From the many ways in which I exist, I am searching for an answer to the question what it means to be. Now I can easily enough impose or force a meaning to my life: through a religious belief, national commitment, or psychological attitude, as do dedicated monks, enthusiastic patriots, and pathological sadists. But the question here is not one of morals, or even behavioral modes; it is not What modes of action ought I to impose upon my life? but rather, what is it that my own understanding can tell me about what it means to exist (From A Commentary On Heidegger’s Being And Time, by Michael Gelven)?
This is the crux of the matter. I exist. Does that mean anything, and, if it does, what does it mean?
It feels as though time is racing faster and faster in my brain as I grow older. Tempus fugit! I suppose that Virgil experienced the same phenomenon, having been the first to write those words. He said,
Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore, (But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail (Georgics).
There are always a million things to do and not enough time to do them. The mundanities of life require much more time than things with real intrinsic value. I suppose the mundanities also have their place; we would not be able to continue on through life without them.
It is tragic, however, that time is irretrievable. Only through memory and imagination can we relive the moments we have experienced. At least we have those.
Time opens into the next moment in an endless chain of moments (Is it linear or cyclical?). The rapidity with which they pass seems to be connected to our state of consciousness. In a dream-state, time really has no meaning at all. During pleasant experiences, or when we are engaged in something that requires our utmost attention, the pace of time seems to increase. During states of boredom and inactivity, time slows to a snail’s pace. Why do we experience time like this?
I have recently become enamored, once again, with the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. This came about because of my study of archetypal psychology, which has been underway for about 15 years or so. I began my philosophical journey several years prior to that, becoming interested in Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and existentialism in general. So, I’ve really come full-circle.
I grew interested in Heidegger after reading comments concerning him by Francis Schaeffer, the evangelical theologian, back about 1986. Schaeffer did not like Heidegger. I figured that he must be someone worth investigating, if he was so disliked by a conservative.
What I found was not at all what I had been led to believe. No surprise, evangelicals have been misleading people for a long time. Heidegger was doing serious philosophical thinking. I didn’t comprehend it all at the time, but it led me into attempting to understand better, not only myself, but the world and its philosophical and ontological history.
I realize Heidegger was a Nazi. This is disheartening, I agree. But I am of the opinion that discounting his work because he was a Nazi is a logical fallacy. He had much to offer the world of thinking, regardless of his political views.
I’ve just finished a book by Robert Avens called The New Gnosis: Heidegger, Hillman, and Angels. In it, Avens ties together the archetypal thinking of Hillman and Corbin with Heidegger. It’s a fascinating work, and one which has led me back to Heidegger to reexamine his thinking. It has also inspired me to begin attempting to write again. Hopefully, I will pen several articles about what I’ve learned and what I’ve been working on.
Until next time,
One of the best philosophy profs I have ever heard:
There are many of his lectures on YouTube. Take a listen.