essay heretical history in philosophy

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Essay heretical history in philosophy how to write asong

Essay heretical history in philosophy

On the foundation of written texts it becomes possible to construct works of language which are like a secondary world, relating itself to 14 First Essay the primary one. Humans bestow on their sayings the duration of the tile or the stone; these works, these myths through which humans unwittingly explain the world, gain validity as they travel from one people to another, becoming the property of all. Here we need to ponder whether a reflection on this mode of a natural world might not help us understand what history is.

Here, though, considerations of being human in the world which focus solely on unconcealment, its preservation and extension, are not enough. To be sure, our starting point will still have to be open being in the world. Within it, though, we must focus first on that original, primordial project of the natural, unproblematic man, on life simply as it is contained in the self-evidence of received meaning, in the traditional way of life, its forms and modes.

This life is accepted in its finitude and toil, approved as what is appropriate and destined for humans, an acceptance that entails a great practical consequence: the human world is a world of work and exertion. Here we need to attempt to take up, phenomenologically, the analyses of "practical, active life" carried out by Hannah Arendt and inspired by Aristotle's distinctions between theoria, praxis, and poiesis.

V but he nevertheless never speaks of the work which Arendt showed to be inseparably bound with the simple maintenance of self-sustaining life. In her investigations, where she distinguishes work, production, creation, and action as the grand dimensions of active life, humans are analyzed with regard to those possibilities of being in the world that do not have unconcealment, disclosedness "truth" in all its forms as their theme.

Among those, the project of life simply for the sake of living is perhaps the most important: work has to become the fundamental mode of being in the world because humans, like all that lives, are, in this respect, exposed to a constant self-consumption which therefore requires an equally constant satisfaction of an ever-clamoring need.

This leads to a special set of First Essay 15 problems: work of one's own and that of another; problems of the use of and freedom from work. The fundamental trait of this region of problems is the bondage of life to itself: the "physical" necessity of existing in such a way that life is devoted to the care of life, to the service of life. That is one of the ways in which the finitude of human life is ever present, bowing before nothingness and death; finitude is present, however, in an indefinite form, precisely due to this activity which in its preoccupation covers up its own theme.

Thus unlike animal lifewhich uses up its modest openness in seeking prey and sustenance in general-work is continuous with the problematic character of life while at the same time obscuring and preventing us from seeing it. The animal does not work, even though it is concerned for itself and cares for itself, at the same time securing itself and its family; thus the fulfillment of life is not a burden for the animal, while for man, by contrast, it is such a burden. Human work presupposes a free disposal of space and intervals of time, and for all its monotony it is not stereotypical but rather directed towards and by a goal.

Work, then, is not a burden simply because of the physical exertion involved-since what is needed is not readily available and work inevitably encounters resistance-but also because a certain mode of being is forced upon us and we experience it as an imposition. Paradoxically, work lets us feel our freedom; its character of burden is derived from burden as a more basic trait that has to do with human life as such, the fact that we cannot simply take life in indifference but must always "bear" it, "lead" it-guarantee and stand for it.

Work which according to Arendt is always originally work for consumption,18 is possible only on the basis of a free being in the world. Yet, at the same time, it can break and repress the development of this freedom and all the problems linked to it. The world in which the bonding of life to itself takes place on the basis of a concealed freedom is the world of work; its proto-cell and model is the household, the community of those who work to assure their sustenance and, later, to free one of them from this bondage.

The great empires of the ancient world, the first high 16 First Essay civilizations and cultures, were in this sense monumental households. Life in them was devoted above all to the reproduction of life, to the preservation of its vital flame. Nothing suggests that humans here raise a claim to anything beyond that. If we understand work in this sense, then work proves to be not only a nonhistorical factor but actually one working against history, intending to hold it at bay.

It was work that for a very long time was most able to keep humans within the context of bare, mere survival. It is not the case that humanity can be explained in terms of work, even though work is possible only on the basis of the openness of human life. History cannot be explained by work, but it is only in history that work enters into that unity with production which made it dependent on history. To be sure, already in the first civilizations we can observe a difference between work and production.

Only on the basis of production does the human world acquire the character of the perennial, a firm skeleton underneath the invertebrate, inconstant form of vital reproduction. The city wall, the marketplace, the temple, the written word are expressions of this life made firm. Overall human self-understanding, however, remains primarily determined by the world of work which thus manifests its predominance.

Understandably, production itself is subjected to work in the sense that it serves the nourishment of the producers; it thus finds itself in a necessary relation of exchange with the work of workers. The regulation of this exchange, the organization of the society of those who work, is necessarily the task of a center which finds itself in an advantageous position to set itself free of the servitude of both work and production, and as such raises itself above ordinary human destiny.

In the dialectic of self-consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel links the beginning of history with the panic of the servile consciousness that becomes aware of its bondage to life and renounces itself and freedom for the sake of a life which, from then on, belongs, as subservient, to another self-consciousness that of the masterj. We have, however, a far more impressive testament to the original slavish self- First Essay 17 understanding, of humanity subjected to subservience to life in the life form of the first high civilizations, as it appears in the mirror of their poetico-mythical productions.

A human here is a life perennially threatened, dedicated to death, and devoted to work-that is, to unceasingly turning back this threat which in the end is always victorious. In the margins of humanity seen from this perspective, however, there appears as its opposite a life which escapes this constant menace, a life which can experience various types of need but which is not subject to death, and for that reason is triumphant over even the most acutely felt needs: such a life is not a human but a divine life.

Originally, according to the old Babylonian epic of Atrachasis, the gods had to do all the work themselves; they tried to shift this burden to lower divinities but were unsuccessful. Thus they had to invent death; they killed one of the lower gods and used his flesh and blood to create humans, who now received toil as their lot while the gods retained for themselves a pure, unclouded life.

