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By Michael J. Inwood

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is likely one of the such a lot divisive thinker of the 20 th century: considered via a few as a charlatan and by means of others as a pacesetter and valuable determine of recent philosophy. Michael Inwood's lucid advent to Heidegger's concept makes a speciality of his most crucial paintings, "Being and Time," and its significant topics of lifestyles on the earth, inauthenticity, guilt, future, fact, and the character of time. those topics are then reassessed within the mild of Heidegger's later paintings, including the level of his philosophical value and impression. this can be a useful consultant to the complicated and voluminous considered an important twentieth-century existentialist thinker.

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The task of philosophy, as well as of art, then, is to develop, analogous to the “mechanic’s feel” discussed by Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974: 323–324), “true expertness in recognizing universal forms, in fi nding world-patterns” (PP 215). These world-patterns are embodied in symbolic forms. World-patterns are interpretations that themselves need, from the philosophical side, to be interpreted and ordered. The semiotic and the hermeneutical are hence joined from the very beginning in Langer’s philosophical project.

Meaning-experience elicits this activity from the “vociferous little human animal” (45). It is clear that Langer’s real target in the second chapter of Philosophy in a New Key is the “psychogenetic” theory of mind, which, she points out, is simply bewildered by such a phenomenon as ritual. Langer is concerned to develop, I noted earlier, a notion of symbolic need, although she does not put it exactly that way. The need is an expressive need, and does not have to end in overt action. Ritual arises, according to Langer, as the desire to symbolize, and act out reactively, great conceptions.

Discursive symbolism is, says Langer, using a Wittgensteinian mode of expression, a “picture” of a fact; but we are also able, by means of our universal intelligence, “to see in any sort of fact a ‘picture’ of a general condition” (PP 158)—and this is the function of myth. It constructs a picture of a general condition without describing it in literal terms. Langer explicitly follows Cassirer here in what is surely one of the earliest references to his Philosophy of Symbolic Forms in the English-speaking philosophical world, long before the appearance of this monumental trilogy in translation.

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