A sketch pertaining to the constellation of Strauss, Heidegger and Nietzsche

J. Broder

An Investigation into the Possibility of the Genetic Circle


Paideia is supposed to first show us how to proceed. In Plato’s Laws the Muses first instruct the children. There is no paideia in the Genetic Circle because it is something we only notice after we have gone on a little way. The point when we question our thoughts is the moment of the start. But as soon as we set out again we lose sight of the beginning. 

Running around in circles is a thing worthy of mockery. Plato says of the Hericliteans in his Theatatus, that they are “themselves in flux”. This is meant as ridicule, for the Hericliteans are like smudged ink. They are “muddled”, or made clouded. They have caught the wings of a hummingbird in the snare of their souls. To move or act inconclusively, to circle, to go around in circles seems idiotic. Why not first start from some place and then say something? We have, but then, when we notice it, we start again. The concept of a circle may or may not be adequate. One knows what a chair is. Because an adequate concept is there. It doesn't mean that one knows all the subtle niceties of the art of making chairs, or that one has knowledge of everything that is not trivial concerning the possibility of chairs, but only that one knows of chairs perfectly well. 

Spinoza says, following Machiavelli, what is perfect is brought over to nature by a metaphore. Since first the incomplete plan of a builder, e.g., of chairs or cabinets or anything else, labours to complete his plan. If he does that he perfects his design. But in nature there is no perfection. What is perfect, however, in contradistinction to this that Spinoza speaks, is the concept. We know what a chair is, and we know what the moon is, and an alley and a large tree branch and the wind that rocks it high in its upper boughs. In all this we think a great many things, that all might be torn away at any moment. 

If I observe that in others, what is left tacit, and not made explicit, is the product of so many things learned, and often from early youth, I posit an account about what now happens. Likewise, when I assume that there is something practical, that are, as Goethe called it, the “demands of the day”, or as Heidegger called it, cares, are sound as a basis for thinking, I too, say what is a circle. There are many arcs, thus, to be navigated. Heidegger says, these are not cares, but Care. Kant says, if what Hume said were right, there would be no concept of Cause. Cause should have been shown not to be as it is thought. For Cause is the same as that a change has a reason. Heidegger says, it is History that brings these swaying concepts to bare on the things, and through them we are. The magic and the necromancy lie in the concrete thinking through, in actuality, of the concepts. Then, after long thinking, one thinks them like the reader who has no difficulty in dealing with what is set out on the page.   

There are two classes that are discussed in modern times, the scientists and the philosophers*. I speak from the genetic point of the contemporary. Because here, we do not know about how these categories arose. Someone says, at a certain moment the successful part of philosophy became science. That for a moment craft was supposed to have a theory behind it that was not challengeable, that was like simple mathamatics, and was recognized by all honest and intelligent people. Later, this view was abandoned, just as the view of the individual who precedes society in the state of nature was discarded and the doctrine of rights and individuality remained even after the view that originated it was cast aside and discredited. We know all this. But what do “science” and “philosophy” say today? Science is the interest in the visible world. Thus, Thales who measured the height of the Egyptian pyramids by their shadows, at the moment when his shadow was the same length as his height, concerned himself with what could be seen. But the philosophers concern themselves with the nature of things. With the essence. Thus with the character. He is an irascible man, she is a lazy person. We speak of the way they will manage themselves, the way they direct themselves. The thinkers say that both what is directional and what is visible exist. And the things that exist are called things by science and beings by philosophers. And the thinkers say of beings that exist there is a Being. By parallel, of sounds that are heard there is Sound. Of what is there, in this case a table or the afternoon sunlight, there is There. The There is what we always find, but the things there bring what is said into falsity. Since they are there and then not there. Likewise, Being is always, but the There is Being. 

All these things, using “things” as a vague denoter in the tones of common sense, might be thought as being disclosed by speach. Thus as being represented. Knowledge is thought as episteme in this case, in the Greek manner. Or they might be thought as through speach, in the way one reads what is written by and through the typed words. Reading is for the typed words, and we learn to read by reading the typed or written words. In so far as language discloses it does not speak, because speaking is for the sake of the world, but disclosing is what first allows the world to be. Thus form the time of Husserl judgments were not considered as the necessary ground of the logos, as the logic of what is determined in the judgment and stated. But instead a starting point form out of the gathering of the world was shown through what language shows in its being. Therefore Heidegger says, philosophy is not a science. And he means, the Thinker is for Being, not for what the beings can do, or how they can be known.  

