Category Archives: Jaspers

Being and Time; and Place?

I am currently reading a book by the name of “Heidegger’s Topology: Being, Place, World”. Why topology when Heidegger’s most famous book is “Being and Time”? Heidegger’s notion of Being and his notions on philosophy imply a certain situatedness and site, and he was certainly aware of Jasper’s work on the limit-situation, having been the first reviewer of “The Psychology of Worldviews”. I will post more on this topic and how it relates to the M/s situation as I assimilate the ideas therein with the work on the mathematical topology of Being by Alain Badiou.

A Slave’s Situation

I’ve had various thoughts today surrounding absolute enslavement as a limit-situation, something I’ve blogged on previously, and the idea of situation in general and how it relates to consensual slavery. Situation in general is my term for the human condition, a condition of possibilities proffered and decisions required. Even the most brutal poverty, for example, remains a situation, no matter how limted the possibilities or how painful the decisions. Whereas total destitution, were it possible (without termination of life) would no longer be a situation. In total or absolute destitution there are no longer any options and no decisions to be made, and this non-situation is essentially inhuman.

So an absolute enslavement viewed as an actuality, rather than a vector of possibility, would by the same token be inhuman. Not simply in some sense of inhumane, which would be to reposit a priori human rights and the rest of the metaphysical baggage, but inhuman in the sense that the human condition always contains possibilities and always requires decision.

So what then could absolute enslavement mean or look like? It means that the options put before the slave are those of his/her Master’s choosing, and the decisions made are made, to the highest degree attainable, as the decisions that his/her Master would take. This in its turn is made available to the slave through the shared world, or meaning-context, that the Master gives the slave. It looks almost like a normal relationship to the outside world, because the slave is seemingly free to make decisions and choose from given possibilities just as any other human being is. That the slave will in all probability choose the Master’s will is inherent, but not necessarily apparent.

A limit-situation is defined as a situation in which the absolute, in some way, irrupts into the world of finite beings, mortals, humans. Being mortal itself is the fundamental limit situation, because death is a limit that we can never outstrip or breach, and that we are always in some way, dimly, aware of. Absolute enslavement is a more specific and determined limit-situation where the limit is, quite literally, that of being human and in a situation at all. As an absolute enslavement relationship progresses along a vector that approaches the limit, the slave’s meaning-context becomes more and more aligned with that of the Master until the it approaches a probability of one that the slave will, in any specific situation, act as his/her Master would have them act. As a vector it never quite reaches a probability of one, because in remaining a human situation the slave never has 100% of the information required to be perfectly aligned, and thus is never perfectly sure that the Master’s wishes are in fact being carried out until after the decision is made and enacted. And in never reaching it the slave’s humanity is never lessened, nor his/her ethical responsibilities removed. The ethic involved here, a slave ethic, is the inherent rightness for the slave of doing what his/her Master would will, and it remains an ethical problem and not a moral imperative because what the Master wills cannot be predetermined in an always changing and new situation.


Situations and Limit Situations

Situations

When we do this we discover immediately that people are always connected to the world in a number of concrete ways. Heidegger (1927) in this context spoke of our ‘thrownness’. He said that we are always thrown into a world that is already there to start with and into which we simply get
…amounts to the disclosedness of the fact that Dasein exists as thrown being towards its end. (Heidegger 1927:251)

In other words: death is part of me and to accept my living towards this end gives my life back to me in a new way.

Jaspers (1951, 1971) spoke of limit situations as those situations which define our humanity. Sooner or later we inevitably come up against guilt, death, pain, suffering and failure. The philosophical take on this is that it is more helpful to encourage people to come to terms with some of the inevitable conflicts and problems of living than to help them cover them up. Limit situations are what bring us in confrontation with ourselves in a decisive and fundamentally disturbing way. They evoke anxiety and therefore release us from our tendency to be untrue and evasive about ourselves and our lives.

inserted. It is important to recognize the factual situations that we are confronted with. We are part of a certain culture, a certain environment with a particular climate and history, a certain society and a specific situation. It is only within the givens of that situation that we can exercise our own choices. Sartre (1943) called this our facticity and he recognized that we can never release ourselves from this, even though we can choose our position in relation to it. In terms of psychotherapy it also means that it may be necessary to look at people’s problems in a structural way. Instead of seeing everything as the person’s psychological, emotional or internal problem, difficulties can be seen as part of an overall situation. Context is crucial and has to be taken into account.

