Category Archives: power

Master / slave as Identity in Hegel and Nietzsche 

If nobody ever acknowledged your existence, you wouldn’t exist as a person. You’d just be a personless body.

Hegel puts it like this: “Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when . . . it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged.” Suppose nobody else ever talked to you or interacted with you. In some cultures (like the Pennsylvania Deutsch), one way of punishing people is to “shun” them: refuse to speak to them, refuse to eat with them, never touch anything they’ve touched, never hand them anything. Shunning is far crueler and more effective as a threat than jail or even a beating.

  1. Put two self consciousnesses face to face and it’s like putting two mirrors face to face: each reflects itself in the other, each sees itself in the other. Its like this: I know; you know; I know that you know; you know that I know; I know that you know that I know; you know that I know that you know this goes on and on, and nobody can stand it.

180 181. At first the encounter between the two self-consciousness is perfectly symmetrical: the self- consciousness’ are so far exactly identical, so they can’t distinguish themselves from one another. Am I you? Are you me? So far, there’s nothing to differentiate us. We’re totally alike. So we’re not different persons; the symmetry destroys our personal identities.

This is ultimate torture: each wants to be its own person, and so wants to end the symmetry by establishing an asymmetric relation. Each wants to dominate the other (“supersede this otherness of itself”). The tension builds.

182 183. Domination and submission are based on useful action involving objects of natural biological desire. How would I know if I were the dominant person? Because while I would do things FOR MY SELF, you would also do everything FOR MY SELF and not for your self. I would live strictly FOR MY SELF; you would live FOR ANOTHER. You would not live for yourself at all.

Since you will do everything for my self and nothing for your self, you will effectively cease to live. You will have no life of your own; you’ll be dead.

  1. The dialectic of Force and the Understanding is repeated here at a higher level. Now, forces are not merely physical like in electricity, but they are conscious forces that are able to recognize each other: “They recognize themselves as mutually recognizing one another.” 185 186. Tension builds. The symmetry of mutual recognition is unstable. The symmetry must be broken so that of the two opposed self-consciousnesses, one is going to be only recognized (master), the other only recognizing (slave).
  2. The only way to settle the matter is in a fight to the death, in which one self-consciousness wins (lives) and the other loses (dies). the relation of the two self-conscious individuals is such that they have to settle their equal opposition by means of a life and death struggle a dialectical death match! Freedom can only be won by risking one’s whole life, by holding nothing back.
  3. The problem is that if one self-consciousness kills the other, the dead self-consciousness can’t do anything at all, so it can’t do anything for the other. To be FOR ANOTHER, self-consciousness has to be somewhat FOR ITSELF. If the one kills the other, it thereby destroys its own freedom, since there’s nobody there to recognize its triumphant victory. You can’t rule corpses: a dead servant does not obey anybody and so is free. Simply killing the other in the life or death combat is an “abstract negation”; it is “not the negation coming from consciousness, which supersedes in such a way as to preserve and maintain what is superseded, and consequently survives its own supersession.” It’s like playing a game of chicken: both contestants know that one of them has to surrender or they’ll both die. The pressure on each to surrender increases.
  4. Each self-consciousness realizes that it needs both its own life and the life of the other.

Their relation in the life or death contest is unstable, but at some point, one side gives in and surrenders. At this point, the victor has the right to kill the one who surrendered; but of course, the victor realizes that killing the loser would be futile. What the victor wants is recognition, acknowledgement of the victory. You can’t be admired by a corpse, so the victor spares the loser’s life.

The victor does not kill, but rather enslaves the loser. One of the two self-consciousness’ “is the independent consciousness whose essential nature is to be for itself, the other is the dependent consciousness whose essential nature is simply to live or to be for another. The former is lord, the other is bondsman.”

