Martin Heidegger Talks Philosophy with a Buddhist Monk on German TV (1963)

Martin Heidegger is often called the most important philosopher of the 20th century. I’m not in a position to evaluate this claim, but his influence on contemporary and successive European and American thinkers is considerable. That influence spread all the way to Thailand, where Buddhist monk and university professor Bhikku Maha Mani came to think of Heidegger as “the German philosopher.” (A conception, writes Otto Poggeler in an essay on Heidegger and Eastern thought, that may have “perverted the monk’s wanting to talk” to the philosopher, “since philosophy never lets itself be embodied in an idol.”) The Buddhist monk, also a radio presenter who later left his order to work for American television, met the German philosopher in 1963 for an interview on German TV station SWR. Maha Mani asks his questions in English, Heidegger responds in German. See the first part of the interview above, the second below.

This was not at all the first time the German philosopher had dialogued with an East Asian thinker. In a study on the Buddhist and Taoist influences on Heidegger’s work, Reinhold May writes that Heidegger’s “direct contact with East Asian thought dates back at least as far as 1922” when he began conversations with several major Japanese thinkers. Nonetheless, Heidegger apparently had little to say on the correspondences between his ideas and those of Eastern philosophers until the 1950s, and the little that he did say seems marginal at best to his main body of work.

May’s claims of “hidden influence” may be highly exaggerated, yet Heidegger was familiar with Buddhist thought, and, in the interview, he makes some interesting distinctions and comparisons. In answer to the Bhikku’s first, very general, question, Heidegger launches into his familiar refrain—“one question was never asked [in “Occidental” philosophy], that is, the question of Being.” Heidegger defines “the human being” as “this essence, that has language,” in contrast to “the Buddhist teachings,” which do not make “an essential distinction, between human beings and other living things, plants and animals.” For Heidegger, consciousness—“a knowing relation to Being” through language—is the exclusive preserve of humans.

In the second part of the interview (read a transcript here), Bhikku Maha Mani asks Heidegger what he thinks about the contradictory Western tendency to identify people without religion as “communists” and those who live “according to religious rules” as insane. Heidegger responds that religion, in its most radical sense, simply means “a bonding-back to powers, forces and laws, that supersede human capability.” In this respect, he says, “no human being is without religion,” whether it be “the belief in science” of communists or “an atheistic religion, namely Buddhism, that knows no God.” Heidegger goes on to explain why he sees little possibility of “immediate and simple understanding” between people of different religions, philosophies, and political groups. While it may be tempting to view Heidegger’s work—and that of other phenomenological, existential, or skeptical philosophers—as working in tandem with much Eastern thought, as perhaps “the” German philosopher himself would caution, the differences are significant. In the interview above, Heidegger largely faults Germany and “all of Europe in general” for a general lack of human harmony: “We do not have any clear, common and simple relation to reality and to ourselves,” he says. “That is the big problem of the Western world.”

Courses on Heidegger’s philosophy can be found in our collection of Free Online Philosophy Courses, part of our larger collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2014.

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Discovered: Lost Johnny Cash Concert Recorded by the Grateful Dead’s LSD Chemist Owsley Stanley (1968)

On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash recorded his famous live concerts within the walls of Folsom State Prison, California, a week into what would be one of his busiest years of touring. While Columbia Records worked on trimming down the two sets into one LP, Cash set off across the States, into Canada and back, playing almost every night, and returning to the West Coast for a final stop at the Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco.

Recording the gig that night was Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the Grateful Dead’s engineer and also the man responsible for creating the purest LSD on the West Coast. As Rolling Stone once asked, would there have been a Summer of Love if not for Stanley? Apparently, Stanley had *another* secret stash, and we are only now hearing a tiny fraction of it. This gig is one of over 1,300 the engineer recorded and kept in his private collection. Stanley died in 2011, and ten years later the Oswald Stanley Foundation is selectively releasing recordings from this treasure trove as a way to preserve the recordings and fund more releases. This Cash set was one of the first releases in the “Bear’s Sonic Journals” series, released in October of 2021.

Cash’s new bride June Carter Cash joined him onstage. It was on the Ontario stop of the aforementioned tour that Cash proposed to her live on stage, and they were married March 1 in Kentucky. You can hear his pride as he introduces her to the audience; the two immediately launch into “Jackson.” “We got married in a fever,” indeed. (The two remained married until her death in 2003.) June sings several numbers, including “Wabash Cannonball,” and Carl Perkins’ “Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man.”

