Category Archives: World

Nobody Understands Me! Including Me!

Sometimes circumstances conspire to hit you on the head with something you know full well, but for some reason were avoiding your own understanding of. A few months ago circumstances to do with employment took a major turn from the situation I had been hired under, and wanting to make the best of things, along with maintaining a significant income, caused me to avoid understanding the significance of the change. This although had someone described the new situation prior to my accepting the position I would have run for the hills.

Even within the avoidant perspective I was framing the situation with, I spent much of the last couple of months watching the rest of the people on the project busily building a train and tracks to run it on, all the time knowing the destination wasn’t reachable by land. If someone isn’t ready to hear something, even if they respect you sufficiently to listen, your words won’t make any sense, and gesturing wildly towards the abyss between the current track and the destination is only going to convince people you’ve lost your mind, because not only is their perspective different, they have a different horizon, beyond which nothing is yet visible. This has nothing to do with intelligence or acuity, just the luck of the draw as to what you’re ready to see and hear.

This time circumstances conspired further. About a week ago I was forced to stop avoiding my own understanding and act on it, despite it seeming like the worst possible timing, both in terms of personal as well as financial stability. Already, though, it’s as if a massive fog has been lifted. Avoiding something you fully understand renders other things blurry as well, you can’t put blinders on to only one thing, they affect your vision of everything else as well.

Master, Slave, Humanness and Truth

In the crossing from conceptual thinking to inceptual, truth interpreted as relational and externally founded (correspondence theory of truth) is initially rejected by Nietszche as mere valuation, and not the ‘highest’ value. But with the second Nietszche remains wedded to the notion of valuation in general. Valuation goes hand in hand with the nature of technological (metaphysical, conceptual) revealing of beings in general. The enframing nature of technological revealing requires a posited identity between differentiable things, in order to be able to ‘have’ them at one’s disposal – as a resource any given example is equivalent to any other of that type.
Nietszche then brings in the valuation of humanness as rank. Truth as valuation renders the difference null, they are both ‘human resources’. Within any enforced Master/slave pairing the metaphysical notion of truth is always advantageous to those looking up. Maintaining the differentiation though is not merely in the Master’s interest but in the interest of undermining valuation in general.
Within consensual Master/slave dynamics the metaphysical valuation is disadvantageous to both, since it renders them effectively equal, and their dynamic is posited on inequality as in itself desirable. Truth is re-posited in an inceptual manner, as the self-presentation of something to a human being, and thus founded on humanness in general.

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 …

An Interesting Week …

Last week was, at the very least, interesting. Due to mess ups with the SSA and my work authorization I was unable to accept a job that looked really cool. Fortunately for our financial outlook mitda got an offer for a job that looks pretty cool for her also and she has no SSA hangups so she starts tomorrow. I’m a little concerned about her returning to work after a goodly absence for health reasons but it is the perfect type of gig to put her toe in the water with.

I also underwent an experience which I can’t really explain, but which changed aspects of my outlook on the world in general, and particularly clarified my notion of the nature of the absolute. Timing in some ways couldn’t have been worse as it coincided with a decision to not publish some ideas I have been working on for some time. emmie has been very grounding for me, though, and it’s helped me get through some of the difficulties and frustrations involved without too much harm done.

We also discovered what has quickly become my favorite comic strip, you can find it at Being and Tim, and no, that’s not a misprint.

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.

BDSM as M/s Praxis

“Any form of skillful coping in which you can become an expert, in which you get into a kind of flow in which you don’t have to think at all, your mind is out of it and the skills in your body are doing it, we’ve done all of that and we’ve done it taking a risk too, that when you do that: you end up lost or you may end up saying things you regret having said, and if you aren’t ready to take that risk you’ll never become an expert in that. So, I could predict that you have taken the risk and done it and felt bad about it, and you’ve done it and felt good about it, and when you’ve got that, you’ve got a kind of mastery. “ – Hubert Dreyfus.

