Heidegger, Pomo, enchantment, . . .

June 8, 2004 | 16 comments
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Russell and Damon have asked some challenging questions, and answering them will take me more space than is appropriate for a comment, so, since three and one-half single-spaced pages goes too far for any response, I’m going to respond to their questions (and say something about enchantment) as my own post. I’m not sure what that does to the other discussions going on under Damon’s posts. I hope I’m not making it completely impossible for someone to follow the various discussions.

Rather than try to integrate my responses into one coherent essay, I’ll just respond to points more or less serially. I’ll try to provide links to the places where Russell and Damon raise their questions so that readers can see the questions in context.

Russell asked about Siebach’s and Graham’s piece. To be honest, I’m a little nervous about the characterization I’ve given of it. I heard them present it about a year ago and I’ve talked briefly about it with Siebach since, but I could be way off. It should be published soon. It is coming out as part of a volume edited by Noel Reynolds on the apostasy, and the manuscripts are being prepared for publication at this moment. Also, I’ll ask Siebach if he will respond to the question.

Russell’s concern was “such a thesis would challenge the long-standing Mormon understanding of the apostasy as a calamity which befell the early church. . . . [I]t seems to me that to claim that an ‘apostasy’ was underway before even the generation immediately after Christ was dead and gone would seriously beg the question of exactly what kind of ‘church’ was extant that could go into apostasy. . . . That is, it seems hard to conceive of a loss (and thus a need for a recovery or ‘restoration’) when there is scant evidence that anything ever managed to get built in the first place from which doctrines or practices in need of being recovered had been forgotten or taken away. . . . [T]he earlier and more ‘low-key’ that rupture [of the apostasy] is made, the less enormous (doctrinally speaking) restoration becomes, and the more it seems to me that Mormons must understand themselves as at least partially part of, even shaped by, the history of Christianity which actually was.”

Assuming that the Church had been fully established with the forty-day ministry and the Day of Pentecost, it seems to me that the only change to LDS understanding that Siebach and Graham’s thesis makes is that the early Church was shorter lived than we thought. Their thesis still allows for the belief that Christ established the Church in its fulness and that fulness was lost. It was lost, according to them, as priesthood leaders died or were killed and were unable to be replaced rather than as intellectuals twisted the doctrines to suit their own interests. The cause of the loss is different, on their view, but the tragedy of the loss is equally as great. It seems to me that their thesis fits what we see in the documents better than the usual LDS interpretation of the apostasy, and it does so without giving up anything essential. But perhaps I’m missing something, Russell. I’d be interested in your critical response.

I said Damon is “on to something when you say that the LDS Church ‘demands that believers resist fundamental tendencies of Western thought that go all the way back to the Greeks — and that are considered to be indistinguishable from common sense for Catholics and most Protestants today and quite possibly have been since the second or third century.’” Russell asked about the content of that “something,” and he wondered whether it is a matter of our theology, perhaps our belief that God is embodied.

I think the belief that God is embodied is an important symptom, if you’ll allow that metaphor, of the something. But I think the real answer is the one that Damon suggested later: for Latter-day Saints, the world is thoroughly enchanted. Not surprisingly, given our ordinary use of the word “enchantment,” I think a number of respondents misunderstood his comment, so let me add to it (though he has already done so here. D. Fletcher’s question and the discussion that follows illustrates well, I think, that LDS do live in an enchanted world, a world in which the spiritual is as real and accessible as the physical and intellectual, which is why they don’t make the distinctions that others expect them to and feel no need to reconcile what others think should be reconciled. As Russell pointed out, Terryl Givens’s work and LDS understanding of the way our religion shapes the world are examples of this enchantment.

Damon agreed with me that discursive statements cannot get at the object they describe, but he pointed out that “Mormonism (as I understand it) proposes to stop the dialectical ascent [to theory and theology] very early — very close to the ground of our most basic commonsense, pre-reflective opinions and intimations.” In contrast, traditional Christianity “stops the ascent at a ‘higher’ level — at least by the time of the founding Creeds. Hence God is understood in terms roughly consonant with Greek philosophic categories (like “eternity” and “substance”).”

