09 September 2008

Thrownness and Faith

Ever since reading Martin Heidegger’s Poetry, Language, Thought in 2003 (required reading for a Critical Theory class), the intersection of psychology and philosophy has remained particularly fascinating to The Militant Pacifist.

One of the Heideggerian concepts that I return to over and over is the idea of thrown-ness (or thrownness). You can research the definition yourself (Heidegger is very difficult to read and understand, and I'm told that he is just as difficult to understand in Deutsch), but my recollection of Heideggerian thrownness comprehends the idea of being “thrown” into existence, or “thrown” into the world (more specifically being thrown into being in the world).

It’s like this. Wherever we are, at this very moment in our lives, with no exceptions, is where we have been thrown. For Heidegger, it is really not necessary to figure out who threw us, or why we have been thrown, or towards what or where we are being thrown. Most of us (if we think) spend an inordinate amount of intellectual energy on those distractions. The key to thrownness is not really about that; it is that we have been thrown, and that we can attend to (focus on) our thrownness. We can be conscious of it and contemplate it.

Think of it like this (this is the way I think of it). On a certain day in the 1960’s, I enter the realm of the born; I am “thrown” into existence. Because of a series of historico-political events, with which I had nothing to do, I enter the realm of the born in a certain socio-political entity (a nation-state) that calls itself the United States of America.

Stop here for a minute.

Does any of this seem right so far? It does to me. Does it seem to make the idea of “free will” in any ultimate sense – an archaic idea? I mean, if you are “thrown” into existence in a place that you certainly did not choose – and your parents send you to a school that you certainly did not choose – and things happen to you frequently over which you (seemingly) exercise no control – does this not make the idea of free will loose its desirability as a topic for extended discussion.

It certainly does to me. Currently, I consider myself a compatibilist (but then, maybe I haven’t understood all the arguments).

With the idea of thrownness in mind, one of the great things about being a Christian, and stopping to think now and then, is understanding (by the understanding of faith, Hebrews 11:3) that I know my “thrower” and He is good.

Though I’m thrown, I’m not randomly falling (though it may feel like it). My trajectory has been planned and is currently being executed with extreme precision – in fact, at this very moment – I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

And so, as funny as it sounds, to some degree – I become comfortable with the feeling of falling.

What sheer terror it must be, not to know the thrower.


Enchanted Etymologist said...

Very interesting! Did you read that H guy in the professor you liked class?

gomez said...

very cool. :)