Sunday, November 12, 2006

The widely and rapidly spreading devastation of language

Jaques Derrida, in his insightful interpretations of Heidegger, has provided an important key to understanding this essential, problematical feature of Heidegger's conception of Being, which seems to have led Heidegger quite naturally to identify with, and possibly to take his cue from, Nietzsche's tragic sense of the eternal return of the same and will-to-power, as adequate definitions of the essence of Being. And the same problematical feature seems to have led Satprem, in his interpretation of the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, to characterize man's fate as one of 'only destruction and death.' But these 'conceptions' of Being -- at the highest range of mental understanding -- are still only human conceptions.
Derrida points out that "Heidegger's thought (in Being and Time) is guided by the motif of the proximity of Being to the essence of man," and he makes this important and relevant observation: "It remains that the thinking of Being, the thinking of the truth of Being, in the name of which Heidegger de-limits humanism and metaphysics, remains as thinking of man. Man and the name of man are not displaced in the question of Being such as it is put to metaphysics. Even less do they disappear. On the contrary, at issue is a kind of reevaluation or revalorization of the essence and dignity of man. What is threatened in the extension of metaphysics and technology -- and we know the essential necessity that leads Heidegger to associate them one to another -- is the essence of man, which here would have to be thought before and beyond its metaphysical determinations.
The widely and rapidly spreading devastation of language not only undermines aesthetic and moral responsibility in every use of language; it arises from a threat to the essence of humanity. Where else does 'care' tend but in the direction of bringing man back to his essence? What else does that in turn betoken but that man becomes human? Thus, humanitas really does remain the concern of such thinking. For this is humanism: meditating and caring that man be human and not inhumane, 'inhuman,' that is, outside his essence. But in what does the humanity of man consist? It lies in his essence (from Heidegger's, 'Letter on Humanism,' in Basic Writings, p.198-202)." (Margins of Philosophy, p. 128-129)

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