Gilles Deleuze: Letters and Other Texts, Semiotext(e), 2020

Letters and Other Texts Book Cover Letters and Other Texts
Gilles Deleuze. Edited by David Lapoujade. Translated by Ames Hodges
Semiotext(e)
2020
Paperback $19.95 | £15.99
320

Anya Daly, Fred Cummins, James Jardine, Dermot Moran (Eds.): Perception and the Inhuman Gaze, Routledge, 2020

Perception and the Inhuman Gaze Book Cover Perception and the Inhuman Gaze
Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy
Anya Daly, Fred Cummins, James Jardine, Dermot Moran (Eds.)
Routledge
2020
Hardback £120.00
328

Christian Krijnen (Ed.): Concepts of Normativity: Kant or Hegel? Brill, 2019

Concepts of Normativity: Kant or Hegel? Book Cover Concepts of Normativity: Kant or Hegel?
Critical Studies in German Idealism, Volume 24
Christian Krijnen (Ed.)
Brill
2019
Hardback €143.00 $172.00
x, 260

Reviewed by: Andrew James Komasinski (Hokkaido University of Education)

Introduction

Despite facing almost immediate criticism from Hegel, Kant’s view of normativity has greatly influenced contemporary value theory. This volume is the fruit of a 2017 conference at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam by the same name that sought to bring the two conflicting accounts into dialogue (1). There are three general points worth making before addressing the articles themselves.

First, the articles in this volume use diverse sigla. Some articles, such as Christian Hoffman’s, refer to the Elements of the Philosophy of Right as PR and other articles, such as Jiří Chotaš’s, refer to it as RpH (9, 164). The Phenomenology of Spirit similarly receives the sigla PhG from Arthur Kok, Christian Schmidt, and Alberto L. Siani whereas Martin Bunte and Tereza Matějčková inter alia use PS (47, 147, 244, 62, 199). Similar article by article variation occurs with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason with Martin Bunte using CPR but Paul Cobben using KdrV (66, 27). While each article is internally consistent, this and rehearsal of the same parts of Hegel make the book feels more like a collection than a whole. For consistency’s sake, I will use PR, PhG, CPR, along with EPS for Encyclopedia of the Philosophical System and Religion for Kant’s Religion within the Bounds of Reason Alone consistently in this review.

Second, different authors took different approaches to the use of German. Some authors use the German directly for the major parts of PR: Abstrakt Recht, Moralität, and Sittlichkeit; others translate them as Abstract Right, Morality, and, Ethical Life (Battistoni at 121, 124; Chotaš at 164). I will consistently use the English throughout. For terms such as Bildung where the translation choices are substantive, this is more understandable. Hoffman glosses it as “education” and then uses “education” after that (4,12). Krijnen supplies the possible translation “education of the understanding and applicable skills” but generally sticks to Bildung (115-117). Siani does the same (250). Chotaš and Zabel call it development (171, 181). These differences between articles will not impede specialists but make it challenging to read the work as a united whole.

Third, the title of the volume suggests proponents of both Kant and Hegel, but true to its origin at a conference from a network called “Hegel’s Relevance,” most authors are more sympathetic to Hegel than to Kant (1). Some contributions write as if Hegel’s critiques of Kant were definitive and Hegel’s positions decisive. Having more full-throated defenses of Kantian’s normativity and more engagement between the two as competing contemporary interpretations would have strengthened the volume. Nevertheless, the volume contributes importantly to our understanding of ethics and social philosophy in Hegel and German Idealism.

Contributions

  1. Being at Home with Oneself in the Whole—Hegel’s Philosophy of Freedom as Actuality, Christian Hoffman

Christian Hoffman’s article provides an excellent introduction to the relation between Bildung and holism in Hegel and how this differentiates him from Kant. Hoffman traces Hegel’s attempt to accomplish monistically and holistically what Kant tried to achieve dualistically for reason and freedom. (9-10, 13). Hoffman identifies Bildung “education” in PhG, as both breaking the natural harmony and building “a new and more differentiated form of the whole” (12). Hoffman also highlights the senses in which Hegel’s unity is active rather than a static thing (14).

Turning to the system in the EPS and the PR, Hoffman first emphasizes how this holistic process is not just knowing but self-knowing (14-17). Hoffman joins to this sense in which Hegel’s holistic account refers to a common realm of shared freedom (19-22). Finally, Hoffman notes the relation between the Hegelian holism and its Aristotelian ancestry (inter alia 22-23). Hoffman addresses Kant’s idea of normativity as a dualistic account Hegel incorporates insights from but then supersedes.

  1. Hegel’s Radicalization of Kant’s Copernican Turn: the Internal Unity of the Natural and the Moral Law, Paul Cobben

Paul Cobben’s article progresses from problematic Humean impressions to dualistic Kantian intuitions to Hegel’s monistic resolution. First, Cobben develops how Kant’s intuitions solve the Humean predicament where impressions are both external and mind. Kant solves this problem in his apparatus of manifolds, imagination, and categories, which makes impressions mental and things-in-themselves external (27). Through this, Kant equates propositional and material truth when material truth is mediated by the Kantian apparatus (27-31). Cobben, following Gadamer, reads PhG’s first chapter as tracing out the Kantian account but rejecting its account of material truth (31-33). Cobben remarks that Hegel has demonstrated “The apperception of the Perception cannot justify how the manifold of intuitions can be connected into an objective material truth” (34). Unfortunately, the arguments substantiating this claim and the claims about Hegel’s “first truth of the understanding” and “second truth of the understanding” were truncated and hard to follow (34-35).

Cobben believes that understanding requires attending to the subject as conscious (36). Cobben sees PhG’s account of desire’s inability to achieve unity with its object, because it continues to want precisely what it is not as culminating in the realization that the perceived world that individual consciousness finds itself in is not merely its own but rather a shared world (38-39). Cobben joins to this an interpretation of the lord/bondsman dialectic which understands it as involving the death of individual consciousness and its sublimation into institutional consciousness (40-42). Cobben’s final claim is that Kant’s solution fails and that Hegel develops an account that culminates in the resolution of the lord/bondsman dialectic (43). Most of the second half seemed like it would benefit from more engagement with contemporary defenses of understanding along Kantian lines and other interpretations of the lord/bondsman dialectics.

  1. The Religion of the God-Man: Hegel’s Account of Revealed Religion in the Phenomenology of Spirit, Arthur Kok

Arthur Kok’s article is a welcome addition to the discussion of Hegel’s concept of God and its relation to Kant’s religion. Kok’s article also looks at Kant’s dualism and Hegel’s attempt to overcome it in PhG, insofar as Kant’s moral philosophy required a religion with a God as the projected lawgiver of reason to realize the good (46-47). Kok identifies this argument in PhG both specifically and within Spirit’s dialectical search for an adequate relation between freedom and moral duty (47-48). This activity culminates in the realization that the source of moral value in religion is Spirit moving in the community (49). Here, more interaction with Kant’s Religion could have explained why Kok believes Kant’s account of the rational community as the arbiter of moral value is inadequate.

Kok also locates a similar dynamic in Hegel’s account of revealed religion, i.e. Christianity, situating it as the dialectical outcome of an unhappy consciousness where freedom sees the inadequacy of an external law (50-53). This leads to the incarnation as the simultaneous “activity of the Self that results in the appearance of the Self without the Self becoming something other than itself” and thus resolves this tension in religion by (1) being “both distinct and non-distinct from those who identify him as the God-man,” (2) representing “the self-realization of spirit,” and (3) establishing “the presence of the divine in this world” to overcome suffering (55). Kok then articulates this as Hegel’s answer to the problem of evil where human activity can free itself from evil (56). Joined to the resurrection (and ascension), Hegel makes community that remembers the God-man the true reconciliation of spirit in ethics (57).

  1. The Reality of Value as a Problem of Kantian Ethics, Martin Bunte

Martin Bunte’s article looks at Hegel’s formalism objection against Kant’s ethics from PhG 257 (A.V. Miller pagination) and the problem of testing but not giving laws (62). Bunte believes Kant’s ethics suffers from a tautology because the a priori nature of Kant’s ethics interacts with the autonomy of the will to produce moral laws that are “conceivable only under the reservation of the heteronomy of what is willed” (63). Bunte explains his version of the objection in a single sentence: “If freedom as spontaneity or autonomy is to be the essential reason for the determination of will, then it must be able to refer to rules or laws from the position of legislator” (64).

Bunte argues that a successful Kantian defense against this objection must also achieve a unity for practical reason like the one for theoretical reason (65). Since the two domains are both domains of reason, Bunte notes that they must both find their origins in the spontaneity of the will as the “unconditioned condition” (65). Bunte illustrates this with the categories of the understanding in the realm of theoretical reason (66). Bunte analogizes that Kantian practical reason must be premised on the idea that the moral self gives itself its rules (66). Bunte here distinguishes the analogical cases by arguing that reason’s theoretical use refers to the laws of nature but that its practical use must refer to laws of freedom, which means laws that it must give itself (67). While Bunte largely thinks that Hegel’s critique rings true, he believes Kant succeeds in answering one part of Hegel’s objection: the moral imperative is something the self commands to itself as a demand of reason and that he develops such an account in Religion (70).

Bunte believes both that the formalism objection applies to Kant and succeeds convinced the formalism objection succeeds. There is a large amount of literature on this that finds things murkier: there is disagreement as to both what the objection is, to whether it misses the mark, and to whether Kantians have resources to resist or overcome it (See for instance Hoy 1989, Freyenhagen 2012, and Stern 2012).

  1. Foundations of Normativity, Max Gottschlich

Unlike many articles in this volume, Max Gottschlich’s article focused on identifying which logic is best for normativity: “formal logic” which he identifies with pre-Kantian order of being thinking (74-75), “transcendental logic” which he identifies with Kant (75-81), or “dialectical logic” which he identifies with Hegel (81-86). Gottschlich dismisses formal logic as often used but not useful for considering normativity, because it cannot capture the paradox of determiner and determined.

Transcendental logic, in contrast, focuses on the paradox of determiner and determined and identifies the limits of what can be said and is naturally reflexive (76). In Kant, this accomplishes “self-fulfilling self-relation” (77, emphasis in original). Through this, Gottschlich states that transcendental logic identifies the role of values and norms in “settings” (77). Gottschlich mentions in passing that he thinks the formalism objection is wrong (in opposition to several articles in this volume), that Kant and Hegel agree that value must begin in reason, and that Hegel’s true objection is to the absolute form, rather than developmental growth, that births duties (80).

Gottschlich sees dialectical logic’s acceptance of contradiction as its genius (82). In a clearer formulation, the point is that “the self only maintains itself by losing itself” – in other words when it recognizes its mediation as dynamic act rather than absolute (84). Gottschlich then turns to how norms are produced in the Hegelian account (86). While Kant and Hegel both make goal-setting a sign of rationality, Gottschlich sees Hegel’s version as more advanced because it abstracts from the abstracting in the execution of a “concrete universal” (86-87). Gottschlich next looks at poiesis (production) where Kant’s form is too abstract to derive anything but an abstract universal (90). Only in Hegel, he maintains, can we find subjectivity (a subjectivity beyond the self) as the goal (91). At many points, Hegel’s critiques seemed to be accepted uncritically and would have benefited from more interaction with defenses of the Kantian approaches.

  1. Hegel über die logischen Grundlagen der Sittlichkeit, Klaus Vieweg

Klaus Vieweg’s article was the singular contribution in German to this volume. Vieweg highlights the important role of civil society in PR often overlooked since it is only one step before right’s ultimate form in the state. After rehearsing PR’s Morality as a critique of Kant and a demonstration of its self-inadequacy (95-96), Vieweg focuses on Ethical Life as “eines logisch fundierten Systems der allgemeinen Willensbestimmungen konzipiert, als das Objektive der Freiheit” (97). In this domain, it is not the objective that dominates like a yoke but reason as a cozier hearth that determines things based on both objective and subjective will (97-98).

Vieweg focuses on the role of civil society and how it helps us understand modern society. Viewing identifies civil society as setting living a good life as the goal in a domain where consciousness has been brought under the concept (98-99). This is true freedom insofar as thinking has itself as its end. While Vieweg notes the work of Dieter Henrich on Hegel’s Lecture on the State as Three Ends, he argues that civil society’s importance has not been sufficiently mined in PR (99). Vieweg sees reflection and necessity as the distinctive marks of civil society that separate it from the family’s role as the natural end of humanity and the state’s self-substantial unity (100). Vieweg argues that this logic occurs in triadic form throughout these three forms of Ethical Life but in different sequences (101).

For Vieweg, what unifies all of the forms Ethical Life is that they all will the concept not only subjectively but in recognition of its objectivity (103; PR §142A). In this way, they are self-developing ends. They advance over the freedom of persons in abstract right, the freedom of moral subjects in Morality, and become the freedom of ethical subjects (103). Through this, they find themselves unified in a moral community (103).

  1. How is Practical Philosophy Speculatively Possible?, Christian Krijnen

Christian Krijnen’s article identifies both Kant and Hegel as contributors to a complete account of normativity. Krijnen argues that post-Kantian attempts in German Idealism to better ground the unity of practical and theoretical reason all lead to the centrality of freedom and the construction of value-laden reality (106-107). Krijnen believes the Kantian approach succumbs to a formalism objection that Hegel avoids this by understanding “self-formation as self-knowledge in the fashion of a self-realization of the concept” (107). At the same time, Krijnen argues that Hegel’s solution eviscerates practical philosophy by thematizing it as the “speculative doctrine of the idea” rather than engage it practically (108). Thus, Krijnen holds that Hegel does achieve a unity in the form of free Spirit but that this unity sublates practical philosophy and demeans it as an inadequate form of knowledge (109).

Returning to Kant’s architectonic, Hegel is not describing what “ought to be” in practical philosophy (110). In Kant’s picture, the free will needs to realize the rational object of its freedom, which it experiences as an ought (111). In contrast, Hegel’s Ethical Life focuses on the actuality of freedom rather than an ought: “The point for Hegel here is that we only have concrete, not mere abstract duties only in the realm of Sittlichkeit” (112).

Krijnen’s positive task is to establish a speculative practical philosophy despite Hegel’s failure to provide one (112). He begins by noting that Kant makes moral agents the originators of their actions (through the bifurcation of the world into the deterministic theoretical realm and the free practical realm), and this for Hegel is only true in the realm of subjective Spirit – not objective Spirit (112-113). Krijnen notes that abstract oughts operate as givens for Hegel and thus remain inadequate, which makes them inadequate for the living good that Hegel demands of the sphere of action (113-114).

