An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

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Gary Childress
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An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

I'm not a very avid reader, especially of relatively good scholarly sources on subjects. Most of my reading the past few years has been news on the Internet (or Rumornet perhaps). In order to break this habit I make the following resolution:

My resolution for 2015 is to try to read at least 1 essay or chapter per day from a scholarly book or source. Or alternatively listen to at least one audio section from a lecture or course from the Teaching Company or Melvin Bragg's BBC radio show "In Our Time", et al. Obviously there may be days where I am unable or even unwilling to complete the day's assignment, therefore, I will try to account for my progress in weeks. If, for whatever reason I skip a day I will try at the very least to account for 7 readings or audio lectures by the end of each week. Any extra readings I do will count as a credit toward the next week. The penultimate goal is 365 or more essays, chapters, or lectures for the year.

Instead of starting a new thread every time I read something, I'll use this thread as the single thread for posting my thoughts, reactions, progress reports and synopses of various things I read as I go along through the year. I probably won't be posting every day but I will at least try to post progress reports periodically.

Any and all helpful feedback, coaching and/or comments on my posts are welcome. Also feel free to join me on this quest of self improvement and enlightenment and do daily readings yourself and post your own responses in this thread to things you read as you progress through the year.

The next few days until January 1st will be a little time to "warm-up" for 2015. :D
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

Here is the "game plan" so far. Instead of jumping around from topic to topic I have decided to organize my readings around specific themes and philosophers. For example, to start off I have decided to immerse myself for the next several months (possibly the whole year) in the ideas of Martin Heidegger. Here is the booklist to tackle:

EDIT: Below is a revised list of readings as of 12/29/14

(1). Introduction to Phenomenology by Dermot Moran (specifically I'll be reading chapters 6 and 7 which deal with Heidegger)
(2). Heidegger: an Introduction by Richard Polt
(3). Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought by William J. Richardson
(Supplement 1). The Blackwell Companion to Heidegger ed. by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Mark A. Wrathall
(Supplement 2). The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger ed. by Charles Guignon

I've already read the first 3 Essays in the Blackwell Companion and am waiting on Cerbone's book to arrive by mail. Though I may skip around a bit with the supplemental essay collections and perhaps not even read all the essays I will shoot for reading the main books in the order listed above. The text by William Richardson is supposed to be very renowned from what I hear and from first glances it also appears to be very difficult reading. Therefore it will be the last in my list. I may or may not get completely through it as I may end up giving up if the reading is too difficult. But I'll give it a try. (The book is also over 700 pages in length.)
Last edited by Gary Childress on Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
artisticsolution
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by artisticsolution »

I look forward to your posts in 2015! :)
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

artisticsolution wrote:I look forward to your posts in 2015! :)
Many thanks for the encouragement artisticsolution! Likewise, I look forward to any help, feedback and/or suggestions others may be able to provide in response to my posts. And of course feel free to join in on this "Essay per day" campaign! :)
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

Currently in the middle of Chapter 6 in Moran's Introduction to Phenomenology. Most of chapter 6 is more or less a short biography of Heidegger's life and not a very interesting one (at least to me). Events are brushed over very briefly and not fleshed out very much. "This happened, then this, then this, then this." Not very interesting so far. I will continue on to finish the chapter today if I can but I hope Chapter 7 is a little more interesting and tries to develop Heidegger's thought a little more.

One interesting note, Moran's books does elaborate a little on Heidegger's "turn" around the 1930s, saying that Heidegger starts to see the world as more or less abandoned by the gods. It's an interesting journey to go from a prospective theologian to an almost secular one. Though, I'm not sure if it is fair to say or not that Heidegger has become an "atheist" because I would think there is some difference between saying the world has been "abandoned" by the gods versus saying that there are no gods to begin with. I guess I'm not sure how that plays out in the scheme of theism versus atheism. Moran notes in his text a phrase from Nietzsche, "2000 years and no new God!" Interesting phrase...
tbieter
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by tbieter »

artisticsolution wrote:I look forward to your posts in 2015! :)
Me too.

