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by Hubert L. Dreyfus
The est Training is multi-faceted and intense. After one encounter
I by no means feel that I have grasped all the implications and inter-
connections. In any case I will not go into the training affected
my life, since the report I agreed to produce was not to be a recounting
of miracles but rather the assessment of a certain way of accounting
for them . . Nor am I professionally trained to evaluate the psycho-
therapeutic, social, political, organizational, etc., aspects of the
training. As a professional philosopher I shall stick to a critical
assessment of the epistemological,metaphysical, and theological con-
ceptualization of a group process ·v.Thich clearly works and ,.;-hieh, unlike
most transformational techniques, seeks to give a detailed account of
how it to those on whom it works.
I will divide my comments into three parts:
Part I - Assessment of the "est the Hetaph\-sics.
In the course of the training it became progressively clear to
me that the experience underlying the training and the conceptualization
of this experience have deep affinities with the phenor.ena presented
and analyzed in Martin Heidegger's Beine: and Time. I therefore
compare wy understanding of the est training to 1::y understanding of
the account presented by Heidegger and suggest ways that
analysis oight be used to render the basic est insight more consistent
. and compell ing .
Part II-An External Assessment. In this section, I will criticize,
from the perspective of later Heidegger and Soren Kierkegaard, what I take
to be the truth set forth in Being and Time and in the training, as well
as the quality of life which this truth makes possible.
Finally, in two appendices, I will discuss first, philosophical
moves less central to the truth of the tra ining which I personally feel
require further refinement, and, second, the general mode of philosophical
argument characteristic of the training which no doubt serves an im-
portant function but which might well offend philosophers.
Part I - Internal Assessment: Ho," to talk about a truth that worKs.
It is directly manifest in the training that est embodies a
powerful and coherent truth which transforms the quality of the lives
of those who experience it. Moreover, this truth contains radically
new insights into the nature of human beings and the which
unkno ... 'n both to Greek philosophy and to the mystical tradition from ,<,'hieh
it gre>v. Since, however, the mystical/philosophical tradition has given
us most of our concepts, it is almost to conceptualize
this experience putting it in traditional teTwS, thus diluting
and distorting the experience.
The German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, generall y considered the
most profound and original philosopher of the 20th ce::tury, had a
similar experience to the one elicited by est and all his
life to find an adequate language to express it falling, as he
put it into the ruts of metaphysics. His first anc famous
to articulate this experience is the forrr.idable anc unfinished
philosophical classic, Being and Time (1927). Since his account
parallels and illuminates the est approach I viII sketch it here.
Heidegger begins by introducing a nev method. He is not interested
in beliefs, arguments, and conceptual Rather he proposes a
procedure which he calls hermeneutic, in
which one gets behind the concepts and everyday interpretations of
experience to a direct manifestiation of Being itself. Both Heidegger
and Erhard are wary of the attempt to convert the truth of experience
into a system of beliefs. Erhard puts. aphoristically ("If you
e>..-perience it, it's the truth. The same thing believed is a lie." )
Heidegger in more German ic philosphical prose.
l\T!lenever a phenomenological concept is dra.m from
primordial sources, there is a possibility that it
may degenerate if communicated in the form of an
assertion. It gets understood in an empty way and
is thus passed on, lOSing its indigenous character,
and becoming a free-floating thesis. (pp. 60, 61.)
Heidegger proposes to show in the course of his
investigation that each of us already has what he calls a
preontological understanding of Being, but that this understanding
is covered up.
'Behind' the phenomena of phenomenology there is
essentially nothing else; on the other hand, is to
become a phenonenon can be hidden. And just because
the phenomena are proximally and for the most part not
given, there is need for phenomenology. Covereci-up-ness
is the counter-concept to 'phenomenon' ...
fA] phenomenon can be buried over. This means it has
at some time been discovered but has deteriora:ed to
the point of getting covered up again ... This covering-
up as a 'disguising' is both the most frequent and the
most dangerous, for here the possibilities of deceiving
and misleading are especially stubborn. (p. 60)
Thus in order to make the truth directly manifest, phenomenology
must break through rationalizations, traditional belief structures
and the resistance which supports them until human beings
(which Heidegger calls "Dasein") can directly confront the phenomena.
Dasein's kind of Being thus demands that any ontological
interpretation which sets itself the goal of evhibiting
the phenomena in their primordiality, should capture
the Being of this entity, in spite of this entity's
O\¥n tendency to cover things up. Existential analysis,
therefore, constantly has the character of doing violence,
whether to the claims of the everyday interpretation,
or to its complacency and its tranquilized obviousness.
Thus if one can face, first, what est calls nN kn(l, .. -inf:, one can
natural knowing or certainty. often seerrs to the trainee defending
his belief system to be the trainer's dogmatic and authoritarian
insistence that he (the trainer) knows the truth, can be understood
phenomenologically as the certainty which goes with directly experiencing
the truth at each moment.
As in the est Heidegger only
little by little in the course of analysis. There is a first
uncoverins in Division I of Being and Time and then, in Division II,
the whole process has to be repeated for a deeper puts
the revelations of Division I in a totally ne ... ' perspective.
In Division I Heidegger is concerned with our
everyday condition. Heide.gger fiTst examines y.'hat he calls the
"clearing" opened up by our everyday social practicEs, in ""hich 1,.1E:
encounter objects and people as the kirids of objE:cts and people are
brought up to expect and cope with. This account is to the
est account of the social world as the product of or
consensus and of the physical world as the product of absolute
agreement. fI did not receive the board material on this subject,
so my terminology may be inaccurate.] Heidegger and Erhard agree
that physical reality does not rest on individual agreement
the agreement has already been given -- but it is not
independent of historical human practices which shape our judgments,
interests, and discriminations. Heidegger calls this already-given
interpretation human facticity. Since we are all already trained
into this way of understanding ourselves and other entities by the
time we begin to think, and since it is the element in
perceive and move (like for the fish), HeideggeT says are
throl.m into it and calls it our thro\.mness. Est says, "You have
no choice in the matter."
Without this background we could not perceive or cope
things at all. Thus Heidegger speaks of our relation to it as one
of indebtedness and also responsibility. (The double meaning
of the German\ooOrd Schuld.) In est terms: " ... [YJou can you
caused it any time you want to."
(In contra!t to Erhard, however, Heidegger seeks to that this
social space, which he calls the world, is prior to various such
as the world of business, the of the theater, all particular
"private'" '-1orlds. Re also dis'tinguisi:es thh space fr=-r:; Fhys:':al
. space in which objects are located,and fro!: the l.'hich is the
totali ty of obj ec ts. All objects, including the ,,:hole universe, ca"
onlY be encountered the world. We at the of
these differences in the next section.)
Turning to the beings practices embody of various
kinds of being and S0 open up this space, shcn·:s the t eycrycay hUr:2!1
beings do not realize they are a clearing and thus do not own their own
lives but are lived by the Anyone (Das Man) -- Heidegger's name for social
and cultural norms i. e., for what "one does".
Dasein, as an Anyone-self, gets by the common sense
ambiguity of that publicness in which nobody resolves upon anything
but which has always made its decision. (p. 345)
Each person is so totally deterr..ined by these norms.lHeidegger says) that
the who of everyday Dasein is the Anyone-self. Such a self is unowned or
inauthentic (Uneigentlich). In language identical with Erhard'sjHeidegger
says that such a self does not assume responsibility for its world and so has
no freedom, spontaneity and choice -and hence no joy. Everyday Dasein simply
identifies with its social role and acts out the social patterns which have
With Dasein's lostness in the "Anyone", the factical
which is closest to it (the tasks,
rules, and standards, the urgency and extent, of concernful
and solicitous Being-in-the-world) has already been
decided upon. The "Anyone" has always kept Dasein from
taking hold of thesp of Being. The "Anyone"
even hides the manner in which it has tacitly relieved Dasein
of the burden of choosing these possibilities.
It remains indefinite who has 'really' done the choosing.
