The Ontological Dimension of Embodiment

Heidegger's Thinking of Being

© 1999, revised 2009 by David Kleinberg-Levin
Partially revised version of the essay published in Donn Welton, ed., The Body: Classic and Contemporary Readings
(London and Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1999)

“Dimensionality consists in a reaching out that opens up, in which futural approaching brings about what has
been, what has been brings about futural approaching, and the reciprocal relation of both brings about the
opening up of openness.” Heidegger, On Time and Being1

§1 The Body of Ontological Understanding
Metaphysics begins with the question of being. This question calls our experience into question.
Since we are embodied beings, we must ask ourselves: How is the experience that the question of being calls
forth embodied? Could it be embodied differently? And if so, how might it be embodied differently?2
The reading of Heidegger that will be proposed here is intended to make a small contribution to the
emerging body of understanding that is inscribed, yet left in the dark, in Heidegger's work of thought: a body
of understanding "emerging" both in the sense that it is being brought forth hermeneutically from out of its
implicitness, its hiddenness in the weave of the philosopher's text, and in the sense that the attempt to
articulate its presence in the text enables us to let emerge, and then develop, as a way of being in the world,
the potential granted us by grace of our embodiment. The potential in question, the potential at stake, is the
gift of a body of ontological understanding: a body that manifests and enacts our ontological understanding—
a body that is responsive to the demand for openness constitutive of the question of being; a body that is
therefore, in effect, an organ of being, deeply engaged by the claim on its capacity for openness to the
otherness of all that is other.
In the Introduction to Being and Time, his earliest major publication, Heidegger calls for recognition of
a “pre-ontological understanding of being,” arguing that such recognition of an already operative relation to
being is the necessary first phase of the hermeneutical phenomenology in terms of which our relation to the
ontological—our relation to the dimensionality of being—can be retrieved from unawareness and elaborated
in the “analytic of Dasein.” It is because of this pre-ontological understanding that Heidegger can claim that,
by way of a hermeneutical recollection, retrieving the pre-ontological, the achievement of a genuinely
ontological understanding is humanly possible. However, since this pre-ontological understanding is prior to
consciousness, it obviously cannot be carried and sustained by consciousness. How and where, then, is it
maintained? We know that Heidegger rejects philosophies of consciousness: Descartes, Fichte, Husserl. So a
pre-ontological understanding that has not reached the level of thematic consciousness could only be carried
and sustained by way of our embodiment. It is as embodied, as incarnate, that this relation to being is in
principle available and accessible for a process of recollection—the hermeneutics of our retrieval, lifting it
into the awareness of life as an ontological understanding of being. To the extent that a human being
retrieves, embodies and enacts this pre-ontological understanding, which it bears as an embodied being, it is
moving and dwelling in a time-space dimensionality in which the sublime event that is the very emergence of
being, being as such, takes place, opening and laying down a field of openness for the presencing of all
In “The Dry Salvages,” T. S. Eliot said: "the hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is
Incarnation." As I shall argue in relation to Heidegger, this thought is true; but not quite in the sense that I
suppose the poet to have meant it. Metaphysical thinking is an "I think" that takes place in the theoretical
"mind." But our comportment belies this, showing that we implicitly acknowledge a thinking which takes
place in the life of our feet and hands and eyes. Our thinking will not find its way without first "losing itself"
as a metaphysical "thinking" and going very deeply into the body.

Heidegger will once again confront and then turn away from the body. Thus. and become more aware of how that "tone" is related to our technological modes of production. Echoing the words he wrote in Being and Time. and our own. in a reply to Eugen Fink during their 1966-67 seminar on Heraclitus." "in front" and "in back. without achieving any breakthrough or resolution. we must also qualify the "already" with a deferral." an account developing what was already sketched out. he remarks. standing and walking with the support of the earth. with the clearing of space that would let them. 4 The emotional depth of the field's reserve of ontological "enchantment" might thus be made sensible for our emerging body of felt understanding. a thinking that can actually take us into the extensions and depths of our topological attunement. when the question of human nature arises. is already a move beyond metaphysics. A body of ontological understanding may begin to emerge when our gestures relate to the various beings of our world in a way that maintains their contact.3 But until this endowment is understood. in Kant’s early phenomenological writings—would be considered a crucial part of the "problematic. handling. adding "and yet. that "The body phenomenon is the most difficult problem." We need to sense in a bodily way the affective "tone" of our gestures. though we shall not treat it here. in fact. and us. Heidegger could not liberate the human body from the traditional interpretation.” the tact and contact of their proper field: a field that has already made a clearing for their movement and already given them an initial sense of meaning. To a certain extent—that is to say. in our motility. in terms of "up" and "down. [1] because it interrupts a discussion of Dasein's way of inhabiting space that he immediately continues and [2] because one might have thought that a phenomenological account of how Dasein ekstatically spatializes —how the world it inhabits gets to be organized. setting in motion the grace of our gestures." "near" and "far. when read in a certain light and from a certain angle. for example. pointing. A more developed awareness of our gestures could potentially contribute to an ontologically grounded and generated critique of technology. Heidegger finds himself entering a realm where he has no compass and loses his way. first meet in the "enchantment" of presence. Ontologically understood. which since ancient times has inscribed it in a metaphysics of substances? Thirty-seven years after Being and Time. he touches on them. only to interrupt himself and break off precipitously. in Being and Time. gesturing with a sense of the gravity of the earth and the receptive openness of a space cleared for it. What we need is a thinking that actually deepens our contact with the choreography of this motility-field. to the grace of the field through whose clearing we move and pass."6 But this declaration is extremely perplexing. our gestures appropriate the topological configuration of corporeal capacities as a local event of disclosedness inseparable from its situational field and functioning as an immediately meaningful disclosure. If he allows himself to give thought to these matters." 7 Could it be that. not the body which we are and live.9 . For whenever the course of Heidegger's thinking compels him to broach the problematic of embodiment as such—especially. he says: "This 'bodily nature' hides a whole problematic of its own. or when the related question of our kinship and "elective affinity" with the nature of animals calls for thought. upon which the capacity we call "motility" is dependent. It is a question of rooting our gestures in genuine “thinking. we move closer to that field in which our motility takes place: a field of many dimensions. and writing already hold beings open to the field of their being. And as we question the body of mood." "right" and "left. he soon leaves them behind. We need to attend to the ways we "use" our hands and experience their "activity. for example. relative to the position and orientation of the body. taking refuge in the acknowledgement of a problem he is not able to think through ontologically. Often. New historical initiatives have already been placed in our hands. these writings unquestionably confirm such a judgement. there is virtually nothing on the body to be found in Heidegger's writings. for our touching. in spite of his efforts to decenter the subject through a phenomenological account of Dasein's ekstatic temporality.5 * According to the conventional wisdom that has been circulating for many years among scholars of Heidegger's thought."8 What is it about the body that makes it such a difficult problem? The beginning of an answer—but only a beginning—can perhaps be drawn from an observation that Heidegger makes in his work on Nietzsche: Most of what we know from the natural sciences about the body and the way it embodies are specifications based on the established misinterpretation of the body as a mere natural body. not yet". since traditional metaphysics can conceptualize only an objective body." "height" and "depth. 2 The body of understanding. in our gesturing.

