Heidegger and historical purpose
Posted by Guessedworker on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 08:27 PM
James has introduced the concept of foundation from nowhere, based on something Husserl brought into his own work once and only fleetingly. I am not sure how central it really is to the Husserlian approach to Mind, consiousness, self, and the object . In any case, there was a certain immanent development (basically, authenticity of Dasein) in Heidegger which was not in Husserl’s (late and defensive) championing of reason and the transcendent ego, and which heads in the opposite direction to foundation. It is the exploration of this which would benefit James, as it has benefitted many others, and which explains, for example, why Heidegger is revolutionary today as well as why he was foundational to postmodernism during its revolutionary period of inception. To me at least, the Husserlian approach seems oddly dead and anthropological by contrast. I will try to explain this further.
Kant said that you cannot demonstrate being. But you can experience it, under certain psychological conditions. Otherwise you can only infer it, only gesture roughly in its presumed direction. Strictly speaking, Heidegger’s project in Being and Time was to explain why, in the West, our inferred sense of being is so different to the sense we think it should have, and which philosophers and spiritual leaders have told us for millenia that it can have. Heidegger used the phenomenological method to give an account of this “everydayness” ... the life that is ordinarily lived. But his essentially spiritual quest constituted a complete break with Husserl and a challenge to the study of Mind as pure function. As such, it was intimately wrapped up with the meaning for us all of a lived life in which Being was rarely consciously experienced, and in which the inference was everywhere employed without thought for qualitative distinctions. Where no such distinctions apply, the road is open to nihilism and destruction. Thus seven years later, in his lecture Introduction to Metaphysics, Heidegger made the following remarkable and much quoted statement:
This statement, with its percipience and its relevance to our circumstance today, as well as its interesting and clear rejection of conservatism (and the conservative revolutionary movement - then a powerful force in German intellectual life), is Heidegger’s revolutionary claim. For us, it is what is interesting in Heidegger, and what raises him above other exponents of phenomenology and other existentialists (Heidegger did not categorise his thought as existentialism). It contains the idea that Being itself is an historical actor, and a naturally creative force. We know this, to some extent. It is the common currency of race-realism, and of Rushtonian psychology, that an energy for the unfolding of human destiny inhabits the evolved Mind. It tells us that evolutionary time is an honest witness. What comes out of human populations in the grand historical context is true of them. However, Heidegger addresses the question of inception in an era of hiatus, telling us how this energy can be reclaimed and released. He gestures not to the analytical, ontologically speaking - he doesn’t analyse identity and say “this is precisely it” - but to a method of realisation. He is telling us how to light the burners.
This is why postmodernism was about methodologies, and why, ultimately, a nationalist ontology will have the same focus. Whatever intellectual rigour can be brought to bear is required here. Heidegger himself, pondering his own human being in his little cabin in the Black Forest, may have been too disinterested in rigour. There are aspects of his thinking which exhibit disinterest, for example, he was not interested in the material body, and he was not interested in evolutionary science. But rigour is servant not master. Clarity of purpose is master.