Monday, October 04, 2010


Philosophy is hard!

Especially when it’s translated from German into English. Even more when it includes fragments from 2500 year-old texts that you have to be able to read Greek to decipher. And even more when it’s Martin Heidegger and he’s saying stuff like, “Thinking comes to presence because of the still unspoken duality. The presencing of thinking is on the way to the duality of Being and beings. The duality presences in the taking-heed-of.”

It’s confounding; here I am, a “trained” philosopher, possessed of a graduate degree in the subject, making my living “teaching” the field to others, and I’m not sure I really have any clear idea about what the guy is saying.

Or, that is, I have an interpretation I could offer and explore, but whether it has anything to do with what Heidegger himself was trying to say, I dunno. I wonder if I’d have a similar experience were I a math geek; would I read the proofs of some famous fellow mathematician and not be able to understand it, either? Probably, come to think of it, yes.

Still, there's an aspect of reading something like the above that has a bit of the emperor’s new clothes about it; as I try to wrap my head around—or into, or through—Heidegger’s prose, I sometimes wonder whether if the old Nazi is just having a laugh on us, like maybe he doesn’t know what he means either.

Suppose I said something like, “The Being-as-such spiritualizes the suchness of being such that the presence of presencing manifests itself as a relation to itself whereby the One transforms into the Many through the unity of separateness dedicated to the objectivity of subjectivity in the noumenal noesis.” Could philosophers find it fruitful to spend an hour or two—or even a career—trying to understand what that meant?

“Philosophy begins in wonder,” said Plato; when I wonder what it means, then, am I really doing philosophy?


Blogger Kat Reinhart said...

"Do not worry about your difficulties with mathematics; I can assure you mine are far greater." Einstein

1:23 PM  

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