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Heidegger on the Connection between Nihilism, Art, Technology and Politics

16 Mar 2021 06:33 - 01 Jan 2022 07:48

      • Heidegger's concept of a clearing (first time I'd encountered that, I think)
      • Mattering lies not in what we choose, but in "that on the basis of which" we choose. The more our know-how is formulated and objectified as knowing-that, the more it is called up for critical questioning, the more it loses its grip on us. This is what Kierkegaard saw in his attack on modern critical reflection, and Heidegger in his attack on value thinking
      • Kierkegaard defines the self as a relation that relates itself to itself. That means that who I am depends on the stand I take on being a self.. see stance!
      • Heidegger calls the basic structure of human being – that each human being's way of being is an issue for it – Dasein. In his "existentialist" phase, during the nineteen twenties, Heidegger was interested in the ahistorical, cross-cultural structures of everyday involved experience
      • Heidegger argues that to think of nihilism as a state in which we have forgotten or betrayed our values is part of the problem. Thinking that we once had values but that we do not have values now, and that we should regain our values or choose new ones, is just another symptom of the trouble. Heidegger claims that thinking about our deepest concerns as values is nihilism.
        • Well that is – unintuitive. That sounds like an even harsher critique of Rationalism than I typically make.
      • The idea of the good shines on us and draws us to it. Only with the enlightenment do we arrive at the notion that values are objective -- passive objects standing over against us -- and we must choose our values. These values have no claim on us until we decide which ones we want to adopt. Once we get the idea that there is a plurality of values and that we choose which ones will have a claim on us, we are ripe for the modern idea, first found in the works of Nietzsche, especially in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, that we posit our values -- that is, that valuing is something we do and value is the result of doing it. But once we see that we posit values, we also see that we can equally "unposit" them.They thus lose all authority for us.
      • Heidegger argues that our cultural practices can direct our activities and make our lives meaningful only insofar as they are and stay unarticulated... If there is to be seriousness it must draw on these unarticulated background practices. As Heidegger puts it in a later work, "Every decision ... bases itself on something not mastered, something concealed, confusing; else it would never be a decision."... What is most important and meaningful in our lives is not and should not be accessible to critical reflection
        • Yeah my inner Rationalist is positively sputtering at that. I believe something close but different – that a great deal of practices and activity is unarticulated, and there is a lot of bad efforts to articulate it, but that doesn't mean it has to be shrouded in mystery; it means we have to get better at articulation.
      • And once we realize -- in our practices, of course, not just as matter of reflection -- that we receive our technological understanding of being, we have stepped out of the technological understanding of being, for we then see that what is most important in our lives is not subject to efficient enhancement -- indeed, the drive to control everything is precisely what we do not control. This transformation in our sense of reality -- this overcoming of thinking in terms of values and calculation -- is precisely what Heideggerian thinking seeks to bring about
      • Kuhn is quite Heideggerian in holding that it is the paradigm that guides the scientists' practices and that the paradigm cannot be explained as a set of beliefs or values and so cannot be stated as a criterion or rule. As Kuhn notes: "That scientists do not usually ask or debate what makes a particular problem or solution legitimate tempts us to suppose that, at least intuitively, they know the answer. But it may only indicate that neither the question nor the answer is felt to be relevant to their research. Paradigms may be prior to, more binding, and more complete than any set of rules for research that could be unequivocally abstracted from them.
      • Similarly, Greek respect for the irrational in the form of music and Dyonisian frenzy do not fit into an efficiently ordered technological world
        • Hasn't been to Burning Man I take it. (Ah later the article references Woodstock)
      • But already Heidegger's project should alert us to the fact that he is not announcing one more reactionary rebellion against technology, although many take him to be doing just that. Nor is he doing what progressive thinkers would like to do: proposing a way to get technology under control so that it can serve our rationally chosen ends
      • [T]he instrumental conception of technology conditions every attempt to bring man into the right relation to technology. ... The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control. (QCT 5, VA 14-15)
        • IOW, we are so much a part of a technological world that any effort to free ourselves is tainted by the sort of means-ends thinking technology encourages.
      • Heidegger is clear this approach will not work. "No single man, no group of men," he tells us, "no commission of prominent statesmen, scientists, and technicians, no conference of leaders of commerce and industry, can brake or direct the progress of history in the atomic age." (DOT 52, G 22)
        • Speaking of tools and Burning Man – wasn't the project of Stewart Brand and various alt-tech hippies exactly that, trying to transform the very concept of tool use into something more humane?
      • "the greatest danger" is that the approaching tide of technological revolution in the atomic age could so captivate, bewitch, dazzle, and beguile man that calculative thinking may someday come to be accepted and practiced as the only way of thinking. (DOT 56, G 27)
      • The danger, then, is not the destruction of nature or culture but certain totalizing kinds of practices -- a levelling of our understanding of being. This threat is not a problem for which we must find a solution, but an ontological condition that requires a transformation of our understanding of being.
      • And once we realize -- in our practices, of course, not just as matter of reflection -- that we receive our technological understanding of being, we have stepped out of the technological understanding of being, for we then see that what is most important in our lives is not subject to efficient enhancement -- indeed, the drive to control everything is precisely what we do not control. This transformation in our sense of reality -- this overcoming of thinking in terms of values and calculation -- is precisely what Heideggerian thinking seeks to bring about.