An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

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Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Gary Childress wrote:
Ginkgo wrote:
The phenomenology of Husserl, Heidegger and later existentialist philosophers is better shelved in favour of a modern philosophy of mind.

Unless you have a particular interest in phenomenology.

Just a suggestion.
My interest is in life and how it should best be lived (also one reason why I like Hellenist philosophy). Philosophy of mind is a noble and fascinating study but I also happen to agree in some respects with Heidegger that maybe there is a "technological" understanding of the world which perhaps does hinder our ability to live a more "authentic" existence. I view hard science as a tool but not necessarily as an "end in itself". I think many scientists are under the impression that science is the be all and end all of human activity.

Take the example of using drones to kill enemies. The study of "Philosophy of mind" lends itself well to the field of "artificial intelligence" which works well with the plans and aspirations of the military industrial complex. Perhaps real science is being hijacked by the defense industry to proverbially "build a better mousetrap". But philosophy stands back and asks, should we be building this mousetrap to begin with? Should we be trying to create AI and all the moral and ethical trappings that come with it? to me that is sort of a Heideggerian take on things and maybe what H was getting at all along. Sure he could maybe say it in more plain and straightforward language but... I guess he doesn't...
Science has been hijacked by the defence industry and military for a long time. You only have to think of the Manhattan Project.
And has "continental" philosophy been equally hijacked by the military industrial complex? It seems to me that many scientists like Sokal are more under the sway of the "defense" department than "continental" philosophy departments are. After all, what use are the ideas of Heidegger to the MIC? In some sense maybe "continental" philosophy is like the last refuge for those who simply don't want to be part of building better machines with which to destroy the human race. I don't see too much wrong with that.
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vegetariantaxidermy
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by vegetariantaxidermy »

Gary Childress wrote:
And has "continental" philosophy been equally hijacked by the military industrial complex? It seems to me that many scientists like Sokal are more under the sway of the "defense" department than "continental" philosophy departments are. After all, what use are the ideas of Heidegger to the MIC? In some sense maybe "continental" philosophy is like the last refuge for those who simply don't want to be part of building better machines with which to destroy the human race. I don't see too much wrong with that.
There are many branches of science that don't involve the military. Could you give an example of a use to the military of philosophers? The military is all about a robotic adherence to order and obedience. Thinking doesn't really come into it.
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Gary Childress wrote:
And has "continental" philosophy been equally hijacked by the military industrial complex? It seems to me that many scientists like Sokal are more under the sway of the "defense" department than "continental" philosophy departments are. After all, what use are the ideas of Heidegger to the MIC? In some sense maybe "continental" philosophy is like the last refuge for those who simply don't want to be part of building better machines with which to destroy the human race. I don't see too much wrong with that.
There are many branches of science that don't involve the military. Could you give an example of a use to the military of philosophers? The military is all about a robotic adherence to order and obedience. Thinking doesn't really come into it.
I don't know. AI is a hot topic right now and philosophy of mind is right along with it. I would think a good philosopher who can help clarify things in the study of AI is probably at least preferable to an existentialist who ponders silly, "narcissistic" or militarily useless things like the meaning of being or "authentic" existence, etc. (unless of course the meaning of being is to serve in the military).
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Ginkgo »

Gary Childress wrote:
vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Gary Childress wrote:
And has "continental" philosophy been equally hijacked by the military industrial complex? It seems to me that many scientists like Sokal are more under the sway of the "defense" department than "continental" philosophy departments are. After all, what use are the ideas of Heidegger to the MIC? In some sense maybe "continental" philosophy is like the last refuge for those who simply don't want to be part of building better machines with which to destroy the human race. I don't see too much wrong with that.
There are many branches of science that don't involve the military. Could you give an example of a use to the military of philosophers? The military is all about a robotic adherence to order and obedience. Thinking doesn't really come into it.
I don't know. AI is a hot topic right now and philosophy of mind is right along with it. I would think a good philosopher who can help clarify things in the study of AI is probably at least preferable to an existentialist who ponders silly, "narcissistic" or militarily useless things like the meaning of being or "authentic" existence, etc. (unless of course the meaning of being is to serve in the military).
I think that Heidegger is correct in his quest for being because he addresses a very important issue in relation to our humanness. He shows we are in the end a being heading towards a pointless death. As to weather we are heading towards some type of pointlessness is the subject of much debate, but in the end I think Heidegger is correct when he says we are free to create things in a world that lacks ultimate guidelines. We are responsible for the choices we make, but there is no guarantee we have made the right choices.

