2015-2017: The Ethico-Political Relevance of Thinking. An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Relation Between Thinking and Action

Project development

In the months October 2015 – December 2016, the research of PhD candidate PAUL-GABRIEL SANDU focused on three closely interrelated areas. These areas of research belong to subsection 2.1. of our project (“Researching on Heidegger’s interpretation of thinking, in order to highlight its ethical relevance by establishing the thinking of Being as a thinking of one’s own Being and of the Being of the other – and in order to overcome the forgottenness of the Being of the other in Heidegger”) and to subsection 2.2. (Bringing together the interpretation of thinking as a response to the call of one’s own Being with the Arentian interpretation of thinking as a dialogue with myself as another; maintaining that the understanding of thinking as friendship with oneself (Arendt) is complementary to the determination of the voice of conscience as a „voice of the friend that every Dasein carries with himself” (Heidegger)).

  1. The first area on which Paul Sandu focused was the relation with the alterity in Heidegger’s thought during his so-called phenomenological period. More specific, his research was concerned with Heidegger’s critical reception of Husserl’s reflexive phenomenology and with Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenology, which problematizes (by coupling facticity with hermeneutics) the way in which the ego refers directly to itself. By so doing, Paul Sandu showed to what extent the Aristotelian concept of practical wisdom (phronesis) is not only taken up by Heidegger, but it also receives a new meaning and, to the extent that it opens up the human being towards its ownmost possibilities, acquires an ascendancy over sophia (theoretical wisdom). Whereas in Aristotle sophia was a dianoetic virtue that allowed for human fulfilment in the highest degree (as the autarchic type of activity par excellence, as pure contemplation), for Heidegger the key to an authentic existential project authentic is not a self-sufficient reflection, but an authentic relationing, through an understanding of oneself as a hermeneutics of facticity, towards one’s ownmost possibilities. However, this thinking of the ownmost being, understood as hermeneutics, is in its turn possible – as demonstrated by a number of works dating from the years after the phenomenological decade – only within the horizon of man’s relation to being itself, i.e. within the thinking of being (the ambiguity pertaining to this objective-subjective genitive is relevant for the complexity of man’s relation to being, in Heidegger’s view). Paul Sandu showed that this exclusive anchoring of the Dasein in being and Heidegger’s maintaining that thinking should to be understood exclusively in the light of Dasein’s relation to being must itself be left behind – namely, by involving alterity and by a deeper understanding of thinking as dialogue with myself as an other (i.e. by taking into account Hannah Arendt’s political ontology).
  1. The second area of Paul Sandu’s interest is visible in the drafting of the conference “Die Dynmik des Verfallens. Eine genetische Perspektive”, which was presented on May 4, 2016 at the University of Vienna, at the international conference Perspektiven mit Heidegger. In this conference – and later in the paper he wrote during his research abroad at the University of Hamburg, which will appear in a collective volume (Gerhard Thonhauser (ed.), Perspektiven mit Heidegger, Alber, Freiburg, 2017) – Paul Sandu discussed the problematic way in which Heidegger approached the inauthentic way in which Dasein refers to itself, by looking at its inauthentic relation to the others. One of the most important conclusions drawn from this research is that Heidegger thought the relation between me and the other / the others in a critical manner, although there are a few instances – especially in volume 60 of his Collected Works – where Heidegger outlines the authentic possibilities of a relation to the other, based largely on his interpretations of St. Paul’s Letters. This perspective is very interesting especially when analyzed in the light of Being and Time, for it offers a significantly different perspective on the relationship with other as the one depicted in Being and Time.
  1. The third area of research of Paul Sandu on which he worked thanks to the research abroad at the University of Hamburg in the period September 2016 – November 2016, was presupposed by the drafting of his conference entitled „Alterizarea: constituirea persoanei prin raport cu celălalt în fenomenologia husserliană” / „Alterization: Constituting the Person in Relation with the Other in Husserl’s Phenomenology”, presented on November 17, 2016, at the annual colloquium of the Romanian Society for Phenomenology, entitled Comunitate – identitate – diferenţă. Priviri fenomenologice / Community – Identity – Difference. Phenomenological Perspectives

(organized by Cristian Ciocan, Paul Marinescu, and Bogdan Mincă). In the research that aimed at the drafting of this text, Paul Sandu examined the fundamental and constitutive role of the relation to the other within Husserl’s phenomenology. Even though there are considerable differences between the Husserlian and the Heideggerian phenomenology, there still are a lot of correspondences between them, and the difficulties faced by Heidegger in his attempt to understand the relation between the self and the other can often be detected in Husserl’s elaborate considerations on this subject. One of the ideas that Paul Sandu analyzed in depth in his conference is a good example of the above statement. For even Husserl’s solipsistic ego – the residue of his phenomenological reduction – needs the encounter with an alterity in order to to be constituted as a person. Only by way of the encounter with the other – and by his constitution as other – can the subject establish a relationship with himself, which requires at first an alterization (the other being the one who allows him to look at himself from the outside) and then the constituting of himself as a social being. In other words, for Husserl – as before for Aristotle – it is clear that the human person can be thought of only in terms of a community and can understand itself only by starting from plurality. A topic on which Paul Sandu will research further is the question if the dialogue between Heidegger and Arendt (necessary for a reconfiguration of thinking as a dialogue with oneself, but through the intermediary of others, i.e. made possible by plurality) could not be deepened further by taking into account the Husserlian roots of Heidegger’s position, i.e. Husserl’s reflections concerning social relations and their constitutive role.

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