Merleau-Ponty had an important insight. When we look at certain types of expertise (and I’m betraying less philosophical interests of mine, lol) such as the expertise of an athlete, we see embodied expertise, the expertise that is not simply “unthinking” in its operation but is required to be unthinking, such that the athlete wouldn’t be able to do what he/she in fact does if he/she had to think about it while doing it. In this context we have to look at such things as “muscle memory” etc. where the brain simply doesn’t contain the whole representation of what is going on. Merleau-Ponty recognized, in his idea of intercorporeality, that our usual and normal interactions with the World were bodily in nature, that we don’t in fact keep a mental representation of the World, the World is immediate to us through our bodying forth into it. The skill of an athlete is an extension of our normal bodying forth, not an unusual or fundamentally different manner of relating to the World, or meaning-context, in which we exist.

The “play” aspect of bdsm is related to this, as part of the praxis of M/s relationships. Most M/s relationships do in fact incorporate aspects of bdsm play, and this is not an accidental relation. Dominating someone is not, fundamentally, simply a mental thing, and as a result purely psychological or psychosocial theories of M/s fall down when it comes to praxis. The physical aspects, bodily aspects of domination and submission come to the fore in bdsm “play”, and the scare quotes are there because in an M/s context “play” is in fact very serious and very much a part of the real dynamic between the people involved. That bdsm involves skilled play, mastery of technique in a more limited sense of the word mastery than I usually use it, is part of the way that M/s is embodied and brought to a fullness beyond its psychological expression.

When mitda and I first became involved it was in both a romantic (in the old fashioned sense) and practical manner. We were not an M/s couple in any sense, in fact neither of us understood the M/s dynamic as a real possibility. But the combination of a psychological bond together with a penchant for bdsm play resulted in a very tight relationship with one another, and an unplanned but powerful tendency towards M/s within the relationship. After getting together in a physical sense, living together as a couple, and engaging in such play our relationship dynamic inevitably tended not just to M/s, but M/s in its absolute form. Without having any conceptual transparency, we lived together, played together, and developed a total power transfer dynamic. As we became more aware of the tendencies that were expressing themselves within the dynamic and attempted to achieve some sort of conceptual transparency for what we were in fact doing, ideas such as TPE/IE suddenly made sense to two people who had run across and essentially written off such ideas. One of the things this made me aware of as a person who writes on the subject, is that while I can provide a framework for thinking about such relationships, I can’t justify its existence or prove anything of what I am saying, and viewing it as a framework for my reality is something that could be accepted or rejected by the reader, but probably not really understood by the reader unless they themselves had experienced a similar dynamic. And this dynamic cannot be experienced purely mentally, it requires a bodily expression, it requires the bdsm practice aspect that from a conceptual point of view seems extrinsic.

In the relationship that developed with emmie that this praxis was intrinsic came more to the fore, in that she was not, is not a masochist in the conventional sense. She doesn’t engage in bdsm praxis for the sake of the physical pleasure that a conventional masochist derives from it. She engages in it, and it has felt and become necessary to both of us to engage in such practices, from a purely dominance/submission aspect. As a result it is impossible to make the error of viewing the bodily aspect as essentially separate and different from the psychological. Her enjoyment of s & m play is purely the enjoyment a submissive derives from being submissive, palpably, physically. It is the bodying forth of her submission and the bodying forth of my mastery. Our play doesn’t, as a result, have the comfortable and easy feel that mitda and I attain, where mastery and submission is bodied forth in concert with deep mutual pleasure and satisfaction. Instead it results in a tension of necessity, an expression of dominance and submission with our bodies that we cannot choose to forego simply because it isn’t a fundamentally pleasurable activity.

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.

