Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Redoing Heidegger's Thing (procedural note)

A project like this needs rules to determine what counts as a correct replacement, or at least some background against which to discuss its wisdom. (This question just came up in the comments section over at Enowning.) What I am trying to do, in a sense, is to subject Heidegger ca. 1950 to Heidegger ca. 1927. That means that the arguments for replacing, say, "world in its worlding" with "things" is to be found in the pages of works like Being and Time and The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Since much of Heidegger's accomplishment there (which I think was greater than he himself finally believed) was to effect the "ontological difference" between beings and being, and thereby to break with ordinary usage in order to establish a critical phenomenological vantage on experience (structured by language, of course), what we are doing here, working backwards, is to "bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use" (Wittgenstein PI§116).

In this first step, for example, we can consult Being and Time, Chapter 14, to account for the replacement of "world in its worlding" with "things". Here Heidegger tells us that "describing the world as a phenomenon ... means to let us see what shows itself in 'entities' within the world'" and "the entities within the world are Things." (H. 63) Their "thinghood" is the world-structure of being-in-the-world, i.e., when world is worlding there are things. Thus, things are the result of the world worlding, and world in its worlding as such, is tantamount to things.

As I said at Enowning, I am aware of the damage I am doing to (other possible readings of) "The Turning". What Heidegger is presenting as a prayer or act of metaphysical faith, I am restating in terms of what a younger Heidegger might describe as its "phenomenological evidence". That is, the evidence for world in its worlding is the presence of things. And, yes, the next step is: "May things be in hand..." (not merely at hand).

But more on that later. Those who have a better sense than I of the progress of Heidegger's thought may notice that this exercise does in fact terminate in an interpretation of a rather vacuous, late-Heideggerian "openness for being" in terms of the (at least immediately) more robust notions of authenticity and anxiety.

No comments: