This glossary, composed by Benjamin Alberts, provides an overview of the most important terms of the philosophy of orientation. More terms will continually be added.
Note: The chapters and the page numbers refer to the book by Werner Stegmaier, What is Orientation? A Philosophical Investigation, translated by Reinhard G. Mueller (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2019).
Paying more or less attention is orientation’s way of dealing with unsettlement. Attention is essential to life in order to face dangers and to be aware of favorable opportunities. As an attitude, a state of tension, it for the most part is and must be without a particular focus because it is unknown where dangers and opportunities may originate.
In orientation, most things happen unnoticed. Only a few things attract special attention breaking the attention thresholds that block out most irritations and thus ensure orientation’s undisturbedness. This kind of focused attention usually only lasts for a short time and then, if not voluntarily sustained, involuntarily digresses back into general vigilance (chap. 3.3 and 8.4).
3, 10, 19, 32-38, 56-59, 69-70, 88, 97, 102-103, 111-113, 119-122, 137, 151-152, 193, 195, 197, 215, 218, 227, 229, 239-240, 243-244, 249, 254, 277-279
Balanced characters stand out by staying calm even in difficult situations; they are able to curb these oscillations (chap 3.2). To reach calmness, orientation can learn to distinguish between sustainable and unsustainable footholds (chap. 6.4) and to detach itself from the situation by thinking (chap. 9.2).
29-32, 38, 60, 83-84, 111-114, 122, 163-164, 189, 199, 236, 250, 279
XI, XV, 9-10, 15, 29, 34, 54, 59-61, 95, 114, 132-133, 165, 167, 176, 185, 190, 193, 201-204, 241-242, 255, 257, 260-261, 265-267, 269, 272, 276, 280, 283
This is especially observable in professional economic orientation that requires courage to take financial risks in a market with limited surveyability (chap. 12.2). Religious orientation might strengthen the courage to act to the extreme, all the way up to sacrificing one’s own life (chap. 13.3).
15, 34, 61, 160, 202, 241-242
In everyday orientation, one can thus forget about death for the most part – not by anxious repression, but because it usually does not help orientation to gain further footholds. The one clue the certainty of death may give us, though, is that we live life to the fullest (chap. 18).
The internet was created under the conditions of an increased uncertainty of communication during the Cold War as a new and decentralized communication system for the then not unlikely case of a nuclear war. Today, the internet strongly intervenes in our everyday orientation especially by transforming our orientation to other orientations. Along with big data and artificial intelligence, the internet entails not only new solutions, but also new problems, particularly regarding digital security. Individual and societal orientations are both more and less secure than ever before; and the need for both trust and mistrust in security systems has never been as high as today.
These developments and the continuous challenge of continually distinguishing between facts or fictions (including designed identities) and between reliable and helpful or holdless and misleading footholds magnify the now spectacular pressure of time. If intelligence is enhanced by digital technologies, as is currently the case, then this brings about an ongoing competition for more intelligent orientation abilities and actions, which in turn increasingly drives the evolution of the digitization of communication forward. The constantly looming uncertainty of the internet may, in the long run, enhance the intelligence of orientation (chap. 16.3).
Double Contingency of Communication
130-135, 141, 152-153, 156-157, 159, 168, 186-188, 208, 216, 239, 241, 243, 256, 272
Ethically sovereign are those individuals who can impartially, resolutely, and silently follow their own moral standards, mastering difficult situations involving others who follow different moral standards. The morality of dealing with different morals does not cause them distress but comes natural to them. It is these kinds of individuals where morality loses its coercive element; since they are rare, we are pleased that they exist (chap. 15.4). The globalization of human communication needs ethical orientation (chap. 16.1).
8, 32, 40-42, 133-134, 175, 186, 203, 206, 212, 221, 225, 235-246, 250, 263, 282-283
94, 107-109, 119, 129, 141, 155, 173, 250, 263-264, 267
A foothold (point of reference, guide, clue, lead, indicator, pointer, German Anhaltspunkt) is what human orientation holds onto. Human orientation relies and, at the same time, does not rely on them for footholds that at first appear tenable can always turn out to be untenable. As points connected to other points, they do not actually exist, but are arranged, defined or constructed by orientation within its situation. Footholds are abbreviations of a situation where relevant matters of this situation seem to converge. In this way, orientation can, for the moment, neglect other matters and gain an overview of what is relevant in a situation. Footholds proffer themselves, standing out from the other circumstances of the situation, but are selected by every orientation in its way. Footholds are chosen, largely without an awareness of the choice being made, or decided upon without a final certainty.
It depends on the particular needs of an orientation within its situation which reference points it gets involved with. Footholds attract attention and bind it only for a certain time (chap. 6.1). All knowledge eventually emerges from the evidence provided by points of reference, clues, leads, and footholds – none of these ever being completely certain (chap. 6.2). Choosing footholds is a paradoxical decision about something that is in fact undecidable; thus, the decisions are to be met with decisiveness and resoluteness (chap. 6.3). They involve affective reactions (chap. 6.4) and are simplified and become routined by organizing footholds in fittings, patterns, and schemata (chap. 6.5).