I've bookmarked this thread.

One year at the annual meeting of the American Maritain Association, when Heidegger was being discussed, I was startled when a philosopher spoke of Heidegger in the present tense. He addressed the Heidegger scholar on the panel: "Don't you think that in this area H is moving......"

Another year after an annual meeting, I began talking on the flight with the woman seated next to me. To my delight, she was a professor of poetry at the U of North Dakota and was also returning from a conference. Her favorite poet was Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I recommended to her Maritain's book "Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry" and talked about some of M's ideas therein. She instructed me on Browning. Then, at one point during our talk, she said: "Sometimes when I'm writing my poetry, I think and feel like I am Elizabeth." Then she seemed startled by what she had shared: "I've never told anyone that, not even my husband!"

I'm envious of these scholars. I've never had such an intimate relation with an author.

Does my lack of an intimate relation with an author indicate the difference between the scholar in literature and the dilettante?
:cry:
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

tbieter wrote:
artisticsolution wrote:I look forward to your posts in 2015! :)
Me too.

I've bookmarked this thread.

One year at the annual meeting of the American Maritain Association, when Heidegger was being discussed, I was startled when a philosopher spoke of Heidegger in the present tense. He addressed the Heidegger scholar on the panel: "Don't you think that in this area H is moving......"

Another year after an annual meeting, I began talking on the flight with the woman seated next to me. To my delight, she was a professor of poetry at the U of North Dakota and was also returning from a conference. Her favorite poet was Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I recommended to her Maritain's book "Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry" and talked about some of M's ideas therein. She instructed me on Browning. Then, at one point during our talk, she said: "Sometimes when I'm writing my poetry, I think and feel like I am Elizabeth." Then she seemed startled by what she had shared: "I've never told anyone that, not even my husband!"

I'm envious of these scholars. I've never had such an intimate relation with an author.

Does my lack of an intimate relation with an author indicate the difference between the scholar in literature and the dilettante?
:cry:
As a fellow "dilettante", I have to say that going to an annual meeting of such an association sounds fascinating to me. I am actually a little envious of you now! My biggest claim to fame is I played tennis a few times with the great granddaughter of poet Robert Frost. I've never been to any annual meetings of any scholarly society or much in the way of scholarly events but they sound very interesting on the face of it. Unfortunately, I'm not very big on traveling. Much more of a "Homebody" I guess. If they ever come to the Orlando Florida area please give me a head's up! :)
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

Just finished up Chapter 6 in Moran's book and now I see why most of Heidegger's biography was glossed over very briefly. Moran dedicated the last 2 sections of the Chapter to Heidegger's affiliation with the Nazis in a little greater detail than he did over other parts of his life. Definitely a dark cloud over Heidegger as it should be. Moran does make an interesting point, however, regarding H's affiliation with National Socialism:
Heidegger himself emphasized the importance of the work and not the individual in his own readings of the philosophers of the past. Thus, for instance, Frege's anti-Semitism should not distract us from his real contributions to logic.
However, Moran does note in the next sentance that:
What is challenging in Heidegger's case is to read critically his account of human destiny, of fate, of choosing a hero in Being and Time, and also to align his penetrating critique of global technologisation with his silence regarding the Holocaust. (Moran, p. 220)
I think these are fair points to make and Heidegger seems to have been pretty serious in his affiliation with the Nazis, although the Nazis later distanced themselves from him as he did to them. I don't think it is entirely fair to associate any reference to critiquing technological society and "choosing heroes" to the crimes of the Nazis much more than it is to associate Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces with Nazism. I'm inclined to think Heidegger scholars are fair to say that there is a way to separate Heidegger's philosophy from the appalling and disturbing events in Germany during the 1930s-1940s. I mean, going back to Campbell we could say that Campbell's work maybe could have inspired at least some young Americans to go off and join the military during Vietnam or some other controversial war. Heidegger does not call upon genocide and Campbell does not specifically call on people to go join the military to become a hero.

