PHI 347 Classnotes :

3rd November 2004





Paper due date postponed to Nov. 17th.

Two things you were supposed to do with papers: Present how Heidegger would talk about the disclosure of a world and what that means in Heideggerian language. If you were taking up a poem, photograph, building, or novel, what you need to do is show us how a world is disclosed, what it means to say that a world is disclosed here and what kind of world it is. That means talking about the world of the stem in the picture, Yankee Stadium, Steppenwolf, etc. – this means describing that world and describing what the meaning of that world is. Not so much just telling certain things about when “Starry Night” was done, etc., but rather: what is the meaning of that painting? – something like what Heidegger does with the two shoes and the way he describes the world of the two shoes: something like the experience of the life that goes with the shoes. E.g. Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”: whirling intensity, madness, maybe despair, an intensity based on enthusiasm. Be precise about what texts are in question so that the meaning is very precise, so that the meaning that you describe and the world that is disclosed is one that is relevant to this world. Don’t just describe the ontic aspects of the work of art, giving facts about the thing. Give aspects of the meaning instead of the [ontic] facts. The meaning is the truth of the work of art, as it is disclosed. It’s not your own idiosyncrasy, etc., nor the facts of the work (neither subjective nor “objective”) but it is a meaning that is disclosed that should be the same regardless of who does the interpretation. The task of hermeneutics is to focus on the overlap of competing interpretations. The space in which they overlap is disclosed. For example, what does it mean to be at war, versus invading and occupying?

For next paper you can write on Heidegger and, for example, Ereigniss or Derrida on, for example, hinge, indecidability, supplementarity, inside/outside

Questions of inside and outside [the United States] will come up when we discuss more of Derrida. Derrida’s book Rogues will be coming out soon. It’s about rogue states/nations.



Student Protocol

Category question: Being (with a capital ‘B’) can’t be multiple, because it is that is-ness to which all beings are related.

In the relation of beings to being, there is a call to let beings be.

Answer to student’s question, what is Being? – Being is always on the horizon of any particular being, at the limit of any particular being. Each single being has as its limit Being.

Why is Being always at its limit? Limit is another way that Heidegger talks about horizon. Gadamer (1900 - 2002) was a student of Heidegger and published his major work, Truth in Method, in 1960. (See book on Gadamer and Derrida’s encounter in Dialogue and Deconstruction). Gadamer’s term was “fusion of horizons,” which was his term for seeing the meeting point of world views. A differend (Lyotard) is just the case in which there is no overlap; it’s a radical limit. But Gadamer thinks you can always find some overlap, in which case you can have hermeneutics and dialogue. Horizon is the limit of a meaning framework.

Heidegger: Anytime you talk about the Being of beings there is a component of Mitsein, being-with. A with-ness is a relationality. We talk about the eraser as a being, and in the Dasein that is able to talk about that there is a with-ness in that you’re part of the discussion and I am and there is a language that discloses it. In the ontological frame that Heidegger develops there is a kind of withness, a relationality.

Heidegger wasn’t really good at dialogue with anyone. (See essay in On the Way to Language called “Conversation With Japanese” in which he tries to understand Japanese interpretation of cherry blossoms.)

Horizon is the limit of a meaning. (Husserl used the idea of ‘horizon’ as the limit of meaning beyond which you no longer have meaning that applies to particular situation.)

When Dasein is dropped as a term by Heidegger (in later writings) in favor of the ontico-ontological difference, then Gelassenheit just happens, in the open, and is not to be thought of as something done by an agency or subject.

Differance is a hinge. The difference between difference and differance happens in writing. The difference becomes evident when you go from speaking to writing. There’s a difference between speaking and writing. You write the difference between speaking and writing as well as the difference between difference and differance. Differance marks the difference between ‘difference’ and ‘differance’.

We’ve worked with the difference between ‘difference’ and ‘differance’ by showing the difference between speaking and writing.

The difference between Being and beings is what Heidegger is interested in, and in deconstruction the ‘between’ that happens between difference and differance, speaking and writing.

‘Being’ crossed out is a way of writing the difference between Being and beings.




Continuing Of Grammatology.

exergue - something outside the work. A coin is a work that has an inscription on it.

The exergue is like a preface, something that pre-faces the rest of the book, tells you what’s happening in the book so it’s something inside and outside the book. Just like an exergue, inscription on a coin.

Of Grammatology is concerned with the status of writing. What is the status of writing in general? The exergue metaphor is a way of talking about it. What is the status of a book’s preface?

The limit, horizon of a particular text is its context.

Exergue in Of Grammatology.

1. The one who will shine in the science of writing will shine like the sun.

There’s a connection between the sun and writing. In Plato’s Republic the sun is related to knowledge.

2. (Rousseau’s three correspondences.)

3. Hegel.

These are inscriptions given at the beginning and they’re sort of embossed on Derrida’s text – but of course they’re part of the text too.

“Ethnocentrism” is one of the five big “-isms” of Derrida. Means personal character connected to culture. It’s a centering on the culture, out of which something comes, or people come.

Each of the three – the Sun god, Rousseau, and Hegel – are cultures that come to control the concept of writing. The concept of writing is somehow embedded in a culture. This is a form of ethnocentrism. The way you write, what gets written – writing itself – is embedded in a particular culture. There is also the prejudice that European culture of writing has primacy over all others: it’s the center and all others the periphery; the idea that European languages are the center of dominance. <— Derrida deconstructs this. The very concept of writing is controlled by this kind of centrism.

“Logocentrism” = has to do with the metaphysics of phonetic writing

                        Logos = logic, word, rationality, a certain notion of reason

“Phonocentrism” = the centrality of spoken language: the idea that all writing is spoken and the primacy of what’s spoken over the written. Derrida wants to talk about writing that’s not like this, that’s graphic.

Derrida mentions, in Exergue:

The concept of writing.

The history of metaphysics.

The concept of science, scientificity.

The whole question of “the science of writing” through which you reign in metaphor, metaphysics, and theology.

Why is grammatology the science of writing? ‘-ology’ = science, study of; ‘gramme’ = writing.

The writing that Derrida wants to talk about is originary writing: not phonetic writing, but not just marks on a page. Writing as a science/concept that is not reducible just sounds or marks.

Derrida talks about closure — “I do not say ‘end’” – further on in the Exergue. The question of origin and closure is an issue Derrida’s already talked about in his Introduction to “The Origin of Geometry” (by Husserl). What is geometry talking about? It’s talking about things like right triangles. The formula for a triangle represents the idea of a right triangle better than the pictorial right triangle. But what is the idea of a right triangle? It’s abstract, ideal, and eternal. The idea of a right triangle already existed (supposedly) – because it’s eternal – before and independently of the geometrical discovery/construction of it.

Geometry, as a science, talks about eternal ideas that always were and always will be. So geometry as a science talks about that which has no beginning. The ideas of geometry always were and always will be. Geometry depends on the mathematical ideas as always having existed and always existing in the future – otherwise mathematics falls apart.

So the science of geometry begins (6th century) and it continues. It is a human science that introduces talk about these eternal ideas.

What is the relation between the beginning of science and the eternal ideas? In the 1930s everyone was obsessed with origins. Heidegger’s “Origin of the Work of Art” and Husserl’s “The Origin of Geometry.” There is a difference between origin and beginning. The beginning happens in time, in history; the origin is a linking of that which is in time with that which is eternal, not in time. So the question of origin has to do with a relation that takes it outside of the train of normal, historical, linear time.

When we’re talking about writing we’re talking about originary writing.

As Derrida says on p. 4, he wants to talk about the question of origin, but he also wants to talk about the other end. If you have a beginning, if something begins, it can also end. The very concept of beginning presumes the concept of end.

If end is the companion of beginning, what is the companion of origin? Closure. Closure is like an enclosure, framing: it encircles, puts a frame around, and the closure is the closing off of anything further. It involves a limit. The notion of closure is like the notion of origin, but it’s closure that involves not just a stopping but a bracketting, putting a bracket around whatever went in between.

P. 4: Derrida talks about closure. “. . . determined by a historical, metaphysical epoch of which we merely glimpse the closure. I do not say ‘end.’”

“The historico-metaphysical epoch”: epochs have closures, not ends. A closure is a closing off. If you come to closure, that’s it. (French cloture suggests a front and a back.) Closure is more than just an end. An end is just a stoppage. The point is that the historical-metaphysical epoch – period of time

An epoch has an opening and a closing.

What’s a historico-metaphysical epoch? All of the time in which people thought of themselves as having a history and as having a notion of Being, a metaphysics. This whole space is a very big space. It’s what we sometimes think of as “Western thought.” “Historico-metaphysical” connotes Western thinking.

Derrida wants to think of the historico-metaphysical epoch, to think of that as a text, the text of metaphysics. To think of that whole epoch, from the Greeks to the present (call it a text) as coming to closure. What would that mean if that were brought to closure? That whole epoch, text of metaphysics, is the era of writing, the whole era in which writing has prevailed. “Western thought” is the epoch in which writing has been around. Grammatology is concerned with this epoch, and asks about the possibility of its closure. What would it mean if the whole historico-metaphysical epoch came to closure, and what would be on the other side? What is on the other side of that horizon? Closure is like a horizon – but horizons keep moving as you move along, whereas once you come to closure that’s it. What is there outside the epoch after its closure?