Ecstatic temporality, as Heidegger describes it, is the way in which Dasein opens a World, and as such is itself ontological as a being. Ecstasy itself originated in the phrase “ekhistanai”, which meant “to place, to make stand out”, or to determine. In Ancient Greek it had come to mean being apart from one’s Self. By the seventeenth century in Christian mysticism it had come to mean the erotic rapture experienced in contemplation of the divine.
Heidegger names our founding experience of temporality out of our ability, itself founded in that temporality, to experience ourselves “as if” from outside, from the meaning the term had in Ancient Greek. However this term itself originates in a term that denotes what makes Dasein properly ontological already as a self-aware Self, prior to the creation and self-positing of the I-Subject. This ability, though, is itself founded on the erotic, and as such can simultaneously mean what it did for the later Christian mystics, or for that matter why it came to be slang for a drug that was initially intended to “draw (intimate) couples closer”.
Already in Plato, although the epiphanic experience of sudden knowledge is discussed specifically in terms of philosophical eroticism. The “true” philosophical apprehension of the Ideas is described as being in a sense ‘already dead’. The erotic, as what draws towards, is itself indefinite, anything can be seen as erotic and only through the projections of fantasy is anything in particular seen as erotic. It is precisely in these projections that we project who we are, as a Self, out of ourselves as historical but oriented to what we might become. This stretching constitutes ecstatic temporality. Heidegger’s early notion of Entschlossenheit parallels Plato’s thanatic conceptions, as willful being-towards-death. Its replacement after Ereignis with Gelassenheit as letting-oneself-be-drawn-towards whatever is projected authentically in the particular moment retreats from Plato’s thanatic pre determination of the Self through knowledge of the eternal forms back to the origin of knowing-understanding in epiphanic coming to know what we were erotically drawn towards. Hegel’s placing of the origin of self-awareness in the situation of the Lord / Bondsman is interesting both in terms of the posited situation being a common sexual erotic fantasy, but also because the being-drawn-together of the Lord and Bondsman, as innately erotic, itself goes unquestioned.
In being-drawn-towards what authentically draws our attention and projecting ourselves towards it we give ourselves a constantly changing partial determination. As erotic and open to change it is not an over-determination in the sense of Plato’s thanatic knowledge or Heidegger’s willful being-towards-death. It is a narrative of the self where the end remains unknown, indeterminate. That we are drawn towards, that aspects of reality can be erotic, leads to our continuing to expand our World, to learn, to grow, in spite of the uncanny, unfamiliar nature of being-in-the-world itself.
We project imaginatively, that is, by fantasizing. The notion of fantasy immediately evokes erotic or even specifically sexual fantasy, not due to a simplistic “drive” (we can only experience drive in that something has already captured our attention) but due to the erotic nature of being drawn towards, the erotic nature of having our attention captured.
Fantasy though is simultaneously experienced as narrative. The Self is always a narrated Self. Authenticity of a narrated Self, at the sime time, implies that we are our own authors. Our basic self-awareness is experienced as our own story, out of our personal and shared history, towards what draws us at that moment, a story whose ending is as yet unknown. This fantasy is enacted, actualized as place, prior to the split between spatiality and in-timeness it is what we experience as the ‘age of man’, as an individual and shared Self. The word for this personal and shared ‘age of man’ in Anglo-Saxon is still the only appropriate word – ‘World’.
22.6 Schelling and the Metaphysics of Evil
Schelling’s remarkable attempt to solve the problem of evil in a Christian context deals directly with some of the avenues a solution might be sought that are implicit in the Catholic view, which primarily derives from Aquinas. If Epicurus’ argument can be controverted, it has to be in the way Epicurus’ assumes the being of omnipotence or perfection. At the same time human self-will is still the assumed origin of evil, and one of the guiding assumptions Schelling retains. However in Schelling “will” becomes precisely the name for the being of things in general, not simply human being, or even only animate being.
Since human self-will, for Schelling, differs from Divine will precisely in its ability to intend evil, it is only via this will-to-evil that the pure goodness of God’s will can be known. This comes back, though, to the phrase “God’s pleasure” in Aquinas. How is the demonstration of God’s goodness, if it requires evil in order to differentiate itself from it, not a selfish will? Schelling’s answer is that the ability to intend evil was not itself willed by the living God. Through a complex series of speculations, Schelling is able to posit the origin of the “who” of human being, the will of each human being itself, precisely in God, or more specifically, the ground of God, the dark ground that God Himself cannot know. It is this origin, for Schelling, which gives us our sense that we have always been who we are.
