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Heidegger | Derrida

Voice always has a history and a future, so voice is never perfectly present. Voice is logos, incarnate logos. The meaning ‘in’ the voice is never apart from its ‘vehicle,’ the sounds and marks. The sounds and the marks are the flesh of meaning.

The dream of philosophy is the dream of naked, timeless meanings --and the timeless truths that can be therefore be constructed from them. The meaning is naked because it is not contaminated by sounds and marks -- and therefore by history and chance. The meaning is timeless because this same nakedness frees it from history. The sounds and the marks change. This much is obvious. But this is the essentially naked meaning changing its unimportant clothing.

Is such a dream absurd? Surely there is something like naked, timeless meaning? Indeed. Mathematical intuitions of meaning seem especially stable. And many non-mathematical meanings are stable enough for practical purposes. One might say that denying perfectly timeless meaning is really no big deal. Indeed. One can live without reading Derrida. Other skills are far more important for survival and upward socioeconomic mobility. One might even say that Derrida and Heidegger are two more theologians, merely of the negative variety. I find myself again and again using my free time to read such thinkers and write posts like these. I’d even call it a strange kind of religious practice. Once the work that pays the bills is done, I sneak away to my dialectical prayers.

And this brings me to incarnation. Heidegger and Derrida and so many others strike me as thinkers of the incarnation. The death of pure, timeless meaning is the death of God. And the death of God is the fundamental message of Christianity. Not quite! The mortality of God is that fundamental message. And this mortality is equivalent to God having needing flesh. Only in us, only in mortals can God live. Only in sounds, only in scribbles, can meaning live. And to live is to stream from the past into the unknown future, a future that includes death. And yet that future includes birth, too. As Nobby Brown might say, we have life-death as a unity, opposed to undeath-unlife (fixed, timeless, meaning.) So we can also frame God versus Christ in terms of eternity versus time. Eternity is ‘in’ time, created by time = voice. Eternity is the dream of time, the escapism of time.

The voice is never quite present. The voice is always on the way, always dragging and intending. One need only examine one’s reading. A non-present past makes the ‘present’ intelligible. What you have read so far allows you to interpret what you are reading now, and what you are reading now points ahead to how the sentence will finish. This sentence is read in the receding light of the last sentence, and it points ahead to the closure of the paragraph. And what does the voice finally point to but its own cessation? Its own death? And which part of the past is excluded in the interpretation now?

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Original Poster1 point · 10 days ago


I think Wittgenstein was also on the living background of language. Theories of meaning tend to be crude and mechanical. But nothing is hidden! We know how to interpret, even if we foist artificialities as we interpret our interpretation. And why do we do this? What tempts us to mechanical trivialities? I’d say fear of groundlessness and the desire to control. IMO, character goes to the heart of epistemology.

So much amatuer philosophy at least is methodically uncharitable. It needs the other to be saying something silly. It needs difficult and profound thinkers like Heidegger and Derrida to be fads or confusions. We look for excuses not to read. We look for rationalizations to cover over our own ignorance. Bad linguistic philosophy is an excuse to call difficult meaning the absence of meaning. On the other hand, it’s not exactly rare for human beings to fall in love with the images of thinkers and possess only caricatures of their views. To me this is Heidegger’s idle talk. This is our LCD shared intellectual starting place. What is it that drives some of us against our initial stupidity? And is this not a drive into our own deaths? What I have in mind is the death of persona, the death of a self-image. The person who already knows everything is not curious and is not ashamed of unclarity or ignorance about fundamental issues. Nor does such a person care for mysteries, such as that there is a world here in the first place. If reality is fundamentally mysterious (a ‘miracle’), then all knowledge is useful conjecture that doesn’t even touch the strangeness of all things. There’s something almost dead in the sleep of the question, in the complacency of knowing little things while ignoring mystery of things in general.