all of Heidegger's reflections on perception. whereby being presences as being-present-at- hand and being-present-to-hand—cannot be made intelligible without a recognition of the body. or inability. finally. Heidegger's concluding words on this problematic are: "The bodily [element] in the human is not something animalistic. the way we normally." On my reading. his etymologically generated meditations on the relationship between the human and the earth. In view of these extensive discussions. to engage in a sustained meditation on the body. the activities of the human hand (including the labour of the hands. Heidegger's discourse on the body includes. For us. namely. the role of the hands in reducing the presencing of being to an ontology limited to being-ready-to-hand and being-present-at-hand. the 1927 book Being and Time. praying. then. it is surely possible to think beyond the traditional wisdom— that Heidegger gave virtually no thought to the body. The false impression. a living."13 This is at one and the same time a sweeping repudiation of metaphysics and a frank admission that he is not able to think beyond the metaphysical interpretation of the body. We will be struck by a quite different impression."10 For Heidegger. 3 Taking up. here. the difficulties that separate us from the "moment of vision" (Augenblick).g. and What Is Called Thinking? (1951-52). the habitual patterns of listening (Hören) into which we fall and the arduous task of learning how to attune our ears in the spirit of hearkening (Horchen). And the so-called "problematic of the body" must then refer to the question of the relationship between our animal nature and our human nature. if we count. we will be compelled to marginalize or exclude the phenomenology of perception. the metaphysical doctrine that splits off the body from the "mind. "is an embodiment attuned in this or that way. and the hand's cultural significance in writing. a mood that embodies in this or that way. If. with sense and sensibility: "Every feeling. then it is indeed the case that.] We do not 'have' a body. the confusion. however. however. holding. and the phenomenology of practical activities involving the body—activities of the hands such as touching. grasping. without a recognition of what I am calling. I think. it seems that the body must be a material. handing down. for example. I think he went in fact much farther than he believed—but . an entity. spiritual." or "soul. hearing the call of conscience. its failure to understand the difference between hearing a sequence of detached sounds and hearing the sounds as those of a worldly thing). [. In the Heraclitus Seminar with Eugen Fink. and talons of other animal species—matters that he touches on or discusses in some depth in his 1927 Basic Problems of Phenomenology. say. and calling forth. an unprejudiced reading of Heidegger's writings would be obliged to conclude that the conventional wisdom of the scholars is actually far from the truth. Heidegger has very little to say about the body—and certainly never reached an elucidatory understanding with which he and his heirs could be satisfied. his 1946 study "The Anaximander Fragment". from a peculiarly restricted conception of the body—or. we 'are' bodily. his lectures on technology during the period from 1949 to 1955. of that which constitutes a discourse on the body. typically and habitually relate to the lighting that makes vision possible. the errancy in phenomenalism (e. these reflections draw him into thoughtful contact with bodily feeling. rather. the phenomenology of lived space. 12 and. their technological skills. the ontological body. . and the essential difference between the human hand and the paws. his 1942-43 lecture course on Parmenides. claws. his reflections on philosophical interpretations of "human nature" and the Aristotelian definition of the human being as the "rational animal. . indeed." everyday way of looking and seeing things. handling. in this text. and writing.. the platonic separation of the sensuous and the supersensuous. as conventional wisdom insists. objective. we remain within the old conception of the body as a substance. our animal being (as a physical body) and our human being (as a spiritual being endowed with reason and speech). ensouled. The conventional wisdom is based on a false impression: a false impression into the confusion of which Heidegger himself—strange to say—might even himself have fallen. the ego-logical pathologies that dominate our "normal. as a discourse of thought on the body. and not. worldly substance. But if this be the only question the discussion of which counts as "the problematic of the body". animal nature that somehow is also human. greeting. The manner of understanding that accompanies it is something that metaphysics up till now has not touched on. And yet. comes." he says. even though the ontology (the forms of being) that predominates in our epoch and that Heidegger subjects to a critique—the forms of being. physical. what he has to say about the Befindlichkeit of feeling and mood." Heidegger contends that "Bodily being does not mean that the soul is burdened by a hulk we call the body."11 But in spite of the existence of textual passages where Heidegger seems to express his unwillingness. gesturing and calligraphy). with these very words.

words that translate or transport us into another way of experiencing and thinking. a "handicraft" [ein Hand-werk]. cannot be "translated" into a process of experience that will carry this experience forward. for example). It has been equally difficult. in his later years. "is rooted in thinking. their power to speak—though I hesitate to say this. . In an attempt. references to the possibility of "poetic dwelling. not connected with our experience as embodied beings. thought and action. as Heidegger says. The failure to find phenomenological elaborations of embodiment in Heidegger’s texts is due also to the fact that many scholars read as "metaphorical" all of Heidegger's references to perception (to listening and seeing. in a situation. and therefore never worked intensively on—is that "body" is thought in such a way that discussions about seeing and hearing. reason and feeling. Heidegger spoke of thinking as "building" (bauen) and "dwelling" (wohnen). in this etymologically grounded sense.” This. our experience as beings embodied. references to "the full breadth of the space proper to [the human] essence". complicated way how we are. "figurative" designs to heighten the poetic beauty of the text? If this is what "metaphorical" is taken to mean." "walking. It means. Heidegger says: "We are trying to learn thinking. mind and body. Hence their inability to find in Heidegger's work a sustained meditation on embodiment. Whereas the entire thrust of Heidegger's work of thought is to deconstruct these dualisms." and "falling down". They are ways of articulating the body of our experience: ways that enable this experience to realize some of its Seinskönnen. then Heidegger's words must be understood. a major problem confronting a reading of Heidegger that takes him to be writing about the body of experience—the very same problem that both Heidegger and the scholars following in his footsteps have never adequately thematized. is a serious mistake. their transformative power. references to "dwelling on the earth" and "obedience to the earth". I take Heidegger's references—references such as those I have just named—to be.15 references to the activities. They lose their radicality. posture and gesture. is not to take Heidegger's words seriously. if not more so." "thinking" remains imprisoned in the metaphysical dualisms of philosophy and life. In the first lecture of the course published under the title What Is Called Thinking?. Without this "translation. theory and praxis. the intelligible and the sensuous. aus der Erfahrung des Denkens. then. it is a craft. how we are living.14 references to being "gathered on the ground of existence". At any rate. Perhaps thinking . after reminding us that. "I am". the "dispositions" of its potentiality-for-being. however. which express in a whole. do not abruptly grasp but are guided by gestures [Gebärde] befitting the measure". bearing and handling. metaphorical ways of thinking about our embodied experience. And this means that the implications of his radical thinking about "thinking" cannot be taken to heart. as purporting "literal" truth." what Heidegger means by "thinking"—and what he would like to accomplish thereby—remain hostage to the very metaphysics beyond which it is attempting to carry us. that what Heidegger says about "thinking" is not connected with these "dispositions" of our being. As I have already suggested. references to "steps" on the path (Weg) and "going astray. I submit.” "All the work of the hand. he declares: "Thinking guides and sustains every gesture of the hand [Das Denken leitet und trägt jede Gebärde der Hand]. these reifications. Would it not be a tragic error. references to our "standing upright. to read Heidegger's words as "mere" metaphors—metaphors in the sense of rhetorical embellishments. standing and falling are not regarded as discussions about “the body. among other things." And in the second of these lectures. There is an alternative. it is to rob them of all meaning and all effect."17 Not to take what Heidegger says here as actually referring to our hands.16 references to "lending a hand" to the coming to presence of being. the body that." "provided our hands. to follow the etymological hints that are preserved in the word metaphor (Greek: meta-pherein) and think of metaphors as words that carry forward our experience. Heidegger again and again tells us that his work comes out of the experience of thought. It is useful to break out of our culture's substance metaphysics by thinking of the body. gestures and skills (technai) of the hands. . It would be better. thinking and experiencing. our gestures. as an organically intricate system of dispositions and . But without this "translation." These words are not mere metaphors. for the scholars who have attempted to follow nimbly in his footsteps to move beyond the culturally hegemonic metaphysical interpretation. to break the spell cast by metaphysics. even with fear and trembling—for the sake of redemption. on the contrary. 4 his continuing entanglement in metaphysics made it impossible for him to see and measure the extent of this achievement. references to the character of our relationship to the earth and the sky." he adds. is something like building a cabinet [wie das Bauen an einem Schrein]. "We have called thinking the most excellent handicraft [das ausgezeichnete Handwerk]".

