Saturday, November 27, 2010



You said; “I want to hear all your ideas............”

Do you recall when I mentioned to you that now when I listen to people I know right away if they know what they are talking about? To demonstrate what I said to you I'm going to take quite a few liberties with what you posted. It is an extremely simple sentence, but as we go through it together you will get an 'inkling' of the 'labyrinth' I have been referring to.

The dictionary defines “idea” as:

“any 'conception' existing in the 'mind' as a result of 'mental understanding', 'awareness', or 'activity'.”

#1. The very first thing you should notice is that when it comes to reading the dictionary we don't question what it says. Not even for a nanosecond do we even recognize the possibility of questioning the dictionary. We just blindly read it as if it is the final authority in the matter (“God”). Take a moment for that to sink in. Ever since the moment you could say the word 'dictionary' it has determined your 'existence' and you haven't even noticed that you didn't have a choice in the matter.

#2. The next thing you should notice is that 'idea' is associated with the words 'conception', 'mind', 'mental' 'understanding', 'awareness', and 'activity'.

Let's take a look at those words.

Conception: the act of conceiving; the state of being conceived; a notion; idea; concept:

Mind: the element, part, substance or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc.; the processes of the human mind. (in other words, it's ”the processes of the human mind” that determine the existence of Mind, so, Mind defines Mind. What the hell!!)

Mental: of or pertaining to the mind (see the definition above)

Understanding: mental process of a person who comprehends; comprehension; personal interpretation: (see 'Mental' and then 'Mind', above)

Awareness: having knowledge; conscious; cognizant:

Activity: the state or quality of being active

One other word we should address that is not included in the definition of 'idea'.
Characteristic: a distinguishing quality, attribute or trait

#3. Review the list of words above. All of those words (concepts) represent one word which is the word 'idea' (concept). We use Mind to define Mind and 'concepts' to validate 'concepts'. We never question what we are doing and never question the measurability (length, width, depth, locality, mass) of the 'concept' we are using. Take a moment to notice and you will see that all of the words used to define 'idea' are 'concepts', representations of Be-ing/living, they are not living, Be-ing.

#4. Another pattern you should take note of is that in the case of 'Conception', 'idea' is used to define 'Conception' and that a 'Conception' is a concept. So, 'Conception' is a concept that defines the word 'idea' and an 'idea' is a 'Conception'. What's up with that? The only thing in the definition of 'Conception' that seems to come close to being accurate is the part where it says “being conceived”, which points to Be-ing/thinking.

#5. Mind uses “the processes of the Mind" to define itself, Mental uses Mind to define itself, and Understanding uses Mind and Mental to define itself. Let's address the word 'Mind' first, it seems to be the keystone that holds the flim-flam all together.

As part of our agreements with each other, we require “proof of existence” before we accept that entities exist. 'Proof of existence' is determined by 2 criteria, measurability (length, width, depth, locality, mass) and definability. Both measurability and definability have to be present before 'proof of existence' can be accepted. Mind (and just about every other concept) has plenty of definability and absolutely no measurability. Why is it that humanity (yeh, you) demands that we use measurability and definability as the criteria for 'proof of existence' only to give a pass to Mind (and just about every other concept) when it comes to measurability? Don't you find that to be a little curious?

Mind is an ethereal concept which defines itself. It assumes that when we think, that thinking has to come from somewhere, so Mind is a representation of a container that stores 'thoughts'. Mind was inserted into our language prior to 900 AD.

The existence of Mind can't be proven. Since Mind doesn't exist what do we do with the words 'Mental' and 'Understanding' which are defined by Mind?

Is all of this becoming a little confusing? If the answer is yes, then we are on the right track. In Japan, temples have two beasts sitting on either side of the door. I opine that the temples represent Be-ing and the beasts represent confusion and doubt. You have to go through confusion and doubt to enter the temple, to 'Be' who you are. Actually, I find that you're already Be-ing who you are and letting the confusion and doubt distract you from Be-ing.

#6. Out of all those words that are used to define 'idea' there are only two characteristics which come close to representing the word 'idea'. In the definition of 'Conception' you have 'Be-ing conceived' and in the definition 'Activity' you have 'Be-ing active'. 'Idea' is a representation of the 'act' of 'conceiving'. It is a process, not a 'thing' that you yank out of a container called Mind.

#7. Glance over the words and definitions (above) and notice that if anybody tried to flim-flam you with all that misdirection, you would tell them to get the hell out of your life, pronto. You have given Merriam-Webster the status of “God” in your life and you operate (blindly) as if Merriam-Webster is “God”.

#8. The last thing you should notice is that all of this was started by one little word, 'idea', which has led to another word and then to another word and on and on. We are “The Tower of Babel”. The world dictates our existence by using a labyrinth of measurability and definability as the standard to represent Be-ing. You confuse your 'self' with the concepts of the world and turn your 'self' into a 'thing' instead of Be-ing your 'self'.

Nobody, and I really mean nobody, can disentangle you from the labyrinth of 'mis-conceptions' and presuppositions. The purpose of this is to remind you that's your job to do. Most people don't know that they need to do a serious and systematic study to attain their freedom. They actually think that it's something they are entitled to as a consequence of a proclamation or by fighting a series of wars.

Nobody cares if you do the work. As a matter-of-fact the ones not doing the work wish you wouldn't, because you will be a reminder that they aren't getting their job done.

If you can't 'hear' what I'm saying and it is not calling out to you to do something about your freedom then maybe you should stop reading my blog. Keep yourself from going through the aggravation of asking me to explain only to have me respond by telling you that it can't be explained.

If you want to argue with me about what I've written, that's okay. Just don't expect me to participate in your argument.

Trevor, do remember what started all of this? You said; "I want to hear all your ideas............"

I don't have any ideas.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


In terms of the measurable, definable, world, and the 'they', 'death' is interpreted as that which happens at the end of 'life'. Another word we use for the end of life is 'demise'.

For the purpose of this conversation I will use 'death' (demise) when I am speaking about what happens in the measurable, definable, world and I will use 'death' (Be-ing) when I am speaking of Be-ing.

Be aware, when people speak of 'death' they are most likely speaking about 'demise'. You can't count on them to make the distinction for you. Humans Be-ing readily interchange (confuse) the two words when they come face-to-face with their own mortality and are meaning 'demise' (what happens to a physical body, plant, animal, or man).

Let's clear up the matter of 'demise' first and be done with it. It is rather simple. 'Birth' and 'death' (demise) are two sides of the same coin. When you are 'born', 'death' (demise) is inevitable and nobody can take it away from you or do it for you. It is the only certain/uncertain certainty you have. Just about everything you do between 'birth' and 'death' (demise) is an avoidance of 'death' (demise).

Let me be very clear here. 'Death' (demise) is to be avoided at all cost.

Monuments (headstones, statues, buildings) are an attempt to extend 'living' past the point of 'death' (demise) or immortality. All of this points to one thing and that is: The moment you are born you are already 'dead' (demise), you just don't know when it will happen. Put down the turd, 'death' (demise) and refuse to play patty-cake with it, you can't do anything about it anyway.

Have you ever had a bad enough accident that it made you confront how you are living your life? Have you ever been in a precarious situation and said something along the lines of “If you'll get me out of this I'll never do such and such again” and experienced a shift in your outlook on life? What I just said is a hint that points to 'death' (Be-ing). When you 'close the door' on the way you have been Be-ing, that's another hint that points to 'death' (Be-ing). Those 'hints' are all evidence you need to assure you of the possibility of 'death' (Be-ing).

You should avoid 'death' (demise) at any cost, however, you should run towards 'death' (Be-ing) and experience 'death' (Be-ing) as many times as you can. That's where you'll find 'living' (Be-ing who you are).

'Death' (demise) is a concept we 'play patty-cake' with to remind us to 'live'. However, 'living' is not the opposite of 'death' (demise). 'Living' is something else. It doesn't happen in the realm of the measurable, definable, world, it happens in Be-ing/knowing.

'Death' (demise) is just one of a whole world of concepts we use to hide behind. Your lot in life is to deconstruct the concept of 'death' (demise) and uncover the possibility of 'death' (Be-ing/liv-ing).

Let me say it again. Your lot in life is to de-construct the 'concepts' of life and uncover the possibility that the 'concepts' of life (the measurable, definable, world, and the 'they') don't define who you are. They can only define you as a measurable, definable, thing.

Deconstructing concepts of things like gun, car, airplane are so easy that you don't even take notice. The difficult concepts are the ones that humans Be-ing use to define Be-ing. Since “you should avoid 'death' (demise) at any cost”, when you come close to 'death' (Be-ing) you turn the possibility of not being able “to prove your existence in this world” into a concept to represent Be-ing.

As you de-construct the 'concepts', one by one, and disentangle your 'self' from the labyrinth of measurabilty and definability, you come to a point where you recognize that using the 'measurabilty and definability of the world' to prove your existence never 'captured' who 'you' really are. When you discover that the 'world's concepts can no longer capture 'you', you come face-to-face with the possibility that 'you' can't prove 'you' exist, not even to your 'self'.

Physics has proven that two things cannot occupy the same space, so, when 'you' existing, come face-to-face with the possibility that you don't exist, a very interesting thing happens. When both 'you existing' and 'the possibility that you don't exist' try to occupy the same space, they cancel each other out and both disappear. What gets left in their place is 'you', Be-ing.

What you have just experienced is 'death' (Be-ing).

When you experience 'death' (Be-ing), you will discover that you are no longer a slave to proving/not proving your existence and that now you have 'room' for you to replace 'proving/not proving your existence' with something else. This is the essence of human freedom.

In 'death' (Be-ing) you answer the question "Who am I?"

This is the 'story' (representation) of what happens in "Being and Time" by Martin Heidegger.

Heidegger speaks to Be-ing. It is why I read "Being and Time" 74 times. I was running toward 'death' (Be-ing).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Philosophy Doesn't Exist

Philosophy is not a 'thing' called science. 'It' doesn't contain patterns and principles. 'It' is not “too broad a subject for any one person to claim understanding”. You (collective 'you') treat philosophy as if it is a 'thing' to understand and you're right! Philosophy is the 'container' that holds all of your pre-existing conclusions, your pre-suppositions, and your concepts about what happens between the beginning and the end of 'philosophizing'. Your pre-existing conclusions, your pre-suppositions, and your concepts about philosophy is not philosophizing. It is kind of like the relationship between 'life' and 'living'. 'Life' is the container and 'living' is the content. 'Life' is empty and meaningless, 'living' is where the good stuff is. You're re-presentation of someone's 'life' in book or a book report is a gross injustice to the person who did the 'living' and it is always a mis-representation.

It is the same with what you call 'philosophy'. Books and reporting about the philosopher's philosophizing are empty and meaningless unless you are philosophizing. You have to step out of your subject/object world and become the conversation that is contained in the book. By 'becoming the conversation' you will sacrifice your pre-existing conclusions, your presuppositions, and your concepts.

The reason philosophy is “too broad a subject for any one person to claim understanding” is because the way it is taught and the way you read it is the culprit. When you start off on the wrong path you've already committed your 'self' to the wrong destination.

The way it really happens is that you (even as you are reading this) are Be-ing (living). You are the conversation contained in the book. Instead of taking animal rationale, res extensa, and cogito sum for granted and trying to understand them you realize that for example, cogito has gotten all the attention and the sum has been ignored. (The reason the sum has been ignored is because the 'sum' can't be contained in the measurability and definability of the world.)

