The Art of Being

What is the meaning of Being? Does it mean to be present, or to be aware? Cathrine Zuckert tries to explain in her essay “The Politics of Derridean Deconstruction,” the delicate difference between philosophy and what we see as the particulars in the world, such as literature. Jaqcues Derrida tried to answer the puzzling question of what is called the “undecidables.” There is a certain gap between philosophy and literature; and in the case of the enlightenment, literature was a prominent mode for expression and thinking, that Derrida wanted to explore. When something is considered normal it has an intention and is present within the world. But what is it that gets us to what is normal? What is it that gets us to philosophy? What is the cause and what makes us develop and interpret things?
Derrida is not a fan of certain metaphysics in the likes of Heidegger and Neitchze. In fact, he makes a point to discourage the act of recalling and find a way to develop perceptions through the question of differences in the world and the nature of human beings. “Rather than attemot to re-call Being and all the oppressive political effects of metaphysics with it, Derrida concludes that we should avoid not merely the language, but the question of the meaning of Being altogether. He does so by arguing that everything is continually fractured and reconstructed by an emphatically non-ontological difference (pg. 350).” I believe that rather than focusing on what is present and what is known, Derrida wants to focus more on what is absent and what does not have an intention, I believe that the deconstruction for Derrida is the practice of finding out not what is possible, but what also is impossible, those that are called undecidables. Exploring only what is considered possible is not the pathway to developing a perception.
Derrida makes an argument against Neitzsche’s claim that, “no one controls the way he or she sees the world, much less the perspective of another (pg.350).” This common thought on the basis of metaphysics is the claim that Derrida is trying prove wrong. Believing that one does not have control over their own perceptions is a false argument on Derrida’s terms. “On the contrary, Derrida argues, all human beings constantly change the way they see the world without even realizing it. All receive a multitude of impressions from the external world which leave internal traces of which the human beings themselves are not aware. By deepening or writing over existing nerve “paths,” these internal traces nevertheless both determine and constantly change the categories into which the human being sorts the impressions he or she receives (pg. 351).” So here we, and Zuckert, clearly see the difference between Neitzsche’s metaphysics and the claim of Derrida. Metaphysics, I believe, makes the individual aware of certain instances in their life, they cannot control what they see, but they can control the perceptions they develop and are in more of a control of the developing perceptions. Derrida believes that each of these individuals have less control over what is perceived in their mind. They cannot simply determine what instances will go into what perceptions and so on, they are simply sorted in a way cannot be controlled, and therefore each human being has less control of the ever changing view of the world. I feel as though the presence of time can be applied to this argument. As we grow older, a perception that we might have had when we were in high school has turned into a completely different perception now. The addiction of new experiences can cause us to develop new insights into what has happened in the past. In this argument, no perception of instance is constant.
“Heidegger thought he was confronted with the possible end of man, because he was living at the end of history that had commenced with the dis-covery or e-vent of Being in Greece. But, Derrida suggests, if human existence is historical in the way Heidegger himself indicates, there is no reason to predict such an end. If human existence is essentially historical because it is essentially temporal, and time consists not of an unending sequence of discrete moments but each present moment is constituted only in relation to past and future, there is actually no such thing as the present. All that occurs and continually recurs is the conjunction (which is at the same time necessarily a disjunction) of past and future (pg. 352).” Derrida is claiming that the present does not exist and I believe that what he means by this claim is that the of all the instances that happen to us, we all perceive them according to what had happened in the past and what we will perceive in the future. The claim that human existence is essentially temporal says that it simply has a time line, and what happens in that timeline can only be constituted by the past instances or future instances, because they all have happened or are going to happen. Essentially in Derrida’s mind, things are never really happening to a person, in terms of their perceptions.
I believe that this is a point that can coincide with Derrida’s theory of deconstruction and the undecidables. “If the future is per se open and indeterminable, an end of history is as inconceivable as an unprecedented, totally inexplicable beginning ex nihilo on an utterly clean slate. If past and future exist only in con(dis)junction with one another, there is no future without a past. Dependant upon the future, the meaning of the past is also open and indeterminate. History has no necessary or predictable direction or end (pg. 352).” There is a balance here between what is possible and what is impossible. I believe that The instances that happen to us are possible but impossible at the same time. They both have a past presence and have a future cause. Time is on-going because the past cannot exists without the future and the future cannot exist without the past. The art of being consists of this delicate balance of the categorizing of instances. Deconstructing the meaning of being allows us to see how it is and get to a state of being.

Philosophy and Vico

How does one apply philosophy to the life that surrounds them? What exactly is philosophy? Much like other individuals who call themselves thinkers or philosophers, Giambattista Vico is trying to answer the ongoing question of philosophy in The New Science. Corruption is a common vice that Vico talks about. There is theme of avoiding vice in the world of attaining knowledge, and corruption is a vice that Vico tries to solve. Vico explores the question of why philosophy is for the benefit and the good of individuals. So how is philosophy relevant to the continuation of society and the human race? Is it needed for our survival as individuals living in a world where virtue is uncertain? I believe that this is so for Vico, as he explains in the conclusion of his work, theoretically the depletion of a society because of corruption and he explains why philosophy is such an important factor to the survival of a city or even in a deeper theory, ourselves.
“To be useful to the human race, philosophy must raise and direct weak and fallen man, not rend his nature or abandon him in his corruption (pg. 61, p. 129).” This is a very telling passage. I feel as though Vico is almost saying that we need philosophy to keep us from truly submitting to human nature. Philosophy is needed to direct us away from vice and lead us into a virtuous state. So Vico has made a claim here that philosophy has to have some sort of validation, and that is to be useful, or it cannot do good or maybe even exist. He is speaking like philosophy has choices, but I believe that the choice resides in the nature of man. If I man is weak and fallen, is it necessary that philosophy be present inside of his soul to be able to rend his nature? Maybe this rendering philosophy extends outside of the body and is purely universal? Or maybe it is a delicate balance of both that need to work together in order to lead the man to a better state. What does this say about our intellect as people and our understanding of the universals of the world around us?
I feel as though philosophy requires some sort of conditioning of the individual in order for them to become virtuous. In the conclusion of The New Science, Vico explains a scenario of the states of Rome and he explained reasoning as to why they fell from power. “But as the popular states became corrupt, so also did the philosophies. They descended to skepticism. Learned fools fell to calumniating the truth. Thence arose a false eloquence, ready to uphold either of the opposed sides of a case indifferently (pg. 423, p. 1102).” I believe this passage is saying that those peoples who suddenly came to vice, they only were denying the philosophies that they had learned for their society. The nature of indifference I feel does not allow philosophy to flourish, it only leaves people to their own weak and fallen nature. The states had descended to doubt and uncertainty on the premise of corrupt nature. I believe that this can be representative of an individual who has somehow distanced from the virtuous. If you cannot believe in the good of your soul, how can you live virtuously? Forming a false expression does not allow the individual to accept order in their life. I feel as though, for these states of Rome, and for us all, philosophy brings order, so we can make sense of ourselves. There is a delicate balance of understanding that particulars of our nature and knowing the universals of our environment, so as we can live peacefully and virtuously.
“Thus they caused the commonwealth to fall from a perfect liberty into the perfect tyranny of anarchy or the unchecked liberty of the free peoples, which is the worst of all tyrannies (pg. 423, p. 1102).” I believe that Vico is saying here that all people who submit to their own vices are barbarians of not only their own intellect, but intellect itself. Intellect leads into philosophy. It creates a pathway to finding the most virtuous part of ourselves and leads us to an orderly and productive life. So when we become susceptible to unbalance we can’t help but be consumed by disorder and pure bad nature. Being left to our own devises with no intellect whatsoever is bad in the opinion of Vico, and I feel as though he believes that understanding philosophy will take you to an orderly society and even life.
“It first ordains that there be found among these peoples a man like Augustus to arise and establish himself as a monarch and, by force of arms, take in hand all the institutions and all the laws, which, though sprung from liberty, no longer avail to regulate and hold it within bounds (pg. 423, p. 1102).” I believe that Vico is saying that we must find a remedy within ourselves, much like a city needs to find a person who possesses the virtue to bring the order out of a person. I almost think of philosophy to be the law that has “sprung from liberty.” I believe that philosophy is present within us, within the particulars and the things that we know as people. Philosophy will not simply come to us if we do nothing, it must be meant to be there.
“Then, if providence does not find such a remedy within, it seeks it outside. And since peoples so far corrupted have already become naturally slaves of their unrestrained passions…and in pursuit of the pleasures of their dissolute life are falling back into all the vices characteristic of the most abject slaves…providence decrees that they become slaves by the natural law of the gents (pg. 423, p.1105).” I believe that Vico is calling towards the natural vices that people have and the ability of the most fit to conquer them. I feel as though philosophy is intended for the fittest of those “slaves” that can overcome such vices. Human nature causes us to partake in such things that may takes us away from being virtuous. It is the purpose of philosophy to return us to a virtuous state.

