Edge’s Annual Question

To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.


Contributors [ 176 ]   |   View All Responses [ 174 ]

Associate Professor of Psychology, Director, NYU Infant Cognition and Communication Lab, New York University
Natural Selection is the Only Engine of Evolution

But more recent studies–using modern reproduction techniques like in vitro fertilization and proper controls–can physically isolate generations from each other and rule out any kind of social transmission or learning. For example, mice that were fear-conditioned to an otherwise neutral odor produced baby mice that also feared that odor. Their grandbaby mice feared it too. But unlike in Pavlov’s studies, communication couldn’t be the explanation. Because the mice never fraternized, and cross-fostering experiments further ruled out social transmission, the newly acquired specific fear had to be encoded in their biological material. (Biochemical analysis showed that the relevant change was likely in the methylation of olfactory reception genes in the sperm of the parents and offspring. Methylation is one example of an epigenetic mechanism.) Natural selection is still the primary shaper of evolutionary change, but the inheritance of acquired traits might play an important role too.

These findings fit in a relatively new field of study called epigenetics. Epigenetic control of gene expression contributes to cells in a single organism (which share the same DNA sequence) developing differently into e.g. heart cells or neurons. But the last decade has shown actual evidence–and possible mechanisms–for how the environment and the organism’s behavior in it might cause heritable changes in gene expression (with no change in the DNA sequence) that are passed onto offspring. In recent years, we have seen evidence of epigenetic inheritance across a wide range of morphological, metabolic, and even behavioral traits.

The intergenerational transmission of acquired traits is making a comeback as a potential mechanism of evolution. It also opens up the interesting possibility that better diet, exercise, and education which we thought couldn’t affect the next generation–except with luck through good example–actually could”

Nina Jablonski

Biological Anthropologist and Paleobiologist; Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University

Race has always been a vague and slippery concept. In the mid-eighteenth century, European naturalists such as Linnaeus, Comte de Buffon, and Johannes Blumenbach described geographic groupings of humans who differed in appearance. The philosophers David Hume and Immanuel Kant both were fascinated by human physical diversity. In their opinions, extremes of heat, cold, or sunlight extinguished human potential. Writing in 1748, Hume contended that, “there was never a civilized nation of any complexion other than white.”

Kant felt similarly. He was preoccupied with questions of human diversity throughout his career, and wrote at length on the subject in a series of essays beginning in 1775. Kant was the first to name and define the geographic groupings of humans as races (in German, Rassen). Kant’s races were characterized by physical distinctions of skin color, hair form, cranial shape, and other anatomical features and by their capacity for morality, self-improvement, and civilization. Kant’s four races were arranged hierarchically, with only the European race, in his estimation, being capable of self-improvement.

Why did the scientific racism of Hume and Kant view prevail in the face of the logical and thoughtful opposition of von Herder and others? During his lifetime, Kant was recognized as a great philosopher, and his status rose as copies of his major philosophical works were distributed and read widely in the nineteenth century. Some of Kant’s supporters agreed with his racist views, some apologized for them, or—most commonly—many just ignored them. The other reason that racist views triumphed anti-racism in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was that racism was, economically speaking, good for the transatlantic slave trade, which had become the overriding engine of European economic growth. The slave trade was bolstered by ideologies that diminished or denied the humanity of non-Europeans, especially Africans. Such views were augmented by newer biblical interpretations popular at the time that depicted Africans as destined for servitude. Skin color, as the most noticeable racial characteristic, became associated with a nebulous assemblage of opinions and hearsay about the inherent natures of the different races. Skin color stood for morality, character, and the capacity for civilization; it had become a meme. The nineteenth and early twentieth saw the rise of “race science.” The biological reality of races was confirmed by new types of scientific evidence amassed by new types of scientists, notably anthropologists and geneticists. This era witnessed the birth of eugenics and its offspring, the concept of racial purity. The rise of Social Darwinism further reinforced the notion that the superiority of the white race was part of the natural order. The fact that all people are products of complex genetic mixtures resulting from migration and intermingling over thousands of years was not admitted by the racial scientists, nor by the scores of eugenicists who campaigned on both sides of the Atlantic for the improvement of racial quality.