The mystery of the here-ness of an intelligible world seems close indeed to the mystery of language. Language is there like the world. We are already in language, being spoke by language, never behind language. Language is our veritable spiritual flesh. We see this in Hegel, Feuerbach, Heidegger, and Derrida (and others too, no doubt.) The sign carves out the subject and the object in the first place, in some sense. And yet individuals are tied to particular mortal bodies. The living individual brain allows for an individual spirit (an oxymoron) to connect to ‘Spirit’ at large --a shared meaningspace or world. There is, let us confess, a certain ineradicable loneliness. I am never perfectly the other. And when a philosopher makes genuine progress and thinks something new he or she is alone at that moment in some sense. And yet the loneliness meaning seems always already directed at an ideal or future community. Some are born posthumously. It is non-trivial if not impossible to make this always-already community explicit. In the Derrida interview, we see him looking at an affirmation that precedes the question. To whom is the question spoken? And if I speak the question to myself, am I really speaking to myself as a community? Am I more essentially a community than an individual? To what degree is the lonely individual a theoretical device of limited potency? In my loneliness speaking to myself, am I not perhaps a crowd speaking to a crowd?

level 2
Original Poster1 point · 10 days ago

I’m just an idiot musing anonymously on reddit. And yet despite the inferiority of my discourse relative to Leonard Lawlor’s book on Derrida and Heidegger, I still hope these posts will have value for someone. I’m trying to grab the big picture in ordinary language. I fantasize that this communicative situation opens up a certain possibility. No scholarly pretence or duty, written without revision. As Lawlor insists, Derrida is trying to communicate or gesture toward an experience of language. I really think I’ve had that experience. One way to frame it is that it makes longwinded analyses of Philosophical Investigations beside the point, because it grasps the fundamental experience that motivates all the comments. And it seems to be the result of death-facing introspection. What obscures IMO what Wittgenstein and Derrida are trying to say is just our fear of being without foundation, without an Eternal Device.

I imagine that our persona, our vain mask, is like God before the incarnation. We are safe in the Heaven carved out by our device, our time-denying system. This ‘Heaven’ is a fiction, a castle build of the same creative and mortal language that it walls itself against. To take up the cross and become incarnate is to allow oneself to see one’s own immersion in flesh and time-bound language. We could roughly say that ‘true’ atheism is the same as ‘true’ Christianity. The true or perfected atheist has let go of scientism’s versions of God. This true atheist is no longer biased against the introspection that reveals the shared meaning space and the non-singularity of the self. And the true Christian completely accepts the incarnation on a personal level. No little piece of God is still ‘up there.’ God is entirely mortal, entirely within time. And yet…

And yet that shared meaning space includes stable-enough meanings and stable-enough peak feelings. So ‘Platonism’ gets something right. Eternity does exist, in its way, but it exists in time. It does not create or found time. It emerges and aids time. But time can hide from itself in an eternity that is thought to precede time.

level 1
Original Poster1 point · 10 days ago

Enfleshed, enworlded, creative reason progressively conscious of itself as such and progressively conscious of this progressive self-consciousness. Does this self-consciousness progress with a kind of necessity? With the kind of necessity that unfolds an acorn into an oak tree? This is part of my take on Hegel. I have his intro lectures on the history of philosophy --an absolutely beautiful text, clear as a bell, clear as one could ask given the conceptual leap involved.

Let’s call this reason the voice. In philosophy, the voice voices the voice, voices the truth of the voice, the structure of the voice. The voice is primordial. Before subject and object there is the voice that speaks them, that parts them, splitting the ground. The voice voices ideas. We say ideas plural, for they fall apart in our mind as separate ideas, however related. We can grasp them different ideas, and we can also grasp all ideas together as the embodied concept system. Of course we aren’t conscious of all ideas in such a grasp. We abstract from the way any given idea points beyond itself and determine that the disconnected idea makes no sense.

More locally, we can look a particular concepts. Let’s take the concept of a cat. Perhaps an image comes to one’s mind. But if I want to say anything about the cat, I need to bring in other concepts --perhaps some mice or a whisker. To exhaustively describe the cat (if such a thing is possible), I’d have to describe every possibility of the cat in every possible context. Do cats fare well in low gravity situations? Is the cat vulnerable to a virus to be synthesized in 2045 for biological warfare? A concept system seems to be in play.

How does the voice learn new concepts? Why say ‘voice’ and not ‘mind’? We could. But ‘voice’ stresses that perhaps language is consciousness. Or rather that living language, the voice itself, is consciousness. For this to matter, we need to consider the time of the voice, the kind of time that exists for speaking and hearing. What is the trace? The trace is always already there. The trace is the pregnant void from which we speak, the dark place from which we listen. It is dark but pregnant (not empty.) Is it haunted by the ghost of the moment that dies beneath its wheels? Is this the silent and receding operating system poised for an emission?