they function quite differently: both in regard to their existence and in regard to their realization. Thus it is more appropriate to think. turning it into a question about the most original or highest or greatest or most universal being. that is. the contingent. our potentialities- for-being as embodied beings are radically contingent. the ontological dimension of our embodiment is its (our) openness-to-being. as beings gifted with ears for hearing. through Bildungsprozesse. our capacity to receive the "gift". to see in an open and opening way the presencing of being in and as visible beings. absolutely groundless. And they betrayed their initial question(ing). This experience brought forth perplexities and questions. to be sure. its (our) ekstatic exposedness. The history of metaphysics is a history. to hearken in an open and opening way to the presencing of being in and as sonorous beings. and less objectivatingly. its (our) receptive responsiveness and responsive receptivity to the presencing of being. not in terms of "the body". as beings gifted with . the "fact" that there is anything at all. We need to let it draw us out of our ego-logically limited selves into the dimensionality toward which it projects us. inexplicable. In Heidegger's terminology. he did not give thought in any sufficiently explicit way to the learning processes that our dispositions and capacities as embodied beings could undergo and be guided to undergo. In order to think our embodiment in the context of Heidegger's discourse of being and carry forward Heidegger's own thinking in the spirit of this discourse and with the resources it hands down. only immediately to foreclose the process of questioning. according to Heidegger. the metaphysical philosophers immediately reduced the problematic to a less threatening dimensionality. as beings gifted with eyes for sight. the question(ing) of being becomes a questioning of the hermeneutical character of our various dispositions and capacities: a questioning of their disclosive responsiveness to the presencing of being. except for embodied beings. What does this involve? Briefly stated. The modes of being in and as which being presences only express themselves. But the ontology of Being and Time is not intelligible. What we are concerned with here. In relation to our embodiment. throat and lips. this presencing makes a claim on us: it calls for a disclosive response. processes of learning. (In The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics. Heidegger emphasizes that "what philosophy deals with only discloses itself at all within and from out of a transformation of human Dasein" and repeatedly indicates that the task of thinking is "to liberate the humanity in man. 5 capacities. (The relevant word in Heidegger's texts would be Vermögen. there is no body: no such thing. its relationship to being.And a questioning of our capacity. not possible. arms and hands. But the point on which I want now to concentrate is that it is inherent in the very “grammar” of such dispositions and capacities that they can be developed—that they can be taken up and nurtured. for phenomenology. metaphored. to let the question(ing) of being open up our experience. beings endowed with eyes. For example: A questioning of our capacity. instead of letting the dimensions of the question open up a co- responding dimension of thoughtful experience. And when they are thus released. Instead of allowing themselves to be claimed by the dimensions of the question. in terms of "embodiment". a teacher who gave thought to ways of teaching and learning and himself continued to learn and grow throughout his lifetime. an "event" or "fact" without reason. but much more dynamically. Heidegger accordingly implies that they betrayed their initial experience—the wonder and enchantment that drew them out of themselves and opened their eyes and ears to the very being of world. ears. We need to let it expose us to the unsettling. This latter word carries us past the inveterate tendency to reify what we are trying to think and understand and engage. philosophical thinking began with an experience of enchantment and wonder. A questioning of our capacity. Why are there beings? Why is there not nothing? What do we mean when we speak of the being of these beings? And what is being. to think of the body in this way still involves thinking in terms of actuality and potentiality. a narrative of the question(ing) of being. groundless "event" of being: the sheer "facticity" of being. We need instead.")18 Even though Heidegger was a deeply concerned teacher. in terms of its ontological dimensionality. The "question of being" thus becomes a questioning of our character: the hermeneutical character of our response. As a "gift". If I were tempted to express this point in derridean terms. As Heidegger points out. we need to begin thinking embodiment ontologically—thinking it.) Now. that there is what there is. and a fortiori depend on and need these organs of our embodiment. they turned an ontological question into an ontical question. being as such? But metaphysics broached these questions. the uncanny claims that it makes on our capacity for responsiveness. unfolded. I might say that. but these terms can be released from their determination according to an Aristotelian teleology. carried forward. is a system of ongoing processes. calling it "the body".

there is no attempt to draft a phenomenological portrait or narrative of Dasein's self-realization. and the quality and character of our responsiveness. we must proceed on the course of a path that Heidegger himself seems not to have taken. there is no recognition. here. it is on this path. and old age—and the learning. articulated. I want to argue (although I cannot lay out in full. however. In brief. to engage our embodiment in gestures that are appropriately responsive to the presencing of being and serve to bring it forth.22 We need to discern and recognize. is treated as if it were a timeless transcendental structure. as "guilty") and are therefore responsible. in my judgement misleadingly. or most essential. to the presencing of being. . and made more explicit than they are in Heidegger's own texts. as embodied beings. youth. that we may carry forward his thinking in a greatly needed direction. Heidegger speaks of the importance he attaches to the philosophical task of "awakening" our fundamental attunement to and by the presencing of beings as a whole and being as such. but this revealing—far from being merely incidental—is also the basic occurrence of our Da-sein. Nevertheless. which is usually thought of in intellectual terms." but usually given an interpretation that is far removed from a phenomenology of embodiment and sensibility. accordingly. Heidegger still thinks in some ways like the philosophers of old: Dasein. I am referring.20 which is usually translated as "state-of- mind. with no recognition of its being borne by our embodiment. the profile of a developmental process. a learning process essentially involving our embodiment. This broaches the question of learning. an emerging body of ontological understanding. childhood. To accomplish this. emerging from the weave of Heidegger's texts. putting them to work in a phenomenology of embodiment. our experience as bodily beings in the world. the question of our willingness to strive for the realization of our ontological potentiality-for-being as embodied beings. here. saying that it depends on our capacity for revealing beings as a whole and being as such: being attuned. at least schematically." but which I want to translate as our bodily felt sense of being in a situation in the world. I think. the growth. In "What Is Metaphysics?" Heidegger relates the question of being to our ownmost. a "narrative" of developmental learning-processes through which the hermeneutical dispositions and capacities inherent in this embodiment are brought out. will make new use of Heidegger's concepts. and self-fulfillment: no attempt to articulate in ontological terms the learning processes implied by his vision of the "ontological destination" (later called the Geschick) to which he thinks we mortals are called. that these different seasons call for. for responding hermeneutically to the interplay of concealment and unconcealment as which the being of beings presences. the argumentation that needs to be made) for interpretations of these Daseinsanalytik concepts that contextualize them in a hermeneutical phenomenology of embodiment. of being-toward-death (Sein-zum-Tode). The founding mode of attunement [Befindlichkeit der Stimmung] not only reveals beings as a whole in various ways. of the seasons of a lifetime—the passage from birth to death by way of infancy. schuldig. no discussion. In the analytic of Being and Time. As embodied beings. in spite of his insistence on the importance of mortality. And yet.The presencing of being (the ontological) makes difficult and unsettling claims on us that call for realization in the ontical world. the presencing of being stakes out for us our ontological responsibility. 6 arms and hands. it is possible to draw on the analytic in Heidegger's Being and Time to formulate. self-development. [2] Dasein's pre-ontological understanding (or ontological pre-understanding) of being. manifesting its hermeneutical dimensionality in the practical world.19 Our interpretation. simply because we exist. here. our perceptivity. lets us find ourselves among beings as a whole. in which we "are" one way or another and which determines us through and through. our sensibility. we are rendered beholden (my translation of Heidegger's term. way of being.21 But he does not explicitly recognize that it is by grace of our embodiment that Dasein is disposed in accordance with this fundamental attunement. adulthood. because we are. It is to this question that we now return. as beings endowed with a particular embodiment and the potentiality- for-being inherent in its (our) dispositions and capacities. From the very beginning. and [3] Stimmung. In particular: [1] Befindlichkeit. albeit a structure that situates the human being in a temporal and historical world that it has itself made temporal and historical. In spite of his affirmation of Dasein's "potentiality-for-being". usually translated. to our ontologically inscribed potentiality. for the extent of our exposedness. usually translated as "moodedness" and "attunement.

