ATS Reception

Charles Spinosa has put together an insightful and thought-provoking diagnosis of the critical reception of ATS, and I am bumping it up to here from an earlier thread to give it the attention it deserves.  Charles extends the hope that his essay will extend the discussion of the issues around ATS, and I have no doubt it will.  Comments welcome.

Spinosa on “Wills, Mikics, and the Saving Power of the All Things Shining Project”

In response to Sean’s thoughts on Wills and Mikics, I would like to try to help readers and advocates of All Things Shining put the Wills and Mikics criticisms in the context of All Things Shining itself and thereby clarify what seems like an impasse or massive confusions.  I apologize for the length of these remarks.

Wills’ and Mikics’ reviews are important because they speak in the name of the inwardness the book diagnoses as a source of our contemporary despair.  We live in or struggle against a culture of pervasive nihilism where there is little to nothing shared worth dying for and where we are drawn to live with a casual relativistic flexibility.  Our Enlightened, inner deliberation, which we still prize, drives us to this despair by motivating us to criticize everything, especially anything sacred.  In our secular age, we fear both our own and others’ fanaticism and guard ourselves against it by living as though a person with no connection to the sacred might have as good a life as someone with a firm connection.[i]  For a believer, such a stance is diffident despair.  All Things Shining is an answer to this despair.  The book intends to show us how we can have robust connections with the sacred without worries about fanaticism or feel diffidence about our own experiences.  David Foster Wallace lends this pervasive diffidence his powerful voice.  Consider his “bloody near religious experience” of Roger Federer:

One would not want to make too much of it. . . .  But the truth is that whatever deity, entity, energy, or random genetic flux produces sick children also produced Roger Federer, and just look at him down there.  Look at that.

Diffidently, Wallace has us consider what he cannot bring himself to say.

However, not everyone who loves inner deliberation, examination of the conscience, or reading the text of the world for its meaning lives in this despair.  Wills and Mikics speak out of pre-Enlightenment forms of inner deliberation.  To preserve their forms of inwardness in today’s culture and refuse despair, they have to disavow at least one of two of the book’s strongest insights: Wills disavows that our history is epochal, and made up of different ways of being human.  Mikics disavows that our actual experience of the sacred unfiltered by our current ethical beliefs should determine what we count as sacred.

I write as an advocate of the All Things Shining project, which includes Hubert Dreyfus’s and Sean Kelly’s lectures and other writings on the subject, and as an advocate of the nobility of Wills’ and Mikics’ positions, which All Things Shining respects.  I write to clarify a number of the details that puzzle Wills and Mikics.  Even more importantly, I write to clarify the Ishmaelite solution Dreyfus and Kelly offer to today’s despair and diffidence.  (I say “Ishmaelite” instead of Heideggerian because Melville’s Ishmael plays more of a role in the solution than Heidegger.)

Wills’ and Mikics’ Pre-Enlightenment Positions

Wills stands for the light side of inwardness, and Mikics for the dark.  As a devoted Augustinian Catholic Wills, like Augustine, finds God by turning inward.  Wills writes admiringly, “Augustine says that he was wrong to seek God in the external world.  He turned inward to find him.”[ii]  Wills, like Augustine, experiences God’s light in the light of his own inner deliberation.  All Things Shining intends to honor this experience (though not its cultural consequence) and certainly does not claim that such an experience is meaningless.  Yet Wills ends his scathing review with a spiteful and ironic thanks.

Thank God we have been delivered from the meaningless inwardness of Augustine and Dante to worship at the shining caffeine altar.

Mikics experiences the intellectual passions of inwardness as both captivatingly dangerous and in need of an external saving filter.  Mikics writes, on his own account, for the dark side.  Speaking of Dreyfus and Kelly, he says:

They recommend a strange life of whooshes and lattes.  Yet a deeper philosophy of life would want more meaning, not less.  We cannot always have the shining, but the darkness may have something more interesting to say.

Mikics’ darkness grows out of the irreconcilable difference between external ethics, particularly the requirements of compassion, and our own inner feelings.  He is reminiscent of Luther and Protestantism more generally.

All Things Shining shows the nobility of Wills’ and Mikics’ positions by letting us see the weight of history they bear.  To see this history, I’ll race through Dreyfus and Kelly’s account of the changing epochs of the West.  Their account is meant to show our history as a resource of the sacred as well as the source of our despair and nihilism.

Epochal History and Some of Its Puzzling Details

The greatest resource is Homer’s Odyssey.  Dreyfus and Kelly ask, Can we find small traces of Homer’s religious experience in our own lives?  Homer’s gods were not creator gods giving us the right way to live but rather attuners who would bring Homeric Greeks into exactly the right mood to cope so brilliantly with a situation that their actions seemed to reach beyond human capacity.  (The gods can do just the opposite, as Athena, for instance, guides Hector to make a mistake beyond his capacity.)  Helen’s relationship with Aphrodite is the simplest case for Dreyfus and Kelly.  Aphrodite increases Helen’s sensitivity to erotic possibilities that others miss because, quite simply, Aphrodite puts Helen and the others around her in the mood.

Dreyfus and Kelly do not ask if this is the most ethically and intellectually appealing view of the gods.  They ask if it is one that we can still find in our own lives.  Can we find that suddenly we feel in such complete harmony with a situation that we can speak and act vividly and powerfully beyond our native capacities?  Dreyfus and Kelly show that we do experience such moments and experience them in two different ways that go back to two different styles of Greek culture.  These moments come especially vividly to highly skilled craftsmen who feel devotion toward their craft.  Dreyfus, Kelly, and Heidegger characterize this way of being as poiesis.  (One of Dreyfus and Kelly’s craftsman is a coffee maker; hence, the references in the reviews.)  Heidegger thinks of poiesis as the predominant Greek style during its great temple-building phase, roughly 6th to 3rd century BC.  Those who witness the superhuman achievements of these craftsmen tend to experience them in the style of physis, which Richard Rorty translated as whooshing up, appearing unexpectedly.  Heidegger thinks physis was dominant in Homeric times (8th century BC).  Athletes are the simplest examples of craftsmen who nurture their skills and whose super achievements are easily experienced by fans as whooshing up.  Sean Kelly’s past as a NCAA Division I athlete might have made recourse to athletic achievements too easy.  But Dreyfus and Kelly are not claiming that we experience the sacred every time a sports writer glamorizes some athlete’s play as superhuman.  Rather, the sports writers can glamorize as they do because fans do in fact sometimes feel a sense of the sacred when a sports figure does the impossible.

Note two things.  First, there is nothing in the moments where the person is brought beyond his or her own capabilities to point to one divinity that is the source of all that is sacred.  Since we are frequently brought into ways of feeling that are significantly different from each other, say, paternal love, ferocity, or high-spiritedness, and perform feats beyond our native abilities in those attunements, our experience suggests more than one attuner.  Second, such moments can easily be extended to include the classic moments from the last century of Christian religious experiences.  An alcoholic (or some other form of sinner) who has tried everything and failed repeatedly reaches a moment of despair when she hears a voice and feels the presence of a hopeful personality not her own; it says, “Drink no more.  You will be able to resist.”  And suddenly she can.  A similar moment occurs in Elizabeth Gilbert’s contemporary and popular Eat Pray Love; hence its mention in All Things Shining.

By the time we get to Aeschylus, the Greeks separated reason from emotion, Apollo from the Furies, leaving scant room for gods as attuners who bring us into the right mood for us to act beyond our ordinary compass.  Only Athena is left as the attuner for patriotism.  Then, in one of the most radical, cultural paradigm shifts ever, Jesus shifts the center of life from outward acts to inner intentions evaluated from the perspective of a single God.  We are defiled by what is in our hearts, not our outward actions.  We leave the world of glory with shining extra-human acts performed by heroes for a world of purity of spirit with saints and sinners.

Augustine brings one way of living in this new world to the cultural center when he finds God in his inner reasoning and generates confessional, deliberative human beings tempted by the attractive outer world.  People become attuned to an inner life of thought and desire where they control little and much is given.  Then Luther takes the other, emotional path and finds in his emotion of gratitude the inner expression of the sacred.  The gratitude is the feeling that comes from a faith that saves.  We are attuned to and mostly try to attune ourselves to constant gratitude.

Descartes turns Augustine’s and Luther’s age of saints and sinners on its head by making our inner life our own possession; we own thoughts and own our feelings.  We have become autonomous, and we simply do not find God inside guiding our thoughts or our feelings.  Instead of experiencing attunement to situations or creation in general, we manage our thoughts and feelings.  We have a world wiped clean of any religious experience.

Keeping Pre-Enlightenment Practices and Beliefs Alive

Not quite!  Garry Wills shows us that the Augustinian life and practices remain.  David Mikics speaks for a living Lutheran route in his paean to Ahab:

Ishmael, who fears Ahab, who knows that Ahab’s passion will destroy his men, sides with Ahab nonetheless.  And so do we.  We cannot resist.  So enthusiasm, being filled with the god, is perhaps not so easy to domesticate.

