From the Archives
Is there a David Bentley Hart work that does not exist on hard drive in a slightly longer form? I’m looking forward to the 700 page reissue of You Are Gods with dedicatory poems and epistles a la Don Quixote.
I am thoroughly enjoying your series on life and mind but this is my new favorite piece. It reminded me of my early encounters with the radical orthodoxy movement. So I found this exchange you had with John Milbank (https://copiousflowers.wordpress.com/2021/11/28/a-conversation-between-david-bentley-hart-and-john-milbank-on-you-are-gods-on-nature-and-supernature/) and your forward to Encounter Between Eastern Orthodoxy and Radical Orthodoxy (https://anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/a-forward-from-the-hart/).
I am attracted to your writings and those of the RO as well as numerous Continental philosophers in the Kierkegaardian tradition and an endless number of poets, authors, and artists because of a shared resistance to modernity. And yet, modernity has happened. We do not have access to some pre-enlightenment way of thinking that has never been touched by the Enlightenment. We live in worlds and cultures ( both East and West) that have been forever changed. I’m not suggesting that cultures won’t shift again and that the works of psychologists and others like Iain McGilchrist might not change the way we think about ourselves and human rationality. None of that however can erase the myriad ways in which we are ineluctably modern.
In the exchange with Milbank, you caution against fideism. But won’t any theology worth its salt be fideistic from our inescapably modern viewpoint? (You couldn’t simply leave behind your cultural orientations when you converted to EO.) What we are doing, it seems to me, is struggling to resist a way of being in the world that is already ours. As you seem to put it in this piece, we are grasping at fleeting moments of remembrance of the mystery of being.
“What we are doing, it seems to me, is struggling to resist a way of being in the world that is already ours.” I think this has been true of Christianity from its very origin. For what it’s worth, I agree with many of your points -- which makes jt all the more important to be wary of a kind of Minniver Cheevy theology that seeks to resuscitate a past that never actually existed. And even if it did exist, it cannot, as you say, ever really live again.
I think I can now remove 90% of Heidegger from my Library
This is one of my absolutely favorite articles. I have reread it several times.
'That this post-philosophical language would prove difficult to write was inevitable; that it would prove quite so difficult to read probably was not.'
I have not studied the history of philosophy and I found this essay very helpful.
Given your, how can one say, 'vast' erudition, have you ever bothered to read any of Francois Laruelle's books? His 'non-philosophy' (or 'philofiction') and now rebranded as 'non-standard philosophy'?
I attempted but found it more or less unreadable - altho perhaps some of the later 'phases' in his thinking might conceivably be worth a glance.
His one-time collaborator Serge Valdinoci seems to also have achieved a remarkable obscurity - altho he does have admirers too!
Thank you for this Dr. Hart. I am eagerly looking forward to your forthcoming book on consciousness.
Very enjoyable piece, Prof. Hart, as usual. It’s no surprise that I find Heidegger difficult to understand — difficult to *try* to understand, I should say — but you certainly made him interesting here.
There was one point, however, I found confusing. You mentioned Heidegger’s atheism. Yet when you touched on his talk about Being-vs-beings, it seemed to me that Heidegger was (at least implicitly) recognizing the classic distinction between God and the world — i.e., Being Itself as opposed to beings, etc. Surely Heidegger was aware of that classical formulation. Did he interpret it differently than, say, you do?
Either Heidegger is confused or I am — any chance it’s Heidegger?
Thanks again for an illuminating read.
"it was the inexpungible stain of his involvement in absolute evil that forced him to contemplate the nihilism of his age with such untiring persistence. After all, if he could show nihilism to be a destiny woven into the very fabric of the West by a long history of intellectual error, as he came to believe it was, then perhaps he could convince himself and others that he was not so much a moral idiot as a victim of fate."
This makes me shudder (Heidegger now?) as absolute evil seems to walk the earth again and seems to drag in its wake more than one could have imagined. (And will we judge ourselves as victims rather than idiots?)
Thanks David, that ties together many ‘loose’ ends!
I alway appriacte additions. To your earlier works.I think theres a real irony in speaking of plato as the start of forgetting. Primordial Agnosis and remberence beyond words is about as platonic(and dharmic) as it gets. It was intresting to see his note about him making room for a god beyond concepts there because I recall him also having a line about thoughts that are non things iirc. His notes on the pre socratics seem intresting enough I'll have to check them out. What philosophers dont say can often be even more intresting then what they do. Letting Go and detachment and emmersion in all things is one of my favorite Motifs of Eckhartd that I see quite often in Shankra and Zen and some of the more idealist Buddists. Alot of the more modern writers that try to avoid the trancdented ontology always seem to substitute it with something else anyway. In artists and creatives in general theres always a immense limirance for the beauty of the trancdent. The same goes for the innocence of the wanderlust woodland wayfarer. Any way I haven't read much of Heddiger but the way you speak of him always intrests me and I make sure to keep him on my list thanks.
I'd love to send you a book we've just completed work on—James D. Madden's "Thinking about Thinking: Mind and Meaning in the Era of Techno-Nihilism" (Veritas Series, Cascade Books, 2023). If you'd like a free copy, we could confirm shipping address via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.