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)