Heidegger’s Early Philosophy: The Phenomenology of Ecstatic Temporality (2008) is published by Bloomsbury Publishing.
When questions are raised about principles, the network of exchange that they have opened becomes confused, and the order that they have founded declines. A principle has its rise, its period of reign, and its ruin. Its death usually takes disproportionately more time than its reign.[i]
Prologue: Toward an Understanding of Heidegger’s “Sein und Zeit” Project
One of the most significant gestures of the published fragment of Being and Time is that a radical phenomenological investigation must have an ontic, factical, ‘fundament’. This gesture not only concerns the conditions of emergence for any self-interpretation of the being for whom being is an issue, but also intimates the irreducible thrown-ness and embeddedness of any philosophical inquiry. In other words, the pretension that thought can extricate itself from temporality, existential spatiality, etc. – in a word, from finitude – is for Heidegger, an illusion “founded” upon non-original conceptions of existence and being. As Nietzsche expresses in the Preface to Beyond Good and Evil, such other-worldly hypotheses, in this case of the ‘good as such’, denies perspective, and thus, life itself. An honest phenomenology cannot take refuge in idealist or realist ontologies without forsaking the significance of phenomenology as a desire for the truth of things themselves. Dishonesty would entail a retreat from the phenomenon into a theory of consciousness and its objects, an escape that suppresses and conceals its own radical temporality.
It is within this horizon that I have approached Heidegger’s attempts to articulate a fundamental ontology – or radical phenomenology – in the 1920’s, and its transmutations to come. For Kisiel, as he explains in his impressive The Genesis of Heidegger’s Being and Time,[ii] it had been nearly impossible to approach any understanding of this period of inquiry due to the fact that the crucial texts concerned were simply not available. In this light, when Sein und Zeit appeared, a great astonishment arose in the reading public at the time. No one but his students had any scent or taste of the brew Heidegger had been cooking up for so long. Indeed, he had published nothing since his Habilitation work on Duns Scotus in 1915. After nearly twelve years of written “silence”, Being and Time came as quite a surprise to not only the philosophical community, but also to his students (and perhaps to Heidegger himself). Moreover, as Kisiel traces the genealogy of this work, we can see many variations of its themes and radical changes in its articulation even during the run-up to its composition – a writing which comprised three drafts, “The Dilthey Draft: The Concept of Time”, the “Ontoeroteric Draft: History of the Concept of Time”, and “The Final Draft: Toward a Kairology of Being” – the existentialist draft – written in about a month.
Heidegger’s variations, attempts, and experiments upon theme and designation underscore the contention that an adequate interpretation of Being and Time must be considered alongside his lectures and published works of the period. That which is at stake is the topos which gathers together intimations of the projected “Sein und Zeit” project.[iii] The fact that the entire work never saw the light of day – in a formally published manner – underlines not only the makeshift character of the published fragment, but also that of philosophical inquiry, per se. It is common knowledge that Heidegger was not yet ready to submit “Sein und Zeit”, but that he had to, if he was to continue teaching, paying his bills, and providing and caring for his family. Out of this facticity emerges, in a rough and ready way, Sein und Zeit, a torso inscribing its perhaps illusory hope of more time to eventually finish itself. Yet, even though we have been given a makeshift, we are still incited to think and can enter into the questions asked by the “Sein und Zeit” project. And, for such an untimely exploration, Heidegger’s lecture courses must come into play, not to supplant the “masterpiece”, but to retrieve, and perhaps, set free a more intimate and spacious topos of questioning. An honest philosophy, as it is born out of facticity, will acknowledge the finitude and incompleteness of all works of thought. These myriad ‘sources’ are indications of the phenomenon that is most at issue, as signs that gesture to the traveller the way to an intimate hermeneutics of existence.
