Over on a thread at T&S we had a tangent on the discussion of myth and the Book of Mormon. John Lundwall mentioned a forthcoming book on myth. I noted some parallels to early 20th century structuralist forms of myth. While he differentiated himself from that the underlying context is probably worth discussing. It touches on a lot of phenomenological topics that I discuss here a lot. I tend to be rather skeptical of phenomenology of religion due to the problems of structuralism. I’m much more sympathetic to Ricouer than Eliade. That said I also think a few of Eliade’s books should be required reading for anyone planning on going to an LDS temple. They would do far more to prepare people than the typically temple prep class taught at Church. Eliade comes out of that general phenomenology of religion movement.
Without delving too deep into the topic I found a fantastic little introduction to the topic that goes over the issues and the main figures. It’s well worth reading and gets at the relationship to Husserl. (It doesn’t really address much the later movements such as Ricouer or Derrida’s deconstruction)
Heidegger on Plato. (HT: Enowning)
When Antisthenes objected to Plato, ‘I see the real horse but I don’t see the idea of horseness,’ Plato replied: ‘You have what is required to see the real horse, but you do not yet have the eye to see the idea of horse.’ Heidegger wants to overcome this dualism between empirical and ideal by making the idea of horse the ontological pre-understanding that allows us to see and recognize actual horses. For Heidegger, what Antisthenes lacked was not dialectical ability, the capacity for abstract thought, but phenomenological sensitivity.
While I did not start philosophically with Peirce, he has come to dominate my thought the past 20 years. Certainly figures like Heidegger are also a major force in how I think about things. Yet it’s Peirce I keep coming back to. I think that Heidegger and many who continued (more or less) in his tradition after him thought through issues Peirce didn’t. It is Peircean approaches though that I think end up clarifying many more obscure aspects of a broad Heideggarian approach. The older I get the less patient I am with the near word-mysticism that many Heideggarians adopt. It’s not that I don’t find Heidegger (or even Levinas, Derrida, or Ricouer) helpful or insightful. I do. I just find myself increasingly frustrated with the way they get discussed. (Especially those aping a Derridean style)
I’ve been very pleased at pushback within the Heideggarian tradition. Thomas Sheehan in particular has done a fantastic job pushing back at a near word mysticism where the rather straightforward meanings are obscured in layers upon layer of metaphor.
Metaphor is useful and important. I think the literal is always dependent upon the metaphoric. But to recognize that does not entail obliqueness to the point of confusion.
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