Saturday, April 28, 2012

Heidegger, Heidegger, was a boozy beggar

It's all Heidegger's fault.

Not what he said. But what people think he said.

Yeah, Martin Heidegger, that crazy old, Hitler-loving, German phenomenological philosopher, what a cut up. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on his ass. Let it be clear. We're talking what people thought about what he thought about thinking. Cool? Cool. 

OK. To put it in simple terms: people THINK Heidegger said that Being and Time boils down to self-authorship. Our narratives create our reality. There is no other reality. So ...

Drawing from the same well as Schopenhauer's "The World as Will and Idea," Heidegger dropped the bomb that life is what you make of it. The winners really do get to write history. History, it turns out, is what they write. "God," to quote Bernadette Devlin," is on the side of the one who wins." Or, to quote Humpty Dumpty, "It's a question of who's to be master, that's all."

This notion screws up the mechanics of Democracy in Action. The fuzzy notion, rooted in Aristotle's "Politics," is that free people debate "What is reality?" "What is true?" "What is the good?" -- the ethics, ontology, epistemology and metaphysics of it -- from that practical philosophy, they boil down a political philosophy -- i.e., an implementation of this world view in action -- and then either implement that political philosophy directly in the Polis, or delegate that responsibility to political representatives.

Paradoxically, this only works if you assume there's a truth/reality/good that exists outside of your will. The stochastic fuzziness of democratic debate resembles the scribblings of a police sketch artist, constantly trying to capture an image. The uncertainty of democracy depends on the certainty of an external truth. And the notion that your endless chatter and thoughts inside your primitive monkey mind fall short of that truth.

But, if there is no truth "out there," there's no need for debate anymore.

God is on the side of the one who wins.

It's simply a matter of imposing the operating system of your world view.

Government is bad.

Lowering taxes for millionaires creates jobs for everybody.

Shit like that.

PS: I realize that "I know the absolute truth because God told me" is very different from "Truth is what I say it is." It should go without saying most of the people who claim to speak for God are lying. But I'm saying it anyway.

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