[lit-ideas] Re: The nothing noths

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:03:06 +0000 (UTC)

I suggest it is a cul-de-sac to frame the discussion in terms of Heidegger vs. 
Carnap [Heidegger vs. Wittgenstein or H vs. Popper would be more fruitful, for 

Carnap is too poor an enemy against which to pit Heidegger: Carnap's strictures 
as to meaning are mistaken and they are mistaken even in relation to the 
'language of science' that Carnap wishes to take as the be-all and end-all of 
"sense". The fundamental flaws in Carnap's approach do not validate Heidegger's 
metaphysics, of course: but we should not be misled that the fundamental 
question with Heidegger's metaphysics is whether it is nonsense (as Carnap 
contends) but whether it is mistaken or wrongheaded. 

On the fundamental issue of whether there is any metaphysical reality beyond 
that expressible in scientific terms, we 
we might say H is fundamentally right and C fundamentally wrong (and on this 
issue W and P are with H). This leaves entirely open that H is fundamentally 
wrong in his attempts to metaphysise that reality.

     On Thursday, 19 February 2015, 13:14, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx> 

 So how are we to understand "Das  Nichts
nichtet", according to Henry ? Also, would it be possible to supply a source 
for the statements that are copy-pasted ?
On Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 1:48 PM, Redacted sender Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx for DMARC 
<dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

In a message dated 2/17/2015 9:14:21 A.M.  Eastern Standard Time,
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
how much is really  lost in translation between the German and the English


i. The nothing noths.

ii. Das Nichts nichtet


iii. The Nought noughts.

(cfr. Sartre -- "le néant néantisant")

That infamous paradox has been compared to "The Absolute is lazy", and this
 may relate to translation. It is alleged that there is some 'semantic'
rule, if  not syntactic rule (but Carnap prefers, I think, to speak of
'logical' syntax of  the world) which is broken.

But it might be that in German, "Das Nichts" has colloquial uses that "the
Nought" or "the Nothing" lacks. Note that 'the' is hardly used as applied
to  'the' in English ("Much ado about nothing", not "Much ado about the

Morphologically, there is this -s in "Nichts" that may have something  to
do with it. The equivalent older English, "Nought" does not add the -s, but a
 final -s is added in colloquial English expressions meant in the singular,
 "Hullo Ducks".

Chomsky speaks of a native speaker competence and provided Heidegger was a
native speaker of German, the fact that he is breaking this syntactic or
semantic rule is perhaps something that a Carnapian should address.

On the other hand, if Heidegger's utterances are compared to Jabberwocky --
 the first four lines cited by Geary -- who decided yesterday, Goedelianly,
not  no decide on stuff -- , one might wonder not so much if something is
lost in  translation, but whether alleged nonsense CAN be translated in the
same way as  'sense' can? (I think Strawson did say, "What is nonsense in one
language is  nonsense -- in any other language to which the expression can
be translated" --  cited in Mundle, "Critique of linguistic philosophy",

It may DO to compare the above with

iv. Negation negates.

Surely nothingness is _not_ negation (and they may not even be  related),
but 'nichtet' is not German for 'negate'. But there is something  analytic a
priori (or 'trifle' as Locke would have it) or tautological
(etymologically, 'saying the same thing', as "Kings reign") about Heidegger's  
that may have done with Carnap's overreacting over it.

Carnap and Ayer focused on this, rather than in the 'Dasein'. The forms for
 'to be' in German are innumerable, and 'Sein' I don't think has an English
 cognate. But 'da' does. It's "there". "Being there". So the "Dasein" is

Now "is there" contrasts with "there is" ("Is there any sugar?", "There is
a policeman in the corner").

The point was made in one of the quotes by C. B. that Heidegger got into
'fashion' (or vogue as Anna Wintour prefers) going back to odd etymologies.
He  infamously said that


rather than love of wisdom is best regarded as a 'sophia', i.e. a wisdom,
of what? 'love', of course. I think he was thinking of Plato's Symposium,
which  dwells, almost wisely, about love.

It may do to revise Heidegger's further etymologies.

If philo-sophia is the wisdom of love, then philo-logia would not be the
love of words, but a discourse on it.

It seems that while the German language invites for such an interpretation
of compounds like 'philo-sophia' and 'philo-logia' (or 'philo-sophos', and
'philo-logos'), such compounds were felt different by native ancient Greek
speakers. But it may not be rejected as silly the idea that both
interpretations resonated with ancient native Greek speakers, and that whoever
coined 'philo-sophia' or 'philo-logia' or many other compounds Heidegger
considered in his work and tried to provide a German equivalent for, was
EXPLOITING such ambiguities.



ps. The agenda of the explication project is set by a German pre-war
debate between Rudolf Carnap and Martin Heidegger about allegedly  meaningless
metaphysical statements such as "The Nothing noths" ("Das  Nichts
nichtet"). Within the mainstream of 20th century analytical  philosophy this
statement, "The Nothing noths" [O. K. is right and we  SHOULD 'capitalise' --  
that it's MANDATORY in German, and merely  stylistic in modern English -- it
was mandatory in older English] has come  to be regarded as obvious
metaphysical  nonsense. As we all know, this  led to an unfortunate
confrontation between analytical and continental  philosophy. Despite the fact 
this former judgement had been corrected in a  short remark by the
Mancunian philosopher Desmond Paul Henry in the 1960s,  which he  repeated more
explicitly in the 1980s, this unnecessary conflict  still seems to  exist.
Unfortunately Henry's remark didn't find its way to  a greater audience, perhaps
because Henry didn't prove his claim in a canonical  way, perhaps because
it contains an ambiguity, which may give rise to  criticism. However, the
required disambiguation together with the missing proofs  can and will be given
here within Lesniewski's ontology. Following Ludger  Honnefelder we can
call the Lesniewski systems, which were developed  roughly at the same time
(1913-1939), the third beginning of  metaphysics.  They will provide the still
missing bridge between Carnap and  Heidegger, which can be regarded as an
ontological supplement to and a  partial correction  of Michael Friedman's
brilliant background study on  Heidegger, Carnap and  Cassirer. The
hermeneutical conclusion to be drawn  is that reconciliation between  the two 
types of
philosophy is not only  possible along Cassirer's ideas, but  also along the
lines of broadly  logical form. In other words: there IS a more fundamental
way for   reconciliation. The hermeneutical outcome is as follows: one can
make use of  precise logic tools in a more general way than Carnap himself
without  declaring at least some  central statements of Heidegger's
Fundamentalontologie to be pure   nonsense."

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