«Old World Landowners» and ontological difference
Логика и философия
The publication of «Ontology Of Time» has been a major (though certainly underappreciated) event for me and, I believe, for the scholarly world at large. I make extensive use of this book as a handbook on the history of philosophy. However strange this may seem at first sight, mainly because this definitely is not a handbook on the history of philosophy.
«Old World Landowners» and ontological difference
Saint-Petersburg State University,,
Department of Philosophy
The publication of «Ontology Of Time» has been a major (though certainly underappreciated) event for me and, I believe, for the scholarly world at large. I make extensive use of this book as a handbook on the history of philosophy. However strange this may seem at first sight, mainly because this definitely is not a handbook on the history of philosophy. This book is not about philosophy, it is philosophy itself. And, since it is philosophy, it is also eo ipso a history of philosophy. Because any philosophy of the past is revealing its meaning if it is revealing it at all now. Only if it is being understood now, it can start on its journey to its historical past. This understanding, which is always taking place now, does not «sublate» it in a Hegelian synthesis, but provides an opportunity to «think what has remained unthought» (Heidegger). Like Heidegger, but quite on his own, Aleksey G.Chernyakov takes his step back towards Aristoteles, for instance. He adheres faithfully to Aristoteles' text. And then the text reveals itself... This happens though there is no modernizing, no forced assimilation of Aristoteles to Husserl or anybody else. Chernyakov himself states: I am not making a phenomenologist of Aristoteles. Any historical event, including also any event in the history of philosophy, is happening twice: then (sometime in the past) and now. The tradition establishes itself in this double movement from there to us and from us back there in a pro- and retro-spective way, so to speak. The past is being acquired now as its present. The time is being fulfilled now, revealing a retrospective of «historical» events in the «past». The difference between philosophical thought, when it is sometimes coming, when it is «happening» to someone, and the scientific thought, is that it does not become obsolete. The person being visited by it may be going through various stages in his development. Yet the philosophical thought as «understanding of understanding» is not divided into stages. The whole is perceived all at once. It cannot be arrived at in consecutive steps. We are quite used to that in painting: there are «periods», sometimes even a «best period», yet every work is precious and unique on its own. That is to introduce the fact that Aleksey Chernyakov experienced a crisis two or three years ago. He said then: «I am tired of messing about with consciousness». And after that, without abandoning the topics which had always interested him, he began to study Alain Badiou, to lecture on Being and Event, Logics of Worlds... «Messing with consciousness» was not, of course, a traditional philosophy of subject. But then the project of «phenomenology without transcendental subject» also turned out to be too limited. Though it may be that Aleksey Chernyakov would go back to it... via Badiou. Who knows! Howbeit, in his «first period» Chernyakov has given to the world the Ontology of Time. What he would produce in his second period, we can, alas, only guess.
Talking about activism, passivity, hesitations in regard to Chernyakov: the beginning and the end of a philosopher's activity is the thinking itself. It does not have to transform itself into some kind of result outside of the sphere of thinking, into any actions besides writing and speaking. The thought does not owe anything to anybody: we all are indebted to it for the possibility to think... Yet Aleksey was a good teacher. His explanations were very good and clear...
This is a well-known story: two cosy old persons, Pulkheriya Ivanovna and Afanassiy Ivanovich, are leading a cosy life in their warm cosy little house. Pulkheriya Ivanovna gratifies her husband's palate with donuts, and he is frightening her for fun's sake: What if there's a fire! What if there's a war declared! God knows what you are talking about! Pulkheriya Ivanovna is afraid. Yet there comes also Afanassiy Ivanovich's turn to be frightened when, after a wonderful pet kitty has run away to join wild cats, come back and run away again, Pulkheriya Ivanovna declares that this was the death come to claim her. God knows what you are talking about! was all Afanassiy Ivanovich found to say, terribly frightened. And later, when the old lady actually died and was buried, Afanassiy Ivanovich, back home after the funeral, saw the empty room, from which even the chair in which Pulkheriya Ivanovna used to sit was removed, and began to cry: «he sobbed, sobbed violently, sobbed in a disconsolate way, and tears flowed like a flood out of his dim eyes».
