Preparation for the First Reading of the Eleventh Hour of the Work on the Principle of Reason, insofar as the First Reading of this Hour comes to Thought
This remark has a fundamental significance for every discourse about being, whether it occurs in this lecture or elsewhere in the thinking and pondering what has been thought. When we say “being,” when we say “is,” it is no hollow sound. We understand what we say, that is, what we articulate. At the same time we are at a loss when we have to say—here that means, when we have to bring into view—what we think. And we remain perplexed when we assent to the fact of what is historically the same, despite the various manners of representation, experiencing and expression. We gladly avoid being perplexed and take refuge in common opinions. Associated with being perplexed is the absence of any inkling about the fact that is what is most worthy of thought is what we thoughtlessly think in the word “being.” Yet the usual and customary manner in which we understand and speak of “being” resists letting one fault it as being careless and doing away with it. The customary sort of relation to “being” necessarily belongs to the way that humans, residing among beings, first and foremost respond to the Geschick of being. Therefore, even the thoughtful question of being always remains alien and disturbing, most of all for those who attempt to ask it. This points up a difference between the sciences and philosophy. In the former one has the excitement and the stimulation of the ever-novel and successful; in the latter one has the consternation of what is simply the same, of what does not admit of success because nothing can follow from it—this because thinking, insofar as it ponders being, thinks back into ground/reason, that is, its essence as the truth of being.
The whole lecture series contemplated, while wanting to think, the range: from the poetic which has “no why”, to the objectivity of the object, which itself points to the object that, according to the Macht principle, “has reason”. Which means, not that one who looks around will find the reason for something, but that in the Macht or Power of the what is there in the light of cognition is only insofar as it is causal. That was the shift in tonality, from looking aside to find the cause, to looking into the thinking of being as what in this epoch has a cause. Being became causal. What is done is gemacht. Here we see the limits of the Geschicht of being in the German language when it speaks of making experiences. The English speaker has experiences, but never makes experiences. The German is likely to say, in English, they have already made that experience. Poiesis, in Greek, is a making, contrasted with phusis, which is what comes forth on its own. This is not like the distinction between nomos, the conventional, and phusis. It has another role to play in the origin of our human being.
Insofar as language can say something to us, even as we misuse it, it can never say what being would be without language. Thinking is more primordial a being than is the that or the what, yet, it is a being, and so conceals being as such. Truth is the essence of any thinking, so far as we know, of any thinking worthy of the name. If Thinking is already determined by what it says about the Geschick, as a rule, then Thinking is always what has the Truth for its essence. The whole lecture series was trying to shed the faintest light on the range of Truth, but not in order to ask more about the meaning of Truth, or about its essence, but in order to leap to a, one would say, if one could, new Thinking. Since we have to, hear, reflect on what is being Thought, we can only remain with Thinking as what our reflections are relative to, except that we leap according to something like a change in tonality. Tonality itself is relative to Language, at first to this or that utterance of language, such as the Mighty principle of Leibniz, where we see the decisive change, but ultimately to Language in its essence as what is “the house of being”. Sentences are always speaking to us as though they were reasons, grounds, insights into what is, yet in this speaking we listen not to Language, but rather to an articulation of the Truth of being, as this being, as what is brought forth in an epoch of the Geschick of Thinking.
“The customary sort of relation to “being” necessarily belongs to the way that humans, residing among beings, first and foremost respond to the Geschick of being.”
This sentence doesn’t tell us what “humans” means. If humans are thought as objects, from where does the objectness shine? It is only through humans that anything can be thought as an object at all, and be an object, as what always has a reason or cause. Humans, in the Thinking of Da-sein, never says something like, a biological organism with the capacity to reason, nor does it say, in the style of Erwin Schrodinger's essay called What is Life?, something like, information which gives commands which itself is identical to awareness which is the commanding of all movement, it does not pose a problem that could then be solved through making more experiences involving the seeking of what commands what will follow, in the manner of the first tonality of the principle of Leibnitz: nihil est sine ratione. Rather, Da-sein as human lets metaphysics come to its end, which is not to say overcomes metaphysics. The end means that the change in tonality must be spoken by being, be a reception of being: to seek the system of all objects, as the causal structure, is to let the objectness, as the way of thinking all objects, be. This has its concrete example in what we said about Russell in an earlier post, it is the fixation as a metaphysical determination about being. It fixes the seeking of all making of experince. But, the fixing of the seeking, and the things sought, each stand in thought as the “-” “play” of being which is both object and objectness of the object. Something worthy of our attention is to be found in the thinking of Arendt, insofar as the subject of why a certain meaning is Thought at all, would be welcome here, but our ignorance as yet forbids this inclusion, and so it is mentioned in passing as a possibility or power latent in the Thinking.