Thought at its Limits

Foucault praises linguistics and psychoanalysis as examples of thought at its limits which discovers at the center of knowledge not humanity, but a sort of anti-humanity, a dead end if you will. Both linguistics and psychoanalysis find humanity suspended in a web of language, a language which mediates humanity and allows humanity to constitute an image of itself. But language is not such a stable support network; rather language’s promise of solidity is something like quicksand, an infinitely regressing system which cannot comprehend its own foundation since it has no center or originary meaning to rest on. “From within language experienced and transversed as language, in the play of its possibilities extended to their farthest point, what emerges is that man has ‘come to an end’, and that, by reaching the summit of all possible speech, he arrives not at the very heart of himself but at the brink of that which limits him; in that region where death prowls, where thought is extinguished, where the promise of the origin interminably recedes.” If humanity reveals itself only in and by language, humanity must accept a certain condemnation of silence to never be able to speak of its own origins and ends. Humanity is thrust into the foreground only to be distanced from its foundations, its background, a horizon which cannot speak and which, when approached, undoes thinking (as meaning is undone at the roots of language, the self at the roots of psychoanalysis), leaving only a horizon of the dead.

It is, then, in this context that Foucault speaks of humanity as a recent invention. Only with the elaboration of specific systems of thought which could inquire not into humanity’s ideal or essence, but the functioning of the foreground and the silhouette of humanity against the enabling background. “We shall say, therefore, that a ‘human science’ exists, not whenever man is in question, but wherever there is analysis – within the dimension proper to the unconscious – of norms, rules, and signifying totalities which unveil to consciousness the conditions of its forms and contents.” The subject of humanity was constituted during a certain moment in history which “dissolved” language, that is, an era which knowingly constructed its understanding of humanity “objectively,” in between the spaces of representationality which show how humanity is deployed. According to Foucault, the human sciences address humanity in so far as people live, speak, and produce (biology, philology, and economics), and create its model by isolating and questioning the functioning of humanity when the norms and rules break down, and on that basis rebuild knowledge by showing how a functional representation of humanity can come into being and be deployed (and thus, Foucault will later argue, perfect the techniques of normalization and socialized encoding of rules via totalizing methods of power).

As language is now re-coalescing at its limits, combining thought and unthought, the Other of knowledge must give itself over to the Same. Where the limits of thinking reveal its own basis as its foundational limitations, a new way of thinking is constituted which, as Levi-Strauss says, “dissolves humanity.” Foucault writes, “Since man was constituted at a time when language was doomed to dispersion, will he not be dispersed when language regains its unity?” The “death of man” seems a relatively peaceful event, not where humanity explodes with enormous violence, but a moment where humanity withdraws into the background such that a new array of knowledge can be foregrounded. Foucault does not yet have the advantage of a fully elaborated theory of language; however, if such a unity of language is not philosophized, humanity will forever find itself in a dying state, undoing itself by its own logic without our awareness. Foucault seems to ask that humanity die gracefully so that we can direct our energy to elaborating what is not yet thought, and approach a new horizon of articulation.

Helplessness and the Passing Under

mitda in her current blogpiece talks about an experience we shared on Friday.  She had been rendered helpless in a play session completely, and suddenly “something” came over us.  I put something in scare quotes because it didn’t have attributes or anything one could describe, it was just presencing pure and passing over, with a simultaneous (for me) passing under.  I have had this experience before but under very different circumstances.  I felt from it a huge sense of refusal, refusal of worship, refusal of description, refusal of communication.  It seems to be a rare occurrence, and one that one needs to be partially prepared for, but the preparation can never be enough, and it remains the most overwhelming, the definition of overwhelming itself.  The Abyssal.