Five years later the narrator came again to those parts, he visited Afanassiy Ivanovich, and when they sat to dinner and the maid served mnishki in sour cream, Afanassiy Ivanovich, wishing to say that this was his late wife's favourite dish, could not manage to speak out the word «dead»: «... and suddenly tears sprinkled out of his eyes; his hand went down on his plate, the plate turned upside down, fell from the table and broke; he was smeared with sour cream all over. He sat insensible, holding insensibly his spoon, and tears flowed down uninterruptibly on his napkin, like a brook, like a never-silent fountain.»
«What was it?» the narrator asks. «Passion or habit?» «Whatever it was, at the moment all our passions seemed to me childish, compared to this one long, slow, almost insensible habit. Several times he tried to speak out the name of the deceased, yet halfway through the word his usually calm face got distorted convulsively, and a child's sobbing pierced my heart. No, those were not the tears that old people usually shed profusely telling about their miserable condition and their misfirtunes; those were not the tears that drop from their eyes over a glass of punch no! Those were tears which flowed without command, by themselves, as an overflow of acute grief of a heart already cooled by years.» Soon after that Afanassiy Ivanovich also died, «not resisting the deep-rooted conviction that Pulkheriya Ivanovna was calling him to come.»
Three times in this story we hear a call: first as a vague anxiety which just sets off the well being of a well-fed life: What if there's a fire! Later on the kitty acts as a messenger of death. And finally the deceased Pulkheriya Ivanovna calls Afanassiy Ivanovich to come. As the story progresses, it also transforms from a funny story into tragedy. Yet this tragedy remains an anecdote, a story which happened to two old persons in the century before the last. Had not Afanassiy Ivanovich prattled about wars and fires there was really no need to perhaps nothing would have happened. The old man had himself invited the disaster. The old lady also: she got queer in her head first, and then only she died for good. The tragic end is, of course, Afanassiy Ivanovich's sobbing. Yet this is a very strange end for a passion: sobbing, yes, but an unconscious insensible sobbing, yet which makes all our passions seem childish.
Life had lost its meaning for Afanassiy Ivanovich, and nobody can survive loss of meaning, if it ever really happens, because this is a non-human non-experience. Being disconsolate, for instance, is meaningful. A complete and absolute disconsolateness may be a consolation. One can become one with one's grief, refuse to part with it, never change from the condition where one has nothing more to lose. Yet nobody has survived the test of meaninglessness as such; we do not know and we cannot know what a pure absence of meaning is. When we are asking about it, the meaning already exists. Even when one's life loses meaning, it is still present as something lost.
Afanassiy Ivanovich's flood of tears has nothing heroic in it, no conscious refusal to resist, no admittance of a final defeat, nor Christian humility. «Nunc dimittis» cannot be heard in it. The insensible tears do not hide grievance or regret; they are passionless and apathetic. All they mean is that the one who is shedding them has no place in this world. He is not able to care for anything nor to be afraid of anything. He may be «ill at ease» because he «does not care». His «ego» has become equal to «I don't care», it has disappeared as something useless. All the same he still hears Pulkheriya Ivanovna's voice calling him to come... and as long as he hears this call, he, Afanassiy Ivanovich, is and exists.
It seems we are living in the element of meanings as the fish live in the element of water. This is our element, our natural environment. Yet the bad thing is, it is impossible just to remain in it. Although the meaning always already exists, it is not something which is there. The meaning cannot be kept or transmitted over air, wire or waves. It is not present in the genetic or any other code. All of the above implies information, and the nature of meaning, as Heraclitus said, is of fire: all things are exchanged for fire. This is meaning. Which means, it never is, never is there, as something ready. Meaning is always a flash, a birth or generation of meaning.
The language sometimes seems to suggest unexpected things. Once one of those whom it is inevitable to cite (and whom we have already cited speaking about meaning as fire) said when trying to get at the roots of the European reason (reason is not «thinking» as somebody's ability, it is the order itself, the numeration, the λογος or ratio of what exists): «having heard this-here, not mine speech, one has to acknowledge that wisdom is in knowing everything as one». Incidentally, «this-here speech» is the speech of Heraclitus himself for to whom are we listening if not to him? and yet it is not «his», but is Speech-in-itself, to which Heraclitus is listening and which he is serving; well, if wisdom is knowing everything as one, we are, unexpectedly for ourselves, wise when we do not care, when it makes no difference to us, when all is the same to us. And when we do not care at all, the thing which we care least about, which is the most «indifferent» to us, is this wisdom itself.
- the question about the totality of existing things raised from within the existing things is «the paradox of «spectator and actor of the great drama of existence» (Niels Bohr). It implies a certain detachment, an absolutely impossible outside view on existing things. Yet this question itself is a fruit of «theory» (θεωρια, contemplation), and a philosopher of antiquity is a determined «theoretician», not an inventor of scientific theories and hypotheses requiring practical verification, but a «contemplator» of existing things as existing things, to whom the existing things themselves reveal their essential aspect. Let us say it again: they reveal it to the extent of the theoretician's absence of interest in the revelation. Because any «interest», i.e. profit, gained by the researcher by means of his discovery, distorts its essential aspect beyond recognition.
Let us go back to Gogol's text. The fictional story of the old couple is extremely veracious. As veracious as only fiction can be. Not a carefully documented reconstruction of the past, such as the history of historians must be, based on facts and always only conditionally complete, since facts undergo further clarification and the interpretation of facts changes but an absolutely complete, whole, final, «literary» story which is therefore eternally «actual». That is why it concerns everyone of us; it does not produce an impression of being «true to life», it is the truth of life itself.
If we say that the truth of life is that we are born, love, do not love, experience emotions, are sometimes happy and sometimes unhappy and then, sooner or later, die such a statement will not be a lie. Yet these words are not the truth of life itself which is hidden even in their triviality. Yet even when it is openly visible, we do not see it, though it lies before our open eyes. Its own aspect interposes itself between it and us. The truth reveals itself and, being comprised in itself, hides itself. We are just present nearby. What can be done about it? It would not be enough to be always on the alert, to remain awake, not to sleep. ... This is tiring and simply impossible. We had already passed by the truth many times, had trodden on it... till the moment when, as if suddenly called by it (as by a notice «No me pises»1 on a lawn), we stood still trying to understand whence came the calling voice. It may be that we heard nothing, that it was just an illusion. Yet we suddenly felt all funny.
Afanassiy Ivanovich was alas too reckless: had he known beforehand what would happen, he would never had made such jokes about fires and wars. All he wanted was to set off the cosiness by an imaginary disaster, to feel deeper the happiness of domestic life. The house is there, it's warm inside. Yet the homelessness which makes us feel a cold chill in the back has revealed itself in the very core of the home, so to speak. The kitty, the most domestic of all animals... The old lady felt all funny when it disappeared, and when it came back and went away again, the old lady understood what it meant, and understood it rightly. And then Afanassiy Ivanovich also heard the call.
- The Russian translator of Heidegger has to do with the word das Ungeheure. Das Ungeheuer («a monster» and, generally speaking, something «terrible», «unheard-of», «huge»). Its antonym Geheuer can be traced back to the middle high German word gehiure meaning “cosy” and further to the Indogerman *kei- (“lie”) related to the German Heim (“domestic hearth”). The privative un- negates this meaning, yet we are no more talking about monsters: «das Ungeheure is when it is nicht geheuer zumute, when you are feeling “all funny”, when you feel a stranger in what is most familiar to you, in your Heim, near the comfortable domestic hearth…»2 We have to deal here with the complete set of the main concepts of “Old World Landowners”, because it is all funny that you feel when, being called, you suddenly realize that it is not someone calling you, but... Being.
What does this mean? Is it not possible, in a text aiming at some degree of scholarship, to do without such dubious concepts as «call» and, worse still, «the call of being»? What is this personified «being» opening to call a mouth? a maw? It's calling... what horror! All right, let us try to express this another way. Though I am afraid it may take some time.
What I have to say is in fact simple, very simple, most simple, so simple that there's nothing simpler. I have to say that... being is not a thing, is not something existing. Yet without it there is nothing nothing at all. After all, this was always either known or supposed, but it was only in the great era of philosophy, in its turning point, that the formula of ontological difference (distinction between being and existence) drew a line summing up all of the previous metaphysics, from then on termed classical.
