Lecture 9

Lecture 9

The look of myself which I present to others in my self-showing, my showing-off of who I am, is not merely a look seen by the eyes. Such a look is always an understood look seen by the mind's eye, the 'eye of understanding' which sees more than what the eyes see physically. How I show myself off in the social domain in my physical presentation is always already understood by others in some, usually unarticulated way. My self-showing as a showing-off always makes an impression on others' understanding. They understand in some way or other the ei)=doj which I present. But this immediate look which I present of myself is further elaborated in understanding in being articulated by means of speech, lo/goj. Such an articulated understanding of who someone is as somewho is their reputation.

Both the German word for 'reputation' Ruf, and the etymology of 'fame', from Greek fh/mh 'fame' and fa/nai 'to speak', show that who I am is above all something that is heard and understood, my reputation. The power of the lo/goj in defining and constituting being can be seen here once again. Not only is the lo/goj the way of addressing beings and thus appropriating them in their being in the discourse of understanding which can be shared with others, but as fame and reputation, the lo/goj appropriates also the dimension of second-person being. Who I am as a social being is my reputation, what is said about me and heard in hearsay by others. The essential circumstance that the lo/goj is the medium of truth means that both beings in the third persons, things, and beings in the second person, human individuals, depend on the logos which is said about them being adequate to how they show themselves of themselves.

Human being is not just to\ z%=on lo/gon e)/xon, i.e. the living being which has the logos, but, insofar as human being is exposed to the openness of being and is human being only through this essential exposure, one can also say that human being is 'had' by the logos, i.e. that it is under the sway of how the logos delineates beings and thus brings them to light as beings: o( lo/goj z%=on e)/xon, i.e. the logos 'has' the living individual in defining who it is as such. Since what is said about me among others as my reputation also defines who I am, quite apart from how I present myself as myself both physically and in what I myself say, this saying-about turns my first-person presence in a situation with others, i.e. in a second-person encounter with others, into a third-person presence for others, as if I were some thing that could be subjected to scrutiny by understanding. Whoness and whatness thus meld and become indistinguishable. This melding which takes place 'naturally' in quotidian life amounts to a merging of the folds of being in which third-person being comes to predominate.

If human being has the logos and conversely, with regard to whoness or first-person and second-person being in particular, human being could be characterized as to\ z%=on o)/noma e)/xon, i.e. as the living being that has a name, more specially, a proper name. The phenomenon of reputation shows, however, that I do not only have a proper name, but that I am also had by this proper name in the reputation that I enjoy in social life and which defines me in the articulated understanding of others as who I am held to be: to\ o)/noma z%=on e)/xon.

Reputation and vocation

What does it take to enjoy a high standing and to be held in high estimation in the community? Just as things in their being are originarily good-for... in some use or other embedded in an habitual social usage, so too are human beings as beings good-for... and not, say, animals with certain behavioural characteristics that could be called 'social'. My social a)pofai/nesqai, my showing-off of myself in my abilities to others, is at first and for the most part my reputation as somewho who can do (du/nasqai) this or that, i.e. who I am is initially and for the most part my vocation or occupation in practical daily life, what I have been called to do and occupy myself with in everyday life.

My abilities are my duna/meij, my potentials, powers, which are guided by understanding: duna/meij meta\ lo/gou. Such abilities are productive or leading-forth in the broadest sense and fulfil the Aristotelean understanding of du/namij as a mode of being, namely as being the governing, controlling point of origin for a change or mutation in something else, such controlling being by virtue of knowledge and skill. My abilities are powers to bring forth knowingly and skilfully, avoiding or correcting mistakes that may occur along the way, being steadily guided by the final knowing look of what is to be produced which I can fore-see in my understanding mind's eye. Such powers in this context must not be restricted to technical abilities in the narrower sense, as with the classic examples of carpentry and medical practice often employed by Aristotle, but can include, say, the commercial abilities of a merchant in successfully buying and selling goods on the market or a salesperson in selling goods. This is not te/xnh in the narrower sense of the term, but could be understood as commercial technique, a phenomenon which will not be analyzed here any more deeply. I am, and in the eyes of others I am seen and held to be and estimated in what I am good-for... in my abilities with which, as a rule, I earn a living.

My vocation is both my understood (as opposed to moodfully felt) first-person being, i.e. how I understand myself as who I am, and also my second-person being in who I am for others in the everyday social, practical world. Vocation here is a mode of being, i.e. a mode of presencing in the openness of shared being, encompassing also the negative phenomena of lack of vocation or being a good-for-nothing. I come to stand for myself in my understanding as a self at first and for the most part in the delimiting definition of my vocation, and it is also within these defining limits of what I am good for and with this look of my abilities that I come to stand as a being in presence for others about whom they can speak and whom they can address and call.

To be continued...

Posts: 25 | Location: Cologne, Germany | Registered: December 06, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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