XVI, 55-66, 69-72, 83, 90, 99, 104, 113, 137-143, 146, 159-161, 165, 173, 179-180, 195, 199, 209, 276-277
Horizons limit the overview of human orientation. One can see or understand something only if one limits one’s view. One does not at the same time look at the limit, but leaves it in the periphery, the background. Thus, one is not aware of one’s limits in orienting oneself. A horizon is a paradoxical limit, because when you look at it, it is no longer the horizon but something you look at before another horizon. This makes horizons temporary and flexible limits of delimiting spaces of viewing or understanding (chap. 5.1 and 5.4). One extends, restrains, or changes them all the time while changing one’s standpoint or perspective.
3, 12, 43-44, 49-52, 224-225, 276
The discourse of descriptions and ascriptions, usually called identity politics, is always a discourse of inclusions and exclusions. One can distinguish between many kinds of identities like logical, semiotic, corporeal, bodily, sexual, gender, judicially legitimate, genetic, personal, autobiographic, narrative, designed vs. authentic, public vs. private, social vs. individual identities (chap. 11.1–11.3). When dealing with others, we do not only carefully protect our personal identities but also act or give a performance of an acceptable identity by managing our impression on others (chap. 11.4).
An ascribed identity is an identification you can identify with within certain leeways or not. Thus, you can avoid discriminations or fight against them. Moral identifications select a person as a whole; they are the strongest kind of abbreviation (chap. 14.3). Over time, you develop an identity in dealing with identities (chap 11.5).
33, 77, 91, 108, 137-153, 166, 170-171, 186, 196, 200, 213-215, 219, 240-241, 250-251, 258
While media orientation may be characterized as irritation through surprises (chap. 12.3) and artistic orientation as irritation through creative disorientation (chap. 13.2), religious orientation can rule out all irritation and disorientation through a resolute and unshakable faith (chap. 13.3).
29-33, 67, 88, 103-107, 111, 120, 123, 126, 148, 150, 163, 196-198, 201, 205, 231, 279
Instead of blindly following rules and norms, we usually weigh their significance for the respective situation. These leeways in dealing with rules and norms amplify both the efficiency and complexity of orientation. Leeways for action can be legally guaranteed (chap. 12.5), narrowed or extended. They can even be shut down without reservation by moral coercion (chap. 14.1), but can also be restored by perspectivizing the moral coercion (chap. 14.6). Usually one wants to maintain leeways everywhere for one’s own orientations and decisions, even on a global scale (chap. 16.1).
15, 53-54, 57, 65-68, 73-75, 93-109, 119, 129, 132-133, 153, 155, 178-181, 183-185, 195, 202, 208, 220-223, 226, 249, 253, 261-262, 276
XV, 41, 54-55, 72, 77-82, 95-96, 107-108, 176-177, 265-273, 275, 283-284
Morality’s most striking and strongest foothold is the inner coercion to help others who are, in immediate proximity, faced with an emergency situation they cannot master themselves. This kind of moral orientation closes the leeways of your orientation, without reservation in the respective situation. It shuts down the complexities of double contingency, thus enabling trust in the reliability of others when being in an emergency situation (chap. 14.1).
For its stabilization, moral orientation develops moral routines (e.g. the expectation of reciprocity), shapes moral identities that distinguish between good and evil, and adopts prevailing or dominant moralities that best relieve the needs of a certain group or society (chap 14.3). Moral characters, norms, and values permit for various leeways in different orientation worlds (chap. 14.5). Orientation can again detach itself from its moral coercions by perspectivizing them (chap. 14.6). Sustaining its own morality while forgoing reciprocity, moral orientation can turn into ethical orientation.
XIII, 8, 11, 15, 62, 98, 113-114, 124, 134, 149, 156, 159, 161, 166, 172-175, 180, 196, 205-246, 248, 250, 263
As it is always dealing with a specific situation, be it private, social, or global, human orientation as a whole is the ability to keep up with the times, i.e. the strength to make decisions in ever-new situations on how things may continue to run successfully – decisions that promise to hold for at least some time until new situations make new orientations necessary.
This makes orientation an achievement of an individual ability: orientations are individual orientations of individual human beings in individual situations. Since every orientation may face unforeseen and surprising circumstances where its abilities might fail, one can never be entirely sure of one’s orientation. A philosophical analysis of orientation needs to take into consideration all of these aspects. Since orientation may altogether involve surprising structures, the leeway of its analysis should not be limited too much beforehand and one should be as cautious as possible not to make premature philosophical decisions (chap 1.1).