As you pick at the 'threads' of concepts that make up 'philosophy' you begin to see through the pre-existing conclusions, the presuppositions, and the concepts that have been forced upon you by the 'world' and the 'they'. You discover that 'living' is not a combination of characteristics called 'life' and 'philosophizing' is not a combination of characteristics called 'philosophy'.

The source of the contents of the container called 'philosophy' is you, who you really are, Be-ing. It is not the other way around. Philosophy is not some 'concept' (thing) out there for you to understand and then, when you're done, hopefully you can accumulate everything you've learned and then know the answer to “Who Am I?”.

Humans Be-ing have been trying to do that since way before Parmenides. You'd think that after several thousand years we would have put 2 & 2 together. Alan Watts said that we “haven't graduated past 'territorial monkey”. We are still defending the same territory defined several thousand years ago and making sure we keep the other monkeys out, no matter what. (I'm howling like a monkey, I just can't put on the page.)

As you de-construct your pre-existing conclusions and presuppositions you disentangle your 'self' from the measurabilty and definability (thingdom) of 'philosophy', the 'world', and the 'they'. You come to a point where you realize that the conclusions, the presuppositions, and the 'concepts' in philosophy are distractions and can no longer be used to prove the existence of your 'self' (Be-ing). When you come face-to-face with the emptiness of the concepts you reach a point in your thinking called (by Heidegger), the "possibility of the impossibility of your existence" who you've been Be-ing dies so that you can be your 'self'. You uncover/discover that the theories, the conjecture, and 'the ability to explain' your 'self' has nothing to do with Be-ing your 'self'. This is the essence of human freedom. In Be-ing you answer the question "Who am I?"

This is what is called 'transformation'.

When you make the 'leap' from the measurabilty and definability of your pre-existing conclusions and presuppositions into Be-ing you do understand it all and 'philosophizing' becomes an adventure and not a entanglement like 'philosophy'.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Message to Michael


I stumbled upon your review of The Genesis of Heidegger's Being and Time and I would like to chat with you about it.

I am beginning my 74th reading of Being and Time. I bought the book in 1995 and have been reading it for the past 15 years. I have also read Heidegger’s History of the Concept of Time 70 times.

I have found the problem with reading Heidegger has nothing to do with the subject matter. Heidegger is brilliant and what he is pointing at deserves to be heard. The problem is with the reader, the translator of his works, the editors that edit the translations, the professors who teach Heidegger, the English language, and even Heidegger himself adds to the problem of what he is talking about.

The problem with reading Heidegger and for that matter any philosophy is that as Heidegger says it in Being and Time, in Part II, section 5, bottom of 2nd paragraph, “To be sure, its ownmost Being is such that it has an understanding of that Being, and already maintains itself in each case as if its Being has been interpreted in some manner.” “The kind of Being which belongs to Dasein is rather such that, in understanding its own Being, it has a tendency to do so in terms of that entity towards which it comports itself proximally and in a way which is essentially constant – in terms of the 'world'. In Dasein itself, and therefore in its understanding of Being, the way the world is understood is, as we shall show, reflected back ontologically upon the way in which Dasein gets interpreted.”

In other words, we are 'thrown' to interpret who we are as a measurable, definable, thing and when we read Heidegger and all philosophy, we interpret Heidegger and all philosophy as a measurable, definable, thing to understand. This is why reading and studying philosophy provides no resolution or freedom (our birthright).

Let me show you what I mean by Heidegger himself adds to the problem. In 1995 I typed all 387 pages of Being and Time (Harper's) on my computer and as I said earlier I am reading it for the 74th time. Around the 70th reading I changed 'being' to 'Be-ing' where appropriate. Then I changed 'Dasein' to 'being-there' because I found when I read 'being' and 'Dasein' my tendency was to 'objectify' what Heidegger was saying by turning 'being' and 'Dasein' into things to understand.

That being said the following is how I have re-written what Heidegger said in Part II, section 5, bottom of 2nd paragraph, “Be-ing is such that it is an understanding of Be-ing, and already maintains itself as if Be-ing has been interpreted in some manner.” “The kind of Be-ing which belongs to Being-there (Dasein) is rather such that it has a tendency to do so in terms of that entity towards which it comports itself proximally and in a way which is essentially constant – in terms of the 'world'.

That last sentence needs to be re-stated as to not be overlooked. “In Being-there (Dasein), the way the world is understood is reflected back ontologically upon the way in which Being-there (Dasein) gets interpreted.”

In other words, you interpret who you are as if you are the world you live in. You are not the world you live along side of. Who you are is the 'My' in 'My finger', you are not the 'finger' which is measurable and definable. Just for the hell of it look up 'My' and 'I' in the dictionary. 'My' and 'I' are both defined as “used by a speaker in referring to himself or herself”. They can't be defined, only you have the power to uncover who you are.

When we read Heidegger we aren't Be-ing the conversation. Evidenced by the wording that Heidegger uses, I really don't know if he was Be-ing what he wrote or whether his writing was a compilation of historical 'hints'. He also could have been a slave to literary convention. I do know this, that whether he was Be-ing what he wrote, whether Being and Time is a compilation of historical 'hints', or whether he was a slave to 'literary convention' doesn't matter. What matters is if you are Be-ing the conversation. If you keep the 'conversation' at arm's length by 'objectifying' what Heidegger is saying, you aren't engaged in the conversation and you are missing out on the possibility of Be-ing your 'self'. You end up spending your time on the planet perpetuating the 'cover-up' and blaming others for your circumstances.

One last tidbit. When you said "That death is a primary aspect of what it means to be human. If you are aware of death as he says, then you can be aware of the meaning of life. The meaning of life comes to us because we understand that we are finite, that we are mortal and not in control." You missed what Heidegger was saying. You are speaking of death as if it is a thing, an event that happens. The moment you are born, you are already dead, you just don't know when it will happen. That's a given, a non-issue that doesn't even need to be talked about. By the way, speaking of 'death' as an event that happens to your/others physical body is all the evidence you need to prove to your 'self' that you are a victim of your 'thrownness' to interpret Heidegger, all philosophy, and everything you read as a measurable, definable, thing to understand. You are 'thrown' to interpret your 'self' as a definable, measurable, physical 'thing'.

What Heidegger is talking about when he speaks of 'running towards death', 'anticipatory resoluteness' and 'death' is the following:
As you de-construct the 'world' and disentangle your 'self' from the measurabilty and definability of it, you come to a point where you can no longer prove the existence of your 'self'. When you come face-to-face with the "possibility of the impossibility of your existence" who you've been Be-ing dies so that you can be your 'self'. You uncover/discover that anything is possible and that you are no longer a slave to proving your existence. This is the 'death' Heidegger is talking about. In Be-ing you 'anticipate resolving' 'death' so that you can be your 'self'. This is the essence of human freedom. In Be-ing you answer the question "Who am I?"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Academia vs. Life

What I am pointing to here is the difference between ‘academia’ and ‘life’. From the moment we are born we are ‘thrust’ into the subject/object world. Our parents, their parents, their parents, and their parents have expressed their be-ing as if who they are is a subject over against an object. As we go through school, teachers reinforce the subject/object dichotomy and add enough mass to it that it becomes an unmovable object which is over against us (the subject). Which succeeds in further convincing us that the subject/object dichotomy is a ‘fact’. Me, you, my physicality over against your different physicality, over against the physicality of cars, buses, trucks, and planes. We define ourselves with ‘measurability’. Measurability is a ‘fact’ and a ‘fact’ is something that is hardly ever questioned.

I say that who we are is the ‘conversation’ we have from the beginning to the end of our lives and that this is the conversation Heidegger is having. As he says “be-ing is an issue” for us. We live our life ‘having an inkling’ of who we are yet there is this ‘other dialog’ we are having that is supported by the world we live in. We use the world’s measurability to define who we are because people have convinced themselves that they need some ‘thing’ to hold on to.

We ‘distract’ ourselves from Heidegger’s conversation (which is attempting to dis-entangle us from the ‘world’). We distract ourselves because like Heidegger said “be-ing is an issue for us” and that is the conversation we want to have. Except as part of our be-ing we get anxious in the face of be-ing and we scamper back to the safety of the measurable world.

The 'abyss' lies between the inauthentic expression of be-ing as a 'thing' (subject/object world) and the authentic expression of be-ing. It requires a 'leap' of faith from the subject/objectness into 'be-ing' who you are. Who you are resides in the 'measurable world' but who you are is not measurable and who you are shouldn't be held to the measurable world's standard.

When you say “My finger” you are making 2 clear distinctions 1) “My” and 2) “finger” the “finger” is capable of being measured and the “My” isn’t. The “My” is who you are and the “finger” isn’t. The interesting thing about the ‘leap’ is this. You can’t make it happen and you can’t will it to happen. I read “Being & Time” 70+ times trying to make it happen not knowing what it was that I was trying to make happen. You can see the difficulty of trying to explain. Anyhow, one day I woke up and I just knew that I had made the ‘leap’. Everything I have read in the past comes to me in little snippets and I understand now because I am not trying to “fit’ it into the subject/object world.

Once you have made the ‘leap’ you know if the person you are listening to has made the leap and if they know what they are talking about. Having made the ‘leap’ I can tell you that there is no more speculation about all of this. Funny thing I just noticed is that telling someone who hasn’t made the leap all this just adds a whole lot of not understanding to their ‘fire’. It took 15 years and 70 readings of “Being and Time” and “History of the Concept of Time” for something inside of me to ‘click’. It wasn’t what I was reading; it wasn’t Martin Heidegger’s ‘philosophy” or Kant’s, or Descartes’, or anybody else’s. Just in an instant I knew. What’s more important is that I knew I knew.

Anything short of the ‘leap’ is inaccurate speculation, it is not knowing, no matter how good you are at sprucing it up and selling it. Please don’t ask me to try and prove this to you. I couldn’t do that If I had another 62 years on the planet.

One last little thing I found interesting. Look up ‘confusion’ in the dictionary. Go the extra step and look up ‘con’ and then look up ‘fusion’. “Con” adj. is the argument against something. “Fusion” is the act or process of fusing, becoming one. So, isn’t ‘confusion’ the argument against you becoming one with your self?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The "Leap"

This is a letter I sent to a philosophy professor at the University of New Mexico. His only response was: "You're welcome Bill. Best wishes for your own journey."


I am attempting to read your review of Carol White’s “In Time and Death: Heidegger’s Analysis of Finitude”. You called it “On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Reading Heidegger Backwards: White’s Time and Death.

The difficulty I am having is that it appears to be written by a person who is standing on the edge of an abyss and who can theoretically explain what’s on the other side but can’t help you get there. I suspect that he hasn’t made the leap for himself, doesn’t know how to make the leap, or maybe he isn’t aware that there is a ‘leap’ to be made.

As an example, in your review, you said “White’s view, put simply, is that ‘‘death’’ is Heidegger’s name for the collapse of an historical understanding of being, a collapse which creates the space for a rare authentic individual to disclose a new historical understanding of being and so inaugurate a new age.”

What you said is accurately and eloquently stated yet I ask you, did it create any space in you “for a rare authentic individual”? Did what you read and wrote about “disclose a new historical understanding of being” and move the world of philosophy forward or are you just ‘reporting’ on something you read?

Don’t take what I am saying personally, that would be a waste of your valuable time. What I am addressing here is a condition that permeates every philosophy department and household in this country and I suspect, in the world.

