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~ Franz Brentano ~ Hubert L. Dreyfus ~ Bent Flyvbjerg ~ Paul Gorner ~ Martin Heidegger ~ Emmanuel Levinas ~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~ Reiner Schürmann ~

Being And Time by Martin Heidegger (Book Cover) Brentano, Franz. Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint. New York: Humanities Press, 1973.

Franz Brentano makes an argument for new approaches to the subject of psychology, as a distinct science with utmost social-political importance. In the article, he distinguishes this “science of the soul” markedly from metaphysics and, importantly, addresses the artificial conundrums of associating the mind to the soul, and the body to the natural sciences. He notes that phenomena of consciousness are inter-related, narrowing of sciences are intended to inform one another. Still he offers a somewhat sensational proposal, suggesting that whether or not the soul exists, it is not observable and therefore cannot be accounted for in the course of studies. He supports the analogy that psychology is a “science of mental phenomena”. The article affirms two benchmarks in phenomenological history: i) the separation from the religious dogma underlined in early texts, along with the admission of arbitrary parameters distinguishing the mind from the body, and; ii) the reference to the senses as, however unreliable, an important attribute in the awareness of experiences and experiences of consciousness.

Dreyfus, Hubert L. “Being and Power: Heidegger and Foucault”. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 4 (1):1-16 (1996).

Hubert L. Dreyfus outlines an analysis of continuities and parallels in the trajectory of writings of Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault. In particular, the article focuses upon the relationships described by each author in context with the societies we live in, positions on the issue of power-dynamics therein, and the matter of strategies of resistance. Heidegger’s view of our relationship with technology, and Foucault’s views upon the cultural mind-set in the passing of the modern age, are seen as mostly symbiotic, with rare exception where one author makes historical and/or ontological references the other does not. Dreyfus notes a transformation in the concerns each writer expresses, and cites the ‘turns’ each author appears to take as an evolution of their conceptions surrounding a sense of modern-to-postmodern and humanist-to-posthuman positions and ideations. The article concludes with suggestions that, while both authors viewed resistance as a local and subjective endeavor (as opposed to the organization of another totalizing force), each perceived the benefits of normalization differently. Foucault viewed assimilation in positive light, while Heidegger warned of the contradictory affects of appropriation.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Ideal Theory, Real Rationality: Habermas Versus Foucault and Nietzsche”. Paper for the Political Studies Association’s 50th Annual Conference: The Challenges for Democracy in the 21st Century. London School of Economics and Political Science (2000).

Bent Flyvbjerg takes a highly transparent position against Habermas’s approaches and proposals surrounding communicative rationality and discourse ethics, with favour toward the proposals of both Michel Foucault and Friedrich Nietzsche. A realist, Flyvbjerg cites deviance from the limitations of our existing societal structure as utopian in nature. It is clear that the authors view is directly associated to matters relating to government and administration, as it exists, and not as it might be conceived or reformed. Criticisms of Habermas’s situated ‘utopia’ are well presented and surround the latter’s absence of acknowledgement regarding power issues and dynamics. The theoretical reliance upon Foucault is therein also well supported and consistent with the authors argument. Though Flyvbjerg does note that an application of some of Habermas’s theories would indeed be viewed as subversive and conflicting by those whom uphold societies current values and methodologies, he does not further apply this acknowledgment to potentials for social change.

Gorner, Paul. “Heidegger, Phenomenology, and the Essence of Technology”. Ends and Means, 2 (1): 21-30 (1997).

Paul Gorner explains the distinctions between Heiddegger’s notion of ‘Dasein’ and Edmund Husserl’s “consciousness”, as well as describing an evolutionary turn of the former’s own strain of phenomenology. He argues against the use of a human-centric system within which consciousness is investigated. Gorner outlines the vocabulary and concepts that Heidegger proposes might roundly describe Being, and the process of Becoming, noting that a sense of temporality, specifically, relates directly to an awareness of Being. The author describes here the limitations of the work, that Heidegger himself later also noted; it is the understanding of human Being that is the exclusive focus and loci of the treatise. Gorder also notes that although in later writings Heidegger no longer referred to his analysis as phenomenological, the texts still require a phenomenological method of reading. He also comments on Heidegger’s value for ethics, though suggesting himself free of value judgements, and suggests that a contradiction may therein lay.

Heidegger, Martin . Being and Time. Translated by Joan Stambaugh. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1953.