That which has changed for our era of readers of Being and Time is the availability of the lectures courses prior, simultaneous, and posterior to Being and Time. There is also illuminating documentary material surrounding this period which cannot but help to cast into relief these topoi of Heidegger’s world. In this way, the horizons of astonishment in the face of Being and Time are slowly being transformed – but not eliminated – as these do not ultimately depend upon the gossip of the Anyone (Das Man). At the same time, a differing understanding has also been facilitated by the growth of a quite considerable and increasingly diverse tradition of Heidegger scholarship. Yet, that which is still shrouded in mystery is the meaning of the state of incompletion of the published fragment of Being and Time – and whether or not his “failure” to finish the work means that he did not “go all the way to the end”. Indeed, Heidegger’s original plan projected a book length to rival Hegel’s Science of Logic or Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. “Sein und Zeit” was however never completed, and as it may never be possible to give a reason why or if it remained unfinished, we must instead enter into the place of the question of existence itself. In this way, we will begin to disclose the passage of original, ecstatic temporality.
This question provokes us to explore the greater questions of the meaning of the project, of which the published fragment of Being and Time was merely a step along the way. There have been intimations by those who have sought to put down their spectacles for awhile and become open to the phenomenon of finite existence. There has been serious work on this topic,[iv] yet one of the deficiencies of the work on the 1920’s phenomenology has been the archic position given to Being and Time. Indeed, reams have been written on Being and Time[v], but usually not in relation to any other contemporary texts or phenomena. Even those who are explicitly concerned with the 1920’s seem to have a problem with bringing all of these texts together.[vi] Kisiel for instance gives us the impression that all of Heidegger’s work of the period is meant merely to lead up to Being and Time – in some kind of ‘teleology’. In this way, he ends his otherwise great book before any consideration of Basic Problems of Phenomenology and Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. Such reticence regarding important lecture courses and a third published work of the period gives the impression that these are dispensable, that they are merely commentaries on the main work or serve only to unpack what is already there in Being and Time (or indeed they need not be read to understand being and time).[vii]
In fact, many of the lecture courses both before and after Being and Time not only go beyond the “content” of Being and Time (with respect to the larger “Sein und Zeit” project), but also seek to criticise or revise various claims or constructions in Being and Time itself. While I am not in any way seeking to diminish the importance of Being and Time, it would be a vast hermeneutical error to disregard the many contemporary unpublished and published works as mere supplements, when in fact, these seek to “go all the way to the end” of this project – commitments which were expressed in his lecture courses, before and after Being and Time. The centrality that has been given to the latter text creates a circumstance in which Being and Time is re-mystified, de-contextualized, or, as Heidegger says in his early lectures, un-worlded. In other words, that which Kisiel has applauded as our ability to finally understand this work is tragically eliminated in a repetition of an artificial astonishment in the face of a magnum opus. Indeed, Heidegger’s great work was never written, but remains in a state of incompletion, in fragments. It could be noted that in light of the irreducible facticity of honest philosophical inquiry that this, as Bataille writes in Theory of Religion, is quite appropriate – philosophy is a building site, always incomplete.
The facticity of incompletion is indicated by Heidegger as Care, as that which is incomplete in itself and as that which attains a makeshift unity in the resoluteness of a being toward death. It is in the singularization of the self, as Heidegger suggests in his lectures on Leibniz, that a world is projected as the a priori horizon of original, ecstatic temporality. It is on this basis that we can then turn (Kehre) toward a metontological topos of an-archic praxis in which Dasein is open to the truth of being. ‘Sein un Zeit’ takes its point of departure from being-in-the-world, but finds its beginning in a radical temporal event. In this light, our point of departure will be the various texts which lie ready to hand, but as we seek an understanding of radical phenomenology, our beginning will be to enter into the question itself.
The Morphology of Radical Phenomenology
Heidegger’s “Sein und Zeit” project, or radical phenomenology, exhibits three originally linked aspects, as indicated in the Basic Problems of Phenomenology: reduction, destruction, and construction.[viii]
Reduction concerns an uncovering, finding the phenomenon of original temporality of Dasein as the prerequisite event for a self-interpretation of existence in its ‘public’ and singular temporal senses or meanings. Since finite knowing is rooted in ontic being, self-interpretation will not have the meaning of a Kantian self-examination of an immovable Subject, but as a radical phenomenology of the self incited by a ‘moment of vision’ (Augenblick) in which the self comes face to face with its own temporal be-ing without evasion. Amid the event of anticipatory resoluteness, there is a radical singularization of the self, which discloses a sense of my own be-ing, and of my possibility (which is its most pressing issue). In this light, a fundamental ontology is not an ontology in the traditional sense, but a de-substantialization of a ‘what’ and ‘how’ essence into this ‘that’ of radical singularity, a disclosure of existent be-ing, not via real or idealist predications, but amid an ‘event’ of self- disclosure and expression.[ix] A moment of vision, in this way, is a ‘primal’ sense of ‘theory’, theorein, an openness amid a lived temporality, neither an ancient beholding of nous, nor a modernist theoretical objectification.