So Dasein make no choices, gets carried along by the nobody,
and thus ensr.ares itself in inauthenticity. (p. 312)
In Division II, it turns out that beings persist in this lifeless
state because they are fleeing a dim premonition of an:dety. Anxiety is
the experience of the fact that the whole social oreer and all of science
is an arbitrary and unground-e<l etmSen5tlS. "'frO -5-€lf an<i
' no. brute facts. Ko way to make sense of and be at ho!:.: in the world.
lolhen in falling we flee into the "at-home" of publicness, we flee in
the face of the "not-at-home"; that is, .. e flee in the face of the
uncanniness which in Dasein -- in" Dasein as thrown Being-in-the-world,
\o,Thich ha.s been delivered over to itself in its B.::r.g. This uncan:1ir:ess
pursues Dasein constantly, and is a threat to its everyday lostness in
the "Anyone", though not This threat can go together
factic2lly complete assurance and self-sufficiency in one's "
everyday cor.c ern. (p. 234)
The experience of anxiety reveals that the Anyone is meaning-
less and that there is no deep truth,("Enlightenment doesn't mean anything",
Erhard says.) Dasein 1s not the Anyone-self but it has no other
content. It is a pure nothing over against. a world.
Anxiety discloses an insignificance of the world;
and this insignificance reveals the nullity of that
which one can concern oneself. (p. 393)
To deny this truth which is deeply disturbing, Dasein flees into the
public and hides in Heidegger calls idle talk, curiosity,
and ambiguity. This 1s the condition of everyday human beings.
But there is a way to overcome this condition by recognizing it.
If anxiety is "held onto" rather than denied, then Dasein o\ms up
to and assumes responsibility for itself and so beco:"Jes authentic.
In est a person then experiences his experience.
This does not mean that one gets a content for the self -- the
everyday self just is the pattern of the Anyone, and there is no
other content, but one sees that the true Self is not this content.
Heidegger calls this experience of holding onto anxiety and thus
. freeing one's self from the Anyone self while still the
person, 'resoluteness' (entschlossenheit) which means both decisiveness
"Resoluteness t: signifies let ting oneself be su::-=:med
out of one's lostness in the "Anyone". The irresolute-
ness of the "Anyone" remains dOT:linant nOt'\,'fthstanding,
but it cannot impugn resolute existence. . .. Even
resolutions renain dependent upon the "Anyone" and
its world. The understanding of this is one of the
things that • discloses, inaswuch as
resoluteness is what first gives authentic trans?arcncy
to Dasein. (p. 346)
Heidegger never explains why Dasein's lack of neaning and content
as revealed in anxiety should be disturbing to it, s= Heidegger's
account of the motivation for covering up or fleeing rerr2ins unsatisfactory.
Erhard is more consistent on this point, suggesting that ... ·hat .. e flee is
ultimately fear and pain, and that our defenses atter:-.?t to insure not
the meaningfulness of our lives but the survival of the mind. Erhard
has a problem similar to Heidegger's, however, no
account of why the being identifies its survival with that of the mind
in the first place.
From these two different accounts of ultimate motivation
different vie\ol's of the stability of transformation or authenticity
follow. Both Erhard and Heidegger agree that I1Get it/lose it is what
life is all about." For Heidegger, since authenticity reveals that there
is no deep meaning of life, Dasein's demand for a stable, grounded
meaning in its life leads human beings to fall back constantly into
inau thenticity. For Erhard, on the other hand, it seem to
that once one had seen that the being is not the mind and that defenses
always work in assuring survival but always fail by costing aliveness,
one observes the defenses and they progressively disappear. Heidegger
and Erhard thus have complimentary problems. can eXFlain why .
we do not remain au thentic, but only by positing a for rneaning
for which he has no further account. Erhard posits no need, but on
his vie\..' it re:i:ains mysterious .. hy once out of e\'erycay self deception,
hu:nan beings v.,ho have "got it" fall back into everyday assholeism.
In any case, both Heidegger and Erhard agree 0:1 the i::?ortant point
that acceptance of its nothingness does not rer:::we thE: Self the \.,:orld
and others but enables it to participate fully for thE: first
Resoluteness, as authentic Being-one's-Self, does not
detach Dasein from its wrld, no. does it isolate: it so that it
beco=es a free-floating "1". And hen .. ' should it, resoluteness
as authentic disclosedness, js authentically nothing else than
. Being-in-the world? brings the
Self right into its current concernful is
ready-to-hand, and pushes it Eeing Others.
