Thursday, June 18, 2009

Answering Khadimir

“First, all four irreducible factors of disclosure are always present; something is not disclosed in just one of them. Speaking of them separately is done for articulation via phenomenological reduction, and because each has its own structures and modalities as disclosed in disclosure.”

In your view of Heidegger, all factors are irreducible and are necessary for disclosure. Phenomena are not disclosed if they do not share in the four characteristics of disclosure: language, mood, fallenness and understanding. I want to take apart disclosure, and see if these are always necessary. Certainly, anything that occurs to the understanding will need to have content, and content is always linguistically framed for Heidegger, yet I doubt that is true that all content can be put into language (I’m reminded of Gadamer’s often cited, ‘That being which is understood is language’).

First, let’s draw a distinction between existential propositions which are propositions about the conditions of human existence as revealed in phenomenological descriptions, and secondly, the normal sense of propositions as declarative statements made about the state of affairs. To think about existential propositions resultant from existential phenomenological analysis requires additional doctrines that Heidegger does not spell out. Let’s see this in the case of moods.

When Heidegger asks about the nothing, he had the serious purpose of examining nothing as it related to the anxiety. Anxiety is a mood that targets existence as a whole. In that anxiety, the world falls away, and one is left with meaninglessness. Moreover, this anxiety is whole, and precludes the possibility of separating any part out of this meaninglessness. We cannot look to a part and see what this meaninglessness is about since it is about the whole so to speak (Richard Polt, 1999, p. 124). Moods are revelatory for Heidegger, that is, they can be put into language and be described phenomenologically. These moods form the backdrop, forming a condition of what it is to have judgments about the world or even think about it at all.

These moods are nonpropositional. They are more conditions of existence for Heidegger than to put it mildly, the locus of attention which grounds our meditations on intentionality in previous blogposts (that seems to be how we are using the term). My only point, now, is that nonpropositional content could never be revelatory, as Heidegger assumes it to be, since its content would take a different form than would be translateable if understanding was not intentionality. In such a case, intentionality must be present, even more so than you acknowledge. The very fact that we can describe moods as revelatory commits us to a cognitivism about the subjective judgments we make phenomenologically. Such a view can only be made consistent by the cognitivism resultant from intentionality. As such, the only candidate I find in the four categories that can account for the fact that moods are revelatory of the conditions of existence stem from the importance of understanding them. Disclosure qua mood occurs only from the fact that I am capable of understanding what at first is nonpropositional, but then I put it into a propositional, that is, linguistic form.

To put it formally, cognitivism is necessary to maintain 1) Moods are nonpropositional and 2) Moods can be described in language (as they can be made into existential propositions). Denying 2) would mean that one could not be a phenomenologist, and 1) is warranted by the fact that it is a condition of the whole of existence, not any part we can talk about. However, cognitivism is not sufficient on its own for both 1), 2) and cognitivism to be true. Instead, only intentionality is both necessary and sufficient to maintain the truth of cognitivism and 1) and 2). In Husserl’s analysis, we identify the implicit constitutive intentionality that we are not aware of (here would be the example of moods). At the implicit level, we would encounter phenomena as nonpropositional, and that’s all Heidegger has done, it seems. He has mistaken a phenomena as manifesting only partially. The fact that we can describe in content the fact that there is an implicit intentional structure explains how we can describe nonpropositional content into cognitivist phenomenological descriptions. Now, let’s move on to the next point I want to make. I your passage from BT as:

‘Dasein always understands itself in terms of its existence—in terms of a possibility of itself: to be itself or not itself. Dasein has either chosen these possibilities itself, or got itself into them, or grown up in them already. Only the particular Dasein decides its existence, whether it does so by taking hold or by neglecting. The question of existence never gets straightened out except through existing itself. The understanding of oneself which leads along this way we call ‘existentiell’’. (33; 12-13)”

There is still room to equate understanding with intentionality when we keep in mind that Husserl largely meant the term ‘intentionality’ as anything that appears to consciousness, even our implicit awareness or non-awareness of our body must appear to us in some way. Gaining access to that modality of appearing before consciousness is, as far as I know, the only way we can make sense of existential propositions. By necessity, we must be conscious-of the world in some small degree, and this appearance-enabling condition is what is meant by intentionality. Let’s move on to the next point I wanted to make.

Finally, I like your re-use of my tendency to symbolize. You say,

”So, if I must use As and Bs, A) disclosure is dependent upon the existential context, yet what is understood depends on the history of one's prior understandings B). Yet the history B) depends on the available existential contexts A). In neither case need intentionality be invoked, for it is not relevant to he discussion until we specify a specific context, understanding, history, etc. So, neither A nor B is primary.”

Here, I wonder how we are using primary. I believe I was the first to use that term, and by primary I meant that X is a precondition that enables disclosure.