In that one cannot simply decide to undergo or not to undergo such a questioning, and as there seems to be no ‘natural’ incentive to exit this world of absorbed familiarity, of average everydayness, we must take heed of the word of Heidegger that it is surprise, breach, event, death, catastrophe, war, or a work of art that discloses that which is ‘there’ – if only provisionally. It is an ‘event’ of being thrown into ‘nothing’.[x] Such a ‘moment of vision’, as with anxiety and that call of conscience, breaks in as strange, conspicuous, amid an average circumspection of everydayness. It appears as a disturbance, a disruption of familiar expectancy, and incites a questioning which tears us out of our absorption in the familiar, and beyond the merely unfamiliar, into the uncanny.
A destruktion, as with Heidegger’s ‘task of destroying the history of ontology’ is an operation of re-worlding, of excavating of the temporal origin of the categories, a procedure akin to Nietzsche’s genealogical destruction of worn-out metaphors, which live as concepts by hiding their ‘all-too-humble origins.’ Destruktion seeks to dismantle normalizing conceptualities which suppress and overpower the phenomenon of existence and its self-expression. At the same time, a project of re-worlding is a radical cultivating of an originary dimension of self-questioning, which is an exploration of one’s existence, set free from the regimentation and imposture of a discipline of a formalist and logical parameters.
Construction concerns the self-expression of existence, a forming of concepts, logos, amidst a pre-theoretical and pre-practical topos. Being and Time expresses this fragility of finite knowing, as it shows a sense of the being of one’s self amid being-toward-death, and a chance to ‘seize hold’ of this sense of one’s being in resolute anticipation. The event is a disclosure which breaks in as unexpected disturbance, and is the occasion for questioning the unexamined interpretations of one’s being. But, in light of his lectures, his expressive hermeneutics of existence must be seen as an array of provisional and revisable topoi of one’s own being, intimating a return to the raw temporality of a self-interpretation of being-in-the-world which uncovers one’s lived temporality – again and again. Indeed, as I will show, it is always from such an event that ‘world’ emerges for the first time. Heidegger evokes a ‘crisis’, in which we are thrown amid the falling of ruination, suppression, and erasure. A return to the phenomenon must be a counter-ruination, a cultivation of a fragile topos of meaning, self-expression, or as Dilthey sought, an independent ground for the cultivation of philosophy in all of its diversity. Life expresses itself, and reflects upon this articulation in its quest for an understanding within the horizons of temporal existence.
Heidegger, for his part, seeks to place temporality (transcendental imagination) at the heart of a phenomenology of factical, lived existence, be-ing (Sherover) – indeed, into the heart of philosophy itself. Such a ‘placing’ is intimated in his indication of the meaning of being[xi] in its own self-projection upon a horizon of ecstatic, original temporality (ekstatisch, ursprüngliche Zeitlichkeit, or Temporalität). The radical character of Heidegger’s phenomenology is revealed in the first sentence of this study where it was stated that any ontological-existential thinking – or radical phenomenology – as an understanding of Being, will have an ontic fundament, that of existence (Dasein). Heiedegger seeks to overcome an ‘ousiology’ that conjures ‘in our minds’ an image of a being, of a thing or substance, which produces the world and its attributes from out of itself. Such an ‘ousiology’ suppresses the temporality of existence, displacing the intimate playspace of the self and other selves – which is already a condition in which we fathom the existence of the other ‘through a glass darkly’ (Paul). Although we are wed to falsity, illusion, concealment, Heidegger indicates an ‘openness’ amid existence – a topos, this place of dis-closure where being lights up amid the horisons of our own insurmountable finitude.
