terça-feira, 1 de novembro de 2011

Letters From Vöegelin

Distorting Schelling

This is a crucial point at which Voegelin and Heidegger diverge in their interpretations of Friedrich Schelling’s process theology.

In his 1936 lecture course on Schelling, Heidegger took the Essay on Human Freedom (1809) to be working towards an existential analytic of Dasein despite remaining within the tradition of ontotheology (1985). 26

With the explanation given of the Godhead’s movement and structure in Schelling, Heidegger believed him to go beyond all prior philosophical theology by giving a phenomenological account of the Godhead. God has a “shadow,” or a “ground” which “is in” Him but “is not” Him, such as is nature. Thus, there is a “presence and absence” or “revealing and concealing” structure by which Schelling has formulated God’s self-consciousness.

In contrast we have Voegelin appealing to a more modest phenomenology of “pure act” that still accounts for mystery, ineffability, and incomprehensibility of the divine.

This is the direction in which Schelling moved towards the end in his private thought, which was published posthumously when dealing with mythology and revelation–something of which Heidegger was most certainly aware but for some reason ignored! Perhaps this is why Voegelin tells Gurwitsch that he has “reservations” about Husserl’s “Transcendental Consciousness,”

And these reservations seem to have a certain significance, for one must not forget after all that Heidegger (let not his name be used in phenomenology) broke out into ontology because of his dissatisfaction with the status of the problematic. And what a bad ontology–since it shares with Husserl’s position the refusal to discuss the premises of philosophizing (emphasis added).27

A Failure of Transcendence

While still recovering from “a complicated gall bladder operation,” Voegelin comments on a poem by Wallace Stevens and its connection to Heidegger, Nietzsche and Hegel. It deals with the “'failure of transcendence' [which] does not mean the transcendence has failed, but that something is existentially wrong with the man who is the victim of such failure.” 28

Voegelin appeals to the title of Stevens’ poem, “The Course of the Particular” as the precise characterization that accompanies this “deformation of existence.”29

The “particular” individual caves in on itself, so to speak, by refusing to let the universal, absolute ground (God) operate, through which all things are manifested. When one wills or craves to be the ground it becomes “regrettable,” a case, Voegelin writes, with “which I could have pity, but I am unable to admire it, even if the experience is perfectly expressed (as it is also in the cases of Heidegger and Nietzsche).”30

This assessment is consistent with other harsh comments found in two letters on the Selected Correspondence dealing with Heidegger’s connection to religious experience. Commenting on a paper written by Jacob Taubes, Voegelin states that “Heidegger is much more deeply tied up in the intellectual problematic of our time than it would seem on the surface, since the good man never makes footnotes to indicate the sources of his motives for thought.” 31

In a letter to Francis G. Wilson at the University of Illinois, Voegelin states that Heidegger’s meaning of existence means “specifically human existence,” which can be read as a revolt (apatheia) towards the transcendental pole of existence expressed through the Beginning and the Beyond. 32

He then speculates “that a good deal of Heidegger is better understood if one assumes that he read Simmel’s Lebensanschauung and was fascinated by Simmel’s 'Immanenz der Transzendenz.' ”

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