The mid-twentieth century witnessed the continued proliferation of scientific treatises on race. By the 1960s, however, two factors contributed to the demise of the concept of biological races. One of these was the increased rate of study of the physical and genetic diversity human groups all over the world by large numbers of scientists. The second factor was the increasing influence of the civil rights movement in the United States and elsewhere. Before long, influential scientists denounced studies of race and races because races themselves could not be scientifically defined. Where scientists looked for sharp boundaries between groups, none could be found.

Despite major shifts in scientific thinking, the sibling concepts of human races and a color-based hierarchy of races remained firmly established in mainstream culture through the mid-twentieth century. The resulting racial stereotypes were potent and persistent, especially in the United States and South Africa, where subjugation and exploitation of dark-skinned labor had been the cornerstone of economic growth.

After its “scientific” demise, race remained as a name and concept, but gradually came to stand for something quite different. Today many people identify with the concept of being a member of one or another racial group, regardless of what science may say about the nature of race. The shared experiences of race create powerful social bonds. For many people, including many scholars, races cease to be biological categories and have become social groupings. The concept of race became a more confusing mélange as social categories of class and ethnicity. So race isn’t “just” a social construction, it is the real product of shared experience, and people choose to identify themselves by race.

Clinicians continue to map observed patterns of health and disease onto old racial concepts such as “White”, “Black” or “African American”, “Asian,” etc. Even after it has been shown that many diseases (adult-onset diabetes, alcoholism, high blood pressure, to name a few) show apparent racial patterns because people share similar environmental conditions, grouping by race are maintained. The use of racial self-categorization in epidemiological studies is defended and even encouraged. In most cases, race in medical studies is confounded with health disparities due to class, ethnic differences in social practices, and attitudes, all of which become meaningless when sufficient variables are taken into account.

Race’s latest makeover arises from genomics and mostly within biomedical contexts. The sanctified position of medical science in the popular consciousness gives the race concept renewed esteem. Racial realists marshal genomic evidence to support the hard biological reality of racial difference, while racial skeptics see no racial patterns. What is clear is that people are seeing what they want to see. They are constructing studies to provide the outcomes they expect. In 2012, Catherine Bliss argued cogently that race today is best considered a belief system that “produces consistencies in perception and practice at a particular social and historical moment”.

Race has a hold on history, but it no longer has a place in science. The sheer instability and potential for misinterpretation render race useless as a scientific concept. Inventing new vocabularies of human diversity and inequity won’t be easy, but is necessary.”


Contributors [ 176 ]   |   View All Responses [ 174 ]

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Mind Your MIND: Consciousness


References & Readings on Consciousness:








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መልካም የገና በዓል! …. ለልዩ ጉዞ …

መልካም የገና በዓል!

የሰላምና የደስታ አዲስ ዓመት! …


Hibre-kilatse sineger-p17

Hibre-kilatse sineger-p1b

*———————– ሕብረ፥ቅላጼ ሲነገር …

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*————– ሕብረ፥ቅላጼ ሲመረመር …

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እነ ማን ነበሩ ? …እ ስ ቲ ይሁና ……


እነ ማን ነበሩ ? የሚል ምዕራፍ ውስጥ  ቦ ታ የሚሹ ኢትዮጵያውያን !

ብርሃነ መስቀልና ሃይሌ ፊዳ !!! *1

መቼም ሆነ መቼ የፖለቲካ ጉዳይ ያገባኛል የሚል፣  ያለፈውን፣ ከርሱ፥ከዛሬው በፊት ያለውን በበቂ ያላጠናና ያላገናዘበ፣  ሲሆንም አስፈላጊውን ተመክሮ ያላዋሃደ፣ ትክክለኛ የዛሬው የፖለቲካውን  ፈር ያገኛል ማለት ዘበት ነው፣ እንኳን ነጻ ወጥቶ ነጻ ሊያወጣ ቀርቶ፣ ያልሆነ ሃይል ወይንም ያኋላ ኋላ ወደ ባሪያነት የሚቀይረው የባዕድ አሻንጉሊት ነው የሚሆነው!

