From: "Catweasle" <Jud@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 21:49:04 +0100
----- Original Message -----
From: Andrea Susan Wheeler
Sent: Friday, June 09, 2000 1:27 PM
Subject: Re: Re:' Revelation' or 'Facing Up to the Facts?'
Hi Again Cat,
Yes, that would have been me. Well no it wouldn't as pregnant ladies were
engaged in something different that's when they weren't cooking rice and
halva and making tea. But to the big H. - I have a copy of Being and Time -
and like you I'm new to philosophy - and I wondered if you would like to
read it with me if you haven't already. I hope it wouldn't irritate the
other listers too much as I know there's already been some grumpy noises to
my silly questions but if we stay on track understanding Big H. maybe that
would be OK?
Yeah, it will be great if we do a read of 'Being and Time' on the list.
They may find some of our 'naive' questions harder to answer than they
realise. :-) I have some burning questions I'd like to ask about Heidegger
and to ask those questions necessitates me adopting the role of a devil's
advocate. I hope that the list members won't read my comments as an attack
on a 'holy cow,' but rather as genuine queries to be dealt with in an effort
to clear the decks ready for the action of addressing a reading of Being and
Time. Sorry for the delay in my reply - I've been on a Liverpool University
three day course.
I'm interested to find out what 'use' Heidegger is to anybody? It seems to
me that his philosophy purports to tell us something about 'being,' but
because his utterances are couched in a language that even his own German
speakers disagree about, and furthermore his statements are in general
empirically unverifiable, some people might say that his conclusions are
either trivially analytic or meaningless.
It seems to me, coming to Heidegger for the first time, and after carrying
out a 'saturation hoover-reading-raid' on some of his work, that not only
does he not clarify the questions he asks, so that one will easily know what
sort of questions they are and how to proceed to answer them, even after
years of divination, but he gives the impression that he does sometimes seem
to purposely go out of his way to make simple things unnecessarily
Although I am not a German scholar, I am sure that the German language is
quite capable of rendering simple ideas in a clear way, and therefore it
seems a mystery to me why anyone should choose such an extraordinarily
complicated lexicon. It has often occurred to me that needlessly convoluted
discourse can often hide a multitude of intellectual sins, or be part of
some display ritual similar to a peacocks preening - sometimes both.
Also, when setting out his stall, he seems to me to spend a lot of time
reiterating commonplaces - commonplaces that if they were 'translated' into
ordinary speech, not only would be easily understood by the general public,
but would be considered simple and even childlike. If I am wrong with this
gut feeling about him, (that he intentionally rarefies simple questions,)
then the only conclusion that I can arrive at, is that by his use of
designedly baffling language to ask elementary questions about subject
matters at issue, such as human experience or 'being' ('Dasein',) he
displays an arrogant and unhelpful attitude. I am not saying that because he
wore leather shorts and was a Nazi that he was automatically arrogant and I
am not saying incidentally that the concepts which flow from such
questioning, are elementary, what I am saying is that by his deliberate or
unintentional befuddlement he makes things less accessible to the general
public. If I am right and he was deliberately obfuscational - then the
question is immediately posed - Why?
There are possible answers to this question:
1. He was attempting to 'blind people with science.'
2. He was muddying the water to conceal something from his Nazi masters.
3. He was incompetent in explicatory skills.
4. He did not consider the general public worthy of contemplating his work.
5. He didn't think the public would understand his work.
This special esoteric language that Heidegger uses has been castigated by
Wittgenstein, who said that typical philosophical problems cannot be solved
by mathematical of empirical procedures and that any attempt to solve them
using an 'ideal language' will prove abortive. Whether after interpreting
this unnecessarily silly Heideggerian argot he will 'come up with the goods,
' and prove the time expended to have been worth the expense, I can only
wait and see with interest and mounting excitement.
I rush to say that this is my first impression, and it may well be that as I
get to know his writings more intimately that I will radically change my
mind and be embarrassed at the words that I have just written.
As a non-professional philosopher I am free to do this of course - for I
have no peers breathing down my neck waiting for me to trip up or say
Whether Heidegger's output qualifies as what the later Wittgenstein called
'therapeutic benefit' to mankind, i.e.. 'That philosophers need to provide
some psychotherapeutical value to mankind and help them to be happier human
beings,' I don't know at this stage.
There is the question of Heidegger's Nazism and support for Hitler, which
must have cropped up time and again on this list in the past and I'm sorry
if I may be disinterring old ghosts.
Apart from the dreadful way he treated his old master Husserl, there is no
doubt that he must have been aware of what was happening to the Jews and in
his silence we can only extrapolate sordid acquiescence.
These surely are questions to which any new student of Heidegger's
philosophy needs to address and find answers to in order to set his or her
mind at ease.
I understand that he retained his Nazi party card right up until the end of
the war and then, (some might say conveniently,) stated that he had changed
A certain type of person might say; 'Forget the man - address the ideas!'
Another might say: 'Ideas reflect the man.' If this last be true, are we
addressing ideas which were rubber-stamped by the Hitlerite thought police?
It will be very interesting to hear what the Heideggerian 'in crowd,' have
to say about these questions, if they have the kindness and forbearance and
patience, and can find the time to spare to answer a greenhorn's sincere
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