 

 

Nietzsche

 

  1. Every elevation of the type “man,” has hitherto been the work of an aristocratic society and so it will always be—a society believing in a long scale of gradations of rank and differences of worth among human beings, and requiring slavery in some form or other. Without the pathos of distance, such as grows out of the incarnated difference of classes, out of the constant out looking and down looking of the ruling caste on subordinates and instruments, and out of their equally constant practice of obeying and commanding, of keeping down and keeping at a distance—that other more mysterious pathos could never have arisen, the longing for an ever new widening of distance within the soul itself, the formation of ever higher, rarer, further, more extended, more comprehensive states, in short, just the elevation of the type “man,” the continued “self-surmounting of man,” to use a moral formula in a supermoral sense. To be sure, one must not resign oneself to any humanitarian illusions about the history of the origin of an aristocratic society (of the preliminary condition for the elevation of the type “man”): the truth is hard. Let us acknowledge unprejudicedly how every higher civilization hitherto has originated! Men with a still natural nature, barbarians in every terrible sense of the word, men of prey, still in possession of unbroken strength of will and desire for power, threw themselves upon weaker, more moral, more peaceful races (perhaps trading or cattle rearing communities), or upon old mellow civilizations in which the final vital force was flickering out in brilliant fireworks of wit and depravity.

At the commencement, the noble caste was always the barbarian caste: their superiority did not consist first in their physical, but in their psychical power—they were more complete men (which at every point also implies the same as “more complete beasts”). [Higher Class of Being] 258. Corruption—as the indication that anarchy threatens to break out among the instincts, and that the foundation of the emotions, called “life,” is convulsed—is something radically different according to the organization in which it manifests itself. When, for instance, an aristocracy like that of France at the beginning of the Revolution, flung away its privileges with sublime disgust and sacrificed itself to an excess of its moral sentiments, it was corruption: it was only the closing act of the corruption which had existed for centuries, by virtue of which that aristocracy had abdicated step by step its lordly prerogatives and lowered itself to a function of royalty (in the end even to its decoration and parade dress).

The essential thing, however, in a good and healthy aristocracy is that it should not regard itself as a function either of the kingship or the commonwealth, but as the significance highest justification thereof—that it should therefore accept with a good conscience the sacrifice of a legion of individuals, who, for its sake, must be suppressed and reduced to imperfect men, to slaves and instruments. Its fundamental belief must be precisely that society is not allowed to exist for its own sake, but only as a foundation and scaffolding, by means of which a select class of beings may be able to elevate themselves to their higher duties, and in general to a higher existence: like those sun seeking climbing plants in Java—they are called Sipo Matador, which encircle an oak so long and so often with their arms, until at last, high above it, but supported by it, they can unfold their tops in the open light, and exhibit their happiness. [Life Denial]

  1. To refrain mutually from injury, from violence, from exploitation, and put one’s will on a par with that of others: this may result in a certain rough sense in good conduct among individuals when the necessary conditions are given (namely, the actual similarity of the individuals in amount of force and degree of worth, and their co relation within one organization). As soon, however, as one wished to take this principle more generally, and if possible even as the fundamental principle of society, it would immediately disclose what it really is—namely, a Will to the denial of life, a principle of dissolution and decay. Here one must think profoundly to the very basis and resist all sentimental weakness: life itself is essentially appropriation, injury, conquest of the strange and weak, suppression, severity, obtrusion of peculiar forms, incorporation, and at the least, putting it mildest, exploitation; but why should one for ever use precisely these words on which for ages a disparaging purpose has been stamped? Even the organization within which, as was previously supposed, the individuals treat each other as equal—it takes place in every healthy aristocracy— must itself, if it be a living and not a dying organization, do all that towards other bodies, which the individuals within it refrain from doing to each other it will have to be the incarnated Will to Power, it will endeavour to grow, to gain ground, attract to itself and acquire ascendancy—not owing to any morality or immorality, but because it lives, and because life is precisely Will to Power.

On no point, however, is the ordinary consciousness of Europeans more unwilling to be corrected than on this matter, people now rave everywhere, even under the guise of science, about coming conditions of society in which “the exploiting character” is to be absent—that sounds to my ears as if they promised to invent a mode of life which should refrain from all organic functions. From the reading. . . “The noble type of man regards himself as a determiner of values; he does not require to be approved of. . . he is a creator of values.”

