Notes for Heidegger What is Called Thinking?

(created from document 19950825)

by J. Glenn Gray
(xiv) Today, at age seventy-nine, he starts every morning afresh, without any secure base in past systems of thought and still dissatisfied with what he himself has worked out.
(xiv) He seeks to press beyond systems and concepts--to live in the meta as he here suggests was the simple and therefore inexhaustible significance of Greek thought. The one aspect of that thought seized upon by the Christian Middle Ages and carried over into modern thought, fruitful as it has been, he believes to have reached an impasse today. The only way to go forward is to return to the origins and seek a new beginning.

[liberal] (hyperlink to 931215.wpd and burden of thought swallowed by script).<<961003.00:47.47>>

(xiv) The advance Heidegger wishes to make on the basis of Greek thought is to learn to think non-conceptually and non-systematically yet with rigor and strictness about the nature of Being.

Loose mooring of molar symbols.

(3) What keeps us in our essential nature holds us only so long, however, as we for our part keep holding on to what holds us. And we keep holding on to it by not letting it out of our memory. Memory is the gathering of thought.

Heidegger may have had premonitions of the language machine as a likely (perhaps even from the standpoint of capitalism, or from Marxist analysis) creation in the age of nuclear electricity; however, his thought seems limited to imagining what becomes of thinking and memory as the book form territorializes electronic technology; from the other way around, it is the essence of technology, which has its core in calculative thinking rather than the phenomenological metaphysics of philosophical production, the dreaded transformations have already occurred as a by-product. Would we call this Heidegger's one-thought?

Why would VR apparatus be of aid to the philosopher, perhaps as a distraction, a prayer-wheel whose utter inauthenticity allows the detachment necessary in order for learning to occur?

(4) Man learns when he disposes everything he does so that it answers to whatever essentials are addressed to him at any given moment. We learn to think by giving our mind to what there is to think about.

Interest means being among things, which Hayles and others promote as focal point of subjectivity studies. Comments on interest that both do and not not pertain to my present case: surely we can accept the sort of reasoning that D&G put forward, of capitalism's reterritorializing upon our every interest, to lead that interest away; but for the person seeking that attunement with the Planet, as it were, seeking to align each momentary conscious aim with that which I call hir Ultimate Argument (what becomes the tragicomedy of the individual, the history of the +2 child)--now we enter the region of Overman that became the final point of exasperation to Heidegger. He could not accept such a fate (or calling), but nevertheless proclaimed that exactly that sort of evaluating-become-instinct to be what was demanded by the essence of modern technology. [(IV,117) What is needed..] The danger, when trying to both take seriously the matters of your interest, and also, if necessary, alter your attention--perhaps radically, should you discover either that you have been following a path leading to nowhere, as Nietzsche did but failed to do, or, enjoining FWPP, you realize (experienced desire acting out all its fantasized "it is necessary", "it is useful", "it is good", etc.) your following a particular way out of unfreedom, programming, seduction--danger looms on the horizon (where will I go now?), and also in the midst of that flurry of activity [without invoking the arguments pertaining to capitalism, such as Microsoft®s "Where do you want to go today? ? " completely wrapped up in the operating system and its compatible products] occurs that "high-velocity expulsion of M.", which even Nietzsche (and Wilson) recognize and announce.

(5) Interest, interesse, means to be among and in the midst of things, or to be at the center of a thing and to stay with it. But today's interest accepts as valid only what is interesting. And interesting is the sort of thing that can freely be regarded as indifferent the next moment, and be displaced by something else, which then concerns us just as little as what went before. Many people today take the view that they are doing great honor to something by finding it interesting. The truth is that such an opinion has already relegated the interesting thing to the ranks of what is indifferent and soon boring.
(6) Some things are food for thought in themselves, intrinsically, so to speak innately. And some things make an appeal to us to give them thought, to turn toward them in thought: to think them.

Come to know what, thinking proper, or the latter, or both, realizing science does not think, as the excursion of the Nietzsche lectures serves to illuminate the tradition in a way that bars those thinkers who are analyzed from participating in the realization, and hence the return, to real thinking; as we learn about the withdrawal, the encounter with the actual here seems to indicate the standing-reserve of representation that becomes reality through Nietzsche.

(7-8) This now means: We have still not come face to face, have not yet come under the sway of what intrinsically desires to be thought about in an essential sense. . . . that we are still not thinking is by no means only because man does not yet turn sufficiently toward that which, by origin and innately, wants to be thought about since in its essence it remains what must be thought about. Rather that we are still not thinking stems from the fact that the thing itself that must be thought about turns away from man, has turned away long ago. . . . Science does not think. . . . we can learn thinking only if we radically unlearn what thinking has been traditionally. To do that, we must at the same time come to know it.

So our essence ("what is most present") is "drawing toward," and hence we are pointers. Never to that which withdraws; only to its trail.

(9) However, in being struck by what is actual, man may be debarred precisely from what concerns and touches him--touches him in the surely mysterious way of escaping him by its withdrawal. The event of withdrawal could be what is most present in all our present, and so infinitely exceed the actuality of everything actual.

