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Basic Principles of Thinking, II of V

Mark Douglas

We need to make meaningful distinctions. To make these distinctions we have to have an openness and wonder about the world in a way that simple things are astonishing to us. Ever since Plato we've been entangled in our manner of thinking. "Thinking...is the hidden and innermost dispute of our history. Thinking is what is historical of this history and thus is historical in itself" (p. 93). Thinking is historical in its engagement with the flow of time. But, since Plato, thinking has been historiographic in its consideration along side the step-by-step march of time. Time is a continuum, not a tick-tock. Thinking is ontological not ontic. If we discuss "the thinking," we are considering thinking ontically. If we gather our thoughts about "thinking," we are specifically taking up the matter of the condition of the possibility of thinking. 

Part I of V distinguished the equivocation between grammatical notions of thinking. These are the objective and subjective aspects of thinking. I am thinking (objective). Thinking envelopes me (subjective). The second equivocation involves the difference between "thinking as general human activity" and "thinking as a singular destiny of Western humanity" (p. 93). This is the play of thinking across the dimensions of the shattered multiplicity of thinking (divinities) and the unity of thinking (earth). Said differently and in terms of Harman (2011), this is the difference between the real qualities of thinking and thinking as a real object. 

Historiological thinking is considering the facts and their correct representations. Historical thinking is the thoughtful assumption by which "an earlier thought concernfully approaches us by lifting us up and out" (p. 94). Historical thinking becomes us. Historical thinking comes as "we send ourselves with our whole essence into that thinking that, from far beyond us, is given to us in thought by the oldest thoughts of Western thinking, which themselves thereby come upon us." Historical thinking comes through our releasement or receptivity to the thoughts gathered up to us.

Regardless of how we accept thinking, either through keen calculation and planning or humble receptivity, thinking comes to presence. We are free to take "the reserved historical glance into the constellation" whether we do so or not. That's good news because it means that all is not lost, just misappropriated. Historical thinking is non-representational. This is a thinking as free and open listening. "[S]uch a listenting into the provenance of the thoughts that are thought to us must have set aside that form of representation according to which hearing itself is only understood as the act of a subject that draws its objects or...other subjects into its sphere" (p. 95). That would be the Cartesian conception of human as subject.

Interestingly, making arguments against Cartesian representation is a mistake. Better "that we abandon it in favor of an experience in which we are already residing. In all brevity, this can be stated so: We only catch sight of that which has already sighted us....We only hear that to which we already belong insofar as we stand in its claim" (p. 95). Danger lies in this relationship between sighting and claim; catching sight and hearing. The danger is a blind spot or dead zone. The dead zone is by way of mishearing or overlooking.

The authentic catching sight and hearing is receptivity "to what comes upon us, to what is impending [Gegen-wart] and thus is authentically destiny and history" (p. 96). We truly see was is de-distancing or nearing us and we truly hear what is pre-senting. The dead zone swallows us in our conceptions of human as subject and history as object. What's our evidence of subjectivity and historiologic--the "self-consciousness of our age" (p. 96).

As answer to contemporary sullen self-consciousness we need to resonate with what is historically attuned [ge-stimmt], "the thinking which determines [bestimmt] contemporary world history only speaks to our contemplation when it has delivered us over to its claim" (p. 97). We need to feel the vibe of the tune or mood that's presently at work. This is the current vibe we need to receptively realize. This will only bring us to the parking lot of the trailhead of the path to follow toward "experiencing thinking from its basic principles" (p. 97).

What is thinking? Thinking is "the basic characteristic of contemporary world history" in the West (p. 98). The current version of thinking is tired, but it comes from a historical tradition. So we are in the lot but we don't notice the signpost for the trail leading along the path of thinking. "This word "logic" is the signpost" (p. 98). Logic is the contemporary "doctrine of thinking" (p. 98). It has evolved itself into logistics. Logistics dominates.

When its planes in the sky for a chain in supply - that's logistics
When the parts for the line come precisely on time - that's logistics
A continuous link that is always in sync - that's logistics - that's logistics
Carbon footprint reduced bottom line gets a boost - that's logistics
With new ways to compete they'll be cheers on Wall Street - that's logistics
When technology knows right where everything goes - that's logistics
Bells will ring, ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding - that's logistics
There will be no more stress 'cause you've called UPS - that's logistics (UPS, 2010)