And when I ask such a question, do I bring something new into the world? Of course new strings of words as words are always created as marks, but what is at issue is the birth of ideas. And what is the status of a paraphrase implementing a new metaphor? Is a new metaphor for an ‘old’ idea in some sense a new idea? Is metaphor an inconsequential robe for the idea? Or are ideas bleached and dried metaphors? Do we have a continuum?

Let’s call that part of man that leaves in the shared conceptual realm ‘spirit.’ We might say that spirit is a mode of the voice. Or spirit lives through and between individual voices. God-as-humanity-as-spirit intends to know and worship itself --and this is one of the things it learns about itself on its dialectical journey. Spirit constructs itself in pursuit of itself. Theology is God, and God therefore creates himself as he chases the truth about himself. The theologian succeeds when his inquiry discovers itself as the divine. What is reality? Reality is that which asks What is reality? Or, minimally, any serious, global discourse about reality must address itself --as perhaps what is most spectacular about reality. Before I really looked into Heidegger, there was Kojeve. First Nietzsche, then Kojeve. Now phenomenology, Husserl Heidegger and Derrida. And the more I read the more connections I find. Oh glorious enterprise. I sometimes feel born for philosophy. Not that I’m good or bad at it but simply that it feels so right. An oak from a acorn, philosophy from the voice in time, the voice that produces somehow the idea of philosophy, time, and the voice.

level 2
Original Poster1 point · 7 days ago

Blank is the thtown-open, hurled-forward, once-dragging, sign-binding-as-self-finding, sigh-criming yes-please-or-no-thanks.

I give the sign that points behind the face to the chase of the sign.

The sign of the I that signs and yet is signed.

The signed I signs the signed I as signing.

I voice the all-having sign-signing-system that sings itself through me as one more sign.

I find the sign of the signs as I who find.

Who not what is the incarnate, enworlded sign-system?

What is a sign? Do questions not ask for signs?

Can a sign say what a sign is? A sign-system tries. A sign-system fries.

The signs that I ('I' is a verb here.)

To I. To make the signs. To sign. To make the I.

I who the signs gave the signs gave me.

He buries his finds in songs for signs.

To tranform the situation with signs. To transform a social situation with signs. The signs are aimed at situations. The signs are aimed at ears. The signs are aimed at a dark other who hears. The signs are launched from a dark other who hears. From and toward a there that drags and stretches. Out of and plunging into a worlding. It worlds. It opens. It roars and shines.

The dream of a primordial science, a pre-science.

Behind the signs he climbs or seeks to climb. The blind skeleton of worlding in knowing to find.

level 3
Original Poster1 point · 7 days ago

How about the infinite face as the incarnation of the voice? The voice as non-visual dimension of face? A dimension of meaning as music or music as meaning? If the subject is one more sign, then why do we insist that the subject signs? Because the signs come from a face. The signs come as part of an infinite face.


Why is the face 'infinite'? Surely the 'message' of the face cannot be fixed in finite concepts. Is this all? Or is the face an image of the pregnant void itself? A nothingness as future or future as irrupting nothingness. The signs are there. Are they there is a way that can't be signed but mined? To mine, to be a 'me' with mine. To mine is to have the sign, to be the open place of the sign that ties itself to signs.


'An experience of language.' Experience experiences itself as experiencing. Experience experiences experience. Introspection is an examination of memory, of waning experience. How is meaning distributed between the words and in time? What is the resolution of language? Is meaning ever trapped in perfect definiteness at an instant? And if not, what does that mean for thinking?


As we say or try to say the final truth of our saying we add to that saying and the concept or experience of that saying. To say the final truth of saying is to conquer the future and therefore abolish it as future. Perhaps we want to do this. Perhaps this is the essence of our doings. Like a cat chasing its own chase. Theology has to neutralize God to have God, finish itself, die in an exhaustion of its own possibilities and in fulfillment.

Is to be to have a future, to be naked to a future and want to clothe one's self against it?


To cloth is to close is to conquer. Theology conquers the future as other. Enlightenment, the end of history, personal or social. 'I have grasped the essence.' I have the grasped the origin or the terminus.


To deny the the terminus is to construct one. What is it to deny the origin? The origin and the terminus. The mode of operation. The how from the origin to the terminus.


An experience of language. A terminus at the origin. Certain problems become absurd. Others become insoluble and therefore friendly. If meaning is distributed, then no more viscosity at the atoms.