“Exploitation” does not belong to a depraved, or imperfect and primitive society it belongs to the nature of the living being as a primary organic function, it is a consequence of the intrinsic Will to Power, which is precisely the Will to Life—Granting that as a theory this is a novelty—as a reality it is the fundamental fact of all history let us be so far honest towards ourselves! [Master Morality]

  1. In a tour through the many finer and coarser moralities which have hitherto prevailed or still prevail on the earth, I found certain traits recurring regularly together, and connected with one another, until finally two primary types revealed themselves to me, and a radical distinction was brought to light.

 

There is master morality and slave morality, I would at once add that in all higher and mixed civilizations, there are also attempts at the reconciliation of the two moralities, but one finds still oftener the confusion and mutual misunderstanding of them, indeed sometimes their close juxtaposition—even in the same man, within one soul.

The distinctions of moral values have either originated in a ruling caste, pleasantly conscious of being different from the ruled—or among the ruled class, the slaves and dependents of all sorts. In the first case, when it is the rulers who determine the conception “good,” it is the exalted, proud disposition which is regarded as the distinguishing feature, and that which determines the order of rank. The noble type of man separates from himself the beings in whom the opposite of this exalted, proud disposition displays itself he despises them.

Let it at once be noted that in this first kind of morality the antithesis “good” and “bad” means practically the same as “noble” and “despicable”, the antithesis “good” and “evil” is of a different origin. The cowardly, the timid, the insignificant, and those thinking merely of narrow utility are despised; moreover, also, the distrustful, with their constrained glances, the self abasing, the dog like kind of men who let themselves be abused, the mendicant flatterers, and above all the liars: it is a fundamental belief of all aristocrats that the common people are untruthful. “We truthful ones” the nobility in ancient Greece called themselves.

It is obvious that everywhere the designations of moral value were at first applied to men; and were only derivatively and at a later period applied to actions; it is a gross mistake, therefore, when historians of morals start with questions like, “Why have sympathetic actions been praised?” The noble type of man regards himself as a determiner of values; he does not require to be approved of; he passes the judgment: What is injurious to me is injurious in itself; he knows that it is he himself only who confers honour on things; he is a creator of values. He honours whatever he recognizes in himself: such morality equals self-glorification. In the foreground there is the feeling of plenitude, of power, which seeks to overflow, the happiness of high tension, the consciousness of a wealth which would fain give and bestow: the noble man also helps the unfortunate, but not—or scarcely—out of pity, but rather from an impulse generated by the superabundance of power.

The noble man honours in himself the powerful one, him also who above all has power over himself, who knows how to speak and how to keep silence, who takes pleasure in subjecting himself to severity and hardness, and has reverence for all that is severe and hard. “Wotan placed a hard heart in my breast,” says an old Scandinavian Saga: it is thus rightly expressed from the soul of a proud Viking. Such a type of man is even proud of not being made for sympathy; the hero of the Saga therefore adds warningly: “He who has not a hard heart when young, will never have one.”

The noble and brave who think thus are the furthest removed from the morality which sees precisely in sympathy, or in acting for the good of others, or in dèintèressement, the characteristic of the moral; faith in oneself, pride in oneself, a radical enmity and irony towards “selflessness,” belong as to noble morality, as do a careless scorn and precaution in presence of sympathy and the “warm heart.” It is the powerful who know how to honour, it is their art, their domain for invention. The profound reverence for age and for tradition—all law rests on this double reverence, the belief and prejudice in favour of ancestors and unfavourable to newcomers, is typical in the morality of the powerful; and if, reversely, men of “modern ideas” believe almost instinctively in “progress” and the “future,” and are more and more lacking in respect for old age, the ignoble origin of these “ideas” has complacently betrayed itself thereby.

A morality of the ruling class, however, is more especially foreign and irritating to present day taste in the sternness of its principle that one has duties only to one’s equals; that one may act towards beings of a lower rank, towards all that is foreign, just as seems good to one, or “as the heart desires,” and in any case “beyond good and evil”: it is here that sympathy and similar sentiments can have a place.