Krijnen thinks an answer can be found in Bildung in the family and civil society (114-115). Krijnen then differentiates his view from those of Vieweg and Cobben. Krijnen thinks that Vieweg is wrong to think Hegel does not need a “canon of duties,” because Hegel does not abandon Morality’s truth but brings into Ethical Life (116). For Cobben, Krijnen notes the degree to which both treat Bildung but argues that the solutions Cobben notes are problems of integrating practical philosophy into Hegel rather than irremediable deficits in Hegel’s philosophy (117).

  1. The Normative Function of the Right of Objectivity in Hegel’s Theory of Imputation, Giulia Battistoni

Giulia Battistoni presents a deeply technical argument about imputation in the Morality section of PR. Battistoni first maintains that Hegel’s critique of Kant identified with PR §135 shows Kant unable to “derive particular and concrete duties from the determination of duty as formal correspondence with itself” and requires evaluating both the “consequences of actions” and “the social context” (121). While Ethical Life merges objective and subjective concerns of right, Battistoni sees Morality as the locus where imputation attributes subjective right to a moral subject (121-122). In Morality, the moral subject experiences the good as an ought, which interestingly creates the problem of making this “both the true good and a mere opinion” where actions are good if they are born of good intention (123).

To understand imputation in this context, Battistoni draws a parallel with Hegel’s two notions of nature (128). First nature is externality which can take the form of a natural world which stands in opposition to the subject as a determination separate from will (124). Second nature is the habituation and internalization of the social order of right (127). Battistoni locates the lower sense in Abstract Right and the higher sense in Morality, especially PR §119A’s claim that external deeds are categorized as we impute motives to the moral subjects involved (132).

  1. Freedom from Kant to Hegel, Christian Schmidt

Christian Schmidt’s article differs from many of the other critiques in defending Hegel against a contemporary critique. Schmidt tests whether Louis Althusser’s critique of German Idealism applies to Hegel and through this differentiates Kant and Hegel on freedom. Schmidt looks at why Althusser calls Hegel an empiricist by highlighting how Hegel mines the real by dividing the empirical and the essence of things to get to their essences (142). As Schmidt points out, this largely echoes Hegel’s critique of Kant where the empirical becomes merely material fodder for the categories to peel off (142). In contrast, Hegel sees understanding as a synthesis of sensuous manifold and mental activity (143). While knowing this, Althusser still things Hegel is guilty of the same bifurcation.

Schmidt spends the rest of the article looking specifically at freedom in Kant and Hegel as “a property of rational beings and moral (or political, or social) agents that is not detachable” and the critique of this analysis in Foucault and Althusser (144-145). Schmidt first explains how reason and understanding are the self-activity of subjects that separate them from animals (145). Despite the receptive components of understanding, Kant believes moral agents are free (146). Schmidt characterizes Kant’s account as “highly abstract … purified from all social and political meaning” (146). On this basis, Schmidt believes Althusser stands justified in his critique of Kant (147).

Hegel’s subject, like Kant’s, is a break in the causal chain (147-148). At the same time, Hegelian freedom is the restriction of “dull-witted emotions and raw impulses” (LPWH 103-104) that only finds itself in the state (148). In Hegel, freedom is a byproduct of people pursuing desire since this constructs and restructures the rules of society (148-149). This merges with spontaneity insofar as individuals collide with the established order (151). Thus, Hegel presents a unified idea of freedom where freedom is “the concretization of spontaneity” (152). For this reason, Schmidt rejects Althusser’s critique of Hegel.

  1. Justification of the State: Kant and Hegel, Jiří Chotaš

Jiří Chotaš contrasts Kant and Hegel’s justifications of the state. Chotaš reads Kant as like Hobbes building the state from a state of nature where people “are at each other’s mercy” who produce by nature a civil union with a “general united will” that expresses itself in the ruler, the judge, and most importantly the legislator which cooperate for the benefit of the citizens (158-161).

While Hegel shared Kant’s idea that “freedom creates human substance,” Hegel also examined how it was realized, Hegel believed Kant erred by basing this union on “an arbitrary will of individuals” who sought to establish it for property and contracts (164). In contrast, Hegel believed the State was the natural home of people and argued for this in PR, his “scientific proof of the concept of the state” (164).

Chotaš summarizes the stages of Ethical Life. First, Chotaš looks at family, focusing on how marriage links non-related people around love and common interest rather than as Kant supposed contract (166). Second, civil society arises through the division of labor (167). To this, Hegel joins the Polizei who secure “external order” in matters as diverse as public health and bridge-building (168). Chotaš identifies these attributes as giving civil society the status of being “‘an external state’ as well as ‘a state of necessity’ (PR §183)” (168). Here, corporations protect their members like an extended family and provide “the second ethical root of the state” (169). Third and finally, the state itself functions as the culmination of the ethical ideal actualizing itself in customs (169) and replicating the family as “a human community with its own spirit and will” but through “political virtue” rather than feeling (169-170). The state also takes on attributes of civil society, by transforming people’s ends and unifying them as a whole (170).

Chotaš then distinguishes Hegel’s state from Kant’s. He begins by noting that for Hegel, peoples and their constitutions are mirrors (171). He notes that both believe constitutional change should happen through constitutional procedures (171). He notes that Hegel also has three powers but they differ: “the legislative power, the executive power, and the princely power or monarchy” (171). For Hegel, the most important of these is the sovereign (PR §273, 279R) but remains under the constitution (171-172). Chotaš also describes the Hegelian legislature: upper house of landed gentry by birth and lower house by election (172). Chotaš’s article could have demonstrated further differences by addressing Kant’s Religion and contemporary defenses of Kant’s state.

  1. Hegel’s Republican Penal Philosophy: an Attempt at a Contemporary Reconstruction, Benno Zabel

Benno Zabel focuses on the republican nature of Hegel’s penal philosophy, situating it in an account of PR (182-183). Zabel identifies crime in Hegel as “(performative) self-contradiction” (184). Zabel explains using PR §95 that in crime, a criminal violates freedom (184-185). This must be met with cancellation (185). As Zabel points out, Hegel believes crime only applies to actions (185). Zabel identifies three practical functions in Hegel’s conception of punishment: “the dimension of the (formal) recognition of status, the dimension of the institutionalized procedure and the dimension of social communication” (186). Recognition of status begins with the “effective power of sanctions” (186). This also brings to the fore the standing of the victim as a member of a moral community (186). Crime, for Hegel, is resistance to “the common normative basis” and must be met so that crime does not appear as valid (187).

Turning to institutionalized procedure, Zabel contends that Hegel sees punishment as part and parcel of a legal procedure (187). Thus, it simultaneously refers to the separation of powers (187). In other words, the counter-coercion of punishment must occur on “a universally recognized basis” in accepted criminal law (188). As Zabel notes, for Hegel, contra Foucault, these procedures are precisely the prevention of despotism (188). Textually, Zabel supports this from the “administration of justice” (189).

Finally, Zabel points out how punishment communicates for Hegel (191). Zabel explains that “punishment can be considered only as retaliation (Wiedervergeltung), that is, as (symbolic) restoration of the order of freedom” (191). Zabel notes that Hegel is not limited to mere retribution, however, and can help in “the general prevention of crime and betterment of the individual” as punishment becomes “a visible part of society” (191). In this way, punishment communicates. Zabel disagrees with Cooper’s Abstract Right only reading (1971) and other interpretations that isolate punishment from the larger context of Hegel’s PR. Zabel thus argues for a punishment plus account of Hegel’s penal philosophy in line with Brooks (2012) and Komasinski (2018) and others.

  1. History as the Progress in the (Un)Consciousness of Freedom?, Tereza Matějčková

Matějčková’s article contrasts the destructive Enlightenment that felled governments and challenged religions with a Hegelian concept of freedom where freedom invigorates institutions (196-197). Kant occupies a middle where the limits of knowledge lead to “respect and toleration of others” (198). Hegel extends this by making actions reflexive and incorporating a social reality in the “I that is We and We that is I” (199 quoting PhG 110). On this reading, normativity becomes an internal feature of freedom such that Absolute Spirit’s achievement is to recognize that “that its own thinking has been conditioned by a plurality of other spirits or subjects” (200). This particular characterization of absolute Spirit could have been expanded and defended textually.

Matějčková uses PhG’s lengthy phrenology critique to highlight how this involves a re-appropriation of the physical contra dualistic approaches that deny the skull-bone any part in Spirit. For Hegel, in contrast, it is a part but just one part and highlights the Hegelian idea that the inner is the outer and the outer the inner (203-205).

For Hegel, all of the upheavals of history are part of “the progress of the consciousness of freedom” (206). In the realm of history, this amounts to a recognition that nature by itself has no history, because nature is not for itself (207). Only by the addition of human freedom and spontaneity can something new arise (207). In Hegel’s history, world-historical people function precisely by using freedom to overturn existing structure (208). In the process, they appeal to the people (209). Joined to its dynamism is the terminus of history (210). This end is one where freedom is being achieved through equal checks and balances in the institutions (210). Matějčková maintains that contra Popper, Hegel’s philosophical system develops institutions that enable people to have personal freedoms (211). This article covers a lot of ground and makes interesting arguments that would be clearer if they were set in contrast to others writing on similar topics in Hegel such as Adrian Peperzak’s Modern Freedom (2001).

  1. Is There Any Philosophy of History?, Jean-François Kervégan

Kervégan contrasts philosophy of history in Kant and Hegel against the backdrop of the arguments between enlightenment and anti-enlightenment thought (219-220). Kervégan first notes Voltaire’s coining of the term in 1765 and its audacity for mixing two heretofore distinct areas of knowledge as a history of human spirit (217-218).

Kervégan believes Kant lacks a proper philosophy of history, because the Kant texts generally categorized do not deal with a “system of rational knowledge via concepts” (220). Kervégan suggests that Kant’s historical works even when they present a “history of freedom” are still just histories rather than a proper philosophy of history, because philosophy proper is metaphysics in nature and freedom and “historical considerations do not belong to it” (226).

Conversely, Kervégan identifies the history of philosophy as central to Hegel’s philosophy (226). Given Hegel’s dialectical philosophy, Spirit is always working towards an adequate understanding of itself including its history (227). Philosophy thinks in the present and thinks the rational as actual and the actual as rational (228). This has the consequence of making history present to itself. In other words, the object of Hegel’s philosophy of Spirit is history, and Spirit is also the one doing the study (229).

  1. “Freedom in the European Sense”: Hegel on Action, Heroes, and Europe’s Philosophical Groundwork, Alberto L. Siani

Siani argues that Hegel and Europe are intertwined terms with Hegel’s insight being that institutions should mirror the freedom of people (235-236). Siani quotes Hegel’s linkage of Europe and freedom: “It is especially this subjective or moral freedom that is called freedom in the European sense” in the Morality section of the encyclopedia (EPS, §503R, 224) (236).

Siani explicates this through PR’s Morality section emphasizing Hegel’s critique which Siani articulate as follows: “morality has to state the difference between subject and object in order to affirm the freedom of the former, but if this difference is absolutized, subjective freedom can never bridge the gap to objectivity, and hence becomes utterly ineffective and empty” (241). This is, of course, overcome for Hegel in Ethical Life in which subjective freedom bridges the gap. Classically, the individual is free qua an identity rather than an abstraction (243). Modern freedom requires that tragedy intervene and make this freedom open (243). Siani then provides an extended consideration of Antigone and the role of heroes in the transformation of freedom (243-248).

As this is the third chapter in this volume to articulate a version of Hegel’s critique of Morality, it would help to understand how the different interpretations contrast with each other and differentiate themselves from common interpretations and defenses against the objection from Kantian scholars.

External References

Brooks, Thom. 2012. “Hegel and the Unified Theory of Punishment.” In Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, edited by Thom Brooks, 103–23. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Cooper, David E. 1971. “Hegel’s Theory of Punishment.” In Hegel’s Political Philosophy: Problems and Perspectives, edited by Z.A. Pelczynski, 151–67. London: Cambridge University Press.

Freyenhagen, Fabian. 2012. “The Empty Formalism Objection Revisited: §135R and Recent Kantian Responses.” In Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, by Thom Brooks, 43–72. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hoy, David Couzens. 1989. “Hegel’s Critique of Kantian Morality.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 6 (2): 207–32.

Komasinski, Andrew. 2018. “Hegel’s Complete Views on Crime and Punishment.” Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (4): 525–44. https://doi.org/10.1017/apa.2018.35.

Peperzak, Adriaan Theodoor. 2001. Modern Freedom: Hegel’s Legal, Moral, and Political Philosophy. Studies in German Idealism, v. 1. Dordrecht ; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Stern, Robert. 2012. “On Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Ethics: Beyond the Empty Formalism Objection.” In Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, edited by Thom Brooks, 73–99. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Emilio Carlo Corriero: The Absolute and the Event: Schelling after Heidegger, Bloomsbury, 2020

The Absolute and the Event: Schelling after Heidegger Book Cover The Absolute and the Event: Schelling after Heidegger
Emilio Carlo Corriero
Bloomsbury
2020
Hardback £76.50
192

John J. Drummond and Otfried Höffe (Eds.): Husserl: German Perspectives

Husserl: German Perspectives Book Cover Husserl: German Perspectives
John J. Drummond and Otfried Höffe (Eds.)
Fordham University Press
2019
Hardback $75.00
361

Reviewed by: Meghant Sudan (Boise State University)

Twelve strong essays in this excellent and impressively well-knit collection present different but convergent examinations of master-themes in Husserl’s philosophy like intentionality and the reduction/s, while also discussing specific doctrines relating to psychologism, the eidetic method, objectifying acts, time-consciousness, truth and error, monadological construction, and the intersection of phenomenology and cultural critique.  The authors use a variety of approaches, historical or developmental readings and analytic commentary, comparative analysis and speculative interpretation, and, while several authors, along with the editors, are well-known to anglophone phenomenologists and Kantians, even the less familiar ones are easily recognized names in the field (the collection features four deceased philosophers, five emeritus professors, four senior figures, and one younger researcher).  The essays were originally written in German, dating mostly from the 1980s-1990s with a few from the first decade of our century, and the translators Hayden Kee, Patrick Eldridge, and Robin Litscher Wilkins have conveyed their different philosophical and rhetorical styles with facility.  Overall, the collection promises to present (to a non-initiate, it should be noted) Husserl’s thought through “German perspectives.”