Limit situations

Of all the situations in which we can find ourselves there are certain ones that are irrevocable. These situations have to be accepted and worked with. We cannot avoid them or overcome them: we have to learn to live with them. Heidegger emphasised the importance of death as a marker of our finite nature. Death in this sense is not to be taken as something happening to us at some point later, but as something that is relevant to us right now. The realities of our mortality and of our incompleteness have to be faced for us to become aware of and true to our nature, which is to be finite. Heidegger considered that the reality of our death is that it completes us. The recognition of the inevitability of death gives us a certainty that nothing else can give us. The fear in the face of death allows us to claim back our individuality, our authentic being, as we are inevitably alone in death and find ourselves much sobered and humbled by the knowledge of our mortality. Death, according to Heidegger:

…amounts to the disclosedness of the fact that Dasein exists as thrown being towards its end. (Heidegger 1927:251)

In other words: death is part of me and to accept my living towards this end gives my life back to me in a new way.

Jaspers (1951, 1971) spoke of limit situations as those situations which define our humanity. Sooner or later we inevitably come up against guilt, death, pain, suffering and failure. The philosophical take on this is that it is more helpful to encourage people to come to terms with some of the inevitable conflicts and problems of living than to help them cover them up. Limit situations are what bring us in confrontation with ourselves in a decisive and fundamentally disturbing way. They evoke anxiety and therefore release us from our tendency to be untrue and evasive about ourselves and our lives.


Situations and Limit Situations

Situations

When we do this we discover immediately that people are always connected to the world in a number of concrete ways. Heidegger (1927) in this context spoke of our ‘thrownness’. He said that we are always thrown into a world that is already there to start with and into which we simply get
…amounts to the disclosedness of the fact that Dasein exists as thrown being towards its end. (Heidegger 1927:251)

In other words: death is part of me and to accept my living towards this end gives my life back to me in a new way.

Jaspers (1951, 1971) spoke of limit situations as those situations which define our humanity. Sooner or later we inevitably come up against guilt, death, pain, suffering and failure. The philosophical take on this is that it is more helpful to encourage people to come to terms with some of the inevitable conflicts and problems of living than to help them cover them up. Limit situations are what bring us in confrontation with ourselves in a decisive and fundamentally disturbing way. They evoke anxiety and therefore release us from our tendency to be untrue and evasive about ourselves and our lives.

inserted. It is important to recognize the factual situations that we are confronted with. We are part of a certain culture, a certain environment with a particular climate and history, a certain society and a specific situation. It is only within the givens of that situation that we can exercise our own choices. Sartre (1943) called this our facticity and he recognized that we can never release ourselves from this, even though we can choose our position in relation to it. In terms of psychotherapy it also means that it may be necessary to look at people’s problems in a structural way. Instead of seeing everything as the person’s psychological, emotional or internal problem, difficulties can be seen as part of an overall situation. Context is crucial and has to be taken into account.

Limit situations

Of all the situations in which we can find ourselves there are certain ones that are irrevocable. These situations have to be accepted and worked with. We cannot avoid them or overcome them: we have to learn to live with them. Heidegger emphasised the importance of death as a marker of our finite nature. Death in this sense is not to be taken as something happening to us at some point later, but as something that is relevant to us right now. The realities of our mortality and of our incompleteness have to be faced for us to become aware of and true to our nature, which is to be finite. Heidegger considered that the reality of our death is that it completes us. The recognition of the inevitability of death gives us a certainty that nothing else can give us. The fear in the face of death allows us to claim back our individuality, our authentic being, as we are inevitably alone in death and find ourselves much sobered and humbled by the knowledge of our mortality. Death, according to Heidegger:

…amounts to the disclosedness of the fact that Dasein exists as thrown being towards its end. (Heidegger 1927:251)

In other words: death is part of me and to accept my living towards this end gives my life back to me in a new way.

Jaspers (1951, 1971) spoke of limit situations as those situations which define our humanity. Sooner or later we inevitably come up against guilt, death, pain, suffering and failure. The philosophical take on this is that it is more helpful to encourage people to come to terms with some of the inevitable conflicts and problems of living than to help them cover them up. Limit situations are what bring us in confrontation with ourselves in a decisive and fundamentally disturbing way. They evoke anxiety and therefore release us from our tendency to be untrue and evasive about ourselves and our lives.