Human life, by contrast, is one of self-maintenance through work, exertion, and pain, and the link between work and life is death. Society is, for that reason, theocratic: only the gods or sons of gods, not subject to the lot of ordinary humanity, are in fact free, living without effort off the work of others. Nothing can bridge the distance thus created, between gods and mortals there can be no reciprocity, no mutual recognition and respect. Likewise, such recognition does not exist among the subjects: they are there to work, to serve in various levels of effectiveness and constitute a well-organized household capable of great achievements, achievements of essentially one kind-the maintenance of all the members of the society in life, with the price that they will neither demand nor recognize more to life for themselves.

In this context we can also recall the myth of the creation of man in Genesis, as Walter Brocker interprets it. The 18 First Essay transgression of the prohibition bears with it the expulsion from the paradise of ignorance, that is, the ignorance of the unavoidable lot of death, as well as the bondage of humans to the destiny of laborious work and the pain of birth.

If we are better to understand the meaning of divine transcendence of labor and human mortality, we need to return to the Atrachasis myth. In this sense they also need a community with humans, a community which is, of course, one of opposition, of contrast. Thus the works of the gods are also superhuman, having to do with the order and preservation of the world; they are not works of the constant concern for daily bread.

Death, on the other hand, is the product of a divine violence against one of their own; thus, to the human mind, it is something that transcends mortal destiny. Individuals die but the human species preserves itself in a generative continuity through the passing of generations. In this way, humans participate in the divine order. It can happen that the gods at times feel neglected or irritated by men, it can happen that at times they forget themselves to such an extent that it occurs to them to eradicate humanity altogether.

Therein lies the origin of the interpretation of a certain event that could well have been a flood and the preservation of humanity afterwards. Such destruction is an example of the work of the gods; the god of wisdom, however, knows ahead of time that humanity must not be destroyed and so signals a chosen one in a premonitory dream, letting him build a saving ship and embark thereupon with all his family.

The chosen one, in order to prevent misunderstanding or conflict among the gods, becomes immortal; but not his heirs, so that humankind would be preserved. The meaning of the flood itself is to make humans aware of the precariousness, the dependence of their position; but also that the gods are shocked at the devastation that reached to the very root of the world order, and so return to an unequal community with humans, an alliance that permits First Essay 19 devastation only as a punishment for transgression.

Since that time, the flood represents the threat of death not only to each individual, but to the entire human species in the form of global catastrophes which, without exterminating all of humanity, indicate to all individuals that they are threatened so that they can never secure their lives by their labor. Thus evil is in the world by the will of the gods as a perennial threat suspended over the heads of humankind. There is, however, also divine help as humans fight against this evil and limit it.

It is a divine ordinance both that evil should menace humanity and that evil should be resisted by humans struggling against it within the limits of their power. Thus it is possible to suppose that behind the Gilgamesh story of the battle with global evil stands the legend of the flood and that this episode is not merely introduced into the epic for external reasons. Gilgamesh is no god in the strict sense of the word: he is only two-thirds divine, that is, he is free of the care for daily bread and is here to do superhuman deeds that have to do with the order of the world, but he is subject to death.

His primary, quasi-divine task is to maintain the order of the world, in the sense of goodness. He takes up the task first by building a city where humans are protected from poverty and enemies. That, though, requires a recourse to violence and more toil and work than humans are normally willing to bear. To accommodate the prayers of mortals, the gods call on him to perform other deeds: first to test his strength against the human-beast Enkidu, a powerful enemy whom he turns into his helper and protector; then to test his strength against the world-evil Humbaba who lurks in the regions of the West, ever lively in wait, ever alert and ready, waiting to sally forth: a protege of the earth god Enlil, who, of all the gods, pressed most vigorously for the flood.

Since, on the order and with the help of the god of the sun, Humbaba is defeated and killed, Enkidu is chosen to be the reconciling sacrifice and must himself pay the price of death. The same fate, though, has an even greater impact on Gilgamesh himself who, like the first man in the book of Genesis, realizes for the first time the full measure of 20 First Essay his mortality and, in panic and fear, strikes out for the very edge of the world in search for immortality.

We pass over the episode of the heavenly bull and the mocking goddess Ishtar, since it is only a duplicate with the same meaning as the struggle with the world-evil Humbaba; in place of Enlil there is the fertility goddess Ishtar, in place of Humbaba the "heavenly bull. The life thou seekest thou shalt not find! When the gods created humans, they gave them death as their lot, taking life into their own hands.

Thou, Gilgamesh, fill thou now thy stomach, enjoy thyself day and night! Daily canst thou hold feasts, dance and play day and night. Have clean clothes, a washed head, be cleanly bathed! Look to the child on thy arm, let thy companion find pleasure in thy arms-such are the works ofhumans!

This maximum is the standard of a well-ordered household, of private "happiness" limited in time, overshadowed by the prospect of the end. This prospect does not make human life meaningless as long as humans take their place in the framework of the life of the gods. Even heroic deeds cannot give more than a transient support to this ever recurrent vision. The immeasurable wandering to the end of the world ends when Gilgamesh, exhausted by great deeds, cannot resist what is gentlest of all: he yields to sleep, the brother of death, the gradual exhaustion which, like fatigue and aging, accompanies life.

He returns to the only one of his deeds that proved to be viable, to his mighty city wall and the founding of an empire that, most reliably if only temporarily, provides humans with protection. This poem represents the self-understanding of a humanity for whom the world belongs to the gods whose unanimity First Essay 21 determines the lot of individuals and of humankind alike. The world, seen from the human perspective, is a great household managed by the heroes who, together with the gods, seek to keep global evil within limits and, in spite of heroic deeds, share with humans the lot of mortality.

