below: Sonnets, #77, 9
table of contents commented bibliography and index say what? noframes


Look what thy memory cannot contain
mmit to these waste blanks, and thou shall find
se children nursed, delivered from thy brain,
take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
Heidegger's revolutionary attempt to integrate thinking's openness to future, past, and present. His need to reshape Truth's meaning.
Mainstream thinkers whose thought struggled with issues involving time were able to focus the expression of their concerns with relative coherence, but always only on particular facets of time's actuality: Cassirer on mind's past, Whitehead on how we can conceptualize becoming, Dilthey and Husserl on how significance pours into the plenum of experienced presence.

All of these efforts can be felt to come up against a limit where they 'spin their wheels': in attempting to thematize time they demonstrate that they are out of their element: Virtually real? Thinking cannot re-present what belongs to time's experience. Only when thinking recognizes itself outside of standards set by its dependence on forming and using re-presentations such as ideas can such limits dissolve: Those bridges with other times; 'mental pictures', words and especially ideas; are made-to-stand by the part of presence we are able to divert from the actual present; that part of presence we use for re-presenting then comes to persuade us to accept it as the entire measure of what is actually present.

Martin Heidegger
Nietzsche and Steiner already felt the need to escape from this trap and prescribed far-reaching antidotes whose principles have been given summaries above. But it was Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), who, through synthesizing Husserl's phenomenology and Dilthey's hermeneutics, for the first time allowed methodical thinking to approach the involvement of thinking in representation from outside of representation.

fins or feet? For thinking to emerge from the element of representation and find footing elsewhere - even if only at first to get a handle on how we are dominated by representation - bears some analogy to life's emergence from the waters hundreds of millions of years ago: Words that used to function quite well in the space of pictures, as had the old fishy organs in water, first find still inefficient points of leverage in their new media.
One case is the word horizon. Heidegger depends on this word, but for him it refers to mind's temporal surround rather than to the characteristics of spatial encirclement. Thinking trapped in representations can ONLY give spatial meaning to a horizon, since a representation necessarily has time frozen in it. But Heidegger usually meant 'horizon' to name how mind finds itself surrounded in TIME. Mind working in space finds itself oriented in its spatial horizon by experiencing dimensions, and we often add time to this as if it were also a dimension somehow forwards or backwards among the others.

I have outstood my time,
which is material
the tender of our present.

Heidegger's phenomenological constitution of the temporal ecstases exhibits that what we assume as past, present and future hold their ground as ongoing composition and overlay of more primordial and dynamic relations of tense. Hence 'againness' in its aspect summarizes the role of anticipation in the projections of experience sustaining futurity.

As Heidegger awoke to thinking outside of representations, he found that mind in time has orientation not adequately expressed by notions of dimension with their connotations of spatial extension. He chose the word ecstases to name how we are oriented in time's horizon. We can match our self-evident experience of three spatial dimensions with equally obvious experience of three temporal ecstases: Elihu Vedder's 'The Fates Gathering in the Stars' (1887) we ex-sist as involved in future, past and present. As a spatial dimension functions by offering a direction of 'no movement' in the other spatial dimensions (orthogonality), a temporal ecstasis establishes itself as an 'againness' or an 'alwaysness' or a 'stillness' which holds 'being-here' in the face of aspects of experience which manifest change.

