It has been almost eight years since I last posted to this blog. To be honest I had nearly forgotten that it exists. Life has been, well, sort of busy in the interim. Even in my absence, however, there has been a steady stream of interest in the contents of the site. I’m kind of shocked to discover that. To be sure, people are no longer commenting on the posts (the last comment was over a year and a half ago). But there are still hundreds of views per month. That is a testament to the importance of the issues we were discussing here, and to the health and intelligence of the community involved in that discussion. Thank you!
I believe that today, more than ever, we need better opportunities for this kind of healthy, serious, respectful, and significant conversation. That is why I am considering trying to post things here again. But I need your help. If you are in favor of a rebirth of All Things Shining, please submit a comment to this post. I would love to hear what you liked about the blog as it used to exist, and how you think it could be better now. Let me say a word or two about what I’m thinking myself.
As with any rebirth, this one would involve a new identity. If there is to be a new blog, or at least a new version of the old blog, then the discussion on it will, I hope, be motivated by the book that I am writing now. It is not the same book as All Things Shining was, nor even the same kind of book, really. So the questions I would be posing are likely to be different from those I was invested in during the period of ATS. But the same issues are standing in the background motivating me to write this new book, and so there will no doubt be a kind of family resemblance.
The basic initial question that I am interested in – indeed, that I have probably always been interested in – is simple: What is it to be human now? That question seems to me both universal and at the same time historically situated. It is universal because, I believe, it is part of what it is to be human for the question to be significant and worthwhile to us. To be human is already to have a standing with respect to the question what it is to be human. But the question is historically situated as well. That’s because what counts as important and interesting in approaching this question is determined, in part, by where and when one exists in history. At our point in history, as the possibility for worthwhile conversation seems ever more distant, as our leaders continually fail to model and encourage this kind of interaction and as technology continues to isolate and distract us from it, the question what it is to be human takes on a peculiar significance.
That is why we must take up the question What is it to be human now? But in my current project, I want to approach that question from a very particular perspective. The book I am now writing is called, tentatively, The Proper Dignity of Human Being: Notes and Reflections from the Later Heidegger. It is due out by Harvard University Press in Fall 2021. The project is simultaneously an attempt to come to grips with the question What is it to be human now?, and at the same time to explain what Heidegger had to say about that and related questions in his later work. If this blog is to rise from the ashes, if it is to undergo rebirth, then these are the kinds of issues I hope we can discuss in it.
Please put a comment below if this sounds interesting to you.