This common lot is not experienced as solidarity for all his grieving over Enkidu; Gilgamesh in his panic thinks only of himself, is only terrified for himself but as the dark power of finite life, ever exhausting itself, ever requiring care and protection.

Thus there is no sharp boundary between the world and the "great household" of the empire. The city's walls may be the work of human hands, but it belongs, like everything else made and done by humans, to the one house occupied by the unequal society of gods and humans. There is no boundary in principle between the world and the empire, for even the empire itself must be understood on the basis of something that is not the work of humans, of the unfree life that is given to them as their lot; the ruler himself is active not only within the human community and through it, but it is he who mediates between humans and the rest of the order of the world.

True enough, the human condition is irreversible, but something still higher exists in the relation of humans to death's dark empire. This something higher does come from the gods, yet its realm is the relation between the dead and the living. In this relation there is something like immortality, though it relates not to individuals but rather to all who are linked in the generative bond of filiation.

In a sense they are one, a type of testimony that what arises out of the dark realm by individuation always bears the seal, the mark of the nonindividual. Individuals, after their death, if they do not simply vanish, are there merely as "appearances," as something 22 First Essay that appears to the living, as a being-far-them, for the others. For that reason remaining an individual after death depends on those who continue to relate to the dead in ways that preserve this being-far-them: for example, seeing the dead in a dream, speaking with them in prayer, hosting them at a funeral banquet.

To be sure, the living are led to this comportment by being at one with the dead on the other side of individuation: the individual being is the reality of the species that functions somewhat as a middle term between the undifferentiated great Night and the autonomy of the individual. Thus how the living behave towards the dead and the living, the ancestors and the descendents, is not a matter of indifference to this community of the living and the dead.

The real, actual form of the life of an individual depends on the ancestors; on the descendents as a derivation in image which is the actual form of the relation of the living to the substrate of the species. The father who brings children into the world relates, in accepting them and caring for them, above all to the surviving supraindividual substrate of the species which releases individual lives out of itself and takes them back into itself.

But he stands in relation to himself as well, as that mortal who depends on his descendents in the personal life after death that is at once precarious yet at the same time rooted in the most powerful, ever present supraindividual life of the substrate which the Romans will later call lar familiaris.

In this dependence we stand not only in the context of the world of life which is subject to the bondage of work, but rather life, this landscape of individuation and work, is itself a part of the dark landscape of the world to which the gods, too, had access when they sent death into the world and enslaved humans to life and toil. This dark landscape of the world is thus at the same time the landscape of the fertility from which comes everything individual, the site not only of the acceptation of First Essay 23 descendents already born but of a preparation for them: humans do not accept only children already born but also the other with whom they enter into the generative, fertile darkness, thereby each being accepted in turn.

Thus the movement of work refers to the dark movement of acceptation which itself appears to refer to a still more basic movement from which all that is in our day arises out of the nonindividuated night. More than a century ago, Fustel de Coulanges demonstrated that this chain of perceptions essentially remained the foundation of the patrician family in antiquity, in Greece as well as Rome.

To be sure, Fustel spoke of a "belief in immortality," linked to the tomb cult and including the survival of the dead in the grave. It was Hannah Arendt who called attention to the most important modification, one brought about by later ideas, when she pointed out that the sphere of the house ceased to be the core of the world as such, becoming simply a private domain alongside and juxtaposed to which there arose, in Greece and Rome, a different, no less important public sphere.

Starting from this thesis, we shall, in what follows, endeavor to demonstrate that the difference is that in the intervening period history in the strict sense had begun. Recent historical research, following the deciphering of the old Mycenaean script, seems to show that the social organization of the entire Aegean region was, but for marginal differences, basically the same as that of the high Near Eastern civilizations and so that this applied to the early high civilizations of Greece as weIl.

If our earlier reasoning holds, it would imply that these brilliant civilizations with their admirable architecture and their artistic achievements generally, not the least their poetry, were also simply great households 24 First Essay aiming at no more than the preservation of life and at work. Naturally, a high level of production was also present, though in such a way that it was decisive neither for self-understanding nor for life's goals, but rather remained in the service of an orientation given by work.

Whatever seems to go beyond that came not from the works of humans but from the fact that the primordial bond between mortals and gods, the life-giving and at the same time dangerous powers of the earth and the sky, remained unbroken and that human self-preservation took place in the glow of this undisturbed natural world. With respect to this world, though, humans are not free, having therein no space which would be their own, their work, and no goal or purpose which would rise above the maintenance of life.

The emergence of art means no more than that humans have accepted their place within life's bondage to ease the task of the gods and avoid dissention among them in caring for the maintenance of the world's order. Art is a service to the gods just as all of life is, since a perenially precarious life does not depend on humans.

The toil that provides for human needs is the sole necessary condition, wholly absorbing all human living, but an event like the flood cannot be compensated by toil. Art is the divine dimension, by its presence ever reminding humans of their lot.

In that sense the world of Near Eastern mythology reaches far beyond the Near Eastern region. It is even the basis of further poetic reflection, represented by the Homeric epics. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey work with Near Eastern mythical elements transmitted to them by Mycenaean poetry. According to one probable hypothesis, we can trace in the Iliad the theme of the flood-and of the perishing of humankind generallytransformed into the reflective theme of Ionic and postMycenaean times about the perishing of the generation of semi-divine heroes and of the social and personal life of the theocratic household of the heroic rulers.

