Digital Dialogue 34: Heidegger on Aristotle

Rob Metcalf, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Denver and graduate of the Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Philosophy, joins me for episode 34 of the Digital Dialogue. Rob’s work focuses on ancient philosophy, phenomenology, ethics, philosophy of religion and the history of philosophy.

We recorded this episode at Michigan State where we were attending the annual meeting of the Ancient Philosophy Society. Our discussion focused on his and Mark Tanzer’s recent translation of Heidegger’s 1924 lecture course entitled Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy.

 

Digital
Dialogue 34: Metcalf on Heidegger’s reading of Aristotle

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • dirkusa says:

    greetings, I wanted to thank you for this posting of your discussion of Heidegger's lecture on Aristotle, I was wondering though about the idea of "community" after Derrida and all, and in particular if you have read Stephen Turner's The Social Theory of Practices?
    Also as a pragmatist therapist who has seen how hard it is for people to adapt even minor changes in their response-abilities I wonder about the efficacy of trying to cultivate dispositions in the relatively limited relationships that students (especially undergrads) and professors have, I appreciate the idea that one wants to do more than disseminate correct answers to questions but how exactly does classroom learning (let alone e-learning) bring about the kind of practices/dispositions that overcome lifelong habits/expectations and then translate to other settings (and how is one to 'test' such matters)? it seems that even at the graduate level we learn to talk about rather than how to do (though Donald Schon highlighted some interesting possibilites for professional studies) , how to say rather than to show to borrow a phrase.

  • I really appreciate your taking the time to reply here. You bring up a number of important issues, but I would like to focus this reply on the issue of the limited nature of the relationships between professors and undergraduates.
    My decision to focus on cultivating the excellences of dialogue with my students is rooted in two commitments I have come to embrace: 1) all of our relationships, however limited, demand something genuine of us – whether we decide to recognize it or not — and 2) one of the most tangible ways my philosophical commitments influence the wider world is through the exchange of ideas in my classroom.
    It seems to me that the classroom environment can be a perfect place to practice the excellences of dialogue I am interested in cultivating in myself and my students. It is a space in which ideas can be expressed freely; this opens the possibility of exploration and discovery. It is organized around a central theme and a shared set of readings; this allows for the emergence of a common vocabulary that increases the possibility of shared understandings and deepens the level at which the issues can be engaged. The classroom is also a space where we can hold each other accountable for what we say, seek to defend the positions we hold and creatively play with ideas in such a way that they can transform the very course of our lives. I say "we" here intentionally, because I want to emphasize that the teacher too must be recognized as a member of the community open to being transformed.
    When you speak of the professor/student relationship as limited, I imagine part of what you are emphasizing, rightly, is the notion that the classroom is a constructed relational space in which the authority of the professor saturates everything that happens. This is undeniably true. It is, therefore, critically important for those of us who teach to think carefully about how our authority is deployed. It can undermine trust, suppress creativity, destroy student curiosity … or it can encourage intellectual innovation, empower engagement, and reinforce mutual respect.
    Sadly, I don't think we cultivate the dispositions of dialogue in our graduate programs and so, it is difficult to expect our graduate students to become teachers who can put the excellences of dialogical pedagogy into practice. I do, however, think that when graduate students, like all students, are themselves invited to engage in a dynamic, open way with their professors, they can begin to learn the power of an educational approach that takes students seriously as, to use Aristotle's formulation, human beings who by nature desire to know.

  • Dirk had an issue posting a response to my comment, so he emailed me and asked me to post it to the blog. Here is what he wrote:
    "My sense, after-Dewey, is that one's desire to know (including a willingness to not-know) has to be cultivated from quite early on, and that it does not 'naturally' include the kind of democratic socialization that fosters the skills/dispositions for dialogue in the mode that I think that you are talking about here. And that there is little in the educational socialization of most students that would have shaped such dialogical tendencies. In this I would agree with Heidegger/neurophenomenology that our critterly tendency is towards a kind of gossip that is a bias-inflected “” target=”_blank”>(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases)“ target=”_blank”> ” target=”_blank”>(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases) strain of the will to power.
    In my experience being open to being "transformed" is in this sense an opus contra naturam which requires a level of depth/commitment that would exceed the norms of our current educational models (have you read Richard Rorty's A Pragmatist's Progress?), as your guest John Lysaker has begun to investigate with his brother (though in his solo work he, like Rorty/Cavell, tends to overvalue reading as a therapeutic mode) and is in some sense the work of a lifetime in commited-relationships/community, that will as Derrida and all have explained will always be matter of negotiation and renegotiation.
    This is where works like the later Foucault or the 3rd wave Wittgenstein folks “” target=”_blank”>(http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=279870)“ target=”_blank”> ” target=”_blank”>(http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=279870) seem both counter-cultural and vital but would require a more inclusive/immersive model of education than we currently have.
    You may enjoy the work of John Shotter: http://pubpages.unh.edu/~jds/
    Sorry if this is a bit dense/opaque seems to be one the many limits of such exchanges/formats."

  • dirkusa says:

    thank you.

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