Vorhanden, Zuhanden, and Dasein, three modes of being

Vorhanden – Abstract Presence

The concept of vorhanden is translated ‘present-at-hand in BT. This is one mode of being in which being lies in the fact that something is, and is as it is in reality, which provides the mode of vorhanden for that entity (BT, 26). Awareness of the vorhanden character of an entity has a temporal structure because awareness is an event, which is necessarily tied to time and cannot be eternal. Thus, the awareness of vorhanden is a making-present of the entity (BT, 48), and thus brings the entity to a state in which it can become the object of some kind of relation to that which is aware of it, Dasein. The process of appearing that results in entities of the mode vorhanden being known is not a showing of themselves, but rather that they are evidenced by something else (BT, 52). These attributes of that which is vorhanden demonstrate that the word ‘what’, rather than ‘who’, is properly associated with the concept of vorhanden (BT, 71). Another characteristic of the vorhanden mode of being is that it is ‘in-the-world’ where ‘in’ means “sharing the same space as” (BT, 79).

The consequence of ‘being-in’ is that all entities that ‘be-in’ have a mode of being that can be reduced to vorhanden, but any such reduction of a view of the entity to merely vorhanden results in a denial of the higher modes of being that properly belong to the entity through the abstraction necessary to regard the entity as vorhanden. In contrast to things that are ‘in-the-world’ hut have a higher mode of being than is expressed in vorhanden, entities that only exist with the vorhanden mode of being are ‘belonging-to-the-world’ and so are a part of the world (BT, 93). The effect of being a part of the world is  that such entities become a part of the context o0f which Dasein is aware and with which Dasein interacts. 

Zuhanden –  Tool-Being

Heidegger identified zuhanden, ready-to-hand, as a mode of being that contrasts with vorhanden. He argues that entities become accessible when we concern ourselves with them in some way, that is, when we care about them (BT, 96). To care for entities is to become interested in them in some way so that the entity is no longer a mere object at a distance from us, as something observed and analysed, as described in the vorhanden mode of being, but rather to come into some interested relation to the entity. The fact of care makes the entity of
the kind described  ‘equipment’, zeug, that which is useful for something, and so to have a mode of being zuhanden (BT, 96).

Heidegger argues that strictly there is no such thing as ‘an equipment’ where ‘equipment’ means ‘something-in-order-to’. The ‘in-order-to’ character of the zuhanden mode implies a reference of something to something (BT, 97). That is, in the mode of being zuhanden the equipment is always linked to something else as an entity that has the purpose of effecting something other than itself for something other than itself. That which is zuhanden is known
in its relational nature as equipment for a purpose, but is not known as what it is in itself because when we use something our awareness is of its purpose rather than of it in and of itself, that is, its mode of being vorhanden (BT, 98). Thus, in order to be zuhanden the  vorhanden character must withdraw to release Dasein to perceive the entity as for a purpose.

This relation of vorhanden and zuhanden follows because when equipment is used the awareness of the user concerning the purpose of the entity rather than awareness of the entity in and of itself (BT, 99). Now, work involves using something for achieving something, whether the purpose is public or private, and thus is dependant on use of equipment (BT,  100).  However, that which is zuhanden must also be reducible to vorhanden, since there can be no
equipment where that equipment does not tangible exist as something that can be apprehended and analysed if one is able to penetrate beyond the perception of that entity as equipment (BT, 101). Consequently, that which is to be useful, has a mode of being of zuhanden and must have a mode of being vorhanden, and the difficulty in perceiving the  vorhanden character arises because it is obscured by the zuhanden character that is most immediately perceived by Dasein.

Should an entity normally perceived according to its zuhanden character be broken then it is perceived in its not useful vorhanden mode of being (BT, 103). In addition, should an item perceived by one as zuhanden be apprehended by another, who due to a lack of appropriate  experience or knowledge, is unable to perceive it as that particular zuhanden the latter may perceive it as a different zuhanden, that is as for a different purpose, or possibly as purposeless, and thus only as vorhanden.  All uses of that which has a mode of being of zuhanden relate somehow to serving one or more purposes of Dasein (BT, 116). Thus the generation of the zuhanden mode of being is dependent on Dasein generating it as an additional mode of being for an entity that is first of all vorhanden. However, having effected this transformation of vorhanden to zuhanden Dasein then primarily perceives the entity as zuhanden, and only with difficulty, if at all, as
vorhanden.  Heidegger also suggests that there may be some entities known as zuhanden that may not be encounterable and thus not knowable as objective entities that could be analysed, and their vorhanden character cannot be separated from their zuhanden character (BT, 122).