The ability and obligation to exercise prolonged gratitude and prolonged revenge—both only within the circle of equals, artfulness in retaliation, refinement of the idea in friendship, a certain necessity to have enemies (as outlets for the emotions of envy, quarrelsomeness, arrogance—in fact, in order to be a good friend): all these are typical characteristics of the noble morality, which, as has been pointed out, is not the morality of “modern ideas,” and is therefore at present difficult to realize, and also to unearth and disclose.

 

[Slave Morality]

 

It is otherwise with the second type of morality, slave morality.

Supposing that the abused, the oppressed, the suffering, the unemancipated, the weary, and those uncertain of themselves should moralize, what will be the common element in their moral estimates? Probably a pessimistic suspicion with regard to the entire situation of man will find expression, perhaps a condemnation of man, together with his situation. The slave has an unfavourable eye for the virtues of the powerful; he has a skepticism and distrust, a refinement of distrust of everything “good” that is there honoured— he would fain persuade himself that the very happiness there is not genuine. On the other hand, those qualities which serve to alleviate the existence of sufferers are brought into prominence and flooded with light; it is here that sympathy, the kind, helping hand, the warm heart, patience, diligence, humility, and friendliness attain to honour; for here these are the most useful qualities, and almost the only means of supporting the burden of existence. Slave morality is essentially the morality of utility.

Here is the seat of the origin of the famous antithesis “good” and “evil”: power and dangerousness are assumed to reside in the evil, a certain dreadfulness, subtlety, and strength, which do not admit of being despised.

According to slave morality, therefore, the “evil” man arouses fear; according to master morality, it is precisely the “good” man who arouses fear and seeks to arouse it, while the bad man is regarded as the despicable being. The contrast attains its maximum when, in accordance with the logical consequences of slave morality, a shade of depreciation—it may be slight and well intentioned—at last attaches itself to the “good” man of this morality; because, according to the servile mode of thought, the good man must in any case be the safe man: he is good natured, easily deceived, perhaps a little stupid, un Bonhomme.

Everywhere that slave morality gains the ascendancy, language shows a tendency to approximate the significations of the words “good” and “stupid.”

[Creation of Values]

A last fundamental difference: the desire for freedom, the instinct for happiness and the refinements of the feeling of liberty belong as necessarily to slave morals and morality, as artifice and enthusiasm in reverence and devotion are the regular symptoms of an aristocratic mode of thinking and estimating.

Hence, we can understand without further detail why love as a passion—it is our European specialty—must absolutely be of noble origin; as is well known, its invention is due to the Provencal poet cavaliers, those brilliant, ingenious men of the “gai saber,” to whom Europe owes so much, and almost owes itself. 261. Vanity is one of the things which are perhaps most difficult for a noble man to understand: he will be tempted to deny it, where another kind of man thinks he sees itself evidently. The problem for him is to represent to his mind beings who seek to arouse a good opinion of themselves which they themselves do not possess—and consequently also do not “deserve,”  and who yet believe in this good opinion afterwards.

This seems to him on the one hand such bad taste and so self disrespectful, and on the other hand so grotesquely unreasonable, that he would like to consider vanity an exception, and is doubtful about it in most cases when it is spoken of. He will say, for instance: “I may be mistaken about my value, and on the other hand may nevertheless demand that my value should be acknowledged by others precisely as I rate it: that, however, is not vanity (but self-conceit, or, in most cases, that which is called ‘humility,’ and also ‘modesty’).”

Or he will even say: “For many reasons I can delight in the good opinion of others, perhaps because I love and honour them, and rejoice in all their joys, perhaps also because their good opinion endorses and strengthens my belief in my own good opinion, perhaps because the good opinion of others, even in cases where I do not share it, is useful to me, or gives promise of usefulness: all this, however, is not vanity.”

