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To see how education can offer a space for contending with the ubiquitous problem of boredom, I first need to begin to define what boredom is and understand how it constitutes a “problem” for the pursuit of a flourishing life. The most vexing kind of boredom is what Heidegger describes as “existential boredom,” characterized by a disenchantment with life and a struggle to find meaning. In contrast to situational boredom, which ebbs and flows depending upon external conditions, existential boredom is often an enduring condition that, while affected by material conditions, is not reducible to them. Situational boredom points to a clear and immediate solution in some kind of action, while the cure for existential boredom is often unclear. Even more problematic, as I will argue, the avoidance of situational boredom intensifies existential boredom. The pervasive cures for situational boredom are the causes of existential boredom.
In this book, I make a case that schools should graduate students who know how to engage boredom productively when it arises. Rather than simply avoiding boredom or helplessly blaming boredom on something or someone else, such students take responsibility for their boredom. They develop internal resources for contending with boredom; they are adept and diplomatic at challenging boring circumstances, and they are equipped at finding worthwhile activities and practices that alleviate boredom. Such students acquire a capacity to discern a creative middle way between boredom avoidance, on the one hand, and stultifying boredom endurance, on the other hand. This middle way, I will argue, is the practice of leisure.
Boredom is an enduring problem. In response, schools often do one or both of the following: first, they endorse what novelist Walker Percy describes as a 'boredom avoidance scheme,' adopting new initiative after new initiative in the hope that boredom can be outrun altogether, or second, they compel students to accept boring situations as an inevitable part of life. Both strategies avoid serious reflection on this universal and troubling state of mind. In this book, Gary argues that schools should educate students on how to engage with boredom productively. Rather than being conditioned to avoid or blame boredom on something or someone else, students need to be given tools for dealing with their boredom. These tools provide them with internal resources that equip them to find worthwhile activities and practices to transform boredom into a more productive state of mind. This book addresses the ways students might gain these skills.
In this article, I discuss two approaches to the phenomenon of gesture, constituted by the existential dimension of embodiment, intersubjectivity, affectivity, and language: while Martin Heidegger states that human bodily movement as a whole should be understood as gesture in contrast to the spatial movement of things, Vilém Flusser integrates under this notion a multitude of human practices and activities that common sense hesitates to call gestures. The dilemma of the phenomenology of gesture consists in this tension between the plural concreteness of gestural appearances and the irrepressible temptation to identify a unitary layer that would allow them to hold together.
Whereas links between Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche and revolutionary extremism are debatable, Heidegger’s commitment to National Socialism is unquestionable. He saw Nazism as a revolution of the German people to throw off the alien values of liberalism and embrace their collective destiny in an encounter with global technology, the culmination of modernity. To a more radical degree than Marx and Nietzsche, Heidegger rejected everything that happened in history between the ancient Greeks and Germany’s destiny as valueless and totally alienating. He urged Germany to revive the pre-Socratic account of existence as violent strife and thereby resist the relentless working out of Platonic metaphysics in the form of technology, a dynamic for bringing all of existence under the control of rational efficiency. When Nazism failed, in Heidegger’s view by itself succumbing to the technological imperative, he abandoned hope in any political movement or people, forecasting instead a looming global encounter with technology in which all mankind would either become fodder for efficiency or emerge into a new epoch of closeness to all that is, the Shepherd of Being, an either/or choice or eschatological reversal resembling Marx’s dyad of bourgeoisie versus proletariat and Nietzsche’s dyad of Overman versus herd morality.