as embodied beings in the world. what we might call the grace of a "pre-ontological understanding" (or "ontological pre- understanding") of being. 7 In spite of the double meaning persistently carried by the word "sense" ("Sinn" in German). with the world around us. it works with phenomenological respect for the child's own experience as it is lived. a primordial claim on our ability to be responsive—and a first solicitation of our "responsibility" for the hermeneutical. as well as in our practical interactions. the Winke suggested by this doubleness. all forms of intentionality that express the ego- logical will. as Emmanuel Levinas would say. or whether. in which case the violence of this violation will be repeated in the character of the adult. through Rede. for example. of course. Thus. pre-reflective. as embodied beings. Infants enjoy without thought the existential condition bestowed by this primordial intentionality: it is. whereby it can refer. Heidegger restricted the reference of this word in Being and Time to the realm of the cognitive. But. or understanding. the presencing (unconcealment) of being. in an immemorial time of origin prior to all reflective awareness.23 I propose to think of hermeneutics as a process of disclosing. unlike the natural process. Were he to have followed the hints. and as a primordial level of hermeneutical intentionality and understanding that we are enjoined to experience simply by grace of the fact that we are "thrown" (like dice) into existence and "find ourselves" to be appropriated. solicited. preserving way to draw out. and gesture. the intellectual. perhaps. infants grow up. regardless of the character of the socialization. likewise thought in a strictly cognitive sense. This level of engagement. in terms of a deep sense of inherence. of unconcealment. happening in accordance with the preprogramming dictated by nature. happening in response to the particular forces of socialization to which the child is exposed. struggling to think beyond it. ontologically disclosive character of our responsiveness as beings gifted with the capacity for listening and hearing. or rather levels. The natural and the cultural processes of development conspire to construct a system of ego- . the realm of perception. He does not allow his thinking to be guided by the doubleness of the word Sinn. Above all. for them. that can take place not only in the reading or interpreting of texts. an experience that may be faithfully described. by the emergence of being in the presencing of beings. perhaps he would have come to recognize two kinds. instead. unthematized. the realm of the cognitive. is initially pre-predicative. a forgetting of the pre-ontological understanding it once enjoyed in blissful ignorance. and that normally and for the most part remains deeply. he wanted to leave metaphysics behind. culturally hegemonic interpretations on the child's experience. the primordial level of our capacity for hearing is retrievable phenomenologically as the bodily felt sense of an auditory belongingness (Zugehörigkeit). he still remained in certain ways within its conceptual framework. or elicit hermeneutically. unquestioned. the most excellent ontological potentialities-for-being. bodily felt sense of being in the world. It is a bodily felt responsiveness that is called forth. for example. of meaningfulness. the ideal. It is an attunement (Stimmung). And perhaps he would not have been tempted to think of hermeneutics in the traditional way. a deep. not only to conceptual meaning. approaching the child's experience in a caring. belonging. it depends on whether this process imposes socially constructed. and called into question by. Befindlichkeit is our always already hermeneutical embodiment. but also to bodily felt meaning and the realm of the sensuous. rootedness. the child's maturation involves a process of closure. Following Nietzsche. Fügung) that reflection experiences as always already in effect. However. split off from the sensuous dimension of sense-making constitutive of our bodily being-in-the-world. Thus. and he would not have unwittingly perpetuated a tradition of intellectualism according to which meaning is denied to the realm of the sensuous. darkly implicit. the pressure of an immemorial "dispensation" (Geschick) ruling over our embodiment and laying down the existential coördinates of our ontological disposition as beings bodily related to. and also a cultural process. and grounding. As a level of intentionality. not only to the cognitive. this Befindlichkeit is primordially passive—more passive than passive. the realm of the "understanding". This developmental process is both a natural process. sensibility. but rather in all our engagements with meaning—in perception and feeling. an enjoinment (Fuge. Nor would he have treated language as if it were disembodied. a certain Seinsvergessenheit. the cultural is not pre-determined in advance: the child's individuation all depends on the (hermeneutical) character of the socialization. but despite great exertions of critical thought. I also propose to think our pre-ontological understanding (or ontological pre- understanding) of being in connection with our Befindlichkeit. one that is engaged by our actions and interactions as embodied beings and one that is engaged through the intentionality of discourse. restricting it to discourse.

and it can seem to become an eternal truth. this recollection (Erinnerung as Wiederholung) can take place only in and through our embodiment. and it is within this contextual field opened up for our questioning that the determination of correctness can take place. What this recollection attempts to retrieve and take up for ongoing realization and development is precisely that originary pre-ontological understanding of being with which we were "entrusted" at the very beginning of our lives. an eternal possession of knowledge. Listening deeply to these etymological connections.) As Heidegger's 1944-45 dialogue on Gelassenheit (his Feldweg-Gespräch über das Denken) demonstrates. and gewähren (to vouchsafe. When the being of the child is reduced to the condition of subject and the being of the beings that the child encounters is reduced to the condition of object. meaning truth. obligations. unconcealing responsiveness. be altered. or phenomenon is the opening up. immersed in the everyday world. As an infinite task for our embodiment. the implications of this method for his phenomenology of perception could not be more far- reaching. a reified. he calls this dimension aletheia. Realizing that we are in a "fallen" condition. Given our ontology. so that we are exposed to the solicitations of the presencing of being and opened up to the dimensionality of this presencing.) The word wahr figures in a family of words: not only in the noun. as thoughtful. the clearing. between a state of the "mind" and a state of "reality" (or say between a proposition and a state of affairs). worldly projects. resolve to undertake and undergo a certain process of recollection: a recollection of being. Without the recognition of this open and opening dimension. preoccupied with self- preservation. unconcealment. 8 logical defenses. we are able to live. Long before we are old enough to realize it. truth understood as "correctness". more radical. the immemorial and unfathomable claims on our capacity for disclosive. shutting off the frightening solicitations. the "taking place" and "clearing" of being—in which. as an adequation. and the laying-down of a context. perception gets . unmindful of the ontological dimensionality—the presencing. which can think of truth only one-dimensionally. and which therefore locates the truth in an assertion made in language. or correspondence. even when this would go against the grain—against the Gestell—of our present epoch. a mode of comportment toward the presencing of being. This is the "fallen" condition of mortals. only ontically. and why. what Blake called the "doors of perception". Heidegger takes the task of philosophy. and that there is a dimension of truth to which the tradition has been totally deaf and blind. and only by grace of which. Heidegger argues that what the tradition calls "truth". Nothing could be more radical than the aletheic formulation that he settled on there: to let the phenomenon show itself from out of itself. average everydayness. Drawing on the discourse of the earliest Greek philosophers. währen (to endure). wahren (to watch over and keep safe). and maintains that "correctness". depends on and presupposes this dimension: the determination of "correctness" is not possible without unconcealment. the "truth" becomes nothing but an idol. Heidegger's radical formulation of the phenomenological method in his Introduction to Being and Time represents an attempt to think what "caring for the truth" should mean as an attutude. however. an ingathering into memory of the immemorial presencing of being. that come from the presencing of being. (Though it is indebted to Edmund Husserl's formulation of the method in Ideas I. often used by Heidegger. it is far more radical in its recognition of the giving and the receiving. dreams and aspirations. bewahren (to preserve). to warrant). But what is truth? Challenging the tradition. is the phenomenon of "correctness". is das Vernehmen. This ontic condition of normality can somewhat. As beings endowed with "ontological bodies." to be a question of caring for the truth. the ways that being has presenced. but also in Wahrnis (safekeeping). a word composed of the German words for "true" (wahr) and "taking" (nehmen). This more primordial moment. The ego-logical process of ontological forgetfulness can to some extent be reversed. and traces of which the dispositions of our embodiment continue to carry in spite of our ego-logical forgetfulness. what it sees and hears of truth." we mortals can build and dwell in the clearing opened up by the presencing of being. event. One of the German words for perception is Wahrnehmung. Wahrheit. these ego-logical defenses are firmly in place. (The other word for perception. a field of meaningfulness. reflective adults. fetishized abstraction detached from the process of questioning. It is the condition of ontical. the defenses that the ontically delimited ego has constructed can be to some extent breached. we can. which in Greek (as philosophia) means "the love of wisdom. letting ourselves undergo the opening-up and carrying-forward of our experience that this presencing can solicit. it should be clear that. responsibilities. Thought by way of a recollection of the aletheic dimension of truth. we have always already defensively closed off the ek-stasis. Through this recollection.