The man of noble character must first bring it home forcibly to his mind, especially with the aid of history, that, from time immemorial, in all social strata in any way dependent, the ordinary man was only that which he passed for: not being at all accustomed to fix values, he did not assign even to himself any other value than that which his master assigned to him (it is the peculiar right of masters to create values). It may be looked upon as the result of an extraordinary atavism, that the ordinary man, even at present, is still always waiting for an opinion about himself, and then instinctively submitting himself to it; yet by no means only to a “good” opinion, but also to a bad and unjust one (think, for instance, of the greater part of the self appreciations and self depreciations which believing women learn from their confessors, and which in general the believing Christian learns from his Church).

“Everywhere slave morality gains ascendancy, language shows a tendency to approximate the meanings of the words ‘good’ and ‘stupid.’”

In fact, conformably to the slow rise of the democratic social order (and its cause, the blending of the blood of masters and slaves), the originally noble and rare impulse of the masters to assign a value to themselves and to “think well” of themselves, will now be more and more encouraged and extended; but it has always an older, ampler, and more radically ingrained propensity opposed to it—and in the phenomenon of “vanity” this older propensity overmasters the younger.

The vain person rejoices over every good opinion which he hears about himself (quite apart from the point of view of its usefulness, and equally regardless of its truth or falsehood), just as he suffers from every bad opinion: for he subjects himself to both, he feels himself subjected to both, by that oldest instinct of subjection which breaks forth in him.

It is “the slave” in the vain man’s blood, the remains of the slave’s craftiness— and how much of the “slave” is still left in woman, for instance! which seeks to seduce to good opinions of itself; it is the slave, too, who immediately afterwards falls prostrate himself before these opinions, as though he had not called them forth. And to repeat it again: vanity is an atavism.


Definitions

Mastery (of someone):  to appropriate, own and give a disposition, a state of being, to that person.

Domination: to make available to oneself as appropriate.

To submit: to be revealed or exhibited as available and proper.

Submission: available to hear and simultaneously obey.

Submissive: acquiesce to obedience through devotion.


Mastery / slavery ? Digressions in Terminology

How the more extreme forms of domination and submission oriented dynamics acquired the terminology “Master/slave” is an odd question at first glance, and one related to another form of terminology, that of “Owner/property”.
A slave, defined by being-owned, would by definition have an owner.  One who owned a human being would by definition have a slave, owning simple “property” would not distinguish one from any other in our current society.  Masters in various areas of endeavour might have servants, novices, acolytes, initiates, apprentices, etc.  But in the specific area of consensual slavery the slave’s owner appropriates the designation “Master”.  Seemingly in reaction to the ability and responsibility mastery requires, some in domination/submission dynamics opt out of the issue of what mastery entails, preferring to return to simple ownership, but the simulaneous reduction of human property (“slave”) to just “property” signals a felt lack, as if owning a human being without mastery is somehow inappropriate.
Consensual slavery has multiple defining features, but one of the principle features is a vow of obedience that overrules further need for consent, in most cases perpetual, at least in intention.  Perpetual vows of obedience are found in a number of other areas of human endeavour, but are most associated with the religious life.  Within many religious orders a vow of obedience to the order is prescribed.  While it is unusual today, vows of obedience to a particular person were at one time also common within Christianity as in other religions.
The justification for vows of obedience within specifically Christian theology stemmed from the limited perspective available to any given individual, together with the notion that community ameliorated that limitation and provided a brake on unconstrained and potentially mistaken willing by the individual.
Will as Will to Power, in the consummation of metaphysics and therefore Christianity itself, however, is the term for the essence of being itself, rather than a specific faculty of a specific being.  As the essence of being itself the slave’s being is as fully Will to Power as the Owner’s.  Rather than ameliorating the expression of Will to Power, the being of the community, religious or otherwise, is also Will to Power.  A vow of obedience could not in post Nietzschean terms accomplish any constraining of the Will to Power but would simply make the perspective panoramic, and as panoramic all the more perspectival.
A vow of obedience, as central to the slave’s being-a-slave, and hence the slave’s expression of Will to Power, serves two other purposes.  First the vow is a shield against the tempting, in particular the most tempting itself.  Second it is the focus for the more understanding and creative expression of that will demanded by its continuing alignment with the will of the Master.