Heidegger and the Pathway to Philosophy

How does one make sense of the world? Many people have tried and tried to explain the conditions of our world and the things that have come from it. Martin Heidegger fruitfully explains his mindset on the problems with modernity, history and philosophy in much of his work. The essence of being is a large topic to which he is not the sole undertaker of. The motions as to which philosophy is kept alive are an issue that Heidegger outlines in The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic. How do we come to a philosophy about an object, and idea, the world we live in? It is not necessarily the “origin,” but rather the “mode.” “Philosophy is not of course something objectively present and at hand, about which we can have and exchange opinion. Surely the idea of logic will have its origin in the idea of philosophy. But this says nothing about the mode and manner, how and in what order we conceive this dependence by origination (p. 6).” Heidegger is referring to the manner of metaphysics. So why must one have a full metaphysical understanding of physics to know the philosophy of our modern world?
The manner of something is the way in which this something is done. The mode of something is the form of which something exists. These two together create an understanding of our experiences that give us a better understanding of the world. Heidegger points out that we must not have a generalized view on the concept of philosophy and its beginnings, for that does not lead us into the overall problems and questions we face. There must be a pathway into the inner workings of philosophy, not something that simply surrounds the issues that lie within its boundaries. “One can never philosophize “in general,” but rather every genuine philosophical problem is, in each case, a single specific problem. But, on the other hand, no genuine philosophical problem is a so-called specialized problem, Every genuine problem is a fundamental problem (p. 7).” I feel that he is saying here that we must treat each detail with its own premises. One cannot think wholly about an issue without understanding the fundamentals of each argument or issue.
“For only then can the loosening produce an occasion for establishing and maintaining a direction toward philosophy and staying on course. That is indeed indisputable. But from this we can only immediately infer that the teacher of a certain way must already have in view the way’s discretion, that he really must have, as it were, already been where he wishes to take us (p. 7).” I believe that Heidegger is making a correlation between history and philosophy. In history we experience things, and we must experience things to have complete understanding of what happened. Having experienced certain things give way to new ideals that can help one gain a better understanding of the problem or teaching. Having the “discretion” of that way allows one person to have an authority of that way, in other words, the authority to understand it and teach it to others.
History is an important learning tool for developing an understanding of philosophy, Heidegger explains. “The ways of historical recollection and of reflection on the present are not two ways, but are both essential elements of every way toward the idea of philosophy (p. 8).” I feel as though he is saying here that both the past and the present are, together, important factors to understanding. But do we truly have an understanding of a history? WE cannot simply use our knowledge of the present to try and understand the knowledge of history, that concept is simply wrong for Heidegger. “This idea is to be defined not by out devising, say, so-called modern notion of philosophy, so that we may then consult the history of philosophy in retrospect to find out what has already been thought and intimated of our idea and what has not. Nor is it an appropriate procedure for is to pick out a philosophy from history, be it the philosophy of Plato or Aristotle, or of Liedniz or Kant, and simply install ourselves in it as in the presumptive truth, in order then to tailor and supplement it, as it were, for modern needs (p. 8).” I believe that Heidegger mentions these said philosophers because they are representative of a history of philosophy, especially Plato and Aristotle, who are both ancient philosophers. There is no way that we can truly understand history, simply because we were not there to experience it ourselves. There is no possible way we can imagine the past because we were not there. Heidegger is saying that we cannot simply take history and mold it and transform it to better our understanding of the essence of present philosophy, because we simply cannot understand the true teachings of history when we ourselves were not there. We can’t install the teachings of history for the sake of modern needs. Each experience brings about new ideals, so therefore each question of philosophy will be inherently different than the last one. So, in saying, the present question is inherently different than the question in history.
“The recollection from historicity is necessary not because we have already a long history of philosophy behind us, nor because piety demands that we also heed the ancients. Even if there were no explicit history of philosophy, it would still be necessary to go back and take up the tradition in which every human Dasein stands, whether it has a developed historical consciousness or not, and whether or not what it has to recollect is expressly called “philosophy.” (p. 9).” I believe that Heidegger is saying here that we must go back before history to have a true understanding of philosophy. He is not saying that we should go back to history for the pure fact that we must only see the ancient ways as the true or because history is the right and best, we must go back before this history. I feel like that hints to a claim that to gain an understanding there must be a new history, that is created by the experiences in which we gain ideal about a “new” philosophy. We must go back before history in order to understand. History and the present are treated as two separate questions in the eyes of Heidegger, but since we must go back before history to understand a philosophy, does that mean that true history that has already happened is not even relevant to the question at hand?