Monday, December 20, 2010

The irremovable difference between presence and absence

Sometimes I think that I am a stupid philosopher. One who is too simple-minded to see the value of complicated thoughts and the truth of certain philosophical statements which are clear for many of my confrères. I faced this fact again when I started to read an article about Heidegger, or rather about his philosophical method, in a journal I am subscribed to. I knew that reading it would be quite an effort for me because of Heidegger’s obscure style. And many comments on his texts are not much better. Indeed, I had only just read one page when there was talk of “a thorough and irremovable difference between presence and absence” that formed the background of a long-lasting philosophical debate. I was baffled. I must admit that I had missed the debate, to which, according to the author of the article, outstanding philosophers like Heidegger (you guess it), Levinas and Derrida had contributed. But, of course, it is no wonder that I had missed it, for just such statements make me drop out. For what does this quotation mean when I look at it with a down-to-earth mind, forgetting for a moment that I am a philosopher? Or maybe when I look at it from the viewpoint of an analytical philosopher? Frankly speaking, it is nonsense. For the thoroughness and irremovability of the difference between presence and absence is already in the meaning of the words. It is analytical. It is as if you say: “If I am here I am not there”. Nothing is clearer and more analytical than this. Of course, it is thorough and irremovable, so what are we talking about then?
I continued reading the article but you’ll not be surprised that I put it aside after a few sentences. Actually I was a bit disappointed that I did not have the perseverance to read it to its end, since it is obvious now that I’ll never become a great thinker. For, so Heidegger, all great thinkers think the same because they all know themselves being bound by the question of Being. But it’s Heidegger’s Being and that’s not mine. For me this Being is nothing, and as Heidegger told us, the nothing nothings. Oh, help, let me stop here, before I do become a Heideggerian philosopher.

P.S. I know that this is a caricature but sometimes a caricature tells the truth better than telling the truth. In Heideggerian terms, it unhides the hidden better, than the unhidden itself.

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