It is worth pausing to consider what this last could mean.  For it promises to show a whole force-field of thought determined by linguistic, geographical, and historical connections, and even how these determinations are themselves determined by what is left out, that is, the kind of work occurring in other, principally anglophone traditions.  For instance, the collection emphasizes the dense overlap of Husserlian and Heideggerean views as opposed to cleanly separating the two, while it underplays treatments of Gadamer and Merleau-Ponty and with them certain types of questions of aesthetics, materiality, and intersubjectivity, which form a dominant thrust in the anglophone reception of phenomenology in Continental-philosophical quarters.  Similar determining occlusions can be mentioned with respect to Analytic-philosophical quarters, for example, the absence of applications of phenomenology to cognitive science (and vice-versa) or the interpretation of Buddhist doctrines, or, given the unifying thread throughout the volume, which understands intentionality in highly active and teleological terms, the absence of treatments of kinaesthesia and action-in-perception views.  Finally, aside from the last essay on Husserl’s thought through the Crisis, the collection passes up the chance to examine the very notion of a perspective as cultural, such as one that might be German but also European (itself universalized and universalizing) by way of recovering ancient Greek thought according to a German self-understanding prepared over the 18th and 19th centuries.

Or one could bring under “German perspectives” a number of major, agenda-setting articles unavailable in translation; or those from a devoted journal or issue or proceedings from a signal conference, whose historical significance has been recognized; or the workings of a particularly productive group or research from a particular archive; or translations of introductions to standardized editions of Husserl’s works; or simply the task of introducing some well-known figures and works to anglophone readership as R.O. Elveton’s classic little collection did several years ago, although several authors in the present volume require no introduction; or the relation of Husserl’s thought to other points taken as definitive of German philosophy (Leibniz-Wolff, German Idealism).  In their short, elegant introduction, the editors state that the volume simply aims to bring before an English-language reader some previously untranslated articles by important German-language commentators, showcasing conversations they have with other important German-language philosophers.  Of course, neither this deflationary description nor the curious designation “German Perspectives” in any way detracts from the high quality of the collection, and, in fact, the conversations linking the pieces in multiple ways, I find, constitute its greatest strength. I take the designation, however, as recording the need for further attempts along lines noted in the list above, some of whose elements can be glimpsed occasionally through the collection, which this review will highlight in the course of addressing each article in order.

Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl (1997)[1] revisits Hussserl’s critique of psychologism in the Prolegomena to show that it was only partially successful, which helps understand in a subtler way the major philosophical re-orientation that followed. Thus, no rectilinear path takes us from the psychologism-critique to the transcendental-philosophical stages of Husserl’s work and questions broached in earlier stages persistently re-appear later.  This is because Husserl’s critique did not attend as much to the presuppositions of a psychologistic view as it did to the debilitating consequences of that view, which were taken as endorsing subjectivism and skepticism.  This conflated different skeptical charges (logical, epistemological, metaphysical) and missed, quite directly, the issue of a dispute of principles, or the problem of the criterion, between psychologistic and anti-psychologistic standpoints, and, indirectly, the need to interrogate the latent issues of psychologism and Platonism in Husserl’s use of descriptive psychology and the foundations of normativity asserted in both psychologistic and anti-psychologistic models, albeit differently.

Husserl’s development of the phenomenological reduction enabled such interrogations spanning across static and genetic phenomenological inquiries.  They did not arise with sole regard to developing a practical-philosophical framing against an overly theoretical one (a view tempted by the later talk of the life-world) but by reframing of the operative conception of science in order to handle the previously overlooked skeptical problems.  Pure logic’s “objectivistic” model of science is replaced by a more subjectivistic model supplied by philosophy itself, as the debate shifts from being between logic and psychology to one between philosophy and psychology and the rejection of epistemological skepticism as a condition of philosophy replaces a narrower overcoming of logical skepticism for the sake of pure logic as a science of science (36-38).  Rinofner-Kreidl proceeds carefully and meticulously, but perhaps due to this it is hard to find many references to German perspectives beyond the odd citation of a counter-critique from a psychologistic point of view, and one gets the impression that an obvious and influential German elephant in the room has been neglected, namely, the German Idealist shape of this transcendental-philosophical battle with skepticism at the level of principles and over the possibility of philosophy itself as a science of science.  Rinofner-Kreidl’s detailed analysis thus sheds light on the dark corners of Husserl’s articulation of the problem of psychologism, but has the unfortunate effect of making the Logical Investigations appear insufficiently philosophical, philosophy itself being discovered by Husserl only afterwards.

Ludwig Landgrebe (d.1991; undated essay), by contrast, stresses the inner philosophical unity running through Husserl’s oeuvre, thus, a unity animating, even if in embryonic form, the early works as well as the psychologism-critique of the Investigations (51-59), by focusing on the concept of intentionality and underlining its achieving, striving character.  Further, he provides the German context for a divided reception of this concept: on the one hand, phenomenology took up the descriptive-psychological investigations as de-linked from this inner thematic, widened a growing rift between eidetics- and ontology-centric approaches, and overall divorced from phenomenological studies a deeper ontology-critique that was always a part of Husserl’s efforts; on the other hand, phenomenology retained this deeper critical edge and fundamentally re-thought the inner thematic itself, which Heidegger did in re-situating the analysis of intentionality on the grounds of the facticity of Dasein.

According to Landgrebe, it is not simply the case that Heidegger rejects the reduction as a method (for it was always more than a way to initiate constitution-analyses of consciousness and already engaged the possibility of ontology in Husserl), nor merely that Heidegger begins his intentional analysis from being-in-the-world rather than the other way around (for the Husserlian apprehension of intentionality as active, self-producing and self-temporalizing form already broke through mundane comportments towards their inner structure).  Rather, Heidegger contests the model of subjectivity assumed in these conceptions of intentionality and reduction, which comprises reflection and an “attitude of impartial observing” (75) achieved by bracketing one’s determinate Dasein in order to universalize the partial acts of reflection.  This, however, conceives oneself as only an indifferent other and fails to apprehend the self-knowing of Dasein in its performance of existence, which takes us to the limits of intentional analysis, since the synthetic constitution of an object can no longer be found here.  How an a priori is to be still articulated here, how a metaphysic of facticity is possible – these questions remained on Husserl’s mind in the last years and remain open for future phenomenology, for Landgrebe.

Jan Patočka (1982) too takes intentionality in its active, dynamic form to be a guiding principle for phenomenology at large and uses it to examine the Husserl-Heidegger relation, although not to see in  it a parting of ways but an interweaving of interests and a critical continuity of the phenomenological project.  At the heart of such a reconciliation is Patočka’s reading of the reduction as marked by a fundamental circumscription (the suspension of the epoché distinguished from an alleged march to reduce all being to the absolute sphere of consciousness), which both bridges the rift Landgrebe outlined between eidetic and ontological strains of phenomenological research and qualifies Heidegger’s seeming rejection of the reduction.  Patočka bases his reading on Husserl’s 1907 lectures on The Idea of Phenomenology to find that the reduction maintains a positivity of being and envisions research into phenomena as resisting a total absorption into immanence by inexhaustible progress through experience, balancing eidetic reflection against the constructions of positivity in science or modernity itself.

Although Husserl couched the reduction in a subjectivist vocabulary stemming from Kant and Fichte,[2] the tension present in it between reifying and non-objectifying aspects, and of questions of being and nothing, allows us to discern Heideggerean motives that are otherwise expressed in the language of moods and errances of being.  Thus, “the possibility of an epoché and its limbo is inherent in the experience of annihilation… [I]t is not the epoché that establishes the limbo upon which the phenomenological reduction is built up, but rather the epoché presupposes the experience of the limbo….” (99-100).  While Heidegger’s critique takes this nihilating moment to the greatest distances from Husserl in using it to launch a metaphysical critique of the presupposition of acts of negation in formal logic, Patočka believes it possible (and believes Heidegger believed a reconciliation was possible) to see both thinkers grounding their overall visions for philosophy upon a reflection on crisis as such, which remains the task of future shapes of phenomenology.

Dieter Lohmar’s (2005) defense of eidetic intuition and variation as a self-standing phenomenological method continues within the outline of the German reception of Husserl’s thought as given by Landgrebe and continues with Patočka to question the reduction’s claims to be a univocal, unitary phenomenological method.  Lohmar argues that eidetic intuition should be seen as a variety of categorial intuition insofar as both preserve a basic orientation to the possibility of knowing an object through a pathway of syntheses of coincidence.  This clarifies how eidetic variation is the key element of a method centered on eidetic intuition, which overcomes nagging questions in that method about non-givenness in intuition for certain classes of objects (image consciousness, universal objects) by asserting the functional primacy of free variation in phantasy over perception. One might hold that free variation needs the reduction to get off the ground, but Lohmar explains that both eidetic variation and the phenomenological reduction suspend the factual to reveal universals, but their purposes are different, as reduction targets validity justifications but variation lets us uncover structures of clarity answering to initially vague concepts, thus undertaking the philosophical clarification of knowledge itself.

This is a clear account of the method, and Lohmar does address worries about its limits (how far must we go?  when do we stop? do we presuppose a concept in clarifying a concept? is cultural parochialism inherent in the limits of the operation and the concept clarified?), but Lohmar hastily brushes aside other questions in its wake or gestures towards the genetic theory of types for further development of the method, undermining its claims to theoretical independence.  If the process sounds like an empiricist account of the generation of concepts or even what Kant calls their logical origin in acts of comparison and abstraction, we are told that Husserl is not indulging in a genetic psychology of concepts, but is in pursuit of universal objects, and in any case, Kant too buried many secrets about the imagination’s powers in the depths of the human soul; if the Platonism charge is recalled at this point, we are told that Husserl really treats Platonism as little more than mysticism and does not assert a separate realm of irreal being; if we ask after the apriority these objects may still claim, even without reminders about their location in the realm of absolute being of consciousness, we are told that Husserlian apriority is not severed from experience like Kant’s but more like Humean induction; if we ask about the Humean legacy, we are referred to Husserl’s un-Humean, mitigated Platonism; etc.  What one misses is an actual confrontation with these issues, which are either invoked by Lohmar himself (not only when he brings up Kant as a foil, but also when he describes seeing the a priori in the very ways that trouble Kant’s problematic theory of constructing concepts [137-138n.57]) or which are present in Husserl and call for greater scrutiny (the relation of the doctrines of eidetic intuition and variation in the 6th Investigation to the critique of Modern nominalism and of Humean doctrines like ‘circles of resemblance’ in the 2nd Investigation). Overall, however, that eidetic investigation seems to have kept the Husserl-Archiv in Köln busy relatively recently (133n.1) indicates that this German perspective of inquiry is alive and well, Landgrebe’s diagnoses notwithstanding.

Karl Schuhmann (1991) presents an historical German perspective as he takes us back to Husserl’s manuscripts prior to the Logical Investigations and complicates the story of origins, somewhat as Rinofner-Kreidl did, by arguing that the discovery of intentionality did not occur entirely within the scope of Brentano’s doctrine, as the 5th Investigation may lead us to believe, but emerged from efforts to resolve Twardowski’s proposals in its vicinity.  This also yields the corollary that Husserl’s progress towards a theory of noema does not follow directly from the initial conception of intentionality.  The problem posed by Twardowski asks about the way representations can both relate to an object (for a representation represents something) and yet not relate to an object (when nothing in actuality answers to it).[3] Twardowski’s solution proposed two kinds of objects to reconcile the universal relation to objects as well (as psychic contents) cases of actual objects. Husserl rejected this solution for its psychological implausibility (unlimited variety and complexity of psychic contents) and epistemological redundancy (the object known is always one and the object of a contradiction does not exist in any guise).

This, however, moved him into treating all propositions as falling under a guiding assumption for the relevant discourse, which modifies not objectivity but the position of the subject and its representations.  Husserl’s solution thus turns to the subject, its doxic investments and the discursive form of knowledge, which suggest the new concept of intentionality; but he is still far from clarifying the systematic place of the subject in which these acts and contents take place, the consistency and priorities among different discursive forms of objectivity, and the coherence of judgment forms with perceptual knowing. But the future concept that dealt with the latter issues cannot be said to simply arise from the early concept, because the question of being was not posed in any critical way at all earlier and because the later concept of noema recalls elements of Twardowski’s interpretation, which had supposedly been overcome.  Schuhmann leaves us with tantalizingly brief indications (which may be the case when working from fragmentary manuscripts, although Brentano’s and Twardowski’s theses could have been developed more broadly to give a fuller sense of the territory within which Husserl worked), without paving with further clues from developmental history the actual path from here to the theories of intentionality in the Logical Investigations and Ideas I.

Verena Mayer and Christopher Erhard (2008) take up the concept of intentionality as developed in the 5th Logical Investigation, and, although this essay is a solid and detailed exposition of the main sections of this Investigation (thus filling an oppressive gap in the literature while also conversing with the few who do attend to this topic), it also helps understand more broadly some key areas of concern for the early Husserl signaled by Schuhmann, such as the question of fitting judgment with perception, details from the general background and the internal critique of Brentano that contextualized Husserl’s own forays, the holism about mental contents that enables an analysis at the level of acts rather than isolated attention to representations or images or names or judgments, etc.

Importantly, Mayer walks us through the 5th Investigation as it integrates different mental components into the concept of an act with its intentional essence, which is crucial for understanding the active nature of intentionality as a horizonally shaped process of a cognitive fulfillment. Erhard provides a detailed reconstruction of the concept of objectifying acts, which is important to understand how the intentionality of an experience is variously articulated and modified, sometimes at the level of content, sometimes at the level of quality, in regard either to imaginative variation or to identifying syntheses in actual cognition. Owing to the expository nature of this commentary, one sometimes feels the need for critical argumentation over merely presenting Husserl’s view, which is admittedly hard to discern in these thickets.  The authors are aware that the 5th Investigation is tortuous terrain, but precisely its complexity offers a rich field of interaction with Analytic Philosophy and their own effort to craft a workable platform across this terrain is already a necessary step towards such dialogue.

Ulrich Melle (1990) deepens the investigation into objectifying acts by clarifying it against non-objectifying acts, which Mayer and Erhard had noted as a topic developed more fully by Husserl only after the Logical Investigations, and by drawing out the larger context of these acts, which tug at the models of perception and judgment in different ways and inform Husserl’s “pluralistic theory of reason…[as] logical-cognitive, axiological, and practical.” (193)  Melle relies on manuscripts of Husserl’s ethics lectures (1908/9, 1911, 1914, 1920) to bring out Husserl’s vexations over adjusting objectifying and non-objectifying acts at different levels, trying at times to understand the latter acts of valuing, feeling, desiring, and willing in terms of the former acts of perception and intellection, recognizing at others a self-sufficiency of non-objectifying acts in terms of objective content or existence-positing modifications.

