terça-feira, 15 de setembro de 2015

The ‘presentist condition’ of history: ‘no floor to stand on’

Image and description from Chris Lorenz's essay "Unstuck in time. Or: the sudden presence of the past". In: TILMANS, Karin, VAN VREE, Frank & WINTER, Jay (Eds.). Performing the Past. Memory, History, and Identity in Modern Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010.

According to the "List of Illustrations": "Image widely circulating via the Internet as ‘bathroom painted floor’; neither the original nor its maker can be tracked down".

terça-feira, 11 de agosto de 2015

Charles Guignon on Heidegger’s conception of history

“What is most striking about Heidegger's vision of the "history of being" in the thirties is the soteriological and apocalyptic "metanarrative" that seems to underlie it. History is seen as a monolithic "happening" that, springing from primordial origins, passes through a "dark night of the soul" of forgetfulness, yet embodies the prospects for a redemption in the final recovery of its concealed origins. Just as "futurity" is basic to human temporality, so the future is definitive of history. As Heidegger says, "History as a happening is an acting and being acted upon which, passing through the present, is determined from out of the future and takes over the past" (1M 44, my emphasis).

This conception of history was already articulated in Being and Time. There Heidegger claimed that historiography must begin by projecting "monumental" possibilities for the future to serve as a basis for formulating our sense of where history is headed as a totality. This futural moment is unavoidable, for it is only in terms of some anticipated vision of the end state of historical development that we have a basis for selecting the events that can be taken as historically relevant in formulating our account of what history is adding up to. That is, we can narrativize the confusing array of events of the past in order to find some significance in them only on the basis of some conception of the future outcome of history. The projected sense of the possible achievement of history lets us see what should be "reverently preserved" from the past as the historical record of our culture's achievements (BT 447-8). This is why Dasein must "choose its hero" if it is to identify what is worthy of being retrieved from the past (BT 437) …”

GUIGNON, Charles B.. Introduction. In: _____ (Ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Conversations with History: Hubert Dreyfus, "Meaning, Relevance, and the Limits of Technology"

quarta-feira, 5 de agosto de 2015

Martin Heidegger: "Thinking can be translated as little as poetry can"

From Der Spiegel's 1966 interview with Martin Heidegger:

HEIDEGGER: [...] I am convinced that a change can only be prepared from the same place in the world where the modern technological world originated. It cannot come about by the adoption of Zen Buddhism or other Eastern experiences of the world. The help of the European tradition and a new appropriation of that tradition are needed for a change in thinking. Thinking will only be transformed by a thinking that has the same origin and destiny.
SPIEGEL: At exactly the spot where the technological world originated, it must, you think ...
HEIDEGGER: ... be transcended [aufgehoben] in the Hegelian sense, not removed, transcended, but not by human beings alone.
SPIEGEL: Do you allocate a special task specifically to the Germans?
HEIDEGGER: Yes, in that sense, in dialogue with Hölderlin.
SPIEGEL: Do you think that the Germans have a specific qualification for this change?
HEIDEGGER: I am thinking of the special inner relationship between the German language and the language and thinking of the Greeks. This has been confirmed to me again and again today by the French. When they begin to think they speak German. They insist that they could not get through with their own language.
SPIEGEL: Is that how you would explain the very strong effect you have had in the Romance countries, particularly in France?
HEIDEGGER: Because they see that they cannot get through today’s world with all their rationality when they are attempting to understand it in the origin of its essence. Thinking can be translated as little as poetry can. At best it can be paraphrased. As soon as a literal translation is attempted, everything is transformed.
SPIEGEL: A disquieting thought.
HEIDEGGER: It would be good if this disquiet would be taken seriously on a large scale and if it would finally be considered what a momentous transformation Greek thinking suffered when it was translated into Roman Latin, an event that still bars our way today to sufficient reflection on the fundamental words of Greek thinking.

The full translated interview, published after Heidegger's death in 1976, is available here: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~other1/Heidegger%20Der%20Spiegel.pdf

quinta-feira, 2 de abril de 2015

Mentions (Reading Louis Mink, III)

Here are some mentions to Louis Mink by some of his students and colleagues.

Anthony W. Marx, "2009 Convocation" at the Amherst College

"When I was an entering first-year student at a great liberal arts college, I had assumed that I was fairly well prepared. In high school, I had been able to memorize and recite with the best of them. But I was not prepared.

Having enrolled in a set of courses on Western history and culture, I came into contact in particular that first year with Professor Louis Mink. Professor Mink was a scholar of that giant of Western philosophy Immanuel Kant and the editor of a major academic journal. His hobby was to annotate James Joyce’s novel Finnegan’s Wake.