The other artist figuring prominently in these recordings (as an influence) is Bob Dylan. The two had been circling each other in admiration for years, and here Cash covers “One Too Many Mornings” and then “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” The man owns it, turns it into what sounds like a Tennessee Three original. Dylan and Cash would finally record together in 1969, in sessions that would be bootlegged until a recent official release.

Stanley recorded these sets for himself, coming straight out of the soundboard. Where the Carousel Ballroom concert lacks in quality—-vocals, audience, and Cash’s guitar are on the left, the band to the right—-they make up for in history and excitement.

Currently, the label has released full concerts from Tim Buckley, Ali Akbar Khan, with Indranil Bhattacharya and Zakir Hussain, Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, New Riders of The Purple Sage, Jorma Kaukonen & Jack Casady, The Allman Brothers Band, and Doc and Merle Watson. As Stanley recorded for two decades of his career, the catalog promises untold delights.

The full playlist from the Carousel Ballroom gig is below:

via BoingBoing

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

When Andy Warhol Guest-Starred on The Love Boat (1985)

On Friday, August 31, 1979, Andy Warhol records in his diary that he took a cab to Elaine’s to “meet the guy who might get me a guest appearance on The Love Boat.” But nearly five years pass before he writes that the writers are working on his episode; with the shooting dates set, “I started to get scared, I don’t know if I can go through with it.” A couple of months later, as the appointed time approaches, he hears the plot: “There’s a girl on the boat named Mary with her husband, and she used to be a superstar of mine, and she doesn’t want her husband to know that she used to be ‘Marina Del Rey.’ And I just have a few lines, things like ‘Hello, Mary.’ But one of the lines I have to say is something like ‘Art is crass commercialism,’ which I don’t want to say.”

Whatever his objections to the script, Warhol doesn’t seem to have been an especially difficult participant, of whom The Love Boat must have had more than a few in its 250 episodes. During its run on ABC from 1977 to 1986, the series became an American pop-cultural phenomenon of a scale difficult to comprehend today. But as a connoisseur of American pop culture, Warhol would have comprehended it fully. By the time of his appearance in October 1985, The Love Boat had entered its ninth season, presumably hungrier than ever for attention-grabbing guest stars; on “his” episode, Warhol shares that billing with, among others, Milton Berle, Happy Days‘ Tom Bosley and Marion Ross, and Andy Griffith (who, Warhol notes, “seems bitter to be on The Love Boat“).

“If there was any space where painters and artists could brush shoulders with soap stars and teen idols, it was aboard the Pacific Princess,” says MeTV. “In one episode dedicated to the fashion industry, designers Gloria Vanderbilt, Geoffrey Beene and Halston all came aboard.” Warhol’s coming aboard, then, “was both unexpected and somehow inevitable.” You can witness this surprising yet unsurprising cultural crossover in the video above, which contains just the scenes from Warhol’s story within the episode (which, like most Love Boat scripts, has three different plotlines). Even if it delivers few profound insights into the nature of art, celebrity, and human aspiration, it does capture Warhol’s presence as it seems really to have been during his final years.

“My Stephen Sprouse jackets were there on the wardrobe rack,” Warhol writes in his diary during the shoot. “When I wear them, I think I finally look like people want Andy Warhol to look again.” That must have been true of the shiny silver number he wears in his first scene of the episode, when first he rolls up with his “entourage” to the ship’s reception desk. “As we’re walking off, the Love Boat girl asks Raymond St. Jacques, ‘How does an artist know when a painting is really successful?’ And he says, ‘When the check clears.'” But on one take “they did it wrong and it was better — she said, ‘When is a painting really finished.'” Unfortunately, that version of the line seems to have been a bit too Warholian for the Pacific Princess.

Who Betrayed Anne Frank and Her Family?: Machine Learning, a Retired FBI Agent and a Team of Investigators May Have Finally Solved the Case

“Using new technology, recently discovered documents and sophisticated investigative techniques, an international team—led by an obsessed retired FBI agent—has [seemingly] solved the mystery that has haunted generations since World War II: Who betrayed Anne Frank and her family? And why?” That retired FBI agent, Vince Pankoke, gets interviewed by 60 Minutes above. The story behind this new investigation also gets documented in a new book, The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation.

