To Thing or not to Thing

I'm currently attending a course at Berkeley with Hubert Dreyfus on
Later Heidegger & Foucault and I find the good professor's analysis of
things thinging a little unclear. I'm hoping the group can assist me.
According to Dreyfus, the thing thinging is a mode of being which
Heidegger justaposes with the technological mode of being. Although I
recognize there are shortcommings with this analysis, I have imagined a
continuum in which things thinging is anchored at one end and technological
enframing or ordering is anchored at the other and artwork working resides
somewhere in between. This characterization suggests that the gathering of
the fourfold that is associated with things thinging is a 'natural' ordering
(which is to say, it is not an ordering which man has imposed on the world),
whereas technological ordering involves a forceful challenging in which
nature is ordered such that everything is, in some sense, ready to hand.
One obvious objection to this scheme is that Heidegger's example of
The Thing is a jug or a bridge or the autobaun, none of which seems to have
any affinity with a natural ordering at all. However, in class, one way
Dreyfus exemplified things thinging with the experience of encountering a
deer on the streets of Berkeley. He suggested one could either experience
that phenomenon as a gift which gathers the scene in front of you or as a
obstuction which is impeding your ability to efficiently drive up the hill
to your destination. That illustration seems to align with the continuum I
proposed.
According to this model, artwork working is the gathering that
accompanies the focusing of interpretation of being of a particular culture.
On the one hand, artwork is not a gift in the sense that it presents itself
to us without our assistance, e.g. the deer scene. On the other hand, it is
not the forceful challenging of nature we find in technology where the gift
is entirely absent. This is why I have situated artwork in the center of the
continuum.
As I indicated above, this is more a matter of groping for
understanding than an attempt to advance a positive interpretation of things
thinging. Anyone who has the patience to guide my hand will find me very
appreciative.
Hagen Finley
Berkeley, CA



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