I think that’s right, which explains the LDS emphasis on ordinance, covenant, practice, etc. rather than theology.

Damon also agrees that Heidegger and the thinkers who follow him make a radical turn to the given rather than a turn away from it. However, he says, “the content of this ‘given’ that postmodernism affirms is radically indeterminate (indeed, I wonder, with Stanley Rosen, whether Heidegger would have allowed himself to be satisfied with ANY determination of truth, as opposed to insisting on endless, open potentiality that never culminates in any actuality),” and he concludes that “postmodern thinkers really don’t provide ‘moorings,’ beyond vague gestures toward there being such moorings out there, somewhere (Levinas is arguably an exception to this rule, but even his mooring is as vague as can be; the ‘Other’ is pretty empty, is it not?).” Based on that assessment of postmodernism, Damon concludes, “So, the Mormon embrace of postmodernism that I alluded to in my post is a purely negative embrace: Heidegger, et al, clear the ground for a richer awareness of and absorption into the pre-reflective revelatory experience of the LDS community.”

It may be that for many LDS academics the embrace of Heidegger et al. is a purely negative embrace, one that clears the ground. If so, that would be good enough reason to engage with those thinkers. However, since I disagree with Damon’s and Rosen’s understanding of Heidegger, I find the situation more complicated. (Rosen was one of my teachers and I have enormous respect for him, but I think he’s quite wrong about Heidegger.)

Let me first say something about why their interpretation of Heidegger is wrong. I don’t think it would be too much of an exaggeration to say that the question of the given is the question in contemporary European philosophy. It was an important question in Hans-Georg Gadamer’s work, though only implicitly. Paul Ricoeur has made it more explicit, as has Jean-Luc Marion. The literature on the topic is enormous and keeps piling up quite rapidly, making it difficult to apprise well. Nevertheless, my conclusion from what I know of it is that Damon’s and Rosen’s criticism of Heidegger is fundamentally mistaken. That criticism implicitly requires that the content of the given be conceptual/propositional. If that isn’t assumed, if “content” doesn’t mean “propositional or proto-propositional content,” then the criticism doesn’t work. For the given is the “stuff” that we encounter constantly. On Heidegger’s view, the mooring of our thought and experience is the stuff we encounter. It is the world (using the term “world” with its Heideggerian meaning, the social, lived world, including the physical objects and persons within it). The world for Heidegger and the other for Levinas are not empty. They are infinitely rich. They give themselves (Heidegger); they are there (Levinas); they make demands on us (Levinas—and as I read him also Heidegger). The American reading of both Heidegger and Levinas turns infinite richness into a kind of arbitrariness, the arbitrariness of simple-minded relativism. It turns infinite richness into the infinity of nothingness. But both Heidegger and Levinas were at some pains to insist that the richness is not a richness in us, but in the things and persons we encounter. (For an essay in which I undertake to think about the given in Heidegger and Levinas—but do not do so as clearly as I should have—see my “The Uncanny Interruption of Ethics: Gift, Interruption, or . . . ,” The Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, vol. 20 no. 2 and vol. 21 no. 1, 1998. 233-247.)

How, then, does that complicate matters for me? Because I’m sympathetic to the idea that a ground-clearing is needed, an opening for LDS thought. At the same time, however, I don’t think that philosophical thought occurs without antecedents. I find myself torn between looking for a new philosophical beginning and believing that there are none.

Finally, Damon disagrees with my understanding of Heidegger. On his reading, it is misleading to characterize Heidegger as an Aristotelian, for “Heidegger’s Aristotle is a radically Heideggerianized Aristotle. And yet he ultimately seeks to go behind even HIM, to find the primordial origins of the West that precede Socrates, the pre-Socratics, and even (one presumes) Homer. Yes, things went badly wrong with Descartes, but this error was prepared by Christian theological errors, which were prepared for by Aristotle’s and Plato’s, and Parmenides’ error before them. All of them flinched in the face of Being; only Heidegger himself (and maybe Hoelderlin) could withstand the violent emergence of truth, which set the West out on its ‘first beginning’ and might, if he and we are up to it, prepare the way for ‘another beginning.’ So, yes: the tradition is there and it’s useful as a means of helping us to think rigorously and to think our way out of our current debased world, rooted as it is in decayed philosophical desiderata. But we can’t learn anything from it in a positive sense.”