Calling his principal work Being and Time, Heidegger meant further to assert that to realize Time's horizon fully we must account for what our temporal ecstases can tell us concerning what it is to be. (These elements of Heidegger's work emerge from intricate descriptions which establish conditions we here can only evoke.) Heidegger's challenge, to think outside of the element of representation, meant an immersion in mind's essential temporality even while bringing that temporality to description. Few thinkers have ever set themselves so stringent and demanding a task, one that reached so far as practice and yet tried to give strict account of itself as method. He could not allow his description to unfold alone in terms of any one of Time's three canvases, and he had to find a way to express how all three met for experience if he would show how mind possessed (or was possessed by) its horizon of Time.
Nor was this all: Heidegger had to find a new 'commons' for thinking - a public establishment able to serve the community of thinking. Even the notion of truth, philosophy's bedrock, required metamorphosis. No longer could thinking point to a content given by ideas, systems, facts, logics, or values as its touchstone. Philosophy as a whole now appeared to be a thing made out of ideas that had falsely lured thinking out of its true element, Time, and into the dimensions of representation.
Auguste Rodin's 'The Hand of God' (1898)
On what basis could the culture of thinking, thinkers' guidance of each other's thought, maintain itself? Heidegger's response was twofold. In concord with how physics, for example, began to define itself by the mathematical and physical tools it used to conduct its investigations, and how the arts gathered themselves by allowing what they fashioned to emphasize the methods by which those works were wrought; so thinking would know its practitioners and their work in the light of their methodical use of phenomenology and hermeneutics.

Raphael's 'The School of Athens' (1511)
Nevertheless, though science and art, in emphasizing method, found new freedom to move and change in time, thinking could not with this strategy alone be satisfied: Finally, thinking could not identify itself through any 'things' at all if it were to remain outside of representation - neither ideas nor the history of ideas would serve. Instead Heidegger turned toward a history of thinking, an approach intended to uncover and gather more than just their content from thinking's events. Heidegger's seminars on earlier thinkers brought to his students such a sense of those thinkers' presence and originality that his renown spread long before his works were published.
Heidegger worked toward recasting the history of philosophy into a community of thinkers connected by the new perceptive/interpretive methods in such a way as to explicitly leave room in each connection for resonances into thinking's other events. But for thinking thus to knit itself together required finding a way to grant personal experience a field of truth, a principle of authenticity.

...whose speechless song,
being many, seeming one...

Music also seamlessly supports intensely representational symbolisms, but crucially, in the tradition of composition, music is often named with only a form, a number, and a key, leaving the music's effect unconstrained by how representation might hold meaning.
the Busch's late Beethoven...
The Busch Quartet - most active during the 1930's
In music, which shares with thinking fundamental reception outside of re-presentation, differentiations of feeling have served to sound authenticity in gathering community within the history of musical performance and composition. Through feeling, music makes personal reference across thresholds of communicable experience. In the case of philosophy, however, and its reliance on grounds of truth, previous sitings of truth had supposed participation in principles of unification or the determination of degrees of verifiability - both of which first of all condition the possibility and status of representations.
Earlier, Rudolf Steiner had turned truth toward personal ethics on the basis of the adequacy of acts to the love expressed through them. (Thus in Steiner first steps are taken toward finding truth in essentially creative communicative acts.) Similarly, in Dilthey and Nietzsche, truth and the terms of life's temporal coherence and vital interests had been brought into conjunctions.

Though Heidegger was indeed beholden to Dilthey and Nietzsche for many things, when it came to authenticating thinking within its historical community, he felt it necessary to exhibit instead the complement or shadow of the experience of self-identity as the west has formed that experience around having and being ruled by ideas: where thinking could recognize its shadow, it would gather and realize the destiny belonging to its involvement in re-presentation. Such an approach allowed the history of thinking to concern itself with the same historical figures already found in the history of philosophy and gave the advantage also of closely thematizing representation itself from just outside of it.
This world's a city
of straying streets,
nd death's the market-place
where each one meets.

Thus according to Heidegger, the grounds of self-identity from which representation constitutes itself includes exposure to Nothingness: re-presenting draws its act from a field of possibility whose shape is fixed by the most personal and particular possibility - the possibility of personal non-existence.
Amiens Cathedral - (13th century) The experience of self-identity meets the boundaries of its representing in owning up to what is most particularly 'mine', the prospect of my own nothingness, my own possibility of possibility's impossibility. Here, at the no-thing between my possibilities and my impossibility, Time's horizonal ecstases gather in vertiginous temporal depth - an abyss - against which the re-presenting 'I' is given a sense for the meaning of Being. The entire destiny of western thought, likewise focused around re-presenting and identity, is likewise shadowed and surrounded by Nothing in such a way as to situate its unfolding as essentially involved with that question concerning the meaning of Being.