Tackles the two main issues of contention between Cassirer's and Heidegger’s interpretations of Kant. I first examine why Heidegger opposes his own ‘ontological reading’ of the first Critique to the ‘epistemological reading’ that he attributes to the Neo-Kantians. I clarify what this opposition entails and consider in what way it indeed applies to Cassirer (4.1). Next, I turn to Cassirer and Heidegger's more specific disagreement regarding the relevance of Kant's account of transcendental imagination. Remarkably, both thinkers not only value how this account attempts to undercut the artificial opposition between receptivity and spontaneity (4.2), but their agreement extends to the shared thesis that Kant ultimately did not succeed because he lacked a truly phenomenological method (4.3). Yet, Cassirer and Heidegger still radically part ways as soon as they evaluate why this (failed) attempt is so important: while Heidegger takes transcendental imagination as the ground of human reason’s finite nature, Cassirer concludes from the primacy of this faculty to the fundamentally spontaneous character of reason (4.4).
Reconstructs Heidegger’s well-known analysis of Dasein as analogous to his interpretation of Kant: I argue that Heidegger also views Dasein as a (pre-)ontological, phenomenological, and hermeneutic way of being. Demonstrating this requires a circular reading of the first book of Being and Time. Following Heidegger's own argumentation leads us from Dasein's usual and predominant understanding of being (6.1), through the structural moments of 'being-in-the-world' that constitute its possibility (6.2), to 'care' as the foundational unity of these conditions (6.3). Once this is established, reading Heidegger's magnum opus backwards shows that Dasein is at its core an ontological way of being due to its concern for the being of beings, enacts this concern in a phenomenological manner through its 'being-in', and is thereby both enabled and hindered by the hermeneutic situation of its everyday understanding (6.4). By distinguishing the argumentative procedure of Being in Time from the resulting picture of our human condition, this chapter provides a more systematic picture of Dasein's existential constitution than Heidegger managed to display.
Argues that Heidegger considers all three elements of his own view of the ‘concept and method’ of philosophy – ontology, phenomenology, and hermeneutics – to be at work in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. First, Heidegger's well-known ‘ontological reading’ of this work more specifically interprets it as a treatise on the possibility of general ontology (3.1). Further, he understands Kant’s critical approach as an attempt at developing the phenomenological method that such an ontology requires (3.2). Ultimately and most audaciously, Heidegger interprets the changes between the two editions of the first Critique as the result of Kant’s hermeneutical reflection upon this attempt (3.3). This chapter puts forward a new reading of Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (GA 3) and Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (GA 25), but also draws from What is a Thing? (GA 41), Logic: The Question of Truth (GA 21), and Einleitung in die Philosophie (GA 27).
Reconsiders the stakes of the Davos debate on the basis of my previous findings. I first summarize the established similarities and differences between Cassirer and Heidegger's philosophical projects. Next, I reinterpret their issues of contention in light of the starting point and aim (the terminus a quo and terminus ad quem, as they put it in Davos) of their philosophies, which, I argue, Cassirer and Heidegger failed to accurately compare. In this way, I show that Cassirer's and Heidegger’s thought, despite being grounded in irreconcilable ontological and methodological assumptions, can nevertheless positively incite each other. After all, they share a philosophical concern: to comprehend and aid the human being’s capacity to orient itself in and towards the world. This means that the Davos debate was an elaborate disagreement about a shared interest of profound significance for human life after all, or in other words a true philosophical debate.
Compares Cassirer and Heidegger's take on the human being's capacity to orient itself in the world in a meaningful way. Cassirer's theory of the functions of consciousness, the only meat to his functional conception of human subjectivity, is used to describe the diverse, cultural compasses by means of which the 'symbolic animal' navigates the human world (7.1). Heidegger's accounts of 'the they' and of owned ('authentic') existence in turn provide a theory of Dasein's capacity to orient itself within and towards its world (7.2). In view of their shared interest in orientation, I discern an important distinction for both Cassirer and Heidegger between an orienting and an oriented self. With regard to both, they ultimately disagree about the infinite (cultural) or finite (temporal) nature of the human being (7.3).