There isn’t sufficient space or interest on this blog for us to thrash out our interpretations of Heidegger, but I think this, too, is a mistaken, even caricatured reading of Heidegger. It is a common caricature, to be sure, but I think it is one nevertheless. Heidegger sees each thinker, including the bogeyman Descartes, as taking up again the question of being—and as doing so faithfully and fully. But we have to do what they did. We cannot be satisfied merely to repeat what they did, for to do so is not to take up the question of being. It is not to do what they did. (If readers see connections between this and another of my responses, they are right.) The other beginning occurs over and over again in the history of philosophy. As a result, I think it is too simple to say that for Heidegger “we can’t learn anything from it [the history of philosophy] in a positive sense.” If “in a positive sense” meant “taking what another has posited and repeating it,” that would be right. But the history of philosophy gives us any number of thinkers with whom we can engage in order to think the “same” thing they thought. Because they give us the material for thinking, they give us a great deal that is positive. There are a number of places to see that this is what Heidegger is doing. Perhaps one of the best is The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. But one can also see it in the essays on the Greeks, the books on Aristotle and Kant, the book on Leibniz, that on Hegel, . . . . In each of them we find him reading thinkers in ways that no disciple would countenance, but in ways that are remarkably true to the direction of the philosopher’s thought, ways that use the thinking of a predecessor as a ground from which to draw fresh insights.

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16 Responses to Heidegger, Pomo, enchantment, . . .

  1. Jeremy on June 8, 2004 at 11:56 pm

    I just want to make one little, embarrassingly simple point. Early in his post Jim says “I think the real answer is the one that Damon suggested later: for Latter-day Saints, the world is thoroughly enchanted. Not surprisingly, given our ordinary use of the word ‘enchantment,’ I think a number of respondents misunderstood his comment.”

    I think the “enchanted” and “disenchanted” Mormons among us are arriving at the same point from different directions, for what we are both trying to describe is Mormonism’s elimination of the “dual ontology” model (heaven/earth, spirit/matter, etc.). The disenchanteds are describing a physical world that, were we able to understand it, would fully encompass and explain the spiritual stuff of religious belief–a world in which trascendence ultimately involves, well, transportation (hie-ing to Kolob, etc.). The enchanteds, rather more elegantly, I suppose, are describing a metaphysical world that envelopes the physical. These might seem to be opposites, but they both describe the complete interpenetration of spheres, or the unitary ontology, that sets Mormonism apart.

  2. Jim F. on June 9, 2004 at 12:11 am

    Jeremy, your point isn’t simple, much less embarassingly simple. It is important to remind us that the two views, enchanted and disenchanted, are really the same view. I like “enchanted” because using the word is a way of thumbing my nose at those who think they have disenchanted the world by removing God and things spiritual from it. That’s also why I think an LDS use of the word “disenchanted” may be ill-advised. But the important point is the one you make: we are talking about the same thing, a world in which we do not make the distinction between the spiritual and the temporal.

  3. Ethesis on June 9, 2004 at 9:41 am

    “It was lost, according to them, as priesthood leaders died or were killed and were unable to be replaced rather than as intellectuals twisted the doctrines to suit their own interests.”

    Much of what gets written fairly early on supports this thesis, the idea that first they lost the people, then the shell was open to be twisted.

    Though, as Paul and John and others note, apostasy from a doctrinal point was going on while they lived.

    The “intellectual” apostacy was an ongoing process from the first generation.

    So, from just reading the New Testament (rather than second century texts that lament what has already been lost) I’m not sure I don’t see a blend of the two thesis rather than it being one or the other.

