Macrocosm & Microcosm, and the ‘Inner’

Discussion focuses on the relationship of the macrocosm to the microcosm, or of the whole to the ‘individual.’  This exploration centers especially on the question of how to understand the notion of the inner disposition or dimension.  The notion of ‘inner’ here is a far cry from being a Cartesian separation or divide from an ‘outer.’

This episode is also a companion in many ways to Language of the Poet, Language of the Heart (Episode 026).  It is to further deepen one’s understanding of the ‘inner’ disposition or dimension one needs for poetic dwelling.  Following that earlier discussion, I address misconceptions about this ‘inner’ life (which is decidedly non-Cartesian).  Also, our discussion of Heidegger’s “…Poetically Man Dwells…” continues from last time.

I. The ‘inner’ dimension or disposition from a non-Cartesian point of view

The inner poetic dimension/disposition of one’s Being is not an ‘inner’ separated from an ‘outer.’  It is not a retreat into a separate, static, Cartesian interior space, nor a flight from the world.  Rather, like the microcosm reflecting the whole of the macrocosm, it opens a space for Being.  It no more presupposes a Cartesian separateness than Heidegger’s Being-in-the-world does a “Being-out-of-the-world.”

The macrocosm-microcosm metaphor of the Renaissance helps us to get beyond Cartesian thinking.  Our use of ‘inner’ here avails itself of pre-Cartesian references such as those that Goethe and Heidegger use.  It is a shorthand for Heidegger’s ‘other thinking,’ for Meister Eckhart’s Gelassenheit, etc.  Those who take ‘inner’ in the literal, and not participatory sense, are prone to falling into a Cartesian misunderstanding of this disposition or dimension of contemplative thinking.

II. Dwelling (and Building, and Thinking) Poetically

We return to a discussion of Heidegger’s “…Poetically Man Dwells…”  Following upon last time, we emphasize the role of listening in dwelling poetically.  This notion of “an ever more painstaking listening” in Heidegger connects to our notions of “decision” and “attention” as discussed previously.

Heidegger’s differentiation between two types of ‘building’ in relation to dwelling is particularly helpful.  He draws a distinction between building in the sense of erecting works (aedificare) and the sense of a disposition of cultivation and caring (colere, cultura).  This helps us to understand what is meant by the ‘inner disposition.’

The ‘poetic’ is, in this sense, not at all a flight from reality.  It grounds us, rather, in opposition to the uprooting effect of the technological way of revealing.

From the contemplative way of seeing, the presence of the earth comes to the fore in a way that makes us belong. Recall the example of the bridge in Heidelberg that Heidegger gives in “Building, Dwelling, Thinking.” Dwelling does not refer to the external sense of space, as with building in the manner of ‘aedificare.’  Neither is it the inner experience of a separate ‘subjective consciousness,’ but instead refers to the nature of our thinking itself.

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