3) Disclosure is dependent upon the existential context (such that by existential context we mean the history of one’s prior understanding.

4) History of one’s prior understanding depends on the available existential contexts.

I think you are saying that Dasein moves between 3 and 4 quite easily without any mention of intentionality. We can simply describe what is disclosed, and the historical involvement as mitigated by existential contexts. Yet, given that the enabling-appearance condition of intentionality must be met to have access to the world, then disclosure cannot happen if we do not have access to its appearance before consciousness, and while context might constrain some aspects of what comes before consciousness, it does nothing to the truth that intentionality enables access to the historical involvement in the world.

In summary, I have equated understanding to be but one mode of intentionality. The thought is that the Seinsfrage of Heidegger privileges just one overall aspect of our complex intentional life, and the question that I began asking about privileging this intentional modality as the only way of answering the question of Being still strikes me as odd. Other avenues in answering the question of Being might be available, I just don’t know. I speculate a more fully grounded description from Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology of the various intentional structures might be a better avenue into the question of Being.


Khadimir said...

"Language" is not strictly one of the four; I recall typing that accidently at one point. Rather, discursivity is. The whole thing about language came later, but that invokes doctrines subsequent to Being and Time. I'd prefer to address those separately.

My view? I could be mistaken as an interpreter, but I am claiming that it is Heidegger's *express* view. There are qualifications to be made, for phenomena can be distinct to certain constituents of disclosure, e.g. anxiety, yet the other three do not cease in those moments. Moreover, as Heidegger writes in the second divison, he links mood, discursivity, and understanding to past, present, and future (retention, present, protention). This is part of his "ecstatic" view of temporality that made him famous. Hence, given his articulation, these three movements within a moment cannot fail to be joined.

Yes, moods are revelatory. Specific to them, state-of-mind as moods "open" or "close" (narrow or widen) the sight of possibilities. Specific moods are specific in that they have specific structures through which they do this. What is seen, then, is the structure of a disclosure in a sense. However, they could not be "put into language" in any manner that you would likely use. We *are* discursivity for Heidegger, and language is a specific form in which that takes place. The controversy is what is the difference between discourse and language aside from there phenomenological order. Can one discourse in more than language? (I suspect yes, and would say absolutely if "language" is meant in a sweeping, nontechnical way.)

I don't know what you mean by "They [moods] are more conditions of existence for Heidegger than to put it mildly, the locus of attention which grounds our meditations on intentionality in previous blogposts (that seems to be how we are using the term). Yes, they are non-propositional, but saying that they are "conditions of existence" seems incorrect as a modality of disclosure cannot be a condition of existence as such. (I'd have to look it up to get technical about it.)

Now that you make so much of "propositions" and "propositional content," I ask what you could mean. I suspect that these terms imply many assumptions and arguments well outside what can be said within Heideggerian methodology. That doesn't mean that it can't be said, but it does require at least a lot of explanation.

Moods are not revelatory in the ways that you claim. Moreover, commiting to cognitivism in a Heideggerian or *any* classical phenomenological framework is high questionable if not impossible given the core of phenomenological methodology. Moreover, intentionality does not imply cognitivism. And I repeat, mood is not revelatory per "conditions of existence."

Khadimir said...

I begin to wonder if you miss the point and grist of Heideggerian analysis when you say "Yet, given that the enabling-appearance condition of intentionality must be met to have access to the world, then disclosure cannot happen if we do not have access to its appearance before consciousness, and while context might constrain some aspects of what comes before consciousness, it does nothing to the truth that intentionality enables access to the historical involvement in the world." Uh, disclosure is not a happening in the sense that you mean. Rather, it is the ground for the possibility for something to be disclosed such that it can be encountered, for the possibility of encounter to be freed. Possibility is the key word. So much of the first division of Heidegger is about the structures of the possibilities for a phenomenon to be disclosed. This is almost entirely separate from intentionality per se, but more akin to the structure of (if I may use the term) intentional *activity* given an existential context. Again, given an existential context, there are certain possibilities for intentional activity such that further possibilities of encounter might occurs, say encounters with object and the modalities of encounter. This is a highly non-cognitive affair.

In a final note, Heidegger's interrogation of Being is performed through the being who so questions, for that being cannot be reduced from phenomenological analysis.

Khadimir said...

Thinking back and looking at my textual analysis, I recommend that you revisit sections 14-18 of Being and Time. There you get the analysis of the world and worldhood, which evidences much of what Heidegger borrowed from Husserl. Yet "worldhood" also evidences the profound difference between them such that your reading of Heidegger as a strict Husserlian becomes evidently problematic.

Also, I recommend some secondaries on the hermeneutic circle, for I'm not doing a good enough job of explaining it.