  4. Gary Cooper on June 9, 2004 at 12:03 pm

    Jim F., Ethesis, et al.,

    I just want to add my two cents worth (and compared with the level of knowledge that Jim F. alone has, mine really is just two cents worth) on the nature of the Apostasy issue, because I see an indirect tie to one of the problems of the “enchanted vs disenchanted” issue.

    I, too, have felt for a long time, based on my own reading of the New Testemant, the BoM, etc., that the Apostasy, at least the bulk of it, occured very early on after the loss of the Apostles. Yes, some of it was occuring even while the Apostles were alive. The problem seems have been rooted in false pride, but manifested itself in these ways, initially:

    1. As the number of Gentile converts began to outnumber the Jewish converts, and the huge numbers of converts overwhelmed the Church’s ability to call new local leadership to minister to their needs, too many of the converts, steeped in the Greek philosophical tradition, not only never left that tradition behind, but taking its assumptions as a given, allowed it to direct their Church life. Since that tradition encouraged every man to “philosophize”, too many members came to view their own interpretations as just as good and binding as the Priesthood authority over them. In other words, they in effect fell into the same problem the Restored Church fell into briefly with Hiram Page and his “peep stone”, though rather than individual members getting their own “revelations”, each member was doing his own “reasoning”.

    2. In addition to the members not learning the principle of doctrine and procedure being established by the Apostles, not the local membership, these same Gentile converts never learned the principle of actually accepting and sustaining Priesthood authority. When you have local leaders telling Apostles they can’t come to their meetings and preach, as Paul references in his letters, clearly something is wrong.

    3. Given the extremely sexualized and eroticized nature of the existent Gentile cultures, sexual sin was a constant problem.

    So, this deadly mix (every man making his own doctrine, not sustaining Church leaders, and sexual sin) led to an inevitable result: apostasy. Specifically, too many converts clinged to the Greek philosophical idea that reality could be understood by reasoning (in effect, that the world could be “disenchanted” and boiled down to a few formulas), empowering the individual without God, vs. the “enchanted” view of the Apostles, that “no man by searching can find out God”, that certain truths cannot be reasoned, but must be revealed by God, and that even then God may withold knowledge until we are able to grasp it, a view that empowered the individual but within a *structure* of ordinances, authorities, etc.

    On top of this, I get the distinct impression that much of the Apostasy that took place with the loss of the Apostles was a *deliberate* attempt to obfuscate, distort, and destroy on the part of some mid-level apostate Church leaders. By that I mean you may have had apostate local leaders (what we would call bishops and stake presidents) deliberately corrupting the words of Scripture (assuming that when the BoM references the Bible coming forth in purity from the “mouth of a Jew”, that this was the Apostle John, the last remainging Apostle, and that he may have compiled an inspired text on Patmos, like Mormon, but this was corrupted after his translation), distorting the Priesthood ordinances, altering Preisthood offices and functions, etc., *according to an actual plan*. In this context, a “secret combination”, if you will, of apostates worked in the period of 90 AD to 110 AD or so to destroy the Church (at Satan’s behest?), and they did a pretty thorough job (think what would have happened if William and Wilson Law could have gotten ahold of the Restored Church), with the later Church Fathers working mightily to salvage as much as they could of what was left.

    Now, what does this speculation have to do with the main discussion at hand? Two things. First, to what extent can the debate over “enchantment” vs. “disenchantment” be a reflection of the problem of seeing religion as a *revelatory” experience (“enchanted”) vs. a “rational” experience (the “God” of the creeds), with Satan being the great “disenchanter”? I think this is what Damon was getting at in his earlier post, although minus the Satan part. Second, to what extent does approaching religion from reason, as most of Protestantism does for example, represent not just a mistaken way of apprehending God’s truth, but even a dangerous one? That is to say, don’t we need to recognize, in weighing the utility of what philosophers have to say, the need to beware both the actual obfuscation that reasoning can sometimes bring, as well the limitations that reason has in apprehending Truth (I’m thinking here about Joseph Smith’s statement that if you could gaze into Heaven for 5 minutes, you would learn more than reading all the books ever written on the subject)?