But they each have to distort what we have learned since the Enlightenment.  Wills finds himself insisting that inwardness (the gateway to the divine) is important everywhere in our history.  “Has there ever been a better presentation of the anxiety of choice?” he asks of Homer’s account of Odysseus stymied, like a baffled animal, rocking back and forth.  But how could Wills even ask such a question?  One immediately thinks, in contrast to Odysseus, of Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy, where he cannot decide between opposing actions which he reformulates and reevaluates a number of times.  This is not just a better presentation of the anxiety of choice, but one irreconcilable with what Odysseus could experience.  However, following Wills’ reasoning, Odysseus thinks in God’s light, just as Descartes, Nietzsche, and David Foster Wallace must.  Some are just more or less sensitive to it.  Thus, Wills saves the Augustinian intuition and experience of God always there in the light of our reasoning.  And so much for a genuine history of inwardness let alone epochs with different ways of being human!  (Are people radically different in different epochs?  Consider a people who have regular, even sexual, connections with multiple gods, conduct human sacrifices, use entrails of animals to predict the future, have little or no ethic of compassion or pity, a meager sense of equality, experience anger as a positive emotion, and who keep slaves, die for glory, and believe in an afterlife that is a little worse than life.  They are radically different from us.)

Mikics speaks for divine passion but also writes as though we can select our divinities:

The “involved, historical” God of the Bible, whom Dreyfus and Kelly describe only in passing, may in fact have some advantages over the pagan competition.  He was also a violent deity, but alongside His ferocity He taught a love of justice and an ethic of compassion.

Such a judgment of God normally puts reason before God and yields a philosopher’s god.  If Mikics did that, he would be firmly on the path to the Enlightenment despair.  But he avoids it, probably by taking a page from his book on Spenser and Milton. He explains there that early modern Protestant religious experience depended on both an inner feeling and an external sacred, providential story.[iii]  It is hard to live by a feeling alone.  Mikic’s ethic of compassion here plays the role of the providential story which must be lived along with the inner feelings to have a genuine religious experience.  Mikics does not underestimate the difficulties of this life.  Such a life is not far from Ahab’s inner rage and the quest to have the universe justify his rage.  By opening the space for choice of divinities on the basis of external justification, Mikics keeps alive the saving Lutheran feeling.  We have, however, to drop our post-Enlightenment turn to the phenomenon of the sacred as it is without demanding that it carry its justifying credentials with it.

By saving Augustinian and Lutheran Christianity as they do, through denying either radical change or the genuineness of a sacred passion that comes with no justifications, Wills and Mikics miss the salvation that All Things Shining offers.  In fact, they see its salvation as a threat.  Wills writes:

At the end of the book, the authors face the problem that whoosh moments can sweep people along in a Hitler rally.  What is to counter that danger?

Mikics says:

They tell us that only after you have succumbed to fanaticism will you know the difference between fascist whooshing up and the harmless enjoyable variety. . . .  This is downright chilling.  Must one become a fanatic so as not to become one?  Is surrender to the authoritarian seduction a kind of public education?

Dreyfus’s and Kelly’s Answer to Fanaticism

What is the genuine Ishmaelite solution that avoids the fanaticism Wills and Mikics point out?  Dreyfus and Kelly unhelpfully name it the life of meta-poiesis which roughly means a life based on cultivating all available sacred moments.  This Ishmaelite life takes its cue from Ishmael’s itch for multiplicity:

I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.  Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could still be social with it.[iv]

The Ishmaelite cultivates multiple experiences of the sacred.  In our monotheistic tradition, we tend to think of each one as totally absorbing.  They are not.  The Ishmaelite lives where one attunement, one experience of the sacred, happens in the nearness or in the felt absence of others.  Hence, Ishmaelites resist any experience of the sacred that claims to exclude all others, and most fanaticisms claim our hearts totally and exclusively.  But suppose we have a non-totalizing evil, a Nuremberg rally attuned by resentment (blaming the Jews for everything wrong) but without the claim that resentment and the leader are absolute.  The Ismaelite will likely experience the passion of the moment as Ishmael himself experienced Ahab’s.  But the Ishmaelite will experience the resentment of the rally in the nearness or perhaps absence of family love, neighborly care, or craftsmanly responsibility.  As she leaves the rally and enters into her family, neighborhood, or workshop, she will look back at the words and actions of the rally as irredeemably crude and disgusting.  (For the Ishmaelite, like many others, most ethical judgments spring from such ethical sentiments, not dry reasoning.)  Why does our Ishmaelite reject the horror of resentment so soundly?  She cultivates moods that enable her to increase her sensitivity to the multiple sources of the sacred among which there is easy passage.  This is the life of meta-poiesis.  People living that life recoil from narrowing attunements in which we get stuck: gods of resentment, fear, resignation, and arrogance.  Ishmaelites can therefore worship all their sources of the sacred robustly because each implies others, and that saves Ishmaelites from the trap of narrow, mind-closing fanaticism.  No fear!  No diffidence!  That is the gift of All Things Shining.

What about Augustinian and Lutheran Christianity?  These are sources of the sacred for the Ishmaelite as well.  But the Ishmaelite has to ignore the titanic, exclusivist jealousy of the Christian God of sacrificial love.  Since she is not a theologian in the normal sense, the Ishmaelite need not worry over whether the ultimate source of the sacred is one or many.  William James, an earlier Ishmaelite, put the point this way:

[T]he practical needs and experiences of religion seem to me sufficiently met by the belief that beyond each man and in a fashion continuous with him there exists a larger power which is friendly to him and to his ideals . . .  [T]he universe might conceivably be a collection of such [powers] . . . with no absolute unity realized in it at all.  Thus would a sort of polytheism return upon us. . . . a polytheism which, by the way, has always been the real religion of common people, and still is today.[v]

All Things Shining’s polytheism includes, as James’s does, the Augustinian inner light and the Lutheran inner feeling as well as the caffeine altar.

Notes


[i] Charles Taylor sets out this position as a temporary one in A Catholic Modernity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

[ii] Garry Wills, Why I am a Catholic (Boston: Mariner, 2002), 305.

[iii] David Mikics, The Limits of Moralizing (Cranberry, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 1994), 3-4.

[iv] Herman Melville, Moby Dick (New York: W. W. Norton, 1967), 16.

[v] William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Penguin, 1982), 525-526.

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72 Responses to ATS Reception

  1. Britt Z. says:

    Sean, have you ever thought of using Heidegger’s discussion of the connection between Erlebnis & Ereignis in the lecture series “Towards the Definition of Philosophy,” instead of relying on physis? I think it offers a more skilled sense of releasing ourselves to the anonymous “it.” Since our epoch is led astray by calculative thought, we need to follow the path of Gelassenheit to become attuned to what Heidegger is trying to express in Erlebnis and Ereignis. For example: “I” do not shoot the arrow, rather “it” shoots the arrow — in a complete loss of will, without questions of why, an openness (Ent-schlossenheit) to the mystery, that still requires skill! The call of be-ing, its Saying (Sagen), for the early Greeks might have been answered in physis, but what about the possibility that our answer to the call, repeated differently, for entrance into the other beginning, is Ereignis?

  2. Charlie says:

    This is an excellent case for compatibility. But is ATS effective as merely pragmatism? From the other dimension, the polytheistic breadth resonating with the secular as simply an antidote for the indelicacy of god? Or does it offer a prescription for modernity precisely because Augustine’s inner self is parochial and it offers a different foundation? For me, ATS’s phenomenological work on sharing and hidden mastery releases the genie from the bottle. We combat nihilism (and escape relativism) if we move beyond Kant’s “Copernican” solution and the Cartesian myth – and move the sacred into the public/collective domain. It is normative to the extent the non-philosophical god can be phenomenologically refashioned. Philosophy put to good work. And if we blame Nietzsche for the final epochal unhinging, then it’s my turn to be an apologist and say that this form of virtue would be a project/democracy/mastery he could endorse

    • Britt Z. says:

      …but Heidegger is still a philosopher of finitude, like Kant.

      • Charlie says:

        I had a bad day Britt, so excuse the polemic as I try to expand on my point. Augustine represents nothing short of the origin sin of the western tradition: the unwarranted primacy of subjectivity. We can no more find god in our inner life then we can have a private language. The Cartesian myth culminates with the Tractatus. The final vanity where language circumscribes the world. Moreover, public virtue is more consistent with our natural state. We showed up 200k years ago and during last 10k years of modern history agriculture created spare food – and leisure bore civilization, territorial fights and faith. Hinduism was perhaps the first and noblest. Western faith turned on itself and “Enlightenment’s” nihilism strands us more each day – but there is no going back because the vanity of ontology and faith were anomolies. No less an accident than other mutations such as the evolution of mammals.

        Liberating the sacred moves our life back into a public Being – nomadic again. It’s like that great New Yorker cartoon with people in the space ship building models of grass and mountains. Finally, to keep my harangue brief, we kill 2 birds/fictions with one stone if democratization goes one step further and we slay free will by suggesting that mastery is submitting to unknown forces. This phenomenological insight is the common denominator of religious experience. Kierkegaard’s angst and submission, or Pascal’s hidden god, bear the same traits as a public mood. Don’t tell my employer, but God is a communist

      • dmf says:

        charlie you may like the hodges/lachs book “thinking in the ruins”

  3. Jermaine says:

    As a reader of both ATS and *Disclosing New Worlds*, I should like to pose the question perhaps not quite readily addressed by either: that of finding the sacred in average everydayness; more specifically—the world of work.

    As the sociologist Richard Sennet points out in *The Craftsman*, the craft mode of being–of poeisis–is being eroded by the culture of what he calls “The New Capitalism,” which emphasizes temporary focus on short-term projects, efficiency and maximum flexibility (which is not quite far from Heidegger’s diagnosis of the essence of technology). I should like to point out however (as a typical office worker) that it is extremely difficult to cultivate both poeitic and meta-poeitic skill given the pervasiveness of the cultural world in which those employed in many sectors of business or government find themselves. In fact, these poeitic modes are so alien, especially to those in senior positions, executives, and leaders who have thrived off of promoting the degradation of the craft mode of work, that I surmise that such alienness may outstrip the threat of nihilism.

