21 downloads 0 Views 133KB Size Report
The Zollikon Seminars are mainly a collection of transcripts that show ... concise examples of Heidegger's argument by reprise and historical comparison.
ZOLLIKON SEMINARS: PROTOCOLS - CONVERSATIONS - LETTERS, by Martin Heidegger, edited by Medard Boss, translated by F.K. Mayr and R. Askay, Northwestern Universities Press, Evanston, 2001, pp. 358.

The Zollikon Seminars are mainly a collection of transcripts that show Heidegger's lecturing style to medical personnel at the home of Medard Boss, the Swiss existential analyst. Some of these transcripts appear to be verbatim records because they include dialogue with the seminar audience. The other contents of the book are clarifying notes taken by Boss after discussions with Heidegger plus a number of letters to Boss, some of which contain further insightful comments on Heidegger's thinking. As a whole, the text is a clear example of Heidegger's thought in action and is a further chance to immerse oneself in his way of thinking, in the same way as learning a new language. At first the task seems daunting but after a while the strangeness wears off and it becomes possible even to think automatically in the new language. Despite Heidegger talking to psychiatrists and doctors who have been trained in medical science, the text is not a 'dumbed down' series of lectures that merely records Heidegger's lecturing style. The text is immediately accessible and shows the speaker employing on-going questioning. Heidegger had a good grasp of contemporary issues in science so the work is suitable for establishing a Heideggerian position with regard to the human sciences, psychology, science, psychotherapy and medicine. Many themes are covered. The remainder of this review will only touch on those themes that are the most pertinent. As far as Heidegger's philosophical stance is concerned there is one exceptionally clear statement that what is needed is a "transcendental and ontological inquiry ... a fundamental ontological inquiry which is reminiscent of Kant, and yet radically different at the same time," (seminar of 8 March, 1965). The precise nature of the similarity and difference between Kant and Heidegger would need some elucidation. Heidegger referred to his position most often as the "analytic of Dasein". This is clearly not the same as Daseinsanalysis, the theory for the practice of psychotherapy laid out by Boss. Again, to determine the precise details of the difference between Heidegger and Boss would need an attention to other texts by the two writers. Heidegger's topic of the ontological difference is scattered through the seminars, but it is not clear precisely how being as identity relates to the manifold instances of beings. From the text of the seminars themselves, it is not clear if being is a concept that can be easily "seen," nor

is it clear if, or how, being is part of the being of Dasein. Consequently, it is not clear what the 'best' approach to the phenomena is, particularly in the light of comments that repeat the sense of Being and Time, section 7c, that the phenomenon "that which shows itself, require from us ... only to see and accept them as they show themselves," (seminar of 10 March, 1965). There is a lack of details on the hermeneutic circle and the circle in the question of being. However, it is explicit that Heidegger likes very little of any contemporary understanding. He wishes to evoke ancient meanings in order to restore the possibility of genuine understanding in the immediate future. The statements on pre-understanding, projection and history in Being and Time are clearer. As for the difference between Husserl and Heidegger, there is one point where Heidegger referred to the imagination as an "act of making-present," and oddly, the analysis provided is highly reminiscent of the Husserlian analysis of the act of imaginative presentiation provided by Marbach "I represent x by means of representing a neutralized quasi-perceiving of x," (Mental Representation and Consciousness, 1993, p 75). Indeed, Marbach's presentation of imagination is superior to the one provided by Heidegger in that it is richer and more precise. But what is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the Zollikon Seminars is that there are concise examples of Heidegger's argument by reprise and historical comparison. His criticism of current meaning employs comparisons to the usages of words across history, with the explicit purpose of either re-establishing pre-Socratic usages or showing how being has been reconceptualised across the centuries. This manner of argument works by stating the specific meanings of ancient usages, then exploring and comparing these to contemporary ones in a way that makes the manners of reference explicit. Finally, a handful of other topics are clear. Heidegger thought that natural science is flawed. His position is critical yet not anti-scientific. Heidegger believed that method was important in philosophy. Heidegger's usage of essence is fairly similar to Husserl's. The afterword by Askay is helpful indeed in that it makes precise statements concerning Heidegger's critique of Sigmund Freud. A detailed study of Husserl and Heidegger may well be furthered by a close attention to the Zollikon Seminars. Ian Owen Leeds Community and Mental Health Trust