) it is contrasted with theological eternity, thereby causing the temporal to be defined by a conception of the heavenly (p.197). Yet according to Heidegger, “none of th[ese kinds of conceptions] touches exactly on the metaphysical essence of time” (p.198). He therefore introduces several new conceptions, naming five but then proceeding to examine only the first two:

    1. Time’s essence has what Heidegger calls ‘an ecstatic character/structure’, its three ecstasies being expectancy (then), retention (formerly), and making-present (now)

    2. It also has a horizontal character 2

First: the ecstatic character of time is threefold and unified. “Temporality in its temporalizing,” according to Heidegger, “is the primordially self-unifying unity of expectancy, retention, and making-present” (p.204). The names “then,” “formerly,” and “now” are used to designate things expected, things retained or remembered, and things held in attendance.

The “then” emerges from the ecstatic structure in the form of expectancy. Dasein is always living in expectancy of possibility– possibility generated by its own essence– and in light of its having-been, which brings us to the second ecstasy. The ecstatic character or structure of time stresses the historicity of Dasein, its “formerly” aspect, in which the things of its past are retained or remembered. And so we are always moving forward, from out of the past toward the possibility of the “then,” expectant. It is this movement in which the aspect of the “now” resides. Right in the center of time’s ecstasis is a temporalizing point in motion– an identifying motion in which time is truly defined. The “now” is not necessarily now-at-this-very-moment but is like taking the moment spoken of into one’s being in the now. It is a “holding something in attendance” or causing its presence by naming it in the now. In addition to being the primordially self-unifying unity of the three aspects of temporality, Heidegger continues, “the unity of the ecstasies is itself ecstatic. It needs no support and pillars, as does the arch of a bridge… we must say that [the] being [of the ecstases] lies directly in the free ecstatic momentum” (p.207, emphasis added).

Second: time has a horizontal character as well as this ecstatic character. We tend to think of horizon as the stretch of what our eyes are able to see,3 but actually it means ‘the enclosure’ as Heidegger is quick to point out here. It is just in the momentum, or the oscillation of the ecstases, that they are enclosed and horizon exists; thus, time has a horizontal character. Time as ‘the enclosure’ does not exist, exactly, but rather it temporalizes itself (p.208). The enclosure is nothing exactly definite, as Heidegger notes: “of itself the ecstasis does not produce a definite possible, but it does produce the horizon of possibility in general, within which a definite possible can be expected” (p. 208).

We also see that it is in horizon’s temporalization of itself that world-entry occurs, because the “ecstematic unity of the horizon of temporality is nothing other than the temporal condition for the possibility of world and of world’s essential belonging to transcendence” (p.208). If Dasein carries time with it, and Dasein’s essence is transcendence, then world-entry happens when transcendence happens (i.e. always already), in the oscillation of the ecstases of time. Time only exists as temporality is temporalized and world-entry occurs.4

Care is here a key element of transcending Dasein. Because of its expectance, Dasein is continually encountering itself in its interactions. Heidegger explains that expectance

implies a being-ahead-of-oneself. It is the basic form of the toward-oneself, or more exactly, it enables the like as such. Expectance means to understand oneself out of one’s own capacity-for-being; one’s own capacity for being is in turn understood in the essential metaphysical breadth to which belong being-with and being-by. Expecting one’s own capability-for-being as mine, I have also come toward myself already and precisely through expecting. This approaching oneself in advance, from one’s own possibility, is the primary ecstatic concept of the future,5

and yet the past is not left behind, for “the having-been-ness, rather, of what-has-been becomes the having-been, first of all and constantly, in the respective future” (p.206).

Thus, any Dasein that is taking its having-been forward into its expectance temporalizes phenomena by means of the concern integral to its being.

Since we are always encountering ourselves in the world, and care, or concern, is the metaphysical essence of the way we approach the world as a result; only through our concern for our own Being are we able to approach the world in such a way at all. That we are thus bounded and defined by this care is precisely what enables us to exist as an Other– separate and yet connected to other Daseins. Heidegger compares Dasein to Leibniz’s monad, saying that the monad “is a substance enclosed in its sphere” and the whole world exists within it, causing it to not need windows (p.210). Heidegger says that it is not because it contains everything already that it needs no windows, but because the enclosure is of a different nature than Leibniz envisioned. There is no inside or outside, he says, though it is still defined (p.210). This is because of the nature of Dasein’s transcending interaction with its world (“the ecstatic happening of world-entry” (p.210))means that time is not a “mundus concentratus” but a “self-opening and expanding into the world” (p.210).

Also, because of the fact that in encountering its world Dasein always encounters itself, one cannot truly say that time ‘flows away’ or ‘passes’. The stream of time is not a collection of nows but a continuum6— not passing, but temporalizing itself (motion) through the aspect of Being called care. Care temporalizes objects into experience, bringing them fully into Being within Dasein by completing the oscillation of time’s ecstatic continuum or raptus: unifying them.

So what does this new understanding of time and the relation of our own Being towards it require of us? It is not so obscure now as it was, and we can see clearly why the unity of these various aspects of Dasein’s character are so important to Heidegger: Dasein as transcending, Dasein as Free, Dasein in world-entry, Dasein as finite, Dasein as participating in time’s ecstatic and defining horizontal characters, Dasein as expectance, retention, and making-present, as temporalizing, as caring, as self-opening, as bounded. What do these things indicate is needful? The structure of the integration should be quite clear now, yet there is another aspect which cannot be overlooked, or all falls to pieces. If we are to be Being authentically, we must recognize the stuff of responsibility in our very essence.