That means, furthermore, that those conceptions became a part of our historical tradition not only through the Biblical narratives but also through the Iliad-not to mention the Odyssey with its theme of wandering to the very end of the earth-in a barely First Essay 25 recognizable mutation, to be sure, but still effective as the starting point for further reflection. Thus this tradition attests to a prehistorical world of which we can speak as "natural" in the sense just described.

It is natural in the sense of accepting the community of all it contains as something simply given, something that simply manifests itself. It is a community of gods and mortals, the shared lifespace of those dependent on the nourishing earth and the heavenly lights and of those who are not so dependent and who thus constitute the most wondrous mystery of this world. They are not dependent-yet their mode of being is such that a community with humans can be an advantage to them since what humans do ultimately for the sake of their own survival, the Sisyphian toil in service of self-devouring life, is the work of the gods, a participation in preserving the world order, linking what is above with what is below, earth and the lights, the visibly created with the realm of darkness.

The gods are the most mysterious of all, for they conceal themselves, thus manifesting their power; and yet the highest power is possible only as free dwelling on the earth, free of death. Is not this view essentially truthful? Does it not grasp human life in its essence?

What more can humans comprehend than this grand backdrop of their inescapable integration in the involuntary maintenance of life? Perhaps one thing only: what it is that constitutes the great household, the great community, is in some sense clear as it is clear why both the darkness of the grave and of not having been born as well as the superior realm of the gods recede into the background , but it is not clear what brings it about that all this emerges and manifests itselfthat neither stands forth before us nor reveals itself to us.

To uncover what is hidden in manifestation entails questioning, it means discovering the problematic character not of this or that but of the whole as such, as well as of the life that is rigorously integrated into it. Once, however, that question had been posed, humans set out on a long journey they had not traveled hitherto, a journey from which they might gain something but also decidedly lose a great deal.

It is the journey of history. At 26 First Essay its inception, humans are the powerless serfs of life, but they do have the natural world with its gods, their service that suits the gods, and art as an expression of their service and of their bond with the sacred. In setting out on their new journey, humans place all that at stake.

Second Essay: The Beginning of History Karl Marx says somewhere that there is really only one science, which is history, meaning thereby that understanding the evolution of the world would be true knowledge. Such a claim, however, is either a reduction of history to the abstraction of the temporal process as such which raises the question of the time frame within which this process takes place or it is a bold speculation which attributes to all the processes of nature the role of a preparation necessary for the process of history, that is, for the special case of meaningful or meaning-related events.

Becoming, however, is meaningful or meaning-related only when someone cares about something, when we do not have before us sequences merely observed but rather ones which can be understood in terms of an interest in and relating to the world, of an openness for oneself and for things. We first encounter hints of an interest in the animate sphere. Yet the process of the evolution of life, generally accepted today, can be called meaningful in this sense only at the cost of a great speculative effort.

Of all that we know from experience, only human life can be interpreted as meaningful in this sense. Even its least movement can be understood only in terms of an interested self-relation grounded in an openness for what there is. Does that, though, already mean that human life, simply as such, shares in positing history, that history as such is simply given with it? Hardly anyone would be likely to claim that, even if they were to believe, on the basis of rigorous analysis, that historicity belongs to being human as that which prevents us 27 28 Second Essay from taking humans, wherever and whenever we encounter them, for "finished" natural formations and forces us to see in them free beings who to a great extent form themselves.

Yet there undoubtedly exist-or at least until quite recently existed-"nations without history. The usual attempt at answering that question points to the phenomenon of collective memory which either first emerges with writing or has its strongest support in it. That, though, would mean deriving the meaning of events from the meaning of a narrative about them. However, the meaning of a narrative about events is different from the meaning of what is narrated.

The meaning of events is an achievement of those who act and suffer, while the meaning of a narrative lies in understanding the logical formations pointing to those events. The meaning articulated in this understanding is relatively context independent, since, within certain limits, it can be understood in the same way by other persons in other places, ages, and traditions while the meaning of an event lies in the development of the situation itself.

It might well be that genuinely historical acts and events need to be set in the context of tradition and narrative; in that case, though, the meaning of a narrative is intelligible in terms of historical acts and not the other way around.

Let us assume, however, that not every narrative and so not even every narrative about the past aims primarily and thematically at actual events in history-if so, we would be dealing with the curious phenomenon of an ahistorical history, a historical narrative without a history. We believe that the original keeping of annals, as it was practiced in the Near East, Egypt, ancient China, etc.

Such a life can unfold in complex and massive social formations, in grand empires with complicated hierarchies and bureaucracies, and yet be Second Essay 29 essentially no more than a giant household or aggregate of households gathered around the central cell of the royal house. Its entire vital functioning, the meaning of what takes place there, need never transcend the household and its cyclic rotation of birth, reproduction, and sustenance, together, to be sure, with the inevitable complementary movement of continuous preservation of life through work and production.

Annalistics captures the past as something important for the successful future comportment of the grand household which cares for itself in this sense; it is primarily composed of ritualistic writings, cultomantic records, observations of what is fortu. As long as humans live in such a way that this vital cycle of acceptance and transmission, of the preservation and securing of life, exhausts the meaning of what is done, we can say that it moves in the rhythm of perennial return, even though in reality tradition functions, inventions take place, and the style of life changes to the point of producing a change as fundamental as the collective memory just mentioned.

Even though the life of such societies is focused on the acceptance and maintenance of life, even though it is rooted in the immediacy of being human, for which openness itself is not revealed or life problematic as we sought to portray it in the preceding essay -such life centered on subsistence is not without the third movement of life, that of truth, though without the explicitly thematic orientation characteristic of a historical epoch.

Precisely because humanity here lives only in order to live, not to seek deeper, more authentic forms of life; precisely because humans are focused on the movement of acceptance and preservation, this entire life remains something of an ontological metaphor.

