Página inicial > Fenomenologia > McNeill (2006:6-8) – órgãos - instrumentos - telos

McNeill (2006:6-8) – órgãos - instrumentos - telos

segunda-feira 4 de dezembro de 2023, por Cardoso de Castro


Mas o que é que significa "ter" olhos? E será que ver é simplesmente o resultado de ter olhos? No curso de 1929-30, Heidegger começa a sua elucidação da essência do organismo tentando libertar a nossa compreensão do organismo e dos seus órgãos de qualquer concepção instrumental. No entanto, a própria palavra órgão, derivada do grego organon   ("instrumento de trabalho", ou Werkzeug  , como Heidegger a traduz), e relacionada com ergon   ("trabalho", em alemão: Werk), sugere ela própria que uma concepção instrumental dos seres vivos tem estado em jogo desde os gregos (GA29-30  :312). Uma interpretação "instrumental" pode ser definida como aquela que vê a função dos órgãos em termos de um fim, objetivo ou telos   extrínseco e, por extensão, considera a relação entre as realizações do organismo (por exemplo, ver) e os seus órgãos (ter olhos) como estando "organizada" em termos de causa e efeito ou de relações meio-fim (vemos porque temos olhos; os olhos são um meio para ver).


But what does it mean to “have” eyes? And is seeing simply a result of having eyes? In the 1929-30 course, Heidegger begins his elucidation of the essence of the organism by trying to extricate our understanding of the organism and its organs from any instrumental conception. Yet the very word organ, stemming from the Greek organon (“working instrument,” or Werkzeug, as Heidegger translates it), and related to ergon (“work,” in German: Werk), itself suggests that an instrumental conception of living beings has been in play since the Greeks (GA29-30:312). An “instrumental” interpretation   may be defined as one that views the function of the organs in terms of an extrinsic end, purpose, or telos, and by extension regards the relation between the accomplishments of the organism (for example, seeing) and its organs (having eyes) as being “organized” in terms of cause and effect or means-end relations (we see because we have eyes; the eyes are a means to seeing).

Yet to what extent is an organ not   an instrument? Both the organ and the instrument accomplish something; both are characterized by an end or purpose, by being “for something” or “in order to do something.” A pen is for writing; the eye is for seeing. Yet may we conclude from this that both are pieces of equipment or instruments? Is seeing produced by the eye?, Heidegger asks. Does the eye have a telos, an end or purpose, in the same way that an implement does? Not at all. Seeing is not produced by the eye as the end of the activity of seeing in the manner that the use of a pen produces a piece of writing. For in the case of writing, the use of an instrument produces an end product that is other than the productive activity itself. The terms of Heidegger’s analysis here are clearly Aristotelian, appealing to Aristotle  ’s distinction between praxis   and poiesis  . Writing is a form of poiesis, a techne   where the end product lies beyond (para) the activity of producing. In seeing, by contrast, there is, according to Aristotle, no remainder outside of or beyond the activity itself at the moment it is accomplished. Thus, vision, both perceptual and speculative (horasis  , theoria  ), is a paradigm for praxis in the highest, ontological sense. For here the end or telos of the process is included in the activity itself: at the same time we both see and have seen. And life (zen), the living of living beings, is also a praxis in precisely this sense of being an end in itself: at the same time (in the same moment), notes Aristotle in the Metaphysics, we are at once living and have lived (1048 b18ff.).

This distinction between the organ and the instrument in terms of the ontological status of their activity in each case is therefore indicative of a fundamental distinction that must be made with regard to the manner of Being belonging to these beings themselves. For whereas an instrument or piece of equipment is an independent entity, something independently present at hand   or ready to hand and available for different people to use, the organ such as the eye is in each case incorporated into a unique and singular living being. As Heidegger elucidates: [7] The pen is an independent entity, something ready to hand for several different people. By contrast, the eye, the organ, is, for those who need and use it, never present in this way. Rather every living being can in each case see only with its eyes. These eyes, and all the organs, are not independently present at hand like an item of use, a piece of equipment, but are incorporated into that entity which makes use of them. (GA29-30:320-21)

Thus, Heidegger proceeds to distinguish the organ, as having a capacity (Fähigkeit) for something, from the instrument or piece of equipment as having a readiness (Fertigkeit) for something. Readiness, he emphasizes, is here meant in a double sense: The piece of equipment is ready both as completed or finished, and in the sense of being ready or usable for something. Heidegger is here pointing to an ambiguity in the meaning of “end.” For “end” can mean either completion or purpose. (This corresponds to the ambiguity of the Greek meaning of telos.) Both the organ and the piece of equipment can serve some further end, and their essence is determined by this end in each instance. As we have just indicated, the nature of the end or “purpose” is fundamentally different in each case. Nonetheless, both the organ and the instrument might be said to serve some end, to be “ready for” something in the most general sense. But the instrument lies ready for doing something in lying independently before us; moreover, it is itself, qua instrument, a product of a prior techne, whereas the living organ of the body is neither a product of human techne, nor is it an independent, self-subsistent thing.5 It is therefore highly questionable whether we may consider the organ as something independent, since the eye taken by itself does not have the capacity to see, just as a piece of equipment taken by itself is not capable of anything at all, but requires the human hand to actualize its potentiality. The question to be raised is:

Can the animal see because it has eyes, or does it have eyes because it can see? Why does the animal have eyes? Why can it have such things? Only because it can see. Possessing eyes and being able to see are not the same thing. (GA29-30:319)

It is being able to see, the potentiality for seeing, Heidegger points out, that first makes the possession of eyes possible and necessary. “An eye taken by itself is no eye at all” (GA29-30:323). The eye is not an [8] instrument that exists on its own, only to be subsequently incorporated into an organism. Rather, organs, and their essence as organs, that is, as having capacities, always belong to the organism and develop out of the organism. We must therefore say, not that organs have capacities, but that capacity belongs to and proceeds from the respective organism as a whole. The presence of a particular capacity as such thus precedes the organ corresponding to it: the organ develops out of the capacity. Heidegger illustrates this by reference to protoplasmic amobae and infusoria, whose organs continually form themselves as and when required, and then disappear. Yet may one not conclude, from the fact that specific organs develop out of the organism, that the organism itself produces its own organs, indeed produces, reproduces, and renews itself within certain limits? Such a conclusion seems difficult to deny; moreover, it allows us to perceive a major difference between an organism and a machine. A machine has to be constructed by human beings, and also regulated by them, whereas an organism is able to regulate itself.

Ver online : William McNeill

[MCNEILL, William. The Time of Life. Heidegger and Ethos. New York: State University of New York Press, 2006]