Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Academic Pro-/Mastur-bation

Only two classes down. But for the third class, I already have an incomplete/extension. So, for the most part, I'm done with the semester. Done with coursework altogether. Not counting, of course, the 70 US history final exams I'll have to grade next Wednesday. Or the grade calculation for the philosophy course I teach online.

As per usual, here are excerpts from my academic work this fall term. Should you be so inclined, enjoy!
Jew - Poet - Exile: Reading Jabès through Derrida
One wonders if there is ultimately any difference between God and the Book of God. But because we are familiar with the Derridean notion of différance, we know that this question is a ruinous trap: God in position a can never be the selfsame, identical God in position b. Each repetition of “God” is kept apart in a deferring difference. If God could coalesce into a hegemonic and boundless totality, there would be no word that could contain “him.” This “God” would be unspeakable and hence unknowable. Jabès can write “God” only insofar as he cannot write God (himself), thereby relying on the necessary apophasis of the divine. Moreover, the “Book of God” stands in synecdochically for the manifest universe—all that is, including God—but cannot ever merely substitute for God; otherwise, the entire universe (including God) would have to be contained within this one sentence. Additionally, the book of man is on the same scale as the Book of God. Both texts must incorporate infinity without overlapping or subsuming one under the other. This logical impossibility opens an aperture through which we can begin to understand both the divine and the mortal: in Jabès’ literary and theological systems, rationalism is not the route proper to our knowledge. The manner in which Jabès employs both apophasis and synecdoche requires a metaphysical framework that continually attempts to annul itself. Every word he writes both names and nullifies its referent.
Heidegger's "The Thing"
Although we stated earlier that a jug as a vessel is capable by its very form of containing something within its sides and base, we see now that we were speaking too hastily, for it is not the jug’s sides and base that actually do the containing after all. While it is true that the clay used to form the jug’s structure allows for its impermeability, that which is impermeable is not what does the containing. Rather, the emptiness “within” the jug is what does the jug’s containing; it is the jug’s nothingness that makes manifest the being of the jug. If this is the case, then the potter does not really produce the jug at all. Whereas earlier we saw how the jug stands forth on its own in an ontic sense, we now see how the jug, in divesting itself of the potter altogether—because, after all, nothing does not need anyone to produce it—stands forth ontologically by itself in its singularity. The potter merely shapes the clay that brings forth the void that does the jug’s containing. But even though the jug requires an emptiness in order to be a containing vessel, the jug is never really quite empty. We can of course view the jug scientifically: it is not empty per se but rather filled with air that is displaced when we fill the jug with wine. Yet it is precisely science that annihilates the thingliness of the jug, thus transforming it into a nonentity. Our scientific perspective is indeed paltry when we allow what the jug truly holds to escape our attention; namely, the outpouring of the gift. But what gives? What is offered by the jug? And how is the jug’s outpouring made manifest? For Heidegger, earth and sky, the gods and mortals all are ingathered into the jug’s empty center. These simple, singlefolded [einfältig] four dwell in the gift of the outpouring, gushing forth from the spring of being.
And here's my proposal for the as yet unwritten term paper:
The Already Ethical: Spatiality and the Problem of Da
Emmanuel Lévinas concludes his essay “Apropos of Buber” by putting into question the Da of Da-sein: “being-there, is that not already occupying another’s place?” His claim that Heidegger’s Da is “already an ethical problem” opens an aperture wherein a questioning of ethics within Heidegger’s articulation of Da-sein’s being can occur. How is ethics a problem—something thrown forth—for Heidegger? Does Da-sein’s thrownness into a there necessitate an ethics as Da-sein finds herself among other beings? How are we to measure the ethical dimension of Da-sein’s leeway [Spielraum] as she not merely fills up space but rather “takes space in” [“Das Dasein nimmt – im wörtlichen Verstande – Raum ein.”] (BT 336, SZ 368)? My essay will be a hermeneutical engagement with relevant passages dealing with spatiality within Being and Time—especially §70 The Temporality of the Spatiality Characteristic of Da-sein—in an attempt to tease out an ethics grounded within Da-sein’s there.
And yes, I do tend to overuse the word "aperture."

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