  5. Grasshopper on June 9, 2004 at 12:15 pm

    Gary, does your experience with revelation lead you to regard it as free from “obfuscation”? Does it not have limitations of the same sort that reasoning has? As I mentioned on the Partial Response: Philosophy post, I think it may be a mistake to regard one as epistemically superior to the other; indeed, it may even be a mistake to make sharp distinctions between them.

  6. Scott on June 9, 2004 at 12:46 pm

    Re: Apostacy

    I share Russell’s concerns. I’m no expert on early Christian history. But what I have read leads me to believe that (i) many institutional and (at least as important) doctrinal developments occurred after the first century and (ii) many of those developments are embraced in the Restoration.

    The idea of a leisurely, gradual apostacy allows us to pick and choose from the panoply of innovations, saying some of them were inspired and some not. But with a precipitous apostacy, we must somehow account for the similarities between the Restoration and the “apostate” church. I guess one way would be to advocate a Joseph Fielding Smithesque law of spiritual uniformitarianism–the dogma that the beliefs and structure of the church are constant through history (in effect denying that the similarities developed later). But that’s hard to buy, just based on the scriptural record, let alone the historical.

    So what are some other alternatives? That post-apostacy similarities are mere coincidence–that the apostate church happened to find, without revelation, a fair amount of truth? Or would we see it, still, as a gradual apostacy, with the similarities being accounted for by positing pockets of lingering revelation?

    Or, perhaps, we could co-opt an Ostler idea and say that the Restoration is a modern expansion of an ancient organization. Some elements are genuinely ancient (and may even have been unknown in Smith’s time), while others are culled (by revelation?) from the grab-bag of Christian history and tradition, being cobbled together in a new whole.

    Scott

  7. Gary Cooper on June 9, 2004 at 1:18 pm

    Grasshopper,

    Hmmm…good point, especially since, like just about every member I know, there have been times in my life when I was just sure I had gotten “revelation”, when in fact it was my emotions speaking to me, or worse, I did get revelation, but misinterpreted what the Lord was telling me.

    I’m reminded of a statement Bruce R. McConkie made once in which he encouraged members of the Church to get all the education they can, and to study philosphy and other fields, because these are an enormous help in comprehending spiritual things, but not to forget the *primacy* of revelation. I suppose it is safe to say that we must both reason and receive revelation; that BOTH are essential and in fact depend on each other. The Apostasy would seem to have been rooted in a lack of balance on the part of many of the early members of the Church (towards reason), but one could just as easily swing too far towards revelation (“Lord, which brand of canned peas should I buy, Del Monte or Van Camp’s? Reveal to me thy will on this matter.”)

    Still, though reason and revelation depend on each other and are both important, if the message of the Restoration means anything, it is that revelation is of the first importance–it is and must be the *foundation* of our relationship with God. We can reason all we want, and in fact revelation allows us reason in ways we couldn’t otherwise, but without revelation our reason would fail to take us to salvation.

    Likewise, we have to have reason, at least elementary reason, in order to act upon the revelations we receive. The commandment to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, for example, may have seemed irrational. It certainly did come by revelation. But Abraham would have reasoned that, despite his emotions about sacrificing his son, and despite the seeming contradictions of God’s command, no blessing he desired could be realized without obedience to God, so despite the strangeness of the command, to disobey a clear revelation would be more irrational than the revelation seemed itself, since obedience is required to acheive exaltation. This is a classic illustration to me, of the proper relationship of reason and revelation. Revelation is first, but reason is required to be able to act on the revelation, because in this case, if Abraham had not had the strength of intellect that he did, to be able to reason through to obey, he would have been so overcome by his emotions (at the thought of killing his son, etc.) that he wouldn;t have been able to obey.

