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CLR James: On Wilson Harris

14 Mar 2019 11:46 #370235 by mapoui

European civilization for many centuries had a fixed assumption and
classification of material achievement and corresponding philosophical
conceptions. Harris says that America is not like that. He insists that
America is not like that, the West Indies are not like that. They have a
different attitude to the world; because their whole historical and material
experience has been different. But Heidegger, in my opinion, and Jaspers
and Sartre, are aware that the European preoccupation or acceptance ofthe
material basis of life, a fixed assumption - that has broken down. That is the
significance of Heidegger, Jaspers and Sartre. It began to break down with
Nietzsche who said that God was dead and, as Dostoevsky added, if God is
dead then everything is permitted: people, especially people with authority,
do anything. The whole European conception of a fixed material
assumption of things and a fixed political and philosophical assumption of
things - that has broken down. Harris is saying that in the Americas, in
Central America and in the West Indies, that has never been. There has
never been that fixed assumptionof things, that belief in something that is
many centuries old and solid.That is whyhe is sayingwhat I interpret as the
Dasein, the 'beingthere'. I find it profoundly

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14 Mar 2019 12:18 #370240 by mapoui

Most of Harris’s work, a great deal of it, is divided between
these very topics. Man lives the everyday life in Georgetown,
everydayness, and then lives in an extreme Situation in the
hinterland of British Guiana, in which he has to deal with rivers,
floods, wild animals, with difficulties of food, and the realities
of human life are stark and clear. So that for Harris, in British
Guiana you have the everydayness and average life in
Georgetown and small towns and villages (we ought to know
that here in Trinidad); and also yqu have this life of the extreme
boundary limit situation in which the harsh realities of existence
tell men what they really are, which is what Jaspers has been.
saying ■ all the time. An important note. Heidegger says the
transcendental is the way in which the man who is^ living. the life
of dasein, works his way to something out of everYday existence.
Jaspers is here different. Jaspers says the transcendental is
mystical and he wavers around about Christianity and even
God, I think—I am not so sure. But that, as a thinker of the
boundary situation, is his particular sphere. I have read his
philosophy with interest, parts of it with a certain scepticism,
but I recognised that he is watching something, aware of certain
aspects of life, still untouched.

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