- We didn’t ask for this crap. We fell into it, like some amnesiac thrown onto a stage, without a script, in the middle of a play already underway. (So, your first reaction is, “Oh, gee, hi,” when it ought to be, “What are my ontological commitments here?” You would be asking the right question if philosophers had not forgotten the question of Being.)
- And to make things worse, the other actors don’t even realize that there is little in the way of script, that they, collectively–Das Man–are to a large extent just making stuff up or mindlessly engaging what happen to be the affordances provided by the properties and set pieces and other people that happen to be on stage in their historical time and place.*
- You could just play along, but that would be a big, fat lie. It wouldn’t be authentic. (So, your next reaction should be, “WTF?”)
- You know this in your heart of hearts because you are Dasein, the kind of being for whom its own being is in question.
- And the answer to the really big question about your being, you realize, is that soon you won’t be. You will die.
- So, you have anxiety, care about the future, which you express in projects. In fact, you ARE your caring, your projects; those cares push out the one REALLY BIG CARE.
- The shade of Martin Heidegger is standing over my shoulder as a write this. He’s saying, “My projects were being a collaborator with fascists and writing a big book that I didn’t finish but published anyway and then a lot of dwelling in the woods where I encountered gods in the clearings. I’m the only guy who ever understood Hegel, and no one ever understood me, even though I was the greatest philosopher since Aristotle.”
*They don’t make up the props and set pieces. Those have their own being, which discloses itself, sometimes as being alongside and sometimes as being ready to hand. Like all beings, they are the infinite sum of their potential appearances. I learned that from my teacher, Husserl, whom I repaid by barring him from the university where he taught me this and much, much else. What can I say? I was half genius and half provincial, Black Forest peasant, Rasse und Seele, and I was overcome by visions of a Volkish paradise to come.
Ed note: I often refer to Martin Heidegger when explaining the genetic fallacy. He is proof positive that one cannot discount a truth because it originated in the mind of a horrible human being. Heidegger was a horrible human being. And he was a horrible writer. But he was also one of the greatest thinkers who ever lived. The effort that it takes to learn his language is repaid and repaid and repaid.
Who said philosophy was difficult?
The tractatus comico-philosophicus. Dedicated to bring the wisdom of the ages to all, for why shouldn’t you be as confused as they were?
Copyright 2014 by Robert D. Shepherd. All rights reserved.
For other essays (and cartoons!) by Bob Shepherd on philosophical subjects, go here: https://bobshepherdonline.wordpress.com/category/philosophy/