Sometimes my blog is a self-indulgent journey. This is one of those posts. One day last week I was tweeted the question: can anyone tell me in 140 characters what Heidegger is on about. Please? Having nothing better to do at that precise moment, the unauthentic self in me prompted me to respond with: the Question of Being – me, me and you, me and you being there, being with and being me/you, or maybe not. To save you the trouble, this response is 106 characters long including spaces. Of course my response was a little tongue in cheek, metaphorically speaking, or should that be, metaphysically speaking?
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher who work is often associated with phenomenology and existentialism, and for many his ideas are viewed as being extremely influential in the development of contemporary European philosophy. Given Heidegger’s thesis, my favourite philosopher, Michel Foucault, acknowledged Heidegger as a philosopher whose work he had read, but as far as I know he never referred to in his writings. In any event his reputation was considerable and arose from his most important work Being and Time.
This was densely written piece of work that challenged the basic metaphysical questions of existence – ‘does God exist’, ‘does the chair I see across the room exist’, ‘does mind, conceptualised as an entity separate from a body exist’ and so on. All questions that presuppose we already know what ‘to exist’ means. Most of us don’t notice or think about such a presupposition, but Heidegger did, and as they say the rest is history! Heidegger’s existential analytic remains the stuff of many an authentic (and possibly unauthentic) PhD supervision session.
The questions Heidegger posed can be found everywhere and in each of our everyday lives. Ian McGregor could be excused for asking the question when is my arm a leg and vice versa. Ian had battled against a cancerous tumour that had spread from his pelvis into his thigh for over 10 years. Treatment had been unsuccessful. In a radical paradigm shifting approach, surgeons removed his leg, and tumour, and attached this minus the bones to his arm to keep the blood flow intact. Over time they then used his calf to rebuild the tumour removal site. A year on he is pain and tumour free. I wish him well.
I guess Heidegger, would probably turn in his grave at some of the thinking to be found on the web site social media today. I like the pursuit of existentialist freedom, choice linked to the use of agile technology and new ways of communication. Last week I discovered a wonderful piece by Christopher Carfi and Frederik Hermann on social media marketing. They outline some of the changes organisations need to be aware of if they are going to grow and succeed in the turbulent times facing many of us. Some of these are perhaps obvious, like marketing (using social media or other approaches) needing to be linked to results, or the rise of social+ video (78% of adult internet users watch or download on-line videos, and 72% of on-line adults use video sharing sites).
Some were more challenging. Relentless analytics for example, the measurement of effectiveness, arguably, almost impossible to define (at least in a Heideggerian sense) and content curation versus content creation. As I was noting last week in the notion of using existing video games in therapeutic ways, sometimes we don’t always need to create something from first principles to get where we want to be. It’s really about understanding the community you want to connect to. But perhaps that is straying into the notion of Sarte’s facticity – enough philosophy for one blog!