[lit-ideas] Re: Tradition sedition

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2010 18:06:57 -0800

Except, this is one of the areas that got Heidegger into trouble later on.
He urged individuals to seek authenticity, but not just as individuals - as
Germans.  There was, according to Heidegger an authenticity unique to the
Germans.  If they sought it and found it then they could be the spiritual
leaders of Europe.  They would of course need an ubermensch to lead them,
but they could then lead the rest of Europe into a new enlightened age.
That sounded to many, later on, like the Nazi affection for a Wagnerian sort
of barbarianism.   But Heideggerians produced good evidence that this wasn't
what Heidegger meant.  While he didn't get into specifics he lapsed into a
desire for poetry at this point.  Only Holderlin or a poet like him could
tell them about this authenticity.


What I found attractive in this is that one need not look for absolutes.
One needn't insist that there is a given set of values that all people
everywhere ought to treasure.  One needn't seek categorical imperatives that
apply to everyone.  One can seek what is best about the particular
"tradition," whatever it is that is "authentic" in our tradition and try to
live up to that.  


He did set about trying to make his university live up to this ideal, but
that didn't turn out well.  And of course his attempts at influencing the
Nazi Party didn't turn out well either.  He didn't oppose specifics.  He
just didn't seem very good at them.


It is only when we try to universalize this authenticity that the idea
starts to fall apart.  It works best within a single ethnicity or nation.
What is the French authenticity or the Russian?  There will be differences
of opinion, but there will also be some agreement and the French will see
that there "authenticity" is different than the Russians but they won't
worry about it - at least they ought not worry.  Their concern should be to
seek authenticity for French, and they will find it, whatever it is, some
place in the French traditions.


Part of what I have been doing is "trying this idea on."  Granted it seems
to fit a U.S. conservative viewpoint better than it does a "liberal" one, if
we define Liberal as "Progressive."  A Progressive, it seems to me, isn't
going to be spending as much time searching his traditions for authenticity
as a Conservative is.  


The searching after authenticity may at first seem an awkward fit with the
Wilsonian idea that Liberal Democracy should be exported.   Of course if
this (the exportation of Liberal Democracy) is authentic for us, perhaps we
can take the view that we are leading the world into a new "Economic
paradise" (not quite "spiritual" but the Germans couldn't manage "spiritual"
either).  But it isn't egalitarian in the sense of valuing every nation's
authenticity as much as our own.  We don't value the Islamist "authenticity"
as much as our own.  It is in direct conflict with it - as much as the
Communist authenticity was in conflict with Heidegger's authenticity.  




From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Mike Geary
Sent: Friday, February 12, 2010 5:14 PM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Tradition sedition


LH: "When we fall away from "being" we also fall away from being authentic."

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.

Mike Geary

On Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 4:16 PM, Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>



I discussed "tradition," what I meant by it, why I have been dwelling upon
it recently, and provided some examples after pointing out that Heidegger
never provided any (for his "place of authentication" which I have
Anglicized to "tradition") and Kundera never provided any.  In fact there
was a recent discussion over one specific element of "tradition" aka
"values," the fellows who were claiming military honor without having been
in the service and whether that "devalued" or participated in the process of
disintegration this particular value.  


Bear in mind I am starting from Heidegger's "place of Authentication."  He
didn't like the word "tradition" because it can so easily be used by
detractors to mean something like you suggest in your note.  I did associate
my word "tradition" with Heidegger's "place of authentication" several times
but then left off.  


For Heidegger each ethnicity would have its own "traditions," qualities,
histories, memories, that would provide authentication if they were
embraced.  This "place of authentication" is also Heidegger's "dasein,"  or
"being."  When we fall away from "being" we also fall away from being




From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Mike Geary
Sent: Friday, February 12, 2010 12:45 PM

To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Subject: [lit-ideas] Tradition sedition


Lawrence's hankering after social-cultural-ethical stability is imminently
understandable.  It's the hankering after self-affirmation.  We each
believe, to varying degrees, ourselves to be the repository of truth and
purpose and propriety.  Upper-upper class or lower-lower class, all believe
their standards are THE standards.  But variance in the social codes seems
to inflame the Upper far more that the Lower classes. Why?  Well, bbecause
the Upper have far more to lose than the lower by social change.  I don't
know, but I suspect that the lower classes feel little threatened by social
change -- if indeed they're ever even aware of it going on.  The threats
they face daily are economic survival, not philosophical.  But to the Upper,
witnessing the flaunting of social customs and mores is an assault upon the
premises they have built their lives upon.  


Lawrence keeps harking back to "tradition" as if it were something sacred.
I've always taken tradition to mean repeated behaviors. Every family has
it's traditions -- how holidays, how Christmas and birthdays and
anniversaries and etc. are observed -- and marriage usually results in a
melding of traditions -- i.e. comprises -- i.e. changes the traditions of
each.  Lawrence doesn't spell out what "tradition" means to him.  I wish he
would.  I assume he means behaviors.  Mardi Gras is a tradition, the Bull
Run in Paloma is a tradition, the whole Catholic Church calender of rituals
is tradition,  Wild drunken wedding receptions could be a tradition.  Hiring
a prostitute on Tuesdays could be a tradition.  Whatever behaviors are
repeated -- especially rotely -- that's tradition to me.


It all ends in ashes.  Don't work yourself up over it, is my advise.


Mike Geary



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