Every philosopher has been listened to and read by people standing on the edge of the abyss. Every review of every philosopher’s work has been written by people who are intimately aware of the edge they are standing on and that there is ‘something’ on the other side. Nobody has written about how to get to the other side and if they did, the people on the edge of the abyss wouldn’t be able to hear it because it’s “outside the box” of ‘edge thinking’. I call ‘getting to the other side’ the ‘Leap’. Nobody writes about how to bring about “the collapse of an historical understanding of being”. They haven’t even identified the “historical understanding of being”. They still treat it as if it is a ‘thing’ that needs to collapse.

How do we “create the space” for authentic individuals? How do you tell a goldfish about water?

Why is it that in approximately 2500 years of philosophy nobody has written about ‘how to get to the other side’? This is the question that needs to be asked.

The world is standing on the edge of the abyss wanting to make the ‘leap’. If you read philosophy while standing on the edge of the abyss you get explanation about the ‘edge of the abyss’ and you don’t even notice that it’s the same ‘edge of the abyss’ it’s been for 2500 years from a variety of points-of-view. You might be able to impress the other people around you while standing on the edge. You might be able to present yourself as knowledgeable with guesses about what lies on the other side. But down deep inside you know you don’t know and you keep looking for the one thing the knowing of which will change everything, if you could only put your finger on it.

You went on to say, “Still, every Heidegger scholar will want to read Dreyfus’s Preface for themselves, because this mature and insightful work, in which the world’s leading expert on Being and Time critically synthesizes almost every major interpretation of Heidegger on death, represents an uncircumventable contribution to our understanding of Heidegger, one with respect to which all future interpreters of Heidegger’s views on death will want to situate themselves.”

Hubert Dreyfus’ is not “the world’s leading expert on Being and Time” because he hasn’t made the leap. Here’s an interesting point, “If you haven’t made the ‘leap’ you don’t know what you’re talking about”.

In 1995 I purchased a copy of “Being and Time” and am currently reading it for the 73rd time. I also have a copy of “The History of the Concept of Time” and have read it over 70 times. My collection of books by Martin Heidegger has grown to over 70. I bring this to your attention because somewhere between the 70th and 72nd reading of “Being and Time” something changed.

I realized that for 61 years I had been standing on the “edge of the abyss” becoming familiar with the ‘edge’ and not leaping. The next thing I noticed is that somewhere in that 61 years I discovered that what I was looking for wasn’t contained in what I was reading. All of the best minds in history, Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Plato, Kant, Descartes, Frankl, Jung, etc. had nothing more to say to me. I had nowhere to turn to and in hindsight I realized that I wasn’t ready to make the ‘leap’.

Like I said earlier, I picked up a copy of “Being and Time” in 1995 (the black and white dust jacket wouldn’t leave me alone). In the beginning I could only read a couple of paragraphs at a time and I would put it back on the shelf. But like I said, the dust cover wouldn’t leave me alone so I’d pick it up again and again and again. One day I noticed that I was reading the book expecting to get ‘something’ out of reading it, so I read it to get what I got and didn’t concern myself with what I wasn’t getting. That seemed to work because I was no longer asking “What the hell does he mean” and grinding to a halt. About the 5th or 6th reading I noticed that I was racing ahead of Heidegger and my conclusions and presuppositions were getting in the way of what he was saying (I was guessing, a lot). To keep this from happening I spent the next 6 months typing all 387 pages on my computer. Focusing on the typing of the book seemed to work for me. I was ‘reading’ without ‘reading’ and I was hearing Heidegger through osmosis. Every time I came to the end of the book I noticed that I was not the same person I was at the beginning of the book, so I read it again. I kept asking myself “What is it about this book that causes change in me when no other book did?” Somewhere around 50 or 60 readings I noticed that there was no more subject (me) and object (book), I was be-ing the conversation. Shortly after that I realized there was no Heidegger, there was only me be-ing a conversation. As I said earlier, somewhere around the 70th to 72nd reading something changed. I remember waking up one morning knowing that I had made the ‘leap’ and that “Being and Time” is an operator’s manual.

(The last 3 paragraphs Heidegger calls “Dasein’s potentiality-for-Be-ing” and that it is an issue for Dasein.)

Earlier I asked, “Why is it that in approximately 2500 years of philosophy nobody has written about ‘how to get to the other side’?” Maybe they have and maybe they haven’t. A philosopher ‘standing on the edge’ may have written something about the ‘other side’ only to flee in the face of be-ing. Maybe he did that several times in the writing of his book. A student reading philosophy may have read something about the ‘other side’ and fled in the face of be-ing just like the philosopher did. I really don’t know. All I know is this, until a person makes the ‘leap’ into be-ing, every book (the bible, the Koran, philosophy, etc.) will be nothing more than some ‘object’ being read by some ‘subject’. It will be nothing more than a ‘thing’ to read, analyze, talk about, and impress your friends with your knowledge about instead of being the operator’s manual that it is. The books will only produce more standing on the edge of the abyss; it will not produce any ‘leaping’. I guess what is to be gleaned from all this is what Heidegger said, which is, “The very fact that we already (underline mine) live in an understanding of Be-ing and that the meaning of Be-ing is still veiled in darkness proves that it is necessary in principle to raise this (the question of the meaning Be-ing) again” and that resolving this question is apriori to all other study, no matter what the subject.

All thought, be it theological, sociological, biological, or physics begins with philosophy, philosophy holds the future of the world in the palm of its hands. There is a world full of people ‘chomping at the bit’ to “disclose a new historical understanding of being”. For 2500 years philosophy has been imploring us to ‘make the leap’ and we still choose the safety of the ‘edge of the abyss’. Life is not a concept to be understood. You are not a being, the “animal rationale”, a combination of characteristics (concepts), you are be-ing.. “The collapse of an historical understanding of being” will happen when individuals take the ‘leap’ into be-ing, that’s when “rare authentic individuals” will show up.

