From: jim <jmd@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 23:40:42 +0000
In message <01J81IN0Y3PO000A71@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Allen Scult <allen.scult@xxxxxxxxx> writes
>" The situation of the interpretation, of the understanding appropriation of the
>past, is always the situation of a living present. History itself, the past which is
>taken on in understanding, grows in its comprehensibility with the primordiality
>(Urspruenglichkeit) of the decisive choice and formation of the hermeneutical
>situation. The past opens itself only according to the resoluteness (
>Entschlossenheit) and the force of the ability-to-lay-open (
>Aufschliessenkoennen) which a present has available to it. The primordiality of
>a philsophical interpretation is determined by the specific sureness within which
>philsophical reserach maintains itself and its task."
It's clear that you don't quite get my meaning when you claim the following:
>Jim's insistence on a studying a philosopher's "views"
[very clipped quotation]. Nothing that I have claimed conflicts with the above quote from H. Of course the
situation of interpretation, of appropriation of the past, is one of the living PRESENT -- it couldn't be otherwise,
although this 'temporal' constraint alone is not what H is pointing out. How should we understand these remarks
apropos of philosophy, as it is philosophy's understanding of itself that is in question beween Daniel and me.
Shouldn't this be answered by coming to grips with the question: What gives that 'specific sureness within which
philosophical research maintains itself and its task'? What determines this task [or these tasks]?
Merely a way of thinking? Or is it a thinking about a certain family of problems, i.e., a thinking that dances
among 'views', among tasks within a certain purview of problems?
For example, why is the thinking that goes on in the development of a C++ program not recognized as falling
within the purview of philosophy? Object-oriented programming seems like but one species of Platonism
(maybe Essentialism); but we don't call it philosophy. Toying with infinite sequences and series seems like 'a
dealing with' the sorites paradoxes, but we don't call it philosophy.
I suppose my point is simply that philosophy's history seems like an inherently self-referential 'history' of
Khunian-like paradigms: clusters of problems that certain persons had recognized as being the 'legitimate
problems' defining philosophy's task, persons who themselves had already come to be recognized as
'philosophers'. (this would explain why an Analytical-Phenomenological 'schism' arose in philosophy, even
though both camps share the same late-19th century ancestors).
Of course this is a circular characterization -- and significantly related to the hermeneutical circle. Philosophy is a
self-adjudicating practice: the history of philosophy decides what counts as Philosophy and what not, and that,
in its turn, decides the course that the history of philosophy assumes.
I don't insist on studying a philosopher's views -- given that we accept an already given identification as a
philosopher of the person whose views they are. Some of us study the lives of philosophers; some the influences
on philosophers, some other aspects of the philosopher. My question concerns the identification of the person
as a philosopher. On what does that identification rest? Not only on the recognition by other philosophers of
that person as a philosopher, but also on the particular views that the person holds concerning a certain cluster
of problems that the history of philosophy has appropriated as its own tasks.
I'm opposing Daniel's View that talks of 'ways' or 'spirits' of certain persons independent of their philosophical
views; such talk seems empty, to me. Not only does it seem to 'occultize' the nature of the practice, but it leaves
it a complete mystery why we study Socrates and not, for example, Archimedes (although we do sometimes),
or why we study H and not, for example, the Hollywood mystic, Shirley McClain. The view -- a meta-
philosophical view -- that I'm proposing sees the practice as part and parcel to the nature of Dasein, as simply a
reflection of Dasein's own temporality. Indeed, Dasein is also self-adjudicating!
PS. On re-reading this, I'm surprised at my free usage of 'we'.
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