    Perhaps this is a factor that isn’t readily apparent. So much of the Western philsophical tradition is founded on the principle of Man’s choosing Reason over Emotion. In fact, that tradition would hold that this is a key element of what separate’s humans from other life forms–the ability to act by reason, not instinct/whim/emotion. The problem is that this tradition often equates revelation with emotion, and rejects it. (Hence the longstanding idea that, in determining spiritual truth, reason would be a more sure guide than a direct revelation, because supposedly the latter could be deceptive, but pure reason could supposedly not be deceived, blah, blah, blah.) What Mormons bring to the table is the idea that in fact revelation is *not* emotion, but in fact is the “purest” reason—coming from a perfect (in at least a moral sense), incorruptible source, pure light and knowledge. The wonder and enchantment would seem to be rooted in the fact that the Source of this pure intelligence is a Being of Love–that God loves us, and seeks after us, and seeks communication with us. He *can* be “moved”, and in fact is ever ready to be moved by us, as we conform ourselves to His will, by dispensing more light and knowledge to us, eventually exalting us.

    This is the balance—pure reason can be had, but only from God, a loving Father who is not utterly different from us, but is in fact the perfected image of what we can be.

  8. Clark Goble on June 9, 2004 at 1:44 pm

    With regards to the apostasy I think we err when we think it was solely a falling away. Clearly that part was important, but I think many of the things Mormons feel needed restored simply were withheld from the greater church. Perhaps the situation was more akin to the church from 1840 – 1845 with the inner teachers never taught openly as happened in Utah. We focus in on the inner teachings as evidence of the apostasy, but I think things may well have been more complex. I think some of Clement’s comments in this regard are interesting.

  9. Gary Cooper on June 9, 2004 at 2:11 pm

    Scott,

    When you write, “…Or would we see it, still, as a gradual apostacy, with the similarities being accounted for by positing pockets of lingering revelation? Or, perhaps, we could co-opt an Ostler idea and say that the Restoration is a modern expansion of an ancient organization. Some elements are genuinely ancient (and may even have been unknown in Smith’s time), while others are culled (by revelation?) from the grab-bag of Christian history and tradition, being cobbled together in a new whole,” I think I agree. Even though the Apostles were gone, there were still faithful bishops and other Melchizedek priesthood holders who tried to hold on as long as they could, until the bitter end (martyrdom). (In this regard, here’s a link to the best exposition of this idea, in a simple layman’s view, that I have seen: .) Likewise, there may have been elements of the Restored Church, in fact almost certainly there would be, which are unique and did not exist in the Ancient Church (think of the many references to our seeing and enjoying blessings today that earlier Saints could only dream of).

    Clark–I think you’re correct also, that in fact whole congregations may have been baptized by Paul, Barnabas, and others, who never had the opportunity to learn anything but the “basics”, and so may have been “suckers” for Gnostics and other apostates claiming to have “more light”. If my little theory is correct, then the existence of a cabal of apostates and traitors in the Church, with access to the temple endowment and sealing ordinances and the “higher doctrines”, could easily have destroyed this information, with only a few faithful members around to resist them who would recognize the “missing pieces”, but unable to openly state such, because of the sacrd nature of their covenants.

    In any case, I think a deliberate, systemitized apostasy on the part of a few, a planned “destruction of the evidence” and corruption of the truth, plays a role in the Apostasy. See in this regard the fact that most of the earliest written texts of the New Testament are missing key elements which point to the divinity of Christ, and in fact the later manuscripts seem to restore those elements (see Bart D. Ehrman’s book, “The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture”.)

  10. Gary Cooper on June 9, 2004 at 2:17 pm

    Oops. I forgot to inclde that link on pockets of priesthood leadership surviving past the Apostles’ loss. Here it is: http://www.whyprophets.com/ (go to the link on “Human History”, then the link on “A History of Christianity”, then “What happened in Britain” to find the article in question)

  11. Jim F. on June 10, 2004 at 2:10 am

    Scott, I think we are equivocating on the word “apostasy.” I’m using it to mean “loss of the original Church” and, following Siebach and Graham, I think it makes sense to say that happened with the loss of the apostolic priesthood. In contrast, it seems to me that you are using the term to mean “loss of original doctrines.” Surely that would take a good deal longer, and it is quite conceivable that good, intelligent persons could come to understand the implications or developments of doctrines after the loss of the priesthood.

