LS On Heidegger

Donald T Palmgren (
Sat, 29 Aug 1998 04:58:14 +0100

        This is really continuing right after my "4 levels vs DQ" post, I
just broke it up to keep it in smaller, more manigable, chunks.

        I want to say somethings about Hiedegger. His relavence to the MoQ
seems unquestionable given his tremendous popularity in Japan. He's looked
at as 'the Western Zen master.' The day after he died, a Japanise TV
special was shown in his honor; in Germany, he got 30 seconds on the
news. (!?) So, since Japan is the home of Zen, let's see what Hiedegger
said that impressed them so much.
        First off, Heidegger was Anti-Metaphysics, but whenever he says
"metaphysics" he means the Western tradition. The East doesn't have
metaphysics... or even "philosophy" in the western sense of the word. I've
tried to point this out myself on the listserv in the past. In the East
"philosophy" is religion -- it's a way of life; not something
intellectuals do in universities. It's not book-ish; it's *lived*.
        Anyway, let's look at how Heidegger defined "Metaphysics."
Metaphysics has 4 basic traits:
        1) The use of force/substance, noun/verb distinctions -- that is,
any distinctions derivitive of the distinction between *being* and
        2) An emphisis on causality rather than (end) purpose (What
caused X, rather than what was X for).
        3) Thinking is representational, abstractly conceptual and/or
calculative (rather than immediate and concrete).
        4) Emphisis on the distance between the essence of humanity
("soul," "self," "mind"... whatever) and the world.

        (Elsewhere, Heidegger states that traditional metaphysics begins,
falsly, w/ "things in nature" rather than "things invested w/ value." And
there is also his famous stament that philosophers err by looking at
beings (things which exist) rather than Being (the condition of
        Heidegger contrasts "metaphysics" w/ just "thinking." Western
thought before Plato was "pre-metaphysical." Western thought between Plato
and Nietzsche was "Metaphysicsl," and thought from Nietzsche to himself
(Heidegger) is "Anti-Metaphysical." Thought in the East, he explains, has
always been "Non-Metaphysical." It is important to note that, for
heidegger, there is *no* "Post-metaphysical" thinking -- ie. metaphysics
is not a step or a stage that leades to anything beyond itself.
        What I would add to this, is that, it seems to me,
Anti-metaphysics didn't start w/ Nietzsche, but rather Kant (probably more
unconsciously than consciously) begain a movement in Germany that led away
from Metaphysics towards "Thinking."

        I think we can all imedeatly recognize something a ken to our
"SOM" in Heiddeger's "Metaphysics." Or (as Bodvar and I, w/ help from
some others, are pursuing) perhaps his "Metaphysics" is simply the same as
Intellectual values? Some helpful questions might be: Does the MoQ (the
philosophy in LILA) match the 4 traits Hiedegger named? Does the
philosophy outlined in ZMM? After all, the MoQ is still subject to
intellectual values ( it *is* intellectual values) -- but it's not a SOM.
That makes it a nice yard stick.

        Other intresting points:
        Heidegger has 3 modes of relaiting to beings/objects.
        1) The object is "to-hand" -- thought of in a detached objective
manner. Here he says we can not really grasp it. The only way to know a
hammer, he says, is to use it.
        2) The object is "on-hand" -- You pick it up and use it. The
problem is that when we use it, it's being "withdraws" -- ie. we soon
forget about the hammer's being because we focus on the work; the hammer
becomes granted and so it's being is then only noticed when we remove it.
        The third mode is to relate aestheticly. This coresponds to
Pirsig's "care." In ZMM, the Naraitor relates aesthticly to his
motercycle and to his moldy, old leather gloves. He really cares about
them -- and is thus, really, aware of their being.
        In the West we begin to-hand; in the East, on-hand. Either way,
the goal is to relate aesthticly.

        Heidegger (just like Hegel before him and Goffman after him)
emphisized the social nature of the Self. Man exists by being in society.
Goffman said that the self is a "narative of moral alighnment to the
prevailing values." In short, person = social entity.
        In Japaneese, person (*ningen*) is composed of two Chinese
characters: "man" (*nin*) and "between two" (*gen* or *aida*) and, in
China, Confucious talks about person as *jen* -- again "between two." In
the Far East, personhood is atomatically understood as social. I can be an
animal alone, but I can only be a person in public, social space --
"person" means "man-to-man" or "between men."

        I was also going to say a something about the Western
("metaphysical") vs. the Eastern concepts of time as related to Heidegger
and taoism... but i won't. I'm getting off track. (and hungry)

        In case you're wondering (and you must be by now) where I think
I'm going w/ all this... What I'm heading towards is an answer to the
problem I brought up earlier about: If proto-social existance (primatives)
has more immedeate access to experiencing DQ (which I believe they do)
then why is IntPoVs a moral advancement? Quality is the *pre*-intelletual
experience, pre-subject/object. But intellect is based on the Analytic
knife and S-O logic. It takes us away from DQ. DQ from mythos is eassy;
DQ from logos may well be impossible.
        At the end of LILA Pheadrus says that metaphysics (in the general,
not Heideggerian sense) is itself an immoral activity because it is an
static PoV trying to subsume DQ. He declires "you can't win 'em all" and
drops it. Well, I think I have the answer, because i think Heiddeger was
dead-wrong when he said their is no "Post-metaphysical." Because if their
is a post-metaphysical experience of DQ -- a way to use the intellect's
S-O logic and still get to DQ's at-one-ment -- that would be a higher
value experience of DQ than what the "Pre-Metaphysical" primatives and the
"Non-Metaphysicl" Taoists and Budhists do!

        Enter, ...*The Tao of Physics* perhaps?

        But right now I'm hungry, so I'll see you next week.
                TTFN (ta-ta for now)

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