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    Hermes was a savvy dude

gary e. davis
  January 6, 2021

According to Heidegger in “A Dialogue on Language,” the god of gods (i.e., the derivative messenger, Hermes, the intermediary) “was named…by a playful thinking “ (29), like the brainchild of the Burning Bush (“fire in the crucible,” mystics say), “more compelling than
the rigor of science,” like intimate mirroring in a therapeutic alliance? (Does the starry night speak to us?)

It’s Said (according to Walter Burkert) that Hermes is “the divine trickster.” Is that because
the path of the “psychopomp” (guide of souls) is uncanny?

No wonder, then, that resistance (normal in psychotherapy) is a central theme (“refusal”)
of Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy: from enowning (circa 1938).

“A Dialogue” notes that interpretation is between historical message and tidings (between what’s divined and what’s alive): “Hermeneutics means not just the interpretation but, even before it, the bearing of message and tidings“ (29). Prior tidings are oriented by the other’s presence—not merely directed toward another there; not primarily prepping another (who is mere audience) for the message.

Is interpretation primarily about bringing another nearer to the translated message? Or is it primarily oriented by and for living presence?

The latter. In teaching, the futures of ones to come prevail: The historical message is appro-priated relative to living presence (futurally oriented), more than others being brought into the history. In teaching, we want to foster others’ ownmost futures, facilitating their events of enowning (not primarily the interpreter’s expression of intimacy with historical messaging).

Such is the calling of priestly service (or rabbinical calling), which remained for Heidegger as teacher (after he left seminary): care about, for, and with another. Genuine teaching is oriented by enhancing the potential of another—enabling “authentic potential for being” (Being and Time) beyond drawing another nearer to an origin. (Reviving early Greek thinking was not Heidegger’s general aim, which he says over and over, re: “the other beginning” for “ones to come,” Beginning.)

That other-enhancive aim of interpretation was, I think, the “original sense” that helped, says Heidegger, “open…the way to Being and Time for me” (30).

Next in that pasage of “A Dialogue,” he highlights “the Being of beings” which is distinguished from “essential being.” The meaning of “Being” (capped, reflecting one’s proximal worldview— structuralist?) is on the way to “essential being” (actualizing ownmost potential relative to deep holism of Time?).

Allegorically, mirroring gods (which are personified tropes mirroring sacred values, virtues, conceptual “stars” that we constellate, etc.) herald one’s way to actualizing potential, “though no longer in the manner of metaphysics” (ibid.), i.e., no longer regarding “the presence of present beings” as paradigmatic—though that’s a waystation (which kept Being and Time “necessary,” Heidegger says in On Time and Being, pp. 2, 24, 32, 37; PDF documents are wonderful things).

By the way, the etymology of ‘being’ and ‘Sein’ have no kinship with Greek ‘ont-‘.

In other words, essential being is beyond inflating a conception of beings to cosmic scale (ontologized “Being”). Essential being is beyond formalisms, historically playing forth (one way or another) “comprehensive” conceptualities. It gives way beyond “Being” (onto-) God’s
(-theo-) Order (-logy).

The “onto-theo-logical constitution of metaphysics” saw its avoidable outcome in World
War II.

During his lifetime, Heidegger’s so-called “Silence” was hardly heard by Europeans and Americans, “still not thinking,” as the “atomic age” dawned; still not thinking more than a decade after his death, until Germany began to face Itself (the “Historikerstreit”).

The Silence can be deafening. A Pope didn’t put a note into the Western Wall until the turn of the millennium, saying in part: “…we are deeply saddened…and commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood…”

But Heidegger, already in 1946 (“What are poet’s for?”), speaks “despite all suffering, despite nameless sorrow…,” hoping to instill holiness.

In his “Letter to a young student,” 1950 (Poetry, Language, Thought, p. 182 ), Heidegger says—about (I surmise) actualizing potential:

The default of God and the divinities is absence. But absence is not nothing; rather it is precisely the presence, which must first be appropriated, of the hidden fullness and wealth of what has been and what, thus gathered, is presencing, of the divine in the world of the Greeks, in prophetic Judaism, in the preaching of Jesus. This no-longer is in itself a not-yet of the veiled arrival of its inexhaustible nature.

After appropriating given presence, hidden potential may show its open nature.

The message is “you,” though that may seem dismissibly precious.

The exiled scribes’ character Moses realizes “I am who I am” (as no one knows ultimately
why any of us are), which in Hebrew also validly translates (I’m told: ftn. c of Exodus 3:14)
as “I will be what I will be” (not “who“?).

That echoes better in the enscribed message of the character Jesus: A kingdom of heaven is within/among “you,” since we’re all created equal in God’s “Image” (imago Dei), those days
when The Word so was.

Two millennia later, religious folklore has evolved into politics of well-being, the public policy industry, striving for educational equality, and sanctifying the values of higher quality of life through the UN, humanitarian initiatives, and so on.

The Point of being is—why not?—enhancing the future of humanity, partly—yet greatly, in principle—by teaching: by inspiring high scales of aspiration, thereby launching new generations durably into contributing to making life better for everyone, near-and-dear; and even, compassionately, for “us” far away whom are also people chosen by being.





    Be fair. © 2021, g. e. davis.