This series of speculations thus leads to the startling conclusion, from the Christian perspective, that the source of human self-will is simultaneously the cause of God coming out of His ground and becoming the living God of creation, and that human Self will, though limited, is free in a sense that God’s will is not.
The question unanswered, though, is how self-will intends evil. Self-will intends various things, for the most part in a pragmatic, coping fashion. Every aspect of the Self, at the same time, is partial. We only partially understand, we are only partially with-others, etc. Going back to the early definitions of evil as something disproportionate, something not of a proper measure, when the Self wills evil what the self wills in a disproportionate way is determination itself. The living God of creation lacks precisely the ability to determine, hence the ability to will evil.
Things are things by being-determined, but in avoiding the uncanniness of the world we are tempted to determine things inappropriately. This inappropriateness can be due to insistently determining something or someone via a preconception, a prejudice that is held onto against experience. It can also occur by holding a partial determination that is not equal to the being as a full determination, creating a reduction in the potential meanings inherent in the being. Finally it can occur by ending a being’s potentials prematurely, thus fully determining something that in itself had further determinations to come. The ontology of evil demonstrates evil to be, essentially, an evil ontology. In over-willing our ability to determine things we will their determination to their end, including our own. This will-to-determine-to-the-end is what is seen, albeit dimly, in Freud’s “death drive”, that is it wills everything to be determined in such a way that it no longer is. It is thanatic ontology, a deathly ontology. Its thanatic nature is exposed via its totalizing quality.
From “Louis Althusser’s “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” “ -
“Hence the final part of Althusser’s argument: How is it that individual subjects are constituted in ideological structures? Or, in other words, how does ideology create a notion of self or subject?
All ideology has the function of constituting concrete individuals as subjects–of enlisting them in any belief system, according to Althusser. That’s the main thing ideology as structure and ideologies as specific belief systems do–get people (subjects) to believe in them. There are three main points that Althusser makes about this process of becoming subjects-in-ideology.
1. We are born into subject-hood–if only because we’re named before we’re born; hence we’re always-already subjects.
2. We are always-already subjects in ideology, in specific ideologies, which we inhabit, and which we recognize only as truth or obviousness. Everybody else’s beliefs are recognizable as ideological, i.e. imaginary/illusory, whereas ours are simply true. Think, for example, about different religious beliefs. Everybody who believes in their religion thinks their religion is true, and everyone else’s is just illusion, or ideology.
3. How does ideology (as structure) get us to become subjects, and hence not to recognize our subject positions within any particular ideological formation? How do we come to believe that our beliefs are simply true, not relative? Althusser answers this on 245b with the notion of INTERPELLATION. Ideology INTERPELLATES individuals as subjects. The word “interpellation” comes from the same root as the word “appellation,” which means a name; it’s not the same as the mathematical idea of “interpolation.” Interpellation is a hailing, according to Althusser. A particular ideology says, in effect, HEY YOU–and we respond ME? You mean me?? And the ideology says, yes, I mean you.
You can see examples of this every day in commercials. I saw one the other night for a home gym system, claiming that “this machine will give you the kind of workout you desire, meeting your needs better than any other home gym.” Each instance of “you” in that ad was an interpellation–the ad seeming to address ME PERSONALLY (in order to get me to see myself as the “you” being addressed, and hence to become a subject within its little ideological structure). This is also what Mr. Rogers does, when he looks sincerely into the camera and says “yes, I mean you.” It also happens in the Uncle Sam recruiting posters which say “I want YOU for the Army.”
Althusser makes some final points about ideology working this way to “hail” us as subjects, so that we think these ideas are individually addressed to us, and hence are true. He says that ideology, as structure, requires not only subject but Subject. In using the capital S, he invokes an idea similar to that of Lacan (whom Althusser studied and wrote about), that there is a small-s subject, the individual person, and a capital S Subject, which is the structural possibility of subjecthood (which individuals fill). The idea of subject and Subject also suggests the duality of being a subject, where one is both the subject OF language/ideology (as in being the subject of a sentence) and subject TO ideology, having to obey its rules/laws, and behave as that ideology dictates.
The interpellated subject in the ideology of the home gym commercial would thus order the gym, behave as if bodybuilding or rigorous exercise was a necessity, something of central importance. The Subject here would be some notion of physical perfection, or body cult, the rules that the subject is subjected to. Althusser uses the example of Christian religious ideology, with God as the ultimate Subject–the center of the system/structure.
On p. 248 Althusser links his ideas about ideology to Lacan directly, noting that the structure of ideology is specular (like Lacan’s Imaginary, like the mirror stage).”