“The Other Beginning? History and Modernity in Heidegger’s Beiträge”
Friday, April 12, 2019, 8:45am-6pm, Dogwood Room, Indiana Memorial Union
Convened by Patrick Dove (Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese)
“The Other Beginning?” examines Heidegger’s reflections on the epochal history of Western thought in relation to the question of an “other beginning.” Can there be a new form of thinking and acting that would no longer subordinate itself to the onto-theological modes of inquiry that dominate Western thinking from Plato to Hegel, informing modern forms of rationality (scientific, technological, capitalist, political, etc.)? The Beiträge, written in the years leading up to World War II but not published until more than a decade after Heidegger’s death, presents us with an enigmatic perspective on Heidegger’s thinking about history, technics, poetry, and existence. It invites us to take seriously the theme of obscurity itself: darkness and opacity not as obstacles to be overcome on the way to enlightenment, but as the fundamental condition in which all thinking and acting takes place.
8:45am: Opening Remarks
Session I (9am-11am), moderated by Josh Kates, IU English
9am: William McNeill (Philosophy, DePaul University)
“What is Wrong with Phenomenology? From Being and Time to the Beiträge”
Abstract: The striking originality of Heidegger’s magnum opus, Being and Time (1927), ostensibly owed its success to Heidegger’s appropriation and radicalization of Husserl’s phenomenological method. No longer constrained by the orientation toward consciousness and transcendental subjectivity, Heidegger deployed phenomenological seeing to disclose the more original Being-there or Dasein of the human being as concernful Being-in-the-world. With this approach, Being and Time had overcome at a stroke the primacy of the theoretical orientation to self and world that had dominated the philosophical tradition and instituted a guiding understanding of Being as presence (ousia). Yet given the stunning success of this phenomenological approach, why does Heidegger then appear to abandon phenomenology immediately after Being and Time? It is only with the recent publication of his “Running Remarks” on Being and Time, dating from 1936—the same year that he begins to compose the Contributions to Philosophy—that we can begin to understand what is at stake in this turn away from phenomenology. The critique of phenomenology outlined there helps us to understand how to read the Contributions and to appreciate what is entailed in the transition to the thinking of Being as Ereignis.
William McNeill is Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. He is author of The Time of Life: Heidegger and Ēthos (SUNY, 2006), and The Glance of the Eye: Heidegger, Aristotle, and the Ends of Theory (SUNY, 1999). He has translated and/or edited numerous works by Heidegger, including The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude (Indiana, 1995); Pathmarks (Cambridge, 1998); and the three volumes of Heidegger’s lectures on Hölderlin, most recently his lectures on Hölderlin’s Hymn “Remembrance” (Indiana, 2018). He is currently working on a book on phenomenology in Heidegger.
10am: Krzysztof Ziarek (Comparative Literature, SUNY-Buffalo)
“The Strength of Thinking.”
Abstract: The paper examines Heidegger’s call in Contributions to Philosophy for the transformation in thinking. This “future thinking,” as Heidegger initially calls it, is a course of thought (Gedanken-gang)—a way or way-making of thinking—rather than cogitation or cognitive grasping. This thinking is to be a thinking from and of the event, as the text’s heading, Vom Ereignis, indicates. Indeed, Vom Ereignis is literally the heading of such future thinking. Such thinking mandates a new style, which Contributions to Philosophy describes as restrained or reservedness, Verhaltenheit. This style is less about rhetoric than about a different rigor or stringency of thought. Heidegger uses the adjective streng, which in its current usage translates into English as “strict,” rigorous,” “stringent.” It is obvious cognate with the English “strong,” and Heidegger, probably following the Grimm’s dictionary, returns this German term to its primary etymological resonance of strength. My suggestion then is that what begins with Contributions to Philosophy is the exploration of the pathways of this neoteric strength of thinking.
Krzysztof Ziarek is Professor and Chair of Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is the author of Inflected Language: Toward a Hermeneutics of Nearness (SUNY), The Historicity of Experience: Modernity, the Avant-Garde, and the Event (Northwestern), The Force of Art (Stanford), and Language After Heidegger (Indiana). He co-edited two collection of essays, Future Crossings: Literature Between Philosophy and Cultural Studies (Northwestern) and Adorno and Heidegger: Philosophical Questions (Stanford). He also published two books of poetry in Polish, Zaimejlowane z Polski and Sąd dostateczny.
Session II (11:15am-1:15pm), moderated by Johannes Turk, IU Germanic Studies
11:15am: Richard Polt (Philosophy, Xavier University)
“Inception and Catastrophe in the Beiträge and the Black Notebooks.”