የኛ ትውልድ፣ የኔ ትውልድ፣ ከሚያደነቁረው የኛን ሀገር ብቻ ሳይሆን ዓለምን በሙሉ፣ በተለይም የወጣቱን አእምሮ የሰለበው ቀኖናዊ ርዕዮተ ዓለም (አምባገነንነት የሚሰብከው ኮሚኒዝም፣ ከወዝ አደሩ ሙሉ ሥልጣን በተፈጥሮ ተሰቶኛል የሚሉ የግለሰቦች አምብገነንነት) ሰለባ  መሆን ብቻ ሳይሆን፣  ትልቁ ድንቁርና  ያለፈው ታሪካችንን ረጋ ብሎ ለመረዳት ያለመሞከርና በቀኖናዊ ርዕዮተ፥ዓለም፣ (ለኢትዮጵያ የሚሆን ሀገርወለድ ርዕዮተ ኢትዮጵያን ከማፈለለግ ይልቅ) የእውር የድንብር መነዳታችንና መንዳታችን ነበር። ዛሬ መጨረሻው ባይባልም፣ የደረስንበት ውርደት፣ የኢትዮጵያው ሲያንስ፣ ሰሞኑን በዓረብ ሃገሮች የሚደርሰው ውርደትና፣ ኢትዮጵያ ያፈራቻቸው፣  ከየትም ወገኑ አልወገኑ ፣ ምን የመሳሰሉ፣ ስንት ቦ ታ ሊደርሱ የሚችሉ፣ የሚያንገበግቡ ብርቅ ወጣት ልጆቿን በከንቱ ለአረመኔዎች መስዋዕት ማድረግ ነው፣ ነበር።  ከየትም ወገኑ አልወገኑ፣ እነዚህ ሰነዶች ውስጥ የሚታወሱት ሁሉ!! ከከንቱም በከንቱ የሚያደርገው ደግሞ፣ የዛሬውና የነገው ትውልድ ያለፈውን ከልቡ አጥንቶ፣ አጽንቶ ና አገናዝቦ ተገቢውን ተመክሮ ሳይወስድ፣ ዛሬም አእምሮ ቢስ ሆ ኖ የቀረ እንደሆን ነው!!!

እዚህ ሰነድ ውስጥ ያለው የመጀመሪያው ሁለት ገጽ የዚህ አእምሮ ቢስነት እንደ አይነተኛ ምሳሌ ሊወሰድ ይችላል!

በቀላል አቀራረብ ግን፣ ዓለም ከማያወቀው የማይድኑ የደዌ ዝርዝር ውስጥ  አከርካሪው “ኢ – ሕ – አ –  ፓ ”  የሚባል መጨመር አለበት፣ ያሰኛል! እውነትም ግን ዛሬ የአእምሮ  ሳይንስ የደረሰበት ለንደዚህ ዓይነት ተፈጥሮዎች የሰጠው ስምና ኪዳንም አለ! የም ሆ ነ ይህ ….እያዩ  ማለፍ …..እንደሚባለው፣  አይቶ ማለፍና   ምንም ጥርጥር የለውም፣ በየመስመሮቹ መሃል ያሉትን ሰቆቃና ስቃይ እያሰታወሱ (2*፣ የብርሃነ መስቀልንና  የኅይሌን ሰነዶች ዝርዝር ግን፣ ከገጽ 3 በኋላ ያለውን፣ የጊዜውን ሁኔት ባይነ ሕሊና እያሰቡ፣  ፖለቲካ ያገባኝ ነበር… አሁንም ያገባኛል የሚል ሁሉ አንድ ባንድ ማንበብ ያለበት ይመስለኛል።

ባለበት መሄድ ልማድ ሆኖ  እንዳይቀርብንና ሀገራችን ኢትዮጵያም እንዲሁ እንደዋዛ ከነመስዋዕት ልጆቿ  ….ዋ…. ብላ  ቀርታ እንዳትቀር!!!!