XI-XIV, 1-3, 5-6, 15-23
We usually stay only in one orientation world at a time and forget our other orientation worlds during this time. This relieves our orientation altogether. Orientation worlds are separated by thresholds of attention to such an extent that if one world is noticed in the other one (e.g. your children call at the office), this is experienced as an irritation, as a pleasant or an unpleasant surprise. However, we usually routinely transition between the orientation worlds without the need for a central instance governing these processes.
Generally there are individual, interindividual or communal, societal, and global orientation worlds (chap. 8.4 and 8.5). They all have their own moral values, norms, and sanctions (chap. 14.5 ).
XII, 51, 87-91, 117-118, 149-150, 156-157, 162-163, 166-168, 194-196, 198, 223-226, 250, 259, 278
2-3, 8-9, 11, 13, 28, 33, 39-40, 44, 46, 53, 55-56, 59-60, 80, 84, 94-96, 100-101, 134, 145, 153, 157, 165, 169-175, 178-179, 199, 201, 203, 223, 231-233, 261, 275-281
In everyday orientation, a multiplicity of perspectives is always at work: we are accustomed to dealing with perspectives knowing that there are always different perspectives and that the texture of perspectives always changes in our orientation. As far as orientation is – and has to be – always in movement in order to keep up with the times, fixing one’s perspective is an exceptional and only temporal case. Usually one perspective leads to the next in a continuous crossover, and reorientation happens as a continuous shift of perspectives – the continuous shift of perspectives is orientation’s mode of continuity (chap. 5.3 and 5.4).
XII, 23, 43, 47-52, 101, 226-231, 239, 275
Also all scientific argumentations end in plausibilities and proceed from them. In philosophy, this has mostly gone unnoticed while it strived for last justifications (chap. 1.3).
XIV, XVII, 9-14, 64-65, 84, 104, 129, 160, 187, 198, 216, 269-272
XII, 77-91, 103, 116, 119-123, 128-129, 134, 144, 150-151, 155, 163-164, 176, 197, 209, 213, 215, 227, 235, 251, 256, 278-279
People use signs in similar situations in a similar way, making them a kind of social support (chap. 7.1). In order to make this work, signs must be able to adapt their meanings to changing situations within certain leeways without having one meaning across all situations and for all time (chap. 7.2). In light of its ability to abbreviate what is occurring in a situation into footholds, signs, names, and terms, orientation altogether becomes an art of world abbreviation (chap. 7.3).
Not in spite of the fact signs leave room for interpretation but because of this, we are able to communicate with each other; given differing situations, the meaning of the signs must be adapted to them. They cannot be used the same way in every situation. In everyday interindividual orientation, we cultivate a diplomatic use of signs (e.g. by intentionally allowing for different meanings or by looking for other terms that are more palatable to others). This requires consideration, caution, circumspection, foresight, and a high level of attention to the ways that others use their signs. Such diplomacy of signs keeps communication going and gains time for new and more promising opportunities for connecting with others (chap. 10.5 ).
23, 39, 69-76, 97, 99-106, 114, 119-121, 125-128, 132-133, 141-142, 160, 168, 184-185, 194-195, 198-201, 203, 212, 236, 241, 245-246, 251, 278-279
A situation is generally not limited, neither in space nor in time. The present consists of relevant matters from the past for the future. But orientation limits the situation which it is to explore and widens it as needed at a time.
Orientation already changes the situation by exploring and mastering it. Thus, orientation always renews the need for orientation. It continuously renews itself by continuously making recourse to its own results from orientations in former situations (chap 3.1).
XI-XII, 1-2, 5-7, 23, 25-38, 55-61, 63-65, 71-76, 81-82, 84-86, 96-100, 103-107, 111-114, 126, 151, 160-162, 168, 185, 188-190, 193, 198, 209-212, 214-215, 221, 227-228, 241-242, 245, 249, 260-261, 265-266, 269, 271
XV, 1, 11-12, 130, 141, 187, 196, 198, 215-217, 224-226, 235-236, 239, 245-246, 251-253, 258-261
XII, 3, 12-13, 18, 23, 43-47, 49-52, 99, 111-112, 117, 125, 183-190, 198, 208, 226, 249, 271, 275
XI-XIII, XV, 2, 8-9, 26-29, 49-57, 60, 63, 73-74, 76, 81, 94-95, 98-99, 107, 160, 164-165, 169, 184-185, 193, 195, 199, 211, 216, 227, 247-248, 253, 256, 260, 262, 267-271, 276, 281, 283
Orientation permanently oscillates between these two poles of unsettlement and reassurance (chap. 3.2). Even though successful decisions might suspend the unsettlement, it is only for a limited time (chap. 6.3). Other people with their different orientations, especially in face-to-face situations, can unsettle or reassure one more than anything else (chap. 10.1).
29-32, 38, 60, 83-84, 111-114, 122, 163-164, 189, 199, 236, 250, 279
12, 35-50, 59, 97, 111-112, 122, 139-140, 149, 160, 183, 188-190, 225, 235-238, 247, 263, 268, 281