  12. Adam Greenwood on June 10, 2004 at 3:30 pm

    I prefer the view that the apostasy was an early loss of priesthood authority. Note that this loss of authority could occur without *any loss of doctrine at all.* Naturally some doctrines were lost, but still . . .

    I guess I’m sympathetic to this view because I’m very sympathetic to traditional Christianity. I think we exaggerate the degree to which they shape their lives around heretical doctrines. It would be more fair to say that they shape their lives around incomplete doctrines, but then so do we, or have we ceased to believe in ‘all that God will yet reveal”? In fact, when President Hinkley speaks of inviting our fellows in Christendom to bring the good they have and let us add our good to it, he may well be talking about bringing goods that we don’t ourselves have. The gospel isn’t an autarchy, after all, and we are no more immune to losing truths than anyone else; the Church stands apart from culture, true, but it can’t stand too far apart or it will cease to draw from the culture, so as a culture changes and loses concepts the Church will often lose the substance of them too. What’s the difference then? Authority and authorship, I would say. This seems a slender thread, a technicality, to us today, because we have lost much of the sense of legality and formality and hierarchy and authority that have been more extent in other times, but still matter. A church that God created to bring good people to him by fits and starts and which he continues to nudge is different from a church which good people have created and which God in his grace also tries to inspire. We know Christ is the bridegroom, we know the Church is his bride, and so we dispute all the time about which Church is prettiest and which is the best homemaker and who speaks most gently to children when the real issue is who has the marriage certificate

  13. Kingsley on June 10, 2004 at 3:34 pm

    “In fact, when President Hinkley speaks of inviting our fellows in Christendom to bring the good they have and let us add our good to it, he may well be talking about bringing goods that we don’t ourselves have.”

    Very well put.

  14. Jim F. on June 11, 2004 at 6:59 pm

    Adam, I’m with Kingsley, your point was well made, not only the point about President Hinckley referring to goods we do not yet have, but the entire comment. Thanks very much.

  15. Jim F. on June 14, 2004 at 6:44 pm

    I don’t kid myself about the depth of interest in Heidegger among those who frequent this list. However, there may be those who are somewhat interested in the discussion that Damon and I have had about Heidegger.

    Here are a couple of articles (from “my side”) that may be helfpul. The first is a piece by Thomas Sheehan, one of the most careful and critical contemporary Heidegger scholars. It is a review of Heidegger’s late work, from 1966 to his death in 1975. Though Sheehan wrote the essay in response to a request for something on Heidegger’s philosophy of mind, the essay gives a good overview of Heidegger’s thought and takes up issues such as his relation to Aristotle (including criticisms) and his understanding of truth. (A note for those not accustomed to Heideggerian vocabulary. The word “appropriation” is a translation of the German word “Ereignes,” but I think most agree that it is not a good translation–though it continues to be used because it has been used for quite a while. Heidegger’s use of the word is a word-play on “eigen” (own) and “augen” (eye). It means something like “opening up to the eye,” in other words, freeing something or some moment up so that you can encounter it itself.)

    The second is a piece by Kristof Ziarek. Ziarek discusses the connection between art and power in Heidegger, arguing that Heidegger is looking for a relationality free from power. I have questions about and arguments with Ziarek’s understanding, but I think it will show that people who are interpreting Heidegger as providing a ground for talking about ethics, politics, etc. aren’t simply going beyond Heidegger.

  16. Jim F. on June 14, 2004 at 7:14 pm

    One more suggestion, a discussion between Allen Scult and others about Heidegger and ethics, among other things. Again there are things I would disagree with in this discussion, but the point of referring you to it is to show that many of those talking about Heidegger and ethics are doing so FROM Heidegger’s work rather than from beyond it.