ባለበት መሄድ ልማዳችን ሆነ የሚያሰኘው፣  በተለይም የሰሞኑን የፖለቲካ ፈር / የኤርትራው ጉዞ/  ሲያስተውሉት ነው!   እሱም ሲይንስ እነዛው ጉዶች በነ ካሳ ከበደ ተመስለው  ባደባባይ በግንባርቀደምትነት  ብቅ ሲሉ ነው!

ኢትዮጵያ ሞኝ ነሽ ተላላ ….. ተብሎ  ድሮውንም ጥንታውያን የተቀኙላት ያለምክንያት አልኖረም!


*** ስዕሉ የተገኘው፣ የ ረኔ ጊራርድ / Rene Girard mimesis theory/ ማህበራዊ ጽንሰ ሃሳብ ላይ ከሚመራመር ድረገጽ ነው…..Scapegoating

*1 በተጨማሪ ስለ ሃይሌ ፊዳና ከርሱጋር መስዋዕት ሆነው ሰላለፉ ብርቅ  ኢትዮ ጵያውያን የሚከተለውን የግል ማስታወሻ ይመልከቱ (ለተጠቀሰው ጉዳይ በጊዜው የተላከ):- Project „Shading Light on Haile Fida’s Life“

*2              ……

ለነ ድንጋይ ልቡ *

ለነ ድንጋይ ልቡ (PDF)


ካላየህ ከልነበርክ ሕሊና ከሌለህ፣

ግድ የለም ይመችህ፤

ወሬህን አሳምር አፊዝ እሞቀህ ቤት፣

ቁስሉ የሰው ነው እንጨት ስደድበት፤

አንድ ቀንጀንበርህ የጠለቀች ዕለት

እስቲገለጽልህ ያለህበት ሌሊት

አንተም ሰው እኔም ሰው//it/… እስኪለይለት!!!

ዛሬ መጠሪያችን፣ መሃላችን ሁሉ   ይሙት  ይሙት!!!1)

አንጀትህ አንጀቴመቼስ ሊራራለት!!!

ግማሽ ጎኑ እውር ያስጫኑህ ጭንቅላት፣ የተሰጠህ መዓት!

እግዚኦ እንዳይባልልህ የለህም ሃይማኖት!

ፋላስፋ እንዳንሻ ጠላትህ ነው ትምርት!

እሪሪሪሪሪ….ለአ…...ኧረ የድንጋይ ያለህ...እንዳው. አቤት አቤት፣

ወንዝ የገጠመህለት ወዳጅህ እዚህ ነው እሱንም ጫንበት!

የማይቀረው ወንዝህ፣   እንዲያም እንዲያም ብሎ፣አዙሪቱ ታክቶት

ከለታት አንድ ቀን እሰው መንደር ደረሶ፣ሳርቀጠሉን ይዞ  እርፍ፥ እልፍ እንዲልለት!!!

*እነዚህ ከላይ ያሉት ስንኞች ብቅ ያሉት ስለነ ብርሃነ መስቀልና ሃይሌ ፊዳ

ታሪካዊ ሰነዶች / የብርሃነ መስቀል ረዳ እና የሀይሌ ፊዳ አሳዛኝ ኑዛዜዎች 

በሚል አርዕስት ሰነዶቹን  አጅቦ ስለወጣው የሚያሳፍር አስተያየት በማዘን ነው!


እነ ማን ነበሩ ?

To read a few lines on torture :


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Shame on You!

Shame on US!




At the end of the dark tunnel!

·        Breaking news!

‹‹የሳውዲ መንግስት በአገሩ የአሰሪና ሰራተኛ ህግ መሰረት እርምጃ የመውሰድ ሉአላዊ መብት እንዳለው እንገነዘባለን፤ …>>/cf. Shimelis/


One can only be furious on what is going over there! – A clear case. Ethiopia is quasi a colonial region of the Saudis , by proxy of  Ala Moudin’ s economic empire and de facto “political” power in alliance with TPLF! (This Man, a dummy figure; Shimelis divulges what they think behind closed doors, he talks exactly the opposite of what the Foreign Minister, Tewodros has aired a few days ago ) . The crux of the matter is in fact all the way through logical and has its chronological proceedings:

Let’s  “Make it Simple”, in a plain language:

·        1960-70 Eritrea divided into Muslim and Christians . Petrodollars play their major roles….

·        1970 -1980, The Youth would be incited into confusion and had to be ideologically indoctrinated, while the imperial power would be advised to remain reform defiant until it breaks up into pieces; and   the new generation would be formed in a new mind setup contrary to an Ethiopian raison d’état, thereby destroying its own imperial Kingdom, the contemporary symbolic bastion of Ethiopian unity.

·        1980 -1990 a smart operation within and in support of the hegemony struggle  of the superpowers. A smart Operation to hunt down, liquidate  and discredit all  nationally minded political actors .

·         1991, a fine tuned puppet political group from an ethnic minority , would take state power.        Miracles come once in a while, and it happened this time too: The world ( the communist block shattered) is no longer divided into two but into a thousand .

·        Eritrea is condemned for the fateful independence. Precedence is required! The Oromos , the Somalis, the Hadias the Wolayitas , the Sidamas, the Janjeros, the Siltes … hundreds and thousands more  would for sure aspire the same path! Last but not least even the Amharas would surrender at the last moment; to go into the production of parcels and pieces of Ethiopia!

·        Again ideology had to be the runner, self-determination up to and including going to pieces; ethnic wars, all against all but under the leadership of the foreign loyal group from an “heroic tribe”, the primary one/”primus inter pares”/, deserving the leadership – however all united especially against an Ethiopian unity.

·        The big players:  The capacity of the big petrodollar making a puppet of every “icon”,  “Man and Stone” in the  Country – by means of  the big capital messenger, Ala- Moudin –  in tandem with TPLF whose objective is  demonizing any sign of  national feelings towards an Ethiopian unity.

·        In support of a gradual and  radical expansion of the Muslim sector under a non-indigenous  subtle radical  indoctrination, while the state is working against the other indigenous church, to  make room for the Pentecostale movement, inciting them to  undermine each other so that they are weak vis a vis the former.

·        With these forces on board, a new civil movement of the Muslims has come to complete the circle; albeit its justification, being instrumental for the Saudis to make the state more and more subservient.

·        With Ethiopia degraded and humiliated, be it from above or below; enslaved into pieces!

·        Today ” Ethiopia ” has been made a synonym for dirt in Saudi Arabia, if not in the whole Arab World ! We know, once upon a time there used to be an offending Arabic proverb on our ancestors, old Ethiopians: ” If you encounter a snake and a Habesha, together, kill first the Habesha (beat the head, like the serpent , so that he is no longer capable of thinking , disabled just as the Shimelis genre) ! ” So deep was the hatred, centuries ago, just like today, generations after !
Habesha has become = Ethiopia! How naive my generation was, and is!

·        The story clearly holds water !-The story, taking place  today  in Saudi Arabia and in Addis Ababa!

Let us stop  cheating ourselves- damn the self-delusion. We have to look at the truth squarly into the eyes. I believe that our generation has made a mess out of Ethiopia! / Granted; in those days young and naïve, but today  still stubborn and incorrigible, not even after such a disaster /. Indeed, a generation that has moved mountains, it has shattered our Ethiopian mountains to make them as  flat as the barbaric level of Saudi Arabia, driving  us out of our highlands, into  slavery and barbarism strange to our cultural record and history!


Damn them! We have to hold up our High ETHIOPIA ! !! Our HIGHLANDS!

·        Like the following compatriots of our “highlands” agitated by anger and courage!


·    Even China is making today a turn towards the real world! (cf. Reuters)

When THE HELL are WE going  to CHANGE!?


(Original in German)

Shame on US!

Am Ende des dunklen Tunnels

Breaking news!


Man kann da nur wütend sein über was da abläuft! Eine klare Angelegenheit . Äthiopien ist eine Koloniale Besetzung der Saudis, via Ala Moudin und TPLF Allianz! Der Man (Shimelis plaudert aus, was sie hinter verschlossenen Türen denken; Er redet genau das Gegenteil von was der Außenminister, Tewodros vor ein Paar Tagen gelüftet hat). Es ist ja auch logisch! und chronologisch verlaufen:
“Make it simple”

  •     1960-70 Eritrea in Muslim und Christen aufteilen und Petrodollar in die Menge werfen.
  •     1970 -1980 Die Jugend in die Verwirrung aufhetzen und ideologisieren; dem   Kaisertum beratend auf dem Schoss halten und Reform-trotzig bis es nicht mehr geht machen, dieses Staatsräson aus dem Denkmuster der neuen Generation abschaffen,  dadurch die symbolische Bastion der Äthiopischen Einheit vernichten.
  •     1980 -1990 geschickt in den Hegemonie Bestrebungen der Supermächte agieren.
  •     Hexenjagd auf alle national gestimmten politische Akteure betreiben.
  •     Ab 1991, eine politische Gruppe einer Ethnische Minderheit aufkaufen, und an der Staatsmacht aufstellen.
  •     Wunder gescheht nicht immer, aber diesmal: Die Welt (die kommunistische block gestutzt) ist nicht mehr in zwei geteilt sondern in tausend.
  • Eritrea in die schicksalhaften Unabhängigkeit verdammen. Ein Präzedenzfall muss her! Die Oromos, die Somalis, die Hadias, die Wolayitas, Die Sidamas, die Janjeros, die Siltes…hundert und tausend mehr! Die Amharas auch sogar, zu aller Letzt!
  •     Erneut ideologisieren, ethnische kriege, alle gegen alle, hochhalten,  führen; vor allen Dingen gegen die äthiopische Einheit.
  •     Mit Petrodollar alle Man und Land – i.A. Ala- Moudin – aufkaufen.
  •     Nationale Gefühle im Sinne der  Äthiopischen Einheit verteufeln.
  •     Das Land radikal oder sonst islamisieren oder in die Pentecostale Bewegung treiben, und das hausgemachte Religion  aushöhlen aufeinander aufhetzen.
  •     Durch die islamische Bewegung die neuen Lakaien verunsichern und mehr auf den Knien zwingen.
  •     Ganze Äthiopien demütigen und degradieren, versklaven.

“Ethiopia” wird ein Schimpfwort in Saudi Arabien, wenn nicht in der ganzen Arabischen Welt! Wie hieß mal das berüchtigte Arabisch Sprichwort: “Wenn es dir eine Schlange und ein Habesha gemeinsam begegnet, töte den Habesha zuerst (dem Kopf schlagend, wie die Schlange,  damit er nicht mehr denkfähig ist; so wie diese Shimelis oben agiert)!” So tief war ja der Hass, vor Jahrhunderten; so wie heute auch!
Habesha = Ethiopia geworden! Wie blauäugig meine Generation war und ist!

Das hat Hand und Fuß! Was in Saudi Arabien und in Addis Ababa heute geschieht! Schluss mit der Selbsttäuschung. Man muss  die Wahrheit in den Augen gucken. Ich bin der Meinung dass unsere Generation misst gebaut hat! /damals jung und naiv heute stur und  unbelehrbar, nicht mal nach so ein Desaster/. Tatsächlich eine Generation, die Berge versetzt hat; diese hat  die Äthiopische Berge versetzt und hat uns auf dem barbarischen Niveau von Saudi Arabien verflacht um unser Hochland in die Sklaverei und Barbarei zu treiben! http://www.ethiograph.net/video/watch.php?vid=805669f22Weg mit dem Misst! Man muss !!!!ETHIOPIA!!!! hochhalten!

Unser HOCHLAND!   Wie diese Menge das Problem mit Wut und Mut ausdruckt!


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More on Nietzsche

For sure a nice reading for those who would like to honor Nietzsche’s Thoughts!


The Flame of Eternity:
An Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Thought
Krzysztof Michalski
Translated by Benjamin Paloff


The book is essentially made up of nine essays, and taken together they provide a series of highly instructive meditations of core existential themes in Nietzsche, such as the meaning of time, love, and death. In addition, the author makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of core doctrines in Nietzsche, notably, the death of God, nihilism, and eternal recurrence. I concur with the author when he contends that Nietzsche is primarily engaged in philosophical therapy. Nietzsche’s philosophy is a rejection of the world around us and an attempt to find a way out of the crisis and an attempt at liberation (albeit a deeply enigmatic one, I would add). For Nietzsche, the author claims, the world is sick and humanity is in need of liberation from a deep malaise, which he calls nihilism. Nietzsche’s philosophy is seen to arise “from rejection, from outrage at the world, and from the pain that the world causes” (14)http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/jns/reviews/krzysztof-michalski-the-flame-of-eternity.-an-interpretation-of-nietzsche2019s-thought.-and-espen-hammerm-philosophy-and-temporality-from-kant-to-critical-theory
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The Big Leap

The Big Leap: Heidegger, Nietzsche, Kafka

Deeply lost in the night. Just as one sometimes lowers one’s head to reflect, thus to be utterly lost in the night. All around people are asleep. It’s just play acting, and innocent self-deception, that they sleep in houses, in safe beds, under a safe roof, stretched out or curled up on mattresses, in sheets, under blankets; in reality they have flocked together as they had once upon a time and again later in a deserted region, a camp in the open, a countless number of men, an army, a people, under a cold sky on cold earth, collapsed where once they had stood, forehead pressed on the arm, face to the ground, breathing quietly. And you are watching, are one of the watchmen, you find the next one by brandishing a burning stick from the brushwood pile beside you. Why are you watching? Someone must watch, it is said. Someone must be there.[1]


One of the defining characteristics of the later Heidegger is the concern for art and its place in humanity’s relation to Being.[2] In his Nietzsche lectures, as in his lecture on the origin of the work of art, Heidegger constructs a hermeneutical picture of the world in which art, the artistic lifestyle and the image of the artist play an important role. The world itself, Heidegger presupposes, is merely a dynamic set of relations, properties and attributes which construes the entirety of human possibilities, thus, of human meanings and significances. As such, Heidegger claims, it is hidden and forgotten, undisclosed and unapproachable in its entirety, buried six feet under several layers of metaphysical misconstructions and religious anxieties. The world of art, on the other hand, offers resolution and disclosure. It reveals the basic fields of significance, which are otherwise repressed and ignored. Art and the way of the artist reveal not only the totality of meanings but also and mainly the mere possibility of meaning at all. A work of art, Heidegger argues, reveals the very event of disclosure – the disclosure-as-such – and not only the radical tension that specifically articulates the world of references and relations. Thus, Heidegger seeks to comprehend the meticulous way in which art itself as such discloses disclosure by revealing disclosure in the work of art.

In this paper I intend to apply Heidegger’s conception of art as the ultimate and utter disclosure of “being as a whole” to the work of two extraordinary thinkers: Nietzsche and Kafka. It seems at first glance that these two thinkers share no common ground. The former is a philosopher-artist, the teacher and creator of the Eternal Recurrence and the Will to Power, the mad[3] watchman at the gateway of the artistic becoming[4] and the barbaric destructor of nihilism. The latter, on the other hand, is an artist-philosopher, the creator of the Kafkaesque picture of the world that negates any possibility of becoming. Nietzsche gives birth to a new man at the moment’s gateway[5] who rises out of the ashes of the nihilistic God-free world to create new laws and new ethics. Kafka, on the other hand, hopelessly tortures his protagonists, ridicules their naivety, mocks their beliefs, and aimlessly puts to them the Sisyphean task of charging their own gateways.[6] Nietzsche’s protagonists can deify themselves and become supermen; Kafka’s protagonists will never enter the gate of law and will never reach the promised castle.[7] Zarathustra, the most predominant Nietzschean artist, recreates himself and is finally consoled while disclosing life in its entirety; K., the wretched advocate of the Kafkaesque picture of the world, is doomed never to succeed, despite continuing and excruciating efforts, in any of his missions, and inevitably dies.

Despite the apparent abyss gaping between Nietzsche’s and Kafka’s worlds, the two seem to share one crucial idea.



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