Simply by being what it is, “every Dasein reveals time itself” (p.199). Time is so essentially a part of Dasein’s being and freedom– its transcendence– that it is imperative for us to realize our responsibility to grasp it firmly in each of its three ecstasies and make good use of it. We have to understand that time does not pass us by; we take it with us. We are so fundamentally interconnected with time– it is in us– that as a result we metaphysically are responsibility; we are made of the stuff of responsibility because we carry time with(in) us. We are free with a freedom maintained over and against freedom itself. Heidegger states that it is “only seldom [that] we take possession of time, which possesses our very selves in a metaphysical sense; only seldom do we become master of this power which we ourselves are; only seldom do we exist freely” (p. 199).

If one thinks of stewardship, one cannot help but think that we are accountable to something. But we are accountable only to be whole and holy: unified. We are accountable only as Christ was accountable: for the maintenance of his hidden, inward life and the outward-spilling of the fruits that carefully tended garden grew. He knew his father’s voice and was able to know and responsibly react to right and wrong because he was internally at one in his being: unified in all ways.

If transcendence is “defined essentially by the formulation and notion of that to which [it] transcends,” then our acting essence is as well, since it belongs to Dasein’s being to be always already transcending (p.162). Epistemologically that to which transcendence transcends is object, theologically it is inaccessible because it is infinite. The theological understanding poses the transcendent as the Absolute, that which is beyond us and sometimes (more specifically) the divine—“the infinite difference of the created from the creator, were we to substitute God, as understood by Christians, for the transcendent” (p.162). This understanding leads to an acceptance of the idea that this sort of transcendence is unnecessary, as its object ‘exceeds us’ it seems obvious that we were not meant to engage in it, in the end.

However from a Christian perspective it would seem that perhaps our inward relationship with Christ might call us to recognize that Mystery which is beyond us in the present moment and transcend, as we can with what we are given in each moment, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to commune with God and be at one with Him even as Christ and He were one while he walked this earth. Perhaps the triune God, to whom we are to be as little children, ‘opening up with child-like questioning,’ is in Heideggerian terms, our vital connection to Bying, and our escape from the devivification of ‘stopping with what is present’.

Stopping with what is present amounts to a retreat from the responsibility of being. It takes the life out of things– the life that Christ came to protect! Let us accept our finitude without losing sight of the Mystery we now have the means to connect to.

1See box example on p. 160 (MFoL)

2p. 198 MFoL

3p. 208 MFoL

4p.210 MFoL

5p.206, MFoL, emphasis added

6see p. 202 MFoL


Heidegger Journal 3

Journal #3 (2/20/04)

When Heidegger speaks of phenomenology, he is taking Husserl’s illuminations and carrying particular ones further along the path he sees laid out in front of them. It is an effort at the redemption of ideas that have not been carried to their full conclusion. Husserl ends up with this idea of pure consciousness and his phenomenology was essentially aimed at the study of this consciousness. However Heidegger has deep reservations and many criticisms about this notion of pure consciousness– the purity of it seems to be ethereal and too idealistic to be taken seriously. He doesn’t think that it is possible for a human to be able to take hold of this pure consciousness in order to investigate it because we are always and in every way bound up within our context. “The possibilities and destinies of philosophy,” he says in The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, “are bound up with man’s existence, and thus with temporality and with historicality” (p.20). The fact that we are temporal beings whose consciousness and very essence is in every way tied to both the past and the future must be taken into account when we examine that consciousness.

It is because of this that when Heidegger picks up Husserl’s ‘phenomenological reduction’ it is with a new sense of the term, and thus a more careful process aimed at a different and more particular goal develops. As he states, “we are thus adopting a central term of Husserl’s phenomenology in its literal wording though not in its substantive intent” (p.21). Rather than being led step-by-step backward toward a pure consciousness in the transcendental realm, this reduction is a three-part engagement of the entire being in be-ing and reflection upon that being.

Heidegger names these three key components of the phenomenological method as reduction, construction, and destruction. Phenomenological reduction is a leading back of the being to its be-ing, and for this it is necessary “that we should bring ourselves positively toward being itself” (p.21). According to Heidegger, being “must always be brought to view in a free projection” and “this projecting of the antecedently given being upon its being and the structures of its being we call phenomenological construction” (p.22). Be-ing does not appear, per say, or present itself like an object; it must be walked with and experienced (thus the bringing of ourselves positively toward it). As for destruction, there have always been ideas of what ‘being’ is, and from the earliest days of antiquity to today they have formed the basis for any research into its constitution and meaning. Heidegger wants to start with the use of these traditional notions and then strip them from us in a critical process, “deconstruct[ing them] down to the sources from which they were drawn” (p.23). This process goes hand in hand with the ‘reductive construction of being’, and ‘assures the genuine character of [the resulting] concepts’ (p.23).

These components illustrate the changing emphasis Heidegger wants to make in the study of consciousness, each acknowledging that consciousness is deeply and fundamentally affected by its temporality and unavoidably historical nature. Heidegger’s phenomenology embraces humanity’s temporal nature and works with it– through it– (as well as selectively and cautiously against its weaknesses) to create a corrective phenomenology that works in concert with the world as it is.

c. Mary Kathryn Gough, 2004