There, I said it.
Martin Heidegger's work was a large part of the foundation for our Ph.D. program in psychology at Duquesne University in the early 1970s. We were the most progressive thinking psychology program in America at that time.
Our work was based on a long and fruitful intellectual history going back to the pre-Socratic Greeks. I was introduced to this approach to the discipline, which I eventually came to know as existential-phenomenological psychology, by my mentor at the University of Dayton, Dr. Antos Rancurello. Antos was a genius. He had two Ph.D.s, one in philosophy from a university in Italy whose name I, ashamedly, do not know for certain (Bologna?), and one in psychology from Loyola University in Chicago. Antos carried within him an appreciation for the human spirit that was so abiding, so embracing, that nothing, nothing that any human being had ever done, or could do, was foreign to him, and, by extension, all of us. He recognized the commonality of human experience for what it was (is): a broad continuum on which we all abide. This is what Alfred Adler eventually came to call "social interest."
At Duquesne, we psychology students were required to take graduate courses in the philosophy department, the same courses that their Ph.D. students were taking; major league shit. So, in my first year, when I took a course in Heidegger's Being and Time taught by Father Andre Scheuer, I had no idea that I was about to be guided in the reading of this incredibly enigmatic, poetic, impenetrable tract (or, Part 1, to be wholly accurate), by one of Martin's own lifelong friends, someone who, in summers, would stroll through the Black Forest with the author himself, contemplating the true essence of sorge, translated in the English, as "care."
So, Andre had big time street cred.
And, he was an amazing prof. First, he was, after all, "Father" Scheuer, at a Catholic educational institution in 1971. One expected a bit of communal conformity.
No. None was discernible.
Each week, Andre silently walked into class impeccably dressed in a dark near-ganster-striped suit (even thinking about writing about Heidegger gets me started with the hyphens), wearing gold-framed wire rim glasses, carrying a sheath of papers. He'd walk slowly to the podium, take out another pair of reading glasses (identical to the ones he was removing), take a deep breath, and begin. In a thick German accent, Andre would read his lecture notes from the papers on the podium. He would precisely explicate the meaning of a particular paragraph, phrase or word from Being and Time; sometimes for up to two hours.
We were rapt. This was studying as close to the feet of the master as any of us could ever hope to get. The coolest intellectual experience I've ever had. I will remember it always.
Anyway, I was talking to a friend of mine last night and Heidegger came up. Well, not explicitly, of course, but he came up just the same.
My friend and I were talking about the powerful appeal of establishing online relationships with people (and things) that "interest" you. We allowed as how searching for, finding and connecting with...what?...people and things you care about...is the great engine for today's "social media" boom.
"Engagement" is the new black.
And, since (here's another Heideggerian part) care drives experience, we see that we find what we care about when scanning a richly populated landscape (read: crowded marketplace). So, literally, we see that-about-which-we-are-already-concerned (since fully explaining Heidegger's concept of "care" would wear us both out, let's use that phrase as a placeholder: "that-about-which-we-are-already-concerned").
Well, that may seem trivially obvious, but it's anything but. It means that as we enable ourselves to connect with the people and things we care about, and to interact with those people and things in the ways-we-do-when-we-care-about something, cool shit can happen (that's not exactly the Heideggerian "being-with," but "cool shit" gets it just fine).
And, that's what the city is all about.
PS - Oh, yeah. If Heidegger's picture freaks you out because he looks like some kind of SS stormtrooper, turns out you're probably about three-quarters right. Those beliefs were not at issue for us in the early 70s, struggling, as we were, to learn the basics of Heidegger's thinking, beyond which, I know, I have never progresses.