We distinguish three fundamental movements of human life, each of which has its original form, its thematic or athematic meaning, its own temporality indicated by the predominant temporal dimension: the movement of acceptance, the movement of defense, and the movement of truth.! The movement of acceptance consists in the human need to be accepted and 30 Second Essay introduced into the world, since the human entry into the realm of open, individuated being has the character of something prepared and fitted together harmonia.

For most things-elements, natural entities, realities not created by the human hand, indeed for most of animate being-acceptation has no inner significance; fitting in is here, in modern biological terms, a mechanical adaptation. The being of humans, their entry among individuals in the vastness of the universe, cannot be like the being of such existents-i.

Their being is non-indifferent from the start; that is, they "sense" their strangeness, they are sensitive to their "un-rightness," to their inauthenticity adikia and demand "justice" dike , actually finding it in the good will of their kin who accepted this new existence even before it was in a full sense present; accepted it already byexisting together and so constituting the potential fold of space into which a new existence can be brought.

Human acceptance is that didonai iiiken kai tisin allelois tis adikias "according right to each other and putting aside unrightness" of which the ancient fragment of Anaximander speaks. The adikia it feels-the penetration, the onset-is compensated by others who accept it and constitute the world for it as the warm and kindly hearth, symbolizing the keeping of the flame of life.

At the same time, adikia is compensated in turn, with regard to the others, by the existence that has been accepted. This compensation takes place in all to whom this existence is devoted, whom it loves and whom it itself accepts in turn. Now, it is clear that the second movement, that of defense which could also be called the movement of self-surrender is necessarily correlated with the first. We can only accept the other by risking ourselves, by attending to the other's needs no Second Essay 31 less than our own, by working.

Work is essentially this self-disposal of ourselves as being at the disposal of others; it has its source in the factual dependence of life on itself which is precisely what makes life an ontological metaphor. It is not possible to be, that is, to carry out the onset into the universe of individuated things, without the movement of acceptation and self-surrender: dike kai tisis "justice and retribution".

As soon as we become links in the chain of acceptation, we are eo ipso potential participants in work; already the child prepares for it; this preparation is already itself incipient work. The fundamental trait of work, however, is that it is involuntary; we accept it under duress, it is hard, it is a burden. The harmony, the fitting together without which we cannot be, is palintonos harmonie, a linkage of opposites. If we want to live, we have no choice.

The fundamental choice, to live or not to live, thus bears within it a burden; it is this burden which then finds further, more tangible expression in the unfree, laborious character of work. The burden which is thus at the basis of the finite placement of humans amid the universe of what-is, of their "intrusion" among existents, points, however, to an alleviation, to a relief. Alleviation can assume various modes, ranging from a mere pause and momentary forgetting to the forms of the ecstatic and the orgiastic.

In the utter lightness of euphoria the word itself points to a movement that is unhampered and takes place with total ease it is as if all burden disappeared, we are borne as if by a whirlwind to which we yield without reservation. The movement of acceptation, though, includes the ecstasy represented by eros: it is at once the surrender that means acceptance, which includes as well the will to be accepted-thus the creation of a refuge that makes possible the 32 Second Essay acceptance of a new existence, even if that is not its intent or focus-as well as that increasingly intense abandon that lets us touch upon the realm of the undifferentiated in ecstasy and participate in it as in the bliss of being-the bliss of which Zarathustra's Nocturnal Hymn sings.

For them, what-is and being, phenomena and the movement of their manifestation, converge on a single plane, reminiscent of the language of poetic metaphor: here, relations that elude common empirical experience are expressed with twists of such experience, though with the help of conjunctions, distinctions, and variations that are impermissible in the ordinary world and are not thematized as such.

Indeed, the lack of thematization is even greater here since the reader of poetical works anticipates metaphors as metaphors, as linguistic tropes, while mythical humans do not recognize in them the level of that which is being rendered and the level of the rendering itself; they do not distinguish between meaning and object, speech and that which is being said.

Nonetheless this ontological metaphor manifests itself in something that cannot be explained by any theory of myth and mythology that starts out from the assumptions of a world cleft by the vagaries of metaphysical philosophy into an opposition between sense experience and more or less rational constructs.

Such a theory cannot come to terms with the prehistorical in a positive sense that is, without leading to amputations or yielding to mysticism ; for it is clearly manifest that, even if prehistoric humanity is no less capable of doubting and criticizing than the historical humans of the scientistic epoch, its world is full of gods and powers, and that all of this is accepted as obvious even though Second Essay 33 no one has ever seen them or offered proof of their presence.

The higher, the "transcendent," the "supernatural," known even if not experienced like ordinary experience, itself stems from the duality of the ontological metaphor. Amid the world of beings there manifests itself a presence of Being which is understood as higher, incommensurate, superior, but which' is not yet clear as such.

Rather, it shares with beings the same region of one and the same world in which everything is simultaneously and indistinguishably manifested and concealed. Thus it is evident that in the "natural world" of prehistoric humans the movement of truth makes itself felt as well, though it remains thematically subordinated to the movements of acceptance and defense or disposing of the self.

The movement of truth affirms itself precisely in this predominance of powers within a "single" world; as a proper relation to manifestation as such-that is, to that which makes manifestation possible-it shows itself in the difference between the supernatural and the natural, the divine and the empirical. At the same time, the movement of truth is the source of art, the expression of its open, futural character, the character of a that which is coming; for the divine is that which opens all else, like the Earth and the Heavens, though it itself is not among the things that have already presented themselves to us-it is in that sense that the divine is always "on the way.

