Lecture 07 - The Wor(l)dliness of the World


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Seventh lecture for my students in English 165EW, "Life After the End of the World," winter 2013 at UC Santa Barbara.

Course website: http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/w13/

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Lecture 07 - The Wor(l)dliness of the World

  1. 1. Lecture 7: The Wor(l)dliness of the World English 165EW Winter 2013 30 January 2013 William Blake, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun (ca. 1808)
  2. 2. The World: A Phenomenological Perspective “Equipment can genuinely show itself only in dealings cut to its own measure (hammering with a hammer, for example); but in such dealings an entity of this kind is not grasped thematically as an occurring Thing, nor is the equipment-structure known as such even in the using. […] In dealings such as this, where something is put to use, our concern subordinates itself to the ‘in- order-to’ which is constitutive for the equipment we are employing at the time; the less we just stare at the hammer-Thing, and the more we seize hold of it and use it, […] the more unveiledly is it encountered as that which it is—as equipment.” (Martin Heidegger, Being and Time [1929], tr. Macquarrie and Robinson, 98 / 69)
  3. 3. “The hammering itself uncovers the specific ‘manipulability’ of the hammer. The kind of Being which equipment possesses—in which it manifests itself in its own right—we call ‘readiness-to-hand’. […] No matter how sharply we just look at the ‘outward appearance’ of Things in whatever form this takes, we cannot discover anything ready-to- hand. If we look at Things just ‘theoretically’, we can get along without understanding readiness-to- hand. But when we deal with them by using them and manipulating them, this activity is not a blind one; it has its own kind of sight, by which our manipulation is guided […]. Dealings with equipment subordinate themselves to the manifold assignments of the ‘in-order-to.” (98 / 69)
  4. 4. “If Being-in-the-world is a basic state of Dasein, and one in which Dasein operates not only in general but pre-eminently in the mode of everydayness, then it must also be something which has always been experienced ontically. […] But no sooner was the ‘phenomenon of knowing the world’ grasped than it got interpreted in a ‘superficial’, formal manner. The evidence for this is the procedure (still customary today) of setting up knowing as a ‘relation between subject and object’—a procedure in which there lurks as much ‘truth’ as vacuity. But subject and Object do not coincide with Dasein and the world.” (87 / 60)
  5. 5. “Being-in-the-world, according to our Interpretation hitherto, amounts to a non- thematic circumspective absorption in references or assignments constitutive for the readiness-to-hand of a totality of equipment. Any concern is already as it is, because of some familiarity with the world. In this familiarity Dasein can lose itself in what it encounters within-the-world and be fascinated with it. What is it that Dasein is familiar with? Why can the worldly character of what is within the world be lit up?” (107 / 76)
  6. 6. “Motor cars are sometimes fitted up with an adjustable red arrow, whose position indicates the direction the vehicle will take—at an intersection, for instance. The position of the arrow is controlled by the driver. This sign is an item of equipment which is ready-to-hand for the driver in his concern with driving, and not for him alone: those who are not not travelling with him—and they in particular— also make use of it, either by giving way on the proper side or by stopping. This sign is ready-to- hand within-the-world in the whole equipment- context of vehicles and traffic regulations. It is equipment for indicating, and as equipment, it is constituted by reference or assignment. It has the character of the ‘in-order-to’, its own definite serviceability; it is for indicating.” (109 / 78)
  7. 7. “Signs of the kind we have described let what is ready-to-hand be encountered; more precisely, they let some context of it become accessible in such a way that our concernful dealings take on an orientation and hold it secure. A sign is not a Thing which stands to another Thing in the relationship of indicating; it is rather an item of equipment which explicitly raises a totality of equipment into our circumspection so that together with it the worldly character of the ready-to-hand announces itself.” (110 / 79; emphasis in original.)
  8. 8. “A sign to mark something indicates what one is ‘at’ at any time. Signs always indicate primarily ‘wherein’ one lives, where one’s concern dwells, what sort of involvement there is with something.” (111 / 80) “The ready-to-hand is encountered within-the- world. The Being of this entity, readiness-to- hand, thus stands in some ontological relationship towards the world and towards worldhood. In anything ready-to-hand the world is always ‘there’. Whenever we encounter anything, the world has already been previously discovered, though not thematically. But it can also be lit up in certain ways of dealing with our environment.” (114 / 83)
  9. 9. The Book of Genesis ● The first book in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. ● Traditionally, Moses is held to be the author, but … ● 20th- and 21st-century scholarship tends to see it as a compound work stitched together by an editor (in about the 6th century BCE) from two to four different original sources. ● Is generally seen as divided into two primary thematic sections: ● A “primeval history” (chapters 1-11); and ● A cycle of Patriarchal stories (chapters 12-50). ● For both Jews and Christians, emphasis is often seen as being on the establishment of a series of covenants between God and humans.
  10. 10. The Covenant with Abraham “[T]he LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. / And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’” (17:1-2) “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.” (17:5) “This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; […] and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” (17:10,13)
  11. 11. The destruction of Sodom ● … is generally seen by (most) modern scholars as motivated by God’s anger at the violation of the rule of hospitality, despite the way in which the name has influenced contemporary vocabulary. “The men [i.e., the visiting angels] said to Lot … ‘[W]e will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” (19:12-13)
  12. 12. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain.” […] The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19: 17, 23-26)
  13. 13. The Book of Revelation ● … is traditionally the last book of the Christian scriptures. ● … was also the last book of the current canon to be accepted into it (no earlier than 397 CE). ● … is often known as the “Revelation of John” or the “Apocalypse of John,” or by any number of other variants. ● … was probably not, despite traditional ascriptions, written by the same John to whom the Gospel of John is attributed. ● … was probably written some time between 68 and 95 CE.
  14. 14. Perspectives on Revelation ● Futurist: the belief that the Book of Revelation literally depicts future events as they will actually occur. ● Historicist: the belief that Revelation allegorically (or otherwise symbolically) depicts a broad view of history. ● Preterist: the belief that Revelation primarily depicts the events of the 1st-century Apostolic period of the early Christian church. ● Idealist/symbolic: the belief that Revelation does not literally depict actual people or events, but rather is an allegory of the “spiritual path” or the “struggle of good against evil.”
  15. 15. Then I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. (Revelation 5:1-3)
  16. 16. And I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. And he had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. And when he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” (Revelation 10:1-4)
  17. 17. Media credits The title slide includes a representation of William Blake’s watercolor The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, which painting is now out of copyright. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Reddragon.jpg