It is in the radicality of the demand of obedience that it functions as a shield against the tempting.  “The most tempting itself” is an odd phrase at first –  temptation is often conflated with desire, yet in a sense it opposes and frustrates the pursuit of that which is most desired itself.  Temptation diverts from the pursuit of desire as much as from the pursuit of perfection, or any other particular pursuit.  As the “most” tempting fundamental temptation is something we always find ourselves in in advance.  Radical obedience, in either expectation or fulfillment, opposes the most tempting in an essential way because it is an extraordinary expectation, and an extraordinary thing to attempt.  “The most tempting”, the founding temptation in which we always find ourselves immersed is essentially the temptation of the mediocre, the averageness of everyday understanding and levelling off any distinctions that might threaten that tranquillizing mediocrity of everydayness itself.

Expecting this kind of vow implictly requires a sense of one’s own unique abilities, a sense that develops with mastery of those abilities itself, a sense that breaks and continually re-breaks the temptation towards a tranquilizing common mediocrity.  Consenting to such a vow requires an honouring of the uniqueness of the Master’s abilities that accomplishes the same severing from the temptation to mediocrity.


Direction and Directives

Is it enough for Mastery that a slave obey his / her Master’s directives, while his / her thoughts, desires and will remain free? Or does the act of directing implicitly require that the directed align those thoughts, desires and will with that of the Master?

In directing the Master points in a direction and sets the slave moving in that direction. This of course requires that the Master have a perspective from which to direct. The perspective itself comes from the positing of viewpoints inherent in mastery, power itself is perspectival in the sense that it is always an empowering of overpowering, a will towards a horizon, enacted through the slave, that comes back to itself in the slave’s obedience and the Master’s self obedience.

The slave’s obedience in merely accomplishing the activity is never sufficient in itself to satisfy power. At best it can allow power to be maintained, but power is always overpowering as mastery – mastery of the slave and self mastery. If it is only maintained as measure it dwindles temporally.  Mastery must empower its own overpowering and for this it requires the overpowering of its perspective itself via the merging of the slave’s will with its own, the merging of viewpoints into one panoramic perspective.

Directives are obeyed by the slave in the sense of moving in that direction, but they empower the will of the Master when the directive’s viewpoint and perspective are adopted, such that the slave’s obedience returns and empowers the Master’s self obedience. In this the directive reaches its panoramic completion, empowering further perspectives, viewpoints, and directives.


Refusal Or … ?

Between my post on refusal and now I’ve had a very odd change in my manner of being.

I had what used to be called, in the conceptual world, a “divine revelation”.  Since I live in the post conceptual (post religious-metaphysical-scientific)  world it was no long divine in any sense.   However it was reflexive in a way that no epiphany could be.  It was a revelation of the nature of revelation itself.

The reflexivity made me suddenly understand Hegel’s Absolute Knowing, Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence of the Same, and Heidegger’s vom Ereignis (from Enowning) simultaneously as attempts to provoke the experience.  Not that they do, but they do at least prepare one for it in a similar way to mystic practice preparing one for divine revelation.  Understanding understanding, as it were, doesn’t give you an understanding of anything in particular.  It gives you a different sense of things where understanding precedes self-conscious interpretation.

More on this later …


Dasein, Mineness, Authenticity and Authority – the Origin of Existential Decisionism


Dasein is not of the mode of vorhanden because it is not something that we ‘come across’ as we go about (BT, 69), but rather it is close to us, and is well known because it is inseparable from ourselves, but it is little understood in everyday experience because it is very close to us (BT, 69). In addition, Dasein is not zuhanden because it exists but is not for the purpose of effecting something.”

Heidegger introduces the idea of ‘mineness’ as a quality that belongs to Dasein, as being that which is the true nature of Dasein”

Mineness, indeed replaces “an entity’ as the mode of Dasein’s authentic encounterability. However Dasein in fact is encounterable in an ‘inauthentic’ but primordial’ manner through the idea of ‘das Man’, or the “they”, the “one”.

