Thursday, October 6, 2011

Heidegger on Heraclitus' fragment 7

I spent most of yesterday reading Heidegger's lecture notes from the winter semester 1941/42. Besides being extremely explicit in their nazi sympathies, the lecture notes are interesting because they give an exceptionally clear picture of what Heidegger thought philosophy was good for and how it was supposed to be done.

There's a remarkable focus on meditative thought and mental exercises in his instructions to the new students. He tells them to be patient, to concentrate, to keep their attention on the subject matter, to continually return and retrace ("walk the same path over and over," quoting from memory), and not prioritize process over product ("we will not move, but remain at the same spot").

Taken together, these recommendations on method are strikingly similar to buddhist meditation practices, as Michael Zimmerman and others have also pointed out.

They are also extremely naive, in a sense. Heidegger clearly thinks that his speculative practice can somehow help students reach "deeper" levels of understanding of being or of particular pieces of text by Heraclitus or Nietzsche.

On this matter, I have to agree with Richard Rorty; replacing the metaphysics of seeing the truth with a metaphysics of hearing the call of being does not improve the situation. Any language that claims to be transparent and authentic is producing contradiction and marginalization.

No comments :

Post a Comment