Psychology of Worldviews

I came across a few things while helping E. out with a paper on Gestalt Therapy. Not that I was much help except in the criticism department, which seems to be my specialty when it comes to E.’s interests :). This however caught my eye from an essay on Jaspers’ Psychology of Worldviews:

“the construction of world views is not a merely neutral process, to be judged in non-evaluative manner. Instead, all world views contain an element of pathology; they incorporate strategies of defensiveness, suppression and subterfuge, and they are concentrated around false certainties or spuriously objectivized modes of rationality, into which the human mind withdraws in order to obtain security amongst the frighteningly limitless possibilities of human existence. World views, in consequence, commonly take the form of objectivized cages (Gehäuse), in which existence hardens itself against contents and experiences which threaten to transcend or unbalance the defensive restrictions which it has placed upon its operations. Although some world views possess an unconditioned component, most world views exist as the limits of a formed mental apparatus”

There is a freedom from anxiety about these limitless possibilities that is the gift of absolute subjugation. This freedom is the cause of the drop in reactance that the submissive experiences in the full acceptance of his/her enslavement.


Psychology of Worldviews

I came across a few things while helping E. out with a paper on Gestalt Therapy. Not that I was much help except in the criticism department, which seems to be my specialty when it comes to E.’s interests :). This however caught my eye from an essay on Jaspers’ Psychology of Worldviews:

“the construction of world views is not a merely neutral process, to be judged in non-evaluative manner. Instead, all world views contain an element of pathology; they incorporate strategies of defensiveness, suppression and subterfuge, and they are concentrated around false certainties or spuriously objectivized modes of rationality, into which the human mind withdraws in order to obtain security amongst the frighteningly limitless possibilities of human existence. World views, in consequence, commonly take the form of objectivized cages (Gehäuse), in which existence hardens itself against contents and experiences which threaten to transcend or unbalance the defensive restrictions which it has placed upon its operations. Although some world views possess an unconditioned component, most world views exist as the limits of a formed mental apparatus”

There is a freedom from anxiety about these limitless possibilities that is the gift of absolute subjugation. This freedom is the cause of the drop in reactance that the submissive experiences in the full acceptance of his/her enslavement.


Total Power Exchange and the Limit Situation – 1

An oddity, but one that often surfaces when pro and con arguments are vetted out, is that they take the same form, and essentially become two moments of one argument. This is the root of the form of thought known as dialectic, particularly the way that Hegel uses the term.

This turns out to be the case in the pro and con TPE argument, so let’s take it apart a little. I will provide one of the original formulations of the argument for TPE and talk a little about the argument con, just to set the stage.
“When you “submit” to or “dominate” someone in a situation where safe words are used and when limitations are negotiated, you are not actually submitting or dominating at all – you are playing at it.” – Jon Jacobs

The con argument also talks about limits. (In TPE) “The relationship is subject to the physical and the emotional limitations of the participants and therefore cannot genuinely be total or absolute.” – From TPE, Wikipedia.

Odd isn’t it that the arguments are so similar. What is it about TPE that immediately points towards limits as the crux of its own possibility? Karl Jaspers, in “The Psychology of Worldviews”, a book unfortunately difficult to obtain, originated the idea of the “limit-situation”, a peculiar existential condition where something unconditioned obtrudes and causes the self to come before itself in a unique way.

“…Jaspers claims that the self-disclosure of the possibilities of human existence depends on the capacity of the individual human life to open itself to the experience of the unconditioned (das Unbedingte). When it experiences the unconditioned, human life’s knows itself drawn by a motive (idea), which extends it beyond the forms, both subjective and objective, in which it customarily exists.”

On a personal level, then, the limit situation unique discloses our possibilities, which gives us a better ground for actualizing them. On a philosophical level, if the limit is something unconditioned, and the unconditioned results in transcendence beyond the human’s customary existence, being in a limit situation is an especially valuable situation for understanding what that customary existence is grounded upon, as well as experiencing a transcendence from it. And in fact the two things are the same, the subject-object split turns out to be based on an originary transcendence. What does transcendence mean here then? “Beyond” the customary, beyond the subject-object split, is in any case not a very well defined location, as far as we can immediately see. Before we can understand transcendence though, we need a horizon against which to view this new location, which does not admit of either subjectivity or objectivity.

So in order to develop a sense of what this horizon might be I’m going to look closer at the limit situation in general, and the limit situation I believe the TPE relationship to be in particular. In any limit situation Jaspers says that “existence directs itself from its own origin against and beyond its experience of normal subjective and objective reality”. Direction then is important, and direction seems promising for understanding something like horizon. But what specifically happens in TPE? In the TPE situation there is an unconditioned demand, that the slave surrender all will, all freedoms, to the Master. Does this surrender equal surrendering all possibilities for the slave? By no means, but the slave’s possibilities now all involve those inherent in enslavement, a situation where rather than being an “existence for itself”, self consciousness becomes an “existence for another”. Of course this act simultaneously creates the Master, who for his part was merely an undeveloped self consciousness as well. This part is well documented by Hegel in his lord/bondsman dialectic, so I will not further pursue it here, though a link might be useful to those not familiar with the argument.