Only by authentically Being-Their-Selves in resoluteness
can people authentically be with one another ••• (p. 344)
The way one participates is of course not "helping,1\ which Heidegger
calls "leaping in for" another, but rather by letting each person ex-
perience his own anxiety, which Heidegger calls "leaping in ahead of
other and turning him back to face his o"n nothingness. Heidegger sums up:
The phenomenon of resoluteness has brought us before the
primordial truth of existence. As resolute, Dasein is revealed
to itself in its current factical potentiality-for-Being, and in
such a way that Dasein itself is this revealing and Being-
revealed •••• The primordial truth of existence demands an
equiprimordial Being-certain, in which one maintains oneself in what
resoluteness discloses. It gives itself the current factical
situation, and brings itself into the situation. The situation
cannot be calculted in It merely gets disclosed in a
free resolving vhich has not been determined beforehand but is
open to the possibility of such determination.
What, then does the certainty l.,hich belongs to such resoluteness
signify? Such certainty must maintain itself in what is disclosed
by the resolution. But his means that it simply cannot beco!:e
rigid as regards the situation, but must understand that the
resolution, in accordance with its own meaning as a disclosure,
must be held open 'tid free for the current factical possibility.
The new flexibility gained by holding onto anxiety does not, ho .... ·ever,
make Dasein vacillate OI renege on its cO!!!Illitments.
< •• It is in
resoluteness that one first chooses the choice makes one free ftir
the struggle of loyalty." (po 437) The result is enhanced experience.
Along ,dth the sober anxiety t.."hich brings us fact: to face t..,·ith our
individualized potentiality-for-Being, there goes an
joy in this possibility. (p. 358)
With this joyful experience there also goes a broadening
of one's ontological horizon, Instead of identifying with
the social practices which are the clearing in which all entities
are the authentic Dasein realizes in an of insight
(Augenblid:) tha: he is an eI:i.pty clearing, an ac:i';12; r.oti1ing I.·:;ich gets
its content from these practices but is not any of
then, At this early of his thinking, (for too conplicated
to go into here), Heidegger calls this ultimate horizon for under-
standing Being, which each of us is, the ecstatical temporal unity.
It is neither public nor private, but is the "source" of both the
. social world and personal experience. Heidegger describes it (rather
obscurely) as lithe primordial 'outside of itself' in and for itself",
(p. 377) and, in the part of Being and Tilne never published, he v:as
prepared to call it God.
The similarities between Heidegger's hermeneutic phenomenology
and what one learns in the est Training is obvious and significant.
Both Heidegger and Erhard experience and succeed in conceptualizing
the truth that there is no ground or meaning of reality and no
deep self "'hich has a content that needs to be e):pressed or realized.
They thus avoid metaphysics and self-realization in
all its whether it be the Freudian myth of getting in touch
't.Tith the deep secret meaning hidden in our sexuality, or the myth
of growth in the human potential movement which we can fulfill
ourselves by discovering our true needs and using our neglected
capacities to satisfy them. If the true Self has no then
it cannot be expressed, realized, or grow. !Est ter=inology is
almost, but not quite, pure and consistent on this point. Occasionally
the trainer talks of realizing one's potential.] getting
in touch with the deep self cannet be a change, a etc.
The training makes clear over and over again that is
not gro· ... th. Heidegger also insists fron: the
. inauthentic to the authentic is a "prin:Jrdial mo:::ification" \,'hich
leaves the content of one's life unchanged while totally transforming
one's rela tion .to thatconter.t.
.•. authentic disclosedness modifies with equal primordiality
both the way in which the 'world' is discovered ...•
and the way in
which the Dasein-with of Others is disclosed. The 'world'
which is ready-to-hand does not become another one 'in
its content', nor does the circle of Others get exchanged
for a new one; but both one's Being towards the ready-
to-hand understandingly and concernfully, and one's
solicitous Being with Others, are now given a definite
character in terms of their ownmost potentiality-for-
Besides these striking similarities, there are, however, three
differences in conceptualization bet;.1een Heidegger and est which
alE! !Significant and instructive. Each in its Ow"1i way suggests
that although Erhard has avoided the trap of traditional Greek
philosophy by insisting on the nothingness of the true Self, this
very insistence has brought him dangerously close to the distorting ideas of
a traditional kind of subjectivism (found, for in Edmund Husserl's
phenomenology) which posits the ultimate importance of a private inner reality.