In Part I, ‘The Phenomenon of Ecstatic Temporality,’ I will lay out a provisional sketch for that which is referred to as a “reduction” in Basic Problems. This will be a provisional indication of the phenomenon of ecstatic temporality as the topos for a hermeneutics of existence. I will explore the topos as the be-ing of Dasein and of the concomitant peculiarity of indication and expression that is necessary in light of this radical singularity. This peculiarity concerns not only the ‘conceptuality’ of the existentials in Being and Time, but also the structure and operation of the inquiry into ecstatic temporality. In other words, since we are concerned primarily with the be-ing of Dasein, as a place for the disclosure of phenomena, and not with any of the derived comportments, we cannot either consider Dasein in the sense of an ‘object’, or ultimately as a ‘technique’ or ‘operation’. Heidegger will seek to indicate a topos for an intimate self-interpretation of Dasein.
In Chapter 1, ‘Indications of Ecstatic Temporality,’ after a preliminary conversation with Schalow with respect to the non-propositional sense of “truth” for Heidegger, I will begin a sketch of the hermeneutic situation of ecstatic temporality, which exists and can be distinguished from a ‘generic’, ‘common’ or ‘linear’ time. The latter is exemplified by Husserl, in his lecture course, Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness. This sketch will take place in tandem with a reading of his lecture course, Basic Problems of Phenomenology, with respect to the comportment between original temporality and ‘common’ time.
In Chapter 2, ‘An Indigenous Conceptuality of Dasein’, I will set forth Heidegger’s radical destruction of Husserlian phenomenology in light of its rhetoric of “going to the things themselves”. Amid the destruktion, there will emerge an indigenous expression of “things themselves”, but one not burdened with the ontological baggage of traditional conceptualities. In a criticism of Husserl’s thematic field of ‘pure consciousness’, it will be disclosed that the phenomenon to which there will be a dedicated submission, from which will “read off” indications, is none other than the finite self in its being as a questioner. For Heidegger, finite existence is the place where the phenomenon of the questioner emerges and has its being.
In Chapter 3, ‘Temporal Expressions of Being in the World,’ I will lay out a prospective ‘rough sketch’ of the phenomenological conceptuality of temporal existence traced in Heidegger’s History of the Concept of Time. This expression is prospective as it indicates aspects of existence without however, as of yet, considering the event of expressive origination for this conceptuality. With a juxtaposition of History with Kant’s post-revision essay, ‘What is Orientation in Thinking?’, we will lay out a first approximation of an understanding-of-being, and of an indigenous expression, or indigenous conceptuality, appropriate to a hermeneutics of existence.
In Chapter 4, ‘Ecstatic Temporality and the Meaning of Being,’ in a retrocursive answer to the prospective sketch of Chapter 3, I will trace the understanding-of-being and its “conceptuality” in light the treatment of ecstatic temporality in Basic Problems. In this text, the existentiale, or in the words of History, the characters of being-in-the-world, are explicitly disclosed as projections of ecstatic or original[xii] temporality, a possibility only hinted at in Being and Time.
In Chapter 5, ‘Kant’s Thesis about Being and Existence,’ I will set out an interpretation of Heidegger’s longstanding meditation upon ‘Kant’s thesis about Being’. Through a rehearsal of the negative and positive versions of the thesis, I will consider the question of concept formation and the limitations of “real” and “ideal” predications as expressions of existence. The implication that arises from Kant’s thesis is that the be-ing of Dasein is not susceptible to real (or actual) predication, and that the ontological difference necessitates differing modalities of expression, a plurivocity in which this middle-world of being here-there can find honest expression.
Part 2, “Destruktion of Ecstatic Temporality”, I will explore the destructive phase of Heidegger’s project in the Frieburg work, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, supplemented by specific references to the lecture course Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1928). I will begin a comprehensive portrayal of Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant from within the perspective of the broader question of the 1920’s phenomenology of original temporality.
In Chapter 6, ‘The Retrieval of Ecstatic Temporality’, I will investigate the hermeneutical significance of Heidegger’s detour through Kant with respect to the interpretative method of radical phenomenology. I will consider Kant’s defenders Cassirer and Henrich with respect to Heidegger’s exposure of the ambiguous status of the transcendental imagination betwixt the two editions of the Critique of Pure Reason. It is this ambiguous status which casts into relief the susceptibility of the Kantian text to Heidegger’s interpretation, and his desire to articulate an indigenous expression.