Even if these attempts are not settled conclusively, Melle persuasively shows both the blurring of the distinction between the two types of acts and the concomitant unification of theory of reason as obtaining over different types of objectivities.  This lucid essay is too short, however, to learn more about the way the theory of reason develops along the traditional axes of the true, the beautiful, and the good, while responding to the new objectivities on offer through non-objectifying acts, or about ways to strengthen suggestions that these reflections on value-theory bend Husserl’s overall project or put pressures on particular tendencies in it, such as the content-apprehension scheme.  One is left wanting especially in regard to other German perspectives on these questions, whether other phenomenological work on ethics like Scheler’s, or, what is better known in the anglophone world, Heidegger’s attention to the question of being and to art and Gadamer’s investigations of aesthetics.

Klaus Held (1981, with references updated to include recent publications) provides a dense meditation on the phenomenology of time to explicate the Husserlian notion and to outline possibilities beyond it by overcoming its residual Cartesianism.  The latter is indicated in the very terminology of time-consciousness that lures the underlying idea into the trap of subjectivism, from which Held seeks to liberate that idea to see time as that which “measures the phenomenal field in its fluctuation” (210; the Aristotelian-Heideggerean punning intended by Held).  Like others in this volume, Held views intentionality as a fundamentally dynamical condition and one vividly sees the interaction with other German perspectives here as he thinks collaboratively with other authors in this volume like Landgrebe and Patočka.  But he stresses, with distinctively dialectical imagery (placing yet other German perspectives in view), the primacy of various tensions and oscillations, flow and passivity, withdrawals and emergences, which constitute the field of appearance stretching between or before subject and object.

This field of appearance in its essential fluidity should explain subjectivity, rather than the other way around, and instead of getting by with surrogates like “pre-objective” or “primal impression,” one must genuinely get hold of the ways in which unity of presentation is determined by the pulsating functions of the field itself.  Further, Held seeks to explain how the latter becomes fixed in form-content distinctions that, as revealed by his dissection of it, cloud Husserl’s account of time-consciousness.  Thus, by undoing presuppositions and untying knots in apprehending features of the phenomenal field such as its past and futural directionality, the subjective phenomena of remembering and forgetting, Held intends for his own proposal to remain phenomenological just when it is in danger of becoming an external dialectical construction.  Where this danger seems to be greatest is in Held’s attempt to reconcile the appropriatedly revised Husserlian theory with Heidegger’s discussion of moods and the disclosedness of the basic rhythm of life between poles of natality and mortality, which lends the “living present” its material vitality and actional character.  The undeniable appeal of the resulting view, however, encourages the interpretive risks.

Rudolf Bernet (2012) continues the attempt to think Husserl along with Heidegger by seeing the latter’s concepts of truth and untruth as grounded in Husserlian viewpoints, which also helps see a continuity between early and late Heidegger himself.  Untruth, for Husserl, is thought in terms of empty intending, which is shown to be consistent with accounts of idle chatter in Heidegger, and the way that idle chatter still bears a relation to truth, as do all human comportments, allows consistency with the essential cognitive drive of intentionality for Husserl.  Husserl’s conception of falsehood as a disappointment or conflict lies in a stronger dimension of truth than a merely unfulfilled intention. This too agrees with Heidegger’s conception in Being and Time of Dasein’s covering-over comportment, which still manifests a self-showing in cases of semblant appearing.

In one respect, Heidegger’s later conception through alethic disclosing draws closer to Husserl’s conception as he now “think[s] disclosedness and hiddenness through one another” (148) essentially and not only in terms of Dasein’s modes of fallenness.  But the increasing role of mystery in the later Heidegger escapes Husserlian synthetic projections entirely, and Bernet tries to show with reference to the Parmenides lectures that this leads to internal problems of its own, as Heidegger tries to derive the concept of mere falsehood and the concept of untruth proper or mystery as both types of a fundamental hiddenness.  Bernet’s exploration of the latter point could have been bolstered by an examination of Heidegger’s own critique of logic, which was touched on in Held’s essay.  But that would be a different essay, while the present one provides a very economical discussion of the central concepts at play and includes a very helpful list of references to all relevant texts on the doctrine of truth in Heidegger, and also broadens its own German perspectives to works written in French.

Karl Mertens (2000) examines the arguably directly German perspective invoked by Husserl himself in his invocations of Leibnizian monadology to articulate problems of intersubjectivity.  Since this dialogue, Mertens finds, is ultimately nugatory, it serves to caution against merging traditional metaphysics with Husserlian phenomenology. Yet, it may also be seen as spurring reformulations of phenomenology itself: in this regard Mertens’s essay is well positioned as leading into the last two essays considering Husserl’s thought in the Crisis, and, even if his essay is too short to dig deeper, Mertens rightly recognizes this juncture as a broadening of German perspectives by those opened up by Merleau-Ponty.  The endnotes include particularly useful pointers for further (German-language) discussions of various issues, both classic and contemporary.

Husserl turns to Leibniz as to a compatriot seeking to replace the bare Cartesian ego with an appropriately complex account of the concrete structures of subjectivity in the concept of the monad.  Leibniz was responding to classical problems about the individuality of substance and so his solutions simply do not work for a phenomenology operating on a very different plane.  Indeed, it is a mystery why Husserl looks to Leibniz at all, for the windowless monad allows no genuine intersubjectivity and the perspectivalist approach they seem to share goes no further than superficial similarity.  Unfortunately, Mertens does not help understand this mystery, nor the compounding mystery that Husserl foists atop this failed conversation his own problematic account of intersubjectivity, which Mertens, and not him alone, deems irredeemably solipsistic.  This creates suggestions for renewed efforts, however, and perhaps Husserl was ultimately driven by the Leibnizian encounter to yet greater interest in the constitution of horizons, as much as he was perhaps held back by his allegiance to notions of consciousness and predicative experience at just the point that phenomenology could have turned to questions of pre-predicative embodiment to articulate the truly social self in a truly worldly perspective.

Elisabeth Ströker (1988) reminds us that Husserl’s interest was directed towards the validity and meaning of science across his oeuvre and the theory of intentionality was prepared for the sake of connecting mind and world in a way that ultimately restores that lost validity and meaning.  The meaning of science is related to forms and contexts of practice and the transcendental theory of intentionality is related to the particular cultural-historical actuality of reason.  While talk of crisis was very much in the air when Husserl wrote his Crisis, his view is distinctive in taking philosophy as a critique of itself that is a critique of science that is a critique of culture.  This rests on a vision of unity of philosophy, science, and humanity, and of history as a long decay of a telic golden past, a “binding inheritance of Greek philosophy” (298).  Ströker strives to show how various technical concepts like life-world, constitution-analysis, subjectivity, etc. figure into this easy wisdom, and perhaps all this is forgivable given that this essay was in fact at first a public memorial address rather than a scholarly publication, but, also, perhaps unwittingly, it is a testimony to the kind of tritely tragic and grand-historical self-narrative that too can count itself as a German perspective.

Ernst Wolfgang Orth (1987) complements Ströker’s essay both by turning to the issue of culture primarily (over science) and by lending gravity to the issues at play therein, such as problems about universalizing particular forms of practice or concepts such as “humanity,” which stretches across space and time (Greeks and us) all too easily in Ströker’s essay.  Instead, he makes a compelling case for seeing cultural anthropology as uneasily integrated with transcendental phenomenology, which became evident to Husserl himself over the period from the Ideas to the Crisis.  The human being is neither that from which the transcendental ego is abstracted nor is the latter a real part of the former, but the human being is constituted from transcendental subjectivity and Husserl increasingly locates in this connection the coevality of a universal human science and a first philosophy.

The resulting approach differs sharply, to Orth’s mind, from a narrowly natural scientific orientation, and progressively complicates phenomenology’s inner premises (many reductions, not a single overarching one; the dialectic of emergence and withdrawal at the heart of intentionality as Held argued). This, in turn, proceeds towards a conception of the cultural sphere, which is neither a mere occasion for transcendental reflection, nor subsumed under transcendental constitution, but, rather, under the title “lifeworld,” names the broader viewpoint in which culture with its own irreducible thickness (which includes naturalized forms within itself) is integrated with phenomenological reflection on humanity, which is a variegated presupposition and a limit idea that constantly shapes the phenomenological project.  This is a wide-ranging and powerful proposal that simultaneously sheds light on many methodological questions about the Crisis as well as interfaces with other German perspectives, in this volume but also beyond.  But one wonders if, at the end, it is not just the problem of horizons that has been re-discovered under the name of culture, and, moreover, one remains as curious as before if any advance is made on questions of cultural difference, parochialism, and universalism, that is “culture” in the usual senses of the contingent and disparate determinations of human life.


[1] This is the date of the original German version of the essay. I will provide this information for each essay.

[2] Resonances with Fichtean exertions over the identity of the transcendental and the empirical subject, the assumed possibility of a science of science, the grounding of questions of method in questions of freedom, are present in several essays implicitly (we can already look back at Rinofner-Kreidl’s and Landgrebe’s essays in the light of these exertions) or explicitly in Patočka’s essay (97; and Hegel’s pistol-shot reference to Schelling is quoted on p. 99) or later in Held’s essay (236).  A mention of Fichte (or, for that matter, Hegel) is missing, however, in the helpful Index provided in the book, and perhaps this only indicates the need for including German Idealist background in a consideration of German Perspectives. Another wholly missing index entry is Gadamer, while Merleau-Ponty receives two indexical references to the same page, missing brief appearances on two other pages.

[3] Brentano’s concept of intentionality asserted a universal relation to an object, while Bolzano upheld objectless representations, so Schuhmann names this “the Brentano-Bolzano” problem.  Brentano’s auxiliary theses about converting any existential proposition into a judgment form and distinguishing determining predicates (which enrich a subject, e.g. “educated person”) and modifying predicates (which change the subject itself, e.g. “dead person”) were used by Twardowski to solve the problem.

Walter Hopp: Phenomenology: A Contemporary Introduction, Routledge, 2020

Phenomenology: A Contemporary Introduction Book Cover Phenomenology: A Contemporary Introduction
Routledge Research in Phenomenology
Walter Hopp
Routledge
2020
Hardback £120.00
400

Miroslav Petříček: Philosophy en noir, Karolinum Press, 2020

Philosophy en noir Book Cover Philosophy en noir
Václav Havel Series
Miroslav Petříček
Karolinum Press, Charles University
2020
Paper $20.00
330

Gregory P. Floyd, Stephanie Rumpza (Eds.): The Catholic Reception of Continental Philosophy in North America, University of Toronto Press, 2020

The Catholic Reception of Continental Philosophy in North America Book Cover The Catholic Reception of Continental Philosophy in North America
Gregory P. Floyd, Stephanie Rumpza (Eds.):
University of Toronto Press
2020
Cloth $60.00
346

Theodor W. Adorno: Ontology and Dialectics: 1960/61

Ontology and Dialectics: 1960-61 Book Cover Ontology and Dialectics: 1960-61
Theodor W. Adorno. Nick Walker (Translator)
Polity
2018
Paperback €21.46
384

Reviewed by: Sílvia Bento (Institute of Philosophy - University of Porto)

“I believe that if you look at the writings expressly directed against Wagner, and especially The Case of Wagner, you could readily extrapolate what he [Nietzsche] would have said against Heidegger. And I think if you could actually perform this feat of imagination that I am proposing to you, and envisage such a Nietzschean critique of Heidegger, then for penetrating insight it would surpass anything which I can offer you with my modest powers in these lectures.” (104)

These intriguing remarks, set forth by Theodor W. Adorno in his series of lectures delivered in Frankfurt during the winter semester of 1960/61, can be regarded as the touchstone of Ontology and Dialectics. This lecture course of 1960/61 – and the three Vorlesungen delivered at the Collège de France in March 1961 – first published in 2002 under the title Ontologie und Dialektik, excels in presenting a subtle analogy between Nietzsche’s positions concerning Richard Wagner’s music as a cultural expression of décadence and his remarks on Heidegger’s fundamental ontology as a degenerate movement or tendency against Aufklärung. As presented in Der Fall Wagner (1881), the Nietzschean formulation of Wagner’s music as a “disease” affecting German culture is evoked in order to analyse the philosophical observations on Heideggerian ontology developed by Adorno in Ontology and Dialectics. According to Adorno’s incisive observations, fundamental ontology, as defined by Heidegger, manifests a specifically German posture – considered by Adorno as profoundly deplorable – against Enlightenment ideology. As Adorno asserts, fundamental ontology is a philosophical movement which can be characterized as an abominably vile counter-Enlightenment. The Nietzschean analysis regarding the infamous power of seduction involving Wagner’s music, from Adorno’s point of view, is a “Heideggerian disease” because it profoundly affects the German academic world, which represents a new philosophical movement that is intensely respected and greatly venerated. The bizarreness of this Heideggerian spell, or disease, under which the German intelligentsia seemed to succumb, is often considered by Adorno:

“[…] for in Germany there are now hardly any responsible academic positions or professorial chairs in philosophy that do not feel obliged at least to show that they are somehow worthy of what has been achieved by Heidegger and Jaspers. And even those thinkers who for political and other reasons are extremely critical of both philosophers, but especially of Heidegger, still appear to be captivated – in a way I find really hard to understand since I have never experienced this spell myself – by this kind of thinking and seem unable to sever the umbilical cord entirely in this regard.” (100-101)

According to Adorno, fundamental ontology, Heidegger’s philosophical project, can be regarded as a philosophical tendency which owes its effect and possesses its forces through opposition to idealism in general. It is an anti-subjectivism; in fact, the philosophical question concerning fundamental ontology may be stated in a variety of ways. Adorno puts it thus: fundamental ontology is essentially an anti-subjectivist. Fundamental ontology stands in contrast to a philosophy which remains essentially devoted to a preliminary question, namely the question of how knowledge is possible at all. The coarse obliteration of the philosophical reflection upon the subjective mediation of knowledge and the epistemological relevance of the conceptual thought represents the chief theoretical posture of Heidegger’s ontology as conceived by Adorno.