    If my above diagnosis is at all plausible, some questions follow: If work is the place and sub-world in which the majority of our time is spent, how might we restore some semblance of religious experience? Would that even be appropriate?

    Ishmael’s Ishmaelite polytheism is solicited by the sea, and he leaves the land as a result of the drizzly November of his soul. If the world of work brings about a “drizzly November,” yet that world is one we depend on and spend the majority of our lives in, how might the sacred be integrated into that, in plural form? That is the challenge of everyday history making that leaves me uncertain…

    • dmf says:

      J, I tried to raise this line of thought a while back but it didn’t seem of interest to our good host, feel free to join in @ archivefire’s blog

    • Frank says:

      …causes me recall this philip larkin poem:
      To put one brick upon another,
      Add a third and then a forth,
      Leaves no time to wonder whether
      What you do has any worth.

      But to sit with bricks around you
      While the winds of heaven bawl
      Weighing what you should or can do
      Leaves no doubt of it at all.

    • Charles Spinosa says:

      Jermaine,

      I appreciate that you read Disclosing, and I am eager to respond to your observation and question because they get at much of what my consulting teams and I grapple with daily. You observe that modern commercial and public sector practices damage poeitic, craftsmanly skillfulness. You ask, How then can we find the sacred at work where we spend most of our lives?

      I am generally in accord with your observation. You and Richard Sennet—thank you, dmf, for the taped debate—are right that most leaders of most contemporary organizations take great pride in having simple recipes, rules, business models, or a “DNA” for achieving success. They adjust those models and seek to fill their organizations with flexible recipe followers. That is all true, but I am not nearly so grim as Sennet for a number of reasons. I deeply appreciate the numerous John Mackeys of the commercial world. (John Mackey is the CEO of WholeFoods, who studied philosophy as an undergraduate and focuses on creating businesses where both teams of employees and customers flourish.) I also regularly find many knowledge workers and other office workers carving out a space for nurturing their skills. It might be a rearguard action, but it is widespread. Last, I find the stable work and community life of the 1960s the source of only one good life among many others.

      Your profound question remains. What do you do if you do not work in one of the special, poeisis-promoting organizations? Consider office politics. Many office workers find politics nasty and disempowering. But politics is necessary. We find ourselves in situations where there is more than one right thing to do, and rather than wait for a super master to show up—if there is one—we move forward by influencing others to come along with us even though they do not see what we see. That influencing is politics, and it happens at all levels. It happens as soon as any manager asks any employee to explain an event involving any other employee, manager, customer, or vendor. Masters of politics nurture their skill as any craftsman would.

      Many find the thought of nurturing political skills distasteful because most companies have developed nasty politics. But as you move from company to company in our flexible economy, politics remain and there are four common types of nasty politics as well as four common types of good politics. Though there are overlaps, the four most common forms of nasty politics are: the politics of blame where people spend time spinning their stories of events to blame other parties. (Think of US political parties.) Then there is the politics of betrayal where people keep their actions and thoughts hidden, seldom telling anyone anything directly except to attack someone who is already weakened. That keeps attention on the victim. (Think of people turning in others in police states.) There is the politics of micro-management, where under the guise of helping, people raise expectations around a person or project so high that the person or project fails. (Consider the things an easy cop says to get the perpetrator to trap himself.) Last, there is the politics of game playing where a practitioner claims lots of resources and attention (taken from others) for herself by making a big, false promise and then by cleverly lowering expectations. (Consider the way US political campaigns work.) While I have seen highly skilled practitioners of these forms of politics achieve extraordinary results beyond the reach of human skill, I do not recommend that you become a political practitioner of this sort.

      If you want to nurture your political skills, I suggest that you do so not only to succeed but also to transform the nature of politics of your unit. Transform the politics of blame into the politics of trust where people sagely talk about what others are good for and form alliances accordingly. Transform the politics of betrayal into that of celebration where wisely promoting achievements is the order of the day. Change micro-management into go-for-it management where people make deals for loyalty. (“If you will work hard with me on this venture, I’ll help you manage that other challenge you face.”) Turn game playing into the politics of inventiveness where people compete in making bold, seductive promises but accumulate the resources to fulfill the promises rather than deny others success.

      If you are interested, I suggest that you start by developing the skill of reading the way politics work in your office. It is a matter of reading the way the practices work. Then look for places where the practices are weak and for moments when you can try a tactic from good politics.

      I hope that you, Jermaine, and other advocates of ATS will find one other insight interesting. I have found that each form of politics depends on a particular pervasive, mostly hidden mood. Blame politics feeds off a mood of resentment. The politics of betrayal thrives within a mood of fear. Micro-management comes to life most powerfully in the mood of resignation. And a mood of arrogance drives game playing. Likewise, the mood of hopefulness drives trust; magnanimous openness or wonder drives the politics of celebration; zeal drives go-for-it politics; and confidence drives the politics of inventiveness.

      As with other crafts and their moods, becoming highly skilled at the craft involves becoming highly attuned to the mood. That attunement enables achievements beyond simple human capacity and then the experience of the sacred. Work cannot become solely a matter of following recipes. It will always remain a place for skillfully building relationships of influence and in that experiences of the sacred for those who master politics or witness the mastery.

      We build meta-poeisis as we move from one political form to another as well as when we move Ishmael-like from work to home to neighborhood to hobby and so on.

      • dmf says:

        CS, I have worked for, and still do some organizational ethics consulting with nonprofits/public health, and run EAP services for various for-profits and govt agencies, and the larger economic forces at work really limit, and more often than not over time totally undermine the kinds of momentary positive impacts that you are raising up here. There are nation wide moods of loss and desperation/deprivation, reflective of all too real economic/political realities, at work that can’t be alleviated by individual wills/gestures. And with all due respect the kinds of upper-echelon work world that you are describing, and ignoring the darker sides of, has little to nothing to do with how most people live or really will ever have the means to live.
        So Sennett, following Dewey, is right that without serious and widespread political reform there will be no shelter from the dark undertows of our lives together.
        http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack

      • Charles Spinosa says:

        dmf,
        Thanks for your reply to my note. I apologize that I do not know how to work the blog technology in a way to get the reply go more directly to you.

        Let me start by saying that I applaud the work you do. I think your point about national despair is important, and I am writing to say something about that and to clarify some other points on which we might agree or disagree.

        Jermaine asked a critical question. He wanted to know what an individual office worker could do to experience the sacred by developing a skillful mastery at work where there is little appreciation for skillful mastery. Over the past 20 years, I have seen individuals help themselves along the lines that I described to Jermaine. You call these successes “momentary positive impacts.” I think I understand why you say that. It takes much more than such changes to change a company’s mood and culture. But let’s not depreciate the power of momentary positive impacts on individual lives. I think you might agree.

        You also characterize my work as upper echelon work, and I do some of that. But my work and my company’s work focuses as much or more on call center staffs, back-office support staffs, retail clerks, office staffs, and, a few years ago, maintenance workers who clean up subway cars at night. Developing the skill for managing politics helps people at all of these levels to nurture a craft at work.

        Your focus seems to be in public health, non-profits, and government agencies, though you mention for-profits as well. In my work in public health and government agencies, I have run into strong moods of resignation bordering on despair. I am ready to follow your advice and start interpreting actions in these not-for-profit institutions as welling from despair. It is hard because I have tended to think of despair driving people to violence, to addictions, and to closing themselves off from comfortable, familiar actions.

        I think, however, the core point of your note to me is that you see us in a nationwide mood of despair, not despair primarily in not-for-profits. That is where we disagree. As I said in my original note, I see despair in our diffidence and in our nihilism. But I do not see us as having been overcome by it yet.

        I do agree with you that transforming our nation, culture, or the cultures of the organizations we work with usually requires more than individual actions. It requires something like what Heidegger called a new case of truth establishing itself. Bert Dreyfus suggests we think about such cases of truth establishing itself as new cultural paradigms. The political reform you mention could count as one such paradigm shift. My teams and I work to help organizations develop new cultural paradigms differently from political restructuring. I think of us as fairly grassroots. We start with changing the mood in which front-end people treat the organization’s customers. We need many, many momentary positive impacts to get the initial change going. We ultimately build on those impacts to establish a new shared and celebrated paradigm.

        Thanks very much for your thoughtful and spirited note.

      • Charles Spinosa says:

        dmf,
        In my hurry to answer your last post, I made an error in the note I last posted. You will see the sentence: “It is hard because I have tended to think of despair driving people to violence, to addictions, and to closing themselves off from comfortable, familiar actions.” It should read: It is hard because I have tended to think of despair driving people to violence, to addictions, and to closing themselves off from all but comfortable, familiar actions.” Apologies.

      • Jermaine says:

        Thank you Charles for that delightfully articulated reply. I am heartened and encouraged by your words, and even provoked by the boldness of your outlining what I take to be a “phenomenology of the political.” It strikes me that this is a domain of exploration, in your brief response, which opens up a host of possibilities that I had not the resources to even begin to think through coherently.

        I think what you have described in the above goes beyond the politics of interpretive speaking by focusing directly on the world of work that I had initially raised. And its Dreydeggerian emphasis on skillfully coping and identifying moods within the sphere of influence one always already has among colleagues and co-workers further supports the project laid out in ATS. Indeed politics is necessary. More specifically, the skill of politics is necessary. One must work through the world as given and its darknesses to elicit unconcealment.

