Book Reviews, philosophy, Review, Writing

“Being and Time” by Martin Heidegger

The following is an exploration into the question: How does thinking relate to saying? It is a philosophical essay I had written in the past about Martin Heidegger’s thoughts in his book Being and Time. I don’t remember which book I used to get the quotes from so I am unsure if the page numbers coincide directly with every version of his book. Alternatively, if you are having trouble finding the quotes in your version of the book, I would suggest copy and pasting a section of the quotes I used into Google and looking up which sections correspond to which quote. This article by James Fieser has some of the quotes I use with the sections cited with them, along with other notes.

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How does thinking relate to saying?

Saying is the verbal manifestation of thinking. Thinking is primarily concerned in the subconscious, while saying is in the realm of conscious effort as it takes reflection and deliberate intention in order to communicate what one says. Heidegger references Dasein, or “there-being”, where all modes of thinking originate and exist. Dasein requires world-relation in order to exist, as its relationship and interaction with the world is what colors all its worldview. Dasein seeks to understand and comes to understanding through an introspective reflection on the subjects at hand, continually and ceaselessly rearranging its own contents. A conscious being not only thinks about things to come to an understanding of it, but also expresses its understanding externally in order to communicate its own knowledge and engage in discourse for more knowledge. Heidegger expresses this in the following passage: “[…] Understanding in itself has the existential structure which we call project[ion]. […] The project[ive] character of understanding constitutes [Dasein’s] being-in-the-world with regard to the disclosedness of its there as the there of a [possible being]. And, as thrown, Dasein is thrown into the [way] of being of projecting. Projecting has nothing to do with [relating oneself] to a plan thought out, according to which Dasein arranges its being, but [rather], as Dasein, it has always already projected itself and is, as long as it is, projecting. As long as it is, Dasein has understood itself and will understand itself in terms of possibilities” (Heidegger 136). Understanding is in the realm of possibility, where there will be no complete or infinitely objective Truth as Dasein has sense-perceptive, cognitive, situational, and time-constricted limitations that affect understanding.

Phenomenology is the only way to approach the ontological questions; the questions about fundamental being. This is a nod to traditional metaphysics while also trying to deconstruct the tradition itself, re-contextualizing the information to come to a deeper understanding of it. I acknowledge that the purpose of Heidegger’s phenomenology is to approach the ontological questions in an attempt to deconstruct and revitalize the claim, however I critique that there is no need to do this when it comes to thinking and saying.

By consciously thinking something into being, Dasein has already interacted with “saying” as it says to itself what it thinks. Dasein also already “says” about a subject when it thinks about it, as Dasein is constantly relating to whatever is at hand: ““Understanding is the existential being of Dasein’s own[most] possible being, [such that] this being discloses in itself what its [very] being is about” (Heidegger 135). Any public discourse that stems from the individualized thinking, or in other words, any external “saying” that happens between two individuals, is presupposed by the individuals’ subjective thinking. Therefore, saying is permanently tied to thinking in the sense that one must think a subject in order to have anything to say about it. It’s hard to argue against this, but I also see no reason to question or differentiate between the two. Why posit that saying is in a different realm from thinking? It is interesting to dissect the importance of thinking in what one says, but to say that thinking is different than saying or work in separate ways is to say that an almond is not a nut, or is different than a nut. One is a subsection of another, encompassed in the mode of being that is Dasein.

Finally, Heidegger makes interesting points to listening as an integral existential part of Dasein: “Listening to … is the existential being-open of Dasein as being-with for the other” (Heidegger 153). By listening to what another individual is saying, there is an exchange of understanding of each other’s being. It is primarily through saying what one thinks to another individual, and having that individual listen to the content of what is being said, that defines its understanding of being-in-the-world. As we have already established that the act of relating is imperative to Dasein’s existence, the act of listening is imperative in relating. It is through an open inquiry of the other’s words and self-reflection of what is being said that Dasein maintains its own sense of authenticity in the world: “Hearing even constitutes the primary and authentic openness of Dasein for its ownmost [possible being], as in hearing the voice of the friend whom every Dasein carries with it. Dasein hears because it understands. As [understanding] being-in-the-world [with others], it ‘listens to’ [and is bound to, hörig] itself and to Mitdasein [being-there with], and in this listening [being bound] belongs to these” (Heidegger 153).