What follows is a short dialog between Socrates and Glaucon in the “Allegory of the Cave”.
[Socrates] And now shall we consider in what way such guardians will be produced, and how they are to be brought from darkness to light, -- as some are said to have ascended from the world below to the gods?
[Glaucon] By all means, he replied.
[Socrates] The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell, but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night to the true day of be-ing, that is, the ascent from below, which we affirm to be true philosophy?
[Glaucon] Quite so.

Plato and Socrates knew it 2500 years ago. The time has come for the rest of the world to stop hiding out on the edge and make the ‘leap’. This is what philosophy is all about! This is the ‘calling’ of philosophy!

If you have read this far I thank you for be-ing there to write to so I could work this out for myself. And thank you for taking the time to include me in your busy schedule.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Living an Authentic Life

Living an Authentic Life

What follows is a transcript of a 3 part conversation.

Part 1

Everything you have written is great stuff and your ‘evidence trail’ is impeccable. Since I have already agreed that your ‘evidence trail’ is impeccable, approaching the ‘content’ of what you have written would be a waste of my time, and yours.

The sheer size of your response prohibits me from ‘picking through’ everything you said. However, I would like to ‘nudge’ you in another direction with regards to your ‘perspective’.

Most people don’t take into account their POV (point-of-view) as a factor in a conversation such as this. POV is such a ‘blind spot’ that humanity is reduced to declaring their ‘self’ right and defending their position ‘to the death’.

If you are one of those people who say they are ‘right’ and you want to keep defending your position, you may not want to read any further. Reading further will only produce an opposite ‘position’ for you to take and produce a ‘flurry’ of activity to provide evidence for your position.

Speaking of ‘position’, I’d like you to imagine that you are standing in the center of a football stadium (soccer, American, or Australian). Look around at all the seats. As you look at the seats you notice that the seats in front of you are divided into sections. You focus in on one of the sections and you notice that the seats are occupied. You narrow your view to the seat in the center and recognize Martin Heidegger is in that seat and he is surrounded by seats ‘occupied’ by ‘substances’, ‘Dasein’, ‘being’, ‘be-ing’, ‘presence-at-hand, present-at-hand’, ‘hammer hammering’, ‘readiness-to-hand, etc. In the next section over you see Immanuel Kant, next to that is Rene Descartes, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Socrates, Plato, etc.

You turn around and look behind you and notice that your parents are sitting in a section surrounded by ‘children are meant to be seen and not heard’, ‘do your homework’, ‘you’re grounded’, ‘stop picking on your sister’, ‘do your chores’, etc. In the sections surrounding that section you see teachers, friends from school, neighbors, high school girlfriends/boyfriends, coaches, college professors, employers, the pope, leaders of your country, your wife, your children, your dog, etc.

You stand there noticing everything around you and another ‘perspective’ sneaks in the door. You notice that the stadium is real, the seats are real, and the ‘occupants’ in the seats are real. You also begin to notice that the stadium, the seats, and the occupants wouldn’t be there if you weren’t standing in the middle of the stadium.

Monumental question #1: Were the seats filled before you got there, or did you ‘fill the seats’?

The answer to both questions is “yes”.

“Were the seats filled before you got there?” requires that you ‘make agreements’ with one of the occupants of the seats called ‘history’. These ‘agreements’ you make produce the ‘effect’ of you identifying your ‘self’ with the ‘occupants in the seats’ and defending that choice until the day you die. Ultimately you have no ‘ability to respond’ to situations in your life because ‘you’ have to ‘consult’ with all of the agreements and ‘react’ to the situation. You have relinquished ‘control’ over your life.

“Did you fill the seats?” The answer is a resounding “yes”.

You began your expose’ with;
“As I understand it, Heidegger asked himself what is the meaning of being? And before formulating a coherent answer, he went back to see what the philosophical tradition had to say on the matter.”

I am questioning “As I understand it”. I am questioning “As I understand it” because everything you have written following “As I understand it” is evidence of proof of ‘understanding’.

You even attempted to present ‘your’ understanding and Heidegger’s understanding as the same by speaking for him when you said “He understood that tradition had predominately conceived being’, “Heidegger considered substance ontology a worthy pursuit”, and “Heidegger realized that even if you understood all the presence-at-hand properties of the hammer”.

Please don’t waste even a nanosecond of your time to start to compile an argument for the last paragraph. Unless we are extremely diligent in our speech we all have done this. It is our “blind spot”. We don’t examine how we assume that our ‘understanding’ is the same as the ‘authority’ we have named and therefore if our ‘understanding’ is the same then the ‘authority’ agrees with us. I do think it would be valuable to notice if you find your self defending your understanding instead of reading on.

To minimize confusion let me point out that I am not questioning your understanding or your ability to understand. Let’s stay ‘on point’ here.

Let’s step back into the stadium again, shall we?

“Martin Heidegger is in that seat and he is surrounded by seats ‘occupied’ by ‘substances’, ‘Dasein’, ‘being’, ‘be-ing’, ‘presence-at-hand, present-at-hand’, ‘hammer hammering’, ‘readiness-to-hand, etc.” You can look at the ‘section’ that Heidegger is sitting in as his own stadium. Were the seats filled before he got there or did he ‘fill the seats’? You don’t know, do you? All you ‘know’ is that there are ‘occupants’ sitting in the seats that surround him. Who was Heidegger ‘be-ing’ while he ‘filled those seats’? Do you ‘know’ what ‘he’ was ‘seeing’ when he used the word ‘substances’ to point to what he was seeing? Early in his writings he used ‘being’ to point to what he was seeing. Later on he used ‘be-ing’ to point to what he was seeing. What caused him to shift from an object called ‘being’ to using the word ‘be-ing’. What was it that ‘showed up’ for him differently? When did he stop ‘agreeing with history’ and everybody else in ‘his’ stadium and step out?

You said;
“Heidegger realized that even if you understood all the presence-at-hand properties of the hammer, you still haven't got at what it is to be the hammer. It couldn't be a hammer, for example, if there weren't other stuff in existence, like nails, and planks of wood.”