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The Philosophy of Games: C. Thi Nguyen on the Philosophy vs. Improv Podcast


Thi Nguyen (pronounced “TEE NWEEN”) teaches at the University of Utah, and his first book, 2020’s Games: Agency as Art, makes a case for games being treated as a serious object of study for philosophy. Thi sees game analysis as not just a sub-division in the philosophy of art (aesthetics), but in the philosophy of action. How do games relate to other human activities with constraints, like customs, language, and more specifically performative acts within language (like saying “I do” during a marriage ceremony, where you’re not just describing that you do something, but actually taking action)?

On this recording (episode 24 of the podcast), Thi joins philosophy podcaster Mark Linsenmayer of The Partially Examined Life and improvisational comedy coach Bill Arnett of the Chicago Improv Studio to talk about games and improv, and to engage in a couple of improv scenes that explore the connection between the two.

This is the third philosophy guest for the Philosophy vs. Improv podcast, which alternates between guests from the improv world, guests from the philosophy world, and no guest at all. The overall format involves a lesson from each host, which they teach to each other (and the guest) simultaneously. This often results in unexpected synchronicity given the connections between two disciplines that stress the analysis of language, living deliberately, and quick thinking.

For another philosophically rich episode, see episode #20 in which St. Lawrence University’s Jennifer L. Hansen appeared to discuss the many aspects of the concept of “The Other” in philosophy.

Philosophy vs. Improv is a podcast hosted by Mark Linsenmayer, who also hosts The Partially Examined Life Philosophy Podcast, Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast, and Nakedly Examined Music

People in the Middle Ages Slept Not Once But Twice Each Night: How This Lost Practice Was Rediscovered

The importance of a good night’s sleep has been featured now and again here on Open Culture. But were a medieval European to visit our time, he’d probably ask — among other questions — if we didn’t mean a good night’s sleeps, plural. The evidence suggests that the people of the Middle Ages slept not straight through the night but in two distinct stretches. This practice has come back to light in recent years thanks to the research of historian Roger Ekirch, author of At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past. “Both phases of sleep lasted roughly the same length of time,” he writes in that book, “with individuals waking sometime after midnight before returning to rest.”

But “not everyone, of course, slept according to the same timetable. The later at night that persons went to bed, the later they stirred after their initial sleep; or, if they retired past midnight, they might not awaken at all until dawn. Thus, in ‘The Squire’s Tale’ in The Canterbury Tales, Canacee slept ‘soon after evening fell’ and subsequently awakened in the early morning following ‘her first sleep’; in turn, her companions, staying up much later, ‘lay asleep till it was fully prime’ (daylight).” Proof widespread “biphasic sleep” exists not just in Chaucer, but — for those who know where to look — all over the surviving documents from medieval Europe.

“In France, the initial sleep was the premier somme,” writes’s Zaria Gorvett. “In Italy, it was primo sonno. In fact, Eckirch found evidence of the habit in locations as distant as Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, South America and the Middle East”; the earliest reference he turned up comes from Homer’s Odyssey. Whatever their era of history, biphasic sleepers seem to have made good use of their intervals of wakefulness, known in English as “the watch.” During it, peasants worked, Christians prayed, and thieves thieved, “but most of all, the watch was useful for socializing – and for sex.” After a long day’s work, “the first sleep took the edge off their exhaustion and the period afterwards was thought to be an excellent time to conceive copious numbers of children.”

Biphasic sleep and its attendant habits didn’t survive the 19th century. The reasons, as Ekirch explains in the interview above, have to do with the Industrial Revolution, that great disruption of traditions followed since time immemorial. Along with “the increasing prevalence of artificial illumination both within homes and outside,” he says, “bedtimes were pushed back, even though people still awakened at the same time in the morning.” Apart from introducing new technologies, the Industrial Revolution “also changed peoples’ attitudes toward work,” making humanity “increasingly time-conscious: productivity, efficiency were the hallmarks of the 19th century.” We continue to set store by them today, though we also handle the disruption of sleep in our own, distinctively 21st-century ways. Would anyone care to explain to our medieval time-traveler the practice of midnight Twitter-scrolling?

via BBC/Medievalists

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Discover Khipu, the Ancient Incan Record & Writing System Made Entirely of Knots

Khipus, the portable information archives created by the Inca, may stir up memories of 1970s macrame with their long strands of intricately knotted, earth-toned fibers, but their function more closely resembled that of a densely plotted computerized spreadsheet.

