The Time and Place of the Threshold Scholar: Heidegger’s ‘in-between’

I was prompted by receiving a message, yesterday, from Formative Justice, that a response had been made to my reflections on the Habita, which I wrote about a year ago, along with many words on what I call the ‘threshold scholar.’ Being prompted, I’ve decided to share, in bits and pieces, which include a video, and also links to some radio work I’ve been doing, my somewhat fragmented writing on the threshold scholar, an ontology I seem to have found myself occupying, if one can put the matter in this way. So, here, then, is one of what I hope will be more:

Reading Heidegger on the ‘in-between’ as place of Dasein

The ‘in between’ is the time of study before education. This remains our working hypothesis [nb: I hesitate to write ‘the’ and go for ‘our’ because the later sounds more inclusive of ‘my’ and less assertive than ‘the’…but I’m not sure what works best…]

The ‘in between’ is the time and place where the threshold intellectual, the border scholar resides. This temporal ‘portal’ or ‘gate’ [that section of Raffaello, from the Stanza dell Segnatura, the one with Plato and Aristotle, underneath the portal… is the studio of the threshold intellectual

The ‘in between’ is the and place of the ‘portal intellectual’/ the ‘studio’ intellectual….still struggling here….makes a difference!

The ‘in between’. What’s important here is the ‘in between,’ temporally, but the temporality because it is qualitatively grounded, because it is a matter of ontology, also has the signature of a place or a placing; where the play on ‘present’ (both as gift and as nunc stans) revealed with bestowal’s roots to be a placing, and, we might add, a place. The ‘present’ is thus a placing, and thus kairos is not an empty now, a vacuous opening ‘in between’ past and future, but the time of possibility, natality, potentiality. Das nichts doesn’t suffice, because rather than being a ‘nothing’ the ‘in between’ is a powerful some-thing, namely, the ontology of constituting power here appearing in the form of ‘study’. [nb: important to note is that ‘study’ is one example, and may be an exemplar’ of constituting power, and a problem that emerges here is the emergence of this power with the community of learners, and this problematizes the ‘solo’ artist….important in this is the work of the collective, i.e., the spontaneous irruptive collective….but the point is that ‘study’ is one manner of the appearance of constituting power….or, rather, ‘study’ is a placeholder, a large metaphor to describe lots of different activities through which constituting power is channeled.]

Heidegger, chapter four, History of the Concept of Time (summer 1925) “A More Original Explication of In-Being: The Being of Dasein as Care,” reminds us that the project is one of moving beyond the metaphysics issuing from the ‘subject’ [nb: understood in the wake of Heidegger, post-structuralism and deconstruction are post-metaphysics but properly described as ‘post-subjective’ which is the real meaning of the term ‘post-modern’ as in post-Cartesian]. Heidegger writes: “we could say then that the being of Dasein is precisely the being of the ‘between’ subject and world. This ‘between,’ which of course does not first arise by having a subject meet with a world, is the Dasein itself, but once again not as a property of a subject. This is the very reason why, strictly speaking, Dasein cannot be taken as a ‘between,’ since the talk of a ‘between’ subject and world always already presupposes that two entities are given between which there is supposed to be a relation. In-being is not a ‘between’ of real entities but the being of Dasein itself, to which a world belong at any given time and which for the time being is mine, and first and foremost is the Anyone.”(251-252) Describing or identifying ‘between’ as the being Dasein itself is significant for this project, and, perhaps, an analysis of the fourth chapter is required. For now, let the statement suffice on its own in relation to something Heidegger said twelve years later, in academic year 1937-38, published under the title Basic Questions of Philosophy. The section that is of most relevance for this project is chapter five, “The Need and the Necessity of the First Beginning, and the Need and the Necessity of an Other Way to Question and to Begin.” Now, it is obvious that this chapter is related to the problem of working out an ‘originary/original’ philosophy of education. Here, what is especially important is that Heidegger speaks of “the need” and “the necessity” and repeats this twice. This should not be overlooked. So we have this ‘need’ and ‘necessity’ and the whole complex problem of ‘writing,’ actually, which emerges within this fifth chapter in section: “The danger of disturbing the basic disposition of wonder in carrying it out. [techne] as the ground for the transformation of [aleithea] into [????]. The loss of the basic disposition and the absence of the original need and necessity.” Here the problem is the caution of what I would call ‘domesticating’ the basic disposition of wonder that arises out the distress of not knowing the way out. Writing itself, i.e., the practice of translating thinking into communicable ‘text’ that can mediate the work of the collectivity, that enables us to read and discuss, becomes a problem of always being precariously close to the danger of domestication, or of becoming caught up in the logic of knowledge consumption. Of this danger: “There lies the possibility of arbitrariness, of an unbridled position of goals and thereby of the possibility of escape out of the necessity of the primordial need. If this happens, then in the place of the basic disposition of wonder, the avidity of learning and calculation enters in. Philosophy itself then becomes one institution among others, it becomes subjected to a goal, which is the more insidious the higher it is – e.g., Plato’s [paidea], a word we badly translate as ‘education.’” (155-156) The force of the last part of this statement is overwhelming, and really is the culmination of what must be said before. Suffice it here to say that the problem of remaining ‘in’ the distress of not knowing, and with the basic disposition of wonder, is the problem of the border/threshold/studio intellectual, and it is the challenge of remaining ‘in’ study, or ‘in between’ past and future, before education.

About professoriguana

Professor of Philosophy of Education, Hofstra University, where I teach grad and undergrad courses. Member of the Downtown Philosophy and Education Studio (D-PES), based in NYC. My book "Being and Learning' (Sense) was published the summer of 2012. I am host and producer of the Dead Zone, airing Sundays 6-8pm EST on WRHU.ORG, Radio Hofstra University 88.7FM. I also produce the radio show Black Diamond Discography, which airs sporadically on WMPG, Portland, Maine. I'm also occasionally producing a radio project called "Musings," which will combine music and philosophical talk. Shared files of 'Musings' and 'Black Diamond Discography' can found at
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s