29 January 2009

Heidegger: Being and Time

I was rather dreading starting to read this one, but I've made it through the introduction and I actually enjoyed it. I particularly like that the translation we're using makes comments about the way that certain phrases and terms were translated. The idea of the book seems to be to examine what it means "to be." That appeals to me, much like Quine's attempt to determine what "meaning" means appealed to me. I like to see people going at the very basic, fundamental concepts, and I'm particularly fond of it when they rip the foundations right from under them.

Full disclosure, Heidegger was a member of the Nazi party in Germany. I've encountered the view that this was a move of sheer expediency/safety on his part, and the view that he wholeheartedly embraced the party, plus several in-between views. I have no idea which is the case, and intend to take the work on its own merits, whatever they may be.

So far I haven't thought much about the work itself, but it got me thinking about space and being for a while, and I had this odd sort of "vision" ... If we think of all matter/energy/etc. as little vibrating strings (a la string theory), and consider that their forms might rise and fall and recombine somewhat at random, it seems like a stable form might arise, and not be broken back down. Then if a stable form capable of "nudging" the other wavelets into similar forms arose, we'd have an explosion of whatever that form was (say matter, for the sake of argument). Then matter would find stable forms, then stable forms capable of producing copies of themselves, etc. I found it a rather beautiful, enlightening image. Particularly when I tried to picture a human body as made up of all these vibrating wavelets.

Of course, a vision proves absolutely nothing, but I find it worth pondering.

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