At the very least Heidegger is perceptive in this respect. All I am saying is that Heidegger hasn't discovered this thing called "being" Nonetheless, this doesn't detract from his quest. In exactly the same way philosophy of mind doesn't detract from what Heidegger is saying.

Just my opinion of Heidegger and where he stands in this day and age.
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

Ginkgo wrote:
Gary Childress wrote:
I don't know. AI is a hot topic right now and philosophy of mind is right along with it. I would think a good philosopher who can help clarify things in the study of AI is probably at least preferable to an existentialist who ponders silly, "narcissistic" or militarily useless things like the meaning of being or "authentic" existence, etc. (unless of course the meaning of being is to serve in the military).
I think that Heidegger is correct in his quest for being because he addresses a very important issue in relation to our humanness. He shows we are in the end a being heading towards a pointless death. As to weather we are heading towards some type of pointlessness is the subject of much debate, but in the end I think Heidegger is correct when he says we are free to create things in a world that lacks ultimate guidelines. We are responsible for the choices we make, but there is no guarantee we have made the right choices.

At the very least Heidegger is perceptive in this respect. All I am saying is that Heidegger hasn't discovered this thing called "being" Nonetheless, this doesn't detract from his quest. In exactly the same way philosophy of mind doesn't detract from what Heidegger is saying.

Just my opinion of Heidegger and where he stands in this day and age.
I know Heidegger says something to the effect that we are "being toward an end", meaning I assume the fact that we will inevitably experience death or an end to our being. But does he go so far as to say death is "pointless"? Granted, I'll need to read further but from prior studies I don't recall H being concerned with death being "pointless". In fact I do remember reading that H was always opposed to what he saw as a danger in nihilism. By nihilism I take to be the notion that our existence has no meaning or purpose or something along those lines. Of course that is not to say that some of us may have "pointless" deaths but I don't believe it is to say that all our deaths are necessarily "pointless". Or perhaps I am misunderstanding your use of the term "pointless death" by assuming you are extending it to a generalization of death.
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Ginkgo »

Gary Childress wrote:
I know Heidegger says something to the effect that we are "being toward an end", meaning I assume the fact that we will inevitably experience death or an end to our being. But does he go so far as to say death is "pointless"? Granted, I'll need to read further but from prior studies I don't recall H being concerned with death being "pointless". In fact I do remember reading that H was always opposed to what he saw as a danger in nihilism. By nihilism I take to be the notion that our existence has no meaning or purpose or something along those lines. Of course that is not to say that some of us may have "pointless" deaths but I don't believe it is to say that all our deaths are necessarily "pointless". Or perhaps I am misunderstanding your use of the term "pointless death" by assuming you are extending it to a generalization of death.

Yes, I didn't express this very well and I did make it sound a bit nihilistic. Heidegger adapted Nietzsche's view that man creates his own values so the only purpose Dasein serves is to be in the world in a temporal sense. So "pointlessness" would have been better expressed simply in terms of there being no God or Godliness to be discovered.
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Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

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1st Synopsis for 2015:

My first “selection” for 2015 was the first subpart of the introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger ed. by Charles Guignon. The section was about 14 pages in length titled: “Fundamental Ontology in Being and Time”. The introduction itself is about 36 pages in length and a bit dense so I doubt I’ll be finishing the whole essay today but at least I got 14 pages of it knocked out.

I pulled out a quote of particular interest to me because I think it sums up H’s entire project pretty fair from what I understand to be his project:
Heidegger’s lofty ambition was to rejuvenate philosophy (and, at the same time, Western culture) by clearing away the conceptual rubbish that has collected over our history in order to recover a clearer, richer understanding of what things are all about. (p. 2)
Rejuvenating philosophy was a popular idea back then and probably still is to some degree. Between Nietzsche and Spengler there was a lot of talk around H’s day about “nihilism” and the “decline of the West” and what not. Many philosophers seem to have picked up on the idea of decline. I guess my question would be, how realistic were such fears of decline? And what was meant by “decline”? I mean, has Western culture ever been so pristine that the turn of the 20th century somehow marked a “decline” from some sort of idyllic past? I mean how idyllic was the past; inquisitions, crusades, wars, tyrannies, religious intolerance and persecution? At least in our contemporary era many of us recognize these things for the wrongs that they are (even if we do seem to repeat our mistakes regardless).