In Chapter 7, ‘The Excavation of Ecstatic Temporality’, I will trace in detail Heidegger’s deconstruction of “Kant” in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1929) through an excavation of the common root of the ‘stems’ of knowledge, intuition and concept, each of which is traced to a originary ground in pure imagination, or, again as a rooting of thinking in that which Sherover indicates as a ‘power of imaginative integration’.[xiii]
In Chapter 8, ‘The Articulation of Finite Knowing,’ continuing my reading of the Kantbook, I will set forth Heidegger’s ‘re-writing’ of transcendental philosophy, a phantasy he mused upon in Phenomenological Intepretation, in which the transcendental power of imagination is disclosed as the ‘formative center of ontological knowledge,’ a root of the theoretical, practical and aesthetical dimensions. Indeed, at the climax of this lecture, in the last few utterances, Heidegger dramatically reveals the transcendental power of imagination to be reason itself – a pure, sensuous reason.
In Chapter 9, ‘Transcendental Imagination and Ecstatic Temporality’, I will consider the many parallels between transcendental imagination and ecstatic-horizonal temporality. I will lay out the resemblances between Kant’s three syntheses of pure imagination and the three ecstases of original temporality, casting into relief striking parallels and a translatability of imagination and ecstatic temporality with respect to the analogy between temporality as self-affection (KPM) and ecstatic self-projection (BT). In this light, I will propose, following Schalow, the resuscitation of a non-idealist interpretation of imagination in the context of a hermeneutics of existence.
In Part 3, “The Topos of Ecstatic Temporality”, I will sketch out the ‘there’ (Da) of Dasein through an indigenous expression of this intimate phenomenon of temporal existence. It is here that we will explore the constructivist aspect of Heidegger’s radical phenomenology in reference to its topic origin, its power of fulfilment, and the specific indications that it issued. I will lay out an interpretation of the existential, indigenous expression in the published fragment of Being and Time, notably these existentials of Care, Anxiety, being-toward death, Guilt, and Resoluteness. I will begin however with Heidegger’s engagement with Leibniz, who is not mentioned in the original plan for Sein und Zeit, in his most explicit deconstruction of logos, of statement and its claims to be the ‘locus’ of truth, in his lecture course, The Metaphysicial Foundations of Logic.
In Chapter 10, ‘The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic’, I will lay out Heidegger’s demand that a phenomenological logic be grounded in the ‘matters themselves’, which he articulated in his lectures on Leibnizian monadology. In a discussion only hinted at in Being and Time, Heidegger engages in a destruktion of the doctrines of judgment and substance, in which he uncovers logos and being as distinct comportments of existence, where the former has no priority.
In Chapter 11, ‘The “Unity” of Ecstatic Temporality’, continuing my examination of Metaphysical Foundations, I will begin to disclose the existential and temporal horizons which underlay Leibniz’s theory of propositional truth through an analysis of the pre-requisite grounding of transcendence in ‘world’. Moreover, I will sketch out, in contrast to Henrich’s “Unity of Reason”, a ‘unity’ of ecstatic temporality, as a topos of expression, which abides the “recollection” of its authentic existence (self-remembrance of the self as temporality). “Unity” will occur for the questioning self amid the remembrance and expression of its own free and finite existence.
In Chapter 12, ‘Riddle of Fallenness, the Building Site of Care and Temporality’, I will begin to lay out Heidegger’s topos of constructive indications of the phenomenon of existence. I will begin with the prospective existential of Care, a place of thrown projection, fallenness, which is disclosed in the disposition of anxiety (Angst), as indicated in Division One of Being and Time, but only fully analysed in Division Two. It is, as with Chapter 3, prospective in that Care, as being-in-the-world will be disclosed as an indication of existence that is limited in itself and can only acquire its meaning beyond itself in the ecstatic projections of temporality, the subject matter of the next chapter.
In Chapter 13, ‘Temporality as the Ontological Meaning of Care’, I will examine the ‘unity’ and temporal sense of this be-ing of existence (Dasein) which is founded in a temporal event, in the ecstatic transcendence of the self. I will explore the disclosive characters of conscience, guilt and resoluteness in Division Two of Being and Time as aspects of an event of singularization with the character of a ‘moment of vision’ (Augenblick). I will close with the question of the temporality of anticipatory resoluteness and of the implications of such a radical temporality for thought and expression. Ultimately, one listens, one is silent – so as to allow for the self-expression of phenomenon that we ourselves are.
