Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Facticity and Poietics in History: Miki Kiyoshi's Reading of Heidegger

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Facticity and Poietics in History: Miki Kiyoshi's Reading of Heidegger

Article excerpt

Destiny [Geschick] is not composed of individual fates [Schicksalen], nor can being-with-one-another be conceived of as the mutual occurrence of several subjects. These fates are already guided beforehand in being-with-one-another in the same world and in the resoluteness for definite possibilities. In communication and in struggle [in der Mitteilung und im Kampf] the power of destiny first becomes free. The fateful destiny [das schicksalhafte Geschick] of Dasein in and with its "generation" constitutes the complete, authentic occurrence of Dasein.1-Martin Heidegger

Historical destiny is not the total sum of individual fates, but the only possible "authentic" form of the historical experience occurs in "communication and struggle" Is this a philosophical truth about human existence which is valid in any time, in any place and in any language? Or is this merely a common statement that philosophers often refer to when they discuss actuality? Although it is difficult to know to what extent such a statement is universally valid, today's historical consciousness is equally determined by various sorts of "communication and struggle" or rather "communication and war": a set of phenomena brought about by the process of so-called globalization, itself propelled by capitalism and technological developments. Such phenomena serve as the basis of our historical consciousness.

How can a philosopher respond to the various current political, economic and societal demands? In order to cope with or resist these demands, what kind of praxis can philosophy bear in itself?2 We can give a rather indirect answer to these questions: philosophy always contains its own praxis of reading in itself. In fact, through the act of reading, philosophy can create an internal critique of itself. While taking over texts and concepts from predecessors, it can criticize existing interpretations and translations, or even renew them thoroughly. Consequently, the tension between thinking and reading (interpretation and translation) leaves its traces on thinking.

Through a practice of reading and critique, the Japanese philosopher Miki Kiyoshi elaborated his own idea about the philosophy of history. He published The Philosophy of History in the early 1930s, a period when philosophers were keenly aware of the turning of history. Japanese thinkers call it "overcoming modernity" From the beginning, such an idea was contradictory. Japanese philosophers blindly accepted or actively embraced the eschatological temporality that is typical to Western philosophy and emerged inevitably as a secularized version of Christian eschatology. Such an idea of overcoming fascinated a wide range of intellectuals who had been seeking a solution to the confused modern world and capitalism (World Economic Crisis in 1929, collapse of the Versailles-Washington system, etc.). For them, "overcoming" could not be carried out without recognizing the fact that they were "born" in a particular place and existed "here and now" (in 1930s Japan). However, it would also be impossible to withdraw into the particularity of Japanese tradition, since Western modernity, representative of the "universal" was already deeply rooted in the ground of Japanese society. This is why "overcoming" theory ironically claimed its world historical significance: the history had to be that of whole human beings, and yet, not human being as an abstract "species." In order to find a way out of such aporia, philosophers of the '30s tried to carry out critical reexaminations concerning the notion of "philosophy of history" Among such attempts, Miki Kiyoshi's The Philosophy of History is one of the most fundamental and influential works. In this summa of tendencies of contemporary thought, Miki confronts Heidegger's philosophy of history (in "communication and struggle" with him), so as to dialogue with the history of Western metaphysics.


Historical experience occurs in "communication and struggle. …

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