Monday, 24 May 2010

Know which side of your ruin the ivy's on...



I always find it interesting when things that one thinker might spend a very large amount of time dealing with are just casually passed on the way to something else by others.

Here's one such example, a little flirtation with what we know and prefer as Benjamin's 'historical materialism':

The expression 'history' has various significations with which one has in view neither the science of history nor even history as an Object, but this very entity itself, not necessarily Objectified. Among such significations, that in which this entity is understood as something past, may well be the pre-eminent usage. This signification is evinced in the kind of talk in which we say that something or other "already belongs to history". Here 'past' means "no longer present-at-hand", or even "still present-at-hand indeed, but without having any 'effect' on the 'Present'." Of course, the historical as that which is past has also the opposite signification, when we say, "One cannot get away from history." Here, by "history", we have in view that which is past, but which nevertheless is still having effects. Howsoever the historical, as that which is past, is understood to be related to the 'Present' in the sense of what is actual 'now' and 'today', and to be related to it, either positively or privatively, in such a way as to have effects upon it. Thus 'the past' has a remarkable double meaning; the past belongs irretrievably to an earlier time; it belonged to the events of that time; and in spite of that, it can still be present-at-hand 'now'- for instance, the remains of a Greek temple. With the temple, a 'bit of the past' is still 'in the present'.

-Heidegger, Being and Time, p.430

Being and bloody Time has taken me sooooo bloody long to get through...

2 comments:

韋于倫成 said...

hello~nice artile..................................................

Mr_Hart said...

I fully agree on how difficult it is to read 'Being and Time' (Even in the German original it is just as awkward) But I don't believe that it is just his novel ideas that make it so challenging. Much rather, it's the fact that he - like so many other philosophers before and after him are in fact quite bad stylists. All these nominalisations are unneccessary, particularly for he then relies on verbs that aren't indicating any actions - like 'be'. Either way, your articles are all really interesting. I didn't know we shared so many interests.