I found all that not a little terrifying. Then Professor Mink asked me to come see him to talk about my first paper in his class. I recall stumbling out of his office a couple of hours later, not sure what had happened, exactly. It felt like someone had taken a crowbar to my head and started to pry it open.
Mink once wrote that students sometimes complained that he was so intense, so unrelenting, it hurt. He said he knew exactly what they meant, as those headaches from trying to use your brain happened to him all the time."


"When my teacher Louis Mink died, years after my schooling, he was described in another college chapel as “the soul of the college.” Here, in this chapel where you gather at the heart of Amherst, for the first time, you are meeting the soul of this fair college, your own Louis Minks and John Moores. Your mind will be engaged by dozens of them before your time here concludes. They are Amherst’s best gift to you. Open to your work with them, even when it seems to hurt—especially then, for invariably that means you are onto something. Be not shy with us as we press you further."

Michael S. Roth, in Beyond Critical Thinking

"It is my hope that humanists will continue offering criticism, making connections, and finding ways to acknowledge practices that seem at first opaque or even invisible. In supporting a transition from critical thinking to practical exploration, I am echoing a comment made by my undergraduate philosophy teacher Louis Mink, and echoed by my graduate mentor, Richard Rorty. Years before Dick Rorty deconstructed the idea of the 'philosopher as referee,' Louis Mink suggested that critics 'exchange the judge's wig for the guide's cap.' I think we may say the same for humanists, who can, in his words, 'show us details and patterns and relations which we would not have seen or heard for ourselves.'"

Michael S. Roth, in Athletics and Education

"How is all this effort and competition, be it in intramural soccer or varsity cross-country, related to education? Recently I came upon a short piece on “The Active Life” by a beloved Wes faculty member and philosopher, Louis Mink. In a brochure on Liberal Education Louis wrote: “Sports provide the occasion for being intensely active at the height of one’s powers. The feeling of concentrated and coordinated exertion against opposing force is one of the primary ways in which we know what it is like to take charge of our own actions.”  Louis went on to say that “liberal education is education in the mode of action. It is something one does, and learns to do, not something one gets, acquires, possesses, or consumes.” That sounds just right to me: liberal education, in contradistinction to training, has everything to do with learning to take charge of one’s life.

Our students are busy, talented people. Why do they take on more challenges in athletics, or for that matter in their studies, or in the arts? Louis Mink wrote about the “overpowering reward” of feeling one’s own self-directed action having results against real difficulties. We learn about our limits, and about how we sometimes can overcome them when we take on the mental, physical and social challenges of sports. Of course, we also experience the great pleasure of the active life, often in the good company of teammates or campus supporters."

Here, a brief mention, again by Roth:

Hayden White, in the "Acknowledgments" of Tropics of Discourse (1978):

"[I would also like to thank...] Richard Vann, Louis Mink, and George Nadel, editors of History and Theory, who goaded me, tolerantly but firmly, to pursue the kind of work that these essays represent. Their imaginativeness, wit, learning, and editorial acumen are not matched, to my knowledge, in the field of scholarly publishing, except perhaps by Jack Goellner and The Johns Hopkins University Press, both in a class by themselves." White also pays homage to Mink in Figural Realism (1999).

Robert Stalnaker, interviewed by Richard Marshall in The Possible Worlds Hedgehog

"I got interested in the philosophy of history in college, under the influence of a wonderful teacher, Louis Mink, and that later became the area of my dissertation. But in the end I turned to more general issues in the philosophy of language and mind."


The New York Times, Jan. 21, 1983. Dr. Louis O. Mink Jr., 61, Dies; Taught Philosophy at Wesleyan.

Toledo Blade, Jan. 21, 1983 (Google Books)

Time and history: annotated bibliography

In constant progress.

Forthcoming comments:
WHITROW, G. J. (1988) Time in History: Views of Time from Prehistory to the Present Day
MUNZ, Peter. (1977) The Shapes of Time: A New Look at the Philosophy of History
RICOEUR, Paul. (1983-1985) Time and Narrative
CARR, David. (1991) Time, Narrative, and History
RÜSEN, Jörn (Ed.). (2007) Time & History: The Variety of Cultures
HUNT, Lynn. (2008) Measuring Time, Making History
LORENZ, Chris & BEVERNAGE, Berber (Eds.). (2013) Breaking Up Time: Negotiating the Borders Between Present, Past and Future

Disqus - Prefigurations