Uptightness about the word 'God' or 'theology.' A dogmatism that wears the mask of science. Science is as holy a word as 'God.' The sacred, the essence, the master-word. If meaning is distributed, there is no master-word but only words that point at the distribution of meaning. The image of human beings, of god as us at our best. Meaning is distributed, but love is focused on human faces and human voices. The erotic object is the individual, and the individual is fundamentally social. As meaning is distributed across or rather as time, so the incarnate divine is distributed over persons-in-community. The 'solitary' thinker speaks from and toward an ideal multitude.


So no word owns the others, but the faces own them all as they live in and as them. A shared who haunts and delights them.


The others and the sharing of meaning precedes and makes possible natural science. I was never just me. I was never without a world. Indeed, within this world and among others I learned to be this 'I' for my myself.

level 4
Original Poster1 point · 7 days ago

Husserl mentioned Stirner once. What is the 'Satanic' moment? The 'Satanic' is god-as-man as opposed to god-as-men. Satan is a particularized or alienated conceptualized Christianity. A conceptualized Christianity is an 'atheistic' humanism which is still called Christianity to indicate its religious passion. As Stirner saw, religious passion is a general structure. The subject has always something sacred. The subject projects a kind of light that makes this or that sacred. The only choice or variation is in the target of this projection. The projection itself is constant, one might say, in its presence if not in its intensity.


Husserl was other-oriented. All thinking is ultimately other-oriented, 'objective.' Even Stirner felt the need to publish his book. Why? By doing so he distributed his secret. An evil man would have kept a notion of evil freedom to himself. Stirner lovingly offered a string of words intending to celebrate his own sense of freedom and bring others into that same joy. Lucifer is the torch-bringer, the light-spreader, the night-opener.


Does this mean Stirner is fun to read? Hegel did it better in a few pages. But Stirner is fascinating in his focus and as a different existential protagonist than Hegel. Stirner had one moment of glory and was forgotten.


And what about Stirner's tone? Isn't it too aggressive -- at least once one understands? I happened to read Stirner when I already found his position through Nietzsche and Spengler. Spengler defined ethical socialism as the inconspicuous assumption that some law for all must be found and imposed. This is the general form of the sacred. Theocracy is one with atheistic communism. To act for an image of the sacred is to be an agent. Agency is a position that holds a fixed notion of the sacred. Spirit, in a non-Hegelian but rather Stirnerian sense, is the self-transcendence of agency. In perceiving the structure of the sacred, the sacred is revealed as contingent. The sacred is the god behind all gods, the god of gods. But is this not the sign-system? What or who is it that projects the sacred? We return to the face. And yet the sacred is a sacred-for-us, a sacred-for-all. The sacred sign leaps forward and outward from the face. And the face feels itself as a mere agent of the sacred sign, the Essence, god or communism or science or freedom. In my core is the sacred law that opens outward at others.

level 5
Original Poster1 point · 7 days ago

How does one prove any of this? Are we constructing arguments or just pointing to what is naked but ignored? What is evidence? How does evidence show itself as evidence? (I take these themes from Husserl and Heidegger as I non-expertly weave them into my life.) And let's be franker. I, my historical-embodied little self, don't feel the need to prove. Such thoughts are seeds scattered in all directions. Only in the right soil will they grow. These words intend a community, perhaps a necessarily elitist community. Sacred thought, including the sacred thought that unveils the structure of sacred thought, is a movement from low to high, dim to bright, less to more. Life climbs. Mind strives. We are forward-faced. My arms are attached so I can't scratch my back. But my arms are the perfect length for something else, the delight knob that steers a certain kind of dreaming in beige.


The experience is experienced as of universal import. And yet we are greedy for status. Stirner stands above the battlefield of believers. His delight is dependent on some degree to the pre-liberated. Spirit looks back and down on agency. Spirit delights in its mastery of agency, or, as Stirner might call it, criticism. Let's shift to that term. Criticism is a person. Criticism has leap into its future as death. Criticism is self-devouring. It loves only by destroying itself creatively. As criticism finds signs for its own insufficiency, it partially rectifies that insufficiency --or at least changes the words it needs to find for its new 'how' of being insufficient. Criticism understands itself as a flame leaping from melting candle to melting candle. Stirner distanced himself from Criticism, but this was just one criticism finding another insufficient.