This also means another important thing: there's no need for a special preparation, for inducing a special «mystical» state of mind, trance etc., or even for an in-depth diving into an unimaginably complicated «theory of rationality», into a scientific or philosophical doctrine to be able to understand what happened during the transition from the classical to non-classical philosophy. One needs just to discover oneself in this distinction of being and existence, where we all already are, and thus to get rid of the unnecessary burden of «problems», «invented» during the many-centuries-old western history of mankind (yet not fictional, but real problems). It must be noted that these problems are very real, that is, they arise from actual situations involving real things and real people we have to deal with.
This does not mean that one has to forget these «problems», to switch off from them or the like. One does not have to forget anything, but the truth (and it is always the truth of being, of that which actually exists) is not problematic; its nature is such that it is not to be remembered on purpose, to be held in memory, to be learned by heart... «Do not think, but look», Wittgenstein used to say, and some kind of switch then worked to induce his hearers into a state of truth. «Do not look (do not stare about idly), but think», Plato used to say to achieve the same goal. Why could they attain the same thing with contrary advice? Could not the answer be because the Greeks in Plato's time still trusted their eyes, whereas we believe nothing but «theories»?
- Plato is explaining the essence of being just using his fingers: there are the fingers, the index, the middle finger and the ring finger. Each one is a finger. What makes a finger be a finger? This thing which makes a finger a finger, cannot be seen, however hard you look at fingers.4 Yet the fingers themselves are here. We can count them: one, two, three. To be able to count fingers, one has to know what a finger is in itself, independent of its position, its size etc. We can count them, so we know. But how? whence? One cannot arrive at the notion of a finger starting from «simple perceptions» (smooth, rough, round, pink), however many. They just do not exist on their own. That is why a certain inversion of perspetive is necessary to see... no, not the finger (this is not such a big job!), but its «form», which is quite visible and yet hidden. We have to see the «eidos», the essential aspect, that is, the idea...
- Yet as soon as we have decided to address the truth of being, as soon as we have taken this voluntary decision, all is lost, we cannot ever get at any truth any more. We can spend the whole of our life searching for the truth, but the truth does not care, since it is a (Parmenides') goddess and regards our human research in its own light. Socrates knew that and that is why he knew that he knew nothing, thereby knowing everything one needs to know. As becomes a goddess, the truth itself decides to whom and when to reveal itself. And revealing itself it remains hidden. Once more: there is no false mystics in that. We just do not have to presume too much upon ourselves.
Philosophy has paved a way for the western man, following which the western man actually has acquired the habit of presuming too much upon himself. As the saying goes, man has «assumed the role of the subject» and has become quite familiar with it, has become the zealous keeper and the governor of existing things. Has made them his own, as it were. It is well known what this means. «The subject» is a subject who acts, knows and assesses his actions and his knowledge. Yet this does not mean much: has not been always been such a «subject» since the beginning of history? Perhaps he has. Yet the foundation of the universe, its subject in the obsolete sense of underlying foundation of all existing things, has been (up to the modern period) not man, but a variously interpreted essence (Greek ουσια, Latin substance). The novelty of the modern period in history was due to the fact that man, considering the existing things, had begun to start at himself as the knowing, acting and assessing subject.5 Hegel in a way summed up the change, saying that the aim of the new modern (i.e. His, Hegel's) philosophy was to «understand what is true not as a substance only, but equally as a subject».6 He successfully attained this aim. And since that time we are living according to Hegel.
The «objective» universe is stretching wide before the acting, knowing and assessing subject (each of us), the universe in which we are acting, which we are knowing and assessing, as well as our knowledge and our acts. This is the subject-object paradigm which is not ours, but which is we ourselves; we have not had enough time to get used to it because we have grown up with it, with the European Enlightenment. This is our native country, our native paradigm. We cannot escape it. Yet from time to time we are feeling all funny. We think that there's something we have not researched well enough, have underestimated, have left undone, till the moment when we understand that we are not to blame: it's the ground that we are losing from under our feet. The paradigm sometimes stops working. Being calls...
Whence does it come out of oblivion to make its voice heard?
- It was not lost, it has always been there near us or, to be more precise, we have been near it. For all our distinctions, all our «paradigms» past and present are comprised within this fundamental distinction of being and existence which does not allow to interpret the former in the same way as the latter. «Being» has no hidden meaning. All of its meaning is that what exists is. And this «is» of what exists is not something existing like other existing things.
