Saturday, November 07, 2009

I lost interest in Sartre reading his later stuff and turned to Wittgenstein and Nietzsche

enowning Thursday, May 06, 2004
Sofia asked me why I started Ereignis. It was mainly to learn this web and HTML stuff, back in 1995. I learn practical things best by doing rather than reading about them, so I decided to create a website that people would find useful, to give me feedback, so I could improve it, and learn some more. At first I considered making a site on the best band out there, but I found there were already several sites on The Fall, and Nick Cave was also covered.

I had always been interested philosophy so I looked for philosophy web sites and discovered that the only philosophy web sites listed on Yahoo (the web's table of contents back then) were for Ayn Rand and a couple of swamis. The field was wide open.

I decided to narrow the scope to something I could do a decent job for. I had more books by or about Sartre than any other philosopher but my interest in him had peaked in my late teenage years, while I was finding Wittgenstein and Heidegger more interesting, and I had more on the latter. So I searched the web for anything related to Heidegger and found a handful of papers that people had posted. The internet already had ftp sites with philosophy documents before the web came along. I also found pages on other unrelated Heideggers, and pages in languages I could not read. I collected the links to the pages on Martin Heidegger in English, turned them into a web page, signed up for a web hosting account on, and posted the page.

I named the site Ereignis because in German it means "event" and I understood visiting a web page as an event. The web is not static, it changes over time, and a page appearing in a browser is an event. Dasein was another option for a page on Heidegger, but it seemed rather silly as the name of a web site. I didn't want to call it the Heidegger Home Page because that seemed too presumptive. Any day someone that understood Heidegger better could do a better job, and then having a site presuming to be his "home page" would ring wrong. 4:31 PM <<> For when Ereignis is not sufficient. Appropriation appropriates! Send your appropriations to enowning at Name: enowning View my complete profile

Tuesday, December 14, 2004 Vinay emailed some questions.
I came across your website while surfing the net. Could you answer a few questions about Heidegger? First, how and why are you interested in Heidegger?

Two things, a general curiousity about ontology and happenstance.

As a kid I was curious about how the universe works and why things are the way they are. As a teenager my interests changed from science and cosmology to the human condition in particular. I wasn't inclined toward religious explanations for things, so I looked for writers that tried to explain things without falling back on divine intervention to answer questions about the universe and how one should behave. I developed an interest in philosophers as the non-theological explainers of the world. I was first attracted to Camus and Sartre, and from them went on to read about the philosophy canon and the existentialist tendency in particular. My high school in Sussex didn't have a professional librarian so I got myself appointed head librarian my junior year. That let me order whatever books I wanted to read next, and I read widely.

Reading De Beauvoir's diaries in India the summer after high school, I came across the name Heidegger for the first time. I went to college and got a couple engineering degrees but kept reading philosophy from the university library. I lost interest in Sartre reading his later stuff and turned to Wittgenstein and Nietzsche. At that time the popular philosophers in the university bookstores were French writers. I found them entertaining, but mainly literary and sociological, and not addressing the fundamental questions I was interested in. I also started to get interested in the proposition that machines could think and started learning how to write programs for purposes other than solving equations.

After college, while looking for something new to read in philosphy, and picked up Heidegger's Basic Writings. I dipped into that for a while and some of it was interesting. Then I got Introduction to Metphysics to read on a trip to Rome, and the ideas in that book resonated with me. I thought Heidegger was asking good questions, even though there were passages I couldn't decipher. After that I started to read other writer's explanations of what Heidegger was saying and began reading the Greek philosophers again. When Mosaic and Winsock first appeared on PCs, I decided to learn how the web worked by building my own web site. And that's covered in this posting.

What would be your approach to study Heidegger, say the order in which to read his various writings, the preparation/background required?

I think Heidegger has a few fundamental insights which he then elaborates from different angles, or along different paths, as he would put it. Many of the introductory books these days are quite good at explaining his major insights. Although none of them are perfect, and pays to read around and look for a congenial writer. I would start with Polt's book.

Ultimately you want the read Heidegger himself. Once you're bootstrapped and have a general understanding of how he thinks, it pays to read his words, and learn more that way. I would also suggest reading Heidegger about some philosopher you are already familiar with. Heidegger had a full university career, lectured on many parts of the canon and about several key philosophers, always in light of his thinking, and dozens of his lectures have been published.

Do you think the translations are enough to understand Heidegger, or is German necessary?

There are places where it is necessary to look at the German to realize that Heidegger is using two German words that have been translated with a single English word. It is also helpful to read why translators chose the words they did and what the alternatives are. There are those who claim that Heidegger can only be understood in German, but I find that many translations and commentrary are intelligible and consistent enough to presume that Heidegger's thinking carries over into English.

It will be helpful if you could answer these questions. I am going to answer them for myself too, but having another's opinion would only help. We could discuss about things after my second reading is done.

Cheers and may your reading open things up. 10:01 PM

Books introducing Heidegger
9 Aug 2009 ... Walter Biemel, translated by J. L. Mehta, New York, Original Harvest, 1976. The first two chapters provide an overview and the subsequent ...
Books of essays on Heidegger
Heidegger and Vedanta: Reflections on a Questionable Theme, J. L. Mehta; West-East Dialogue: Heidegger and Lao-tzu, Otto Pöggeler; Heidegger, Taoism, ...

J.L. Mehta on Heidegger, hermeneutics, and Indian tradition - Google Books Result
by Jarava Lal Mehta, William J. Jackson - 1992 - Philosophy - 309 pages This book presents a selection of essays by the Indian philosopher J.L. Mehta on the topics of hermeneutics and phenomenology containing many original ...

J. L. Mehta, Expert on Heidegger, Dies at 76 - The New York Times Published: Tuesday, July 12, 1988
Dr. J. L. Mehta, an Indian philosopher and expert on the German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger, died of a heart attack yesterday while visiting Cambridge, Mass. He was 76 years old and lived in Jabalpur, India.
Dr. Mehta, a retired professor at Banares Hindu University, taught at Harvard Divinity School from 1968 to 1978 as a visiting professor at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions.
Schooled in the philosophies of India, Dr. Mehta developed an interest in his early student days in the works of Freud, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Heidegger. In his writings and lectures, Dr. Mehta showed an unusual facility to move between Eastern and Western thought.
His major work was ''The Philosophy of Martin Heiddeger,'' first published in the United States by Harper & Row in 1971. A collection of Dr. Mehta's essays, ''India and the West: The Problem of Understanding,'' was published by Scholars Press in 1985.

At Harvard, Dr. Mehta taught courses in Indian philosophy, including a class taught with Robert Nozick, the Harvard philosopher. Dr. Mehta also taught courses on philosophical hermeneutics, the science of interpretation.
Dr. Mehta is survived by his wife, Vimala Mehta; a daughter, Veena Mandloi, of New Dehli, and two grandchildren. Dr. Mehta will be cremated; a memorial service will be held at Harvard next week. A version of this obituary appeared in print on Tuesday, July 12, 1988, on section A page 23 of the New York edition.

Feel Philosophy: J.L.Mehta
I was claimed by science, its methodology and outlook, as well as by depth psychology in all its offshoots and ramifications, and in all its dubiousness... All I am suggesting is that, the new awareness of the dimension of historicity in human matters, a new sensitiveness about the linguisticity of experience and about the world-context of the life of particular traditions, all this has placed us today in a situation where we can seek to read this ancient text afresh and thus gain novel insights from it. [93] 6:17 PM

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