§2 Hermeneutics as Gesture: A Reading of Heidegger's 'Logos (Herakleitos B50)' Study . a way of watching over it. And they would therefore be more capable of practising care and compassion. aletheic dimension of truth is. it can become a way of caring for the truth. because in the ontological dimension of embodiment. By grace of the bodily attunement (Stimmung) inherent in the pre-ontological understanding of being that is distinctive of our human way of being (our Befindlichkeit as human beings). 9 to be rooted in the groundless interplay of concealment and unconcealment. our seeing. As Heidegger makes clear in Being and Time. to the eventful emergence of the beings let into appearance—that ultimately constitutes the ontological dimension of our embodiment. hermeneutically disclosive comportment. rather. seizing and possessing. is to keep all claims to truth exposed to the interplay of concealment and unconcealment. by virtue of its (our) skillful (geschicklich). our capacity for hearing. the significance of recollecting of the ontological. but also. of a sensible field of openness—openness to alterity." and the Parmenides lectures. a pre-ontological understanding of being. that pre-ontological understanding is raised up by thought and redeemed in a genuinely ontological understanding. In an embodiment that recollects and retrieves the gift of nature. of "la chair." an elemental flesh) that we share with all other beings. about seeing and hearing. in what Heidegger has to say about perception. the gestures of the hands and the postures of the body." will always be kept exposed to new contestations from the always open context. seeing and hearing—that. on the contrary. our being is not bound to the egologically constructed structure of subject and object. we may perhaps begin to "redeem" the gift of a pre-ontological understanding through an emerging body of ontological understanding. they might become the “organs of being”—gestures of an embodiment always ontologically in question with regard to its openness to the being-in-otherness of all that is other. true in the sense of "correct. What I am calling the ontological dimension of our embodiment is thus our bodily felt experience of an on-going breaching. from its totalizing enclosure within the structure of subject and object. our gestures. from contestation. gesturing. they may enjoy a certain freedom from the dominant ontology. Freed from the control of the ontical ego. movements. The only way to respect and care for the truth. What we need to learn is how to dwell: how to stand on the earth and under the sky. and organs of perception in relation to the ongoing (abyssal) questioning and measuring of our existence by the presencing of being. What we need to learn in order to live ek- statically as mortals from out of an experience with thinking—what we need to learn in order to live as mortals in accordance with the "measure" of the ontological. our listening and our speaking are rooted in the ontological dimension of our embodiment. drawing their inspiration from this dimension and flowing from the measure of grace and tact that this dimension accords to them. Thus. to make sure that what we take to be true. mindful of the presencing of being as that event of opening (Lichtung) which lets beings come for a while into our fields of sensible appearance. the profoundly transformative intervention of his radical critique of the correspondence theory of truth and his recollection of its aletheic dimensionality. but is intertwined with other beings through the being of the field. as which the being of beings presences. To the extent that our gestures. our vision. a task for our embodiment. perception is no longer merely a taking. for example. walking. in “Plato's Doctrine of Truth. flowing from it. for Heidegger. bringing this attunement into the thoughtful care of everyday living. preserving it. here.24 "preserving" the truth does not mean protecting it from questioning. the prevailing ways that being presences. The ontological is entirely a question of dimensionality. it is through our bodies that a sense of moral responsibility first takes hold of us. It is a guardian awareness of the opening. Were our gestures thereby rooted in the ontological dimension of our embodiment. keeping it safe. the only way to watch over it and preserve it. among other things. and thus to the possibility that they will be judged as illusion or error. we are woven into a field or clearing (Merleau-Ponty would speak. is an embodiment—a way of standing. is appropriate to the immeasurable interplay of presence and absence.” his essay "On the Essence of Truth. or clearing. Learning this. opening and carrying-forward manifesting through appropriately disclosive hermeneutical gestures. Conventional wisdom has made it virtually impossible for scholars to recognize. no longer an act of muted violence.

." But according to Heidegger.e. I would translate this as “Listening not to me but to the Logos. into question. i. They are words that refer. It will be a question of "measuring" the character of our gestures. For we do need to ask ourselves: What is mortal legein. Yet this retrieval may be crucial for our capacity to realize (or rather. to our own experience as gesturing. or could become. we must first of all acknowledge that we can think (for example) with our hands. and secondarily. This is an "ontological" understanding of the articulatory gesture.. is often not counted as part of the human "body. make ourselves ready for) new historical possibilities. phenomenologically. As we shall see. by virtue of the relationship called homologein in the ontological dimension of the Legein of the primordial Logos? In Heidegger's essay. listening beings." understood— say—as articulatory gesture. it is wise correspondingly to realize: One is All. According to Heidegger." and "reason. has a two-fold focus: first and foremost. What accordingly differentiates Heidegger's sense of "thinking" from the more familiar sense still dominant in our tradition is the fact that "thinking" in . when thinking places it. the "question of being" calls our gesturing. what is its "character.e.e. because it retrieves. a certain "primordial" experience of being. it will not be possible for us to retrieve (wiederholen) for the future the possibility of a different way for us to experience the presencing of being. the difference between being and beings) as the difference between our gesturing in its ontical everydayness and a gesturing opened by its awareness to the field of the being of beings as a whole—and even to the singular. speaking. to articulation—gestures of articulation. What. against the dimensionality of the ontological Legein. hermeneutically and more "primordially"." Legein. i. It motivates a shift in our attention." "speech.25 One of the apothegms reads thus: ouk emou alla tou Logou akousantas| homologein sophon estin Hen Panta. may be translated as "meaning. not out of nostalgia or a belief that the Greeks were better than we are. that toward which Herakleitos directs our listening. a noun. as Heidegger first argues in Being and Time. the human body is not capable of thinking. our technological sensibility tends to conceal behind Zuhandensein and Vorhandensein. the being of beings has presenced in the history of our Western world." "word.. 10 Returning to the pre-Socratics. the hermeneutics through which the presencing of being shows itself as the interplay of concealment and unconcealment. but simply to learn from them what wisdom their difference from us might teach us. But Heidegger is mainly concerned to bring out the more "formal" ontological character of the mortal homologein. Logos." more responsive.” Legein and logos are the words of Herakleitos: mere fragments of his thought. and move us to take the measure of our gestural being. when it takes the embodied form of a human gesture? §3 Thinking With Our Hands According to our tradition of metaphysics. What he has not thought through defines our present task. the homologein describes as a co-respondence the essential character of our own articulatory gestures. this question (Seinsfrage) summons us to consider the character of the ontologically hermeneutical gesture. may be translated as "to speak. i. He does not take the time to specify it as an ontological question (a Seinsfrage) referring us directly. the legein of our own mortal relation to the logos—as when. It could also touch us in our innermost being. then. it questions our motivation." And this "mind" is contingently located in the region of the head—which. and our motility in general. Thinking takes place only in the "mind. but only insofar as they are. Until we acknowledge this. against the openness that articulates being as such. let us say." and "to explain. being- ready-to-hand and being-present-at-hand. Heidegger's thinking. these ancient Greek words will be most fruitfully opened up at this time in history when they are understood. the ontic legein of our worldly gestures. although such a way must be already latent as an historical possibility in the primordial experience of the presencing of being that. what is the hermeneutics of unconcealment. more ontologically "appropriate. is ontological hermeneutics. namely. for example. behind the only two modes in (as) which.e.." "discourse." "account. uncanny event that is the very emerging of being itself." If we want ever to break out of this tradition. we are engaged in listening. for that reason." "to give an account. in this essay on Heraclitus. beings born with the potential for a unique grace in motility and unique capacities for seeing and hearing. Heidegger reflects on words inherited from Herakleitos. to the claim primordially laid down for them by the Legein of the Logos. recollecting the dimensionality of the ontological difference (i. and opens up. an understanding of the Legein of the Logos. our awareness. the corresponding verb. to mean a gathering and laying-down.

" Is there a way of understanding this rootedness so that we may also say that there is a thinking of being. which is rooted in the work of the hands? There is a letter in which Heidegger himself seems to prepare for this very question. it is only to be expected that our experience of tangible beings. and which holds. there I think we will find a living response to the nihilism of our technological epoch." "to give birth. in genuine need. do our gestures normally. always carefully chosen.. Whenever this kind of skill is at work. bringing what we touch and handle into the beauty of the unconcealment of truth (Schein. preserving. were we to realize their ingrained "destiny" of character (vom Geschick her) and develop and maintain their inherent gifts of skill. and hence.." where Heidegger calls on thinking "to lend a hand [an die Hand gehen] to the coming-to-presence of being. our embodied Geschick). more abstractly and reflectively." "to bring forth. the play of appearances). the timespace in which the presencing of being emerges for thoughtful reception. entrustment. We need to reciprocate this gift by giving them."26 There is also a passage in "The Turning. it can also be poiesis. and safeguarding. protecting. Our unwillingness to acknowledge a wonderful intelligence inwrought in the hands themselves makes us. grasping (greifen) and manipulating. suggest that it is possible for the gesturing of the hands to become in a hermeneutically disclosive way what in a concealed way (a sense forgotten since time immemorial) it already essentially is. for he counsels the student to "Stay on the path. If we are concerned about pathologies in the character of comprehension. unrecognized need to reciprocate and accordingly undertakes a sustained meditation on the hands and their craft. they begin to realize their inwrought potential. will tend to be determined in ways that correspond to the initial character of the inquiring. different ways for being to presence. learning gesture."27 Heidegger's words. of skill. namely. we should look to afflictions in the character of our conceptual prehensions.. Since the "origin" of technology refers us back to the techné of our hands. "is rooted in thinking. i. and his words suggest that when our hands are moved by an awareness of their ontological span. typically and habitually bring forth? To what do they give birth? What kinds of beings do they make appear in the world of their normally.) In a lecture published in What Is Called Thinking? Heidegger recognizes this deeply repressed." and to the ontological "potential-for- being" of which we are capable by grace and virtue of the gift of our hands. Since the child's first concepts (Begriffe) are schemata of comprehension formed in the very process of reaching-out-for. an appropriate (schicklich) reception. And if the capacity in question is a gift (an Es gibt. transforming every gesture into a movement of rejoicing and thanksgiving. this kind of reverence. But what. For there is a tactful way of handling and manipulating things which is mindful of their dimensionality. and learn the craft of thinking. the span of their presence. Etymology tells us that "to gesture" means "to bear. 11 his sense—most certainly not a Cartesian "res cogitans"—allows us to understand this kind of experience. a way of giving thought to being. is to acknowledge the possibility of development and to assume some responsability for this process. for example. in the tangibly open dimension of the ontological difference. and it would . (The etymology of our word "awareness" connects it with the German words for truth. things which are tangibly in being: things like the wood which the cabinetmaker works. a more developed awareness of the ontological character of our gestures—of their relation to the presencing tangibility of being—would contribute to the critique of technology. with care for their being. the gift of our thought. is still handed down as the gift of an ancient tradition. manipulable things. poetizing. typically and habitually restless activity? What is the character of their everyday legein? The way our hands are does not touch. a maintenance of thought. does not reach to. then. But to speak of capacity. and wherever this kind of sensibility. a skill. then the bearing of this responsibility. an articulatory capacity. in our daily living. would be an appropriate (schicklich) response. in return. our awareness. and the gestures they elicit. keeps and maintains beings in the immeasurable dimension of their being. The hands give to (the presencing of) being our gift of thought whenever they handle things with appropriate skill. this guardian awareness will be concerned with the being of various touchable. in the case of our hands." he says. set the predominant tone (Stimmung) and character of the child's first concept- formations. ways other than as practical readiness-to-hand and theoretical presence-to-hand. profoundly indifferent to the "ontological difference. opening themselves as much as conditions permit to the open dimensionality of the presencing of being." and "to make appear. As we noted earlier: "All the work of the hand. Now. Our skillful (geschickt) hands are a most precious gift. and preparing thereby for other. The circumstances of early life.e. our experience of being itself." The gesturing of our hands is a techné. the way they could be: the way they would be.

