Monday, November 30, 2009

A Critique of Pure Roundness

[Note: play both videos simultaneously.]

The empirical concept of a plate is homogeneous with the pure geometrical concept of a circle. The roundness which is thought in the former can be intuited in the latter. (The Critique of Pure Reason, A137/B176)

The normative motion of the potter's wheel is homogeneous with the pure sculptural emotion of the cylinder. The spinning that can be felt in the former can be instituted in the latter. (The Crisis of Brute Passion)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Who is humanity? asks Heidegger. Not, What is humanity? Moreover, he ties the issue both to history and to poetry: "The thinking of Parmenides and Heraclitus is still poetic, and here this means philosophical, not scientific" (IM, 154 [110]). The shift from "what" to "who" is wholly correct: "what" is to the world as "who" is to history. Also, it is no doubt correct (I'm certainly not going to question it) that thinking at the time of Parmenides was more like poetry than science.

Today, by contrast, philosophy is more like science than poetry. And poetry is more like politics than philosophy. In fact, I would question Heidegger only in his approach: what, after all, is he doing in his Introduction to Metaphysics? He seems to be trying to replace metaphysics with some sort of anthropology. It is no wonder he gets himself into trouble on the subject of National Socialism at the end of the course (213 [152]). After all, if the question is "Who is humanity?" then the struggle over the answer is political.

Whatever his aim, he seems to be bound to producing a "logos" of human existence (Dasein). That is, he wants to give us an account of the subject. But perhaps the project of trying to account for, to understand, human existence is doomed from the start. In "the humanities", there is no understanding, only obedience (as Deleuze and Guattari have suggested somewhere, I think).

We don't think we are human; if we do, we feel it. The consequence is a rigorously a-logical approach to human existence. No logos. Pathos. Not anthropology but anthropopathy (an ugly enough word). A story, or better a passion, of humanity, not an account or logic of it. A poem that contains history. An epic.