1. Truth is never total.
The immediate certainty of the truth manifest in experience
. must not be understood as a direct and uninterpreted
merging with the way things are. Heidegger argues, against Husser1, that
method makes truth directly manifest, but it does not do
away with concealedness ("All revealing is also cC7:cealing."),
nor with interpretation (liThe meaning of phenoUlenolog:'cal description
as a method lies in interpretation." p. 61). So Heidegger concludes:
The idea of .;.nd explicating phe:;,cT:::na in
a way which is 'original' and 'intuitive' is directly
opposed to the naivete of a and
'beholding. '( p. 61)
2. The world is prior to lTT\' world.
Heidegger's basic claim in 9PPosition to all of idealism --
especiallY Husserl's phenomenology which est sometimes
resembles, is that the world is prior to my world. We are actively
involved in shared situations, working with shared tools and directly
confronting other people in cooperative work and play. It is only
.when we withdra,-' and reflect that we "discover" our O'-"Tl priyate
experience, and it is only when we reflect on this reflective experience
in a special detached way that we get the distorted yiew that my world
is what is real and the shared world is an "intersubjective production"
(Husserl) or an "illusion" (est board diagram of the three universes).
The fact that we all share one world is so natural and yet so hidden
by the philosophical tradition that Heidegger has to work
through the tradition in Being and Time in order to get the reader
to see that Dasein is a public space of practices that embody a shared
understanding of what it means to be. Division I of Being and Time,
among other things, is a "concrete demonstration" that Dasein is
In the est training there is a constant tension on this
as if the truth w:re trying to get out around the conceptualization.
After much talk about going inside world, -space, mind, the
trainer once said: "All that stuff out there needs cleaning U?"
Or, at another point: "Stay with your experience. Stay out there,
not in your head." That is the right way to talk. I am back there
in the past. Ol.lt there in the present, anG ahead of ffiyself in tl1e future,
not inside my head. Even moods are not inside. As Heidegger points out:
A mood is not an inner condition then Teaches in an
enigmatic way and puts its mark on things and persons. It cor:es neither
from 'outside' nor 'inside' but arises out of Being-in-the-world". (p. 176)
All that is inside are the aches and pains in my physical body. So
in the training processes, subjectivism and meditation not withstanding,
when we are not practicing awareness we should be told to go out
into our space.
Of course, this is not to deny that I have opinions and desires
which are mine and that you have yours and that I should try to under-
stand yours and to let them be, it is only to emphasize that all
this communication takes place on a shared background of public language
and practices which has created and sustains both of us and our
'Communication' in which one makes assertions --
giving infonnation, for instance -- is a special case
of that communication is grasped in principle
existentially. In this more general kind of
cation, the articulation of Being with one another
understandingly is constituted. Communication is never
anything like a conveying of experiences, such as
opinions or wishes, from the interior of one subject
into the interior of another. (p. 205)
3. The cleaming is not the totality of objects.
Heidegger is very careful to distinguish the "orId, which is the
space in which we encounter other entities, frorr. the universe which is
the totality of '-'hat is. For the same reason, in Division II he
equates the ultimate empty temporal openness '-'ith Being, but never
with the totality of beings. Thus Heidegger agrees with the
equation of Being and Nothin$, but he would object to the equatior. of
Nothing and Everything.
If one does equate Nothing and Everything a!lc e:-:?eriences the
fact that we are Nothing, it seens to folIo".' that ... .-e Cim experience
that we are everything. (The same goes for the equation of Nowhere
and Ever)"to.'here.) This leads to the process in ,,,e expand our
awareness to encompass the whole universe. This is both a linguistic
confusion and an experiential lie. I can think about or conceive
the furthest galaxy; I cannot perceive it. To say I am aware of it or
conscious of it confuses conception and perception. If I were aware
of it in anything but an intellectual sense, I " .. ould not have to
say, as the trainer did say, that there might be life on one of the
other solar systems, I could look and see if there was.
A holistic account such as that
cannot explain how we are some particular
point of view at some particular place and time. This difficulty
arises for any vie;.' that claims that w.e are ultimately all one thing:
God, an empty space, or the empty ecstatic temporal horizon.