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  5. dmf says:

    CS, I appreciate your generous response, all I can do is bear witness to my experiences and those that others have shared with me and things are getting really desperate out there for many, perhaps now or all too soon most, people in the US, and as you have noted desperate people do desperate things as I think the political polls, economic indicators, and the public health stats reflect. We need a new social contract that reflects the new interconnected and increasingly plutocratic realities of our times.

  6. terenceblake says:

    dmf maybe Badiou is illuminating here:
    nihilism is not generated by technological enframing but by capitalism

    http://books.google.com/books?id=uxg56NekBWQC&lpg=PP1&hl=fr&pg=PA56#v=onepage&q=nihilism&f=false

    • dmf says:

      I have a hard time reading Badiou without arguing with him all of the time but his larger gestures/themes, like the one that you summarize for us here, are largely in keeping with my own thinking. There is likely something dehumanizing, certainly uncanny, in human-being but certainly the dominant vehicles in our times of outright nihilism are strains of capitalism. Badiou, like D&G, is certainly right that to put the onus on individuals to somehow overcome such titanic/enveloping forces/intensities is to see moods/affect as detached from environment.
      Now to organize collective resistances and viable alternatives will require political phronesis and attuned/responsive creativities of the kinds raised in ATS,and other sources as you have mentioned, but we are not hunting whales here, we are in the belly of the leviathan.

    • david leech says:

      I think technological enframing and capitalism are two sides of the same coin, pun intended. Relating this to ATS, I think it is no mistake (on a Heideggerian reading) that its a gold doubloon that is the crews’ focal point with the global whaling industry (perhaps among the first global industries) the background of Melville’s tale.

      The doubloon represents the metaphysical commitments of the market as diagnosed by Radin (“Contested Commodities”):

      • Objectification — ascription of status as a thing in the Kantian sense of something that is manipulable at the will of a person.
      • Fungibility — things are fully interchangeable with no effect on value to the holder.
      •Commensurability — the value of things can be arrayed as a function of one continuous variable, or can be linearly ranked.
      •Money equivalence — the continuous variable in terms of which things can be ranked is dollar value.

      Going back to the grand daddy of the economic worldview (with its underlying metaphysical commitments), A. Smith lashes the market and technology together in his famous observation: the division of labor is determined by the extent of the market. (“Division of labor” is economic code for “process technology.”)

      My thesis (which I am ever-so-slow in working out, but its coming): THE MARKET IS A WORK OF ART! The market, “fits together and at the same time gathers around itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the shape of destiny for human being. The all-governing expanse of this open relational context is the world of this historical people.” (Origin of a the Work of Art, PLT, p. 42)

      Charles Taylor is develop this in The Secular Age when he makes the case that Adam Smith’s central vision represents a fulcrum for the shift from the age of belief to the age of unbelief. (“The Economy as Objectified Reality, ” pp.176-185): “Conceiving of the economy as a system is an achievement of eighteenth-century theory, with the Physiocrats and Adam Smith; but coming to see the most important purpose and agenda of society as economic collaboration and exchange is a drift in our social imaginary which begins in that period and continues to this day. From that point on, organized society is no longer equivalent to the polity; other dimensions of social existence are seen as having their own forms and integrity. The very shift in this period of the meaning of the term ‘civil society’ reflects this.” (p. 181)

      If you have any doubt, just watch people quiver and quake on the Antique Road Show, when, after the participant describes the role of the thing (in the “thing thinging” sense of the term) in their family history for time out of mind, the auctioneer conjures the market price, there is swooning and tears of joy, wonder, gratitude, and often mercantile delight! It’s astonishing to me, real eye-opener! As Bert says, “Its like water to the fish.”

      So why not “capitalism”? Too ontic. Whether is capitalism, socialism, or, the “popular” (among economists in the 1950s-60s) “market socialism,” they are all variations on a theme. It strikes me that Heidegger might say the attempt to pit one against another is to be technological.

      I figure that never Heidegger never came out and said it because he knew that it would be mis-interpreted as anti-capitalistic and his observations try to keep the focus on the ontologicial. But he makes the essential point often enough in the relatively little (certainly compared to many bloggers here) that I have examined. In “What Are Poets For?,” for example: “The objectiveness of technical domination over the earth is pushing increasingly faster, more recklessly, and more totally into the place where the worldly content of things used to give of itself freely since it used to be safeguarded. The mastery not only sets up all beings as producibles in the process of production, but it also delivers the products of production through the market. What is human about humans and thingly about things is dissolved, within the self-assertion of producing, to the calculation of the market value of a market that is not only a global market spanning the earth but that also, as the will to will, markets in the essence of being and so brings all beings into the business of calculation, which dominates most fiercely precisely where numbers are not needed.” (Julian Young Translation, OBT, 2002, p. 219)

      In “Sojournes,” too, I hear Heidegger making the essential point: “One would evade the issue [of the alien power of tourism over what is ancient — of a different age] … were we not willing to pay attention to the tourist [market] activity.” (pp. 55-56)

      I am always on the look out for more, so if you have it, please point me to it.

      While I haven’t had the time yet (consider this a down payment), I want to circle back around to the CS-Jermaine exchange above and make the point, and develop the implications, that in Spinosa’s “Disclosing,” on my view, the entrepreneur is a preserver of the market work of art, not a discloser of new worlds. That said, as an phenomenological exemplar for getting a grip what a new understanding of being would be like, I think the existential entrepreneurial vision (as developed in Schumpeter for example), is as valuable as like Bert Dreyfus’ use of Kuhn and Heidegger’s use of the Christian parousia.

      • david leech says:

        Thanks, Chapter 6 of what?

      • david leech says:

        At the end of the piece, Bert says, “those who … think of local communities as local enclaves, in an otherwise impersonal society, still owe us an account of what holds these local communities together.” On my “market is a work of art” account, it’s the connectedness of the sub-nodes of the larger market institutions, and just like Bert (elsewhere, “Highway Bridges”) sees himself getting in a free relation to the technology of his fast convertible, so too these communities can — and at times do, say, the 4th of July community picnic — find marginal practices that are sources of resistance, or glimpses of what an alternative understanding of being would be (built on top of the material prosperity implicit in the market/technicty understanding of being, an economist might argue).

        Here is the tricky part. You can see how absolutely pervasive are the metaphysical commitments of the market work of art. It seems to me that that is how it should be. The ancient Greeks didn’t KNOW they were in the presence of one of any number of works of art to come. The medieval scholastics didn’t imagine that the markets tolerated in the bergs would come to dominate, disintegrate, and re-integrate the fabric of everyday agrarian life. As “students” of Heidegger, we are prepared to glimpse the next understanding of being, even work toward it, cultivate it, if we can grasp it (and it turns out we were right). As Bert points out in his lectures on “The Turning,” Heidegger’s “students” are the “we” who have the opportunity to “get it.” But it’s hard to see, “like water to the fish.” Pause there for a second: water to a fish! That’s profoundly hard to get a purchase on (pardon the market metaphor).

        Occasionally, the pro- and anti-poietic “essence” (how it works) are glaringly apparent. Two quick examples: On the pro-side, my participation in the market, as a relatively successful knowledge worker, allows me to do much of my work on a beautiful farm, that I imagine, from time to time, provides me a perspective on earth-sky-divinities-mortals not unlike the Tautenburg . On the anti-side, I have watched with sadness as the spirit is let out of a craftsman (like air from a punctured tire), as her finely crafted item, made with years of practice, and the affection of her craft community, is compared, on a price basis, to apparently “similar” item produces in a sweatshop half way round the world. (Alternatively, using my favorite source, think of the “lows” experienced by Antiques Road Show participants (the viewers included), when the family heirloom doesn’t fetch a higher price!)

        But in addition to being hard to see, it seems that we must see it, grasp it, if we are to allow ourselves “poet like” to grasp the thunderbolt of a new understanding of being. Whatever that is, it can’t be anti-market (and the other side of the coin, anti-technological), certainly not in, say, the early Marx sense of doing away with the market. That would be nostalgic. We have to imagine, or be open to, what I think of as a post-consumptive understanding of being and I am guessing that it can only happen in advanced “capitalist” countries that have “solved” — in some sense, or at least for some historically large segment of society — the problem of material deprivation. When our lives are too full of stuff, so that we don’t know what to do with it all, and can see it’s not necessary, even, at some level, that it is an encumbrance, what does that way of life look like, feel like; how is it experienced and reinforced at a societal level? Along with lots of other economic, entrepreneurial, political, and social activities, I am watching and waiting.

  7. dmf says:

    argumentative theory of reasoning
    http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/37298

    • david leech says:

      dmf: You know, I have been thinking of circling back to MacIntyre for about a year, largely because the person who comes closest to my perspective — Deirdre McCloskkey (Bourgeois Virtues), though I think she’s Husserlian — has recently reinterpreted the ethic of capitalism in a Thomistic framework. Prophetically, she calls economists back to their roots (confused roots on my account), whereas I would argue that a technological understanding of being — humans as resources, exemplified by Gary Becker (the family of a production unit) — is the telos of the market, not an unvirtuous error. This may be just the short clip I needed for the push. Thanks.

      • dmf says:

        sure, if you follow the clip back to youtube the whole lecture is there (for my money the last section is the best).
        for me the useful parts of macintyre/aristotle (habits,practices, dialogics, and rhetoric) get their best update in Dewey who gives them a democractic, and post-Darwinian/anthropological spin. The problem of course is how to organize ourselves, and in keeping with my line of thought in this thread, how do we filter/ameliorate the effects/powers of the wider-systems/environs which are so powerful/pervasive/titanic?
        http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=14766

  8. dmf says:

    living in the kingdom of memory?

