[lit-ideas] Re: Tradition sedition

  • From: Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 13 Feb 2010 09:00:08 +0700

Mike Geary wrote:

"Authenticity, as I understand Heidegger's use of the term, refers to
the self's relationship to the self -- it is the awareness that one's
self is a unique self in the world and to some degree at least is free
to decide its own identity.  The inauthentic soul is one who just goes
along with the program (tradition, education, group values, etc.)
never aware that their self is uniquely their own, that they are free
to question everything. Their lives are given over to average
everydayness.  If I'm right in my reading, I don't see anything very
original in Heidegger.  Ten thousand poets and artists have said such
long before him."

I don't have my Heidegger texts at hand, so I can't quote chapter and
verse, but for Heidegger it is not people who are authentic or
inauthentic, but rather moments of experience.  Heidegger recognizes
that most of our life is necessarily comprised of inauthentic
experiences.  For Heidegger, inauthenticity is not a bad thing.  The
problem comes when authentic moments are crowded out by inauthentic
moments.  So, the later Heidegger spends his time warning us about the
dangers of technology and trying to encourage us to open up ourselves
to authentic moments, whether it is in reading the pre-Socratics, or
Holderlin, or looking at a van Gogh.

Given how much of Heidegger's work is devoted to commentary on the
works of others, the question of originality is problematic.  I would
never recommend people read Heidegger's writings on Nietzsche in order
to better understand Nietzsche, but nevertheless Heidegger clearly
positions himself as following after Nietzsche.  The same goes for his
work on the pre-Socratics and the word 'Aletheia'.  Heidegger
understands himself as standing in a fairly well-defined tradition.

But then I have never really understood the whole 'originality' thing.
 Given that a writer has to use a shared language and understanding of
what counts as 'writing', and if being 'original' is to do something
that hasn't been done by 'ten thousand poets and artists before', then
I am not sure what would count as 'original'.  In fact, I do not
understand what merit there is in being original, nor do I understand
the significance of pointing out that someone is not original.

Unoriginal and mostly inauthentic,

Phil Enns
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
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