Heidegger’s significant treatise on the phenomenology of Being and it’s relevance to Time (or vice versa) answers to several philosophical subjects as well as calls for a break in metaphysical traditions of analysis. The treatise both alters and furthers Hussurlean phenomenology, but firmly in the ground of Existentialism. The topic at hand poses questions surrounding what is the meaning or sense (Sinn) ‘to be’ (Sein) and what is the nature of ‘Being’ (Seiend). Heidegger elaborates upon the concept of ‘Dasein’ (Being-there) as an experiential entity defined inherently by it’s finite temporality (not-yetness, and nowness), and inter-relational character of self awareness (relating explicitly to the they-world). The author traces habits, presumptions, pre-propositions, and traditions premised upon notions of objective analysis of meanings between the subject (the knower) and the object (the known), in methods of investigation, since the time of Aristotle and Plato. He notes that in doing so, the Western World has lost insights on the origins of those texts, indeed, even the meaning of the words originally used, and has thus extended an attitude or world view that takes it’s presumptions for granted. The inquiry is explicit in it’s ontological nature and stands in opposition to concepts that propose one invents the world with or through consciousness, and as opposed to the world of absolute truths which governs objects in relation to subjects.

Heidegger, Martin . “The Question Concerning Technology”. Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Trans: William Lovitt. New York: Harper & Row: 3-35 (1977).

Martin Heidegger challenges the Aristotelian notion of “four causes”, by proposing that all four fall merely describe a process of revealing (presencing). He relates examples given in the case of an artisan making a chalice and draws attention to the necessary participation and responsibility of the artisan himself, as well as the materials the chalice in indebted to. Heidegger describes a distinction between these two notions (responsible, indebted) and proceeds to describe “being responsible” as starting something on its way into arrival. This arrival describes occasions, and “poesis” (or bringing-forth, begetting, etc) and denotes occasions that transform to presencing from unpresence. Presencing (Anwesen) is tied with the bringing-forth, or unconcealment, of something that was concealed. As in other texts, Heidegger relates revealing, unconcealment, and ‘opening up’ to a form of truth, in congruency with the meaning of the original words in Greek. This is also the case in context with meanings surrounding the Greek words ascribed to and relating to technology. The author reminds us that older conceptions of technology, as well as the nature of our interaction with technologies, differ starkly from modern uses. The bringing-forth that takes place does not resemble poesis but, instead, it is challenging it’s own relationship with the world. Described more as “setting-upon in a sense of a challenging-forth”, the unconcealment process is objectified and ceaseless, never fully presencing. These technologies are to stand-by, to be at-hand, are “standing­reserve” moreso than they are objects. Heidegger therein also challenges Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hagel’s conception of the machine as an autonomous tool, asserting that the essence of modern technology is entirely (unautonomously) linked to human existence (thus representing a starkly human-centric perspective).

Heidegger, Martin . The Basic Problems of Phenomenology: Introduction. Indiana University Press: 1-23 (1975).

In this text Martin Heidegger makes a case for phenomenology as a distinct method of ontological investigation, the text was produced in the context of introducing the content of his philosophy courses. Heidegger’s process of analysis is destructive, that is, he constructs his argument by deconstructing modern philosophical traditions. In doing so, he exemplifies the phenomenological method he is describing. This text illuminates key terms and distinctions that are evident in other texts, noted in this bibliography, though with the benefit of summary.

Levinas, Emmanuel and Committee of Public Safety. “Martin Heidegger and Ontology”. Diacritics. Vol. 26, No. 1: 11-32 (1996).

Emmanuel Levinas commences by establishing Heidegger’s opposition to Neo-Kantian positions, and to “Idealism”, while pointing to a Platonic ontological ‘mode’ of subject-object relations, rather than the ontological structure. In contrast to Plato’s nature of subjectivity, Heidegger’s subjectivity is bound to temporality, as it’s existential nature, it’s character is inherently relational, and therein, knowledge is reduced to existence itself. For Heidegger, the author explains, the study of ‘a being’ is ontic, while the study of ‘Being’ is ontological -asserting that ontology is the ‘hermeneutics of affectivity’. In these and other ways, Heidegger is seen to depart from traditional conceptions of consciousness, finding premise instead in the fundamental nature of Being. Concepts surrounding consciousness are therefore seen as abstractions and an artificial subtraction from the concrete human, whom is at the crux of all philosophy. Heidegger perceives philosophy as a ‘destruction’, in that it investigates a concept of humanity and perceptions of everyday life in an effort toward authentic realizations (getting one’s bearings after the fall). In this way he also departs from (or perhaps transcends) empiricist or rationalist methods, interpreting both as merely dealing with ideations and from conventions (held also by Edmund Husserl) that treat “things” as representations. The latter is exemplified by his view of tools being handled and thus described by ‘handlability’; all things in the world are known in relation to ourselves.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. “Chapter One: On the Prejudices of Philosophers”. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Trans: Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage Books. 1966.