Thoughts?
Ginkgo
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Ginkgo »

Gary Childress wrote:1st Synopsis for 2015:

"Heidegger’s lofty ambition was to rejuvenate philosophy (and, at the same time, Western culture) by clearing away the conceptual rubbish that has collected over our history in order to recover a clearer, richer understanding of what things are all about." (p. 2)
As far as the clearing away process is concerned I would think Heidegger is referring to how modern philosophy interprets the relationship between subject and object. In other words, he doesn't like the way the subjective being relates to the objective world and the type of knowledge gained from this relationship. Instead Heidegger proposes a radically different relationship between subject and object.

I could be wrong, so I might need to do some rereading.
Last edited by Ginkgo on Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Gary Childress
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

Ginkgo wrote:
Gary Childress wrote:1st Synopsis for 2015:

"Heidegger’s lofty ambition was to rejuvenate philosophy (and, at the same time, Western culture) by clearing away the conceptual rubbish that has collected over our history in order to recover a clearer, richer understanding of what things are all about." (p. 2)
As far as the clearing away process is concerned I would think Heidegger is referring to the modern philosophy interprets the relationship between subject and object. In other words, he doesn't like the way the subjective being relates to the objective world and the type of knowledge gained from this relationship. Instead Heidegger proposes a radically different relationship between subject and object.

I could be wrong, so I might need to do some rereading.
From what I have read of Heidegger that sounds about right to me, if I'm interpreting your statement correctly. I believe H was very much opposed to the whole idea that we as "subjects" are incapable of encountering "objects" as they are "in themselves". I've always had the impression that H essentially turned Kant and modern science on it's head, saying to the effect that the scientific attitude is a derivative of a more fundamental way we normally grasp the world in it's "average-everydayness". In other words, the scientific perspective is sort of an exception to the normal way we interpret the world of things as "ready-at-hand" for our projects and cares and that it is a mistake to consider the scientific perspective of a subject-object duality as somehow a privileged one. We are always already immersed in a world and there is no such thing as a privileged "objective" vantage point where one has an "objectively" "truer" grasp of an object than some other vantage point. At least that's one thing I recall reading in the intro to the Cambridge Companion to Heidegger earlier today.
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

But I think as far as the "clearing away" process, there are also many allusions to "deconstructing" the western philosophical tradition to clear away ideas and assumptions about the meaning of being that have taken sediment in our thinking over the centuries. Apparently H believed that the Ancient Greeks were somehow on to something special when they first pondered the meaning of being and then all the philosophers and thinkers who followed them only served to obscure the wonderful beginnings of Ancient Greek philosophy. So we are supposed to sort of turn philosophy upside down and go backward in time to recover this special illumination the early Greeks possessed.
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

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I broke down the intro to The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger into 3 parts of 14, 12 and 10 pages each so technically I’m on track with 3 sections read so far for 2015.

However, after reading what I’ve read so far all the frustration of trying to understand Heidegger has come back to me. I think I’m going to throw in the towel on H and try reading something else. For all I know his philosophy could be the greatest thing since the invention of sliced bread but it doesn’t do me any good if I can’t understand what I’m reading.

I’ll need to do some thinking tonight. I’ll see what I decide on reading tomorrow as an alternative to Heidegger. I have a lot of choices to pick from, Eric Fromm, Daniel Dennett, Bertrand Russell, Plato, the list of possibilities is expansive.
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Re: An Essay Per Day: Resolution for 2015

Post by Gary Childress »

I lost one day dabbling around between readings but am back on track today. I discarded my plans to study Heidegger (too incomprehensible) and have switched now to popular science. I read the preface to Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism by Philip Kitcher today and will continue with it. I'll leave it up to whim of the moment for my reading after this one.

So I'm 4 sections read so far for 2015. I'll try to pick up the slack in the next few days and read a double to get myself back on track for the year.
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