The Intimate Strangeness of Being

The Intimate Strangeness of Being: metaphysics after dialectic

William Desmond
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  • Book Info
    The Intimate Strangeness of Being
    Book Description:

    This book explores the contested place of metaphysics since Kant and Hegel, arguing for a renewed metaphysical thinking about the intimate strangeness of being.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1961-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxxii)

    The career of metaphysics since Kant has not been rosy. Some might wonder even if it has had a career at all. Kant sets a tone insofar as many think he is to be thanked for his demotion, even demolition, of traditional metaphysics. I have always had my doubts about this demolition, and when I went looking among earlier philosophers for the dogmatists Kant clearly sought to superannuate, it was not always easy to come up with bona fide candidates. More often than not one found thinkers whose work was marked by a symbiosis, sometimes fruitful, of skepticism and dogmatism,...

  5. Part 1. Metaphysics and the Equivocities of Dialectic
    • 1 Being, Determination, and Dialectic: On the Sources of Metaphysical Thinking
      (pp. 3-43)

      Dialectic is tied to the entire range of ways of thinking about being that we find in the tradition of metaphysics.¹ I will return to that range in diverse ways throughout this work, but now I am concerned with the connection of dialectic and metaphysics. Metaphysics, of course, often now meets with outright rejection, as purportedly dealing with what lies beyond our ken, or as a conceptual projection onto an illusory transcendence of our own powers and impotences, or as the cunning conceit of an intellectual will to power. The intimacy of connection between dialectic and the thinking of being...

    • 2 Thinking on the Double: The Equivocities of Dialectic
      (pp. 44-63)

      Dialectic has a plurality of meanings which in some respects define the repertoire of possible ways of thinking offered to us by the philosophical tradition. These meanings range from dialectic’s identification with specious reasoning to a method for dissolving specious reasoning. They include its all but identification with logic, as in the Middle Ages, and Kant’s view of dialectic in relation to the critique of illusion, when reason strays into contradiction in treating of transcendental objects. They include the Hegelian notion of dialectic as articulating the process of development in being and in mind. Hegel’s successors, Marx notably, apply dialectic...

    • 3 Surplus Immediacy, Metaphysical Thinking, and the Defect(ion) of Hegel’s Concept
      (pp. 64-86)

      We come across the notion of the “imaginative universal” (universale fantastico) in Vico, and initially one might think that it has only a minor importance for metaphysical thinking. After all, it bears more on mythos rather than on logos, on imagination rather than reason, on pictures rather than concepts, on intuitive immediacy rather than discursive mediation. Yet there is more to be said for it than this alone. One might ask if it has significance for the very matrix of metaphysical thinking; ask if and how this imaginative mother of thought is inherited in the practices of her children, her...

  6. Part 2: Metaphysics in the Wake of Dialectic
    • 4 Is There Metaphysics after Critique?
      (pp. 89-119)

      Is there metaphysics after critique? Much depends, of course, on what we mean by “metaphysics” and “critique.”¹ It is evident, I think, that the contested place of metaphysics in recent thought has much to do with the influence of philosophy understood as critique, especially after Kant. It is also evident that critique is related to the modern practice of dialectic. Further, it is evident that critique is connected with what is called postmetaphysical thinking. It is not always entirely clear what is meant by “postmetaphysical thinking,” but if we look upon metaphysics as asking from us a certain fundamental reflection,...

    • 5 Metaphysics and the Intimate Strangeness of Being: Neither Deconstruction nor Reconstruction
      (pp. 120-152)

      Critique and deconstruction are family relatives. Mutations of the skeptical gene circulate in the bodies of both. If there is metaphysics after critique, where are we after deconstruction? Nowhere? Nowhere as metaphysicians? Or somewhere between deconstruction and reconstruction? Indeed the proposal has been made that what we need after the deconstruction of metaphysics is a reconstruction. I would propose a practice of metaphysical thinking other than either a deconstruction or a reconstruction. The intimate strangeness of being perplexes us as to whether these alternatives are entirely to the point. “Intimate strangeness” refers to the middle condition of our thought of...

  7. Part 3: Metaphysics beyond Dialectic
    • 6 Metaxological Metaphysics and the Equivocity of the Everyday: Between Everydayness and the Edge of Eschatology
      (pp. 155-184)

      Philosophers have often looked with diffidence, if not disdain, on everyday life. We like to echo and reecho Socrates’s controvertible claim: The unexamined life is not worth living. Everyday life is blithe in its careless first commitment to living rather than to thought; irritable with speculations not immediately perceived relevant to pressing practical concerns; untroubled about recessed obscurities in its own defining attitudes; undisturbed by the ambiguities of its idiomatic ways of speaking. It gets by, and that is enough for the day, living carelessly with logos, living carelessly without logos. Philosophers have judged this to be the problem, not...

    • 7 Pluralism, Truthfulness, and the Patience of Being
      (pp. 185-201)

      How we understand truth cannot be disconnected from how we understand ourselves, or from how we understand how we humans are to be. “How we are to be”: this phrase indicates the human being as a creature with a certain promise of being that calls out to be realized in one way or another. Some ways will enable fulfillment of the promise, if we are true to what we are. Some ways may betray the promise, if we are false to what we are. The intimate connection of being human and being true is not a merely theoretical issue but...

    • 8 The Confidence of Thought: Between Belief and Metaphysics
      (pp. 202-230)

      The term “metaphysics” has diverse meanings for different thinkers, but in the popular mind it deals with matters beyond the realm of ordinary experience. In minds schooled with some smattering of philosophy, metaphysics might now mean something like a caricatured version of Platonism: there is an other world, up there beyond, and metaphysics gets us there, into outer space, not through experience, but by pure thinking. A caricature is not something untrue, but it exaggerates a true feature, and it does make something evident, but in the exaggeration it distorts, hence in being true it is also false. We have...

    • 9 Analogy, Dialectic, and Divine Transcendence: Between St. Thomas and Hegel
      (pp. 231-259)

      Especially since around the time of Hegel, affirmations of divine transcendence have often been attacked in terms of a variety of philosophies of immanence. For such philosophies, immanence constitutes the ultimate horizon, not only for all life, but for philosophy itself, and beyond which nothing further is to be thought. Often the idea of transcendence they attack is defined in very dualistic terms: immanence is pitted versus transcendence, time versus eternity, the “here-and-now” versus the “hereafter,” and so on. One might question whether such dualistic conceptions, sometimes imputed to the entire Western tradition of metaphysics (“Platonism”) and theology (Christianity as...

    • 10 Ways of Wondering: Beyond the Barbarism of Reflection
      (pp. 260-300)

      Near to the beginnings of modernity Giambattista Vico famously speaks of what he calls the barbarism of reflection (barbarie della riflessione). While the connection with wonder is not explicitly made by him, this barbarism is intimately related to the loss of wonder that recurrently befalls humanity. The barbarism of reflection comes at the end of a cycle of unfolding: human beings originate as humans from more feral conditions when struck by the lightning bolt of Jove, develop their powers from the barbarism of the senses, arriving eventually at what seems like the consummate self-conscious, reflective form of life. But this...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 301-306)
  9. Index
    (pp. 307-312)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-313)