Against the Modern World: As If Only Heidegger Can Save Us Now

imagesKali Tribune proudly presents an article by premier Croatian, and in our opinion, European, philosopher of post-WW II period, Marijan Cipra (Marian Tsipra) almost nobody knows nothing about both in Croatia and Europe. This 1986. article deconstructs Heidegger’s phenomenological mess and proceeds to proclaim the need of the negation of  a negation – a rebellion against the modern world, whose notable intellectual nusproduct is Heideggerian philosophy.

“Nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten” (“Only a God can save us now.” M. Heidegger, Interview, »Der Spiegel«, 1966.)

Whenever and wherever there’s a mention of Heidegger, an original (von je) problem hits me: Heidegger’s philosophizing, from my first encounter with it, essentially (wessentlich) fills me with antipathy.  And that’s why, whenever I have to think or say something about him, this original-from-always really weighs on me.

The last time it hit me was during the summer semester of 1979. at Heidegger’s alma mater of Freiburg, when, in attendance of seminary run by his pupil Werner Marx, we were working through Heidegger’s essay Frage nach der Technik. Namely, that was the moment when my antipathy for Heidegger merged with even deeper antipathy for Werner Marx, who, while on the one hand resolutely (entschlossen), nay: sentence by sentence, combating modern technology, on the other hand, as everyone knew, had his own (eigene) existence firmly (authentically?) founded, not so much philosophically, as a professor of philosophy, but rather pragmatically by stock speculations in contemporary technology. This made me finally and definitely (endlich) sick of Heidegger and such philosophy and philosophers in general.

At the outset I must note that I share all philosophically more or less relevant criticisms of Heidegger. I agree with Husserl that “Sein und Zeit” is “a repeated fall in psychologism” (in fact it’s “antropologism”); I agree with Jaspers that “Heidergger doesn’t know what the freedom is”; I agree with Cassirer’s reply to Heidegger, that he has to “shake away the earthly fear”; I agree above all with witty Scheler’s remark that “before or besides this philosophy of everydayness, we need a philosophy of Sundays (Sonntags-philosophie)” – and, last but not the least, regarding Heidegger I stand by Lukaczs’ less witty, but not entirely wrong,  formulation that in Heidegger it is all about “Ash Wednesday and Katzenjammer of parasitic subjectivism”

I deem myself entitled to approach Heidegger with antipathy based on his own teaching, which proclaims: “Two equally original modes of the Being of There- (‘Da-‘ as in ‘Dasein’, KT), we observe in disclosing-sensitivity (Befindlichkeit) and understanding (Verstehen) (“Sein und Zeit”, § 28). “What we ontologically indicate and name disclosing-sensitivity is ontically the most familiar and the most common: a mood, being in the mood (Stimmung, Bestimmtsein).” Therefore, the primacy in grasping the Truth doesn’t belong to knowledge and volition but “mood is the primary mode of Being-There (Dasein), in which it is disclosed to itself before any cognition or volition, and overcoming the range of what they can disclose.” (§ 29, further) The understanding is, consequently, of equal value because “disclosing-sensitivity always has it’s understanding, although repressing it. Understanding is always in the some mode of mood” (§ 31)

Well, if that’s how things are, then in the name of philosophical sincerity and honesty, or rather out of the love for the Truth, while being fully supported by Heidegger’s text, I’ll proceed by not repressing my original mode of being-towards-Heidegger – my original pathe – namely: anti-patheia pros Heidegger.

For, how could I unlock (erschlisen) Heidegger, following his own methodological dictum, if I omit the a priori mood, which makes possible original understanding of Heidegger? Without disclosing-sensitive, by being a-pathic, we cannot understand anything, let alone him.

The only remaining question is: through which mood could we approach the understanding of Heidegger?

Could it be, perhaps, by the first one Heidegger mentions (§ 30) – fear as a mode of disclosing sensibility? Or by the fundamental mood – the angst , as unique mode of understanding of Dasein (§ 40). Or, finally, by that mood which discloses the entire existential structure of Dasein, i.e. it’s being disclosed as care (Sorge)? “The care, as an original unity of the structure, lays existentially-apriori ‘before’, that is to say: it is always present in every mode of ‘behavior’ or ‘state’ od Dasein. Therefore, this phenomenon doesn’t express some primacy of practical over theoretical. Defining of something objectively existing solely by act of cognition is no less conditioned by care, than some kind of political action or an act of amusement. Both theory and practice are modalities of a being whose Being must be defined as ‘care’” (§ 41).

However – is it not obvious that I could get the best grasp of Heidergger through fear? Well, that would be possible if he was still alive so I get accidentally “thrown” (Geworfen) on one of his exams or contingently get to “con-jucate” (Mit-sein) with him on some dinner party in Todtnauberg. Or perhaps I could cling to angst? But the angst, as we know from Was ist Metaphysik, discloses only Nothing.

If we exclude other moods as, for instance: hope, faith and charity or courage, wisdom, temperance and justice, which Heidegger himself excludes (or never grasps in the first place) and denies them to Dasein, we are left only with two: sym-patheia or anti-patheia for him.

