Lecture 20

Lecture 20

Good living outside standing presence?

Let that be enough on friendship as thought by Aristotle against the background of a fundamental understanding of being as standing presence. It remains to ask whether the phenomenon of friendship also reveals aspects which cannot be so conceived. What is the other of standing presence with regard to friendship and a successful, flourishing life? As Aristotle himself points out (1095b33, 1099a2), the capabilities of someone who is asleep are not at work, so that they also cannot be said to attain the end of the good life. Sleeping is the opposite of the workings of the soul in accordance with its abilities. The capable man must bring himself to a stand in life by practising and developing his abilities to accomplished excellence. This is daily work which involves pulling oneself together and coming to a stand every day out of the lethargy of sleep. Who I am has to be reconstructed each morning on rising and unwound each evening on going to bed. On waking, I recall who I was the previous night on going to sleep, and in this re-calling come to stand gradually in a new day. The business of the new day also calls me to stand in collecting and re-collecting my abilities. Those who succeed in habitually bringing themselves to a stand in the practices of everyday life appreciate each other's habitually practised and attained abilities and accomplishments. This is the liking between good friends.

But, quite apart from differing phases of life, what of those moments in which one is not in top form, not at the height of one's powers, not at the peak of one's abilities, not up to it, out of sorts? The phenomena of sleep and sleepiness, of tiredness and weariness indicate already that the practising of the working soul in accordance with its capabilities is a temporally defined phenomenon which, moreover, attains only a relative permanence in habit. The daily fluctuations of mood in accordance with, among other things, one's bodily state of alertness or sleepiness, as well as the effects of other affective encounters with the world, show that ability itself is temporally and momentarily bound. Despite practice and habituation, the goodness of a good man in practising his abilities is not and cannot be a standing state of affairs enjoying continual presence in the world akin to the circular motion of the celestial bodies in the skies.

Given that the goodness and success of a successful, happy life cannot attain permanent status and standing presence, how is the friendship between good and capable men to be thought to take account of this circumstance? Friendship between the good also requires a sensitivity for and adaptability to the other's momentary situation. This, in turn, is also by no means permanently possible. Let us investigate this phenomenon more closely.

The being of self is, in its most primordial ontological foundation, a finding oneself in the world in mood, which can be either uplifting or downcasting. All encounter of human being with the world is mooded and the changing moods are the way in which the world affects human being and takes it along in the movement of the world. Moodedness is one of the most fundamental ontological modes of human being's openness to the world and in particular it is the core of human being experiencing itself as self. Heidegger puts it thus:

Sofern die pa/qh nicht nur ein Annex der psychischen Vorgänge sind, sondern der Boden, aus dem das Sprechen erwächst und in den hinein das Ausgesprochene wieder wächst, sind die pa/qh ihrerseits die Grundmöglichkeiten, in denen das Dasein sich über sich selbst primär orientiert, sich befindet. Das primäre Orientiertsein, die Aufhellung seines Seins-in-der-Welt ist kein Wissen, sondern ein Sichbefinden, das je nach der Daseinsweise eines Seienden verschieden bestimmt sein kann. (GA18:262 emphases in the original)

Insofar as the affects are not just an appendage to psychic processes, but the ground from which speaking grows and that which what is spoken in turn grows into, the affects for their part are the fundamental possibilities within which human being primarily orients itself about itself, finds itself. The primary orientation, the illumination of its being-in-the-world is not a knowledge, but a finding-oneself [in a mood ME] which, depending on the mode of existence of a given being, can be attuned/determined differently.

Being my self in the openness of world is, in the first, fundamental place, a matter of finding my self as self in a mood, an affect, an emotion as the way in which the encounter with the world moves me as a living, embodied human being. My speaking about my being-in-the-world grows out of and grows back into my fundamental, somatically rooted moodedness. In the first place, this moodedness within which I find my self is individual and moreover interwoven physically with my own individual body. The movement brought about through encounter with the world is also a physical motion of the body moved by emotion.

But emotive being-in-the-world is not solely my own and individual. Human being in general is characterized by finding itself emotively in the world, even though, in the first place, this self-finding is individual for each human being. The downcastness or elatedness of being-in-the-world, the movement toward the world or the flight from the world in other human beings also can be and is experienced. Since emotiveness shows itself also bodily in other human beings, the mode or mood in which another human being finds itself momentarily in the world can also be experienced by myself, both through my understanding and emotively in my own mood. The very bodily posture and gestures of other individuals, whether they stand upright or slouch, whether they smile or scowl or display placidity, equanimity or indifference, etc., already tells me something about their momentary mooded mode of being-in-the-world. Moreover, their telling of their momentary situation in the world through speech, which may be affected also by a past but still present history, evokes for me, too, a world and a world situation which also moves me emotively, although vicariously, in my own moodedness. I can go along with the other in the way in which the other's encounter with the world affects the other, and thus not only assess with my understanding the other's world situation, but also experience the uplifting or downcasting emotion of the other's situation.

Empathy and sympathy

This is the phenomenon of empathy, which is a sharing of the encounter with the world in its emotiveness, i.e. empathy is a sharing of mood with another accompanied more or less by an understanding of the other's situation. Empathy is the phenomenon of an encounter with another's encounter with the world. Indifference to another's world situation is a privative mode of empathy, whereas antipathy towards another's world situation is a negative mode of empathy.

To be continued...

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