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        beyond psychoanthropology
Considerations, 1938 | vol. 6, no. 91
    March 7, 2016
        gary e. davis  

“[...] Thinking must stand beyond all anthropology and psychology...,” the entry begins.

My quoting above begins the first passage (GA 94: 475-6) that concerned a translator who was interested to gather all passages from Heidegger’s available notebooks that seemed to him to insinuate antisemitism (a passage here that is extracted by the translator from its much longer context).

[June 6, 2016: The following was written before the 1931-38 Überlegungen became available in English, April 2016. The much longer, two-page context—Ponderings II-VI, pp. 344-45—at least dramatizes the marginality of Heidegger’s concerns below. The 2014 translation used below is somewhat different from the 2016 translation by a different translator.]

I’m breaking the lines of the single paragraph for convenience of discussion. One keynote of the notebook entry is that academic abstraction may self-conceal an immanence of questioning:

1 — [...] Thinking must stand beyond all anthropology and psychology

2 — if it wants to be equipped for the question of who man is;

3 — for as soon as, and wherever, one “asks” about humanity in the anthropological manner,
4 — and everything is linked back to humanity
5 — (be it as the individual “subject” or as “people,” it makes no difference in this fundamental realm),
6 — a decision about humanity has already been reached,

7 — and every possibility of interrogating the essence of humanity on the basis of completely different connections
8 — (to the essence of be-ing)
9 — has been excluded.

10 — Even all doctrines of humanity
11 — (e.g. the Christian-Jewish doctrine)
12 — that define man immediately on the basis of his relation to a “God”
13 — are anthropological—

14 — which is why,
15 — in non-Christian anthropology and in those that would like to be it and cannot,
16 — it is precisely Christian anthropology
17 — and its body of doctrine
18 — that must play an essential role,

19 — if only in its mere reversal. [...]

You see that Heidegger’s interest continues (“...[...]”), but the translator chooses to end there—or, rather dramatically: to include so much, even though the appearance of ‘Jewish’ is marginal.

Even theological [12] “doctrines of humanity” [10] are anthropological, also exemplified by Christian-Jewish doctrine [11], constituted by “Christian anthropology” [16]. The relevance of Christian-Jewish doctrine is relative to the latter. What’s important is that doctrines of humanity do exclude thinking from essential interrogation because they are psycho-anthropological (“be it as the individual ‘subject’ [so called!] or as ‘people’ [so called!]” [5]).

The passage is largely about some of what academically excludes “interrogating the essence of humanity” [7] beyond theology [13] because it is Christian in conception (“the fundamental realm” [5]), thus Christian-Jewish in doctrines of humanity. Note that he refers to man “relative to a ‘God’,” in quote marks—not relative to God, but relative to “a ‘God’,” something that Christian anthropology (monotheistic thinking) should need to comprehend. Heidegger is “in” dialogue with his monotheistic peers, perhaps those who would claim to be thinking beyond anthropology by thinking monotheistically! He’s concerned that monotheistic thinking is excluding itself from “connections” [7] that involve “reversal” [19].

Deconstruction (reversal) of monotheistic anthropology is necessary in order “to be equipped” [2] to inquire into the “essence of be-ing” [8]? (‘be-ing’ is a translation of ur-German ‘Seyn’, which is these days translated as ‘beyng’. I think a good heuristic here is difference within the gerund, between acting and act, liminality of I (doing) and “I” (representing who’s done the doing—William James’ I/me difference), differencing of living and alive, being and being. beyng is identity-in-differencing, self-differential presencing as present: presence of [presencing-as-the-present].)

Indeed, theologized anthropology is not yet appropriately connected. I extrapolate to prospect that his ongoing deconstruction of metaphysicalism (in monographic work) prospects outgrowing epochs of theism, which is in fact valid (e.g., differences in the Middle East between monolatry and monotheism; or differences within Greco-Roman cultural evolution between pantheisms and the appeal of neo-Platonic/Plotinian theism). Thinking beyond philosophical theology requires thinking back/beyond the latent anthropology of the West (proffered by self-concealing monotheism itself—with eschatological messianism that led to fascism), which philosophical theology cannot, in its own way, appreciate immanently. Theological thinking is constituted by the “fundamental realm” [5] of anthropological thinking that conceals itself from “truth of being,” which is immanent.

Heideggerian quote marks in the passage target: asks, subject, people, and God. So-called “asking,” as it goes, denotes a so-called “subject” and “people” in relation to a “God” concealing “your” immanent connection to being, “truth of being”—which, by the way (as the ethos here is post-Christian), Jesus thought as: The kingdom of heaven is within/among (within < —> among) “you” (according to a respected Jewish translator of The Gospels, Stephen Mitchell).

How It goes with (as they say) “heaven on Earth,” i.e., wholly flourishing in this one life we can be (or are?), is concealed from monotheism.

Be fair. © 2016, g. e. davis.