Offers a thorough reading of all texts in which Cassirer and Heidegger explicitly engaged with each other’s thought. I first sketch the philosophical context of the Davos debate, which constitutes only one moment of a dispute that started in 1923 and continued until the publication of Cassirer’s The Myth of the State in 1946 (1.1). Second, I argue that the public debate in Davos hinges on three interrelated topics: the proper interpretation of Kant’s philosophy, the human condition, and the task of philosophy. Concretely, I show that Cassirer and Heidegger’s diverging readings of Kant are motivated by their different views on the human condition, and that these views are in turn motivated by different conceptions of the task of philosophy, which I consider to be the fundamental breaking point between these two thinkers (1.2). Third, I explain that the same issues of contention also structure, in the same order and with the same increasing intensity, the entire, 23-year-long Cassirer‒Heidegger dispute (1.3).
Considers the implications of Cassirer and Heidegger’s respective conceptions of philosophy for their views on its existential task. Cassirer asserts a hierarchy among the cultural domains based on the self-understanding of symbolic consciousness (10.1). Heidegger navigates the dialectics between disowned, average, and owned selfhood (10.2). On this basis, I address the ultimate breaking point between Cassirer and Heidegger: their respective Enlightened and ‘therapeutic’ conception of the task of philosophy. While for Cassirer philosophy is the caretaker of our self-liberation through culture, for Heidegger it ought to help us reconcile with our ineradicable shortcomings ‒ the latter view is therapeutic in the psychoanalytic sense, it has no affinity with Wittgenstein's notion of philosophy as therapy.
Explains how Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant and his analysis of Dasein relate to the primary interest of his philosophical enterprise: the retrieval of the question of being. The introduction to Being and Time indicates that these three projects formally presuppose one another because Heidegger weds the ontological task of philosophy to its phenomenological and hermeneutical method (9.1). At the same time, this threefold conception of philosophy – ontology, phenomenology, hermeneutics – establishes a hermeneutic situation that informed Heidegger’s interpretations of Kant and Dasein (9.2). Heidegger admits to the circularity of this philosophical procedure, but defends it by distinguishing between a formal, a philosophical, and a factual ‘starting point’ of the ‘hermeneutical circle’ (9.3). At stake here is the relation between Dasein and philosophy, as well as Heidegger's contested choice to approach the meaning of being via our own existence.
The 1929 encounter between Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger in Davos, Switzerland is considered one of the most important intellectual debates of the twentieth century and a founding moment of continental philosophy. At the same time, many commentators have questioned the philosophical profundity and coherence of the actual debate. In this book, the first comprehensive philosophical analysis of the Davos debate, Simon Truwant challenges these critiques. He argues that Cassirer and Heidegger's disagreement about the meaning of Kant's philosophy is motivated by their different views about the human condition, which in turn are motivated by their opposing conceptions of what the task of philosophy ultimately should be. Truwant shows that Cassirer and Heidegger share a grand philosophical concern: to comprehend and aid the human being's capacity to orient itself in and towards the world.
This chapter shows how the modern thought that has shaped the current intellectual landscape played a role in the extermination of the Jews. Very often the millennial history of Christian antisemitism is blamed for the Holocaust. It is not so often, however, that the speculative philosophical tradition, particularly in the modern period, is taken to task. This chapter examines the ways in which the modern philosophical period is characterized by a process of thinking God out of the picture. From here Martin Heidegger emerges as the culmination of modern philosophical thought. Levinas has observed, “Heideggerian philosophy precisely marks the apogee of a thought in which the finite does not refer to the infinite … in which every deficiency is but weakness and every fault committed against oneself - the outcome of a long tradition of pride, heroism, domination, and cruelty. Heideggerian ontology subordinates the relation with the other to the relation with the neuter, Being, and it thus continues to exalt the will to power, whose legitimacy the other alone can unsettle, troubling good conscience.” This chapter demonstrates the truth of Levinas’s statement.