Understandably, each of these movements contains within it the whole of temporality, without which it would not be a movement; yet in each there holds sway a different "extasis," a different "horizon. All of that, however, is included in the continuity of the lars of the home whose existence is the point of departure for the whole act of acceptation and is that to which the circling of the movement of acceptation returns.

Thus as long as humans move in the sphere of "mere life" and its concerns, intrinsic to which is the assurance of the sustenance of the entire familia, then "belief" in the gods is the only way to dwell in the world and to understand the universe, the sole truth appropriate to it. The anthropology of the Left Hegelians shows a sense for this when it gropes around the human family for the secret of the protofoundations of religion.

However, it blocks its access to the problem by adopting from idealism the doctrine that "having a view"s is the fundamental mode of the mediation of humans and the world, as well as the doctrine that alienation is the source of the objectification of these "views.

Not surprisingly, it involves in the first place all that has to do with the order, sustenance, and organization of society, for it is precisely that which constitutes the privilege of the gods, and there is no barrier that would separate off human society from the universe. In fact, we see that the earliest empires are theocracies with divine rulers or rulers in the role of managers of divine households-either way, these rulers mediate between the divine and the human. For that reason there can be no substantive separation or difference between the empire and the universe.

Pharaoh commands not only the labor of humans but the regular course of the floods; the Emperor of China is as responsible for natural catastrophies as he is for social ones; the great king of Persia gets along with the gods of all of his subject nations; of Xerxes it is said that he had the Hellespont whipped for disobedience. Later, when Plato designs the true commonwealth, the community of philosophers, on the basis of the universe of divine Ideas, it means something completely different, even if this ideal universe is Second Essay 35 recommended as a model to imitate; sensible reality-and the community of the state is such a reality-can never be integrated into the Ideal.

The foundation of the community upon Ideas exempts it precisely from continuity with the rest of the sensory world; in this respect, in raising the community of the state out of "nature," Plato will follow the tradition of the Greek polis. It seems, of course that the events of high civilizations with their written traditions differ basically from the events of "natural" humanity, since writing and its transmission indicates a will to conscious preservation of a complex system of life, a determination to oppose all change-something comparable to an effort at human regulation of the course of events, thus putting forth a hitherto absent goal.

Yet the will to tradition, an immutable tradition, precedes writing; writing is not itself a new goal but simply a new, extremely effective medium for the petrification of life forms. The will to permanence is essentially sacral and ritualistic, having to do with a fundamental characteristic of prehistoric truth, i. It is customary to divide the earliest written texts of the Near East including the Mycenaean into palace texts, juridicaL texts, literary texts, and letters; that does not mean that, for example, palace texts should be considered profane in our sense of that word.

The ruler who knows and directs carries out a superhuman activity, creating order and life; he not only makes possible the life of the society as a whole, but shelters a certain part of the earth from devastation. Thus writing, with its petrified memory, does not arise in the context of human acts aimed at endowing life with a new meaning. Nonetheless, it brings about a new presence of the past and the possibility of the far-ranging reflection that is exhibited in poetry and its immense influence throughout the entire oikoumene?

For these reasons it is wise to distingush three levels of human events: the nonhistorical? Prehistory, however, is the presupposition of history not only for reasons having to do with the presence of the past in explicit documents but, first and foremost, because history represents a distancing from and a reaction against the period of prehistory; it is a rising above the level of the prehistorical, an attempt at a renewal and resurgence of life.

In an article that appeared in French, "La transcendence de la vie et l'irruption de I'existence. Y and was not included in the collection Dasein und Dawesen, Oskar Becker seeks to divide the doings of human life into three levels analogous to some extent to what we are presenting here. He recognizes a "basal civilization" which, though unable to escape it, breaks the "circle of the present situation" of animate life by introducing into it through language and tool usage existence with its horizons of retention and anticipation, though solely for the purpose of sustaining life in its "small rhythm," without far reaching goals.

Secondly he recognises a "low civilization" which he characterizes, with reference to Schelling. It does not seem appropriate to distinguish the rise of the great empires and of "lower civilizations" in Becker's sense from primordial humanity by the intrusion of a "freedom to evil," by the new dimension of passion and guilt. The early empires do not differ from natural humanity by any new dimension of human life not present on the preceding level, in the way that the human level of speech and tool use differs from animal life forms.

The early empires differ only in following the same aims in an organized manner, attributing to human existence the same meaning of common sustenance Second Essay 37 which purely natural humans attribute to it randomly, instinctually. The impression of something radically new in the rise of the great empires of the ancient Orient is due in part to their making use of what gestated through the long neolithic period, preparing humans for the settled mode which became organized and crystallized in empires.

However, the overall meaning and direction given to the doings of humans remained constant-the transmission and preservation of life, life itself in its self-consumption and reconstitution-or, in a traditional image, the preservation of the flame of life.

Still, the great empires do represent an essential propaedeutic for a different conception of life's meaning. This new way, to be sure, does not develop in them; yet the aggregation of individuals, their organized interdependence, their ongoing interaction and verbal communication, the human mode of making manifest what presents itself, all create a possible room for living beyond oneself, for legend, for glory, for endurance in the memory of others.

Organized life generates the foundation for a human immortality or at least for what comes nearest to it. Insofar as organization needs to be reinforced by the written word, writing, too, is a precondition of this higher stage where life relates explicitly to memory, to others, to life among them and in them, beyond the limits of one's own generative continuum.

Here, then, where life is no longer. Hannah Arendt pointed to this rupture in her profound reflections on the role of labor and subsequently of work in human life by way of its primordial opposition to political life.? Because the family is the original locus of labor, political life, life in the polis, initially unfolds on the necessary foundation of the family oikos house, household.