A totally different kind of pointer comes from programming but shares features of the sign described here.

(9-10) To the extent that man is drawing that way, he points toward what withdraws. As he is pointing that way, man is the pointer. . . . As he draws toward what withdraws, man is a sign. But since this sign points toward what draws away, it points, not so much at what draws away as into the withdrawal. The sign stays without interpretation.

Heidegger uses a draft of a poem as thematically resonant; Holderlin becomes a central figure of the lectures prior to the introduction of Nietzsche.

(10) [draft of Hölderlin poem]
We are a sign that is not read.
We feel no pain, we almost have
Lost our tongues in foreign lands.

This should remind you of the beginning of the Nietzsche lectures, where Heidegger employs Nietzsche's comparison of thinking to feasting (link to Nietzsche as Metaphysical Thinker in 051213.wpd). Did Heidegger know this leaping into thought, and thinking itself? Just as we suppose that Nietzsche's elaborations of ERS and WTP depend upon some key experiences (at the Surlei boulder; stays in Sils-Maria), I wonder what grounds the speech and literature of Heidegger. He does talk about the experience of Being and Time in the Nietzsche lectures as if it were something of this sort. Thinking is related to handicrafts, and the example of cabinet-making, which reminds us that it is above all else the relatedness to the wood that is "taught," carries over to thinking.

(12) By way of this series of lectures, we are attempting to learn thinking. The way is long. We dare take only a few steps. If all goes well, they will take us to the foothills of thought. But they will takes us to places which we must explore to reach the point where only a leap will help further. The leap alone takes us into the neighborhood where thinking resides. We therefore shall take a few practice leaps right at the start, though we won't notice it at once, nor need to.

The danger flashes in craft lacking relatedness, which is just busywork, so the hardest work is that of the teacher, who must be capable of being more teachable than the apprentices. In drops both the ethics of psychoanalysis as well as what I consider to be earlier versions of this same thought in the Platonic dialogues concerning teaching philosophy.

(15) Without that relateness, the craft will never be anything but empty busywork, any occupation with it will be determined exclusively by business concerns. Every handicraft, all human dealings are constantly in that danger. The writing of poetry is no more exempt from it that is thinking.

Importance of the hand could link to future discussions of embodiment. Through these pages "time" always accompanies thinking, and I cannot help but be led into the discussion of "logical time" crucial to understanding intersubjectivity in Lacan, which I read about in The Seductions of Psychoanalysis. Of course, for Heidegger the matter of attunement never manifests itself in the language of psychoanalysis; yet, if we are to interpret psychoanalysis itself as a rather timely turning, into the practice and cultivation of techne,

(16-17) But the craft of the hand is richer than we commonly imagine. The hand does not only grasp and catch, or push and pull. The hand reaches and extends, receives and welcomes--and not just things: the hand extends itself, and receives its own welcome in the hands of others. . . . The hand designs and signs, presumably because man is a sign. Two hands fold into one, a gesture meant to carry man into the great oneness. The hand is all this, and this is the true handicraft. Everything is rooted here that is commonly known as handicraft, and commonly we go no further. But the hand's gestures run everywhere through language, in their most perfect purity precisely when man speaks by being silent. And only when man speaks, does he think--not the other way around, as metaphysics still believes. Every motion of the hand in every one of its works carries itself through the element of thinking, every bearing of the hand bears itself in that element. All the work of the hand is rooted in thinking. Therefore, thinking itself is man's simplest, and for that reason hardest, handiwork, if it would be accomplished at its proper time.
(17) To be capable, we must before all else incline toward what addresses itself to be thought--and that is that which of itself gives food for thought.
(17) The reason is never exclusively or primarily that we men do not sufficiently reach out and turn toward what properly gives food for thought; the reason is that this most thought-provoking thing turns away from us, in fact has long since turned away from man.
(17) And what withdraws in such a manner, keeps and develops its own, incomparable nearness.

Socrates is the purest thinker in the West because he wrote nothing, remained in the draft. Many notes inspired by this section in November and December 1995. Includes missing image '199501{image0}.gif'. Fix emphasis to definition of thinking in withdrawal, pure production undiluted and unencumbered by archiving, using symbols, writing, designing records by releasing burden to computers via programming: this is the new humanities scholarship of the/any/all posthuman cyborg cybersage.

A key passage in this text to juxtapose beside the image of Plato directing a writing Socrates by Derrida and Heim calling for a cybersage to supplant the regressive image of humanities scholarship epitomized by the posed photograph of Heidegger in his remote mountain hut surrounded by books. Suggest a saving power in the danger of the essence of technology is humanities scholarship that embraces using free, open source software tools, literally working code to pursue its investigations. I seek to join software studies and critical code studies, distinctive emerging specializations within digital humanities and texts and technology studies, by proposing, to also play on Nietzsche's philosophizing with a hammer, philosophizing with computers (electricity) by programming (always electricity, only now programming including typing before video display terminals).

