War and the Communal Predicament

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Is the current revitalization of metaphysics relevant, or just a superficial culling of Asian and western world views? “Death” of ideology, of man, of capitalism, and of other various topoi and tropes is a distinctly post modern tendency engrained as what post-Marxist Fredric Jameson refers to as the “logic of late-capitalism.” Of course Jameson’s construction of metaphysics is a disavowal of the Marxist commodity relations edifice via a sort of adapted cultural-commodity logic of social ideology. In this entry I want to talk about the role war plays on the death of metaphysics in Heidegger and Nietzsche.

The simultaneous strength and catastrophic weakness of Being and Time is Heidegger’s emphasis on Dasien i.e. the “communal turn.” The early war-period for Heidegger was a time of intellectual ferment and political neutrality. He was of course politically sympathetic to Nazism more in terms of an intellectual necessity of his time and as I will argue as the very manifestation of his thought. Here is why I think that above all other thinkers Heidegger is the most important philosopher of the twentieth century.

1. Heidegger’s metaphysics anticipated the twentieth century to a greater extent than Nietzsche – techne schematized the existential situation of twentieth century by placing man’s communal situation as the central predicament, Being and Time marked this as the famed turn of Dasien from individual to communal fate. Let’s revisit Heideggarian fate: that the progress of industrial society actually brought man’s relations to a communal predicament based on man’s estrangement from essence in the face of a relationship to technology that mandates a repositioning of existence. This is usually coined as the “communal turn,” i.e. the source of his metaphysical association with Nazism, or the plight of German(ness).

2. War, because it is man vs. man, reifies the missing essence itself, the essence that human(ness) has lost connection with via its turn towards an alienated communal fate. The emergence of war was the result of the turn because it fills the gap, (requirement ) or human(ness) to be affirmed.

The significance that war was to have on Heideggerian metaphysics and indeed man’s relations is paraphrased as such: in dying for others I am thrown back to myself as totally myself in my own uniqueness. Heidegger’s “enemy” then was the thing that threatened the “community.” By thing of course we must again enter metaphysics and notice that Heidegger’s epistemologies resemble a sort of post-Platonism; by subordinating human struggle to the all embracing “one” – all of the opposed forces are what gathers the community together, Heidegger was an absolute historicist. So then in this case the enemies are mandated by the loss of essence felt by the community, which many have accused of course rightly that this line of thought provided justification/rationalization for, of the “struggle” of the German Reich.

Although built out of conflict, the epistemology that structures techne holds a sort of, “how much truth can man handle” paradigm. The striving of alienated communal existence to reinstitute elusive essence, and that war, as the synthesis of human struggle answers the absolute… Indeed Heidegger was Nietzsche’s culminating heir, in all the ost catastrophic sense. We can now see why Heidegger claimed that, “war is the ultimate father of all things.”

To Heidegger, Nazism assumed the very metaphysical construct he had created as the challenge to overcome. To Heidegger Nazism was effective in that it placed “technology” as the project to combat all threats to the all embracing one which mandates an enemy to maintain semblance. The techne in this case is what man has been drawn aloof from in a radical with drawl from other men via the return to communal fate. Zizek has drawn a parallel that illuminates this paradox, that by technology, Heidegger meant that the dimension of “from within,” or from within the community is the problem of technological mobilization realized – i.e. the restoration of the problem of individuality. To Heidegger democracy was never at all possible because of the antinomy of the communal fate.

The two epistemologies of Nietszche’s thought are the following:

1. Plato’s sun – instructed Heidegger’s war-oriented solutions by embracing this striving for fullest truth, for full essence; that if man is given a technological mobilization, or in this case, through a reevaluation of a phenomenology of the spirit, man’s incorporation of techne leads him towards attaining missing essence.

2. The post modern truth constellation of appearance and aesthetic reality vs. reality. Of course most clichéd estimations of this view notice the “perspectival” state of all truth, as informed purely by subjecthood, that institutional truth networks have diffused into “decentered” relationship to each other. This is the Foucauldian track of power relations, sought via the excavation of texts asking the discursive question meant to find knowledge and to identify the evolution of power relations by asking, “on what basis was the truth teller able to utter the truth about a subject, and by what process of discursive practices and discipline was he able to enter a realm of truth?

Of course our contemporary situation surprisingly brings the new age view as closest to the Platonic sun model and the post modern academic view of #2 decentered truth as the primary model of the secular left. The notion that the “truth” is not the real state of things, that the “truth” is actually the gap which separates one gap from another – leads to the absolutist choice. The Buddhist inspired solution is that we must come to grips with the “incommensurability of the gap, that the gap itself is the question. Of course for Heidegger we had a communal struggle as justified via a nostalgia for the Greek pantheon and the solution was obvious, man would have to fight it out…

The current epistemological predicament involves the major problem of the gap(s) as “how do we come to peace with incommensurability itself?” The solution is again very Buddhist: stay attached but keep a distance, do not, as Heidegger recommended remove yourself from public life to await the Gods, rather come to terms with the very antinomy of the post modern predicament by hiding from the shadow of the gap and by embracing it’s negative effects.

Is there another road to mobilization in the face of techne? Must we disavow the relevance of democracy as Heidegger did and block ourselves from another world? Or do we have to keep a distance from the life-world and it’s metaphysical struggles as sideline Buddhists?

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