I say;
That even if you understood all the presence-at-hand properties of Heidegger, you still haven't got at what it is to be Heidegger. And, yes, like nails and planks of wood, Heidegger couldn’t ‘be’ Heidegger without ‘substances’, ‘Dasein’, ‘being’, ‘be-ing’, ‘presence-at-hand, present-at-hand’, ‘hammer hammering’, ‘readiness-to-hand, etc. He ‘filled the seats’.

I also say;
That even if you understood all the presence-at-hand properties of ‘you’, you still haven't got at what it is to be ‘you’. Just because you have the ability to “understand all the presence-at-hand properties of Heidegger” and everything else in the stadium, doesn’t mean that you can extrapolate that ‘you’ are a ‘collection of properties’.

Now the adventure really begins.

I quote your post here;
Being and Time Page 32.12 (Macquarrie & Robinson) "Dasein is an entity which does not just occur among other entities. Rather it is ontically distinguished by the fact that, in its very being, that being is an issue for it." Kierkegaard said much the same thing, just a lot more abstracted, "the self is a relation that relates itself to itself."

Dasein is not an entity! ‘You’ are participating in this conversation because ‘be-ing’ is an issue for you and “understanding all the presence-at-hand properties” doesn’t provide you with any resolution!!

As long as you are ‘standing in the stadium’, your life will be about the stadium, the seats, and the occupants. It is the definition of the word ‘stuck’. You will be stuck in the stadium, explaining the seats, and defending the occupants. You will go to the grave having ‘lived’ a predictable outcome, oh joy!

“Standing in the stadium”, explaining the seats, and defending the occupants is your way of telling the world “See, I’m in the middle of a stadium and I’m not wrong!” So what!

Life begins when you step out of the stadium. Gee! You are you (GURU). Get over it.

Part 2

I am using this introductory sentence to direct your attention to the “blind spot”, once again.

The humorous thing about the sentence above is that it proclaims itself to be an “introductory sentence” while it fails to “introduce” anything. It is not an “introductory sentence”, it is a “request” for you to bring your attention (all of your faculties) back to the “blind spot” which we were conversing about in an earlier post. While it does ‘open’ the next phase of our conversation, it is not an ‘opening’ unless it is ‘opening’ something for you and me to view. And, it is not an ‘opening’ unless some possibility ‘opens’ up for you (in Spain) and the evidence of the ‘opening’ ‘shows up’ in your writing (here in Albuquerque, New Mexico).

I bring this to your attention so that you and I can make the distinction ‘semblance’ (pretense, pretending). Much of life is about ‘pretending’ to know what you are talking about and to ‘bully, bluff, and bluster’ your way through life. The only one you can bullshit is the one who is bullshitting himself.

You said;
“Clearly, as indicated in your opening, the self-interrogation of point of view, one’s active and critical stance to it, is lacking in much discourse.”

What is fascinating about this sentence is that there is no “self-interrogation of point of view” while “self-interrogation of point of view” is being represented by “self-interrogation of point of view”.

Bluff, bluster, and bullshit. Put down your sword, I’m not attacking you here. I am using what you said though.

It seems that bluff, bluster, and bullshit excuses us from ‘doing the work’ of ‘opening’ or ‘introducing’ anything to anybody. “Self-interrogation of point of view” becomes nothing more than a ‘shield’ to fend off those who would question. The unspoken agreement in life is “If you don’t call me on my bullshit, I won’t call you on yours”.

In a previous post I stated;
“More accurately “da sein” is “there be-ing” or “be-ing there”. “Be-ing there” gives you ‘no-thing’ to hold on to. The propensity of “humans, be-ing” is to objectify be-ing so we can have comfort in being able to grasp on to something and prove its existence by ‘constructing a combination of characteristics’ (concepts).

I consider you to be a very intelligent person. However, what I am addressing here has nothing to do with ‘intelligence’ or what people consider to be ‘intelligent’.

I invite you to re-read what you wrote, differently. Observe the 'position' you have taken.

You said;
“By way of thought, it is possible that we all have this innate ideological category slumbering away in some swamp of our unconsciousness which serves as a reality filter, conditioning everything we perceive and think. It is not a specific category, more a brain function which makes it possible for the developing human organism to adapt itself to its historical, societal and environmental circumstances.”

“To this extent, I think we all have an absolute tendency to be mastered by a point of view, an ideology, a way of seeing, perceiving, evaluating and understanding the world. Just as we can learn new languages, we can also learn new ways of thinking, understanding, and perceiving, but we cannot escape from seeing the world in some given manner.”

“This blind spot alluded to, this point of view which I think is a kind of backgrounding, can be foregrounded when we try, for example, to interrogate the basic structure of an enquiry per se. Firstly, something is always interrogated and the result of which is something discovered. Secondly, the enquiry is always about something, it has direction and thus some prior conception of that which is already sought. Thirdly, enquiry is a human activity and can be carried out in myriad ways. Enquiry, then, and the disclosure of this enquiry is a reflection of the enquirer and so it follows that there can be no neutral perspective to begin any enquiry.”

Why are you presenting your ‘self’ as a professor (an authority) standing in the front of the room hiding behind a podium? What are you hiding from? I suspect that even though you have done an incredible job of putting all the words together and have created an incredible presentation, you also recognize that something is missing and that you don’t want anybody to find out that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Moving on to one last thing you said;
“If “[t]he essence of Dasein lies in its existence” (Heidegger, Being and Time, P37.42: Macquarrie & Robinson), then it follows that Dasein has no other defining characteristic other than expressing a given way of taking a stand on being, of making an issue of it through activities, and so on.”

“If this is a correct interpretation of Heidegger’s writing, then your twofold suggestion that, being “stuck in the stadium” results in “go[ing] to the grave having ‘lived’ a predictable outcome” and that “life begins when you step out of the stadium” (Dasein), suggests that there is possibly a more essential way of being, namely, of stepping out.”

