terça-feira, 1 de novembro de 2011

Letters from Vöegelin part 2


                                                Avoiding Leibniz's Second Question

Analyses along these lines continue for Voegelin, one such being found in the essay, “On Debate and Existence,” where Heidegger's thought is compared with Gottfried Leibniz’s metaphysics.49 There are two questions that were most fundamental to Leibnitz: (1) Why is there something rathert nothing? and (2) Why is something as it is, and not different?

Voegelin complains that he “neglects the second one” that results in his “fundamental ontology” being “based on an incomplete analysis of existence.”50 So again this is a point of “classifying” the “techniques of construction” of “Second Realities,” when parts of reality are “omitted” or “neglected.”51

In his inaugural address at Munich University in 1957, entitled Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, Voegelin depicts Heidegger as a gnostic legend who clearly neglected certain modes of human experience

“Heidegger’s speculation occupies a significant place in the history of Western gnosticism. The construct of the closed process of being; the shutting off of immanent from world-transcendent being; the refusal to acknowledge the experiences of philia, eros, pistis (faith), and elpis (hope)–which were described and named by the Hellenic philosophers–as the ontic events wherein the soul participates in transcendent being and allows itself to be ordered by it; the refusal, thus, to acknowledge them as the events in which philosophy, especially Platonic philosophy, has its origin; and finally, the refusal to permit the very idea of a construct of a closed process of being to be called into question in the light of these events–all of this was, in varying degrees of clarity, doubtless to be found in the speculative Gnostics of the nineteenth century.

But Heidegger has reduced this complex to its essential structure and purged it of period-bound visions of the future. Gone are the ludicrous images of positivist, socialist, and super man. In their place Heidegger puts being itself, emptied of all content, to whose approaching power we must submit. As a result of this refining process, the nature of gnostic speculation can now be understood as the symbolic expression of an anticipation of salvation in which the power of being replaces the power of God and the parousia of being, the Parousia of Christ.”52
And as Voegelin stated in The Ecumenic Age, this important German thinker not only suffered spiritually, politically, and historically for his troubling political affiliations, but also philosophically–he “waited in vain” for the “parousia” of “epigonic Being.”53

This is characteristic of the modern variant of gnosticism. As Ellis Sandoz wrote: “Modern gnosticism is especially distinguishable from ancient gnosticism by renunciation of “vertical” or other-worldly transcendence and its proclamation of a “horizontal” transcendence or futuristic parousia of Being (Heidegger) or intramundane salvific doctrines as ultimate truth.”54

Two Appreciations: Walsh and Hughes

My goal has been to demonstrate that there is no affinity between Voegelin and Heidegger on issues of theology, ontology, and most certainly, politics. In a 1980 letter to Professor Kenneth Dorter, who had sent him a manuscript review of Anamnesis that suggested Voegelin had been influenced by Husserl and Heidegger, Voegelin replied: “But can one really call it an “influence,” when I have struggled for more than ten years with their various theories of consciousness to get away from their “influence” and find my way to philosophy?”55

When one philosophizes the nature of humanity will have to be at least implicitly assumed, something Heidegger in the Beiträge is not willing to do. Voegelin does it. He clearly gives a classical-Christian conception of human nature by declaring that “[the] nature of man is indeed in historical process in the sense that not the nature but its self-understanding is progressing historically.” (emphasis added).56

It is Heidegger’s inability to produce a viable philosophical anthropology to which we now must turn in the analysis of Hughes 57 and Walsh 58 in their understanding of Voegelin’s and Heidegger’s projects.

David Walsh discusses the parallels in tone between Voegelin’s very personal work Anamnesis and Heidegger’s “meditative” character displayed in the Beiträge. “Forgetfulness of Being, which begins, as Voegelin and Heidegger agree, in the advent of metaphysics, derives from forgetfulness of the source from which the differentiations of philosophy have derived.”59

As a critical ontology, Heidegger’s thought attempts to take Being seriously again and this is praiseworthy, especially when seeking to defossilize metaphysics. But Heidegger was less willing than Voegelin to “struggle against the intentionality [object-subject] model . . .” while “struggl[ing] against the confines of language itself, thereby rendering his own philosophic constructions ever more idiosyncratic or retreating into the poetic.”60

Perhaps this is why in critiquing the pitfalls of modernity Heidegger set out to make technological advancement into a “metaphor for the modern world” in a way Voegelin did not. “A more immediate concern for Voegelin was the political manifestation of the same Promethean Spirit–a fatality to which even Heidegger succumbed.”61

Glenn Hughes states that the most likely “cousin” to Voegelin’s theory of consciousness in modern philosophy is Heidegger’s existential analytic of Dasein.62 They both maintain that human consciousness is “the site in finite existence where meaning itself is illuminated.” 63 Also, they hold that our “intrinsic awareness” of not being our own ground or origin by which we independently move through reality–for Heidegger there is “throwness,” and Voegelin the pull of the divine .64 “Unlike Heidegger, [however] he does not see his philosophical perspective as revolutionary.”65 Hughes then quotes from Voegelin’s essay “Equivalences of Experience”:

“The validating question will have to be: Do we have to ignore or eclipse a major part of the historical field, in order to maintain the truth of the propositions . . . or are the propositions recognizably equivalent with the symbols created by our predecessors in the search of truth about human existence? The test of truth, to put it pointedly, will be the lack of originality in the propositions.”66

Hughes concludes that Heidegger’s Dasein as the “there” of the “clearing of Being” is in many ways equivalent with Voegelin’s “luminous participation” as consciousness in a “tension towards the ground.”67 Voegelin and Heidegger serve as thinkers who have sought to “deconstruct” the “anthropology of confrontation, in which consciousness and world remain in fixed alienation as the subject and object of finite being . . . But of the two it is Voegelin who has provided, not only the more satisfactory philosophical anthropology, but also a detailed philosophy of history consistent with understanding the primary fact of conscious existence to be participation in the Mystery of the Whole.”68

  Note: A-night-in-heidelberg-pt-2

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