Sunday, March 27, 2005

Heidegger and the Juden Dasein

Give one way of presenting a differences among each of the following three characteristics of “Being”:
1) “Being” considered as the name of the highest “genus” of beings;
2) “Being” considered as the “substance” underlying all categories;
3) “Being” considered as the “What it is to be” of a particular being, such as chalk, a nation-state, a high school, a mountain range.

The Being as the highest “genus” of all Beings, summarizes the essential qualities that make up all other Beings as essential categories that individual beings of those categories share. So, the Being of apple trees as a whole, is different from a being such as a particular apple tree that possesses accidental properties that can differ from those of other Apple Tree beings but also the essential properties that establish it as Being the Apple Tree. The Being of the apple tree is included in a higher “genus” of a “tree” which in turn falls under “plant” and so forth, with the highest “genus” of all Beings that encompasses all.

Give an objection to the idea that there is such a Being (a to be) in each of the above cases/examples. Why or how do these characterizations avoid the split between Being as essence and Being as existence? (Of course, you must characterize, at least in a preliminary way, “essence” and “existence”

The essence is a set of attributes that establish what a being is, the necessary qualities that are agreed upon to be enough to establish categories. Existence can be seen as just another quality of a being, so a non-existence of a particular tree would not undermine its essence. In fact, there can be an essence without any instances of existing beings. For example, there are no dodo birds in existence, but the essence of a dodo bird as a particular set of qualities is in Being. The essence and existence are of course not applicable solely to material things, but are descriptive of categories, ideas and concept, any being that is considered by the Dasein. Therein lies a problem with the Being (to be) of the examples, as it is depended on the artificial categories set in an attempt to rationalize and simplify the relation to beings by the Dasein. A particular piece of chalk is a descriptive device for referring to a portion of matter that has what is agreed upon as the qualities that establish it as chalk. The portion of matter is in existence (though it constantly changes on particle level) but the “white damp piece of chalk with a chewed-off end” exists only for someone who understands the language and operates with such categories. An example with nation state is even harder to fathom, as it does not point to an isolated portion of matter but rather to a scattered instances of occurrences and relationships that are considered to resemble a pattern against which they are judged. While the question of the existence of a particular piece of chalk mostly revolves around issues of terminology, a nation-state is subject to different opinions and points of view. A High School is a set of material and conceptual beings that create an identifiable structure considered to represent an essential Being of High School. The problem of the existence of a particular High School lies in a discrepancy of what is considered to constitute a High School. Of all the examples, the Mountain Range is perhaps the hardest to refute, as it is the only Being that is not created by the Dasein and thus it’s essence can be seen as predating the human being. But it is human beings who came to regard what they considered to be closely positioned protrusions from the earth, as mountain ranges. Thus, all of the examples revert back to a question of weather a particular being fulfills the essential requirements of it’s essential Being, as thus can be considered to exist under a specific name.

If “Why are there beings rather then nothing?” is in some sense the first question how can we be forced to ask the question “How does it stand with being?” as a prior question?

“How does it stand with Being?” is a prior question to “Why are there beings rather then nothing?” not in a sense of stature or importance but because it provides the groundwork for the latter. It establishes the status of particular beings in the relation to their essential categories, allowing the inquiry into the reasons behind their Being. A simple question, why is there a brick on the lawn is predated by a prior set of questions that are aimed to establish the presence of a thing that holds the qualities of a “brick” Being.

What kind of argument does Heidegger for suggestion that the asking of the “prior” question is “itself historical” and belongs to the “world-history of the earth”? Does Heidegger give or imply an adequately explicit difference, or set of differences, between “earth” and “world history”?

(IV)Heidegger presents the question of “How does it stand with Being?” as being historical in a sense that the essential relations are formed in regards to time, events and places. Heidegger makes a distinction between “history” and the “science of history” which is, an academic and scholarly account of the past. History, for Heidegger, is not content to looking back, it grows from aspirations of the future that determine the allusive with regards to the past. There also seems to be a distinction between the terms “world” and “earth.” A “world” for Heidegger is largely concerned with the spiritual state, while the “earth” exhibits physical qualities and points to our home planet. So a “world history” reflects the spiritual quality of the beings in time.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Four Truths of the Great Serpent

Prepare thy ears, noble sirs,
Who rule the frail with regal force.
Unclothe thy eyes ye humbler folk,
Who weave the thread and raise the stock.
Prepare to devotedly hark
All you who squander in the dark.

For deep within this simple verse,
Lies fire taken from the hearth,
A soothing balm for troubled hearts,
A sturdy shield for solemn guards.

Before the earth was fraught with folk,
Amid the stars Great Serpent woke.
His tail wrapped fourthly ‘round the world
The first great truth the Serpent hurled:

If ere on, on time thou be
I shall transport and nurture thee!

The mighty roar has shattered land
And deepening voids all creatures left
Some chose to dwell in cooling seas
Some took to fly on gentle breeze.
But those truest to their form
Chose barren earth to mend and roam.

The mounts still shook from Serpents rhyme
But folk knew naught how track the time
For in those days no light did shun
And day and night were ever one.

Upon a hill a Lion heaved
For Serpents words were left bereaved
The lion shook his golden main
He swore to light celestial flame

He took to climb the tallest mount
And sowed a seed in fertile ground
He sprinkled it with pearls from sea
In fortnight there grew a tree
The largest seen by mortal eye
Its branches pierced the sunless sky.

Atop he placed his heart aflame
Thus Lions life a sun became.

As morning rays have touched the earth
A serpent once again spoke fourth:

Make thee a leaf with transit chart
And in my belly you’ll depart.

The booming voice the air filled
Thus second truth has been revealed.

But folk had naught the art to write,
And hid themselves in shame and fright.
Then up rose kind and learned sage
His beard whitened with the age.

For months he strolled across the land
In search of language drawn by hand.
Exhausted he collapsed on shore,
The sage knew well he’d walk no more.
He stretched a tiring waning hand.
And grasped a pile of flowing sand.
Again, the sage’s hand moved forth
But found nothing but the earth
A third attempt was met with stones
The fourth produced a pile of bones.
With final breath of fleeting life
He threw the bones in fatal strife
The mourners found bones thus strewn
Each little pile became a rune.
For Sages selfless noble feat,
All elders have a right of seat.

As Sage’s ash was laid in tomb
Third time the Serpents voice did boom

Erect a temple for my art
It shall house those who soon depart

But folk were deep in petty strifes
They warred each other, captured wives
They pillaged towns salted crops
And paid no heed to serpents words

A youth rose under waning moon
Alone the bricks he boldly hewn
Alone he carried heavy stone
He worked his hands to bare bone.
The folk were shamed by eager lad
They threw their swords and shared bread
A mighty force was there built
They called themselves the Union Guild
Four years took the Serpents task,
The people worked from dawn to dusk
The stones were dressed with lion’s heads
Three arching windows pierced with threads
At last they crowned the topmost block
With largest ever known clock.

As final strokes of hammers fell
The Serpent spoke:

Thou fared well
‘Ere comes the time for final Truth !

With that he plunged his mighty tooth
And left behind a narrow trail
Thus was received Eternal Rail

Now anyone of righteous soul
Who minds the time and pays the toll
Can thus have merit to receive
A transit chart on Sacred Leaf
To worship daily at the shrine
That houses Union - Divine.
To enter Serpents Holy Bowels
And thus transgress beyond all grounds.