Insofar as the seriousness of this play becomes a purpose it becomes the standard by which the Thou as such derides and praises. Das Man, which is the opinion of the epoch, and speaks from the epoch, seeks more and more the ownmost of its epoch, as the Truth, as the True opinion. To prevent the determination of this ownmost is to despise oneself as obscurantist. To respect oneself is to achieve the demand of the Geschick even when the slow wits of das Man have not yet seen the Truth of it. Each deed is deemed Real, and a True piece of work, inssofar as it accords with the ownmost ground of the epoch. But to have Truth does not guarantee that one’s actions have not been empty, since Truth is the Truth of an epoch, and though it command through conviction from the essence of Truth, as what is authentic, it can not be more than the authentic arising of the abyss in the conviction of whoever rightly finds the center of self respect and self contempt of man as man. When this freedom is no longer grounded, it no longer commands at all, its tonality becomes that of life itself which is without meaning, that which swims in the pan-oceanic which has no target. When the Geschick comes into this ground, it asks, am I too such an epoch, the epoch of saying that there are epochs? The first epoch that refers back to being as such.
“This points up a difference between the sciences and philosophy. In the former one has the excitement and the stimulation of the ever-novel and successful; in the latter one has the consternation of what is simply the same, of what does not admit of success because nothing can follow from it—this because thinking, insofar as it ponders being, thinks back into ground/reason, that is, its essence as the truth of being.”
Here what is said is strange, since it Thinks, without claiming to Know, that from within the technological, where there are sciences, there is a philosophy which is not the technological. The Dogmatic and the Empirical would have another name: the Same. This is the meaning of a Critical Philosophy. When critical means the spirit of the Enlightenment, to bring everything to the question, to question Catholic universalism, to dissolve in the Reformation, to become the Frankfurt School, it does not speak of the Critical as what is the Same. Kant discovers the Critical, which was in a way always known (as was the principle of reason, it was: as though latent in its sleepiness, in its everyday somnolence and unnoticed exhaustion which one hardly listened to, and ostensibly concealed; not spoken explicitly as what is at issue), by criticizing Reason and finding, that like the thinking, e.g., of the parallel line, Reason is a being. Reason itself is never the Same, but it turns out to be the abyss. It is the abyss when it is measured against the condition for the possibility, when with Simmel condition and abyss becomes the fact and the value existentialism falls into the chatter of a superficial stance against dogma of all kinds: thus, the you can’t tell me about good or bad, about anything, it's only words. Ideology, brainwashing, a trick. Everything becomes justified out of the power of standing practices. In this way, the actual Geschick shows its Work: the essence of technicity as the firmness of the I shall not listen; whilst at the same time as the success of the I must have more intellectual stimulations; but, crucially, only as the interesting and the political which is always a non-thinking political that is relative to the Same.
The more the Same captivates the more man as man becomes an animal. Animal is always the concept of man, seen from man, as what is lower than man. There is no higher judge to say what is lower and what is higher in the Geschick. When cheap books are written, and passed off as philosophy, on the subject of an original material artifact prior to the existence of man, when one takes as proof of one’s origin information about a remote heat event, when one is impressed by the constant command of the causal structure active in the chemical structures of the genetic code, one falls to the Same, as by way of a Captivation which can not Think: that the sciences do not think is as much the case with man as man, insofar as the withdrawal of being becomes self-evident in the Same. When the Same is no longer recalled as being as such, it is a fixation on the Truth of being, as what is there, as the whatness that is there in the thereness which are both no longer remembered as beings, or, as beings which, however, are only beings under the being of beings as what always is. Only insofar as one sees this can one come into the attempt to think the essence of the epoch as the step towards the leap which is more than a leap in tonality of a word that states this or that.
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