Friday, February 8, 2013

#39 / Thrown Into The World

I like the picture. It comes from a recent blog posting from The Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College.  Speaking frankly, the blog posting is a bit arcane. It starts with a quote from Arendt, in German, written in 1955 in her Denktagebuch, which I haven't read, since it is in German. I gather the Denktagebuch is a kind of "notebook." I am waiting for an English translation (which I do understand is on the way). 

At any rate, the quote from Arendt is a critique of a concept advanced by Martin Heidegger. Heidegger thought that humans were "thrown" into the world. In debunking this concept, Arendt makes what amounts to a "two world" differentiation: 

Rather than holding exclusively to the conceptual development of “thrownness,” she offers a terminological challenge. She says that man is only thrown into the natural “earth,” not the humanly-made “world.” In inserting this distinction between the earth and the world, she reads “geworfen” not abstractly as “thrown,” but concretely, implying that she has in mind a second use of the German verb "werfen:" to refer to animals giving birth.

My own "two worlds hypothesis" is, I suppose, almost totally derivative. I certainly have been impressed by Arendt's understanding that there is, available to all of us, an arena or theatre of radical "freedom." Our freedom resides, precisely, in being able to create a human world, with infinite possibility, within the world into which we are, admittedly, "thrown," or "born." That world is the world of Nature, a world that precedes our existence, and which we confront as an absolute.

We forget that at our peril. There isn't always going to be another fishbowl to the right!

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