Saturday, April 18, 2009

Old Business Plus: Logos and "Language as the House of Being"

In language, conceived of as Logos, the possibilities for saying the truth are laid out, not always as clear and straightforward as we’d like them, of course, but simply the way they are, as possibilities, including being open to change and modification. Heidegger’s quote on “Language as the House of Being.” says that our language for thinking about how things are can be changed by those “who think and create with words.” An example I wanted to mention in class that I thought might be helpful is the way our choices about believing in God seem to be there in language ready to be “picked up on,” thought about and spoken about further. We might consider God in terms of options like “ He exists or doesn’t exist,” Believe in him or don’t.” When we consider our options in these polarized terms we don’t get very far. But then along comes the philosopher William James who speaks of "meeting the religious hypothesis halfway,” suggesting that we think, perhaps even act as if God did exist and then see where such experiences in thinking and acting might take us. Thus, “Language as the House of Being,” in terms of religion, comes to contain a somewhat wider set of options, and so James exercises his “guardianship” over the word faith ( an essential word to our being he thinks) by maintaining its possibility. Are there people in your life, in texts or in personal conversation who have given you words that enabled you to think about things differently? Such experiences might provide you with examples for thinking and talking about “undergoing an experience with language,” especially its power to transform.

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