By this name, logic procures its ultimate--which means universal--and planetary form of dominance. In the age of technology, this appears in the form of the machine. The computers that are set to work in business and industry, in the research institutes of science, and in the organizational centers of politics, we surely cannot conceive as devices merely employed for more rapid calculation. The thinking-machine in itself is already much more the consequence of a transposition of thinking into a manner of thought that, as mere calculation, provokes a translation into the machinery of these machines. Thus we overlook what happens here as an alteration of thinking, as long as we do not keep our eyes open to the fact that thinking must become logistical because it is inceptually logical. (Heidegger, 2012, p. 99)

Logos is the basic trait of thinking. Logos is the noun form of legeinLegein "means to gather, to lay together" as in laying bricks (legos), paving or unfurling (p. 99). The sense of gathering and collecting as picking out is as much at play as the sense of laying. We also get it in dialectic and dialogue, which "means to go through something in laying it together" (p. 99). Heidegger then gives several German terms that are rooted in logos and legein.

Logos speaks "through all our representing, calculating, willing, and pursuing, in every sensing and aspiring, the Logos speaks" (p. 100). "The essence of thinking rests and resonates in the essence of the Logos" (p. 101). Heidegger moves to Aristotle. Aristotle claimed the basic trait of thinking to be logos apophantikosApophantikos is an adjective related to apophainein. This is "to declare, display" (Merriam-Webster online); "to bring something from itself to appear here at the fore" (Heidegger, 2012, p. 101). I would say that this means to grant clearance. So, "[t]he Logos brings to the fore that which up until now and each time does not properly appear, though it already lies before us" (p. 101). Logos grants clearance. Logos moves us from, "What the what!" to "Eureka!". 

Heidegger takes us further along the path. He offers an example, "The path is long" (p.101) as an example of Logos. The idea is that we are sauntering along a hiking trail and we quietly think, "the path is long." The Logos grants clearance "insofar as it brings the long path to the fore for us, gathers it before us, lets it lie before us. Heidegger goes on to give his translation of logos apophantikos as "exposition[Darlegung]" (p. 102). Thinking is "a letting appear that each time in a certain respect discloses and lights up what is concealed" (p. 102). He gets cryptic. "Thinking dwells inceptually in the essential space of a dark light. this is the location where the gods were present to the Greeks" (p. 102). Thinking dwells by way of beginning or initially, "in the tension between the real thing as a unified thing and its multitude of qualities or notes" (Harman, 2011, p.98). This is the space between earth and gods. This is interstitial space. Thinking is initially interstitial. It's the location for "the unconcealing exposition of what presences" (p.102).

Aside: the investigation I want to conduct will be like shining a black light upon the investigated so as to foreground what typically falls into the background, that is whiteness. Dreyfus and Kelly unroll this white light more clearly in All Things Shining

So we take the saying, "The path is long" as a proposition. So what is a proposition? What is a saying [Satz]? We better elucidate what is meant by a proposition of saying. "Statement means in our older language setting together, composition--as still in music, the movement [Satz] of a sonata.The saying, 'the path is long' is an example of a Logos. What is set together? Easy. Think of the sentence structure. The path is the subject set together with its predicate, long. Is, in the path is long, is a copula. If we merely take is to be a conjunctive binding element, we are lost.

"The Greek word for statement reads synthesisthesis" (p.103). We need to think thesis as the Greeks thought it, "precisely as positing, positioning in the sense of setting up, bringing to a stand, letting stand, namely of that which presences, just as it stands" (p. 103). In this way we connect the statement as saying to the letting lie before for that which clearance is granted. In this way we connect saying with logos apophantikos. Statements are for bridging subject and predicate. Statements are examples. Statements expose. Statements are expositions; "spoken in terms of the example, the letting lie before of the long path that lies before. So the long path--appearing through apophanos--is brought together with us, and we think Logos as apophanos: The long path is, as such , gathered up to us" (p. 103). Longwise clearance is granted to the gathering of trail. The genuine subject is "the presencing long path itself" (p. 103). The genuine statement "lets lie before that which lies at the basis of its positing. That which lies before and at the basis of the statement is its ground. What is proven [be-legt] from this ground is what the simple Logos exposes [dar-legt]. This proving from a ground is a founding." (p. 103-104).  The "main characteristic of thinking...is a grounding of the ground and thus a founding of the statement" (p. 104).

The person who thinks thoughts and exposes them founds them. Grounding principles, i.e., ground sayings, "are leaps that set themselves apart from every ground and leap into the abyss of thinking" (p. 105). When we hear leaps it is meant in the sense of hallesthai. Thallein is a combination word that combines running and jumping. Thallein means flourish (as taken from Plato's Cratylus, http://www.hermes-press.com/cratylus2.htm). We are now preparing for a leap into the abyss that will become a recovering transformation of thinking.