98)." this "intentional arc" which Merleau-Ponty's eye of phenomenological reflection has unquestionably seen in the nature of human motility. which feels what it touches with a reverence that is also active "aesthetic" appreciation. violent transgressions. .]" (PP.e. The tender. It is.28 This body-knowledge is a "gathering. as thinking mortals. And he calls this "melody" an "intentional arc": "It is this intentional arc which brings about the unity of the senses. and therefore in relation to the claim on us that derives from the openness and difference of this dimension. For bodily feeling. Touching with Gelassenheit. we will eventually encounter the implicit ontological Legein which has always and already defined the deeper ontological character of our ontical gestures and movements. being the mode of our original understanding. we leave things whole and intact. in fact. normally. are most worthy. its ontological dimension of difference.. The truth of the matter is that. Concealed within every . their deeper and otherwise inaccessible nature. According to Merleau-Ponty. 12 also help us to retrieve otherwise concealed opportunities for an historical response to the technology-driven dangers that now threaten us. is to be hermeneutically disclosed in its deeper aletheic truth as a gathering and laying-down. by what moved? Touching presupposes our capacity to be touched. by that which we are given for our touching? What is the character of our touch? By what are we touched. According to Heidegger. . The rooting of gesture in thinking requires attention to the perceptive body of feeling. And we let them yield the richness of their more intangible nature. appropriated by the phenomenon. It is a question of defining and measuring the "appropriate" fulfillment of our hands and gestures in relation to the dimensionality of the presencing of being. handling with care and tact. 317).. As he reflected on the observations which record the fate of Schneider. The grasp characteristic of technology (in our time. is our most tactful way into the opening depths of things. and moved.and this reciprocity calls into question our inveterate tendency to polarize the tactile field into a subject and its object and lose touch with beings as a whole. typically and habitually confined to the ontologically forgetful dimensions of everyday ontic life." thus "letting that nature become manifest by the handling" and letting ourselves—our hands. the time of das Ge-stell) cannot reach into the essential nature of things." Furthermore. Merleau-Ponty will be extremely helpful in establishing the phenomenological evidence for this demonstration. of intelligence. a certain deeply implicit "melody" (PP. It is the concept of gathering. 140). and not the concept of points. then. the human being enjoys "a global bodily knowledge which systematically embraces all its parts". "Each instant of the movement embraces its whole span [. a spontaneous functioning of the body which is concealed in the ontical understandings of both common sense and science. 105). caring touch. our gestures—be appropriated (er-eignet) by the presencing of the thing. as he says. we are appropriately caring when. It is with this consideration in mind." His analysis of use brings out the "virtue" of our hands—their most deeply fulfilling potential—and helps us to define the gestures of which we. that Heidegger takes up the question of "proper use. or than the hand which is indifferent to the beauty of the thing in the disclosure of its truth. What is our capacity to be touched. by attraction and aversion). I believe. namely. What this means is that a series of points along a linear trajectory cannot accurately graph the topology of even my simplest gesture.e. we relate "to the thing in hand according to its nature. we are obliged to acknowledgte that this innate "gesture" of physiognomic integration. Merleau-Ponty began to see what Schneider's gestures lacked and what "normal" gestures enjoy. Merleau-Ponty observes that the gesturing of my hand "is not [intelligible as] a collection of points" (PP. 136). a patient who as suffering from serious motor disorder as a result of lesions damaging the brain. Now the point I wish to make is that this "melody. for its operations reify: they are tactless. gets in touch with a thing's essential nature more deeply and closely than the hand which wilfully grasps and clings. moved by desire (i. i. which defines the graphing of the human gesture. This would be the embodiment of Gelassenheit as an ontological attitude. of sensibility and motility" (PP. our global pre-comprehension of things in a primordial "mood" (Stimmung) of openness. §4 The Implicit Legein of Our Motility I want to argue that Heidegger's interpretation of legein as a gathering and laying-down is confirmed by our motility—that if we cultivate a phenomenologically vigilant awareness in our experience of motility itself. In his critique of empiricism. even touches and embraces the motility-field as a whole (PP. a certain style of movement. a "gathering" of the field.

as Merleau-Ponty says of "space. if we are sufficiently open to experiencing it. typically hidden dimension. Merleau- Ponty wanted to characterize the deeper experiencing of the melody as taking place. it anchors and aligns the body. when I "think. there is an implicit ontical legein which is always and already engaged in (i) laying down an encompassing field of motility. using Heidegger's teminology. outlines for us its measure. and that is to be found and retrieved by a reflection which parts company with the subjectivity of the ego-cogito and its co-emergent object in order to recollect. But all the "gatherings" of which we are capable essentially depend on the still more primordial layout and gathering of the Logos itself. 13 gesture and movement we make. it orients our movements to the possibilities of our world. the Befindlichkeit of the "pre-ontological understanding of being" which attunes and destines our gestural being. "when I perceive. Going beyond Merleau-Ponty. 254. it offers itself as a "corporeal schema" to orchestrate and choreograph . Thus. the Logos serves. For all our gestures emerge from that deeper. we can reach and retrieve an implicit awareness (our "pre-ontological understanding") of the primordial Legein as it touches our flesh. Heidegger's “question of being” pressures us to go still more deeply into the truth of our motility. says Merleau-Ponty." a more primordial. This legein of the gesture (of the gesture as a logos) is not normally experienced with much awareness." I reduce the field of my being." granting our motility a basic (con)text and a "grammar. intelligible whole. and lays claim to our gestural motivation. finally. during the gesture. 288). 336). that not only overlays this primordial contact. its primordial gathering of our temporally dispersed "consciousnesses" always underlies our personal life. anonymous structuration." It "lays down" an organized field of co-ordinates and trajectories. to the world as a whole" (PP. "beneath the subject. in a "pre-objective" being: a "pre-logical" dimension of our experienced embodiment that I would call. in a prepersonal or anonymous level of awareness. This radicalized reflection is of decisive importance because both common sense and its reflection in the objective sciences tend to lose touch with the more open experience that always underlies them: the Logos and its Legein. And it reminds us of the relationship in order to challenge us to continue deepening the reach and range of our experience of gestural motility as a guardian awareness of the presencing of being itself and as such. a more original dynamism. we regain for our gestures a lost dimension of the greatest and most sublime significance: the ontological dimension in the openness of which our gestures and the objects we encounter are enabled to take place. this "gathering" inherence in the world as a whole. The Legein of the Logos enters into a primordial communication with us through the legein of our prepersonally organized motility. We indeed can. whereas. we eventually encounter a dimension of our motility-experience in which it is possible for us to realize the thorough-going. For this reason. we accordingly find ourselves "returning" to a still more "primordial stratum" of corporeal intentionalities that are always already functioning even without our reflective. we discover that there is "a communication with the world more ancient than thought" (PP. as a general "project. Merleau-Ponty writes that. thematizing recognition. on-going "interaction"—one might even say the "interpenetration" or "interweaving"—of the immeasurable Legein of the primordial Logos and the finitely measured legein of our mortal motility. Nevertheless. through my point of view. I will argue that there is a dimension of our motility-being where." the place and the field of our motility. For the “question of being” reminds us that we need to bring to light the ontological relationship between the character of the mortal legein and the primordial Legein of the Logos. Continuing our radical reflection. and I believe should. 254). I belong. The Legein of the Logos is a "setting. 365). (ii) gathering up the compass of the field into a practical gestural trajectory. Presencing in our world as the clearing by grace of which we may enjoy a space of freedom in which to move. and (iii) gathering the gesture itself into a unified. make the attempt to trace "objective being" to its rootedness. §5 Gestural Motility and the Primordial Legein Going still more deeply into the felt experience of gesturing and moving. 347). a legein that has always and already "marked out" for us. 329)." "to embrace every being that one can imagine" (PP. 353. its inherence. a "prepersonal tradition" (PP. takes hold of our embodiment. "We must return to the cogito in search of a more fundamental Logos than that of objective thought" (PP. Recollecting this belongingness. but also tends to conceal and restrict it (PP. It reminds us that we need to understand the relationship between the gathering and laying-down that is characteristic of the gestures of mortals and the gathering and laying-down of the Logos (being) itself. Putting this in other words. but still using his method of radical reflection.

