Whooshup Reorganization

To reflect what this blog has become, the format has changed to emphasize the enormous number of useful links to resources we provide. To go to the whooshup blog and conversations about these resources, just scroll to the bottom of the lists of resources!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Heidegger Channel

“All Heidegger, All the Time”. Little did I know what I was getting into when I got this pretty piece of technology called an iPod Nano, and accidently tuned in to the Webcast Berkeley site. I wonder what “Heidegger” means, says I? Seemed like something I should have heard of years ago when I was in college......

Well, many of us spent the last year listening to podcasts past and present, with the ghostly “dead hand” of Heidegger pushing some of us through the machinations of Second Life. The podcasting phenomenon allowed people all over the world to listen to these lectures, and meet a couple of times a week in Second Life (if they chose) to wrangle over their lack of understanding of the material. As we were attempting to discuss Division II of Heidegger’s “Being & Time”, and Kierkegaard’s “Fear & Trembling” to a general audience, there was lots to be confused about. We generally had 4 to 6 people show up consistently when we finished the Spring 2008 semester.

A Group of Four elected to continue our experiment in Second Life with a course of study we called “Later Heidegger” over the Summer. We used as the text for the course “Basic Writings”, plus a series of archived podcasts by Dreyfus which covered much of this material. We hoped this would be easier than “Being & Time”, but soon found ourselves swimming once again through more wet sand! However, we kept up with it, and I suspect we all got something out of it by summer’s end - plus more books by or about Heidegger.

This past semester we had the chance to continue the experiment with Philosophy 6. Homer to Moby Dick, seasoned with plenty of Heidegger. It was a bit reminiscent of Monty Python’s Dead Bishop sketch ....

Well there's rat cake ... rat sorbet... rat pudding... or strawberry tart.
Man: Strawberry tart?!
Woman: Well it's got some rat in it.
Man: How much?
Woman: Three, rather a lot really.
Man: ... well, I'll have a slice without so much rat in it.

Well, our slices of Homer, Aeschylus, Virgil, John, Dante, Melville and sometimes Luther and Pascal all contained rather a lot of that philosophical rat Heidegger! The “auf toten hand” was never far away...

Professor Dreyfus has a style of channeling Heidegger’s work in his lectures which has attracted a following from the general public all over the world. The Second Life experiment was presumably a response to the overwhelming interest his podcasts attract. For a number of reasons, it never really took off, due partly to technical difficulties and also to the semester’s subject matter. Philosophy 6, although challenging, deals with works which are better known to the general public, and would have been a better starting point for the experiment. Unfortunately, nobody really knew about it in Fall 2008, so like a tree falling in the woods, it withdrew into its own soundlessness.

Lifting a line from Heidegger, which he lifted from Holderlin, “For as you began, so will you remain”. If it’s one thing I have learned in the year long study of Heidegger, it’s how much I don’t know. Looking things over, they seem different than when first apprehended, and no doubt will continue to evolve as my understanding/mis-understandings deepen. What is the point? Perhaps “philosophy is held together by its questions rather than its answers” (Roy Sorenson, A Brief History of the Paradox”). There remains a lot more of Heidegger than what we have covered to date. Perhaps only the podcast can save us now...

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