Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wiring in Heidegger

As a matter of historical fact, I was one of those students in Walter Kaufmann's philosophy classes not long after Martin Heidegger died, in 1976, the year of my high school graduation.

Kaufmann has been identified as a "forgotten philosopher" (not by me anyway) by Wes Cecil on Youtube, whom I also follow.  Not to be confused with Stuart Kaufman of Santa Fe Institute, Walter was a native German who immigrated to the United States and joined its military to fight the Nazi party, which Heidegger had by then joined.

One of Walter's chief missions in life as a translator was to bring to German writings a fresher more contemporary English.  He tackled translating Frederick Nietzsche's writings and devoted himself to disentangling this corpus from what the Nazis later did with it.  He was fighting the Nazis even then.

He tackled translating a lot of other German writers as well, including Goethe.

I finished my BA degree in 1980 having written a thesis on Wittgenstein's stuff, with Rorty an adviser. Victor Preller was my main Wittgenstein teacher.

C.J. Fearnley asks the question, as to what criteria to apply when mining in philosophy. 
My question was: can I read, study, embrace, and even love the ideas of someone with such connections to Nazism? It is a difficult question, reasonable people may disagree.
Does it matter if some parts of a philosophy stink?  Maybe not.  We mine stinky, sometimes toxic stuff for real in the Earth, and then send it through supply chains to manifest in our own personal lifestyles as finished goods, theater props from prop inventory.

Lets "get off it" with Heidegger why not?  We talk about the "stink of Zen" a lot, yet respect it.

I'd tackled some Heidegger, despite Kaufmann's warnings (fruit never far from the tree etc.), but without serious tutelage.  I had a full docket as it was.  I wasn't looking into Buckminster Fuller much yet, either.  I just never got around to reading much Heidegger, nor listening to much Wagner, either.

My trajectory through philosophy took me into the Wittgenstein corpus, which I'll liken to a "particle accelerator" wherein words themselves develop "meaning trajectories" in semantic space.  Plus new ones (new words) pop up all the time, already deliberately self-entangled, such as Tylenol (medical space) and Corolla (motor vehicle space).

Weird right?  That I'm mentioning commercial brands?

My online philosophy mentions Pepsi a lot, investigating its "meaning" (just a dark colored carbonated liquid? -- I think not).  I'm influenced by advertising (especially Italian flavored) and mass media.  That means I see how action through language changes our coordination (think of dance numbers) and sense of timing (comic sense), over time.  Programming matters.

What impressed me as I emerged in the World Trade Center lobby, from the PATH train, that time, was how big business is metaphysical in flavor.  The displays were thick with diagrams of processes and workflows, as people strove to come to grips with the tenuous.  Business people don't call what they do philosophy or metaphysics, as marketing tells them not to.

Now that 21st Century philosopher Peter Sloterdijk embraces Fuller to some extent, if not the specific skeletal structure of Synergetics quite yet (the "concentric hierarchy"), and given he's considered a "next Heidegger" among some German language thinkers, I'll accommodate the fact that, even though I fly the Kaufmann flag (I like to think), in terms of combating creeping fascism (neo-Romanism?), Martin is by now a part of the team, a consultant, when it comes to "technology" and its meaning (and its dangers), going forward.

We'll be linking up with AI here somewhere, I'm sure.

Where Heidegger has also popped up on my radar, is back when I was tracking Hermenet (a company) and Fernando Flores, its founder.  Flores was partnering with Werner Erhard around various projects, per The est Graduate Review.

I could see where a Cult of Hermes might fit in, even as I've worked on my Cult of Athena programming (a kind of Narnia for me?) over the years. I was still in Jersey City at that time, having my fantasies about re-purposing The Stanley. I was into Synergetics by then, and in communication with Bucky.

A serious student of Fernando's,  Lorena Barba, recently delivered a keynote at a Pycon here in Portland, which closed some circuits for me in that direction as well.

Looking for Part Two of the above video?