Nietzsche clearly disagrees with modernist tendencies and arguments in philosophy, and frequently ridicules conceptions of truth and free will, religious doctrine and institutional conformity, democracy and statehood. Importantly also, Nietzsche makes reference to a ‘will for power’, which he views as more correct than assumptions surrounding the ‘will to live’. Though he describes a much more complex view of what ‘will’ is, than that which was frequently attributed to ‘action’ during his time. In these as in other notes, the author hints at chaos and chance as the normative state of human co-existence, and implies that only through supremacy of character (or unique excellence) does a will to power reveal it’s merits. For those he deems to qualify, he calls ‘creators’, whom live both creatively and autonomously. Nietzsche’s perspectives certainly support notions of plurality, subjectivity, and positivism over those relating to universalism, objectivity, and metaphysics. Referring to himself as an ‘immoralist’, he concludes with an optimism toward a new generation of philosophers whom are ‘free spirits’ in every sense, and whom he evidently expects to find a place among, in historical context.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. The Portable Nietzsche. Trans: Walter Kaufmann. New York: Viking Press, 1968.

Nietzsche’s famous narrative mimics biblical and ancient Greek oratory in order to oppose religious institutionalism and dogma, while presenting conceptions of an ‘overman’ or ‘superman’ in lieu of a God he does not believe in. The call for a new world view is autobiographical in nature, Nietzsche’s struggle to harness the ego, the animal, and the superman within himself, is evident. Likewise, within the narrative, the philosopher warns against pupils or followers accepting wholly his own teachings. The clearest summaries one can make of these text, as a collection, is that they espouse an anarchic existentialism, a heavy distain for the human as a creature, and a call for an immensely atheistic and ascetic natured transcendence in order to overcome, what he viewed as, the true evils and misguided beliefs of his time and place.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873). In: idem. : 77-97 (1990).

Nietsche deconstructs the pursuit of Truth through empiricism and rationalism as merely another means of reconstructing ‘a human world’. He describes the conventions of science and those normative views it espouses as abstractions and mimicry that anthropomorphizes the world we inhabit and experience. In doing so he explains that we do so as if we believe it is possible to evade ourselves in the equation; taking human-made concepts and mistaking them for the original objects they reference out in the world, forgetting that even the original engagement included a self-referential interpretation of that object. The author views an irony in the workings of our rational rules for processes of uncovering natures laws, which are otherwise physiologically known (hiding a bush only to reveal a bush and thus proving it is a bush). Nietzsche describes a lie, however, as particular in nature. That which is deemed a lie, or fraudulent, is not unto itself loathed, but it is the unpleasant consequences that we attempt to exclude and isolate from our experiences (deception without injury). So that whatever has no unpleasant consequences goes unnoticed or, at very least, is not excluded. In such ways do we construct our world, comprised of that which offers a sense of security and pleasantness according to the culture’s notions of order. He notes that our conception of self-consciousness and the intellect is how we proudly distinguish ourselves from other animals, and that should we dare dispense such notions, we would be doing away with humanity itself.

Schürmann, Reiner. “Neoplatonic Henology as an Overcoming of Metaphysics”. Research in Phenomenology. 13 (1):25-41 (1983).

Reiner Schurmann cites Martin Heidegger as one of several important breaks in a relatively fluid and foundational character of introspect that revisits certain conceptions of Being, and being and becoming. He notes the consistency inherent to a view of humanity as transcending corporeality and the natural world while identifying the intangible and intelligible aspect of this state . The author also notes the objectification of anything that can be perceived or relegated categorically as not Being, so that is it but a ‘thing’ with a character that is self-referencing (ready-at-hand, or utility, or associative form). The cultural priority and value of the mind, merely in it’s habit of function, is traced throughout the article in association with theo-centricity and negative metaphysics. Questions surrounding what is meant by and intended when referring to the word “God”, provide a means of framing early and later ‘breaks’ in philosophical thought. The author identifies these cultural relational through-lines with henology, as a particularly revealing stream or focus of philosophy that brings historically premised queries to light.
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One thought on “Biblio : Phenomenology Primers

  1. Pingback: A Synchronous Self | scrapaduq

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