online: 18 april 2007
modified: 18 april 2007

9 april 2007 the process of thinking

16:41 a city garden with the sound of motorway traffic accompanying the music of Morton Feldman*... (which is meant to be played 'at pianissimo throughout' its 79 minutes)...

...for the last few days i've been reading and annotating an anthology of the writings of Martin Heidegger**... and now i am noting the thoughts that it provokes...

...the music continues as if forever while i re-read some of my notes and quotations selected by chance process...

...the first reminds me how glad i am to be reading Heidegger again... when i read his work 30 years ago it led me to see him as writing what i then called 'process philosophy' - philosophy that exits only while thinking continues, not as the production of a fixed theory but simply the action of keeping thought alive in the world, and always new (see 'opus one, number two'***)... [though i see that in the Wikipedia 'process philosophy' is now taken to mean a philosophy, such as that of Alfred North Whitehead, that is about process but is not primarily a process in itself]

...given this amazing and valuable shift in the nature of philosophy it may not matter what we think of Heidegger's ideas (or even of his links with the Nazi party)... to have changed the nature of philosophy is to have improved life for everyone, whether he (or she or they) know it or not!

...the music has stopped but the global traffic continues... as does process philosophy, i hope... though i know of no philosopher who is continuing quite in the manner of Heidegger... (nor do i know of a modern composer who is continuing in the manner of John Cage, his shifting of 'likes and dislikes' from the music itself to the design of the composing process... though Brian Eno is perhaps close to this)

indoors, at night:

...of the many underlinings and comments in my copy of Heidegger's 'Letter on Humanism' [in the anthology** referred to below] here are some that attract me particularly:

1. 'Thinking is judged by a standard that does not measure up to it.' (p 195)

2. 'But if man is to find his way into the nearness of Being he must first learn to exist in the nameless.' (p 199)

3. As i read this i keep thinking of my attempts to redefine 'inner' and 'outer' in a connective way that heals dualism, without the mysticism or reification in Heidegger's notion of 'Being'. (p 209)...[i.e. my perception of the outside of you is not visible to you and your perception of the outside of me is not visible to me... so our 'outsides' are parts of the 'inner worlds' of others... if this thought is correct we seem to have no objective existence... and our 'inner' and 'outer' worlds are a unity... but i suspect that this thought is itself in process of changing?]

4. 'Humanism is opposed' [in Heidegger's letter] 'because it does not set the humanitas of man high enough.' (p 210)

5. This letter does not seem to be the process philosophy that to me is Heidegger's great invention, or gift to us all... (Is that because it is part of a conflict, or dialectical struggle, not Hideggerian 'thinking' ?) (217).

6. 'But the essence of man consists in him being more than merely human, if that is represented as being a rational creature' [and no more]. (p 221)

7. 'Man is not the lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being.' (p 221)

...and with those 7 steps i traverse this long and difficult letter, picking out only those points that seem to me to exemplify what i like, and what i dislike, in the originality of Heidegger and to embody his redefinition of humanism (the great mistake of the Renaissance: in that it limited 'humanity' to being a physical object).

23:22 ...near silence in the night as i cease this writing and drink some water...

*the Piano and String Quartet of Morton Feldman recorded by the Chronos Quartet, Universal Edition, 1985.

** Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings, edited, with a general introduction and introductions to each selection, by David Farrell Krell,1978.

This selection 'offers a glimpse of Heidegger's path of thought' from the introduction to 'Being and Time', 1927, to 'The Task of Thinking', 1964.

***'opus one, number two', in john chris jones, designing designing,architecture design and technology press, London 1991, (page 160) and later published by Phaidon Press, London but now out of print.

An earlier edition of the book appeared under the title ESSAYS IN DESIGN, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester and New York, 1984.

A PDF edition of designing designing is in preparation by C Thomas Mitchell and colleagues, Memorial Hall East 231, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.

(these pages are designed to be read with the window set to two-thirds of the screen width)

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