Yet in the contradiction between its self-enclosed generative privacy and the will to public openness there is already a continuity, generated and maintained by free human activity. This new human possibility is based on the mutual recognition of humans as free and equal, a recognition which must be continuously acted out, in which activity does not have 38 Second Essay the character of enforced toil, like labor, but rather of the manifestation of excellence, demonstrating that in which humans can be in principle equal in competition with each other.

At the same time that means living fundamentally not in the mode of acceptance but of initiative and preparation, ever seeking the opportunity for action, for the possibilities that present themselves; it means a life in active tension, one of extreme risk and unceasing upward striving in which every pause is necessarily already a weakness for which the initiative of others lies in wait.

This new mode is protected from the unfreedom of natural cyclicity by the domestic security offered by the oikos, the household that provides for life's needs; as protection against its own inner trend to rest, routine, and relaxation it has the stimulus of the public openness which not only offers opportunities but also ever lies in wait to seize them. Arendt contrasts labor, preventing the extinction and decay of life which consumes without establishing anything of permanence, with work which builds a firm, permanent structure of life, shelter, and community, the indispensable places of a home.

From that moment on this life is essentially and in its very being distinct from life in acceptation; here life is not received as complete as it is, but rather transforms itself from the start-it is a reaching forth. It is, however, essential for such reaching forth that it neither considers itself nor is a small island in an accepted life but, on the contrary, that it justifies and grounds all acceptance, all passivity. While political life draws its free possibilities from the home and its work, the home in turn cannot exist without the community which not only protects it but gives it meaning.

Political life as life in an urgent time, in a time to Here, life does not stand on the firm ground of generative continuity, it is not backed by the dark Second Essay 39 earth, but only by darkness, that is, it is ever confronted by its finitude and the permanent precariousness of life. Only by coming to terms with this threat, confronting it undaunted, can free life as such unfold; its freedom is in its innermost foundation the freedom of the undaunted.

To be sure, one might object that this is a part of the life of any warrior on whatever level, even the most "natural"; however, warriors prior to the emergence of political life find their support in a meaning woven into the immediacy of life, fighting for their home, family, for the continuum of life to which they belong-in them they have their support and goal, those provide them with the shelter from the danger they need; in contrast to that stands the goal of a free life as such, one's own or that of others; it is, essentially, an unsheltered life.

Life unsheltered, a life of outreach and initiative without pause nor ease, is not simply a life of different goals, contents, or structures rather than a life of acceptance-it is differently, since it itself opens up the possibility for which it reaches; while seeing this liberation, both the dependence of the one and the free superiority of the other, sees what life is and can be.

Without aspiring to the superhuman, it becomes freely human. That, however, means life on the boundary which makes life an encounter with what there is, on the boundary of all that is where this whole remains insistent because something quite other than individual entities, interests, and realities within it inevitably emerges here.

This whole now speaks to humans directly, free of the muting effect of tradition and myth, only by it do they seek to be accepted and held responsible. Nothing of the earlier life of acceptance remains in peace; all the pillars of the community, traditions, and myths, are equally shaken, as are all the answers 40 Second Essay that once preceded questions, the modest yet secure and soothing meaning, though not lost, is transformed.

It becomes as enigmatic as all else. Humans cease to identify with it, myth ceases to be the word of their lips. In the moment when life renews itself everything is cast in a new light. Scales fall from the eyes of those set free, not that they might see something new but that they might see in a new way.

It is like a landscape illuminated by lightning, amid which humans stand alone, with no support, relying solely on that which presents itself-and that which presents itself is everything without exception. It is the moment of creative dawning, "the first day of the creation," mysterious and more pressing for enfolding and bearing with it the astonished. Harry Potter. Books By Language. Books in Spanish. Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History.

Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days When will my order arrive? Expected delivery to the Russian Federation in business days. Not ordering to the Russian Federation? Click here. Description Heretical Essays is Patocka's final work, and one of his most exciting and iconoclastic. Patocka begins with prehistory, approached through the "natural world" as conceived by Husserl and Heidegger.

According to Patocka, nature is as an alien construct, and history, which began as a quest for higher meaning, ends with life as self-sustaining consumption. Patocka explains how Europe declined from its Greek heritage to seek power rather than truth, splintering into ethnic subdivisions, and then how the Enlightenment moved Europe from an ethical to a material orientation. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x Back cover copy History begins inseparably with the birth of the polis and of philosophy.

Both represent a unity in strife. History is life that no longer takes itself for granted.

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Best personal essay writing for hire usa Death, on the other hand, is the product of a divine violence against one of their own; thus, to the human mind, it is something that transcends mortal destiny. Thus the business plan for contractor referral business presence of objects before actual consciousness could be explained, yet there remained the problem whether these objects themselves were not subjected to an explanation foreign to them; whether there did not remain, as against the original phenomenon, a certain vestige of mentalism insofar as the passive and active syntheses whose "achievement" it is that the manifestation of things before us appears to make sense only if we arrive at them on the basis of something thesis statement for intelligence sharing is mentally "recii. Human life, by contrast, is one of self-maintenance through work, exertion, and pain, and the link between work and life is death. At the same time, all idealism in the sense of a "subjectification of the given" becomes impossible. One sees that Heraclitus, like Patocka, is not a philosopher of brute existence or terrorist action, but one who thought the origin of all relation from an extreme shaking.
Department of labor essay All that seemed circumvented by the new twist that Husserl's phenomenology gave to the problem. Concealment in its various forms-hiddenness, absence, distortion, dissimulation-is an essential aspect of a phenomenon. This dark landscape of the world is thus at the same time the landscape of the fertility from which comes everything individual, the site not only of the acceptation of First Essay 23 descendents already born but of a preparation for them: humans do not accept only children already born but also thesis statement for intelligence sharing other with whom they enter into the generative, fertile darkness, thereby each being accepted in turn. The city's walls may be the work of human hands, but it belongs, like everything else made and done by humans, to the one house occupied by the unequal society of gods and humans. In this world humans can encounter spirits, demons, and other mysterious beings, but they do not encounter the mystery of manifestation as such. It is not difficult to access those pages, very original and at times intriguing, which trace the quasi-simultaneous origin in western Europe of politics, philosophy, and history.
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Sample resume high school teacher The city wall, the marketplace, the temple, the written word are expressions of this life made firm. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. Only with reference to what transcends them are humans given their place; however, they do receive it and are content to accept it. The early empires differ only in following the same aims in an organized manner, attributing to human existence the same meaning of common sustenance Second Essay 37 which purely natural humans attribute to it randomly, instinctually. Jared rated it liked it Dec 30,
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See all our books here, order more than 1 book and get discounted shipping. Shipped within 24 hours from our UK warehouse. Clean, undamaged book with no damage to pages and minimal wear to the cover. Spine still tight, in very good condition. Used - Softcover Condition: UsedAcceptable. From Canada to U. Special order direct from the distributor. Published by Open Court , Independent family-run bookstore for over 50 years! Buy with confidence! According to Patocka, nature is as an alien construct, and history, which began as a quest for higher meaning, ends with life as self-sustaining consumption.

Patocka explains ho Heretical Essays is Patocka's final work, and one of his most exciting and iconoclastic. Patocka explains how Europe declined from its Greek heritage to seek power rather than truth, splintering into ethnic subdivisions, and then how the Enlightenment moved Europe from an ethical to a material orientation. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 26th by Open Court first published More Details Original Title.

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Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list ยป. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History. Feb 22, Adrian Colesberry rated it really liked it. This is the final masterwork of a Czech philosopher who was the mentor of Vaclev Havel. He and Havel were arrested together in Havel survived the interrogation while Patocka was beaten to death.

He was interrogated and he died in a hospital a few days later. In the first three, he explores the idea of meaning and how we create meaning in our lives. How in prehistory This is the final masterwork of a Czech philosopher who was the mentor of Vaclev Havel. How in prehistory, meaning was naively accepted through myth and religion, but then people rise above subsistence, feel their free time, wander away from the naive belief in the myths they have been given and so history begins and the need to create meaning comes with it.

The polis becomes the center-piece of the western solution to the creation of meaning. Meaning and history can only be created by a free people. The last three essays are a virtuosic review of these concepts of history and meaning as played out across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I'll paste below some quotes that I found particularly edifying: P44 The point of history is not what can be uprooted or shaken, but rather the openness to the shaking.

P46 Heidegger's concept is historical In rejecting the disinterested spectator as a presupposition of phenomenologizing. Instead, it focuses on an interest in being as the starting point and the condition for understanding deep phenomena. The very idea of having an objective view of sexuality is absurdist. P 47 That is precisely the meaning of the formula that humans in their being are concerned with their being. Their own being is given to them as a responsibility, not as a curiosity.

Humans have to carry on their being, carry it out, and they are depending on whether they accept this task or seek to ease it, escaping from it and hiding it from themselves. P 56 As long as value is understood as an eternal spring of meaningfulness, Idea, or God as that which bestows meaning on things, human acts, and events, it remains possible to interpret the experience of the loss of meaning as a flaw not in that which bestows meaning but of that on which it is bestowed.

That is an advantage which represents a barrier against the nihilism of meaning. It comes to be characterized by an immensely successful mathematical formalism. It's most successful as it focuses on a mastery of nature, of movement, and of force. It makes itself felt already in the "wars of liberation" and the revolutionary crises of the nineteenth century.

For that reason, the beginning of history in the strict sense is the polis. However I have become convinced that the categories of good and evil--the moral enlightenment of a Comenius crossed with American personalism, Schweitzer's respect for life and Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic--become legitimate once they have fully confronted and transcended the vision of the cosmic night of which the dark romantic philosophers speak.

View all 4 comments. Jan 12, Becky Ankeny rated it it was amazing. I enjoyed it very much, both because of the intellectual stretch it was and because of the spirit of the author I sensed behind the text. You can read about his work in general on Wikipedia, so I'll just share what I found meaningful. In the final analysis, the soul is not a I read this book because Jacques Derrida discussed it at length in The Gift of Death.

In the final analysis, the soul is not a relation to an object, however noble like the Platonic Good but rather to a Person who sees into the soul without being itself accessible to view Another thought I appreciated was the idea that once someone moves into an understanding of Good as a Person clothed in mystery, revealing the "problem of divine love and of the God-Human who takes our transgressions into godself," changing the notion of transgression into "an offense against divine love" which presents the human with personal responsibility in relation to the divine.

A phrase I value is "the community of the shaken," which refers to those whose partial understandings have been shaken and demolished but who have faith in this Good Person beyond understanding so that they can move into yet another understanding that they know to be partial even while they retain unshaken faith. May 02, Carl Hindsgaul rated it did not like it. Philosophically speaking very bad and outdatet. Full of non-sequitors and contradictions - and a lot of fantastical postulations about humanity's "inner core" and "very being" contra "decadence" and "enstrangement" and so on.

Dec 27, Ivi rated it it was ok Shelves: philosophy-or-for-study , have-at-home. T rated it it was amazing Aug 03, Boris rated it really liked it Nov 25, Vinsent rated it really liked it Nov 17, Ulkar rated it it was amazing Apr 09, Michal Dord rated it really liked it Sep 21,