Fundamental ontology is unequivocally the chief subject matter of Ontology and Dialectics by Theodor W. Adorno. The relevance of such a book – essentially a compilation of 23 Vorlesungen delivered in Frankfurt in 1960/61 and in Paris, at the Collège de France, in March 1961 (we refer to the last three lectures included in the book) – can be described in accordance with the consideration that the positions expressed in Ontology and Dialectics represent as an initial discussion of the Heideggerian ontology developed by Adorno. It should be observed that Ontology and Dialectics presents a philosophical anticipation of the incisively penetrating analysis of the Heideggerian ontology which, ultimately, forms the core of The Jargon of Authenticity, published in 1964. According to the “Editor’s Foreword” included in this edition, written by Rolf Tiedemann, the book Ontology and Dialectics, which expresses the philosophical antipathy to the ontological movement emanating from the Black Forest, evokes a project which Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht had already begun to pursue around 1930, not long after the publication of Being and Time. The project they sought to pursue was that of “demolishing Heidegger” [den Heidegger zu zertrümmern]. The intention of “demolishing Heidegger” pervades Adorno’s work and thought, especially after his return from exile to Germany. As Rolf Tiedemann elucidates, within the German philosophical academic circle developed after the end of the Third Reich, during the political and social process of re-establishing democracy in Germany, Adorno was widely regarded as the pre-eminent intellectual opponent to Heidegger – and Adorno accepted this incumbency. To lay emphasis on the fact that Adorno’s Complete Writings comprise almost 600 references to the name of Heidegger (exceeded in number only by those to Walter Benjamin) is not superfluous. Clearly then, “demolishing Heidegger” was an Adornian philosophical project. Nevertheless, the Adornian critique of Heidegger is not an aggressive refutation of the fundamental ontology that is without merit, nor is it intended to chiefly condemn the political positions adopted by Heidegger. The Adornian objections to Heidegger’s fundamental ontology that are most important are those which excel in revealing the dangerous political and social implications of a philosophical tendency – developed in accordance with the refusal of the cognitive sophistication of philosophy – that, in its instauration of odd cults and bizarre interests, promoted the pseudo-ideal of pre-Socratic irrationalism.

The title of the book, Ontology and Dialectics, alludes to Adorno’ intention of presenting a philosophical contrast between Heidegger’s fundamental ontology and Adorno’s own conception of dialectical thought as negative dialectics. This intention is subtly illustrated in a story involving Gustav Mahler and his literary taste.

“It is well known that Gustav Mahler was passionately interested in Dostoyevsky, who stood for something quite different in the years around 1890 than he does of Moeller van den Bruck. On one occasion, during an excursion with Schoenberg and his pupils, Mahler is said to have advised them to spend less time studying counterpoint and more time reading Dostoyevsky. And Webern is supposed to have responded with heroic timidity: ‘Pardon, Herr Direktor, but we have Strindberg’.” (1)

As Adorno explains, this story is probably apocryphal; nevertheless, this episode involving Gustav Mahler’s literary taste is mentioned by Adorno as a witty elucidation of the relationship between the new fundamental ontology of Heidegger (or, we might say, Dostoyevsky’s new literature) and the tradition of the German dialectic thought (or, we might say, Strindberg’s thought).  However, the emphasis upon the philosophical opposition between the new fundamental ontology and the traditional dialectic thought does not form the heart of Ontology and Dialectics. It is pertinent to observe that this series of lectures, published under the title Ontology and Dialectics, precedes the three lecture courses which form the book Negative Dialectics, Adorno’s masterpiece, published in 1966. The thorough theoretical presentation of such a philosophical project – the delineation of the philosophical singularity and distinctiveness of the negative dialectic thought – is indeed the chief subject matter and the central line of thought developed by Adorno in Negative Dialectics, written between 1964 and 1966. It is worth noting that Ontology and Dialectics, which precedes Negative Dialectics, is especially devoted to the philosophical condemnation of Heidegger’s fundamental ontology.

At any rate, as Adorno conceives it, the concept of Being, in Heideggerian terms, is not actually a concept at all. In fact, according to Adorno’s reading of Heidegger’s ontology, the concept of Being is not supposed to be the highest abstraction, the supra-concept reached by omitting all particular individuation, all particular determination. In approaching such a philosophical account of Being, Adorno intends to lay emphasis upon the fact that the Heideggerian ontological positions should be sharply distinguished from other kinds of ontology – such as the concept of ontology introduced by Husserl, the ontological project developed by Nicolai Hartmann, or the ontological positions advanced by the neo-scholastic tradition. The relentless obliteration of the conceptual dimension of Being defines the decided difference between Heidegger’s fundamental ontology and the traditional ontologies. As Adorno clearly explains, Being, in Heideggerian terms, is supposed to be what is utterly prior and primary, that which is highest and most constitutive. The question regarding Being – over against the highest regions, the highest and most universal concepts of all possible classes of beings – is what is decisive here, precisely because it involves the problem of the possibility of ontology as such, namely whether such a pure doctrine of being can be thought as such independently of the doctrine regarding the order of beings. From Heidegger’s point of view, those doctrines devoted to the ontological delineation of the order of beings – those doctrines which totally disregard the benedictory ontological difference between Being and beings, those ontologies of the ontic developed in accordance to systems of blind conceptual categories, fundamental principles and axioms – it is these doctrines imply an ontological questioning in the naïve sense. They do not represent, as Heidegger insists, the essential task of ontology understood in the radical sense – and this is precisely what fundamental ontology is.

The cult of the concept of absolute originality, the cult of the Firstness, is one of the philosophical oddities bound up with the persistent assertion of such an ontological questioning in the radical sense, as advanced by Heidegger. According to fundamental ontology and, especially, according to its chief claim concerning the ontological difference between Being and beings, any approach which does not involve the priority of Being with respect to beings is already rejected ab ovo and defamed as inferior, as a failure, as a betrayal of the real question. As Adorno asserts: “we are constantly presented with the same invocation, variation or repetition of this premise, namely the priority of Being with respect to beings” (22). Consequently, in repudiating the conceptual sophistication of the traditional philosophical thought (and of the philosophical ontologies), Heideggerian ontology fails to consider that the concept of Being itself is not the original question which fundamental ontology would have us believe. As Adorno attempts to explain – this is, unfortunately a very laconic explanation – the concept of Being deserves to be regarded philosophically as a concept of reflection in the sense of those concepts subjected to criticism by Kant in his “Amphiboly of the Concepts of Reflection” when they are hypostasized – in other words, when they are treated as an expression of true beings as such. On this view of things, the concept of Being is not something very ancient but something rather late and, correlatively, developed in accordance with the conceptual sophistication of critical philosophical thought. It should be observed that, from Adorno’s point of view, the concept of Being is a result, a historical result, attained only through a process, which, in turn, can be characterized as a conceptual and critical philosophical process. The concept of Being, in Adornian terms, is, in fact, understood philosophically as a concept – the highest abstraction, understood in accordance with the development of the conceptual sophistication of philosophical thought. It is not properly a Kantian perspective. This concept of Being as the highest abstraction is already present in Plato and in Aristotle, as Adorno claims, despite the brevity and the laconism of his elucidations.

It is certainly worth noting that Adorno’s reading of Heidegger excels in presenting a collection of problems, ambiguities and contradictions which profoundly involves fundamental ontology. According to Adorno, Heidegger’s fundamental ontology comprises a double refusal: in effect, fundamental ontology is a philosophical tendency developed in accordance with its emphasis upon the rejection of both conceptuality – it is pertinent to mention the delineation of the concept of Being as a non-concept – and reality – and it is convenient to consider the celebrated ontological difference between Being and beings. Fundamental ontology can be described, as Adorno suggests, by its attempt to escape both from mere conceptuality and from any reality simply or immediately accepted as such. This double approach, this double front against a philosophy of concepts and against a philosophy of reality, is precisely what characterises the efforts of fundamental ontology. However, as Adorno elucidates, Heidegger incessantly fails to attain these philosophical intentions.

The Heideggerian cult of language, or the fascination with language, has tremendous significance for Heideggerian ontology. Language as a mediation of Being, or language as the possibility of aletheia and the unveiling of Being, is not philosophically compatible with a coarse rejection of conceptual thought. As Adorno proposes, Heidegger continuously disregards the fact that the concept of Being, in terms of its origin and its legitimacy, is directly bound up with the categorial structure of language. Heidegger’s ontology perniciously explores such a quid pro quo involving Being as a concept – Being as an element of language, entity, and even Being as a non-concept – which cannot be expressed through mere meanings insofar as it is not exhausted by conceptual terms nor by subjectively instituted concepts, and is cut off from conceptual thought. Nevertheless, such a remarkable ambiguity between Being as concept and Being as a what-is-beyond-concept is not acknowledged by fundamental ontology as a deficiency at all, as Adorno explains. On the contrary, it is chalked up as a positive and counted as credit. Why? The enigma, or the touchstone, underlying Heidegger’s pernicious ambiguity is taken as a venerable philosophical position that proceeds from a peculiar account of language that is incessantly proposed by Heidegger: the idea that language as a true, pure and absolute entity, or the idea of language as the domain of the unveiling of Being, is that of an immediate medium, organon or ‘complexus’ of truth that is deprived of any conceptual elements or aspects – and, as Adorno elucidates, also deprived of subjectivity and historicity. Hence, the concept of Being – in accordance with such a conception of language – deserves to be inexorably regarded as an entity beyond mere conceptuality.

In presenting this Heideggerian ambiguity, Adorno reflects more closely upon fundamental ontology as an anti-subjectivism by apparently overcoming subjectivism and the spurious claim that philosophy has somehow escaped its imprisonment within subjectivity (and within conceptual and categorial thought) through this new ontological project. This is intimately bound up with the Heideggerian quid pro quo, acknowledged and presented by fundamental ontology as an element of apparently higher dignity, as “one of the strongest seductions of this philosophy” (46), which arises from “that wavering, negative and inarticulate character of this talk of being itself” (46). Regarding the Heideggerian refusal of reality and the abandonment of the empirical dimension – a claim which involves and justifies the celebrated ontological difference between Being and beings and, correctively, the hypostatization of the word ‘Being’ (by supressing the dialectic of Being and beings) – Adorno draws attention to a conspicuously Heideggerian philosophical posture:  the act of ontologizing the ontic; the repeated ontologising of ontic beings, namely, the human being itself. The anti-subjectivism which involves fundamental ontology is, in effect, the central axis treated by Adorno – that of the ontological conception regarding the human being as Dasein, which permits an elimination of the subjective character, now turned into a determination of Being. As Adorno explains, the ontological interest is profoundly incompatible with the subjective reflection itself. The subjective dimensions of reflection, spontaneity, consciousness and self-consciousness, and, by extension, the subjective dimensions of critical, conceptual and discursive thought, are all totally avoided and obliterated in order to sustain an ontological conception of Dasein as a ‘mode of being’ or, in a developed sense, a “shepherd of being”, where the latter serves as a primitive agrarian metaphor set forth by Heidegger in Letter on Humanism, and serves as an amusing object of Adorno’s attention.

According to Adorno, Heidegger sets out to extirpate subjectivity by transforming it into the scene or arena of ontology. In effect, this ontological kind of thinking, for which Being appears or manifests itself in Dasein, naturally evokes something related to subjectivity; but, at the same time, it loses what was so decisive for this subjective form of thought – in other words, it loses that moment of subjectivity that appears in Kantian philosophy under the name of ‘spontaneity’ and in Hegelian philosophy, under the name of ‘labour’. In fundamental ontology – and this is, as Adorno explains, the phenomenological legacy of the doctrine which Husserl had already developed, namely the idea of the pure intuiting of the thing in question – subjectivity is actually introduced as a kind of pure receptivity; subjectivity becomes that to which Being manifests itself, yet without that moment of activity, or that ‘function’, as Kant also occasionally puts it, properly being acknowledged. Consequently, a philosophical relevant determination of the Heideggerian project consists in “taking up that moment of reflection and subjectivity which is directly opposed to the ontological approach and integrate it into his original project by turning it into a mode of objectivity, turning ‘existence’ into Seinsweise, or ‘mode of being’” (82). It is the absolute precedence of Being over beings, the total precedence of Being over human existence, that concerns us here. This structure – that a particular being is itself ontological – is the defining and distinctive touchstone of the doctrine of Dasein, and it implicitly expresses Heidegger’s intention of avoiding the conflation of his own analysis of Being with the ‘philosophy of existence’ associated with Kierkegaard or Jaspers. Ultimately, as Adorno suggests, this ontologizing of the ontic, this reduction of the ontic being to Being, promotes, in an unexpected and ineluctable way, the superfluity and the dissipation of the celebrated ontological difference, which gives rise to the absolute hypostatization of Being. Indeed, Adorno’s acute reading of the Heideggerian analysis of Dasein deserves an extended treatment, for it excels in considering the anti-subjectivism manifested in fundamental ontology. Nevertheless, we venture to say that Adorno disregards the philosophical relevance of the Heideggerian notion of Befindlichkeit as a singular determination of human being, which cannot be reduced to any subjective or discursive determination developed by critical thought.

The Adornian emphasis upon the anti-subjectivist turn introduced by Heidegger’s fundamental ontology represents a crucial element of Ontology and Dialectics. According to Adorno, this “pseudo-revolutionary form of thought” (121) – which incisively repudiates the axes of modern critical form of thought, declaring itself to be a pre-critical return to naïve realism – expresses “a reactionary mentality” (121), which can be characterized by its philosophical intention of destructing the subjective mediation of thought, the critical moment of thought, in order to extirpate Enlightenment and rational thought. In Adorno’s words, Heidegger’s ontological project imposes itself as a pernicious philosophical tendency which can be described as irrationalism, counter-Enlightenment and, ultimately, return to myth, return to barbarism. In rejecting the question of the mediation of Being, and in repudiating the critical relevance of the thinking subject and the subjective determination of knowledge, Heidegger’s philosophical project, developed in accordance with the veneration of a truth fallen into oblivion (namely Being), expresses an odd return to myth and to fate that elaborates a philosophical project that denigrates philosophizing in favour of a particular relationship to language – an archaic language – that is totally devoted to what is primordial, original or authentic, and, supposedly, purified of conceptual determinations. The analysis of a collection of poems written by Heidegger – characterized by its “inferior character” (162) and “wretchedness” (162) – is an integrate part of Adorno’s emphasis upon the conspicuously archaic moment of Heidegger’s fundamental ontology: the spuriousness of Heidegger’s philosophy and poetry resides in its veneration of an archaic kind of thinking, which manifests an intention to suppress historical and social determinations inextricable to the act of philosophizing.