Heidegger does not posit examples of zuhanden that cannot be encountered as vorhanden. It may be worth contemplating whether such entities as knowledge or inter-personal relationships may be such unencounterables, and thus only perceivable as zuhanden because we are unable to remove the interpretative overlays of the underlying vorhanden entity in order to be able to encounter and perceive that vorhanden entity in an of itself. If this is so it would provide a foundation for our difficulty in understanding such entities.


Heidegger uses Dasein to name and describe the mode of being experienced by humans in their own existence (BT, 32). However, Heidegger does not definitively limit Dasein to humans, and so it is possible, or plausible, that there is some other non-human entity that may also have the Dasein mode of being, but Heidegger does notdiscuss this perspective on the issue either. The distinguishing characteristic of Dasein is that Dasein is aware of Dasein’s
existence, and is aware of the question of existence, and anything that is not Dasein is not so aware (BT, 32,33). Since Dasein is aware of its being and understands the question of being, one of the pursuits of Dasein has been to pursue and explore the nature of Dasein’s being seeking the authentic meaning of being (BT, 62). This pursuit contrasts with the other pursuit that Dasein conducts in parallel, which is shared in various ways by other entities, of seeking
to support its material being. That is, in parallel with pursuit of questions of the nature of being Dasein also pursues the mundane matters of life that enable physical support of the body in a desirable manner. Dasein pursues these mundane matters in a more sophisticated manner than other entities, but the other entities do pursue the mundane in some way, as their primary activity.
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.

The traditional view of people has been as rational animals,  through
rationalist concepts such as Decartes’ “I think therefore I am”, cogito ergo sum, but this yields Hiedegger with the problem that ____ is of a vorhanden kind and _____ is of an unclear kind of being, resulting in a person, viewed in this way having an indeterminate kind of existence (BT, 74).

At this point Heidegger departs from Ancient Greek and Christian anthropology, which both  define man as essentially an entity (BT, 75). Heidegger introduces the idea of ‘mineness’ as a quality that belongs to Dasein, as being that which is the true nature of Dasein, which results  in the possibility of Dasein living either authentically or inauthentically, depending on the way of life lived by Dasein (BT, 78).
Now Dasein experiences ‘being-in-the-world’ as sharing in the space of the world, but not as being a part of the world (BT, 79). Thus Dasein lives in the world as it is, and interacts with the world, but is of a different kind to the other entities in the world. A result is that it is possible to say Dasein is of vorhanden kind, but this either is a wilful disregarding of the ‘being in’ state of Dasein or an unintentional not seeing of that ‘being-in’ state (BT, 82). 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. That Dasein can be ‘being-in-the-world’, Heidegger’s defining concept of Dasein, is the consequence of Dasein being able to know and to conduct I-thou relations, which are entities that cannot be known as of vorhanden kind. The view of Dasein as ‘being-in-the-world’ contrasts with the vorhanden which are, ‘in-the-world’ or ‘belonging-to-the-world’ and so parts of the world (BT, 93).
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’.

Zuhanden  – Slave-Being  

In a sense then with slave-being we do take the slave as zuhanden, ready-to-hand, useful, a tool for use.  In consensual slavery the slave agrees, wants, needs to be taken this way.  As dasein he/she is still being-in-the-world but in this case, the world is not his/her world, but her Master’s world.  The slave is never merely an object, and in fact all ‘objectification’ of the slave is in reality de-subjectification, because the slave remains at the same time dasein and equipment, a tool and a being with its own sense of being, but the sense of being a tool in the equipmental totality of the Master’s world.