Monday, October 17, 2005

This may be just a response to Jim's post

“The meditator now [after some practice in mindfulness] discovers that the abstract atitude which Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty ascribe to science and philosophy is actually the attitude of everyday life when one is not mindful” (25).
But, as far as I can tell, Heidegger is not just talking about the practice of philosophy and/or science. He is talking about those specialized human experiences and trying to figure out where/why they went “wrong” (i.e. how they became unmindful). He calls this part of his project "the destruction of the history of ontology" or something. But he sees philosophizing as just one example of human experience. For H. normal human experience, in general, is distracted and ignores the truth about itself; what he calls “average everydayness” is unmindful.

H. is addressing this more general “problem” with human experience. His term for the normal, “average everyday” unmindful state is the “they-Self,” which interprets itself incorrectly and is oriented toward its everyday tasks in the wrong way. The mindful alternative to the they-Self, “awareness” translated into Heidegger’s terms, is “anticipatory resoluteness” or “authentic Being-towards-death,” which is a mode of Being in which a person is not fooled about his/her conditions of existence.

This is just to say that I think Varela, et. al. give an unfair estimation of H., saying that he recognized the abstract attitude only in philosophizing. Sort of like a Buddhist, H. seemed to find something “off” about the way people go about their daily affairs. Like the teachers of mediation mentioned here on 29, Heidegger says that authentic Being-towards-death is a way of Being that we must “return” to after having, through the normal course of life, developed the “habit” of being mindless. He is trying to describe this better way of going through life (though I don't know if it does justice to H or to any Buddhist to call this other way "better").

I do have to admit though (and he does too), that H is engaged in a project of theoretical reflection. But he is reflecting on everyday experience and seems to have the goal of changing the way people are/act in their daily lives. That is, like the teacher of mindfulness meditation, H intends to “inform an individual as to how to handle his mind in personal and interpersonal situations” (22).


Blogger Jim said...


7:12 PM  

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