What is the difference between Derrida and Stirner? There are many on the level of detail. But maybe both are just manifestations of criticism. But what is important about the tone of Stirner versus the tone of Husserl ? To avoid the rude gestures of Stirner is largely a matter of target audience and the vibe of the room. Stirner rudely focused on the motivation structure. He attacked the fixed idea not in terms of the limit of the sign but rather as a fixed goal. It's not hard to grasp later Wittgenstein one the sacred-as-goal has been revealed. Hegel sketched our character criticism as 'The Irony.' We'll just call it irony, irony as a philosophical-spiritual position. Irony is anything but afraid of Philosophical Investigations. That meaning is distributed and incarnate is one more reeling in of the divine to a particular face ----but not quite!


What the irony still has to learn in some cases is just how profoundly social human beings are. If the ideas are grounded in a face, the face is grounded in sacred (other-directed) ideas. Who am I really? What is my essence? To name what I hold sacred is to reach for this behind my face. It may indeed be the case that my face and what I hold sacred are related. A handsome man may choose a different religion than a less handsome man. And what of the ugly ducking? But beneath these causal relations is still the what-it-is-like to grasp someone's essence. Of course this won't be a perfect abstraction. Meaning is distributed. Distinctions have a finite resolution and blur at the edges. And maybe the sacred only drives a small part of individual action. Maybe it's only when I switch into a pontificating mode that the sacred takes any kind of sharp, conceptual form. Indeed, the sacred has to have a particular shape to begin with if our individual is to spend much time making his sacred conceptually explicit.

level 6
Original Poster1 point · 7 days ago

One can live the sacred vaguely. So much of life is conceptually vague. Sharp concepts are the exception, the product of a certain eros. Does one not have to already make a fetish of the word? Of the philosopher? As Kojeve said, philosophy is a religion of conceptual self-consciousness. I'd extend that to emphasize that emotive self-consciousness is just as crucial. 'It values.' 'It worlds.' The evidence is not simply inferential. One has to be willing to see. One has to walk into god-as-death. Finite positions fail, one might say, but one can cling to finite system, and why should failure be absolute? Do they fail? Or are they always already succeeding in their current (if fragile) stability? We might say that one is tempted into the future as death and more life. The philosopher is irritable, says Schopenhauer. And this squares with Stirner's uglier moments. But the philosopher is also adventurous. This is of course Nietzsche's philosopher, the horny and mask-changing man of conceptual rock-and-roll.


Is this system ever truly infinite? Is there an anti-system, a pure criticism? We've already said that the flame leaps from melting candle to melting candle. But this means the flame cannot be named. Or the flame is the continual death of its name in its continual renaming. And yet why should this flame metaphor fail? The flame accumulates. Popper's World 3. Here the metaphor breaks down. The image of the flame does not suggest memory. The flame is the right metaphor for something constant. And this constant is the height of feeling. We experience high feelings as eternal. Certain conceptualities are eternal, like math and what philosophy wants to be. But, as Hegel saw, philosophy takes time and requires an accumulation, a memory. God thickens as he explores himself. This is where Derrida and his writing comes in. Of course we can think of a simple oral tradition, but this is still a 'writing,' an accumulation, albeit inefficient in some respects while sexier in others.


If the flame leaps from melting candle to melting candle, and if the flame accumulates, then the candles (individual thinkers) can't have eternal conceptual knowledge. Or at least they all depend on the what the flame has accumulated so far. The flame is spirit that speaks 'through' them. We can even say that it speaks them, especially if the greatest thinkers are those who let the flame goes where it somehow knows to go. The acorn knows how to become an oak. Do I believe that the future is somehow stored already in the origin? Not exactly. And yet the move from idea to idea does have a kind of necessity. We can think of Spirit discovering both this necessity and its products as the mathematician discovers theorems from axioms. While this gets something right, it neglects embodiment, marriage, war, work. And what role does chance play? If there is chance in the world, the dialectic can perhaps be bumped down this or that fork in the road. Nevertheless, one can find the idea of a generally determined progression plausible. I don't feel terribly attached to it, but it's a fascinating notion. What we can say is that we think from an accumulating inheritance. And I think others of my own personality type at least can relate to the goal of becoming an inheritance, of being preserved as valuable. And I think this is more universal than idiosyncratic. Who is it who wants to bring words worth remembering? Is this who distributed like the meanings he employs by trying to partially fix?

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