by virtue of recollection. that "universal setting" (PP. ("Elegance" refers here. the homologein is indeed. a legein. itself. to stand being ourselves. Our everyday forms of motility—the characteristically ontic forms of human motility—take place. The claim of the Logos calls for our articulation. our alignment. 14 the sense of our motility (PP. It is an ontic mimesis of the Legein of the Logos.) In regard to human motility. which is always already presencing for us as the clearing openness we need to move in and the ground we need to stand on—the ground we need. as Herakleitos knew. despite the reminders kept alive in our cultural myths. But the giving of this gift lays claim to our motility—a claim we may well feel a need to redeem by recognition and guardian awareness. deeply moved by the question of being. the effective presencing of the Logos in our world. a natural capacity awaiting its most appropriate alignment and fulfillment. redeem our beholdenness (Schuldigsein) insofar as. by way of etymology. thoughtfully celebrating the inherence of the gift (the "Es gibt") in the very movements themselves. the homologein that shines forth in mortal legein is a corresponding . sets mortal beings in motion. 326). 251). the primordial articulations of the Logos. §6 The Homologein The gift (the "Es gibt") of the Logos is: the opening up and laying out (or "layout") of a clearing and the gathering of a continuous timespace field. binding mortal legein to the Legein of the Logos. to the perfection of our legein. pre- ontologically. i. This. that elemental "inscription" of a "primordial field" (PP." Since reflection re-collects. sets in motion a process of recollection (anamnesis) which opens us to the claim on our motility that has already been implicitly acknowledged by our guardian ontological awareness—by the Befindlichkeit of our pre-ontological understanding of being. in a still sketchy account. The Legein of the Logos is the "origin" of our world-space. our re-membering begins to respond and correspond to this claim. and clear an open space for. Inasmuch as the Legein of the Logos is a setting-down and gathering that sets in motion the ek-stasis of our motility. the question of being calls attention to the primordial claim on our grounding. With the concept of the homologein. to the extent that our gestures. and our gestural grace. now overlaid by the paths of our forgetfulness. Through the grace in the re-membering. the deepening of our capacity points to our skillfulness in bringing forth this primordial articulation—making it luminously manifest in the "elegance" of our gestures and movements. in that it is that ek-static topology. We can. as beings who gesture. When our ontical motility responds to this ontological claim. gathering up into the time of our own re-membering that by the grace of which our motility was first enabled to become. in the depth of our motility. in fact. in a field or clearing of being with whose immeasurable dimensionality we naturally tend to lose touch. for a response from our own mortal legein. in which we may always recognize the workings of the primordial Logos. is how the gathering and laying-down of the primordial Logos presences—and works—within the motility-field of our experience. The primordial laying-down-and-gathering-of-a-field. 100). showing it as the primordial Legein upon which our gestures depend for the opening up of a meaningful world.. an isomorphism between our gestures and the "gestures" of being. i. The being of this field. in truth.e.e. a turbulent and fragmented body is gathered up into its felt wholeness. And the receiving of this gift takes place first of all in the anonymous. by way of the character of our very gestures themselves. is a relationship which takes place through the guardian awareness that lives in the very flesh of our motility. But our thinking.. and it gathers our still undeveloped pre-ontological capacities for motility into the melodic wholeness of their most appropriate ontological fulfillment. articulates through our bodily nature the very possibilities for movement that ground. 242). We live our lives mostly in a condition of distraction. all actual "passages" of human motility. so to speak. by grace of which alone it first becomes possible for us to find our bearings and move about in the space of our world (PP. It is. prepersonal. the schema of corporeal opportunities for deepening our natural gestural capacity to "bring forth. The being of this field essentially outlines. we re-collect and make manifest the original Legein. it calls attention to a claim that the clearing and grounding Logos has already. pre-ontological dimension where our motility first makes contact with the topology of the Logos. become an aletheic legein (a gathering and laying down manifest as such) that hermeneutically repeats and unconceals the grounding topology of being. to) the emerging and opening of being. as it were. The homologein. The question gathers our customary motility into a thoughtful recollection of (our relation. and sets in motion. a wondrous manifestation of being. taking place in and as the legein of our own gestures. set in motion. laying-down of coordinates and a coherent gathering of motivating energy.

15 gesture. and laying-down are always already taking place. classical neurophysiology. at five distinct levels of being. ontically understood (and ontologically concealed) in terms of Euclidean geometry. the traditional theory of truth as correspondence—a correspondence between an articulatory gesture and the reality it signifies. where the ontical motility of mortals is disclosively articulated as (i) having been already pre-ontologically attuned (bestimmt) by the Legein of the primordial Logos. and traditional metaphysics. which are . the articulation of the ontological difference appears in all its beauty as the space-clearing "gesture" of the Logos and its primordial gathering of all beings. in gestures and movements. first. to begin with. Thus we may say that the Logos "needs" our motility to disclose its presencing in the very giving of that (clearing. above. the primordial articulation of the Logos." until the primordial Legein is. Thus what I have called. as such. i. in fact. revealing the primordial Legein as that upon which our own gestural legein always depends. second. But we need to understand that the homologein will nevertheless never be fully appropriate. the cultivation of an "appreciation" of being means that we develop our capacity to gesture and move—or. and on which our motility essentially depends.e. (2) The deeper level of "objective thought". in a motility moved by our understanding that our motility is isomorphically like. is mapped in linear time along a linear series of points simply added together in space. that the gesture is finally appropriately understood in the context of a hermeneutical theory and it is accordingly disclosed as an organ for the taking-place of a hermeneutical event of being (Ereignis). the motility of the Logos. It is only in the even more radical ontological understanding of the fifth level. of an individual hermeneutic "appreciation" of the originary topology of being within the field of motility. my own motility necessarily depends for its feasibility. first becomes feasible. non-egological clearing. and then. it will be noted that we have described human gesture. human motility. without which our own ontical clearing and gathering would not at all be feasible. gathering. where motility. or "the same" as. our own laying-out and setting-down. our own clearing of space. only when the hermeneutical "character" of our motility. needing to commemorate the ontological clearing." "pay homage" to their unfathomable source. But there is no point in saying all this unless it is understood. as a form of mortal legein. when the fifth and deepest level of awareness is bodied forth. where gestures of clearing.. articulately. whereas the second two levels involve understandings which begin to recognize that the traditional theory of truth is essentially derivative from a more primordial experience of truth as unconcealment. grounding and gathering lay-out) by grace of which our own ontical legein is first set in motion.e. mechanistic psychology. however. §7 The Skillful Character of the Hermeneutical Gesture If we now gather together the results of our foregoing analysis. first of all. Our homologein consists. as that event of gathering and setting- out by grace of which our own mortal legein. in the experience of the "intentional arc. laying-down and gathering which is not of my own doing." a melodic gathering and laying down. i. in the sense that it itself "clears a space. Thus. a disclosive event (Ereignis) within. brings the primordial Legein into presence as the primordial. never authentically "finished. and our own ways of opening and gathering. where motility is encountered. and that it itself can gather and open. an articulation (Wiederholung) that "repeats" the primordial gesture in an appropriate way. prepersonal. with hermeneutical elegance. it must also be understood that our own motility enjoys ontological fulfillment only insofar as it can appropriately "repeat" (wiederholen) the original Legein in the celebration of an uncanny hermeneutical disclosure. (5) the level of genuinely ontological thinking. and on which. the laying down. and (ii) as continuing to call for a fulfillment which can only take place through the on-going cultivation. and brings it forth in the truth of its own primordiality. more specifically." that it itself sets down. The first two understandings are levels which assume. and work entirely within.. The homologein takes place. being "the same. that we develop our natural gestures. are called upon to become the route of this radical recollection: a "truthing" (an aletheia). in the more primitive. and also of. (1) The ontic level of naive and unreflective everyday experience (the level of what Husserl called the "natural attitude". therefore. manifestly bodied forth in a human motility whose very gestures and movements. (3) and (4) The two deeper levels of radical reflection. And finally. and the gathering of the Logos. Newtonian physics. hermeneutical disclosure. the level of conformable behavior belonging to "everyone-and-anyone"). Secondly. pre- ontological experience of an anonymous. or deepening. Our very motility. that we mortals are the ones in need. but without any awareness and understanding.

