Richard Wolin: "What is Antiphilosophy?"

We are very happy once again to welcome Prof. Wolin here at University of Copenhagen.

Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of Political Science, History and Comparative Literature at The Graduate Center of City University of New York, where he has worked since 2000.
Read more about Richard Wolin here

Seminar by Professor Richard Wolin
"What is Antiphilosophy? The 'Critique of Reason' in Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault."

Heidegger’s endorsement of an ontological condition in which truth and error are indistinguishable also represents a nod in the direction of “primordiality.” Only at a later point, one that is coincident with the emergence of Western metaphysics and which, in Heidegger’s view, signifies the onset of ontological decline, will philosophy begin to rigorously differentiate between truth and untruth. It is on this basis that Heidegger argues for the equiprimordiality of truth and untruth in his conception of truth as uncoveredness or disclosedness.  According to Heidegger’s conception, the rigorous distinction between truth and untruth popularized by the Socratic School is subaltern and derivative vis-à-vis a more originaryontological perspective represented by pre-Socratic thought. 
   But in seeking to transcend inherited notions of philosophical truth, “fundamental ontology,” as Heidegger refers to his project, risks falling behind them. Theories of truth presuppose the capacity to distinguish between truth and error, right and wrong, good and bad. In the last analysis, Heidegger’s concept of the “destruction of the history of ontology” and, subsequently, “Overcoming Metaphysics” (“Die Überwindung der Metaphysik”), belittles the capacity to make meaningful, inner-worldly philosophical distinctions and intellectual judgments. In the end overarching generalizations and ponderous abstractions (Cf. “Überwindung der Metaphysik”) win out, as the Seinsfrage fuses with a variety of Zivilisationskritik worthy of Spengler.  Heidegger dismisses traditional modes of philosophical questioning wholesale as subjective and anthropocentric. He considers the “pragmatic” orientation of Being and Time, which centers on the “analytic of Dasein” and its worldly involvements – discourse (Rede), tools (Zeuge), Being-with-others (Mitsein), the “They” (das Man) – obsolete insofar as, in his view, it is suffused, with untenable anthropological presuppositions and claims. He holds such claims, and the philosophical standpoint underlying them, directly responsible for having covered up or suppressed more profound and originary ontological truths. On this basis, Heidegger, following Nietzsche, goes so far as to restyle the entire history of philosophy as a “history of error” (Irrnis).
   Conversely, Husserl relies on insights and claims that are publicly accessible and intersubjectively verifiable. Although we do not have immediate access to other minds (see the fifth of Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations), we are nevertheless able to constructively engage in a thought experiment in order to determine their agreement or disagreement. The attainment of validphilosophical insight depends, in a certain measure, on “empathy” (einfühlen): our ability to conjecture or intuit whether or not other persons will find themselves in accord with ourjudgments and assertions. As Husserl observes in a salient passage from “The Origin of Geometry”: “objectivity” arises “in an understandable fashion as soon as we take into consideration the function of empathy and fellow mankind as a community of empathy and of language . . . The production [of idealities] can reproduce their likenesses from person to person, and in the chain of the understanding of these repetitions what is self-evident turns up as the same in the consciousness of the other.”
   In contrast, in Heidegger’s more primordial approach, truth and error are reciprocally imbricated – to the point where, at times, they become mutually indistinguishable. In Heidegger’s way of thinking, the indefeasible proximity of truth and error is indicative of a greater profundity. It is an element that challenges the superficiality of philosophy qua “representation” or “judgment” – theoria as centered on providing “rational accounts”: logoi or eidei. The propinquity of truth and error emerges most clearly in Heidegger’s discussion of truth as an entwinement of “concealment” and “unconcealment” (Verborgenheit and Unverborgenheit) in the “Origin of the Work of Art” and related works.

Texts concerning the seminar is available one week before. Contact Anna Vind on: