19 April 2014

Science and scholarship don't think

Heidegger famously said, "Die Wissenschaft denkt nicht." (Science doesn't think.)
He neglected to add, "Scholarship doesn't think either."

The explication of Heidegger's statement is that modern science as a way of thinking is unable to see and think through its own deepest presuppositions, for these are not accessible at all to scientific method. Rather, they are ontological in nature, i.e. they are a cast of the being of beings in our own epoch, the Modern Age, whose end is now dragging out, perhaps for centuries, despite all annunciations and asseverations of post-modernity..

The methods of scholarship, such as analysis and comparison of texts from the tradition, or biographical narrative about the stages of a thinker's thinking, serve at most as a preliminary working-up of the issues themselves for thinking. Valuable as they might be in these restricted respects, scholarship itself is unable to hermeneutically assess a cast of the being of beings (the presencing of presents AS such-and-such), for this is a task of thinking requiring conceptual clarity as to the simplest of phenomena that are "hardest to see" (Aristotle). Short-cuts to ontic self-evidence that flatten the ontological difference are disallowed, but such bans are not only ignored, they are not even seen and understood. This contributes to certain scholars' success, for it makes them easily and broadly understood. They gain a following and enjoy the accolades. No matter that it is a sell-out of what calls for thinking, scholarship blabs on and on under false pretences. It talks forever merely about the issues themselves, without thinking them through with hermeneutic-phenomenological rigour. For instance, Heidegger scholars talk endlessly about the ontological difference, without ever practising it in their thinking. In Hegelian language, scholarship is "begrifflos" (conceptless) and is even clueless about what this means. Hence scholarship cannot practise truth, i.e. the disclosing of what calls for thinking.

And what calls for thinking? How to cast loose from and recast a cast of being through fore-casting into the future.

Modern scientists and scholars don't get it, nor do they want to twig. Each in their own different ways, they miss the point and proceed, pussyfooting along their fateful paths in the ruts inscribed by our epoch's cast of being, fearful of leaving the beaten track.

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