Friday, September 28, 2007

Repetition and negativity do not take place in the present for Heidegger. They take place in the future of Dasein

The Joyful Knowing philosophy, literature, art, and other things Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Negativity, Repetition, and das Geschehen das Daseins
The "historizing" of Dasein, or, rather, das Geschehen das Daseins, is repetition at the same time as it is negativity, Heidegger says. At first, this appears to be the same thing that Hegel claims.For Hegel, consciousness lifts itself to the level of Spirit, and thus to history, whenever it negates itself determinately, when it employs the power of Spirit and not merely just consciousness. Employing this other power, it becomes other than itself, obviously. But it becomes other than itself in such a way that it reasserts itself as itself, takes all of itself up into itself and comprehends this self through negating the whole of it. This is repetition of the self, but repetition in such a way that it is the repetition and also the denial of repetition, in having this repetition make consciousness other. In other words, it is a repetition that does not just merely reassert, but reasserts so consciousness is lifted into a higher sphere of consciousness, i.e. Spirit, the Concept in its work.
For Heidegger, however, we must reevaluate precisely what we mean by negativity and repetition. Historizing then will still be a matter of repetition through negation, but it will not be a reassertion of a consciousness after it comprehends its own action on the level of the Concept. Rather, it will be repetition as understood through what Hegel calls abstract negation. In other words, it will not be repetition through determinate negation. The negation that Dasein will undergo will be a holding fast to a negativity that is not merely the death-in-life of determinate negativity, of negativity that produces being and is produced by the being that it negates. Rather, this abstract negativity is a death that is abstract, that is, in Hegelian language, pure nothingness, except that it does not, like in Hegel's Science of Logic, remain commensurate with pure being. It is a holding fast to a death that is indeterminate in its negativity, in its lack of being, in its nothingness--this is why we call it "abstract."
The sense of repetition through negation that Heidegger employs is one that is true of a being "frei fur seinen Tod an ihm zerschellend auf sein faktisches Da such zuruckwerfen lassen kann," that is, free for its death in such a way that in breaking itself against it, this being can get thrown back to the fact of its openness, into its "there" (Sein und Zeit, 509; Being and Time 437). The breaking or shattering of oneself against death is an act of negation that holds fast to death as indeterminate and uncertain: it is what Heidegger calls Sein zum Tode, being-towards-death. Thus, it is negation in the abstract, in its indeterminacy.
As such a negation, we can see that it produces repetition not in the sense that in this negation Dasein takes up all of itself into itself and annhilates it determinately. No. Dasein takes itself and shatters itself against annhilation itself, its own possibility of not being in the abstract; that is, its own possibility of being nothing at any time, in any place; its own indeterminate possibility of being nothing. Put a different way, this is Dasein's access to the withdrawal of its own Being. It is not access to Being itself. Rather, it is the access of Dasein to the potential for its Being to not be, to go away from it, and thus in this access Being itself withdraws, or at least unconceals itself in its withdrawing as the withdrawal of Being. Heidegger will later say that this point of access is the enowning of Being, Ereignis, the acceptance of a being into the play of the movement of Being in its withdrawal and the giving of Being. Regardless, it is clear that this negation repeats in a way in which it repeats itself as the shattering against death that it is.
Repetition through this shattering of Dasein against death then is the movement in negation in which Dasein gets thrown back into its openness, into its potential to shatter itself. It is not a repetition of the identical, but of a holding together of the Same (cf. Identity and Difference). Why does it get thrown back?
Well, if Dasein is not taking itself up into itself and annhilating this totality, it must be a sort of taking-up that cannot be a taking-up of something. In other words, it cannot be a taking-up at all, a reassertion, a return of the identical (for the identical is always what gets taken up; what gets taken up is taken up by something that can comprehend it, and therefore that for it is selfsame, never shifty, never able to become something different so as not to be taken up by what comprehends it). Nothing is doing any comprehending here, any totalizing, that would require the reassertion of what is comprehended as "a totality," as "the comprehended." Rather, by a process of standing out into a void, indeterminate nothing, Dasein is sustains itself as this indeterminacy, because it is this indeterminacy, it is this potential that is, at this moment, in being-towards-death or abstract negation, the potential for itself not to be. In relentlessly remaining here, in the nothing, Dasein gets thrown or projected back (zuruckwerfen) onto itself.
