terça-feira, 1 de novembro de 2011

A Night in Heidelberg—Part 2

                                           Voegelin's Writings on Heidegger

by Myron Moses Jackson

Voegelin's Response to Heidegger's "Magic"

As one may already suspect, Voegelin had little patience or sympathy for "the little magician from Messkirch." This was Heidegger’s nickname given by his students, according to Karl Löwith, who had been one of his most exceptional students, which is saying a lot considering the others–Strauss, Arendt, Marcuse to name only a few.

Löwith describes Heidegger’s masterful techniques that would razzle and dazzle his audiences:

He was a small dark man who knew how to cast a spell insofar as he could make disappear what he had a moment before presented. His lecture technique consisted in building up an edifice of ideas which he then proceeded to tear down, presenting the spellbound listeners with a riddle and then leaving them empty-handed.

This ability to cast a spell at times had very considerable consequences: it attracted more or less psychopathic personality types, and, after three years of guessing at riddles, one woman student took her own life.37

Voegelin was not willing to be taken in by the magic, especially since he had the opportunity while still in his twenties to visit and study in the US where he was introduced to a different tradition of thinking. He underwent a “cultural shock” which left him less patient and sympathetic to the problems and traditions he was familiar with in Germany and central Europe.

As he put it in Autobiographical Reflections, his experience in America caused his reading of Heidegger’s Being and Time to “. . . just run off. He did not impress me at all with Sein und Zeit,” he says, “because in the meanwhile, with John Dewey at Columbia and with Whitehead at Harvard, I was acquainted with English and American commonsense philosophy.”38

Heidegger had suffered as a “victim of his upbringing under the pressures of an orthodox environment.”39 In a public lecture entitled, The German University and the Order of German Society: A Reconsideration of the Nazi Era, given after his famous lectures Hitler and the Germans, Voegelin looks at “a philosopher, a pastor, and an historian” as prototypes reflecting “the character of German public life . . . .”40

Heidegger is the “philosopher”–a public figure of “social dominance” living in the “estrangement from spirit, [which is] the closure and the revolt against the ground.”41 Heidegger “had great linguistic and linguistic-philosophical ambitions, but in the matter of language had such little sensitivity that he was taken in by the author of Mein Kampf.”42

                                     "Zeigenden Zeichen des Zeigzeugs"

Voegelin describes Heidegger's famous formulations found in Being and Time as transposing “[factual] relationships of our everyday world into a linguistic medium that begins to take on an alliterative life of its own, and thus loses contact with the being itself. Language and fact have somehow separated from one another, and thought has correspondingly become estranged from reality.”

The alliterative character of Heidegger’s philosophical terminology is so vast that one can “. . . construct something of a philosophical dictionary, from A to Z; and proceeding through it, from the Anwesen des Answesenden [the presence of that which is present], to the Dingen des Dings [thinging of the thing] and the Nichten des Nichts [nothinging of the nothing], and on over finally to the zeigenden Zeichen des Zeigzeugs [pointed sign of the pointing implement], we could whip ourselves up into a reality-withdrawing state of linguistic delirium.”43

This follows in line with Voegelin’s observation that this is a phenomenon of “second realities,” a termed coined by Robert Musil where false images of reality are superimposed for the benefit and pleasure of the constructor. He says something similar in Hitler and the Germans, commenting on using language as the “house of being,” which is “nothing less than the rendering of Being transparent through the language of beings.”44 Voegelin points out that this is a deeply troubling move:

[N]ow it is certainly not Heidegger’s intention thus to characterize language as second reality, but he has in fact done that. That is to say, if language speaks, then the contact between thinking and language and between object and reality is interrupted, and these problems arise because one is no longer thinking in relation to reality.45

In a final section of the Hitler lectures entitled “Nonexperience of Transcendence Leading to Dehumanization,” Voegelin comments on Heidegger’s “compromise” in explaining Being and how it will “not do justice to the world-immanent existing things, to our experiences of transcendence, or to history.”46 Instead of discovering a path to overcome the mistaken belief that “all reality that does not have the manner of being of world-immanent existing things sinks into nonreality,” Heidegger offers his own “energetic contraction.”

When Voegelin proposes classifying "the realms of reason and the spirit as nonexistent reality" he contrasts his usage with Heidegger:

At all events, this manner of speaking seems actually clearer than Heidegger's attempt to claim the expression "existence" for the transcending being of man and, further, to connect it with the problem of historicity, since this attempt at a compromise will not do justice to the world-immananet existing things, to our experiences of transcendence, or to history. 47

Again, this is a case of an immanentization of Being concealed through the use of the expressions like “existentz” to suppress transcendence. As Voegelin stated in the Selected Correspondence Heidegger “has somehow [gotten] stuck in 18th century categories of metaphysics.”

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