In any case the holocaust was a horrendous event and Heidegger's silence and lack of outrage over it is disappointing nonetheless. Definitely a dark and controversial affair, however, I will continue my brief study of his ideas in hopes that there is greater truth to be gleaned from them than petty hatred and bigotry toward other peoples.
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

Almost half way through chapter 7 now. I may just come out with a double today, finishing off two chapters instead of the projected 1 per day.

So far chapter 7 seems very interesting. I've studied Heidegger before, including in college and this reading campaign is starting to refresh my memory a bit (I haven't read much about Heidegger in probably almost 10 years). So far I'm liking Moran's chapter 7 as it touches more on Heidegger's key themes and ideas.

The chapter is divided into about 17 short sub parts, some of them as short as a page or a little less. One subpart is titled "Heidegger's Aristotle Interpretation (1922)" This part covers a manuscript sent to Paul Natorp as an application for a lecturing post at Marburg in 1923 (the third such attempt by Heidegger at this particular office which he finally won). According to Moran (p.225), the document contained some early ground work for ideas which would later show up in Being and Time.

One such idea is that of turning to the past (or perhaps deconstructing what has led up to the present) to recover a lost sense of the meaning of Being. It seems here that Heidegger points to the Early Greek-Christian outlook as a kind of exemplary way of looking at the world. In many senses I think this makes Heidegger very much a kind of philosophical "reactionary" of sorts, in so far as he wants to "turn back the clock" to recover some sort of idyllic past. I can definitely see a tie in here with the German romantics. The idea of the past being almost utopic from which civilization has since "fallen". In many ways I suppose it's maybe even Platonic as I believe Plato viewed society of his time as having devolved from the perfect form of the state (If I recall correctly, I may be wrong).

It is sort of an interesting (and pervasive) feature of Heidegger that he seems very much opposed to the idea of "progress" in the sense that technology and knowledge for many of us are things that improve or help the human situation over time. In fact, I think maybe one could view H's entire enterprise as an attempt form the very beginning to undermine technology in an almost cynical (in some ways akin to Diogenes of Sinope) sort of way. So I guess my question might be, is Heidegger here being a "cynic" (in the sense that he devalues technology) and is he essentially turning the world on its head, making what most of us see as the less good seem like the greater good? Instead of progress and improvement in human history, H sees mostly regress and degeneration?

After I'm finished with chapter 7 of Moran's book (the last chapter dealing specifically with the work of Heidegger) I will probably turn to essay #8 in the Blackwell Companion to Heidegger which specifically deals with Heidegger's views of the Ancient Greeks. The essay is titled "Heidegger and the Greeks" by Carol J. White.
artisticsolution
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by artisticsolution »

tbieter wrote:
artisticsolution wrote:I look forward to your posts in 2015! :)
Me too.

I've bookmarked this thread.

One year at the annual meeting of the American Maritain Association, when Heidegger was being discussed, I was startled when a philosopher spoke of Heidegger in the present tense. He addressed the Heidegger scholar on the panel: "Don't you think that in this area H is moving......"

Another year after an annual meeting, I began talking on the flight with the woman seated next to me. To my delight, she was a professor of poetry at the U of North Dakota and was also returning from a conference. Her favorite poet was Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I recommended to her Maritain's book "Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry" and talked about some of M's ideas therein. She instructed me on Browning. Then, at one point during our talk, she said: "Sometimes when I'm writing my poetry, I think and feel like I am Elizabeth." Then she seemed startled by what she had shared: "I've never told anyone that, not even my husband!"

I'm envious of these scholars. I've never had such an intimate relation with an author.

Does my lack of an intimate relation with an author indicate the difference between the scholar in literature and the dilettante?
:cry:
No, it just means you're like no one else....and boy can I attest to that! :P
tbieter
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by tbieter »

artisticsolution wrote:
tbieter wrote:
artisticsolution wrote:I look forward to your posts in 2015! :)
Me too.

I've bookmarked this thread.

One year at the annual meeting of the American Maritain Association, when Heidegger was being discussed, I was startled when a philosopher spoke of Heidegger in the present tense. He addressed the Heidegger scholar on the panel: "Don't you think that in this area H is moving......"

