Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Heidegger and the withdrawn

More from the ongoing IPS OOO discussion:


Earlier in this thread we discussed how Bryant defines the withdrawn using Derrida. Here's an essay by Harman on Heidegger doing the same. As we know, Derrida also got a lot of this from Heidegger. A sample:

"If I observe a table and try to describe its appearance, I silently rely on a vast armada of invisible things
that recede into a tacit background. The table that hovers visibly before my mind is outnumbered by all the invisible items that sustain my current reality: floor, oxygen, air conditioning, bodily organs. This is the meaning of Heidegger’s tool-analysis. For the most part entities are not Husserlian phenomena lucidly present to view, but are hidden or withdrawn realities performing their labours unnoticed. Though we can turn our attention to these hidden entities whenever we choose, they will always be surrounded by a vast landscape of other things still taken for granted.... Heidegger finds it impossible in principle to make the withdrawn reality...fully reveal its secrets. There will always be a subterranean depth to the world that never becomes present to view."

Morton talks about this too in the first post of this thread, and also uses Derrida to get at it. Hence when we can only set experimental conditions to find either an electron's location or its momentum. When we observe one the other disappears. But there are many, many more dimensions that those two in contradiction/complimentarity. Bottom line, there is always a hidden dimension in any "appearance," not only for an observer but in the thing itself.

Also harken back to this comment and following on p. 33.

Speaking of hearkening, I'm reminded that our good friend D.M. Levin is very much into Heidegger. Recall this past IPS thread, which references an even earlier Gaia thread. A couple samples of how Levin deals with the concealed. In his stage 1 as infants we unconsciously have a ontological pre-understanding of and attunement with the “field as a whole….an utterly open, incommensurable matrix.” Here it is withdrawn from conscious presence. Stage II, ego development, requires that we conceal this matrix due to the distinctions like subject-object inherent to this state. Another kind of withdrawal. Stage III we start to go beyond our egos in a social matrix of responsibility to the other. This is in a sense a withdrawal from the ego, and is the kind of stage we’re seeing in the religious difference thread, for example. Stage IV is where he specifically references Heidegger’s fourfold as the recollection of the matrix of stage I but transformed by the other stages so that it is a “highly conscious, thoughtful, and articulate experience, meaningfully integrated,” also seen in that thread. However, this too has a withdrawn aspect because:

“It is crucial to keep in mind that the 'primordial relationship with Being' attributed to infancy is a past that has never really been present -- a past that never was what it now, i.e., from the vantage point of stage IV, presents itself as having been.  Zugehorigkeit is a projection, a reconstruction, an understanding constituted after the fact, redeeming an experience that 'from the very beginning' fell short of itself; fell short, I mean, of being 'the beginning,' a primordial experience of the pure and total presence of Being.”

We see the kind of withdrawal that has always been, is and always will be, from a pure and total presence. And in language similar to our OOO brethren. I’m not sure though if Levin here thinks that stage IV can overcome this withdrawal from presence?


In my understanding of Levin, no, I don't think he believes this is ever overcome.  He does believe there emerges in Stage IV an open, post-egological, welcoming presence (Anwesenheit), but it does not involve the overcoming of all concealment or withdrawal.  Instead, it operates with respectful acknowledgement of and care for the concealed.

Concerning this talk of the concealed, withdrawal, etc, I am thinking the "tacit" as it functions in Varela's thought, or as Tom has discussed it in a number of ways.  The tacit appears to be a subjective version of withdrawal; the concealment of the subject from itself (at least from the ego's presumption of, and demand for, pure presence-at-hand of the contents of consciousness).

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