So in the master/slave relationship there involves a complex dialectical process at work, at least according to Hegel. In TPE we attempt to make the enslavement total, or absolute. What does this do to the resolution?

Obviously the easy happy resolution of Hegel’s “cooperation” isn’t what we have here. We have in lieu of that a permanent tension, a permanent dialectic without resolution, unless you consider the passing of the participants a kind of resolution. It isn’t a resolution as far as my thinking goes because the participants are precisely no longer there, but mortality is its own limit situation.

This post has become long and rather than lose the thread I will end for now and bring up the next element in the argument in a further post.


Total Power Exchange and the Limit Situation – 1

An oddity, but one that often surfaces when pro and con arguments are vetted out, is that they take the same form, and essentially become two moments of one argument. This is the root of the form of thought known as dialectic, particularly the way that Hegel uses the term.

This turns out to be the case in the pro and con TPE argument, so let’s take it apart a little. I will provide one of the original formulations of the argument for TPE and talk a little about the argument con, just to set the stage.
“When you “submit” to or “dominate” someone in a situation where safe words are used and when limitations are negotiated, you are not actually submitting or dominating at all – you are playing at it.” – Jon Jacobs

The con argument also talks about limits. (In TPE) “The relationship is subject to the physical and the emotional limitations of the participants and therefore cannot genuinely be total or absolute.” – From TPE, Wikipedia.

Odd isn’t it that the arguments are so similar. What is it about TPE that immediately points towards limits as the crux of its own possibility? Karl Jaspers, in “The Psychology of Worldviews”, a book unfortunately difficult to obtain, originated the idea of the “limit-situation”, a peculiar existential condition where something unconditioned obtrudes and causes the self to come before itself in a unique way.

“…Jaspers claims that the self-disclosure of the possibilities of human existence depends on the capacity of the individual human life to open itself to the experience of the unconditioned (das Unbedingte). When it experiences the unconditioned, human life’s knows itself drawn by a motive (idea), which extends it beyond the forms, both subjective and objective, in which it customarily exists.”

On a personal level, then, the limit situation unique discloses our possibilities, which gives us a better ground for actualizing them. On a philosophical level, if the limit is something unconditioned, and the unconditioned results in transcendence beyond the human’s customary existence, being in a limit situation is an especially valuable situation for understanding what that customary existence is grounded upon, as well as experiencing a transcendence from it. And in fact the two things are the same, the subject-object split turns out to be based on an originary transcendence. What does transcendence mean here then? “Beyond” the customary, beyond the subject-object split, is in any case not a very well defined location, as far as we can immediately see. Before we can understand transcendence though, we need a horizon against which to view this new location, which does not admit of either subjectivity or objectivity.

So in order to develop a sense of what this horizon might be I’m going to look closer at the limit situation in general, and the limit situation I believe the TPE relationship to be in particular. In any limit situation Jaspers says that “existence directs itself from its own origin against and beyond its experience of normal subjective and objective reality”. Direction then is important, and direction seems promising for understanding something like horizon. But what specifically happens in TPE? In the TPE situation there is an unconditioned demand, that the slave surrender all will, all freedoms, to the Master. Does this surrender equal surrendering all possibilities for the slave? By no means, but the slave’s possibilities now all involve those inherent in enslavement, a situation where rather than being an “existence for itself”, self consciousness becomes an “existence for another”. Of course this act simultaneously creates the Master, who for his part was merely an undeveloped self consciousness as well. This part is well documented by Hegel in his lord/bondsman dialectic, so I will not further pursue it here, though a link might be useful to those not familiar with the argument.

So in the master/slave relationship there involves a complex dialectical process at work, at least according to Hegel. In TPE we attempt to make the enslavement total, or absolute. What does this do to the resolution?

Obviously the easy happy resolution of Hegel’s “cooperation” isn’t what we have here. We have in lieu of that a permanent tension, a permanent dialectic without resolution, unless you consider the passing of the participants a kind of resolution. It isn’t a resolution as far as my thinking goes because the participants are precisely no longer there, but mortality is its own limit situation.

This post has become long and rather than lose the thread I will end for now and bring up the next element in the argument in a further post.