Heidegger's answer, I think, is that we are jndividuated by the facticity
for which we assume responsibility. For
Heidegger, inauthentic Dasein is lived by the Anyone and so has no
content of its m.m; on the other hand, authentic Dasein becomes an individual by
taking responsibility for some particular content.
Est, however, cannot individuate "the being" in this \,'ay, since, if Nothing
equals Everything, everyone is responsible for everything.
The above ontological inadequacy of the est conceptualization of
Being occurs because the training blurs what Heidegger calls the
ontological difference the difference between Being and beings.
!he same proDleID comes up in even more exaggerated on tbe entic
or empirical level in the est account of mind. If the is a multi-
sensorial total record of everything in the universe, hm,' does one record
. differ from another so that they can be linearly One might
think that one record has me as a baby, another me as a child, another me
as an adult, etc. j but every record has me as all three. Since the records
are all total, they are all identical and there is no way to order
them. Such a view cannot make sense of "successive moments of now."
(Husserl in his Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness solved
this problem in terms of the relative clarity and distinctness of
the moments we call most recent but this way out is not open to the
view presented here, since all records are equally and totally clear.)
Of course, the same problem comes up when one to differenciate
a plurality of points of Since each record contains all points
of view, all perceptual perspective, all pains, etc., there is no way
to explain what makes one of the points of view mine, or why one
record stack comes down on me, when I see a bicycle,for rather
than on you,since the bike trauma is in your stack too. In what sense
is my stack mine and your stack yours?
There are hints in the trai-ning that the vie\.' that everyone
is everything also leads to a misleading account of skills.
In, discussiong the cabinet of abilities the trainer gave the impression
that one could be perfect at any skill one pleased if one just stopped
resisting and covering up and got in touch with the ability. It \,'ou1d,
indeed, folIo\.' that if my being is everythbg, it is also all skills.
But this to the necessity of acquring a skill
through years of practice. I have argu:d else· .. ·here
(see enclosed paper, liThe Psychic Boom") tha t skills t \ooTell be
explained in terms of holograms, but that these are the result
of the specific experiences of the specific individual practices
the particular skill. One eventually acquires en':)u£:-, 0 f an
activity to be able to perform perfectly if one could only let oneself
go and just experience the activity rather than think about it, but
this perfection is only accessible to those who have put in the
necessary effort to acquire the necessary backgrounq of experience.
Another implausible conclusion that follows from the equation of
Nothing and Everything, is that each person is responsible for Everything.
Granted we all are identical with the clearing or God and so are all
ne, it does not follow that we are responsible for every specific
thing and person in the clearing. To be the clearing in which all
specific events occurr, and so in some ontological sense their source,
is not the same as being the ontic cause of each specific event. It is,
therefore, a self decption to assume responsibility for all events, and
as we have already seen, such total responsibility preclude
All these problems arise from forgetting the ontological difference
and identifying the clearing with everything in the clearing. This
mistake gains plausibility from a pseudo-scientific theory of mental
It is an interesting hypothesis our might consist of
and hologram, as scientists like Karl Pribran and David
rightly point out, has the whole of what is on it distributed all over
it. It does not follow, that each hologra:r. contains a record of
the whole universe. It simply contains all over it a re:ord of one limited
local perspective. Even if one accepts David of
micro-physics that the universe is an "ir::plicate order" in ",-hich everything
is involved everything else, this still would not support the view
of the mind presented in the training., Or.l) if the brain, which is part
of the physical order, processed informa tion on the I!'.icrophysical level,
for which I know of no evidence, would it brain hologram5
are total records of everying in the universe.
Unless the matphysical
contradictions which holism entails can be the view is
not only implausible in suggesting we are aware of other galaxies,
past lives. etc; it is totally incoherent.
II. External Assessment: The power and poverty of nihilism.
After writing Being and Time. Heidegger experienced a transforma-
tion (Kehre) in his life and thought. In looking back at Being and
Time he felt that he had been right in holding that human beings are
ul timately a clearing is more flexible and open than that provided
by the stereotypical meanings and differeritiations of the
public world of the Anyone. later Heidegger felt equating
this broader horizon with an empty temporal disclosure space could
not give an adequate account of the meaning and differentiation that
':remains after one has transformed one's life out of the public ",'orld
into an openness to Being. In short, ,:Beidegger came to regard the
equation of Being and Nothing as a nihilistic remnant which remained
in his thinking because he had not completely overcor.:e his o,,-'n meta-
This is not the place to go into Heidegger later writings. All
I can do is note that he admired poets like Nietzsche and Rilke who
thought they could free man from technology and mechanisre by opening
a pure enpty space. but that he felt this approach ane tr,e approacr. or
Being and Time were still part of the problem -- the of nihilis:7l.