Book Reviews, philosophy, Review, Writing

“Philosophical Investigations” by Ludwig Wittgenstein

The following is an exploration into Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Philosophical Investigations“. This was an explanation I had presented as an essay to my philosophy class, “Language, Meaning, and Understanding”. Hopefully this provides some sort of insight into this work. In particular, I explore the question: How does meaning relate to use?

 

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Wittgenstein claims in his “Philosophical Investigations” that meaning is how a word is “use[d] in language” (Wittgenstein 20). Meaning is contingent on usage, as it is grounded in the reality or ideality in which the word is used. Usage is imperative to meaning, as sense-perception is how one comes into contact with the context of a phrase. There is the tendency to problematize the relationship between knowledge of a word and usage; however, it is necessary that there is the acknowledgement of something referenced in order for a word to be created in the first place: “What I really see must surely be what is produced in me by the influence of the object..a sort of a copy, something that in its turn can be looked at, can be before one; almost something like a materialisation …” (Wittgenstein 199). It is not an argument of whether or not the subjects are, in the present moment, coming into physical sensory contact with a word. It is an argument towards what a word means in the context of the reality it is being used. In order to determine meaning, there are several foundations upon which it must be established; a normative linguistic stage, and an exchange between a receiver of the information and the giver of the information.

The normative linguistic stage this paper refers to is described by Wittgenstein as the rules of interpretation. He claims that all that is said and communicated “is, on some interpretation, in accord with the rule” and that “interpretation still hangs in the air along with what it interprets” (Wittgenstein 80). The main rule of interpretation has to do with how a word is societally accepted and established, and also serves as the foundation for how meaning is created.

A word’s meaning is inherently embedded in usage within a society. Words in it of themselves are tools in language to express ideas and interpretations to other folks who are on the same normative linguistic stage. This stage is determined by the culture of the society in which the individuals interact: “Certainly. From time to time he gives [them] the right tip.—This is what ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ are like here.—What one acquires here is not a technique; one learns correct judgements. There are also rules, but they do not form a system, and only experienced people can apply them right,” (Wittgenstein 227). The two characters on either end of the bridge, the giver of information on one end and the receiver of information on the other, play on this normative linguistic stage. Play or word usage is not completely open-ended, it relies on already-established and societally subconscious rules of interpretation. Words serve as the bridge in which one crosses over to meaning, always on a journey forward towards closer levels of understanding with the other. It is important to note in this metaphor that both characters must be on the same bridge in order to interact: “What happens when we make an effort—say in writing a letter—to find the right expression for our thoughts?—This phrase compares the process to one of translating or describing: the thoughts are already there (perhaps were there in advance) and we merely look for their expression” (Wittgenstein 108). There are many instances of miscommunication based off of not starting from the same place; there is a humorous image of two characters on two different bridges crossing two separate streams, where both assume that they are getting closer to the other, but aren’t even close to getting across the same bridge.

Both the giver and the receiver of the information must be clear on their intent on interpretation in order to be playing the same game and understanding the same rules of word usage. Without these things, meaning cannot be completely transferred from either party. Both must make it clear where there is any disconnect in their own subjective usage or meaning of a word. It is impossible to use the correct string of words to perfectly communicate one’s own ideas, as the mind already abstracts itself in the process of conferring a phrase to say. In understanding how a word is being used and under what context, general meaning is easier to discern.

Book Reviews, Life, Review, Thoughts, Writing

My Life as an “Odyssey” Essay

The following is a book report of sorts that I had done a few years ago. We were supposed to compare our life to the “Odyssey”, a Greek epic poem about Odysseus. This is both a reflection on my life and an exploration into the “Odyssey”.

 

 

 

 

My parents told me that when I was little, I was extremely independent and strong-willed. They told me that I had a creative, determined, and straightforward way of thinking. They said that if I there was anything I wanted to do, the only person who could stop me from doing it was myself.