Not only, then, did Heidegger work to move thinking from the Space of representation into its native element, Time, but he tried to do this by resituating philosophy's entire investment in representing onto the new temporal foundations of a question concerning the meaning of Being authenticated amongst thinkers by a phenomenology of mortality. That community for thinking would depend on the intensification of self-experience by its exposure to mortality does not escape suspiciously Wagnerian overtones. Perhaps it will prove the high-water mark of what Steiner foretold as the millennial mission for human being of experiencing self-identity's separateness.

Furtwangler's Bruckner...
Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)

A still more apt musical parallel to Heidegger than Wagner would be Bruckner, whose spiritual preoccupation with mortality, however, incorporated no Wagnerian brotherhood or Liebestod. Furtwangler's conducting is uniquely helpful interpretively for both of these composers.

Heidegger's recasting of thinking's cultural coherence was good news because it allowed us to see thinking not only as first of all a human activity at the level of a community that stretched across many generations, but also as an exploration of a capacity whose limits we cannot anticipate. Steiner's earlier proclamation of the end of philosophy similarly meant to shift the ground of thinking toward the historically linked human community in its exercise of evolving faculties. (Steiner's coinage 'Anthroposophy' signifies as much on the basis of its roots.) The bad news in that aspect of Heidegger's work is that the history of western thinking is in fact so focused around planting in human beings an experience of self-identity cognate with having ideas and being ruled by ideas that a 'history of Being' gathered from western thinking turns out to be conspicuously forgetful and even one sided.

So when Heidegger harnessed the objectives of Aristotle and Aquinas, the narrative wiles of Hegel, Dilthey's and Husserl's methods, and the demands of Nietzsche, allowing thinking to discover itself in a new land, Heidegger may himself be reckoned the first to lose his way there. Heidegger's Being seems not so different from the shadow of the path that presence has taken as we have harnessed it in setting up our world around re-presenting. The shadow of such a 'knowable' world would sum it up in differences reminiscent of the way the void in modern physics shadows as an original and ultimate condition all of the conservations and symmetries that order energy and matter.
Gerhard Husch's recording
of Schubert's Winterreise
song cycle...
As Heidegger's Being means like a shadow that sums into oneness the world's economy of presence, so for Heidegger, the extremest verge of human authenticity happens as an aloneness shadowing the historical distillation of self-experience into the Cartesian cogito and its relatives.
Gustav Klimt's 'Death and Life' (1916)
But even if in the midst of our population explosion we do manage to fabricate a world where this aloneness will seem the truest truth, such a perspective flatly conflicts with the reality of life and what has given most people reason to live. A life's involvement in other life at all levels is evidently pervasive, and the feelings which give life its most basic experience of meaning have as their natural circumstances involvements with other lives. Such feeling which belongs to living goes undescribed in Heidegger, despite having an important place in Dilthey's work. We find in Heidegger no bridge to the sentient world from which we emerged, no story that gives place to our simple humanity, our roots in the pyramid of life.
before after
table of contents commented bibliography and index say what? noframes


From the perspective of this exposition, which concerns the evolution of experience, what thinkers think is notably less important than how they think. In point of fact, no thinker can tell you as much about the latter as would be most useful. Nevertheless the ways great thinkers have thought survives and connects beyond their thought's content. The particular strength of phenomenology, and to a lesser extent hermeneutics, as well as the efforts of individuals like Nietzsche and William James, is that they style their work as much as possible to show what they cannot tell, and struggle to maintain their thinking's how as a foreground issue. Heidegger was awfully good at this, and he left an 'entry level' text: What is Called Thinking, an absorbing, far-reaching, and deeply enjoyable read. Those who find themselves here, at the bottom of this page, reading these words, would, in my opinion, do well to seriously consider reading that book.

...lineup and alibi

I have outstood my time, which is material
To the tender of our present.

- Cymbeline, I, vi, 208
Who all in one pleasing note do sing,
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one...

- Sonnets, #8, 12
This world's a city of straying streets,
And death's the market-place where each one meets.
- Two Noble Kinsmen, I, v, 15

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