In response to this problem he saw he had to give up herDcneutic phenone-
nology and experience Being historically. He hopec thereby to discover
and preserved the serious meaning left in our practices from other epochs
in our past such as 5th century Athens.
Heidegger describes how cultural paradigms such as the Greek temple
and the medieval cathedral give life meaning and purpose by focusing
the meaning of being in the practices, holding it up for the people
to see and experience, and making it the center of genuine conflicts
It is the temple-work that first fits together and at the
same time gathers around itself the of those paths and re-
lations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory
and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the shape of destiny
for human being. The all-governing expanse of this open re-
lational contex.t is the wrld of this historical people.
(,Or igin of the Work of Art" p. 42)
In this way great works of art preserve and give content to the clearing.
"A work, by being a wrk, makes space for that spaciousnessc 'To make
space for' means here especially to liberate the free space of the open
region and to establish it in its structure.
The work hold., open
the Open of the wrld." C'Origin of the Work bf Art," po 45)
As I understand est, it is at the stage of Division II of Being
and Time. It allows people to break out of the Anyone and the mechanism
of their mind by realizing the power of pure nothingness in them. They
realize they are nothing and so not the mechanism. They can then choose
the mechanism (return to the Anyone) where "choose" means notice and
accept responsibility They can thus become free
spontaneous·, alive, and joyfuL But this e.>:perience does not help
them get back in touch witn tne1r TootS. Its is
the oposite. Their projects become global projects all Can agree on
the world work). They do not involve to specific
content and so do not lead to conflicts of Each person
has a point of view but he is not identified with it. I observe
my point of view. You get mine and I get yours. Then we all on
and thereby risks a conflict of interpretations, since in the est
conceptualization and experience that could only returning to
ego. Nothing makes any ultimate difference and the only experience
matters is the one that gets one in touch with nothingness. Such openness
may well give one health, happiness, love and self-expression never
dreamt of in everyday conformity or fanaticism, . but it does not give
one's life meaning. Heidegger himself, although he defines Dasein as the
being whose being is an issue for it, never works out an adequate account
of how an individual life can be meaningful. For a powerful
zation of the experience of meaningfulness with its paradox, risk, dread,
and bliss, one has to turn to the writings of Kierkegaard.
The est training, as Erhard well knows, is much more than a means
for psychological or social change. It deals with improving the quality of
life the most important philosophical and religious question of any
age, and especially important in our present technclogical nihilistic wcrld.
It seems to me that Heidegger has delt more successfully than est with this
challenge on a conceptual level, and that he is more aware of the limitations
of his view. Est's unique importance, however, is not in its theory but in
its practice. The training, unlike reading Being and Time, actually
gives a person a glimpse of the .lJthenticity that Heidegger and Erhard have
This is not to say that the Heidegger/Erhard experience of the power
of nothingness is what is most needed in our nihilistic time. But it is
a step forward out of the indifference of evervda\,ness, and makes it
possible to discuss, and perhaps even to experience, a way of life which
has aliveness as well as content and meaning.
In order to focus on the deep philosophical agreement
unites Heidegger and Erhard, and to see how each can be used
to complete the other, I have put aside in the body of my report,
my more personal philosophical repose to SOme of the less central
ideas presented in the training. I will present my remaining
questions and disagreements in the two appendices.
1. "Hell is Other People."
During the first weekend an explanation was of the basic
motivation behind the loneliness, sadness, fear, greIf, anger, hatred,
boredom :, shame, etc. that emerged in the· truth process. I was surprised,
given est's suspicion of causal accounts in psychology, that the trainer
was going to present a position or explanation, and even more surprised
at the end of the weekend when the ultimate motivation turned out to be
fear of others. This claim seens dubious not only in the light of the
methodological contradiction, but also in respect to it specifically
There seems to be no way that one could assert the general claim that
"All people play roles and suffer because they are I!lotivated by fear of
other people." as an experiential truth. One could legitimately claim to
that this analysis has been as true and liberating by
300, 000 es t graduates. But not that it was true fer e\' eryone, as the
trainer, David asserted in conversation.