Authenticity and inauthenticity = decisionism – the “they” as consensus, liberalism, against authenticity/authority, the “discourse of Mastery” as per Derrida. Authenticity in Heidegger’s early sense only comes with en-ownment of the Master by the en-slaved. The early sense hence not primordial. The ‘Lord’ is master by virtue of en-ownment by the en-slaved bondsman, therefore reducible. The en-slaved as not reducible. ‘Lord’ is Master only in a relative sense, in relation to the specifically en-slaved. En-slavement by en-framing (technology as techne) as ultimate reductio ad absurdum of Lordship to the en-grasping of the con-cept (Be-griff … “griff” grip or handle, old German). Origin of Heidegger’s transgression – the crucial philosophical mistake of favouring the Lord over the bondsman. C.f. the re-estimation of Being as Ereignis in terms of the mastery of the last god in “vom Ereignis.” Dasein is only encounterable as “mineness” by the Lord after a dialectical sublation, “not-mineness” is primordial.

The possibility of seeing Dasein as either vorhanden or zuhanden results from the fact that in ‘being-in-the-world’ Dasein is constructed of stuff like the world and could be mistaken. Such a mistaking of Dasein for one of the other kinds of being would result in inappropriate relations and behaviour because it would reduce people to being either equipment or mere objects.”

Inappropriate relations or appropriative relations? c.f. the “event of appropriation”. Appropriating as the bringing into what is most proper, das eigen., “own”, ownhood, en-owning.

Previous western views of humanity regarded people as either bipartite, body and soul, or tripartite, body, soul and spirit, and lead to the assumption that a person is a synthesis of the parts, but in Heidegger’s view Dasein is existence, not a synthesis of separately existing parts (BT, 153). Thus, Heidegger argues for regarding Dasein as a complete and indivisible being that enters into relations and intrinsically is a complete, unified, entity. There are multiple Dasein, which necessarily have some kind of relation to each other, whether warm and friendly or hermitic or otherwise, and these relations are characterized by Heidegger as ‘Being-with’ (BT, 160).”

Dasein is not the knowing Subject of Descartes but the unitary facticity of existence as disclosed. “Disclosedness” also involves “being-with” and allows truth to appear and be known as shared truth. “Eternal truth” depends on eternity, something we are entirely unsure about in a finite universe. “Objective” truth depends on the separation of subject/object, but the implicit intent of these notions – shared truth, or truth outside the individual existing human, is validated by Heidegger in the concept of disclosedness. “Truth” may only be disclosed to Dasein, but it “is” disclosed to, not determined by, the particular Dasein. Without requiring the basis in absolute knowledge of Hegel (only valid for beings within metaphysics) Heidegger offers support for the idea of shared truth about facticity.


Discipline and Punishment

In one of my earliest posts to this blog I talked about the conundrum of how to punish a masochist.  As it happens this worked itself out over the period during which I didn’t post much to the blog, and I never got around to explicating any of it.


There’s a “mode” one has to get into in order to punish, it’s a mode
that involves “knowing” that you know better than the person you’re
punishing, people find that easier with children, obviously, than with
adults   If you look at Tanos’ site, the focus on “Internal
Enslavement” seems to focus on the slave’s mindset, which is of course
important.  When mitda or emmie are being punished they are in a
different headspace than when they’re being played.  But my
introduction of the term “Absolute” or “Total” Subjugation is important
because it deals with the mindset and headspace of the Master.  (Tanos does include this of course, it’s only the term that seems to focus on the slave’s doing, not the site or his thoughts on the matter)  In
order for the slave to get into her mindset, the Master has to be in
his, and it’s a difficult thing at first to accomplish.  If you look at
my earliest blog entries there was the conundrum of how to punish a
masochist, and it took time to solve, but it has to do with getting
into a certain zone and making that felt to the slave.

