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November 2nd 2010    Tim Candler

    Heidegger reckoned to understand thinking by first exploring thinking through a withdrawal from patterns of thinking.  He chose to suggest the following “Most thought provoking in this most thought provoking time is that we are still not thinking.”   With these words he hoped a mind might move toward what thinking might actually be.  

   Powerful in the understanding of Great Men has been the idea of a place from which we occasionally fall, and chance or purpose or something else rebuilds, renews, revitalizes or some similar word that offers return to balance.  But the sentence I wish he had used to provoke, is this, “Socrates was a bloody fool.”    Or “Sokrates war ein verdammter Narr.”  Can’t help but think such a phrase would have curled Heidegger’s toes.  Indeed, Heidegger was one of those for whom Socrates was the wisest of men, most likely because Socrates never wrote anything.  Rather his role was that of provocateur, or perhaps muse.  And too many of the Great Men yoked their carts to ancient writing as a career choice, because that was the route to understanding, or to wisdom, or to something that could be real, and from which income and respectability might be earned.

   

     The alternative was myth, which for the old Greeks was a form of interpretation as respectable as logicalness.  And this because interpretation by myth was as much thinking as it was bumbling around in the world of questions and answers strung together with rigid discipline, on endlessly into that foul phrase “the uncaused first cause”.

     But it is quite obvious that thinking and understanding are without concrete form, except in the mechanisms of thinking and understanding, and in the occasional consequence of thinking and understanding.  Which I suppose is why Heidegger liked poetry, where words are strung together often for no apparent reason.  And which I suppose is why some listen to opera, or pop music, or like me reckon on the Rolling Stones being the high point of human civilization.

    Of course Socrates was right, “Bloody fools, all of us”.   Too which a reaction usually emerges in the form of a phrase that includes the suggestion “but what other than us is there.”  Which in itself is probably nearer to something like resignation than to thinking.

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