As a kid, I knew who I was and whom I wanted to become, but as I grew up my inward stability started to sway back-and-forth. The older I became, the more I realized that my emotions were getting harder and harder to control. My unstable emotions started to become progressively worse in 8th grade, and by then I knew that there had to be something wrong with me. After a lot of research on mental disorders, I came to the conclusion that I was bipolar. My self-prescribed diagnosis was confirmed by my psychologist and psychiatrist in March 2012, who said that I had Bipolar II, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and intense anxiety.

The struggle to control my emotions and achieve balance in my life is the main journey that I go through every day. My constant mood swings affect nearly everything I do on a daily basis. It’s hard for me to maintain solid grades because my motivation to do things always changes. I can’t have a healthy dating life and my relationships with friends and family are constantly strained because of my lack of emotionally stability. Being bipolar affects me physically as well, because my sleep and eating patterns change according to whether I’m in my depressive phase or manic phase.

The problem with being bipolar is that you don’t quite know how you’re going to feel the next day, and almost every emotion is heightened and intensified. Instead of feeling “normal”, I either feel depressed and stressed and anxious, or charismatic and energetic and bubbly. When I’m in my depressive phase, the old Jazmyne that was determined and hard-working completely goes away, and she’s replaced by someone who’s lazy and unmotivated and surrenders to sadness. When I’m in my manic phase, the old Jazmyne is electrified, and it’s like I need to do a billion things at once in order to feel alive and tell people about everything beautiful and wonderful in life. And I can’t just ignore my intensified emotions, either- it’s always there in the back of my mind, ready to resurface and cause problems in my life. Similar to Odysseus’ struggle with overcoming adversaries to go home, it’s like every place I turn the thing I’m trying to overcome brings more problems.

Like Odysseus’ distractions, there are distractions I have to deal with that constantly prevent me from reaching my destination, which is achieving balance in my life. I think that one of the biggest distractions is my never-ending concern for other people because whenever something happens to someone I care about I become agitated and worried for them. There are so many things that my family members and friends deal with, and I always let their problems add to the stress of my own problems. Multiple family members and friends of mine have mental disorders, as well, and I always trouble myself more than I should about their happiness and well-being. Some of my family members also have physical complications, and so I get worked up about their health and how they are doing all the time. Many of my friends are self-conscious and complain to me a lot about their unhappiness about how they are, which make me feel the need to console and fret over them. Another distraction I have that ties in to my concern for other people is my concern for my family’s finances. I worry as much, if not more, about the financial stability of my family. I make a lot of sacrifices so that I don’t feel like a financial burden to my parents, and I worry a lot about bills and how I can help save my family money.

Odysseus is faced with many temptations throughout his journey, and every now and then it seems easier for him to surrender to the temptations that taunt him. For me, it’s also tempting to give up to my emotions, or to give in to negative ways to cope with how I feel. A lot of times I do submit to whatever phase I am in and I let my unstable emotions take over my life. When I’m in my depressive phase, it’s easy to just not do work and stay unmotivated. I rationalize that being in my manic phase is helpful to me because I get things done and I’m more social in that phase. Many times I’ve been tempted to turn to poisonous groups of friends to relieve or magnify whatever phase I’m in. In both of my phases, I can be extremely impulsive, which is a huge temptation I have to try and counter with rationalization (which doesn’t always work).

The main antagonist I have in my journey to maintain steadiness over my emotions is myself. I am a very stubborn, independent, and defensive person. At first, it took me a while to convince myself that I needed help to deal with my emotions because I am very reluctant to ask people for help. I always do this thing where I bury my feelings deep inside of me and never show it to people because I don’t want them to lose sleep over me. Most of the time I try to deal with my problems on my own and try not to involve anyone else in the problematic side of my life. My stubbornness and pride gets in the way of fixing my problems, much like how Odysseus had ran into problems because of his stubbornness and pride.

Even though there are a lot of things holding me back from achieving my goal of creating balance in my life, I possess a lot of things that help and support me while on this journey. Like Odysseus, I have people who support me and somewhat admirable traits that aid me while I am in a tough position.

I have a lot of qualities that counter my stubborn, independent, and defensive traits. When it comes to the things that I want to accomplish and the goals I have, I am very determined to get them done. Much like how Odysseus always put everything he had into his goals and was determined to get home, I work very hard whenever I really want something. I also have a lot of integrity when it comes to how I am. I am very honest with myself and with the people around me, so usually I am able to recognize when something is wrong with me, the reason for why I feel that way, and why I need to fix whatever problem I am having. Because I have a good amount of integrity about myself, I also know that whenever I’m in distress I know I should ask for help and do therapeutic, healthy things instead of turning to other means of relieving my stress and agitation.

Another thing that helps me along my journey is the people who support me. My doctors and therapists are supportive of me and try to do the best they can with diagnosing and helping me treat my mental disorders. My friends are also extremely supportive and understanding of my struggles, and try to help me in any way they can. A lot of times I use my friends members as a way to vent about my feelings, and they always offer their sympathy and advice and guidance. My family is also very supportive of me. At first they didn’t really want to believe anything was wrong with me, but after being diagnosed and medicated, they try to help me and know how to handle me in my different phases and how to make sure I stay sane and happy.

Even though the journey I have ahead of me is a difficult one to travel, I know that with the support I have from my friends and family and the drive I have to get better will help me through it. There will always be temptations along the way of this journey and distractions that will hold me back from being happy, but I know that eventually I will become prudent and have balance in my life. Similar to Odysseus’ long and painful journey, it may take many years and a lot of trials and tribulations for me to finally reach my destination, but I know that one day I will eventually be in peace with myself, be able to control my emotions and have a balanced life.

Synopsis of Books 9-10, 11, 21-23

Book 9

            Odysseus and his men land on the island of the Lotus-eaters, where the people who live there give them lotus fruit. The lotus fruit makes all of the men forget that they want to go home and cause them to stay on the island for a long time. Odysseus gets him and his men off the island and sail away. They land on the island of the Cyclopes, the son of the sea-god Poseidon. Odysseus and his men wander into the Cyclopes’ cave, where they eat his food and get eaten by the Cyclopes in return. Odysseus and his men escape the Cyclopes’ island by blinding him and then sneaking away under the bellies of the Cyclopes’ herd of sheep. Blinding the Cyclopes makes Poseidon angry, and guarantees Odysseus and his men an even harder journey back home.

Book 10

            Odysseus and his men sail to the island of the wind-god, Aeolus. He helps Odysseus by giving him a bag of winds. Using the western wind, Odysseus and his men arrive close enough to Ithaca to see it, but are then set back even further because of Odysseus’ jealous, greedy shipmates. Odysseus and his men eventually land on another island, the island of Circe, a witch. She lures in some of Odysseus’ men into her palace and turns them into pigs. Odysseus goes to find and rescue them, and with the help of Hermes, is able to avoid Circe’s magic. Circe makes Odysseus stay with her for a year as her lover, but eventually lets them go with advice on how to get home.

Book 11

            Odysseus travels to the River Styx in the underworld to find the blind prophet, Tiresias. With the help of Circe’s advice, Odysseus attracts the dead and finds Tiresias. Tiresias tells Odysseus about his fate and warns him about what he should do to have a smoother ride home.

Book 21

            Odysseus has returned home alone disguised as a beggar. Odysseus reveals his identity to two of his most trusted followers and asks them to help him in return for treating them and being a part of the royal family. Penelope has announced to all her potential suitors that she will marry the man who wins her contest. The rules of the contest are to string Odysseus’ bow and shoot through a line of twelve axes. All of the suitors try to string the bow but fail at doing so. Odysseus steps up to string the bow, and succeeds in stringing it and shooting it through all the axes.

Book 22

            After he wins the competition, his disguise disappears. With the help of his goddess, Athena, Odysseus and he and his son kill every suitor in the kingdom. He then proceeds to kill all the unfaithful women servants he has and take back his kingdom.

Book 23

            Penelope goes to see Odysseus and when she sees him, she faints. When she comes to, she finds Odysseus in front of her again, but doesn’t believe that he is really who he is. She thinks that the gods are playing another trick on her. She tells Odysseus that she needs help moving the bed back to the bedroom, a lie that only Odysseus could know the truth to. Odysseus gets mad and says that it was impossible to move the bed unless it was cut from the tree he grew around it. With the answer that she wanted, Penelope embraces him. Everyone is eventually appeased and lives happily ever after.

