Friday, April 15, 2011

Hodge, Joanna. Review of Michael Ehrmantraut, HEIDEGGER'S PHILOSOPHIC PEDAGOGY. NDPR (March 2011).

Ehrmantraut, Michael.  Heidegger's Philosophic Pedagogy.  London: Continuum, 2010.

There is, of course, a mountain of commentary on the thinking of Martin Heidegger, and claims to open up a genuinely new line of enquiry can be only rarely made out. Nevertheless, Michael Ehrmantraut does bring into focus a new angle of entry: the question of the importance for Heidegger's enquiries of the process of teaching philosophy. This question is then narrowed down again, for Ehrmantraut does not propose to pursue the interpretation given by Heidegger of Plato's practice in general, nor yet of the famous readings of the allegory of the cave in both GA 34 (Lectures on Plato's Allegory and on the Theaetetus) and in the second set of lectures from GA 36/37 (recently translated as Being and Truth by Gregory Fried and Richard Polt). The question is focused rather on Heidegger's own activity as teacher. In this Ehrmantraut proposes to provide a motivation for Heidegger's otherwise unexplained enthusiasm for Graf Yorck von Wartenburg's contribution to a discussion of historicality, expressed in the latter sections of Being and Time (1927), and it is with Heidegger's response to Yorck that Ehrmantraut begins his study. Against Dilthey, Yorck insists on the ontological status and futural orientation of historicality, and Ehrmantraut shows Heidegger seizing on the notion of historicality as a virtuality awaiting actualisation. That actualisation is to take place through the task of educating the next generation to take up a stance in the world as oriented towards another kind of future. In this task, philosophy in general, and more specifically the radically transformative philosophy proposed by Martin Heidegger, is to play a significant role.

The role in the enquiries of Being and Time of Dasein and Sein, of Seinsverständnis and das Man, are well enough known; those of the privilege to futurity over pastness and presentness, and to historicality over everydayness and within-timeness, less so. The stance of radical self-appropriation in the moment of Entschlossenheit, the defining moment of opening up to this futurity and historicality has been the focus of controversy for decades, at least since the decisive intervention of Ernst Tugendhat. In his magisterial Wahrheitsbegriff bei Husserl and Heidegger (1968), Tugendhat argues that the departure from a close tie between meaning, truth and expressibility in language renders the notion of Entschlossenheit otiose. This is a serious criticism; but what it precisely refuses to engage with is Heidegger's implicit appeal to future meanings, conjured into existence by that very stance which, in time, appropriates to itself both past, present and, more importantly, future conditions for meaningfulness. This very basic disagreement concerning truth is matched by a less obvious but no less basic challenge posed by Heidegger to the commonly understood notion of practice. The fallen, everyday notion of practice presumes that there is a theoretical orientation and specification of aims of living, given in advance of activity, and that there is then a subsequent turn to their practical realisation. Heidegger's proposal in Being and Time is to up-end this ordering, in line with the up-ending of the notion of truth: the practical orientation, a willingness to be put in question by being, precedes all determination of Dasein as self-questioning with respect to its circumstances, its past, its present and its future engagements. The radicality of these two moves comes to the fore in Ehrmantraut's analyses. . . .


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