Posts Tagged ‘das Geviert’

Dwelling With the Fourfold

27 September 2009

Graham Harman has published an article on Heidegger’s concept of the fourfold (Geviert) in the August issue of Space and Culture, under the title “Dwelling With the Fourfold.” The abstract on the journal’s website doesn’t quite do justice to the article’s content, so let me copy in the introductory paragraph, which spells out its focus in more detail:

Heidegger’s concept of “dwelling” was first introduced in 1951 in the famous Darmstadt lecture “Bauen Wohnen Denken” (Heidegger, 1954). It is inseparable from his model of things as mysterious fourfold structures. The thing is a mirror-play of earth, sky, gods, and mortals; to dwell means simply to let this fourfold be what it is. While no major concept of Heidegger’s career has received less detailed treatment than the fourfold, I hold this to be a tragic mistake. The following article outlines the key features of Geviert and tries to show why Heidegger’s fourfold has great value for the near future of philosophy, despite the apparent opacity of its poetic terminology. We can start from the beginning, with Heidegger’s (1949/1994) reflections on “the thing” in Bremen, which later appeared as a spin-off essay of the same title.

It’s a clever title for a clever article, as Harman does exactly that: he lets the fourfold be what it is. Granted, it is still Harman’s interpretation of what Heidegger’s fourfold means, but it is a convincing one. Although one could also argue that if this interpretation arises out of dwelling with the fourfold, then it is not simply an interpretation but an outcome that is hardwired into the method of the fourfold. Which is not to suggest that ‘practicing the fourfold’ is a trivial matter. Far from it. As Harman suggests above, this still seems to be a rather neglected kata of Heideggerian martial arts.

Readers of Harman’s Tool-Being will recognise the article’s argument. For those who haven’t read Harman’s book yet or are not familiar with his work, this article could be a good way to enter this problem area. However, I would still recommend following it up with reading Harman’s chapter on the fourfold in Tool-Being, alongside Heidegger’s original essays, of course.

Nonetheless, Harman does move on from his argument in Tool-Being, and the article could be considered a speculative realist critique of Heidegger’s fourfold. This critique however seems to strengthen Heidegger’s original insights further, and can be understood as a retrieval of the essence of Heidegger’s argument. Interestingly the article also makes the connection with actor-network theory and Bruno Latour, although this link is not mentioned explicitly. However, the discussion of “infinite regress” and occasionalism in Heidegger will remind readers of Harman’s evaluation and critique of Latour’s metaphysics in Prince of Networks. Indeed this article could be thought of as the link between his interpretation of Heidegger’s fourfold in Tool-Being and Harman’s own fourfold structure presented in the final chapter of Prince of Networks.

Ethics and the Speaking of Things

2 July 2009

The latest contribution to the Heidegger-ANT axis comes from Lucas Introna (2009): “Ethics and the Speaking of Things.” Theory Culture Society 26(4): 25-46.

This article is about our relationship with things; about the abundant material geographies that surround us and constitute the very possibility for us to be the beings that we are. More specifically, it is about the question of the possibility of an ethical encounter with things (qua things). We argue, with the science and technology studies tradition (and Latour in particular), that we are the beings that we are through our entanglements with things, we are thoroughly hybrid beings, cyborgs through and through — we have never been otherwise. With Heidegger we propose that a human-centred ethics of hybrids will fail to open a space for an ethical encounter with things since all beings in the sociomaterial network — humans and non-human alike — end up circulating as objects, enframed as `standing reserve’, things-for-the-purposes-of the network. We suggest that what is needed is an ethos beyond ethics, or the overcoming of an ethics — which is based on the will to power — towards an ethos of letting be. We elaborate such a possibility with the help of Heidegger, in particular with reference to the work of Graham Harman and his notion of `tool-being’. From this we propose, very tentatively, an ethos that has as its ground a poetic dwelling with things, a way of being that lets being be (Gelassenheit). We show how such a poetic dwelling, or ethos of Gelassenheit, may constitute the impossible possibility of a very otherwise way of being with things — an ethos of a `community of those who have nothing in common’ as suggested by Alphonso Lingis.

Intentional Objects for Non-Humans from Toulouse

21 December 2008

Toulouse was hopping this autumn. Hot on the heals of the “Performativity as Politics” conference in October another interesting gathering took place in Toulouse between 17-19 November 2008. It was the Pour une approche non-anthropologique de la subjectivité conference that among others included speakers such as Isabelle Stengers, Quentin Meillassoux and Graham Harman.

The text of Graham Harman’s talk, “Intentional Objects for Non-Humans,” is available for direct download as a PDF from here (if you want to read the abstract first, click here).

Harman on DeLanda’s ontology: assemblage and realism

12 September 2008

Thank you to Nick at Speculative Heresy for alerting us to the online publication of Graham Harman’s article “DeLanda’s Ontology: Assemblage and Realism” in Continental Philosophy Review. Actually several of us from ANTHEM were at Goldsmiths on 20th April 2007 when Harman delivered the earlier version of this paper, which back then was entitled “Networks and Assemblages: The Rebirth of Things in Latour and DeLanda.” DeLanda and Latour were already an intriguing juxtaposition, and when the figure of Heidegger and the fourfold emerged, we knew that we were entering interesting territory. At the end of the Goldsmiths session Harman gave one of us the hard copy of his paper, which set off a series of events culminating in The Harman Review in February 2008.

Recording of Graham Harman’s talk at the Media School at Bournemouth University

8 February 2008

Click here to listen to (1 hour) or download (27.7MB) the recording of Graham Harman’s talk “The Greatness of McLuhan” at the Media School Research Seminar at Bournemouth University on 4 February 2008. The event was introduced by Barry Richards and Peter Erdélyi.

Recording of Graham Harman’s lecture at AIB

8 February 2008

Click here to listen to (1 hour 15 minutes) or download (34.9MB) the recording of Graham Harman’s lecture “On the Origin of the Work of Art (atonal remix)” at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth on 1 February 2008. Read the abstract here.


Graham Harman on “The Origin of the Work of Art”

14 January 2008

Graham Harman will be giving a lecture entitled “On the Origin of the Work of Art (atonal remix)” in the Main Lecture Theatre at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth from 13:30 to 15:00 on Friday 1 February 2008.


Graham Harman on McLuhan and Heidegger

11 January 2008

Graham Harman and the FourfoldDepending on which part of China you come from, the number 4 for you is either auspicious or inauspicious. For Graham Harman it certainly must be his lucky number. Readers of Harman’s Tool-Being or Heidegger Explained will know that retrieving Heidegger’s notion of the fourfold is of crucial importance to him. There is however yet another intriguing quadrate Harman has (re)discovered for philosophy: Marshall and Eric McLuhan’s concept of the tetrad. In the coming weeks Harman will give three lectures on these fourfold structures: at the University of Twente on 17 January, at Bournemouth University on 4 February, and at the Open University on 7 February 2008. (more…)


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