·As a substantive philosophical proposal the theory see=s over-simple.
It has a venerable history having .been held by Thonas Ho:-:,es ("Every man
fears violent death at the hancs of his fello .. ·s ") ar.d. i:1 a more subtle
form by 5artre, who contends that each consciousness is afraid of being
turned into an object by the other's gaze. This latter to be the est
pos i tion since the fear theory it!II!lediately £ol1o"'s the "ordeal" in which one
must submit to the gaze of the others and just be. 5artre's solution is also
echoed in the advice given at the very end of the first Sartre says
that must realize we can prevent others turnins us into objects by turning
notion as imprecise as ever. One cannot even precisely define "chair".
In any case definitions are never as helpful or precise as what
Wittgenstein called a paradigm case or perspicuous example. One of
.the impressive ways est works, in spite of its seeming dependence on
definitions, is to elicit A examples from the participations.
(The subtlety of language, even of grammar, vas revealed in
an episode in which the trainer was trying to free a, trainee by
getting him to substitute "and" for ''because'' in the claim:
"I am impotent because I lack confidence." The trainee dutifully
changed his claim to "1 am ilnpotent and 1 lack the (sic) confidence."
The trainer never understood why this change did not produce the
Sophistry as a transformational technique.
For a philosophy professor one of the most impressiYe features ·
of the est Training is that the training often an ideal
philosophy class. The participants are asked to provide definitions
which are then shown to be incomplete so that step by step bewilderment
and then deeper understanding emerges. A further character-
istic connected with this first one is the trainer's constant readiness
to explain, clarify, elaborate, and argue for the conceptualization
being presented. There to be a genuine CCii"I!"..l.t!:",ent to reaching
rational agreement. On the other hand, est a justified
suspicion of arguments and rationalization, thus there is a kind of
tension in the Socratic pretense. Philosphical problems are posed
and accounts are elaborated anc defended, but there to be no
c·ommitment to using valid arguments in .the process.
I will give a fe'·' exa:;:pl.es, although this lis t is by no r.:eans ex-
1. The exchange on not kno'-'ing ho',' to "alk is pU!"c sophistry.
The dictionary defines knowing ho'" as having the ability to de: something.
It does not require that to know ho,,' to do s017.ething on€: !:ust be
able to tell how. If the trainer has recourse to the dictiona!"y in
other cases then why not here?
"Knowing - that" does require being able to tell. If O'!1e knO\·7s
something like the way to the bank, one reust be ex?lain it.
Perhaps the example could be reconstructed usi:1g a case of ''knot.:'ing that"
which the participant is unable to explain or rather than a
case of "knowing ho\o,'." Concentrating on knowing that, Socrates had
no trouble showing that the most brilliant Athenians did not know
. at all.
2. The chart sho\Oing that the (vco kinds of reality are physical
and experiential leaves out the realm of ideal entities such as
numbers. It does not suffice to say that all instances of the
two, for example, are printed tokens. The debate between nominalism ·
and realism, as it was called in the Ages, is much more subtle
than that. Not that I think est trainers should enter into such
a debate. I would only hope there some more intellectually honest
way to avoid it.
3. Tne arguments against peoplE who claim not to have 'got it'
that they are machines have a of desperation. To tell someone
to decide to stand up and then to point out to him that he is still
sitting and to conclude from this that, like a machine he do
what he decides to do, is pathetic. He presuwably has decided to
stand up when told to do so and he is doing exactly \o,'ha t he has decidec
4. A more complicated case is the claim that the trainer is
standing in front of the room because he is seen, not seen because
he is standing in front of the rC=-::4 -5Udl -&£ .f;:-5:-.op
Berkeley haVE been confused by that one. Still, if one is doing
phenomenology one must as Heidegger does in Tne Basic
Problems of that one objects as of
one's seeing them, and as seen at the same tioe by others. To deny
this is to make the public \Oorld an ion \ ... hich is to the
deeper truth ex?erienced both by Heidegger and by est.