Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Heidegger on the Environment as “Between”

Some of you were wondering how I could say such a heinous thing, invoking Heidegger. Unfortunately I am the bearer of bad tidings for some green Heideggerians: in no sense does Heidegger endorse a concept of the environment as an objectively present entity. Thus Heidegger and I are not strictly environmentalists. Heidegger makes it clear that environmentalism is akin to sexism or racism: making an essentialized fetish of one's intrinsic coexistence (Mitsein) with what I call the strange stranger.

Here is the passage, which I simply paraphrased yesterday. It's on page 124 of Stambaugh's translation of Being and Time. It's hard to drop the needle into the middle of Heidegger, so to speak, but those of you who know enough will be able to figure it out:

In which direction must we look for the phenomenal characteristics of being-in as such? We get the answer to this question what we were charged with keeping in view phenomenologically when we pointed out this phenomenon: being-in in contradistinction to the objectively present insideness of something objectively present “in” an other; being-in not as an attribute of an objectively present subject effected or even initiated by the objective presence of the “world”; rather, being-in essentially as the kind of being of this being itself. But then what else presents itself with this phenomenon other than the objectively present commercium between an objectively present subject and an objectively present object? This interpretation would come closer to the phenomenal content if it stated that Da-sein is the being of this “between.” Nonetheless, the orientation toward the “between” would still be misleading. It colludes unawares with the ontologically indefinite approach that there are beings between which this being as such “is.” The between is already understood as the result of the convenientia of two objectively present things. But this kind of approach always already splits the phenomenon beforehand, and there is no prospect of ever again putting it back together from the fragments. Not only do we lack the “cement,” even the “schema,” according to which this joining together is to be accomplished has been split apart, or never as yet unveiled. What is ontologically decisive is to avoid splitting the phenomenon beforehand, that is, to secure its positive phenomenal content.


camerontw said...

The conclusion to the 1935 Kantian seminar, "What is a Thing:"

What is decisive, however is neither to pay attention only to the one nor only to the other, nor to both together, but to recognize and to know:
1. that we must always move in the between, between human and thing;
2. that this between exists only while we move in it;
3. that this between is not like a rope stretching from the thing to human, but that this between as an anticipation (Vorgriff) reaches beyond the thing and similarly back behind us. Reaching-before (Vor-griff) means thrown back (Ruck-wurf)


Timothy Morton said...

Thanks for that Cameron. Many seem to regard the environment as a rope.