Yet although being has no hidden meaning, the question about its meaning is not idle curiosity, for being is «forgotten» to exactly the same extent to which it always is somehow understood already. Within the framework of the subject-object paradigm, for instance, or in some other way. All understanding of being has its roots in its primordial un-hiddenness which is present in any interpretation of being as its prerequisite. It just so happens that sometimes the simple meaning of being flashes across our mind, piercing us to the marrow, and then we understand, for instance, like Olga A. Sedakova, that there stands a pine tree which does not care at all about us. And we can only thank God for that.
In the immortal pages of his story Gogol has pictured an absolutely good-for-nothing old couple. Once Afanassiy Ivanovich was in the service, once he was able to abduct his sweetheart skilfully enough, yet what did their life turn out to be later? Pure idiocy of endlessly putting in store all kinds of provisions which would certainly rot despite all the partiality of the old couple to fat feeding and the old gentleman's inability to resist his lady's intreaties to eat a morsel, if everybody in the house, from the houskeeper to maidservants stealing food for their relatives' sake and to pigs, sparrows and crows were not eating for two; it turned out to be the stupid talks with casual visitors («the French and the British have again agreed to let Buonaparte loose on us») and disastrous household mismanagement and toleration of shameless thieving of the steward, the village mayor and all the servants, who brought all they had stolen back to the universal source, i.e. the tavern. For all that the author and the reader certainly sympathise with the Little Russian Philemon and Baucis, the somewhat too serious Tovstogubikha and her smiling husband, who are constantly ready to receive guests, living in mutual love in a house with singing doors, clean earthen floors and a black mass of flies on the ceiling. It is on purpose that the «low-class Little Russians», tar-burners and hucksters, who hold all the official clerk jobs, flood Saint-Petersburg with hordes of querulants and deprive their fellow-countrymen of the last penny, are opposed to the calm and pure life of these simple-hearted native rich families. Even the disastrous mismanagement of the landowners is justified by their good-heartedness and the abundance of nature: the blessed country produces everything in plenty, and the old people need so little.
Gogol, as becomes a romanticist that he was, saw the infinite in the finite, the great things in the small things, a Greek tragedy in the story of the old couple. The new tragedy does not necessarily need a tragic hero, but the proportions must be there (the same applies to The Overcoat). Shown in the «small world», the tragedy becomes even more tragic. The «scope» of feelings and passions does not matter. They do not need to be many and great. What is tragic is not the degree of emotional tension: a tragedy is there when a home collapses and there is no more place to be. If your house is old and flaky (and cosiness always means small sizes and old things), you fear all the more to be left without it. A home is certainly not just the building, it comprises everything within and outside the house, the environment you are used to, the place and everything on it, the life and everything which keeps it going. To sum up: people, animals, plants and things. Everything and everybody near. But also that which is farther off, outside the window, beyond the fence, the outskirts of the village, the border... Visitors and news come from there, from beyond the border, from abroad.
Thus a home is the whole of the universe, i.e. a whole universe of which we are the inhabitants. It is all that is and what we know or do not know, with which we come in touch or with which we have to deal, but also that with which we shall never have to deal. This is a universe of what is, of what exists, but also, however strange this may seem, of what is not in this universe and of what cannot be in it. The unknown and the impossible is also there in the whole universe in which we exist and which, as a rule, does not care about us. Yet one way or another all the distinctions we are used to, including the one between what we are used to and what we are not used to, have been made here, in this universe, and we are used to them. Therefore it is our home, big and uncomfortable. Yet we need to have, at the centre of this big and uncomfortable home, a small and comfortable home of ours.
Well, then:the boundary between the big home and the small home is worldly. All the «worldly» (i.e., drawn in the world) boundaries divide things that exist. These are boundaries of things. Yet there is also a boundary of another kind, which divides things that exist and being, not existing things. This boundary passes through us and at the same time it delimits a whole universe and there is nothing beyond it, no other universe, be it more or less real, better or worse and so on. This boundary, dividing things which exist and being which does not belong to things which exist, is the absolute «metaphysical» limit of everything «physical». And when visitors and news come from this boundary, when being-which-is-not-an-existing-thing makes its voice heard, then the universe gets off its axis, threatening to collapse into the groundless on which it stands as on the last foundation as well as all things of this world (and also of the other world if it exists). This means that the universe is such that only «getting off its axis», «losing its reason» (the reason being the order, the usual «count of existing things») makes it whole and makes it a universe. The «home» itself is so made that it is altogether impossible to shut oneself up in it: one day there's a fire, the next day there's a war declared, then a kitty flees in a treacherous way... Probably Gogol the romanticist knew all that.