When you “step out” of the stadium you discover that there is no “essence of Dasein”, there is no “existence”, “Dasein has no other defining characteristic”, that you can’t “take a stand”, and that there is not “a more essential way of being, of stepping out”.

You are not ‘a combination of characteristics’ (concept). You already “stepped out” when they cut the umbilical cord. You can’t “take a stand” because you are the “stand” you have already taken. This is what it means to “have faith” in your ‘self’.

There is only ‘you’ ‘be-ing’. You are ‘naked’ standing in a world of ‘naked’ people lying about being ‘naked’ – I am LMFAO!!!

Part 3

You asked;
“If one has 'stepped out' (of the stadium) as soon as the umbilical cord is cut, how then, as you suggested, does one get 'stuck in the stadium'?”

You pose a very interesting and critical question. I don't know if I can answer it to your satisfaction but I am willing to attempt it.

One “gets stuck in the stadium” because of a lack of faith in oneself. From the moment we are born we are encouraged to ‘place false Gods before us’. (don’t get hung up in the metaphor) The first gods (people we look up to) we create are mom and dad, brother & sister, grand ma and grand pa. Then we start looking up to our teachers because of their knowledge and replace mom and dad, brother & sister, grand ma and grand pa with the new gods. Our high school teachers replace our grade school teachers, our college professors replace our high school teachers. We look up to policeman, fireman, politicians, presidents, priests, popes.

You cultivate the ‘habit’ of looking for answers outside of our ‘self’ (the people in the seats). This is what ‘life’ looks like as you pass through on the way to death, and we don’t question it because there is not other possibility presented to us. Ultimately the only person on the planet that has any ability to make a contribution to you is ‘you’. You are never encouraged to trust in your 'self'. The ‘world’ doesn’t support you in having faith in your ‘self’ so we hang out in the ‘stadium’.

You select ‘gods’ that you outgrow and you outgrow them because you are the only one who can lead you to where you want to go. You are the one who ‘fools’ yourself into thinking that someone outside of your ‘self’ has anything to contribute to you and ‘you’ are the one who gets ‘disappointed’ by them and then dismisses them. When you dismiss the ‘last god’ you are left standing on your own and you realize that you should have been listening to your ‘self’ all along.

David Blaine says that babies don’t need magic; they already live being astonished and amazed. Adults need magic to remember being astonished and amazed. The moment the umbilical cord is cut, you are outside of the stadium, being astonished & amazed by the wonder of it all and life is 'wonder-ful'. Being ‘outside of the stadium’ is a burden and a lonely place to be so we step into the ‘stadium’. So, to alleviate the weight of the burden and to dismiss the loneliness, we step into the stadium and join the crowd.

One day you look around and you realize that the people around you are a ‘reflection’ of your ‘self’. You notice that when you ‘recognize’ courage in another you are assigning your definition of ‘courage’ to them. If you asked them if they were being ‘courageous’ most likely they would ask you “What the hell are you talking about?” What they did is what they did; it doesn’t show up as courage until you point it out to them. You assign courage to them because it is you ‘re-cognizing’ the courage in your ‘self’. The old adage ‘it takes one to know one is true’. You can’t recognize qualities in others without those qualities first residing in you. If you didn’t have courage, you couldn’t see it in others.

Courage, love, respect, and honor is who we are. They are what we ‘bring to the party’. They are not something that is happening in the ‘reflection’. These qualities you assign to the ‘people in the seats’ instead of ‘having faith’ in your ‘self’.

What I am pointing to is this; we live our lives with one foot in the ‘world’ (the stadium) and one foot in be-ing our ‘self’. You are ‘be-ing’ your ‘self’ while standing in the stadium.

You also said;
“If you are correct that there is no essence to Dasein and no existence, how then do you interpret Heidegger when he writes in Being and Time (P37.42) "...we choose to designate the being of this entity as existence [and] avoid getting bewildered, we shall always use...the term existence, as a designation of being...solely to Dasein. The essence of Dasein lies in its existence"?”

When you read Heidegger you are reading a representation of life. IT IS NOT LIFE!!! When you read Heidegger you’re required to bring your ‘life’ to the conversation by bringing your ‘self’ into the conversation as you are having it. When you read Heidegger as if it is a collection of concepts, you remove ‘you’ from the conversation. You are no longer considering ‘you’ as you really are. When you remove you from consideration then the concepts are not accurate and no longer relevant.

You can’t just sit back and accumulate a bunch of ‘concepts’ and hope that ‘life’ will show up somewhere down the line. You can’t present your ‘self’ as someone who knows what they are talking about just because you ‘understand’ the concepts and can put them together in a sentence.

You also asked;
“Finally, if, as you have said, Dasein is not an entity and does not take a stand on its being”

A ‘concept’ is a ‘construct’, a combination of characteristics. Dasein is a concept which points to you, be-ing there. You, be-ing there is not something that can be wrapped up in a neat little package with a bow and call it an ‘entity’. Dasein is not an ‘entity’. You are not an ‘entity’. You have to ‘sacrifice’ who you think you are so you can ‘be’ who you really are. The only way I know how to do that is by you and I ‘dismantling the stadium’ until you see the ‘illusion’.

Lastly, you quoted ‘Being and Time’
"Dasein is an entity which does not occur among other entities. Rather it is ontically distinguished by the fact that, in its very being, that being is an issue for it...And this means further that there is some way in which Dasein understands itself in its being and that to some degree it does so explicitly"?”

By now it should be very clear to you that you ‘are not of this world’ (the stadium) and that in your very be-ing, that be-ing is an issue for you. ‘You’ (Dasein) do understand your ‘self’ in its ‘be-ing’ and to some degree you do it explicitly, whether you know it or not.

Dasein (be-ing there)