Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shepherds of Being

I don't want to be an administrator of concepts, so it is always with some sense of relief that I find an attempt to administer a concept has failed. Neither do I want to sink into trepidation. How then should I share with you Corradi Fiumara's concept of listening?

There are two voices to Corradi Fiumara's thinking about listening: resistence to a logocentric cultural system, and "generative listening," a capability of response and questioning that is not dictated by the said, and does not conform to the style of a deaf logos (The Other Side of Language, p. 22). The two voices are a madrigal. An attitude of genuine listening does not discount attitudes stemming from divergent Weltanschuungen; it occupies no space but "in a paradoxical sense creates ever new spaces in the very 'place' in which it is carried out" (p. 19). Modern rationalism, Corradi Fiumara argues, is "sustained by an unknowing frenzy in the sense that it is not limited to the pursuit of new ways of its thinking but also tends to deny that earlier, minor or unsuccessful traditions ever existed. And, in order to avoid the labor of listening–a labour comparable to the germination of any real dialogue–a single tradition is recognized in which everything alien is considered irrelevant: the product of intellectual blindness or of an unwillingness to evolve" (p. 26). I'd like to say that no Italian humanist is alien to me without putting Corradi Fiumara in such neat little boxes. I feel that her philosophy of listening is speaking to me even though I don't concern myself much with stridently rationalist discourses.

An aversion–almost–towards listening to the rich multiplicity of 'reality' seems to be linked with a background of profound fears and to the resulting defensive postures that express themselves in a tendency to reduce knowledge in general to a set of principles from which nothing can escape. A relentless battle is waged as an attempt is made to organize everything in the light, or shadow, or the 'best' principles of knowledge: a chronic struggle of territorial conquest where the 'territory' is the set of notions and principles for constructing reality. Listening thus comes to be an essential function in the attempt to indentify and monitor possible predatory aspects of our knowledge, no longer even capable of rememorizing or imagining the Parmenidean function of the 'shepherds of being'.

(p. 21)

It was of course Heidegger who said that the human being is the shephard of being (Letter on Humanism). On reflection, Corradi Fiumara is deeply indebted to Heidegger for her ecological thinking and perhaps her ideas of the spaces opened up by listening. This is not without irony when one considers the many voices that were silenced and the many voices that were sent into exile by Heidegger's National Socialism.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 9:10 AM.


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