This chapter considers the place of the desert in relation, following Nietzsche and Heidegger, to the character of human development in the modern era – “the wasteland grows; woe to him who hides wastelands within”. It looks at Heidegger’s concern with technology and language, or the way technological progress has reduced language to “idle talk”, against which the only adequate resistance, as Heidegger saw in Hölderlin, is a rebirth of the poetic. It then looks at how language interconnects with politics and science through the work of Hannah Arendt, and her distinctions between labour, work, and action in The Human Condition. Here recovering language from the colonization of science, technology and mass data begins by restoring the forms of political discourse qua speech, which in turns requires dispensing with what Uwe Poerksen calls “plastic words” that professionalize, institutionalize and modularize language. The chapter concludes these thoughts by returning to Heidegger’s question of poetry, and specifically to words by Matthew Arnold, where the desert that is in our words might become our saving power.
While Manichaeism and Existentialism would seem to be two very different topics, they are intricately connected in Mailer’s work. Though as a young man Mailer maintained atheistic beliefs, his ideas shifted in the mid-1950s, and his evolving theory of existentialism became intricately tied to his developing spiritual ideology, which by the 1960s was shaping most of his writing. While he borrowed ideas from famed existential theorists like Kierkegaard and Sartre, Mailer formulated his own unique brand of existentialism, one that included the possibility of a God. The crux of existentialism in Mailer’s mind, as this chapter explains, was the ability to face down the unknown with courage, which in turn meant confronting the Manichaean idea that an imperfect God was constantly at war with the Devil.
Language incarnates the structurally absent sense or meaning of the mind in the presence of concrete, sensory signifiers. Dante displays the wholeness of sense in the fragmentary form of letters and even exacerbates their disintegration. So eternity appears as broken in time. Techniques of ekphrasis play with the discrepancy between different sensory modalities, bringing out their inevitable incompleteness, in order to open a perspective on the unrepresentable. However, the divine Logos ever since Heraclitus has been apprehended as a binding together of all things in making Being manifest, as Heidegger shows. The λέγειν or tying–binding that is the essence of language also for Dante (Convivio IV. vi. 3–4), is revealed through the historicality of language as something transcending, commanding, and mastering all possible human acts. The root sense of the Logos as tying and binding (legare) lies at the heart of Dante’s sense of the poet as binder (auieo) tying all things together through vowels as the ties between letters composing words. These figures evoke the already gathered Gathering that conditions the very possibility of history and event in their radical possibility as disclosure (aletheia). The reader gathers (leggere) what is gathered together already in Scripture, as well as in the world through the Logos revealed as universal Justice.
In 1960 Hans-Georg Gadamer, then a sixty-year-old German philosophy professor at Heidelberg, published Truth and Method ( Wahrheit und Methode). Although he had authored many essays, articles, and reviews, to this point Gadamer had published only one other book, his habilitation on Plato in 1931: Plato’s Dialectical Ethics. As a title for this work on a theory of interpretation, he first proposed to his publisher, Mohr Siebeck, “Philosophical Hermeneutics.” The publisher responded that “hermeneutics” was too obscure a term. Gadamer then proposed “Truth and Method” for a work that found, over time, great resonance and made “hermeneutics” and Gadamer’s name commonplace in intellectual circles worldwide. Truth and Method has been translated into many languages, including Chinese and Japanese. It found and still finds a receptive readership, in part, because, as the title suggests, it addresses large and central philosophical issues in an attempt to find a way between or beyond objectivism and relativism, and scientism and irrationalism. He accomplishes this by developing an account of what he takes to be the universal hermeneutic experience of understanding. Understanding, for Gadamer, is itself always a matter of interpretation. Understanding is also always a matter of language.
This chapter provides a biography of Gadamer and includes an overview of the philosophical work that Gadamer produced. It provides an account of his youth and education, his early career in Nazi Germany, and his career after World War II. He was named Rektor of Leipzig University in East Germany but gave up the position and came to West Germany, first to Frankfurt and then to Heidelberg. In 1960 he published Truth and Method, which slowly became recognized world-wide. He retired in 1968 and was very productive throughout his old age.