Posted by: HAT | January 13, 2010

Essence

Essential being under construction

When Heidegger says “spaces receive their essential being from places and not ‘from’ space,”* “essential being” clearly becomes something that depends on cultural activity, human activity, even (if you will) technē. Presumably OK, as long as one knows that. It might not be one’s first thought about how that term (“essential being,” that is) would be used.

Still, it seems to lend credence to Adorno’s point that existentialist usage takes some historically specific and particular state of being and ontologizes (eternalizes) it.

And perhaps it suggests that some of the palaver about “essentializing” and “essentialism” related to Irigaray might have needed to notice that she is responding to someone for whom “essence” might not have that much to do with something naturally and eternally present in the whatever existence is under consideration. If “essence” doesn’t include the idea “independent of culture or history” but precisely includes “something dependent on culture and history” then what was presumably a point of dispute becomes one no longer.

(*in “Building, Dwelling, Thinking”)

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