Regarding Adorno’s remarks on Heidegger’s poems, it is perhaps not superfluous to draw attention to an important aesthetic essay dedicated to Hölderlin’s late poetry: the essay entitled “Parataxis: On Hölderlin’s Late Poetry”, written by Adorno in 1963, which is fundamentally devoted to condemn Heidegger’s approach to art, namely to Hölderlin’s poetry; interestingly, according to Adorno, the Heideggerian commentaries on Hölderlin’s poetry reveal the total absence of aesthetic sensitivity towards the poetic object – the lack of an aesthetic organ (Mangel an ästhetischen Organ), as set forth by Adorno in his essay.

It is convenient to take into account the centrality of the concept of Schicksal in Heidegger’s ontology, for it clearly illustrates the intention of supressing the critical dimension of the act of philosophizing in order to establish a reversion to fate and a revocation of rationality and, ultimately, of freedom. In Adorno’s words,

“the concept of fate or destiny here ascribed to ‘being’ is that of a blindly entangled will – for what is ascribed to ‘being’ in this context bears all the marks of irrationality. In other words, ‘being’ is characterized as something utterly obscure that may somehow be intimated and venerated, but about nothing substantive can ever be said. In the first place, you should clearly observe how this very passage moves directly to the concept of Schicksal or fate, and how this concept of fate, even if it is indeed indexed historically, is furnished with that blind and ineluctable character which belongs to the ancient and traditional notion of fate” (117).

The Heideggerian emphasis upon the concepts of time and historicity is actually designed to deceive: the concept of Schicksal – regarded in its philosophical affinities with the concept of Hörigkeit, or ‘obedient hearkening’, a hearkening to Being which sounds like blind submission – defines and determines Heidegger’s form of thinking. It’s worth noting that Schicksal and Hörigkeit represent Heidegger’s condemnation of the critical thought – the critical labour of the conceptual, as Adorno puts it, according to Hegelian positions – regarded by fundamental ontology as a process of philosophical degeneration. Heidegger annuls critical labour, as if philosophy could assume a historical standpoint beyond history; although, philosophy is enjoined to obey history, which is then, like existence, itself ontologized.

The philosophical purpose of Ontology and Dialectics, as announced by Adorno in the first lectures, consists in throwing light upon the philosophical discrepancies, contrasts and oppositions between fundamental ontology and negative dialectics. We conclude that Adorno leaves untouched a philosophical intention of forming the heart of negative dialectics in Ontology and Dialectics, for Adorno passes in silence the chief lines indicative of such a philosophical intention. In the context of Lecture 23, the last lecture of Ontology and Dialectics, there is a philosophical concept under the name “negative dialectics” that is described theoretically by fundamental determinations, but, interestingly, in order to offer a precise theoretical description of negative dialectics, Adorno proposes to consider the most relevant philosophical condemnations advanced against Heidegger’s fundamental ontology, especially the disapproval concerning Heidegger’s project as a philosophical tendency intended to perpetuate mythical thought. Dialectical thought, in its turn, is described as a philosophical attempt, “by means of cunning, the oldest medium of enlightenment” (240) to dissolve the mythical context of nature, to transcend the immediate context of nature without imposing its own domination, the domination of reason – in other words, dialectical thought “attempts to transcend nature without incurring that sacrifice and rage which would merely perpetuate the same context of nature” (240). As Adorno argues, dialectical thought excels in being the acne of enlightenment – the culminating point of conceptual thought – presented in its critical potential to extirpate the mythical context of nature. In accordance with these observations, it is worth noting that Adorno considers the mythical context of nature under the conception of identity – or, identity principle. Indeed, the idea of such a negative dialectics, as delineated and described by Adorno, implies a critique of identity – a critique of mythical forms of thought. It is the philosophical purpose of negative dialectics to abolish the circle of identity and the correlative identity principle. According to negative dialectics, the philosophical procedure of conceptualization is devoted to the determination of the non-identical; the negative element of thought which cannot be entirely tolerated under the identity principle. Such a principle – the identity principle – does not recognize the prominent prerogative of subjectivity or subjective mediation, which consists in determining the non-identical, the negative element of thought, without extirpating it under the logic of conceptual hypostatization.

In conclusion, it is important to lay emphasis on the logic of conceptual hypostatization. As Adorno argues – and this forms the core of the book Negative Dialectics (1966) – negative dialectics attempt to contradict any positive and unconditionally total dialectic elaborated under the identity principle. To distinguish negative dialectics, Adorno’s own philosophical project, from the Hegelian model of dialectics is, indeed, the theoretical axis of Negative Dialectics: the Hegelian elaboration of the supreme concept of Geist as a philosophical bizarreness which, as Adorno states, implies the pernicious sovereignty of the identity principle and its aspiration for (false) totality. Interestingly, in Negative Dialectics, the Hegelian dialectics – regarded as a model of dialectical thought, and not as the dialectical thought par excellence – there is treated by Adorno a degenerative dialectic, which succumbs to the hegemony of the identity principle and, consequently, to the annihilation of the preponderance of the negative elements of thought. According to Adorno, the hypostatization of the concept of Geist as a superlative entity, developed as an absolutization of the concept of subjectivity, clearly illustrates the process of decline of the Hegelian dialectics – a process of decline due to the assumption of the identity principle. It is not, perhaps, philosophically irrelevant to consider a subtle affinity between Hegel’s Geist and Heidegger’s Sein (advanced by Adorno as against the philosophical intention of elaborating supreme concepts, supreme conceptual entities which subsume the ontic or individual elements or realities under an aspiration for total identity), as an incisive disapproval of both Hegel’s dialectics and Heidegger’s fundamental ontology. The chief purpose of Adorno’s negative dialectics consists in presenting the philosophical prerogative of subjectivity: subjective mediation as an act of spontaneity devoted to determine the non-identity and the negative elements of thought in order to destroy – through the critical labour of the concept – the identity principle (a mythical principle) which governs conceptualization itself.

Is it possible to abolish the identity principle through the labour of concept? Is it possible to extirpate the supreme conceptual entities, such as absolute subjectivity, or Geist, through the act of subjective spontaneity? To present and consolidate the fundamental lines of thought of negative dialectics with conviction represents a philosophical tour de force developed by Adorno. But, as with all tours de force, we are confronted with confusion, perplexity and uncertainty: How philosophically convincing is negative dialectics, Adorno’s philosophical project? The response should be found not in Ontology and Dialectics, but in Negative Dialectics.

Cathrin Nielsen, Hans Rainer Sepp (Hg.): Wohnen als Weltverhältnis. Eugen Fink über den Menschen und die Physis

Wohnen als Weltverhältnis. Eugen Fink über den Menschen und die Physis Book Cover Wohnen als Weltverhältnis. Eugen Fink über den Menschen und die Physis
Alber Philosophie
Cathrin Nielsen, Hans Rainer Sepp (Hg.)
Karl Alber Verlag
2019
Hardback 34,00 €
232

Reviewed by: Eveline Cioflec (Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen)

Die im Alber Verlag erschienene Aufsatzsammlung kann als eine thematische Einführung zu Finks Auffassungen zu Welt und Physis gelesen werden. Unvermerkt umspannen die Beiträge das Gesamtwerk Finks und bieten dennoch einen einheitlichen Einblick. Die Spanne Welt – Physis zieht sich durch sämtliche Beiträge hindurch und wirft unvermittelt die Frage der Stellung des Menschen auf oder, wie es im Titel des Bandes treffend festgehalten ist, die Frage nach dem Wohnen des Menschen. Der Band ist der dritte in einer Reihe von Forschungen die die seit 2006 im Alber Verlag erscheinende Gesamtausgabe begleiten. Der erste ist der Pädagogik im Werk Finks gewidmet, Bildung im technischen Zeitalter (hg. v. A. Hilt und C. Nielsen 2005), und der zweite Welt denken (hg. v. C. Nielsen und R. Sepp 2011) greift die Thematik der Kosmologie auf. Dieser dritte Band untersucht, so Nielsen und Sepp im kurzen, jedoch Ein- und Überblick bietenden Vorwort, „wie die thematischen Facetten, die Finks Werk strukturieren, in seiner Kosmologie verankert sind.“ (Vorwort, 11) Er versammelt hauptsächlich Beiträge des Kolloquiums mit dem Titel „Erde – Wohnen – Natur. Eugen Fink über die physis des Menschen als ens cosmologicum“, das in Prag im November 2015 stattgefunden hat.

Der erste Teil des Titels des Bandes, „ Wohnen als Weltverhältnis“, sollte nicht die Erwartung mit sich bringen, dass das Thema in jedem Beitrag unmittelbar und explizit vorzufinden wäre: eher ist der zweite Teil des Titels ausschlaggebend „Eugen Fink über den Menschen und die Physis“ – dieses kann als gemeinsamer Nenner der einzelnen Beiträge gesehen werden. Dass Welt sich aus dem Verhältnis zur Physis ergibt, oder diese quasi zur Grundlage hat, ergibt allerdings das Spezifische des finkschen Wohnens: eben nicht ganz in der Welt, sondern nur im Verhältnis zur Welt, das aber zugleich einen Bezug zum Dunklen der Erde voraussetzt. Kurz zusammengefasst heißt es im Vorwort „Solches Wohnen weist eine kosmische Struktur auf, die Fink kosmologisch als Weltverhältnis bestimmt und hierfür auf einen Begriff des frühgriechischen Denkens, auf den der phýsis, zurückgreift, die als kósmos das »Seiende im Ganzen« benenne (vgl. Fink, E., 1992, Natur, Freiheit, Welt. Philosophie der Erziehung, hg. v. F.-A. Schwarz, Würzburg, 64). Im Ausgang von diesem auf die Physis hin gedachten Begriff des Wohnens lässt sich zeigen, wie Fink das tradierte Verhältnis von Natur und Geschichte bzw. Natur und Freiheit kosmologisch reformuliert.“ (11)

Mit Fink von der „Physis“ und nicht von „Natur“ zu sprechen, hebt die Unzugänglichkeit der Natur, eines Grundes, auf die als solche dennoch Bezug genommen wird, hervor: Die das Wohnen im Weltverhältnis konstituierende Verborgenheit der Natur oder eben die Physis. Verborgenheit und Unverborgenheit scheinen dabei keine Dichotomie zu ergeben, bei der von einerseits und andererseits die Rede sein könnte, sondern weisen vielmehr eine gegenseitige Durchdrungenheit auf, bei der in der Unverborgenheit zugleich das Dunkle mitenthalten ist. Untrennbar verwoben ist der Bezug zur Natur als Weltverhältnis zu verstehen, zu deuten. Ist Welt das Unverborgene, so bleibt darin immer auch die Verborgenheit bestehen. Natur ist letztlich dasjenige worin der Mensch wohnt und sich dieses Wohnen als Welt einrichtet, wobei das Wohnen keine Herrschaft über die Natur ausübt, sondern vielmehr dieser einverleibt bleibt.

Im beschreibenden Kurztext zum Band wird die Welt der Freiheit gleichgesetzt und diese zugleich auf die Natur rückbezogen. Somit wird verdeutlicht, dass im Freiheit zulassenden Bezug zur Natur der Mensch eine Welt entfaltet. Die Freiheit des Menschen besteht nicht trotz der Natur – was ja auch widersprüchlich wäre, da Trotz kaum Freiheit zulässt – sondern sie entspringt gerade der dunklen Seite der letzteren, die sich verbergend die Möglichkeit zulässt Welt zu entfalten.

Die Beiträge zum Band sind thematisch in drei Abschnitten gegliedert, betitelt mit Natur, Freiheit und Welt, in Anlehnung an Finks Publikationen. Als „leitender Aspekt“ wird im Vorwort das „Thematischwerden der binnenweltlichen, auf ihre Welthaftigkeit hin eröffneten existenziellen Situation des Menschen, die Fink als Wohnen, als Aufenthalt des Menschen auf der Erde, charakterisiert“, genannt. (11) Der Abschnitt zu „Natur“ ist auf dem „übergreifenden Hintergrund der kosmologischen Physis“ der finkschen Bestimmung der Natur „in uns“ und „außer uns“ gewidmet (12), wobei zwei der drei Beiträge der finkschen Auslegung der Dichtung von Cesare Pavese gewidmet sind.

Der zweite Abschnitt, „Freiheit“, umfasst ebenfalls drei Beiträge, die der Möglichkeit von Freiheit „angesichts ihres Gebundenseins an das Naturhafte“ (ebd.) nachgehen, zunächst mit Fink die Dichotomie Geist – Natur in Frage stellen, wobei der Mensch in seiner naturhaft-geschichtlichen Doppelstellung“ (Fink 1987, 59, hier 150) als „Mittler“ bestimmt wird, der die in der Spannung von Freiheit und Natur aktualisierte „Grundspannung der Welt“, die den »Ur-Riß« (Fink, 1987, Existenz und Coexistenz. Grundprobleme der menschlichen Gemeinschaft, hg. v. F.-A. Schwarz, Würzburg, 226) der Wirklichkeit darstellt, austrägt (150). Mit dem Menschen als „Mittler“ wird ein wiederkehrender Topos im finkschen Denken aufgegriffen. Dieser kennzeichnet „die Grundstellung des Menschen inmitten des Ganzen des Seienden für jegliches, was ist, ‚der seienden Dinge, dass sie sind, der nichtseienden, dass sie nicht sind‘. Maß aber ist nicht Grund, der Mensch ist nicht die Mitte der Welt, aber er ist der Mittler, die existierende Vermittlung für alles Seiende, das erst im Sein für den Menschen (also im Wahrsein) in sein wesentliches Sein kommt.“ (Hilt, A., 2018, Nachwort zu Fink, E., Existenz und Coexistenz, EGFA 16, Hg. Grätzel, S. u.a., Alber, Freiburg, 979-1024, zit. 979, s. Fink-Archiv. Notizen, 402b, Z – XXXII, ca. 1939/40 [= „Eremitie“]) Im dritten Beitrag des zweiten Abschnittes werden anhand der Rolle der Arbeit im Selbstverhalten die Grenzen der Radikalisierung des Selbstverhaltens aufgezeigt.

Der kosmologische Ansatz wird im dritten Abschnitt, „Welt“, thematisch: „Wie Selbstverhalten im Weltverhalten gründet und welche Perspektiven sich daraus für die soziale, »coexistenzielle« Situation des Menschen und ihre Gestaltung und Veränderbarkeit ergeben.“ (ebd.) Im Weiteren wird die meontische Auffassung des Verstehens, die die hermeneutische ablöst, besprochen und die aktuelle Rezeption Finks im Werk Marc Richirs und Renaud Barbaras diskutiert.