(17) Once we are so related and drawn to what withdraws, we are drawing into what withdraws, into the enigmatic and therefore mutable nearness of its appeal. Whenever man is properly drawing that way, he is thinking--even though he may still be far away from what withdraws, even though the withdrawal may remain as veiled as ever. All through his life and right into his death, Socrates did nothing else than place himself into this draft, this current, and maintain himself in it. This is why he wrote nothing. For anyone who begins to write out of thoughtfulness must inevitably be like those people who run to seek refuge from any draft too strong for them. An as yet hidden history still keeps the secret why all great Western thinkers after Socrates, with all their greatness, had to be such fugitives.


(229) The question “What is called thinking?” faced us at the beginning of our way, in
four modes.
(229) What is called thinking? means most immediately and first: what does this word “thinking” signify?

Thinking as legein is reason conceived as judging, perception of reason happens as noein, and hence Parmenides saying that is key to the text, the first mode. This was reread 96031x.

(229-230) What is called thinking? means further and second: what, according to the long traditional doctrine of thinking, logic, do we still today understand by thinking? . . . Thinking is legein, logos in the sense of proposition, that is, of judgment. Judging is thought to be the activity of the understanding in the broad sense of reason. The perception of reason traces back to noein. . . . The saying deals neither with the logos of logic, nor with the judgments of reason, but only with the conjunction of legein and noein. The letting-lie-before-us and (the) taking-to-heart emerge so far only as the basic character of what subsequently is called thinking and is viewed in terms of logic.

Third mode is about tradition, then fourth mode, special interpretation of Heidegger.

(230) And what eon emmenai means, thought in Greek terms, is the question at which we stop. . . . This means that our seemingly wayward effort to make an appropriate translation of eon emmenai, the final words of the saying, has the sole purpose of bringing this question into focus: what, according to tradition, is really called thinking?
(230-231) the second way of asking was from the start subordinated to the decisive way in which the question “What is called thinking?” remains to be asked. That way is: what is That which directs us into thinking? . . . Presumably the two words [legein and noein] conform to whatever disposes of legein and noein, by directing and drawing both to what they both refer to.

Heidegger seems forced to turn away from thoughtful creative production in order to enter the draft; what he did not see is that this is a limitation of print, not computing (he merely saw gross machine) technology in general, a gap Heim employs. A better than un-re-examined, the unknown known revealing way of this disposing is comportment <prep> technology, the new cybersage way of preparation.

(231) But as concerns thinking, we are living in the domain of a two-and-one-half-thousand year old tradition. Accordingly, we must not imagine it to be enough for any man merely to inhabit the world of his own representational ideas, and to express only them. For the world of this expression is shot through with blindly adopted and un-re-examined ideas and concepts. How could this confused manner of forming ideas be called thinking, however loudly it may claim to be creative? We are capable of thinking only if we try first of all to develop the question “What is called thinking” in its fourfold sense, and in the light of the decisive fourth question.

Token as hypomensis, eternal recurrence; to be dissipates like a vapor.

(233) We cannot deal here with the preparations needed to make that leap of vision which transposes us into That which speaks from this word. Here we can state directly only what such a leap sees. Whatever has been seen can be demonstrated only by being seen and seen again. What has been seen can never be proved by adducing reasons and counter-reasons. Such a procedure overlooks what is decisive – the looking. If what is seen is put in words, its mention by name can never compel the seeing look. At best, it can offer a token of what a seeing look, renewed again and again, would presumably show more clearly.
(233-234) Yet we must admit that the word “to be” always dissipates like a vapor, into every conceivable vague signification, while the word “present” speaks at once more clearly: something present, that is, present to us. Present and presence means: what is with us. And that means: to endure in the encounter.

Hidden essence of modern technology is disposition of nature, including human nature, as energy supply.

(234) If the Being of beings, in the sense of the being here of what is present, did not already prevail, beings could not have appeared as objects, as what is objective in objects – and only by such objectivity do they become available to the ideas and propositions in the positing and disposing of nature by which we constantly take inventory of the energies we can wrest from nature. This disposition of nature according to its energy supply arises from the hidden essence of modern technology.
(236) The Greeks do not conceive of being present and abiding primarily in terms of mere duration. . . . To be present is to come close by, to be here in contrast and conflict with to be away.
(238) Because the only thing for which
they asked, and perhaps had to ask, responded and replied, that is, answered to their questioning in these traits of presence which we mentioned.

Heideggerian computer is a fantasy of what will inevitably happen by default from the triumph of Nietzschean metaphysics; good link to texts and technology with Heidegger as a final thinker of literacy who was cognizant of its emergence from orality.

(238) Western logic finally becomes logistics, whose irresistible development has meanwhile brought forth the electronic brain, whereby man's nature and essence is adapted and fitted into the barely noticed Being of beings that appears in the nature of technology.

Heidegger, Martin. What is Called Thinking? Trans. J. Glenn Gray. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1968. Print.