Abstract: For Heidegger, Ereignis is an “inception” in which we become an issue for ourselves and enter being-there. The Greek “first inception” established presence as the Western sense of being; the “other inception” would found a new time-space exceeding presence. In the early 1930s, Heidegger saw Nazism as this new inception, but he comes to view it as the end stage of the “machination,” “brutality,” and “criminality” of late modernity. According to the Black Notebooks, however, this critique is not a rejection but an “affirmation”: modernity must be played out to its catastrophic end before the other inception can take place.
Richard Polt is Professor of Philosophy at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He is the author of Heidegger: An Introduction, The Emergency of Being: On Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy, and Time and Trauma: Thinking Through Heidegger in the Thirties. With Gregory Fried, he has also translated several texts by Heidegger, including Nature, History, State; Being and Truth; and Introduction to Metaphysics.
12:15pm: Dana S. Belu (Philosophy, California State University Dominguez Hills)
“Losing the Machine: From Machenschaft to Ge-stell.”
Abstract: I trace the gaps and continuities between Heidegger’s account of machination in Contributions to Philosophy and in his concept of the essence of technology (Ge-stell) developed in his later works. While it may seem that these two concepts present a distinction without a difference I argue otherwise. Drawing on early chapters from The Black Notebooks (GA 94) and on Heidegger’s later essays, especially “Positionality,” “What are Poets for?” and “The Question Concerning Technology” I claim that the emotional language of utter abandonment, loss and helplessness in his account of machination is itself abandoned in the later works. This abandonment reflects the emergence of an account of the technological epoch that is more phenomenologically rich and less elusive about the happening of truth, the event of appropriation.
Dana S. Belu is Professor of Philosophy and Coordinator of The Women’s Studies Program at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She works at the intersection of phenomenology, philosophy of technology and feminist philosophy. Her most recent publications include a book, Heidegger, Reproductive Technology and The Motherless Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), and a chapter in the forthcoming anthology Sustainability in the Anthropocene: Philosophical Reflections on Renewable Technologies (Lexington Books, ed. Rosin Lally, 2019) entitled “We’re in this Together: Climate Change and Reproductive Technology in the Age of Ge-stell.”
(Break for lunch.)
Session III (2:45pm-4:45pm), moderated by Edgar Illas, IU Spanish & Portuguese
2:45pm: Alberto Moreiras (Hispanic Studies, Texas A&M University)
“On Presentiment: Anticipating the Other Beginning.”
Abstract: This paper reflects on the decisions for thought that according to Martin Heidegger’s Beiträge constitute both a condition of possibility for and a practical determination of what he calls “the other beginning.” Those decisions, existential in nature, are rooted in a basic predisposition that Heidegger ciphers in the word Ahnung, hint or presentiment. That there is a presentiment of the other beginning—what is the basis of it? Perhaps Ereignis must be understood as a thought imperative—an existential need of the “thrown” human being caught in machination and calculability. The contemporary university will be used as an example of the latter.
Alberto Moreiras is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Interpretación y diferencia (1991), Tercer espacio: literatura y duelo en América Latina (1999), The Exhaustion of difference: the politics of Latin American cultural Studies (2002), Línea de sombra. El no sujeto de lo político (2008), and Marranismo e inscripción, o el abandono de la conciencia desdichada (2016). He co-edited, with Nelly Richard, Pensar en/la postdictadura (2002). He is coeditor of Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Res Publica. and Política común. A Journal of Thought., and of the University of Texas Press Book Series “Border Hispanisms.”
3:45pm: Andrew Mitchell (Philosophy, Emory University)
“Where Does the Beiträge Begin?”
It is difficult to say where the Beiträge begins because the Beiträge is not some collection of notes and sketches but Heidegger’s most rigorously composed work. It is written with full cognizance of the demands and constraints of the publication industry, an industry that threatens to usurp any claims of authorial intent, and which shapes all publications after the systematic form of the book. The Beiträge is aware that the publication industry is an agent of machination; indeed, it is written and published as a strategic contestation of that. If the aim of the Beiträge is to think relationality beyond closure, or, better, to think relationality in its relation to closure, then that very thinking is performed by the Beiträge itself in the strategies it undertakes to postpone its own closure in the systematic form of a book. My contention is that such strategic positioning is already underway before we have even read the first words of section one. In this talk, I show the ways in which the Beiträge eludes the closure of the book as system.
Andrew J. Mitchell is the Winship Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy at Emory University. He is author of Heidegger Among the Sculptors: Body, Space, and the Art of Dwelling (Stanford, 2010) and The Fourfold: Reading the Late Heidegger (Northwestern, 2015). He is currently finishing a manuscript, Drinking with Heidegger, or Basic Concepts of Oenology. He is translator of Heidegger’s Four Seminars and Bremen and Freiburg Lectures (Indiana 2003, 2015), among other works.
5pm-6pm: Concluding Discussion
Funding from the College Arts & Humanities Institute and the Departments of Germanic Studies and Philosophy is gratefully acknowledged.
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