  9. david leech says:

    dmf: I take it that your reference to this Steiner clip is meant to underline Heidegger’s focus on technology when he might have said, “the market.” At 6:20, Steiner says, “Only a great artist can say everything without saying anything,”

    Bringing this back to ATS, part of the contribution is to entice people to pay attention to what have become the “foreign lands” of the great works of the western world. For that alone, ATS is valuable.

    • dmf says:

      this was part of a broader reply to the ATS focus on the classics/canon, and wondering how heideggerian Authenicity fits in here, and is or isn’t different in this context from the kantian Sublime.

      • Charles Spinosa says:

        dmf,
        I am trying to understand your last remark. Would you mind saying in a little more detail what you are saying about ATS’s focus on classics? What is Steiner bringing out? Also, could you say more about your question about authenticity and the Kantian sublime?

        Here are a few of the assumptions I bring when I read your remarks. I interpret Bert and Sean as focusing on these works and figures in ATS for two reasons: (1) These works and figures were shining cultural paradigms (cases of truth establishing itself) and (2) there are still enough marginal practices left over from when the works shined for them to resonate or gather for us today. Melville’s _Moby Dick_ shines the way a thing thinging shines; it gathers non-dominant background practices. Wallace shines in the muted way technological moments shine where the deities feel more like moments of good fortune (as described in “Highway Bridges and Feasts”).

  10. dmf says:

    perhaps the hyperrealist love of things themselves, the passions of/for life, has some productive resonances with the idea of all things shining: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=9750

  11. dmf says:

    dl, some more on aristotle’s poetics:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xw210

  12. dmf says:

    CS, I apologize if that was a bit cryptic, I have fallen into repeating myself here so I thought I would try a bit of amplification vs explication, I would agree that ATS (like Steiner) posits that “These works and figures were shining cultural paradigms (cases of truth establishing itself)” and for me this confuses a history of ideas with the histories of peoples, I do not think that Truth establishes/reveals itself for a variety of Derridean/poststructuralist and related sociological reasons which we could rehearse again but given our differing starting points/prejudices I don’t see that this will get us very far. In this particular thread I have been trying to point out that individual (I reject collective anything as I don’t see what binds such supposed wholes/reifications) experiences of beauty/consolation will not hold up against the consuming gods/titans of our day, if folks don’t like my examples of strictly economic forces think of hyperobjects like global warming.
    For me the point/treasure is not the content ( I don’t hold with ideas of the eternal and so see our task as constructive and not archeological/conservative, prototypes not archetypes) but the effect/sense, the human response-ability, to be attuned to our capacities beyond calculative reasoning, something akin to what Jack Caputo is getting at when he says:
    “the point is to show that the theism/atheism debate is futile. It doesn’t touch bottom. It’s a disputatious exchange of positions that don’t get at what I think is the most important thing, which has to do with our elemental structure of human existence, which twists free from those sorts of beliefs. Atheism, theism are belief systems, and I think that they’re contingent and I think they’re accidents of birth, or of education or surrounding influences. It doesn’t touch bottom. I think that there’s something that cuts beneath them, which is more important.”
    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=9750
    Along these lines I raise folks like Aristotle, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, etc because they were also interested in how to create experiences that would ‘click’ how aspects dawn and existential re-orientations/conversions/attunements are made possible. I think that this is mostly what philosophy/therapy can/should add to liberal democratic processes.

  13. dmf says:

    dl, if you google sennet on bbc you will find some good interviews like:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b010mrzc/Thinking_Allowed_Craft_and_Community/
    cs, sadly my reply to your question has been grabbed up by the hidden god of the wordpress, so i have sent you a copy via look@vision with your name in the subject

    • Charles Spinosa says:

      Due to a technological glitch, dmf’s answer to my question comes first and then my response.

      CS,
      I apologize if that was a bit cryptic, I have fallen into repeating myself here so I thought I would try a bit of amplification vs explication, I would agree that ATS (like Steiner) posits that “These works and figures were shining cultural paradigms (cases of truth establishing itself)” and for me this confuses a history of ideas with the histories of peoples, I do not think that Truth establishes/reveals itself for a variety of Derridean/poststructuralist and related sociological reasons which we could rehearse again but given our differing starting points/prejudices I don’t see that this will get us very far. In this particular thread I have been trying to point out that individual (I reject collective anything as I don’t see what binds such supposed wholes/reifications) experiences of beauty/consolation will not hold up against the consuming gods/titans of our day, if folks don’t like my examples of strictly economic forces think of hyperobjects like global warming.

      For me the point/treasure is not the content ( I don’t hold with ideas of the eternal and so see our task as constructive and not archeological/conservative, prototypes not archetypes) but the effect/sense, the human response-ability, to be attuned to our capacities beyond calculative reasoning, something akin to what Jack Caputo is getting at when he says:

      “the point is to show that the theism/atheism debate is futile. It doesn’t touch bottom. It’s a disputatious exchange of positions that don’t get at what I think is the most important thing, which has to do with our elemental structure of human existence, which twists free from those sorts of beliefs. Atheism, theism are belief systems, and I think that they’re contingent and I think they’re accidents of birth, or of education or surrounding influences. It doesn’t touch bottom. I think that there’s something that cuts beneath them, which is more important.” http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=9750

      Along these lines I raise folks like Aristotle, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, etc because they were also interested in how to create experiences that would ‘click’ how aspects dawn and existential re-orientations/conversions/attunements are made possible. I think that this is mostly what philosophy/therapy can/should add to liberal democratic processes.

      dmf,
      Sean kindly passed on your note. I’m very glad to see that I’m not the only one challenged by blogging technology. I also thank you for your amplification. I have a finer appreciation of your project. I will try to describe it in my own words and then add a small comment. As I take it, you are reading ATS with a Derridean orientation, though you are clearly not a Derridean. You are looking to understand both the conditions of the possibility of and the means to create “existential re-orientations,” which for simplicity’s sake I’ll call large and small cultural paradigm shifts. As someone possessed with a Derridean orientation, you think that Heidegger (and I) put too much stock in gathering, earth, tradition, and preservation. You refer to it as “archeological/conservative.” The critical point of the shifts for you is the new opening. (You are right that we could go back and forth on this point endlessly.)

      I say that you are not a Derridean because you reject collectivities of any sort and reject the phenomenon of truth establishing itself. I’d have thought that a Derridean, and least a Derridean by the letter, would look at Heidegger’s cases of truth establishing itself and see them as various centrisms establishing themselves: phono-, logo-, or phallo-centrism are a few. Whenever I read Derrida, these centrisms—and metaphysics also—seems collective to me. It’s the way making things intelligible works; that is the binding power, and other forms of social power accrue to it. I don’t see how these centrisms or metaphysical practices could be reduced to the sum of the individual thoughts, attitudes, desires, and actions. In short, I see that your Derridean orientation goes only so far, but I don’t know where it ends.

      I do think that with your help I now see where your concern with “the consuming gods/titans of our day” including today’s consumerist economic forces comes from. If you look with anything like a Derridean lens, consumerism looks like a continuation of metaphysics and as such is so tied to our way of making things intelligible that it might well be ineliminable short of a radical break. If your project takes you that far, I can understand your sense of the necessity of new political and productive social structures. (I realize that I’m guessing here. As I said, I don’t know how far your Derridean orientation goes.) Without a widespread, radical shift in politics and productivity, poeisis and other practices that create paradigm shifts would be condemned to ever increasing marginality.

      If I am even partially right in my guesses, then I recommend you do something that I am doing these days as well. I am working through a particularly Ishmaelite element of ATS. At one of the most important points in the ATS reading of _Moby Dick_, Ishmael says, “I have perceived that in all cases man must eventually lower, or at least shift, his conceit of attainable felicity.” When you do that, Melville, Bert, and Sean suggest you find the saving power of existential reorientations welling up all around you, welling up here when it is defeated there. I had never heard them talk about this felicity lowering practice with as much confidence as they do in ATS. If you stop worrying about the metaphysical, socio-economic, nihilistic whole, do you find such experiences welling up all over? It is a genuine question. I am still testing the view and working through its implications for my own thinking.

    • Charles Spinosa says:

      Due to a technological glitch, I cannot publish dmf’s answer to my question. I restate in my own vocabulary and then make a comment.
      dmf,
      Sean kindly passed on your note. I’m very glad to see that I’m not the only one challenged by blogging technology. I also thank you for your amplification. I have a finer appreciation of your project. I will try to describe it in my own words and then add a small comment. As I take it, you are reading ATS with a Derridean orientation, though you are clearly not a Derridean. You are looking to understand both the conditions of the possibility of and the means to create “existential re-orientations,” which for simplicity’s sake I’ll call large and small cultural paradigm shifts. As someone possessed with a Derridean orientation, you think that Heidegger (and I) put too much stock in gathering, earth, tradition, and preservation. You refer to it as “archeological/conservative.” The critical point of the shifts for you is the new opening. (You are right that we could go back and forth on this point endlessly.)