As Cecilia Pardo-Grau, lead curator of the British Museum’s current exhibition Peru: a journey in time explains in the above Curators Corner episode, khipus were used to keep track of everything from inventories and census to historical narratives, using a system that assigned meaning to the type and position of knot, spaces between knots, cord length, fiber color, etc.

Much of the information preserved within khipus has yet to be deciphered by modern scholars, though the Open Khipu Repository — computational anthropologist Jon Clindaniel‘s open-source database — makes it possible to compare the patterns of hundreds of khipus residing in museum and university collections.

Even in the Incan Empire, few were equipped to make sense of a khipu. This task fell to quipucamayocs, high born administrative officials trained since childhood in the creation and interpretation of these organic spreadsheets.

Fleet messengers known as chaskis transported khipus on foot between administrative centers, creating an information superhighway that predates the Internet by some five centuries. Khipus’ sturdy organic cotton or native camelid fibers were well suited to withstanding both the rigors of time and the road.

A 500-year-old composite khipu that found its way to British Museum organics conservator Nicole Rode prior to the exhibition was intact, but severely tangled, with a brittleness that betrayed its age. Below, she describes falling under the khipu’s spell, during the painstaking process of restoring it to a condition whereby researchers could attempt to glean some of its secrets.

Visit Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino’s website to learn more about khipu in a series of fascinating short articles that accompanied their groundbreaking 2003 exhibit QUIPU: counting with knots in the Inka Empire.

via Aeon.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Origins of the Word “Gaslighting”: Scenes from the 1944 Film Gaslight

You’re not going out of your mind. You’re slowly and systematically being driven out of your mind. — Joseph Cotton to Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film Gaslight.

Remember when the word “gaslighting” elicited knowing nods from black and white film buffs… and blank stares from pretty much everyone else?

Then along came 2016, and gaslighting entered the lexicon in a big way.

Merriam-Webster defines it as the “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”

Of course, you knew that already!

“Gaslighting” is unavoidable these days, five years after it was named 2016’s “most useful” and “likely to succeed” word by the American Dialect Society.

(“Normalize” was a runner up.)

As long as we’re playing word games, are you familiar with “denominalization”?

Also known as “verbing” or “verbification,” it’s the process whereby a noun is retooled as a verb.

Both figure prominently in Gaslight.

Have you seen the film?

Ingrid Bergman, playing opposite Charles Boyer, won an Academy award for her performance. A teenaged Angela Lansbury made her big screen debut.

In his reviewThe New York Times’ film critic Bosley Crowther steered clear of spoilers, while musing that the bulk of the theater-going public was probably already hip to the central conceit, following the successful Broadway run of Angel Street, the Patrick Hamilton thriller on which the film was based:

We can at least slip the information that the study is wholly concerned with the obvious endeavors of a husband to drive his wife slowly mad. And with Mr. Boyer doing the driving in his best dead-pan hypnotic style, while the flames flicker strangely in the gas-jets and the mood music bongs with heavy threats, it is no wonder that Miss Bergman goes to pieces in the most distressing way.

In the same review, Crowther sniped that Gaslight was “a no more illuminating title” than Angel Street.

Maybe that was true in 1944. Not anymore!

(Cunning linguists that we are, had the film retained the play’s title, 2022 may well have found us complaining that some villain tried to Angel Street us…)

In a column on production design for The Film Experience, critic Daniel Walber points out how Boyer destabilizes Bergman by fooling with their gas-powered lamps, and also how the film’s Academy Award-winning design team used the “constricting temporality” of a Victorian London lit by gas to set a foreboding mood:

Between the streetlights outside and the fixtures within, the mood is forever dimmed. The heaviness of the atmosphere brings us even closer to Paula’s mental state, trapping us with her. The detail is so precise, so committed that every flicker crawls under the skin, projecting terrible uncertainty and fear to the audience.

Readers who’ve yet to see the film may want to skip the below clip, as it does contain something close to a spoiler.

Those who’ve been on the receiving end of a vigorous gaslighting campaign?

Pass the popcorn.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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