In closing, in ‘The Circle of Finitude’, I will reiterate the task of radical phenomenology as the disclosure of the radical temporal event which ‘grounds’ lived existence. Yet, this event, as Krell, after Heidegger, has pointed out, turns into metontology[xiv] which situates one’s own self interpretation within the intimate horizons of those of other Daseins.[xv] In this way, the topos for a hermeneutics of existence could be broadened to include, as Heidegger did in his later writings, cultural expressions such as poetry and art, regarded as indications of the phenomenon of existence (Dasein). Such a concern with myriad interpretations of Dasein are already indicated in Being and Time in the “Myth of Cura”. One may wish to pass over this myth as a literary curiosity. Yet, this would be to miss the radical significance and potentialities of a radical phenomenology and turn from fundamental ontology to metontology.
[i] Schürmann, Reiner. Heidegger: On Being and Acting, from Principles to Anarchy, p. 29.
[ii] Kisiel, Theodore. The Genesis of Heidegger’s Being and Time, University of California Press, 1993.
[iii] For an overview of the texts of this period, cf. Luchte, J. (2003) ‘Makeshift: Phenomenology of Original Temporality,’ Philosophy Today 47, 3.
[iv] Most obviously by Kisiel and in the unpublished thesis of Triine Kallas, Krell in Intimations of Mortality, Hans Ruin in “Heidegger in Ruins”, Taminiaux in Heidegger and the Project of Fundamental Ontology, Sherover in Heidegger, Kant, and Time, Schalow in his The Renewal of the Heidegger-Kant Dialogue, Yoko Arisaka, in “Spatiality, Temporality, and the Problem of Foundation in Being and Time,” and Beatrice Han’s “Early Heidegger’s Appropriation of Kant.”
[v] Another issue, as we will see, is the relative neglect by interpreters of the topic of ecstatic temporality and indeed the second division of the published fragment.
[vi] An important exception to this “rule” is the posthumous, unfinished, work of Carol White, (2005) Time and Death, Ashgate, with an Introduction by Hubert Dreyfus. An interesting feature of this work is her attempt to create an interface with some important figures in Analytic philosophy, such as Searle. Perhaps for this reason, she abandons the ecstatic temporality of Being and Time, for considerations of time and death in social and cultural contexts.
[vii] Sherover, in his Heidegger, Kant and Time, sets forth an indispensible, but restricted interpretation of Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. There is little to be said of ecstatic temporality, or such, as Sherover is concerned to show that Heidegger’s interpretation of Kant must be accurate on the latter’s own terms. Yet, as we remain within the “latter’s own terms”, we become prohibited from entering into the ecstatic topos of self-interpretation and expression.
[viii] Basic Problems, p. 23.
[ix] This is a point that seems to have been missed by commentators such as Blattner, Dreyfus, and Carmen as pointed out by Han-Pile in her solid, ‘Early Heidegger’s Appropriation of Kant.’ Yet, she herself seems to miss the next step of an explicit endorsement of a radical phenomenology and hermeneutics of existence. This debate seems to be in a perpetual state of post-ponement.
[x] Kiesel claims that such an ‘event’ was Heidegger’s witness to the ‘rationality of the trenches’ in WWI.
[xi] As with Aristotle and Brentano, I will express “being in many ways”. I will avoid the practice of designating Sein, with a capital B, and such, and will allow the nuances of Sein/sein to express itself, being amid the context or de-context of the situation or event.
[xii] Schürmann points out in his Heidegger that an original temporality, one that founds a world, is to be distinguished from the originary temporality of re-leasement, pp. 132ff. I have taken this point in respect to the strategy of reading Heidegger backwards.
[xiii] This phrasing was suggested by Sherover in his classic (though out of print) Heidegger, Kant and Time, as an alternative translation of Einbildungskraft, translated in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics by Taft as ‘transcendental power of imagination’.
[xiv] Heidegger explicates this notion in an Appendix to Metaphysical Foundations of Logic, pp.154-59.
[xv] Krell, Intimations of Mortality.