Well, that’s how he himself approached philosophy. He had fundamental sympathy for early Greeks and Hölderlin. For Christian theology and philosophy he displayed mixed mood of sympathy and antipathy – namely, Heidegger appropriated almost entire Christian-Augustinian tradition (care, being-fallen, guilt, conscience, presence, advent – above all the problem of time and temporality and, consequently, history and historicity), inclusive with German mysticism (Gelassenheit – Meister Eckhart) and Protestant Kierkegaard – all this, of course, minus Divine transcendence.

However Heidegger’s antipathy towards Descartes and Hegel, the later retaining any meaning for him only in his relation to the Greeks, is absolute.

Kant is here a problem apart. In him he sympathizes with finitude of sensual receptivity, and, by consequence, imagination and reason; also with supposed Kant’s backing down from insight into radical finitude and temporality of human existence

But what about the pure mind and it’s ideas of freedom, immortality and God; what’s with the endless “should” and moral progress towards perfection, what’s with creative genius creating what is still-unseen and still-inexistent? Well, towards it all Heidegger a priori displays aggressive antipathy. Precisely the subject of mind – the fundamental topos of all traditional philosophical principles – gets by Heidegger’s verbal-etymological high jinks, transformed into plain: to hear, to understand (Vernunft-vernehmen), producing in aftermath violent and strained interpretations of fundamental philosophical texts.

And, let us notice, that out of all Prescoractics he just never tries to deal with Anaxagora and the idea of nous, not to speak of failing to put him in connection with Socrates, Plato (namely, his dialogue Phaedo), Aristotle (nous poietikos, pathetikos, amiges, horistos, thyrathen, etc.), all down to High Scholastics (Albert, Thomas Aquinas) ending in absolute conclusion of the problem developed in Hegel’s metaphysics of Absolute.

What, then, happened to that poor mind after Hegel?

Some talk about “destruction of mind” (Lukacsz), some about it’s “darkening” (Horkheimer), and not without right.

Of course, we’re not talking about rationalism or irrationalism. We mean something deeper, more profound and more important: the possibility of philosophy in any sense of the word. For, it’s not immaterial whether being is related to mind or not. Namely, it is a question of meaning and un-meaning, of mind and mindlessness of All. This is the thread upon which the destiny of philosophy hangs.

Moreover, the Being, world and history once existed without philosophy and perhaps they will persist without it in the future, but the question of mindfulness or mindlessness of All is the thread upon which hangs everything that is or could come to pass.

Post-Hegelian crisis is not merely the crisis of philosophy but the crisis of the mind itself which is equal to a crisis of All: the world, the man, God, Being – a veritable All-crisis. The decision made in the midst of this crisis is the one upon which everything depends – whether we sympathize or antipathize with this fact.

And “that one thing that is necessary” is only this decision. Only for it’s sake, only in the midst of it, from it, one has to be resolute (entschlossen).

Obviously, after Hegel, there came to pass, both in thinking and in actual reality, a certain “abandon of mind” which, perhaps, began long before in the ancient world, but became manifest only then. The rule of blind affects and the will deprived of ideas is fundamental characteristic of post-Hegelian Modernity.

This was clearly felt and expressed by premier thinkers of the age. By Marx in his formulation of radical humanism (“the man is the root of the man”) and world revolution born in the class hatred; by Nietzsche in his experience of nihilism and affect of loathing towards everything that is (the Great Loathing, “to understand everything means to loath everything”), and, finally, by Heidegger himself from affects of fear and angst, disclosing the congeniality of being and nothingness.

There we have three fundamental modern affects: hate, loathing and angst – wherefore it follows: revolutionary change or destruction of the world (Veränderung bzw. Vernichtung), will unto Overman stemming from loathing towards man and, finally, the angst of care, stemming from fundamental nothingness of existence.

To be modern in any of these senses – or indeed in all of them at once – consequently means: to be alone (Jemeinigkeit) in the world (in-der-Welt-sein), where everyone hates everyone, everyone loathes everyone, and everyone fears everyone.

In the midst of such Modernity, which represents a perfect deprivation of mind, it’s ultimate descend, Heidegger descends the deepest – that being, in my opinion, his major philosophical accomplishment. He grasps and lays out “the eminent”, in fact the only, possibility of such Modernity, and it is death.

“The death as a termination of Dasein is the eminent, relationless, certain and as such undetermined, peak potentiality of Dasein.” (§ 52)

Well, if the meaning of Being, or as Heidegger would later say: it’s truth, can always only be relative to Dasein, then the death as a termination of the damned thing is the death of meaning, or the truth, of Being. And this means it is the death of Being itself.

“Why are we compelled to presuppose that there is truth?”, “Being – not beings – comes-to-pass only insofar the truth comes-to-pass. And the truth ‘is’ only insofar the Dasein is. The ‘is’ of Being and truth is congenial.” “The idea that there are eternal truths will be proven only when the proof is given that Dasein was of eternity and will continue to exist into eternity. Every truth, in accordance to it’s mode of being is relative in relation to being of Dasein.” “One cannot refute the skeptic precisely because the truth cannot be “proven”. Skeptic, if he factually exists in the mode of negation of truth should not be refuted anyway. If he is, and if he understood himself in this mode of being, then he already extinguished his Dasein and, correspondingly, the truth, in the desperate act of suicide.” (§ 44.)