The Genetic Circle as it pertains to two wars: That between Strauss and Heidegger and that between Heidegger and Nietzsche. Gadamer is called by Strauss a Heideggerian. Does this show that Strauss is loose in his usage, and though he always heeds the demands of proper speech, he thinks the “Heideggerian” without precision? Gadamer says language is for communication. Heidegger says, “so, you think language is for communication”, thus he ridiculus. Why does Strauss call Gadamer a Heideggerian? It is not because he does not think the matter over, it is because his way of determining allows Gadamer to be thought as Heideggerian. Firstly, the close personal contact is pertinent. Gadamer was a personal student of Heidegger. Heidegger participated in his early training and his entry into a professorship. And, too, unlike Strauss, they were together at Freiberg later. But this is not chiefly what Strauss is thinking of, what he is thinking of is the position that he regards as fatalist. What Strauss thinks is that on the one side there is the awe of the one whose glance falls on the “radical dispensation of fate”, and on the other there is the one who takes extraordinary pride in the competence of the mathematical certainty of making things. What is decisive is that Strauss thinks Gadamer as closer to those who reject what Cassier, in the discussion at Davos, called “breaking the sphere”, thus Kant’s escape from the merely visible world. Strauss holds that his own position is between the extremes. He says, the “primary evidence” for this possibility is as solid as it ever was. Strauss, tacitly, determines things this way: Historicism is not what it claims to be, it is not the question of Being, rather it is the question about god. Gadamer, too, says, Heidegger was all his life “a seeker after God”. The question of the ontotheological is settled this way, by Gadamer, who was far stupider than either Strauss or Heidegger, and unworthy of serious consideration, I straightforwardly take the god as thought traditionally, and then insert it in the place of the problem of Being. I see, of course, that the ontotheological schema is born out of the division of the whole and the many, is thought philosophically in the tradition, and so is faulty, but I do not take seriously the History that leads, according to necessity, to the opening of Being. I say, rather, the pagan god is again taken up, as if by the pagans themselves. I deny the entire philosophy, that named by the Rubric Heidegger, what belongs to it. This is also the case in present academic discussions.

Strauss, it goes without saying, is not so stupid. What determines Strauss is chiefly his own activity. Because Strauss says, I only try to see what they have said, Husserl and Heidegger, but I do not see it, thusly I go towards my own star. He determines chiefly by saying, so far as my own activity is concerned, I understand what they do thusly. But he never would think of saying, it is so. He says, rather, in my heart of hearts, I do not understand this work. Yet, the great philosophers may be the only ones who can see this far. Strauss says, I am not a philosopher, but an Historian of philosophy. Who today would admit such a thing, when every vacuous professor is sure that they have newly said something?  

This situation, understood in the Heideggerian fashion, reads: the finding of Kant is challenged, the historial thinking of Kant that determines the impossibility of essence is challenged. It is challenged and it may be challenged. Such a challenging is the same as the denial of the end of metaphysics. Under such condition the question of Being becomes a reverting to the pagan god of nature. Ultimately the position is coherent, and by Strauss's way of thinking, only the great thinkers can say something of worth at this point. If the thinking of Being has its own ground it can not be thought as “spiritual”. Or as a losing of oneself in the awe of the inner life, in the “wild and mystical”. Heidegger says, “there can be no higher judge” in such matters. Taken from the ground of Heidegger there is no possibility of retrieving Nature, such a project must be viewed as Nietzschean. The world essence holds sway as Will to Power, thus, in every case people say, do it thusly, change this, all of you follow what I prescribe to the whole. Everything is the infinite demand of the Will to Power, and of this Heidegger says, it is what holds sway in, within, the end of metaphysics. Nietzsche, rather, holds, there is no end, but only a life-giving lie. Then it is a matter of whether the genetics of the Historial have ultimate precedency, or the “life-giving lie”. Is the project of Husserl, the observation of the phenomenological intuition of beings, which prepares the Heideggerian work on Being, to be though Historialy, or as Will-to-Power, and thus under the “life-giving lie”? 

The concepts, in so far as they are thought concretely, and not schematically, and so brought into the life of the one who lives them. Do they hold sway, like something that raises its head before Being, at the gate of Being, or do they tell lies in order to serve the direction of life? Life, if it is denied a nature, what would that be? It is like being overtaken by darkness. 

Thought in the scientific way, first the natural law informs us what is stripped away. Looking to it we can gather the concept of the nihilistic. Thomas, let him stand for the clearest articulator of natural law, says, there is the principle of the individual, of the group, and of knowledge. Natural law first means, phusis is contrasted with nomos, and a very strange and impossible notion is suggested, that what is arbitrary and belongs to human fashion, i.e., law, can be in Nature. If the human is taken back to Nature it ceases to be Human, as in Rousseau. Thus, human ends must be from reason. Humans are still thought as rational. Kant can not lay down the moral law on the basis of reason, unless he can “break the sphere”, of the phenomenal world. The possibility is disputed, forgotten. The scientific view denies the essence of beings, both of individuals and groups. Political thought is shut down, political philosophy ends. Political science now exists. What remains is the tacit belief in knowledge. In the natural end of knowing. If Reason, as the rational animal’s specific difference is disputed and dismissed, for the reason that it is essence, no ground remains.  

* The diremption or tear between the scientists and the philosophers is decisively removed from the ordinary sense of those who test so-called motion and those who make so-called abstractions. It takes the sense of a split in Being, between animus as the directing, and anima as the objectivist object, the fact or body. The split is not “substantive”, but thought as something one can turn back and forth from, as it were, at any time and at will.

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