Harold Bloom is a key Literary Theorist for many reasons, but I think the most interesting of which are his books the Anxiety of Influence and the Map of Misreading, where he talks about how creativity is really stealing, and then covering up what is stolen. For instance, now it is fairly clear from recent Scholarship that Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger stole large portions of their “innovative” ideas from the later Husserl which is documented in The Other Husserl The Horizons of Transcendental Phenomenology Don Welton; Another case is that of Foucault who at the end of his life according to Dreyfus admitted that His theory of Power merely substituted that word for Being in Heidegger’s Being and Time. These are crucial transitions in Continental Philosophy and it seems the anxiety of influence dynamic that Bloom pointed out out holds true in these particular cases. The map of Misreading is similar to Drefyus’ idea of how changes occur in the tradition, where peripheral concerns become central and central concerns become peripheral. In the Map of Misreading each poetic genius misreads the earlier generation, and we can see that misreading is having other concerns that bring to the fore what is peripheral in the earlier generation’s works. So Bloom zeros in on a particular dynamic that explains change in the Poetic tradition and that is probably also true for Philosophy if not more so.
Of course, this theory of Dreyfus and Bloom explains only incremental change and not Emergent Events. Emergent Events are radical changes that are very difficult to explain in this way, like the discovery of Quantum Theory for instance. Einstein’s Relativity could be seen as an example of this sort of change of the way we are viewing things already known by looking at them differently, i.e. via an Anagogic Swerve. But explaining things that come out of nowhere to change everything, like Super-conductivity, or Solitons, or Quaternions, for instance, cannot be explained by this type of theory. Thus we need to augment Bloom’s theory with a theory about the nature of Emergent Events and when we do that it takes us deeply into the structure of the worldview.
I have just listened to the tapes of the lectures of Bernstein (bernsteintapes.com) on Kant that are available on the internet. Bernstein attempts a regressive or minimal reading of Kant and he supports in that reading the idea that Kant thought he had given us a direct connection to reality. The Cartesian view has as it did in early Husserl (Cartesian Meditations) has the problem of solipsism. Husserl confronted this problem and solved it by moving from Bracketing to the seeing of objects on a world horizon. Heidegger took advantage of this in Being and Time according to Walton who has been studying the later works of Husserl and sees the innovations of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty are in some sense just the exploitation of Husserls later generative phenomenology. But according to Bernstein in his lectures the innovation of Husserl is merely a return to the real meaning of Kant’s philosophy under the regressive reading. It is very difficult to see whether Bernsteins reading is an anachronism or whether that was the true meaning of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason from the beginning. The regressive reason makes this case that Kant was really a phenomenologist at heart.
The basic idea is that we only know about anything real through perception and consciousness. So what ever reality IS is filtered though that medium and nothing escapes the filter, and so there is nothing to compare our appearances to to see them as purely epiphenomenalism. This means that realism that posits a transcendental object is just as idealistic as the positing of the transcendental subject who is the source of our A priori syntheses. So in a sense, Kant is just saying that Transcendental Idealism is precisely the same as Transcendental Subjectivity (Idealism), i.e. merely a nihilistic dualism. And because of that identity ultimately they are antinomies that cancel out and so all that is left is the epiphenomenon of appearances, in which we discern reality by the involuntary simultaneity of the time streams of objects as opposed to the the serial voluntary ways of apprehension. If the transcendental structure cancels out, then we need another way of thinking about the world that is immanent and that is what Heidegger tries to develop in Being and Time based on the insights of the Later Husserl and his generative phenomenology, i.e. the phenomenology of time.
Differance is Differing and Deferring, i.e. the relation of the supplement in writing to the work itself, like in the Preface to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit/Ghost/Mind where the preface written at the end changes the meaning of the whole work. Differance I call Hyper Being. It is the Third Meta-level of Being after Pure Being (Parmenides, Stasis) and Process Being (Heraclitus, Dynamism, Becoming) and prior to the fourth kind of Being which Merleau-Ponty calls Wild Being in The Visible and the Invisible. In that unfinished work Merleau-Ponty calls Hyper Being the Hyper-Dialectic between Heidegger’s Monolithic combination of Pure and Process Being which are seen as equiprimoridal and Sartre’s Nothingness which is the antimony. We see differance in the Paul Simon song where he sings about slip-sliding away. Differance is always sliding away from us so we cannot hold it in mind as something determinate, either in space or time, dynamism or stasis, or in any other dualism. Hyper Being is the difference that makes a difference between Pure Being and Process Being, the differences between kinds of Being must also be a different kind of Being. If Pure Being is present-at-hand being-in-the-world and Process Being is ready-to-hand being-in-the-world, then Hyper Being is the “in-hand” the expansion of being-in-the-world that comes from bearing new affordances. Where Pure Being has the modality of pointing according to Merleau-Ponty, and Process Being has the modality of grasping, then we take it that Levinas’ bearing which is Beyond monolithic Being is the modality of Hyper Being. Best example of the meta-levels of Being are the meta-levels of learning in Bateson’s Steps to the Ecology of Mind.
It is an important concept because it is a distinction that Plato makes in the Timaeus where he calls it the third kind of being. We forgot that in our tradition until Heidegger rediscovered it by accident, and Derrida took it up to make something interesting of Heidegger’s discovery. Heidegger did not follow up on the idea of -B-e-i-n-g- (crossed out). See John Sallis Chorology for more details about the role the third kind of Being plays in the Timaeus.