Etc, etc, etc …

These quotations make things crystal clear. The meaning of Being, the truth of Being, is relative to Dasein. There never was nor there will ever be eternal truths. The descend of and from mind into mindlessness is truly completed by Heidegger’s efforts.

If someone is still in doubt, I’ll give you one more real entschlosen quote of his: “The thinking commences only then when we realize that this, throughout centuries praised and exalted, mind is in fact the most stubborn enemy of thinking” (Holzwege 1950, 247).

What then is the true nature of such mind-less thinking, heralded by Heidegger, we are, quite naturally, never told by Heidegger himself. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t know where it stems from. Namely, it’s nothing else but Heidegger’s own philosophy.

There are no “two Heideggers”, and there is no “turn” (Kehre). It’s always the same mind-less thought.

So on what grounds can we call Heidegger a thinker at all?

Certainly not on the grounds of mind holding sway on philosophy from Parmenides, Heraclitus and Anaxagora up to the times of Hegel, but solely by following the thread of Heidegger’s destruction of philosophical tradition.

This destruction only seemingly aims to “loosen up petrified tradition” in order to clear up the “obfuscations” and getting us in more authentic touch with the truth of Being. For, as we have seen above, Being as relative to Dasein is for Heidegger originally (von je) congenial with nothingness. No destruction of tradition can bring us to authentic meaning of Being, because the a priori presupposition of “fundamental ontology” is radical “metaphysical isolation” of existence – individual and contingent, always “mine” (jemeinigkeit) Dasein.

As individual and contingent “always mine” existence is in principle deprived of being and mind – as such indemonstrable and ontologically ineffable. Individuum est ineffabile – as Scholastics very well knew; there is no thinking or speaking about non-being – as Parmenides very well knew.

So how come that Heidegger thinks, speaks and writes about Dasein and Being at all? Well, that’s easy. He’s just not doing it according to mind or being, or, above all, according to truth as a fundamental unity of mind and Being – but according to seeming, illusion (doxa). And what human faculty realizes (seemingly, of course) the illusion? It’s the art and generally everything we can name aesthetical. After Hegel, we have art to keep us from “dying of truth” (Nietzsche). And Heidegger’s method is in fact a method of artistic production. Sein und Zeit is a pseudo-work of art, because what is individual and contingent – the existence – can be grasped only aesthetically.

Precisely in Heidegger we see how Husserl’s phenomenological method, conceived originally as the sole foundation of philosophy as “strict science”, discloses it’s true face of being a method of aesthetical approach to reality.

But, from Plato to Hegel, the aesthetical is solely a seeming and shine of idea (Schein/Shein – in German meant to point out the shine as a manifestation of congeniality of illusion and seeming, KT), i.e. Being itself.

If the Being is congenial with nothing, always residing in the midst of it, then what we name aesthetical becomes seeming and shine of itself and in itself. That’s the meaning of Heidegger’s: sich-selbst-zeigendes-Phano-mens.

The illusion behind which there’s nothing, shine shining in itself, is a dark halo of Heidegger’s philosophy. It’s the deepest night striving resolutely and pathetically to install itself as a sole, eminent and original possibility of contemporary philosophy. Already in Hegel, the twilight was descending as he spoke about philosophy painting “gray on gray” – but this thing of Heidegger’s is a dead darkness, black night in which you even can’t say all the cows are black, because there are no cows, no stars, no nature, no world, no man, no God, no Being, no beings, no anything at all, but the night itself with it’s heavy and dark shine rules and sways over everything.

As Parmenid would say: “now you will hear my word about the false order where there the opposite dwells, dark night, it’s countenance troublesome and heavy” (fr. 53)

And, truly, if we are to follow Heidegger, we have to enter this dark night of lie and illusion, and take upon ourselves his toil and heaviness. Personally, I haven’t a slightest inclination to do something like that. Therefore, with all due antipathy, I reject Heidegger. I’m pretty entschlossen about it.

As for the method of destruction, I’m of the opinion that it itself should be destroyed. I demand a new Destructio destructionis – Destructio philosophorum – to paraphrase an old Arabian thinker. It presupposes a destruction of entire mindlessness of Modernity. Not a postmodern (as if anyone really knows what ‘postmodern’ means) but transmodern destruction, or, if you prefer, a critique of Modernity.

I propose a rebellion against the modern world. I propose a negation of the negation to bring us into new position toward All, and, consequently, towards philosophy and it’s tradition.

Tradition of philosophy was always a metaphysical tradition. Even negation and destruction of metaphysics is but a moment in the metamorphosis of metaphysics. The metaphysical content of philosophy cannot cease to be, but only change it’s form.

As Parmenid said:

“For, look: what escapes the mind is always present in it; the mind, namely, would never sever the being from the being, neither when it’s dispersed into cosmos nor when it’s contracted into one … and, continuously the All is … because being merges with being … everything is full of Being”.

Marijan Cipra


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