First, as I said, you have to “know” that you’re right, or that you
know better, than the slave.  This is difficult to do with someone that
you love and respect as an adult on the same level as your own.  You
have to know you know better because, simply, you are the Master in the
situation and it is your world and your set of meanings that are the
crucial ones.  The slave, in her enslavement, has given up the set of
meanings she had, what she accepted previously as her truth, and
accepted your reality as hers.  As a result, although she might be as
intelligent and capable as you are, she doesn’t know the terrain as
well as you do, and within the dynamic in any disagreement she is
always in the wrong, because you are the arbiter of what is right and
wrong to begin with.  She needs this grounding by you as much as you
need to ground things in this way.  


Second, you need to get this world, this set of meanings, across to her
and put her in the situation where she knows that no matter what she
believed prior to her enslavement, she is now completely in the wrong
and needs to be punished to set her straight and remind her of where
her ground and truth are.  Partly I talk to emmie and mitda constantly
about the way I view things and the way things are for me, and must be
for them.  But truth lies in manifestation, and having things manifest
to the slave in the way they manifest to you is the key.  Human beings
share a world and share the way things manifest to a greater or lesser
degree depending on how close they are – and this phenomenon is what
people mean when they refer to “relating” to someone.  Physical contact
I’ve found is a key – standing at a distance and touching the slave
only when you hit them doesn’t bring them into your space, you need to
break the slave’s personal space by being as close to them as possible,
touching them with your free hand, and letting them feel the punishment
implement prior to and between hits, so that they know it’s an
extension of your hand and your will.


Discipline and Punishment

In one of my earliest posts to this blog I talked about the conundrum of how to punish a masochist.  As it happens this worked itself out over the period during which I didn’t post much to the blog, and I never got around to explicating any of it.


There’s a “mode” one has to get into in order to punish, it’s a mode
that involves “knowing” that you know better than the person you’re
punishing, people find that easier with children, obviously, than with
adults   If you look at Tanos’ site, the focus on “Internal
Enslavement” seems to focus on the slave’s mindset, which is of course
important.  When mitda or emmie are being punished they are in a
different headspace than when they’re being played.  But my
introduction of the term “Absolute” or “Total” Subjugation is important
because it deals with the mindset and headspace of the Master.  (Tanos does include this of course, it’s only the term that seems to focus on the slave’s doing, not the site or his thoughts on the matter)  In
order for the slave to get into her mindset, the Master has to be in
his, and it’s a difficult thing at first to accomplish.  If you look at
my earliest blog entries there was the conundrum of how to punish a
masochist, and it took time to solve, but it has to do with getting
into a certain zone and making that felt to the slave.

First, as I said, you have to “know” that you’re right, or that you
know better, than the slave.  This is difficult to do with someone that
you love and respect as an adult on the same level as your own.  You
have to know you know better because, simply, you are the Master in the
situation and it is your world and your set of meanings that are the
crucial ones.  The slave, in her enslavement, has given up the set of
meanings she had, what she accepted previously as her truth, and
accepted your reality as hers.  As a result, although she might be as
intelligent and capable as you are, she doesn’t know the terrain as
well as you do, and within the dynamic in any disagreement she is
always in the wrong, because you are the arbiter of what is right and
wrong to begin with.  She needs this grounding by you as much as you
need to ground things in this way.  


Second, you need to get this world, this set of meanings, across to her
and put her in the situation where she knows that no matter what she
believed prior to her enslavement, she is now completely in the wrong
and needs to be punished to set her straight and remind her of where
her ground and truth are.  Partly I talk to emmie and mitda constantly
about the way I view things and the way things are for me, and must be
for them.  But truth lies in manifestation, and having things manifest
to the slave in the way they manifest to you is the key.  Human beings
share a world and share the way things manifest to a greater or lesser
degree depending on how close they are – and this phenomenon is what
people mean when they refer to “relating” to someone.  Physical contact
I’ve found is a key – standing at a distance and touching the slave
only when you hit them doesn’t bring them into your space, you need to
break the slave’s personal space by being as close to them as possible,
touching them with your free hand, and letting them feel the punishment
implement prior to and between hits, so that they know it’s an
extension of your hand and your will.


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.