      I say that you are not a Derridean because you reject collectivities of any sort and reject the phenomenon of truth establishing itself. I’d have thought that a Derridean, and least a Derridean by the letter, would look at Heidegger’s cases of truth establishing itself and see them as various centrisms establishing themselves: phono-, logo-, or phallo-centrism are a few. Whenever I read Derrida, these centrisms—and metaphysics also—seems collective to me. It’s the way making things intelligible works; that is the binding power, and other forms of social power accrue to it. I don’t see how these centrisms or metaphysical practices could be reduced to the sum of the individual thoughts, attitudes, desires, and actions. In short, I see that your Derridean orientation goes only so far, but I don’t know where it ends.

      I do think that with your help I now see where your concern with “the consuming gods/titans of our day” including today’s consumerist economic forces comes from. If you look with anything like a Derridean lens, consumerism looks like a continuation of metaphysics and as such is so tied to our way of making things intelligible that it might well be ineliminable short of a radical break. If your project takes you that far, I can understand your sense of the necessity of new political and productive social structures. (I realize that I’m guessing here. As I said, I don’t know how far your Derridean orientation goes.) Without a widespread, radical shift in politics and productivity, poeisis and other practices that create paradigm shifts would be condemned to ever increasing marginality.

      If I am even partially right in my guesses, then I recommend you do something that I am doing these days as well. I am working through a particularly Ishmaelite element of ATS. At one of the most important points in the ATS reading of _Moby Dick_, Ishmael says, “I have perceived that in all cases man must eventually lower, or at least shift, his conceit of attainable felicity.” When you do that, Melville, Bert, and Sean suggest you find the saving power of existential reorientations welling up all around you, welling up here when it is defeated there. I had never heard them talk about this felicity lowering practice with as much confidence as they do in ATS. If you stop worrying about the metaphysical, socio-economic, nihilistic whole, do you find such experiences welling up all over? It is a genuine question. I am still testing the view and working through its implications for my own thinking.

      • dmf says:

        cs, thanks for your generous reply (and for unpacking my dense commenting style) I embrace most of Derrida’s critique of Presence as a continuation of the death of God and a broadening of the death of the Author (see Stephen Turner’s Social Theory of Practices), but reject his continuing faith in quasi-transcendental Concepts (http://www.torilmoi.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Moi_They-Practice-Their-Trades.pdf) and roughly follow my old prof. Don Ihde (and of course Rorty, and would welcome any response to his Not All that Strange that you might have to offer, you have my email if you don’t want to get into that in this kind of forum) into a kind of pragmatist post-phenomenology. I have gained a lot from Bert and Sean’s revival of M-Ponty but feel that Rabinow took the proper turn after, and with, Foucault, while Bert is largely stuck in time.
        In my own life, my private practice as an existential-phenomenological analyst and my work with(in) various agencies/corps I attend to/cultivate the very kinds of experiences/aspect-seeing that I believe that you are raising, thus my enthusiasm for ATS, but at the risk of being a broken record these kinds of enrichments/enhanced-
        response-abilties, do not shelter one from broader factors which set the tone for moods
        and vastly limit/undercut agency and with it hope.

  14. dmf says:

    scroll down to hear sara miles (author of take this bread & jesus freak) on her conversion experience with the eucharist:
    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/2007/mar/06/

  15. dmf says:

    extend your mind:

    • david leech says:

      attunements redux

      • dmf says:

        sometimes we need the obviously art-ifiical to remind us of our background ways/adaptations. technology emerges out of our always-already critterly-being, no escaping anthropos just cultivation/sublimation. I think this is perhaps the crux of my disagreement with ATS and CS’s defense of it, is that it goes beyond raising awareness of moods and other attunements to positing “extra-human authority” (and not in the Actor-Network-Theory sense of giving objects agency) and for me this continues the unfortunate carry over of folk-psychology/theology into sociology. Just because we experience things that feel like they don’t come from our conscious minds doesn’t mean that they don’t emerge from our human-all-too-human extended non-conscious minds.
        The author of this quote is talking ontology but I would read it developmentally:
        “aesthetics precedes cognition — we affect and are affected by other things aesthetically before we cognize those other things, and even (or especially) when we cannot cognize them adequately. We cannot *know* things in themselves, or things apart from their correlation with us; but we can, as Harman rightly suggests, allude to them, i.e. refer to them metaphorically or indirectly. And we can, as well, be aesthetically *moved* by them”
        http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=991

  16. dmf says:

    jack caputo talks fundamentals with commonsenseatheist:
    “the point is to show that the theism/atheism debate is futile. It doesn’t touch bottom. It’s a disputatious exchange of positions that don’t get at what I think is the most important thing, which has to do with our elemental structure of human existence, which twists free from those sorts of beliefs. Atheism, theism are belief systems, and I think that they’re contingent and I think they’re accidents of birth, or of education or surrounding influences. It doesn’t touch bottom. I think that there’s something that cuts beneath them, which is more important.”
    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=9750

  17. Charles Spinosa says:

    dmf,
    As I think you acknowledge people experience things that have extra-human authority. They do not “posit” the extra-human authority to explain a mysterious experience. The extra-human authority just is part of the experience.

    As far as the ontology goes, I believe that ATS has steered pretty much clear of an ontology of the sacred or even of intense meaning. I believe, however, that the sacred, the divine, and so forth need no more than the ontology of Heidegger’s things thinging, cases of truth establishing itself, and Ereignis, all of which, in one way or another, gather humans into certain ways of living.

    As for authority beyond the human is concerned, I follow–and I believe Bert and Sean follow–Charles Taylor who claims that the minimally religious perspective requires the acknowledgement of a good beyond human goods or human happiness generally. Rorty famously wrote about pragmatism as Romantic polytheism and claimed that he could have his gods and nevertheless have human happiness as the highest good. He acknowledges, however, that his gods are ideals. It strikes me that he is writing about something he jokingly mentioned to Bert and me in the 1990s: poly-atheism.

    • dmf says:

      When a melody comes to a songwriter, or someone has an experience of synchronicity they may feel as if this is a gift from Beyond or an alignment of reality to bring them a message, but I see no need for us to except such explanations as having any claim beyond the psychological, don’t need to follow say CG Jung into proto-newage speculations about the psychoid or the transcendent function.
      A Go(o)d beyond human goods/interests is a kind of minimal definition for theology, poor Dewey thought he could have the religious without it but he didn’t get many takers (not sure why he privileged Unity over the poly except that perhaps he thought this made for a smoother way of being in the world, or maybe was a hangover from his old habits) and James C.Edwards has given us a more updated go at religion in terms of the plain sense of things but even fewer people have read those books let alone adopt this way of being,
      I certainly read C.Taylor as a theologian, and perhaps ATS should be understood as such, would be interested in hearing from Sean if he is willing to identify this work as theological/speculative or if it is more of an anthropological account (with some imagined examples) plus some recommendations based on reported effects.

      • dmf says:

        ps, I’m sure that you are aware of this but there does seem to sometimes be some broader confusion about phenomenology and such experiences, if I’m working out a phenomenological account of a 1st person experience of say an optical illusion (or any cognitive bias) or a hallucination or mood my account has to be true to the experience/phenomena at hand, but in and of itself the account doesn’t lend any necessary truth to the content/claims of the experience.

      • Sean D. Kelly says:

        Thanks for this comment, dmf. I do find the issue interesting. I worry, though, that your stark contrast between the psychological facts and the ontological facts is itself missing the intermediate ground that phenomenology is attempting to till. I don’t know exactly what’s at stake in the description of the project as theological or not, so I’m not sure what to say about that. But there is a footnote in the Homer chapter of ATS that I think is responding to the issue you’re interested in. I don’t have my copy of ATS with me, but the footnote should be somewhere around the discussion of Pulp Fiction and its relation to Homer. Jules and Vincent are arguing about whether it is a gift from God that neither of them got shot. Vincent says that it was just luck, that that’s the way the universe works, and that there’s no meaning in it. Vincent is outraged at this response, and takes the event instead to have revelatory consequences. We claim that the issue should not be one of metaphysical fact – the metaphysical question whether there was an entity named God who causally influenced the event is both misleading and irrelevant. The question instead is whether we should aim to be the kind of people who immediately experience gratitude in the face of this kind of event, or whether we should aim to be the kind of people who aim to reject it. “Should” isn’t quite the right word here, though, and I had a very difficult time writing the footnote. That’s because there’s no moral ought at stake and no moral principle on the basis of which to make the decision. But the idea is that one of those aims is self-sustaining and opens us up to the meanings of the world while the other closes us off and eventually ends in a self-conception that covers up Dasein’s receptivity and therefore eventually transforms Dasein into non-Dasein. That’s the level at which I think the discussion should occur. I suspect that that is a phenomenological issue rather than either a theological or an anthropological one, but I’m less interested in what name one attaches to it than in the discussion itself.

        I take this to be at least a somewhat provocative characterization of the situation, so I’d love to see what happens if this discussions starts to focus on the relevant footnote. Can anyone find it?