1 «Do not thread on me!». It told me so in Spanish.
2 Хайдеггер М. Парменид. СПб., 2009. С. 378379
3 I am not speaking about Aristotle, yet the «transfer» is justified.
4 Платон. Государство. Кн. 7 // Платон. Соч. в 4 т. Т. 3. М., 1993. С. 305307.
5 Of course the difference between the old and the new «subject» cannot be doubted: first of all, it is not otherworldly (the transcendental foundation of existings things is God), but, as it were, a foundation which is eternally «keeping aside» from the world, the transcendental subject.
6 Гегель Г.В.Ф. Феноменология духа. СПб., 1992. С. 9.
А также другие работы, которые могут Вас заинтересовать
|68931.||Цикли План. Цикли з передумовою. Цикли з постумовою||58 KB|
|Цикл дозволяє повторити певну і навіть не визначене коли робота циклу залежить від умови кількість разів якінебудь оператори. Дані оператори називаються тілом циклу они крутитимуться в циклі. Прохід циклу називається ітерацією. Як і С PHP підтримує три види циклів: Цикл з передумовою while...|
|68932.||Форми в HTML-документах. Елементи форм||109.5 KB|
|Форма в HTML-документі реалізується тегом-контейнером FORM, в якому задаються всі елементи, що управляють, — поля введення, кнопки і т.д. Якщо елементи, що управляють, вказані поза вмістом тега FORM, то вони не створюють форму, а використовуються для побудови призначеного для користувача...|
|68933.||Перехоплення всіх виняткових ситуацій||32 KB|
|Обробка виняткових ситуацій в мові C++ володіє додатковими властивостями і нюансами, які полегшують її застосування. Ці особливості описуються нижчим. Перехоплення всіх виняткових ситуацій В деяких випадках немає сенсу обробляти окремі типи виняткових ситуацій...|
|68934.||Потоки. Класи потоків С++. Вбудовані потоки C++||35 KB|
|Потоки. Система введення-виводу мови C++, як і її аналог в мові С, оперує потоками. Потік (stream) — це логічний пристрій, одержуючий або передавальний інформацію. Потік пов’язаний з фізичним пристроєм введення-виводу. Всі потоки функціонують однаково, хоча фізичні пристрої|
|68935.||Функції введення-виведення в потік||58.5 KB|
|Бібліотека потоків C++ пропонує набір функцій-членів, які є загальними для всіх операцій введення-виводу потокових файлів. У даному розділі представлені ці функції-члени. Функція-член open відкриває потоковий файл для введення, виводу, дописування (у кінець файлу) і введення-виводу.|
|68936.||Форматування за допомогою членів класу ios||105 KB|
|Зокрема можна самостійно задавати різні прапори форматування визначені усередині класу ios або викликати різноманітні функціїчлени. Розглянемо спочатку засоби форматованого введеннявиводу за допомогою прапорів і функцій членів класу ios.|
|68937.||Перевантаження операторів „«“ і „»“||45 KB|
|Оператор виведення називається оператором вставки insertion opertor тому що він вставляє символи в потік. Функції що перенавантажують оператори вставки і витягання називаються функціями вставки inserters і витягання extrctors відповідно. Створення власних функцій вставки...|
|68938.||Створення власних маніпуляторів||41.5 KB|
|Систему введення-виводу можна удосконалити, створивши свої власні маніпулятори. Ця можливість є важливою по двох причинах. По-перше, можна зосередити декілька операцій введення-виводу в одному маніпуляторі. Наприклад, досить часто в програмах виконується одна і та ж послідовність операцій введення-виводу.|
|68939.||Історія об’єктно-орієнтованого програмування||35.5 KB|
|Оскільки стимулом розробки мови C++ було об’єктно-орієнтоване I програмування (ООП), необхідно розуміти його основні принципи. Обєктно-орієнтоване програмування — досить могутній механізм. З моменту винаходу комп’ютера методології програмування різко змінилися, в основному із-за зростаючої складності програм.|