Another year after an annual meeting, I began talking on the flight with the woman seated next to me. To my delight, she was a professor of poetry at the U of North Dakota and was also returning from a conference. Her favorite poet was Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I recommended to her Maritain's book "Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry" and talked about some of M's ideas therein. She instructed me on Browning. Then, at one point during our talk, she said: "Sometimes when I'm writing my poetry, I think and feel like I am Elizabeth." Then she seemed startled by what she had shared: "I've never told anyone that, not even my husband!"

I'm envious of these scholars. I've never had such an intimate relation with an author.

Does my lack of an intimate relation with an author indicate the difference between the scholar in literature and the dilettante?
:cry:
No, it just means you're like no one else....and boy can I attest to that! :P
I love your paintings I'm studying them and surrealism. :D
artisticsolution
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by artisticsolution »

tbieter wrote: I love your paintings I'm studying them and surrealism. :D
Thank you, Tom. Look up lowbrow and Pop Surrealism too....if you do a google search and then click at the top on 'images' you will see tons of paintings by fresh artists of today. They are amazing!

Funny thing since the movie Big Eyes came out I have had tons of commissions for Big Eye portraits. And a big eye painting of a little fairy girl that I had listed forever, finally sold! I am very glad that Keane is getting recognition she so deserves. Haven't had time to see the movie yet. :)

Sorry Gary, didn't mean to hijack your thread. I'll take this to the aesthetic department...lol.
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

artisticsolution wrote: Sorry Gary, didn't mean to hijack your thread. I'll take this to the aesthetic department...lol.
It's OK. At least my thread hasn't been completely ignored. :)
artisticsolution
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by artisticsolution »

Getting back to 'H'. It astounds me that someone so intelligent could be on the side of the Nazis. Tom once shared a book on here that I keep forgetting the name of...but it was about how people become followers of certain ideologies. My own sister admits to being racist because she 'can't help it and doesn't know why.' I have to admit, that the idea of not being able to control ones mind to the point of hating whole groups of people scares the b'jesus out of me. I just don't get it....I think it's the most frightening thing about humanity.
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

artisticsolution wrote:Getting back to 'H'. It astounds me that someone so intelligent could be on the side of the Nazis. Tom once shared a book on here that I keep forgetting the name of...but it was about how people become followers of certain ideologies. My own sister admits to being racist because she 'can't help it and doesn't know why.' I have to admit, that the idea of not being able to control ones mind to the point of hating whole groups of people scares the b'jesus out of me. I just don't get it....I think it's the most frightening thing about humanity.
It sort of reminds me of a comment Noam Chomsky made in an interview and which Hannah Arendt also sort of echoes a bit in that the scariest thing is not that there are Hitlers in the world but that ordinary people often seem to allow the Hitlers to accomplish what they set out to accomplish and even cooperate with them. The Germans as a society were very efficient at all the things they did in the 1930s and 1940s. They performed the most horrendous tasks with the utmost agility and skill, whether it was people like Eichmann ensuring that the trains to the death camps ran on time or whether it was the Mansteins who performed brilliantly in military strategy which led to horrendous suffering on the part of many civilians.

Moran points to a very controversial and sobering statement H made after the war regarding technology and the holocaust:
Agriculture is now a motorized food-industry-- in essence the same as the manufacturing of corpses in gas chambers and extermination camps, the same as the blockading and starving of nations, the same as the manufacture of hydrogen bombs. (quoted in Moran, p.217)
To me it's a very eerie statement but seemingly true in many ways. If we humans end up exterminating ourselves we will do it in the most efficient technological manner we are able. We raise, kill and butcher livestock in agri-industry in very brutal and impersonal ways, very different in many ways from more traditional methods of farming and raising livestock (which is why I am a pescetarian). If we end up running ourselves over a cliff, our map makers would find us the shortest route and our engineers the most efficient means of getting us over the cliff in the greatest numbers. Very sobering thoughts. :(
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