Die thematische Eingliederung der Beiträge in die drei Abschnitte gibt dem Band eine leichter fassbare Struktur. Die Beiträge bieten aufschlussreiche Einblicke in das jeweilige Thema des Abschnittes, zugleich weist jeder Beitrag auch über die thematische Eingliederung hinaus, so dass letztlich jeder Beitrag für sich stehend gelesen werden sollte.

Der erste Beitrag im Band, zum Thema Natur, von Yusuke Ikeda, mit dem Titel „Eugen Finks transzendental-phänomenologisches Weltdenken und seine Heraklit-Interpretation unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Begriffs der Physis“ (S. 15–42), bietet eine philosophiegeschichtliche Einordnung der finkschen Auffassung und weist die Bedeutung des griechischen phýsis-Begriffs für das finksche Natur- und Weltverständnis auf. Somit ist der Beitrag sehr treffend als erster im Band aufgenommen und wirkt wie eine Verankerung der Folgebeiträge. Der Autor rekonstruiert mit Rückblick auf Husserls und Heideggers phänomenologische Ansätze die „kosmologische Phänomenologie“ Finks anhand seiner Heraklit-Interpretation. Hierbei handelt es sich um eine „Revision des Begriffs des Phänomens sowie der (transzendentalen) Phänomenologie Husserlscher und Heideggerscher Provenienz“ (15) wobei Finks Heraklit-Interpretation maßgebend ist: „Zum einen legt Fink Heraklits Physis-Begriff als Welt aus, die als Ursprungsdimension des Seins der ontologischen Differenz vorausgeht und ihr zugrunde liegt, und zum anderen betont Fink, dass schon Heraklit die Erscheinungsweise der als Welt verstandenen Physis als Entzug und Verbergung kannte.“ (ebd.)

Giovanni Jan Giubilatos Beitrag, „Vom Sinn der Erde: Eugen Finks kosmologische Auslegung der Dichtung von Cesare Pavese“ (S. 42–59) greift die Erörterung der Freiheit auf:  „Aus dieser traditionellen Auslegung der Freiheit als Herrschaft des Geistes über die unvernünftige Natur folgte eine allmähliche Ent-Sittlichung des Geistlosen, des unbelebten Naturhaften (Fink 1992, 100), welche zu der klassischen und mittlerweile für uns völlig selbstverständlichen Gegenüberstellung »Natur – Kultur« geführt habe. Für mehr als zweitausend Jahre hat also die rationalistische Tradition des Abendlandes die kalte, dürre Erde – das Rezeptakel der Materialität, der Sinnlichkeit, der niedrigsten Bestimmungen des Geistes abgewertet und verlassen.“ (43) Die Aufwertung der Erde in Finks Kosmologie wird im Weiteren in einer Gegenüberstellung mit der geschichtlichen Auffassung bei Vico festgehalten: „Obgleich die Geschichte ein Factum des Menschengeistes ist – wie Gianbattista Vico behauptet –, bleibt der Mensch nach Fink wesentlich ein Schössling, der aus der Tiefe der Erde keimt.“ (47) Die Zwischenstellung des Menschen, zwischen der Freiheit des Geistes und der Geborgenheit der Erde, im „Zwischenraum von Himmel und Erde“ (49), was ihn als ens cosmologicum ausmacht, wird in diesem Beitrag verdeutlicht: „Vielmehr ist der Mensch das »zweideutige Wesen«, das sowohl der Natur als auch der Freiheit »angehört, und doch keinem Bereich ganz, das nie ganz geborgen sein kann in Demeters stillem Frieden, wie Blume oder Tier, und auch nie ganz als Freiheit existiert und sich wissend begründet«.“ (Fink 1985, 52, hier: 48) Und ferner: „Im Zwischenraum der Transzendenz des Geistes und der tellurischen Dimension der Erde wohnt ausschließlich der Mensch.“ (49)

Der dritte Beitrag des ersten Abschnitts geht wie auch der vorangehende auf Finks Lektüre von Pavese ein: „Die Chiffren des Mythos: Fink liest Cesare Pavese“ von Cathrin Nielsen (S. 60–76). Es handelt sich dabei um Finks Interpretation kurz vor seiner Emeritierung von Cesare Paveses 1947 erschienenen Gesprächen mit Leuko (Fink, 1971, »Zu Cesare Pavese Gespräche mit Leuko«, in: ders.: Epiloge zur Dichtung, Frankfurt am Main, 53–112). Wie Nielsen festhält: „Bei Pavese entdeckt Fink die Möglichkeit, das Weltmoment der »Erde« in Narrative zu fassen, die wiederum als »Existenzchiffren«, zu lesen sind, als menschlich-allzumenschliche Antworten auf das, was sich der phänomenologischen Aufweisbarkeit entzieht, ohne jedoch zu verschwinden.“ (60) Gestalten der griechischen Mythologie treten bei Pavese in Gesprächen als „dialogische Miniaturen“ (ebd.) auf und führen das menschliche Dasein „in seinem paradoxen Bezug zum Außenmenschlichen“, „zum Ansichsein der »Natur«, das es im »Fürmichsein« zu leben gilt“ (ebd.). Wie auch in Giubilatos Vortrag geht es um den Menschen als einem „Wesen des »Zwischen«“ (61): der Bezug des Menschlichen zum Außermenschlichen lässt die Mächte des Letzteren in Paveses Gesprächen zu Gestalten werden. „Die mythologischen Gestalten stellen somit Verdichtungen von Existenzbezügen dar, die nicht kanonisch sind, sondern Chiffren, die sich im Narrativ der mythischen Konstellationen, die ja selbst wandelbar waren und sind, unablässig weitererzählen.“ (61)

Nielsen greift vier „paradigmatische »Existenzfiguren«“ (mit Fink „Urerfahrungen“ genannt) auf: „1. Endymion, der im Gespräch mit einem geheimisvollen Fremdling von seinem Verlangen berichtet, aus seiner unruhevollen Vereinzelung in den Urgrund, den »Schlaf der Welt«, in dem sich alle Dinge berühren, einzugehen. 2. Ödipus im Gespräch mit dem blinden Seher Teiresias, wo es um anonyme Übermacht des Geschlechtlichen geht, 3. Orpheus, der im Dialog mit einer Mänade der Todesoffenheit und Unwiederholbarkeit des menschlichen Lebens gewahr wird, und 4. Das Gespräch zwischen Odysseus und Kalypso und dessen Weiterspinnen durch die »Hexen« Kirke und Leukothea, das die menschliche Zeiterfahrung und das Erinnern thematisiert.“ (62/63)

Die Ausführungen zu den philosophischen Deutungen Paveses laufen darauf hinaus, das Selbst als ein „letztlich in sich selbst kreisendes Kaleidoskop fragmentarischer […] Erfahrungen“ (Fink, 1971, 109) zu erkennen zu geben. (72) Das „Unbegreifliche“, die „Verfangenheit“ und „Unheimliche Verkapselung“ des Selbst in sich selbst (74), wie Fink diese hervorhebt, verdeutlicht Nielsen in ihrem Beitrag und sieht darin „den Abschied von einer die Metaphysik des Lichtes untergründig begleitenden Religiosität der Nacht“, die „radikal skeptische Destruktion der metaphysischen Voraussetzung einer das Animalische befreienden Rationalität“, die, mit Fink, „den Aufriß einer existenzialen Analytik“ erfordere (75), welche den Menschen der Natur gegenübersetzt und diese Gegenübersetzung auch wieder zurücknimmt, wobei sie die „bewußtseinsmäßige Uneinholbarkeit anerkennen müßte“ (Fink 1971, 111) (76).

Die drei folgenden unter dem Titel „Freiheit“ zusammengeführten Beiträge beleuchten sehr unterschiedliche Perspektiven der Freiheitsproblematik. Im ersten Beitrag, „Geistige Natur, natürlicher Geist: Der unmögliche Dualismus“ von Nicola Zippel (77–89), geht es im Anschluss an Fink darum, „phänomenologisch die Unmöglichkeit einzugestehen, die Stufe der Natur, des Nicht-Egologischen, von der Stufe des Geistes, des Egologischen, klar zu unterscheiden.“ (77) Im Anschluss an eine kurze Analyse des Zeitbewusstseins bei Husserl, betont Zippel den finkschen Beitrag zum phänomenologischen Zeitbewusstsein: Was Husserl festhält, dass das Ego bei der Wiedererinnerung stets von einer Motivation geleitet ist, erweitert Fink durch den Begriff der „Weltlichkeit“ der Erinnerung, das den „umgebenden Kontext solcher Motivation“ ausmacht. (83) Den Kern des Beitrags bringt Zippel selbst im „Schluss“ des Beitrags auf den Punkt: „Wenn man die Grundverschiedenheit zwischen der Natur – der Hyle als zeitlichem Vorgang des Bewusstseins – und dem Geist, d.h. der Subjektivität als verleiblichtem Ego des Bewusstseins, betrachtet, wenn man also das passive, spontane und materiale Dasein der Zeit (als Zeit-Bewussstsein) und die aktive, bewusste und geistige Entwicklung des Egos betrachtet, wird plausibel, dass eigentlich ein Dualismus nicht möglich ist.“ (88) Diese Grundverschiedenheit deutet Zippel weder als Mit-Ursprünglichkeit noch als Vorrang des Einen vor dem Anderen, sondern als „Koexistenz“, deren Beschreibung, so Zippel, allgemein der Phänomenologie „vorbehalten“ ist. (89)

Um eine ganz andere Form der Freiheit handelt es sich in Georgy Chernavins Beitrag, „Die flimmernde Natur der Doxa: Zwischen Gefangenschaft und Durchbruch der Befangenheit“ (90–101). Wie der Titel auch schon festhält, geht es um die Möglichkeit der Fragwürdigkeit in der Doxa, um die Möglichkeit zum Erstaunen, um das „Entkommen aus der Doxa“ (100). Die ausschlaggebende Frage greift Charnavin mit Fink, Husserl und Wittgenstein auf: „Weshalb versucht man überhaupt, aus seiner Befangenheit und versunkenen Situation ins Offene zu spähen, wenn man doch gar keine Offenheit kennt? Von woher taucht die »dumpfe Ahnung« des eigenen Gefangenseins auf?“ (98) Der stabilisierende Faktor der Doxa ist zugleich eine Gefangenschaft – als Verlorensein und nicht nur als „Wahlblindheit der Scheuklappenauffassung“ (ebd.) – die jedoch den Ausweg in sich trägt. „Die Doxa verhilft dazu, die innerweltlichen Erscheinungen zu stabilisieren und jede Form des Umschlagens zu vermeiden. Und trotzdem ist sie nicht allmächtig: Im Sein blitzt der Schein auf, in der Fraglosigkeit blitzt die Fragwürdigkeit auf, im Selbstverständlichen die Unverständlichkeit“ (100). Und ferner: „Die flimmernde Perspektive gestattet es uns, die vermeinten stabilen Selbst- und Dingidentitäten als fragwürdige erscheinen zu lassen.“ (ebd. 100)

Mit einer phänomenologischen Analyse des finkschen Grundphänomens der Arbeit thematisiert Giulia Cervo im Beitrag „Das Menschenwesen als endliches Schöpfertum: Natur im Kontext von Arbeit und Freiheit“ (S. 102–125) die problematische Natur menschlicher Freiheit. Die Arbeit wird als Medium von Natur und Freiheit erörtert: „In der Arbeit äußern sich zugleich die irdische Natur des Menschen und sein geistiges Wesen, die miteinander verwoben und voneinander untrennbar sind.“ (103) Anhand des Begriffs der „Entmenschung“ wird die finksche kosmologische Differenz, wie sie ab der Sechsten Cartesianischen Meditation Finks Ansatz zur Freiheit bestimmt, zur Geltung gebracht, im Unterschied zu Heideggers ontologischer Differenz. Dabei ist für Fink das Seinsverstehen ein Weltverstehen, wobei der Mensch sich als Arbeiter zur Welt so verhält, dass seine Natur – die allgemein als solche vorausgesetzt wird, ohne dass Natur überhaupt hinterfragt wird – etwas Problematisches bleibt, „da sie nur im Tun und Schaffen hergestellt und ausgelegt wird“ (102) und somit zur Verdinglichung der menschlichen Existenz als Notwendigkeit aber auch Hauptgefahr wird. (118) Anhand des Themas der Arbeit und des Begriffs der Entmenschung wird die schlecht gestellte Frage nach der Natur des Menschen erörtert. Die Freiheit wird als „Kampf um Transzendenz, d.h. als me-ontische Negation des Binnenweltlichen, verdeutlicht“ (102), wobei im Beitrag auch eine Entwicklung des finkschen Freiheitsbegriffs sowie Formen der Entmenschung nachgezeichnet werden.

Der dritte und letzte Buchabschnitt zum Thema „Welt“ ist mit fünf Beiträgen am umfangreichsten. Auch in diesem Abschnitt werden ganz unterschiedliche Perspektiven auf das Thema ohne exhaustiven Anspruch zusammengetragen. Mit Überlegungen zur Bildhaftigkeit der ontologischen Erfahrung des Menschen, zur Erziehung, zum exzentrischen Wohnen bis hin zu grundsätzlichen Fragen zu zeitgenössischen kosmologischen Ansätzen lässt der Abschnitt die Vielfältigkeit der finkschen Ausarbeitungen in seiner Kosmologie durchscheinen.