  18. terenceblake says:

    I cannot understand why Spinosa is so eager to talk about the “religious perspective” in relation to ATS. ATS is an atheistic book because it begins with the death of God and goes on from there. All mention of “gods”, “sacred”, “religious” are meant in a Pickwickean sense, apparently to avoid offending the many ontotheological believers who still exist or to make the transition to a post-ontotheological perspective easier.
    I agree with dmf that the extended mind gives us all the “extra-human authority” that we need to explain how “we” can produce values that nevertheless have authority over “us”. There is a potential ambiguity in the notion of identity here, but it is clear that the ego is not master in its own (extended) house.
    Spinosa seems to like the word “authority a lot. This word occurs only five times in ATS:
    1) p92 in a quote where the Furies say “we have authority”
    2) p233 where D&K say that Telemachus “needs experience to be able to … command authority”
    3) p102 “artworks … are a non-human authority that gives meaning and purpose”. This sense is compatible with the extended mind thesis. Note that “authority” here is not linked with the idea of “having authority” over us, but with an active function of giving meaning and purpose.
    4) p133 D&K discussing the INFERNO, state that “when all meaning originates with us nothing has authority over us or the power to move us”, this is further developed in the next quote
    5) p142 where it is affirmed that “freely made up … meanings can also be freely taken back”, so “they have no authority over the maker”. But even with Nietzsche the “maker” is not the autonomous ego, which for him is a grammatical fiction. The extended mind is the maker, and it does have “authority” (if you insist on that word) over us.
    So the theological strand is present in ATS, but I would argue only “under erasure” as post-ontotheological Rortean metaphors. The humanist strand is overwhelmingly preponderant, but ambiguities remain due to an incertitude over the nature of the “we”. This is one of the things that dmf is trying to open to discussion, as I understand him.

    PS: I will be posting a copy of this comment on my blog. I have lost one text already, and two others were stuck in the limbo of “awaiting moderation”. No disrespect is intended.

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  20. terenceblake says:

    Sean I don’t think dmf is stuck in a stark contrast between ontological and psychological facts. Rather he is trying to protect the phenomenology from possible theological co-optation. What is at stake is the smuggling into the phenomenological perspective and descriptions of ontological assumptions that many of us reject: theistic or “believerly” language that has more than phenomenological import.
    I was always shocked by your analysis of the Pulp Fiction event (p68-72). You come down in favour of Jules’ reaction, despite its being factually false. (He speaks of “divine intervention” and specifies: “God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets”). The important issue for you is not factual but phenomenological. You say: “gratitude is the more fitting response”. I think you should have said “non-theistic gratitude is the more fitting response”. Otherwise, you seem to be committed to saying that a creationist is right despite his false beliefs about evolution (and his reactionary politics!), as long as he feels gratitude at the miracle of human life.

    • dmf says:

      I would only add to this that while I would welcome a focus on the particular example (and wish the book was a kind of monograph on such events but try not to review books in terms of what I wish they had been) I wouldn’t want to do so without taking into account the broader context of the book’s (and Ch.Taylor’s) historiography which I reject as being properly phenomenological, the insistence on historicity in rejecting ‘pure’ experience was a vital advance but the content of Heidegger’s take on History writ large is deeply theological, and to my mind a world better left behind.

      • terenceblake says:

        dmf an interesting confirmation of your rejection of the historicist format of ATS is given by Charles Spinosa’s use of the various understandings of being as a synchronic typology and not just a diachronic succession. His diagnosis of Wills and Mikics is that they “speak out of pre-Enlightenment forms of inner deliberation”. This implicitly transforms the chronology of incommensurable understandings of being into a typology of modes of subjectivation.

      • Thanks to Terence and dmf. There are a lot of issues here, and it would take a long conversation to get clear on all of them. But let me just try to make one clarification and to ask for one.
        First, with respect to Terence’s discussion of the Pulp Fiction passages: Naturally, insofar as Jules’s reaction to the events is actually false, it’s not that aspect of his reaction that I am endorsing. What’s not false, though, is that he is immediately overtaken by an immense gratitude at the bullets having missed him. You could attempt to justify this gratitude (as Jules himself does) by saying that it is gratitude directed towards God as an effective agent for his having causally intervened in the event. I think this attempt at justification is bound to be a failure, not least because it undermines the immediacy of the gratitude, and in that sense undermines what is fitting about it. Really to recognize the phenomenon of gratitude in this context is to recognize that it is simply unjustifiable. Despite its being unjustifiable, however, I nevertheless think there is some sense in which it is “better” (scare quotes) to aim at being the kind of being who responds with gratitude than the kind who does not. For the metaphysical picture that sees the world’s meanings as originating entirely from us is, it seems to me, and ultimately unlivable. I’m not sure what your phrase “non-theistic gratitude” means, but it might be what we are aiming at when we talk about the experience of a “gift without a giver”.

        As for the request, I’d like to hear more about what dmf means when he says that Heidegger’s take on history is “deeply theological”. It is certainly not theological in the minimal sense you articulated above when you said that theology requires a “Go(o)d beyond human goods”. As I hear it, that is the standard characterization of the axial turn that the call for a return to polytheism is rejecting. So in what sense do you think Heidegger’s take on history is deeply (and objectionably) theological? Or better yet, how do you see the appropriation of that history in ATS as (objectionably) theological?

        Thanks for the input from both of you. I’m on vacation now, so have a little more time to write!

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  23. terenceblake says:

    Sean, I must admit that at first I was hostile to your idea of “gift without a giver”. My argument was that the phenomenon was not being experienced or not being described in a pure state, as the very notion of the event as “gift” and of the appropriate response as “gratitude” seemed suspect to me, contaminated by the theistic connotations of these two words in this context, as implying a “giver” of the event, whether one consciously intends the implication or not. I became reconciled to this vocabulary when I came upon the more explicit formulation “nontheistic gratitude” in the work of William Connolly: in “The Ethos of Pluralization” (cf. http://books.google.com/books?id=228-wACoc04C&lpg=PP1&hl=fr&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false) he talks about a third possibility outside the theistic and secular belief systems, which he calls “postsecularism”. In his explication, postsecularists comprise “numerous agents of resistance to the monotheisms and monosecularisms” who “define themselves—retrospectively, as it were—as carriers of nontheistic gratitude for the rich diversity of being.” (p190).
    What bothers me about your analysis of Jules’ reaction is that you separate cognitive (or at least ideational) aspects of his experience from some pure emotive core, and then proceed to endorse the emotive core of, in this case, “gratitude” while rejecting the cognitive component as just an “attempt at justification”. I don’t think a mood can exist as a pure emotive state; Rather it must include conceptual, linguistic, and practical elements.
    I still think you are being unfair to Vincent, as his remark (“this shit happens”) could be seen as an endorsement of physis as against Jules’ theos. I remind you that your contrast of Heidegger’s view on the succession of epochs with Hegel’s view is that for Heidegger there is no “why”. This sounds to me very like Heidegger is saying “this shit happens”.

    • Khan says:

      Or more like “this shit is happening.” Es gibt, it gives being, it is giving being right now. The computer before you, the desk on which it stands, the the floor and walls around this desk… all these entities are present in their presence. It is giving being: presence presencing.

  24. Charles Spinosa says:

    Terence,
    I appreciate your post and your strong reading of ATS. You read it as having quite a bit under erasure, and you justify that line of thought quite sensibly, in my view, by drawing on Sean’s notion of the gift without the giver. Like others, I am waiting for Sean to say more on how he makes sense of that. And I believe you have put the question before him well: If God evidently did not come down and save Jules and Vincent, then isn’t it a mistake to feel gratitude instead of feeling lucky? I think that Sean might contest what is evident. Also, literarily, we have Jules’s Elija-like quotation governing part of our sense of the scene, and we know that Vincent’s fate is closely tied to shit happening. But the more important thing than understanding the scene or movie for this blog would be to unpack the service the notion of a gift without a giver provides us and what service it does not provide us.

    In the meantime, I’d like to apologize for the confusion I caused you and perhaps others in the slide from “extra-human authority” to “authority beyond the human.” When I used the phrases, I meant them to indicate the same thing. I frankly do not see the different things they could designate (but would like to know).

    Still, you might well wonder, how could I be taking them to indicate the same thing? For me, Heidegger’s five kinds of truth establishing itself are my clearest cases of extra-human authority. For clarity’s sake, I’ll quote the passage from the “The Origin of the Work of Art” where he names them. I think it will be useful to this blog because it turns out that a work of art is only one of the five, and I think it makes it easier to think about Jesus and Descartes as cases of truth establishing itself other than works of art. Here’s Heidegger

    “One essential way in which truth establishes itself in the beings it has opened up is truth setting itself into work [the artwork]. Another way in which truth occurs is the act that founds a political state. Still another way in which truth comes to shine forth is the nearness of that which is not simply a being, but the being that is most of all. Still another way in which truth grounds itself is the essential sacrifice. Still another way in which truth becomes is the thinker’s questioning, which, as the thinking of being names being in its question-worthiness.”

    I take it that all these cases have, to use Heidegger’s terms, earth and world at strife and have a particular design to that strife (which I suppose will be an understanding of being or of the being of people, equipment, or something else). When truth establishes itself, it captivates and defines people in the roles and destinies that they can have, say, heroes or saints. I have written elsewhere about world and earth, but I want to point out here that the notion of earth ought to be broad enough to cover all the cases of truth establishing itself, including, I believe, the thinker’s words and earthy unthought. In any case, when I write about extra-human authority or authority beyond the human, I mean primarily the authority exerted by these cases.

    For the record, I do believe that there are numerous other cases where extra-human authority gets exerted. They range from Heidegger’s things thinging to tendencies in our shared norms and practices like that toward less civility (as captured, for instance, in Robert Putnam’s _Bowling Alone_) to Heidegger’s divinities (whose being I suspect is something _like_ that of culture figures working as culture figures, not as people). If I understood better what counted as the extended mind that dmf talks about, I might include that on the list. (It sounds to me a little like William James’s “wider self” from the end of _The Varieties of Religious Experience_.) In all of these cases, people come to see and act differently under the captivating influence of the truth that has established itself. That is the extra-human authority of which I speak.

