Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Think

9/18/2014--It may seem surprising, and even strange, but the philosopher Martin Heidegger meditates a great deal on the question, what is thinking? Heidegger even has a very well-known work entitled, in the German, Was heisst denken?

I have recently been studying the book that is generally regarded as Heidegger's second masterpiece, after Being andTime, Contributions to Philosophy. In that work, Heidegger approaches thinking as having to proceed from out of what he calls the "grounding disposition" (grundstimmung) of an age.

Heidegger does not mean that the thinker thinks away from the grounding disposition, but rather that the grounding disposition is the starting point for thinking.

A grounding disposition is not a personal feeling. It is a mood but there is nothing personal or subjective about it. Or, I guess I should say that it is personal in the sense that each one of us encounters it, but it is objective in the sense that we encounter it and cannot change it.

Undoubtedly, Heidegger would dismiss what I would describe as the grounding disposition of this time as merely a worldview. But is it not possible that whereas the genuine thinker, like Heidegger, can intuit and interpret the grounding disposition, the rest of us hacks can still intuit and interpret something of the same disposition.

When I look around at what people write and think today, they seem to me oblivious to the kind of questions that Heidegger believes must be addressed first, or maybe must be addressed continuously. These are questions like, what time is it? and where are we now?

Heidegger even suggests at one point that I know of that the grounding disposition of the time may be how we encounter the language of God for us—that is, what God is saying now.

Well, what is the grounding disposition of our time? It seems to be one of foreboding. It seems to be one of anxiety and hopelessness and restlessness. It seems to be a proper time to ask, who are we really?

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