Writing

Work Samples and Cover Letter- Tips and Tricks

Notes from a “How to Create a Work Sample/Cover Letter” Workshop by Grant Byington, writer extraordinaire:

Work Samples

  • 3 samples is the magic number
  • Beyond resume, first thing an employer requires to make a decision
  • Work samples are the “test drive” for the interviewer
  • In a screening process, they push the door open to interview
  • Keep a copy of work samples in an interview just in case
  • Short, self-contained work is the best kind of sample
    •    Can be read in one sitting
    • If it is formatted or designed, that is ideal
    •  If it’s in a magazine/booklet/brochure/etc, then that is awesome.
  • Have interesting, timely topic
    • Topics that relate to the past ain’t that great. Ones that are in the present are best
  • If something has been written that is applicable to a job that I’m applying for, include it
  • If something hasn’t been written, demonstrate that you can write that type of thing
  • Designed sample
    •  Your best choice
    •  Obtain permission from the person who commissioned the work
    •  If there is designed work, then have high-resolution files
    •   Print pieces ONLY if on website. Send URLs under separate cover
  • Formatted samples
    •  Still good choice
    • Use standard formatting
      •   1 inch margins
      • Calibri or Times New Roman 12pt
      •  Use header and footer for easy identication
    • White paper, black ink
  • NO:
    •  Hand-written work
    • Unedited work (EVERYTHING SHOULD BE EDITED)
    •  Unproofed work (EVERYTHING SHOULD BE PROOF-READ
    • Work in progress
  • Read stuff backwards to catch every word
  • Read it outloud
  • It is sometimes okay to show work done with a group

Cover Letter

  • Follow a business letter format
  • Why you’re writing someone
  • Refer to stuff on works and resume
  • And why you’re an ideal candidate for the job
  • Be personal without being too informal
  • Gives them a sense of what to do next about me
  • Have a call to action

Check out Grant Byington and his blog: http://www.grantbyington.com/

Writing

Creating a Resume – Tips and Tricks

Notes from a “How to Create a Resume” Workshop by Grant Byington, writer extraordinaire

  • Headhunter=coaches on what to do ‘bout jobs
    Have RELIABLE contact information (correctly-spelled name, reliable telephone number, etc.)
  • Resume=contact information
  • Contains:
    • Name that you want to be called
    • Experience
    • Recognition and awards= attention grabbers
    • (have all achievements and experience remembered and know what happened. Only list achievements and experience you know how to talk about)
    • Be sincere, authentic, and straightforward
  • SELL YOURSELF
  • Resume gets you in the room, is with you at the table and stays in the room after you leave.
  • Does NOT contain:
    •  A page of goals in the workplace (i.e. how much you want to get paid)  A page of fabrications (i.e. Lying about awards and work experience)
    •   A page of contact information for references
      •    Do not contain a reference sheet if the workplace doesn’t require it
      • If they do require a reference sheet, then print and have one on a separate piece of paper, titled, “Reference Sheet”, not on the resume.
  • Do NOT lie in the interview
  • Have 2 different resumes
    • Chronological resume- lists thing according to work history (by date, most recent first)
    • Functional resume-highlights of work history arranged in a way that appeals to the person hiring (i.e. have a functional resume for being an actor. The work experiences that relate to being an actor should be at the beginning)
    • Curriculum vitae- Education and what you’ve learned, the classes taken, the certificate or awards in any special interests. History of school and classes.
  • Have a “presence” in the community in which you are trying to find a job
    • 80% of the people who get jobs get it through the “side door”
    • Side door of a company=somebody knows you. You’ve got connections.
    • “Somebody knows someone who has an aunt who knows the boss.” 
    • Put yourself out there. Be out there, be present and authentic.
    • You can develop a persona that is your “writing self”, separate from actual self.
    • Make the resume ONE SHEET OF PAPER, front and back.
  • For acting resumes- don’t have more than 10 characters/plays
    • “References available upon request”, have a list of references.
  • Choose one font, white paper, black ink, prominent name and contact information

 

 

Check out Grant Byington and his blog: http://www.grantbyington.com/