Anna Luiza Colli hebt in ihrem Beitrag „Tantalus und die kosmologische Dialektik: Bildhaftigkeit der ontologischen Erfahrung des Menschen als ens cosmologicum“ (S. 126–141) die von Fink eingesetzte mythische Figur des Tantalus hervor, durch welche die „Unfassbarkeit der Begegnung des Menschen mit dem Sein“ erhellt wird (135), wobei verdeutlicht wird, dass „eine vollkommene Aneignung des Seins nicht möglich ist“ (136) Maßgeblich wird hier die Spanne von Himmel und Erde, in der die Dinge „Zwischendinge“ als „Abbilder der Erde wie des Himmels“ sind, und der Mensch zwischen der „Verborgenheit und der Unverborgenheit des Seins“ endlich und seiner Endlichkeit bewusst und somit auf Seiten der Erde aber auch des Himmels ist. (134)

Das Unfassbare erhält – und darauf läuft dieser Beitrag hinaus – im Bild „die Chance, sich […] zumindest als Erscheinung im Wirklichen darzustellen.“ (139): „Da es Wirklichkeit und Unwirklichkeit als Bestandteile an sich hat, öffnet das Bild einen Zugang zu einer Zwischenwelt, in der das Unfassbare, Unsagbare, Ungreifbare zum Scheinen kommen kann (Fink, E., 1966, Studien zur Phänomenologie 1930-1939, Phänomenologica, Bd. 21, 18). Das schöpferische Spiel, das auch in der Struktur des Bildes anwesend ist, »reflektiert somit nicht nur die ekstatische Aufgeschlossenheit des menschlichen Daseins zur Welt, sondern – spekulativ formuliert – die Welt selbst reflektiert sich im Spiel und erweist so das menschliche Spiel als Geschehen im Welt-Spiel selbst« (Sepp, H. R., 2012, Bild. Phänomenologie der Epoché I, Orbis Phänomenologicus Studien, Bd. 30, Würzburg, 100). Deswegen nennt Fink das Bild ein »Fenster ins Absolute«.“ (139) Das Bild wird als mediale Form der Erfahrung des Menschen als Mittler erwiesen, das zum Scheinen bringt, was nicht scheinbar ist, das Unwirkliche bestehen lässt aber als Erscheinung in die Wirklichkeit vermittelt, d.h. das dialektische Spiel der Gegensätze erkennen lässt, so dass das himmlische Licht gezeigt werden kann, wobei das Dunkle des Seins doch unfassbar bleibt. (vgl. 140)

Hans Rainer Sepps Beitrag „Exzentrisch wohnen: Anmerkungen zu Finks Bestimmung des Menschen als eines Verhältnisses“ (S. 142–161) steht thematisch dem zweiten Teil des Titels des Bandes am Nächsten: „Das Wohnen als Weltverhältnis“ wird in diesem Beitrag ausdrücklich zur Sprache gebracht. Wenn das „Wohnen“ bei Fink im Selbstverhalten des Menschen besteht, so umfasst dieses auch das Weltverhältnis, zumal das Selbstverhalten nur welthaft möglich ist. Festgehalten wird dieses als die Exzentrizität des Menschen, die Sepp hier als in einem besonderen Grenzverhältnis gründend darstellt: „Der Mensch ist so bei sich, dass er außer sich ist, er ist im Unverfügbaren der Welt verankert und gezwungen, in seinem Verhältnisssein die dem Weltverhältnis inhärente Spannung von Natur und Freiheit auszutragen.“ (142)

Sepp gibt einen bedeutsamen Hinweis für die Deutung der finkschen Kosmologie: Was an diesem Selbst- und Weltverhältnis als éthos, Wohnen im ort-zeitlichen Sinne aufgefasst werden könnte, bezeichnet Fink mit physis, was „die antike Bestimmung Eingefügtsein des Menschen in Welt“ aufgreift. (144) Anhand einer weiterführenden Erörterung des „Verhältnisses“ als solchem, geht Sepp auf die finkschen Grundphänomene ein, die diese begriffliche Wahl erhellen: Der Bezug zur Welt, zum Kosmischen, wird vordergründig, das kosmische Geschehen als Physis bestimmt jeden Bezug und erschließt sich meontisch als Entzug auch im Selbstverhalten. (149) Über die Grundphänomene in die Welt eingelassen, erfährt der Mensch dieses Geschehen allerdings jeweils fragmentarisch, obzwar das Wissen um das Fragmentarische, darum dass „was jetzt und hier ‚ist‘, nicht alles ist“ durchscheint. (S. 147) Wohnen ist „verstehendes Wohnen im Weltall“ (Fink, 1987, 225), und zugleich ‚Sitte‘, d.h. „Selbstauslegung“ einer „menschlichen Gemeinschaft“ (Fink 1992, 34).

Die Denkaufgabe des Beitrags gilt allerdings – im Anschluss an eine eingehende Analyse der Spannung, des „Risses“ (156) zwischen Natur und Freiheit – der Spannung von Vereinzelung und Sozialisierung, einzelner und gemeinschaftlicher Existenz (151 f.). Sepp analysiert die Gleichursprünglichkeit dieser, in dem Sinne, dass die eine nicht auf die andere zurückgeführt werden kann, und wirft die Frage auf, ob die „vereinzelte Existenz aufgrund ihrer gebürtlichen Separation früher als ihr Sozialkonnex ist“ (155). Dieser Ansatz zieht die Frage nach einer vorweltlichen, nicht verstehenden Erfahrung nach sich, eines „außerhalb des Verstehens fungierenden ‚Egos‘“, für das der Begriff „schlechterdings“ fehlt (156), das jedoch bei Levinas als „das Selbe“, beim frühen Nishida als „Reine Erfahrung“ und bei Michel Henry als eine „selbstaffektive Bewegung einer vorgängigen Subjektivität, die sich mit Mitteln des Verstehens nie einholen kann“ thematisiert wird.

Bei Fink betrifft der genannte „Riss“ nicht nur das „Gegenwendige“ Natur und Freiheit, sondern auch die „Spannung von Welt und Selbst“. Die Folge wäre, dass auch das „Insein menschlicher Existenz“ (156), so Sepp, differenziert werden müsste. „Das Insein als In-der-Welt-Sein bzw. als »Mit-Teilen« im coexistenziellen Sinne Finks würde nur diejenige Art und Weise bezeichnen, wie sich Existenz versteht, nämlich ‚zunächst und zumeist‘ als solche, die in einen sozialen Verband verfugt ist.“ (ebd.) Fink rückt die „Natur-‚Seite‘“ menschlicher Existenz als einen Randbereich existenziellen Verstehens“ in den Blick, aber „verbleibt dabei noch im Kontext des Verstehens“ wobei er den „meontischen Grenzbereich“ nur auf die Welt, nicht aber auf das Selbst bezieht. (ebd.)

In dieser Annahme wäre das „a-soziale Insein leibkörperlicher Existenz“ als „Randzone verstehenden Weltbezugs“ in der meontischen Auffassung des Abgrunds des Selbst „nicht hinreichend gefasst“. (157) Die Folge wäre, dass „ein Verstehen der Reichweite des Könnens menschlicher Existenz, seiner Freiheit“ vom „‚positiven‘ Verstehen“ aus nicht erfasst werden kann und somit im Unterfangen der Theoría unzugänglich bleibt. (159) Sepps Vorschlag wäre „ ein anderes Insein“ anzusetzen, „welches das Leben in bloßer leib-körperlicher Faktizität, im Berühren der Erde, im Ein- und Ausatmen der Luft, in der Nahrungsaufnahme, im Wachen und Schlafen etc., zum Ausdruck bringt.“ (ebd.) Anhand des Widerstands der Erde, der „als solcher“ nicht mit einem Sinn, sondern mit ihrer namenlosen Festigkeit und Undurchdringlichkeit korreliert (etwa in der Arbeit, wo sie sich der „anlegenden Hand verweigert“, 158), worin sich die „Verschlossenheit der Erde“ ankündigt, ist die Grenze verstehender Erfahrbarkeit zu sehen. „Leib-körperlich erfahrene Widerständigkeit bricht mein (verstehendes) Verhalten, und erst meine daraufhin erfolgende Reaktion kann eine sinnhafte sein.“ (158) Daraus schließt Sepp, dass es eine „Erfahrung, die nicht über das Verstehen verläuft, gibt“ und weist im Weiteren auf die Folgen für die Reichweite des Könnens menschlicher Existenz, seiner Freiheit“ hin. (159 f.)

Der Philosophie der Erziehung, einem gewichtigen Teilbereich des Finkschen Denkens, wendet sich Tatiana Shchyttsova mit „»Der Zug der Welt«: Erziehung und Heilen im Miteinandersein von Alt und Jung“ zu (S. 162–179). Shchyttsova nimmt eine kritische Stellung ein gegenüber dem Festhalten der Erziehungseinrichtungen wie Schulen und Universitäten an „jenem technisch-bürokratischen Verstand (…), der den erzieherischen Vorgang systematisch als Instrument eines Gewährleistens wirtschaftlicher Effizienz begreift“ (163). Sie widmet sich zwei Ansätzen den „ungeheueren Reduktionismus des technisch-ökonomischen Ansatzes“ (ebd.) mit neuen Richtlinien für „eine Beantwortung der Frage nach dem »Wozu« zu belegen, nämlich der kosmologischen Deutung des Erziehungsphänomens durch Eugen Fink und der filmischen Darstellung der Beziehung zwischen einem alten Mann und einem Jungen in „Is Anybody There?“ von John Crowley, die beide auf vor-wissenschaftliche, intergenerative Erziehung setzen. Worauf der Beitrag abzielt ist zu zeigen, „dass Erziehung und psychisches Heilen zwei gleichursprüngliche Dimensionen der intergenerativen Co-Existenz bilden und dass der genannte Film gerade diese These in einer gewissen Hinsicht zur Anschauung bringt.“ (164) Der psychisch heilsame Aspekt der Erziehung geht auf das den Generationen gemeinsame urtümliche Leben zurück, das die Sterblichkeit des Einzelnen mit der Unsterblichkeit unseres Geschlechts verknüpft: „Heilend kann die erzieherische Co-Existenz eben insofern sein, als es sich dabei um das Erleben handelt, welches die jeweilige intergenerative bzw. erzieherische Relationalität durch die Lebendigkeit untermauert, deren Lebensbejahung der Permanenz des urtümlichen Lebens entspringt.“ (170)

Wie Shchyttsova festhält, ist Finks anthropologische Auffassung des Menschen als weltoffen – wobei die Welt als „ein Geschehen, welches nie in seiner Totalität fassbar wie auch nie auf den Bereich des Erscheinenden reduzierbar ist“ (165) – auch für seine Auffassungen zur Erziehung entscheidend: „Die klassische dualistische Gegenüberstellung von Geist und Materie“ wird in der „kosmologischen Dialektik“ so umgedacht, dass die Natur nicht im Widerspruch zur Freiheit steht, sondern mit ihr zusammen die Wirklichkeit der menschlichen Existenz ausmacht. (166) Das allumfassende Leben, auf das der Mensch in seiner Leiblichkeit als tieferen Lebensgrund angewiesen ist, ist mit der Existenz, mit der Idee der individuellen Freiheit dialektisch verwoben und macht den Menschen so als „Mittler“ aus. (166 f.) Mit dem „Kreis des Mitleids und der Neugier“, in den die Generationen in der Interaktion zentripetal hineinfinden, bietet Shchyttsova ein plastisch anschauliches Modell einer Erziehung wieder, bei der es um „die Intensivierung der Angewiesenheit auf die Permanenz des Lebens“ gehen kann, so dass der „geheilte Lebenszustand“ vordergründig wird (179).

Als einziger auf Englisch verfasster Beitrag, unterbricht Krystof Kasprzaks „Absolute Incomprehension as Meontic Singularization in Eugen Fink’s Critique of Hermeneutics“ (S. 180–200) den sprachlichen Duktus des Bandes, was allerdings auch ein Aufmerken bewirken kann, sprachlich Routiniertes neu zu bedenken. Kasprzak knüpft sich Finks Kritik der Hermeneutik vor, um zu zeigen, wie diese Kritik zur Entwicklung seiner meontischen Philosophie beiträgt. Im Mittelpunkt steht die Bedeutung des Nichtverstehens, das Fink als Anfang des Denkens und der philosophischen Erfahrung sieht. Finks Auffassung der Erfahrung wird in Gegenüberstellung mit jener Hans-Georg Gadamers als Auslegung des hegelschen Ansatzes dargelegt. (vgl. 180) Das absolute Nichtverstehen wird schließlich in Nähe zu Rainer Schürmann’s Begriff der „kommenden Vereinzelung“ gebracht um die Frage nach der meontischen Philosophie auf die meontische Natur der Vereinzelung zurückzuführen (ebd.), die die Existenz aus dem geschlossenen Kreis des Allgemeinen und Individuellen hinausführt (199).

Den Band rundet Karel Novotnýs Beitrag „Die Welt und das Ereignis des Erscheinens: Bemerkungen zu einem zeitgenössischen kosmologischen Ansatz“ (S. 201–222) ab und eröffnet zugleich exemplarisch den Blick auf weitere zeitgenössische kosmologische Ansätze, indem es den Ansatz Renaud Barbaras im Vergleich zu jenem Finks anführt. „Der Beitrag weist auf Parallelen und Unterschiede beider Denkansätze hin und kommt zu einem Schluss, der die Rolle der Leib-Körperlichkeit betont: Die Dynamik der Manifestation erwächst trotz der Übermacht der Welt aus einem Bezug des endlichen Lebens zur Welt und ist von der Erde getragen, die in diese Dynamik selber weder eingeht noch in ihr aufgeht.“ (201, vgl. 221)

Den Ausgang nimmt dieser Beitrag in einem Unterschied zwischen Barbaras und Fink: „Während für Fink das »Ereignis« auf die Seite der Welt selbst gehört, ist es für Barbaras eine Bezeichnung dafür, was zwar der Welt zuteil wird, ihr selbst aber nicht eigen ist und in diesem Sinne sozusagen als etwas ihr Fremdes geschieht. Fremd ist es deshalb, weil es nicht aus der Welt kommt.“ (203) Novotný ist um eine Art Vermittlung der beiden Positionen bemüht: „Das Erscheinen als ein Ereignis zu fassen, welches die Subjektivität der Welt eröffnet, die durch den Weltbezug zugleich sich selbst begegnet.“ (203) Dabei wird das Ereignis weder, wie bei Fink, der Welt zugeschrieben, noch, wie bei Barbaras, dem Moment der Subjektivität (als Nichts der Subjektivität). Das „Ereignis“ soll dafür stehen „dass es etwas nicht nur gibt, sondern dass es eben erscheint.“ (203) Konsequenterweise bedeutet dies, dass sich dem Erscheinen nicht nur die Subjektivität sondern auch die Welt entzieht, wobei die Erde als Tragende hervortritt. „Die Erde bleibt diesseits der erhellten Manifestation, und das Ereignis dieser Auflichtung – das Erscheinen als solches, das bereits die Subjektivität impliziert, auch wenn es vom Schenken und Nehmen durch die Erde her nicht erklärt werden kann – verweist doch auf die Erde, weil die implizierte Subjektivität nicht anders als leiblich-irdisch lebt.“ (221)