    Another small clarification, I believe with Heidegger that practices from previous ways of being continue to exist in subsequent epochs. They are hard to make sense of. But some people can live at least partially within them, even though their lives have to contain some striking incoherence. These are the practices as well that enable certain things like ancient bridges to thing.

    • terenceblake says:

      Charles,
      I can only thank you for your kind and thoughtful response to my “strong reading” of ATS. As some of my remarks implied that you were yourself a “strong reader” of the book, I appreciate your irony in returning the compliment. However your comments are so rich that I cannot possibly respond to everything, so I must confine myself to a few main points, but I will continue to think about the rest.
      As to the expression “under erasure”, I use it as a shorthand device to indicate the difference between employing a word in an immanent usage (with no onto-theological signification or function) and employing that same word in a transcendent usage (in an attempt to speak outside language games). A device to a similar purpose could be that of the substitution of one word for another. For example, given the possible “transcendent” usage of the word “truth” I sometimes replace it with “ideology”, and it puts the passage you quote from Heidegger in a different light if we think of it as listing cases of ideology establishing itself (or in your text we could rewrite a sentence to get: “When ideology establishes itself, it captivates and defines people in the roles and destinies that they can have, say, heroes or saints”). Of course, the word “ideology” itself has possible transcendent connotations and I recommend its use only provisionally, as a thought experiment. Zizek defines ideology in terms of a gathering of practices, so I am not being particularly “strong” here.
      This engagement towards immanence, which I think Sean and Bert share, may have deformed my comprehension of your remarks, and if so I am sorry and will amend. For me “extra-human authority” is an ambiguous expression, but it is quite compatible with an immanent interpretation, although as I have indicated I am not comfortable with the personnological connotation of “authority” – there remains a whiff of God’s commanding in this word. As you must have noticed, I made no suggestion as to a more acceptable word to replace it. Deleuze, in a similar context, talks of an impersonal “power”, but this is almost as unsatisfactory. Of course, the problem here is at least in part an artefact of the translation into English. Deleuze has devoted many pages to the reworking and creative explicating of the notion of power as “puissance” (power as capacity), and to distinguishing it from that of “pouvoir” (power as constraint exercised over another). I am not aware that Sean or Bert or youself have done a similar job on “authority” (and its use as integral to the ATS project calls out for explication), but if you have I will gladly read and meditate whatever references you can suggest. On the other hand, the expression “authority beyond the human” seems more fraught because “beyond” has not just a spatial connotation (including of course conceptual space) but also a qualitative one, so stuck next to the already dubious “authority” it reactivated my suspicions of onto-theological slippage.
      The comparison with Deleuze is interesting as I often think of Deleuze and Parnet’s DIALOGUES II (http://books.google.com/books?id=hv4OTGdr_AUC&lpg=PP1&hl=fr&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false) in relation to ATS, and of Deleuze’s oft expressed desire to construct a pop-philosophy – which I think expresses part of D&K’s ambition for ATS (please forgive the abbreviation D&K, but I like the analogy with Deleuze and Guattari, often abridged to D&G). As your reply to me shows, pop-philosophy does not mean a demagogical anti-intellectual hostility to theory or concepts or erudition. Pop-philosophy has an immediate appeal to readers who find something useful for their lives (and thinking, as your fifth case of truth establishing itself recalls, is essential to the human form of life); but it must also have enough conceptual backbone to make it reaally a contribution to philosophy and not just opinionating or free-associating on a theme. Your indications of the conceptual underpinnings of ATS and of your own interventions are welcome reminders that neither you nor D&K are just spouting opinions off the top of your head, but articulating clearly and creatively a long path of philosophical investigations. I hope I have convinced you that I am to the best of my ability trying to be in the same case.
      (PS: It is now 1AM in Nice and I am tiring, but I was so grateful for your comments that I wanted to get the response it inspired written in something approximating a time-frame of dialogue).

      • Charles Spinosa says:

        Terence,
        Thanks for your thoughtful note and thanks for your explanation of how you use the term “under erasure” as well as all the comments about the way D&G among others guide your thinking.

        Just so you know, I would have taken “under erasure” in a simpler sense of indicating that whatever is under erasure is not to be understood as a being.

        It seems that I approach philosophical problems a little differently from you. To put it in your terms, I would describe myself as extending, deepening, or transforming language games in the name of phenomena. I do that by looking at various phenomena such as the sacred and experiences of the sacred and try to describe it as clearly as possible usually by drawing on multiple language games. Hence, I want to draw on rather traditional accounts of the experience of the sacred along with non-traditional accounts and my own. My goal is to describe find a paradigm experience and describe it well enough so that others can recall their own encounters with such experiences. The terms of the description then should take their meaning primarily from the experience rather than from the common meanings of the language game of origin. If such work succeeds, it extends a language game.

        I think that Heidegger tries to do much the same thing. Thus, when he speaks of truth establishing itself and gives as examples the contrary truths of the Medievals and the ancient Greeks, we are clearly not talking about a phenomenon of truth that transcends all perspectives or language games in any normal way. I’d bet that Heidegger would see his notion of truth as one that depends in large part on a post-metaphysical language game, but I’d say that the game is not so important as the directions for thinking opened by the phenomenon he points out. I believe that those directions are still extending and transforming our post metaphysical and other language games.

        For these reasons, I would not be happy substituting “ideology” for Heidegger’s truth. Heidegger is surely not talking about a system of ideas, and it seems to me a bit perverse to say that “ideology” means a gathering of practices. (I suspect that there is a huge argument underneath such usage.) Heidegger is talking about the way cases of truth establishing itself give us new ways of seeing ourselves, things, and the world and thus new ways of responding to ourselves, things, and the world. If I had to substitute something less transcendent sounding for truth, I’d substitute “ways of making people and things intelligible” for “truth.”

        I like your point about “authority” carrying with it the “whiff of God’s commanding” in it. That recommends the term to me. I don’t believe that we can make sense of something like the sacred or divine or any classic religious experience without precisely the “whiff” of a divinity acting. I am not arguing that we need more. But—I think like you—I want to get that whiff well described. I’m not sure that phrases like “a gift without a giver” are sufficient. That phrase needs unpacking in light of the phenomenon of the sacred and its authority. So far as you are calling for that unpacking, I could not be in more agreement. In all the descriptions of the sacred that make sense to me—say, for example, Borgmann’s family dinners and baseball games or Heidegger’s divinities when bridges are cases of things thinging or Sean’s craftsmanly (think coffee making) or athletic feats—the touch of the sacred comes with a particular mood and attitude like family love, community love, a perfect moment of ease at home, and so forth. How much that mood and attitude requires a personality of some sort needs to be investigated and thought through.

        Since you asked about antecedent thought, I tried many years ago to start this exploration in an essay “Heidegger on Living Gods” in _Heidegger, Coping, and Cognitive Science_. I am not wholly happy with the essay, but one of the things that guided my thinking about the power of divinities in that essay was the way charismatic culture figures cause new behaviors not as people but as charismatic culture figures. That still guilds my thinking about authority with the wiff you describe.

        Thanks for your fast and deeply thoughtful reply. I hope that you will have a chance to enjoy Nice. I’m leaving for an intense work week in the UK.

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  26. Charles Myro says:

    Hi Charles Myro here,

    So they are trying to repair the despair and diffidence they say besets us sociologically— and their thoughts are all interesting and provocative thoughts indeed.
    But for anyone who has experienced deeply what is the source of the world this is all irrelevant;
    For that experience needs no words or concepts. It begins at the point at which all concepts and notions are rendered silent, at the point where the mind falls quiet. Seen is that which is prior to thought and sense; that which is unchanged and untouched by the world and ever present, never ceasing. It comes to be seen eventually within and behind all thought and sense and so overcomes any presumption of a divided inner and outer; it overwhelms all belief in a separation between a self separate from the rest of existence. All notion of separation is then seen as fiction, false representation. Nor does it need any notion of relation to a self entity or world, nor any notion or idea that something is awesome and great.
    It does not proceed from nor depend upon any notion or sense. It is that which, if the world disappeared tomorrow with all thought and sense and feeling whatsoever—-
    ——–there it would remain as is, as was, as will be. Ever alive.
    But ultimately any and all notions are irrelevant to it. It is non-verbal–the same, words or no words.
    And really, it may be expressed much more simply than the above, thus: It is the immediate awareness of being, simple being. In this way it is the least mysterious, most obvious and most patent of things; it is found ultimately by dropping or seeing through all the conceptual coverings, including self, that keep the mind distracted from its patent presence.
    This , I maintain, is the source of all sacred feeling— being itself. This being may be glimpsed in odd moments of life but once being is fully seen, it colors the whole manifestation and thought of the person.
    I think it is these glimpses of being that are behind the “sacred” moments and instances Hubert refers to.
    It is not the amazing cross court shots of Federer—-it is that the occasion somehow opens a glimpse to that which is vast and wider in being than the narrow context of the circumstance, to that which –is– beyond all circumstance.
    —————————
    Post script:
    By the way, I took a course many years ago from Hubert on Existentialism. We explored the existential dimensions of the film— The Third Man. Enjoyable course, (especially since I got an A on the paper).
    If you ever read this Hubert, I greet you warmly and with thanks.

    • david leech says:

      This doesn’t sound right to me. It sounds ontotheological. See the next post, “Is ATS Theological?” Dreyfus teaches that being is that on the basis of which beings are understood. Whatever that is, its cultural. I don’t see how being can be an “it”, a oneness, a “simple being.” Sounds a lot like the Pseudo-Dionysian “hidden god.” I don’t get it.

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