and gathering—in such a way that. giving thanks. 16 already clearing an open space. and bring to living presence. . determining for an epoch the presencing of beings in relation to the character of our gestures. re-collect. we gather into our collective memory. in the very joy of this embodied recollection. laying-down. to the primordial "gesture": thanks for the field it has laid down. The extent of our openness to eventful alterity—to the ever-emerging presencing of being. laying-down.29 Such caring depends on the extent of our openness to the otherness of that which is other: the uncanny event that is the emergence of being. letting beings come into our fields of sensible appearance: that is the measure of what I have called the ontological dimension of our embodiment. by the character of these gestures as such. and thanks for the motility its gathering has made possible and set in motion. Thanks by virtue of gestures that bring thoughtful disclosive caring into all our worldly interactions. the primordial clearing. and gathering of being itself.

" Early Greek Thinking. gesture. pp. cit. 36: "Seine Zugehörigkeit zur Erde. Was Heißt Denken?. 6 See Heidegger. 33-38. 34-41). 195-96. right-left. 3. Introduction and Div I. He also believes. §23. lighting.. 336-341.. 1988). 146. and The Listening Self (London and New York: Routledge. Div I. 1969). wenn Handeln heißt. "The Turning". see Heidegger's Parmenides (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. our entrustment with presencing. 1979). 251-54) of the forgetfulness of ordinary perception in relation to the light of what presences in the field of presencing. p. 1979).. 8 Heidegger and Eugen Fink. 80-87." see "The Anaximander Fragment." Early Greek Thinking. and our responsibility for taking care of the lighting. 3 See Heidegger. The Will to Power as Art (New York: Harper & Row. and. handwriting. 114-19 and 194-95. in The Question of Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper & Row. Heraclitus Seminar 1966-1967 (University. 100. 1968). 11 Ibid. And see What Is Called Thinking?. 276-82 in Vorträge und Aufsätze (Pfullingen: Verlag Günther Neske. 10 Ibid." For Heidegger. 7 See Heidegger. 17 Endnotes 1 Martin Heidegger. On Time and Being (New York: Harper & Row. 209. 117-30 in the original German. Was Heißt Denken? (Tübingen: Niemeyer Verlag. Fragment B16). 186-87. the work of the hands. see Holzwege (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. 1962). 96-100 (Vorträge und Aufsätze. 1972). 1950. 14 See Heidegger. . Being and Time. 15. 9 Heidegger. 13 Heidegger and Fink. 1967). 50-51 and 54-55.. 1987). it is thinking that is the "genuine" activity. and the hands' relation to signs and hermeneutical disclosure." Erläuterungen zu Hölderlins Dichtung (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann. 1972)." in Early Greek Thinking (New York: Harper & Row. Nietzsche. dem Wesen des Seins an die Hand gehen. ch. Zur Sache des Denkens (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. 143 on the up-down. 16. Alabama: University of Alabama Press. 98-9. practical activity. op. 23. perhaps learning to bring it forth in an historically different way. 1992). 146. more generally. 50-55. Being and Time (New York: Harper and Row. 3. concealment and unconcealment. 1977). And see his extremely important discussion of light. I. 40: "Was sollen wir tun. as this quotation shows. front-back axes that represent the spatialization of our embodiment. 1971). 1985). All of these analyses are phenomenological accounts of perception. 191. 14-15. in "Aletheia (Heraclitus. The Opening of Vision (London: Routledge. ch. 2 See my much earlier efforts to addess these matters in my trilogy: The Body’s Recollection of Being (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 143. for the German. Also note his discussion in "Moira (Parmenides VIII. 118-23. What Is Called Thinking? (New York: Harper & Row. "Hölderlin und das Wesen der Dichtung. 40. 5 For more on hands." in Vorträge und Aufsätze. 4 See Heidegger. handling." 15 Ibid. 1975). that our hands can serve the presencing of being. 1954). 12 See What Is Called Thinking? And take note of Heidegger's discussion of the vision of the "seer" in "The Anaximander Fragment. 318-23 in Holzwege. vol. typewriting. §23. For the German. On "the proper use of the hands. capacities of our embodiment." Early Greek Thinking. dies bedenken: Wie müssen wir denken? Denn das Denken ist das eigentliche Handeln. 45: "gesammelt auf den Grund seines Daseins". and the relation of the gaze to brightness. see "Die Kehre.

. 40. cit. trans. 22 For a good discussion of our "fundamental attunement" (Grundstimmung). Poetically Man Dwells . 6. p. For the German. . 25 Heidegger." (op. “The Turning. 59-71.). 29 For Heidegger's discussion of "care. 117-30. Poetry. §§16-18." Vorträge und Aufsätze (Pfullingen: Gunther Neske. 1971). 49-51. Vorträge und Aufsätze. Phenomenology of Perception [hereafter PP]. bodily felt. 1995). . 18 16 Heidegger. . 223. see ". . 18 See Heidegger. Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik: Welt—Endlichkeit— Einsamkeit (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. "to feel our body. . 1971). "Logos (Heraclitus B50). 17 Heidegger. . What Is Called Thinking?. 291-300 and §§38-9." Being and Time." see Heidegger. "What Is Metaphysics?". I. 2nd edn. 172-177. 23 See Maurice Merleau-Ponty. ". 21. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics. 16-18. 1992). Phenomenology of Perception (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Solitude (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Finitude. 235- 244." to make contact with "that other knowledge" that is "underneath the objective and detached knowledge of the body". 59-78. §70. 26 See Heidegger’s letter to a Herr Buchner. . and 37. is "an opening upon a field of beings" in the world. 198. 100. 19 Heidegger. Thought (New York: Harper & Row. 168: "Metaphysics—the coming to light of something beyond nature—is not localized at the level of knowledge: it begins with the opening out upon another. 20 For Heidegger's discussion of "Befindlichkeit". 421-35 and 243-56. see Being and Time.. and 74. Basic Writings. 15-16. 27 Heidegger. and ed. see The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics. 40. in David Farrell Krell (ed.. Poetry. 1983. . 1955). 1982). Language.. . . Was Heißt Denken?. 21 On "awakening. or relearning. 1954).". 216) 24 See Heidegger. 1993). . §§2. 31. 206) that it is a question of learning. Was Ist Metaphysik? (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. 314. 80—87. And see notes 3 and 4 above. §41 and §42. in Albert Hofstadter." Early Greek Thinking. . This "other knowledge". 1993)." see "Dasein's Being as Care. 186.Dichterisch Wohnet der Mensch . (New York: Harper & Row. Die Kehre. Parmenides (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 1962). 162-73. Language. §29. (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World. prepersonal.” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays." He also says (op. Thought (New York: Harper & Row.). in Albert Hofstader (ed. . cit. pp. 28 Merleau-Ponty.