In other words, the self that projects itself into the nothing brings itself with it into the nothing, into the indeterminacy of the potential to be nothing. This bringing-along is what Heidegger means by "throwing back." The "back," is also a "forward into." Projecting itself into the nothing in its indeterminacy, Dasein throws itself back into what is projected forward into the nothing, the projection itself. Thus it repeats: it returns to itself as itself.This is das Geschen das Daseins, "historicity." The "bringing-along" or "stretching itself along," (Sicherstreckens, cf. Being and Time, 427) is the process that makes up the historicality of the Being of Dasein. In other words, historicality is the holding together of Dasein in the withdrawing of its Being, the effacement or sending away of itself in such a way that Being is sent back, given as it is, i.e. again as itself. History is not the presence or return of past moments of presence. It is what happens as we lead ourselves into the future, into nothing. But back to repetition.
The "stretching itself along" into indeterminate nothingness is distinct from the projection itself only in its inauthenticity. Authentically, the bringing-along of Dasein into the nothing is the same as the projection of Dasein into indeterminacy itself. It is this projection "explicitly," as Heidegger says. The explicitness is only there because the same is not what we are used to seeing. Explictly being itself, in this moment Dasein repeats itself, because it is itself (the bringing-along of itself) going back into (brought along into) itself (the projection of itself). The bringing along of itself is brought along into the projecting of itself into the nothing. This is what Heidegger means when he says that "repetition is a [delivering, destining, handing-over Uberlieferung] explicitly--that is to say, a going back into the possibilities [or projecting-power] of Dasein" "Die Wiederholung ist die ausdrukliche Uberlieferung, das heisst der Ruckgang in Moglichkeiten des dagewesenen Daseins..." (Being and Time, 437, Sein und Zeit, 509).
The handing-over of itself to itself in bringing itself along into its projecting of itself into nothing--this is repetition according to Heidegger, the repetition that takes place in abstract negation. Thinking through this is absolutely astounding, and it is the most crucial task that anyone had performed with Hegelian negativity after Marx and Kierkegaard. But both Marx and Kierkegaard, while inquiring into negativity (the first through the his dialectic, the second through his analysis of anxiety), did not inquire into the repetition that this determinate negativity entailed. For Hegel, repetition is the bringing back of a past moment. As Heidegger comes to show, a repetition that takes place in an abstract negation would not focus on a bringing back of what is past, of what gets determined and then negated: it would have to be a "repeating of what is possible," or, in other words, a bringing oneself along into the possibility that one is in indeterminate nothingness. As Heidegger says, "die Wiederholung des Moglichen is weder ein Wiederbringen des 'Vergangenen,' noch ein Zuruckbinden 'Gegenwart' an das 'Uberholte,'"
"The repeating of that which is possible does not bring again something that is 'past,' nor does it bind the 'present' back to that which has already been 'outstripped'" (Sein und Zeit, 509-10, Being and Time, 436). Repetition is the negation taking place indeterminately and manifests itself in a historizing, a bringing along of possibility. As such, it takes place not in a present, but in the future as what is pure, indeterminate possibility. Therefore repetition does not bind a present to an occurance that is-not-now. Repetition brings Dasein along into the future as possible, or historizes into the future, into abstract nothingness. Historizing then is the withdrawing of presence, the withdrawing of presence itself into abstract negativity, the futural possibility of itself as a future. In fact, it has no concern for a present in a Hegelian sense. As withdrawal of presence itself, it is the trace of the future, the trace of nothingness.
I put these last reflections down quickly and without clarity, but I hope the general sense of "historizing" and its difference from a Hegelian historizing will be made clear. Historizing is repetition in negativity, but it is indeed this in a very specific sense that requires one to dispense with the notion of the present. Repetition and negativity do not take place in the present for Heidegger. They take place in the future of Dasein, as the coming-to-itself and bringing-itself-along of Dasein, i.e. as historizing. Posted by Mike at 12:35 PM Labels: , , , , , ,

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