Lecture 16

Lecture 16

On a less superficial level, the mutual eyeing and estimation of each other depends on the abilities that are put on display. The stand as who depends upon what the individual can bring forth into presence in the broadest sense under the guidance of skill and knowledge. A footballer, for instance, brings forth goals, a carpenter brings forth tables, a salesperson brings forth sales, a politician election victories, a teacher well-educated pupils, a scientist new scientific results of research, etc. All these achievements are poietic in the sense of her-stellend, i.e. bringing into a stand in presence, and they define also the stand which an individual assumes as who for itself and others.

Because there is a striving on the part of individuals for esteem, and esteem is something accorded by others, the standing as who itself is never an absolute phenomenon, but one related to others. A stand as who is always essentially relative. This makes every encounter in the world into a mutual eyeing and estimation, and moreover often into a competitive struggle, a measuring of forces understood as abilities. Such a measuring inevitably takes place in the encounter between those who are similar in their who-stands. Such a similarity is required in order that a vertical ranking of better and worse can be performed.

A hostile contest between individuals over their respective standings as who lies at the opposite extreme to the phenomenon of flattery. In flattery, one individual gives ground to the other and apparently willingly boosts the other's who-standing in order to extract some advantage from it, whereas when individuals contest with each other who stands higher in the estimation of who-status, this can be a more or less open measuring of powers with no trace of flattery, but rather more likely of mutual disparagement and hostility. Whereas flattery is behaviour that lifts the other up in standing and mood, competitive struggle between individuals over status as who is marked by putting the other down. Aristotle himself defines the opposite of flattery (kolakei/a) to be hostility or enmity (a)pe/xqeia, e)/xqrh), the mean being friendship or friendliness (fili/a). He writes fili/a de\ meso/thj e)/xqraj kai\ kolakei/aj "Friendliness is a middle state between hostility and flattery" (Eud. Eth. 1233b30). These phenomena stake out the dimension within which 'men' have dealings with each other and define the possible stances which they can adopt toward each other. In sharing the world with each other, human beings are not neutral in how they view each other. On the contrary, as Heidegger puts it in Sein und Zeit:

Das Miteinandersein im Man ist ganz und gar nicht ein abgeschlossenes, gleichgültiges Nebeneinander, sondern ein gespanntes, zweideutiges Aufeinander-aufpassen, ein heimliches Sich-gegenseitig-abhören. Unter der Maske des Füreinander spielt ein Gegeneinander. (SuZ:175)

Being together in average everyday life is not at all a closed, indifferent juxtaposition, but rather a tense, ambivalent eyeing of each other, a covert eavesdropping on each other. Beneath the mask of being for one another, opposition is at play.

The tension in shared everyday life can only arise from the being of human beings in this average sharing of the world which we have uncovered and explicated as whoness. It is the manly stance of being somewho that makes quotidian existence into a concern for one's stance and status as who vis-à-vis the others. The manly human being has to bring himself to a stand in the shared open presence of society in order to be a human. This space for taking a stand and assuming stature as a manly human being is vertically structured with the possibility of being positioned either high or low in the social ranking. This is the ontological source of the covert opposition which is at play beneath the surface of being "for one another". In Sein und Zeit we read further:

Im Besorgen dessen, was man mit, für und gegen die Anderen ergriffen hat, ruht ständig die Sorge um einen Unterschied gegen die Anderen, ... Das Miteinandersein ist "” ihm selbst verborgen "” von der Sorge um diesen Abstand beunruhigt. Existenzial ausgedrückt, es hat den Charakter der Abständigkeit. (SuZ:126)

In taking care of what one has taken up with, for and against the others, there lies continually a concern for marking off a difference over against the others, ... Hidden to itself, being-together is unsettled by the concern for this distancing stand-off. Expressed [ontologically] as an existential, it has the character of stand-offishness.

The distance which individuals seek from each other in their covert stand-off is the vertical difference in their respectives statuses and statures as who. Manliness itself is nothing other than the existential ontological condition of human being having to bring itself to standing presence in a showing-off of who one is. The moods in which human being encounters the world, which is always already a shared, social world, are modes of openness to the vertically structured dimension of whoness and are uplifting or depressing according to whether one's stand as who is affirmed, upgraded or degraded in everyday experience.

Let that be enough on flattery in disingenuous uplifting, and putting each other down in covert hostility. Some may ask whether it is nevertheless possible for there to be genuine friendliness and friendship among those who stand as who in the world, i.e. whether it is possible to assume that "middle state" which Aristotle defines as friendliness.

A genuine stance within oneself in one's abilities

In order to approach this question, it is necessary to make a detour through an investigation of the possibility of a genuine stand as somewho. For, if it is true that 'men' regard each other in the stands and stances which they show off to each other, then a genuine regard for each other which could be deemed friendly would depend on the who-stand adopted being a genuine stand in itself. Friendliness would then consist in a mutual appreciation of each other's who-stands as good 'men' instead of there being a disingenuous pandering to the other's stand to gain some advantage or a stand-offish sizing-up of the other out of concern for the vertical ranking of one's own stand as who.

To be continued...

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