Sunday, August 24, 2014

As This Openness

The great Czechoslovakian philosopher Jan Patočka writes in his First Essay of the Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History, "Humans in their inmost being are nothing other than this 'openness' [to what there is (to which belongs being)]" (5). Almost immediately he clarifies: "Openness designates the possibility (basic possibility) of being human..." (6). Perhaps it's not too flippant, then, to ask the question, Which came first, the openness to the possibility of being human or the human who finds itself as the possibility of openness itself?

In this chicken-egg scenario, we get to the crux of the problem: there is no first or prime position. Openness and human being are always co-constituted in their very possibility. Yet the finding oneself already takes place within spatio-temporality of history as heresy. That is, heresy shows itself in the unfolding of finding oneself among the folds of history. The heterodoxy of this finding unfolds being as the being of the human (i.e., human being, not as a noun but as a verbal expression). In the choosing to have found oneself among beings (that which is in its very possibility), the human being finds itself as an expression of temporality and as time itself in its heretical modality.

To chose to find oneself as something that is—which always shows itself as one of the basic possibilities of human being—predetermines the openness to having found oneself as something of one's own choosing [haeresis]. Of course, the opposite, too, shows itself as a possibility: one can also choose to have never chosen to find oneself amid beings who exist. In this case, being would operate within the calculus of never-having-been-disclosed-as-that-which-is. Remembering Heraclitus: physis, in showing itself as something that springs forth from apparent nothingness, hides even its own hiding. This is the way in which the world (as the totality of what is) reveals itself while manifesting its own disclosure of nonbeing (as the totality of what is not).

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