HEIDEGGER'S

LTER WRITINGS
A Reader's Guide
LEE BRAVER
.�
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The most diffcult learning is to come to know actual ly and to
the very foundations what we already know. Such learning,
with which we are here solely concerned, demands dwelling
conti nually on what appears to be nearest to uso (BW 276)
We are here attempting to learn th i nkinga We are all on the way
togetherq and are not reproving each other. To learn means to
make everything we do answer to whatever essentials address
us. (WCT 14)
The burden of thought is swallowed up in the written scriptq
unless the writing is capable of remaining, even in the script
itself, a progress of thinking, a way. (CT 49)
For my students, who question
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I want to thank my ' Later Heidegger' classes of 2004 and 2006
at Hiram College for their service as guinea pigs for these
commentaries. My T A.'s in particular, Jason ' Rush' Wray and
Meg Shutts, gave me a lot of feedback. My gratitude goes to
Bill Blattner who helped the manuscript see the light of day, to
Charles Guignon for useful suggestions, and to Colin Anderson
for clarifying issues concerning Greek translation. The editors
at Continuum, Sarah Campbell and Tom Crick, have been a
pleasure to work with, easing all difculties and responding to
inquiries with astonishing speed. I want to thank my children -
Sophia, Ben and Julia - for their patience and good humour in
letting me spend time on this manuscript. And my most heart­
felt thanks go to my wife, Yvonne, whose support never falters«
AM
BP
BQ
BT
BW
CP
DT
EF
EGT
EHP
ET
FS
HCT
HPS
ID
1M
IPR
KPM
M
MFL
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OBT
OTB
OWL
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PIA
PIK
PIS
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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Aristotle's 'Metaphysics e 1-3'
The Basic Problems of Phenomenology
Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected 'Problems' of
'Logic'
Being and Time (cited by EnglishGerman pagination)
Basic Writings (only ci ted by BW when following refer­
ences to other books)
Contributions to Philosophy (cited by paragraphpage
number)
Discourse on Thinking
The Essence of Human Freedom: An Introduction to
Philosophy
Early Greek Thinking
Elucidations of HOlderin's Poetry
The Essence of Truth
Four Seminars
History of the Concept of Time
Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
Identity and Diference
An Introduction to Metaphysics
Introduction to Phenomenological Research
Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, 5th edn. ,
enlarged
Mindfulness
The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic
Nietzsche, 4 vols. (volume denoted by Roman numeral)
Off the Beaten Track
On Time and Being
On the Way to Language
Parmenides
Phenomenological Interpretations of Aristotle
Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant 's ' Critique of
Pure Reason'
Plato's 'Sophist'
Poetry, Language, Thought
ix
PM Pathmarks
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
PR The Principle of Reason
PT The Piety of Thinking
QT The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays
STF Schelling's Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom
Sup Supplements: From the Earliest Esays to 'Being and
Time' and Beyond
TB On Time and Being
TDP Towards the Defnition of Philosophy
WeT What Is Called Thinking?
WIP What Is Philosophy?
WT What Is a Thing?
Z Zollikon Seminars: Protocols - Conversations - Letters
CHAPTER 1
CONTEXT
Heidegger's later work attempts to think in the absence of some
very basic assumptions that have long ruled philosophy and
common sense, which is one of the reasons these writings can be
so disorienting. Despite their difculty and importance, there are
surprisingly few guides to these works, especially in comparison
with the number of commentaries on Being and Time. This lack
is due in part to their obscurity, I suspect, but also to the absence
of any magnum opus that can represent this phase of his career
the way Being and Tme stands for the early period. My solution
to this problem is to write commentaries for the essays collected
in the anthology, Basic Writings. Although not assembled by
Heidegger himself (he did make suggestions, see BW ix), it does
a terrifc job of providing important and representative essays
from across his career, making it the most frequently used text
for classes in English on later Heidegger.
My goal throughout has been to illuminate each essay's
structure, giving readers a roadmap to enable them to fnd their
own way through rather than simply presenting Heidegger's
ideas in more straightforward prose. I want students to lear to
read these dark; magnifcent essays for themselves, using this
guide as a ladder to be thrown away once climbed. Although
Heidegger's writings may appear impenetrable at frst, slow
patient repeated readings repay one's eforts generously.2 If you
read the original essay carefully, then my commentary, and then
the essay again, you should fnd it readable, with further read­
ings yielding insights indefnitely. Wrestling with Heidegger's
writings has been the most exciting intellectual adventure of my
professional Hfe, and if this commentary helps others embark on
the j ourey, it will have achieved its purpose.
Throughout his many lectures on great philosophers,
Heidegger rarely spent much time on their biographies. He once
began a course on Aristotle by noting simply that, 'ristotle was
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
born, worked, and died' , 3 and then turned to his thought. My
comments will not be quite so brief, but neither will I delve into
much detail about his l ife; far better accounts than I can give are
readily available (see 'Notes for Further Reading' at the end of
this book for suggestions).
After Being and Time ( 1 927) became a sensation, Heidegger
assumed the chai r of philosophy at the University of Freiburg
previ ously held by his teacher Edmund Husser\. Heidegger's
writings during the 1 930's center on the topic of truth; he spends
a lot of time on the ancient Greeks, especially the way they set
the course for Western thought's understanding of truth, but
by the end of the decade he came to focus on Nietzsche as the
phil osopher who brought metaphysics to its end. Notoriously, he
joined the Nazi Party and became rector of Freiburg University
in 1933, only to resign the position less than a year later. There is
some evidence that he grew disenchanted with the party (and
vice versa), but he di d not quit nor did he ever seriously address
his participation. He was forbidden from teaching as part of
the general post-war denazifcation, in which his former friend
Karl Jaspers played a signifcant role. He was allowed to resume
teaching in 1 949, but preferred giving unofcial seminars and
public talks, as well as writing essays, to teaching at a university.
Technology and the enigatic 'fourfold' are prominent topics of
these last decades. He lived a long and productive life, leaving
over 100 volumes in his collected writings (the Gesamtausgabe) .
The frst point that a guide to Heidegger's later writings must
address is what it means to call these essays ' later' . In the years
after Being and Time was published, Heidegger's thinking and
writing style underwent a profound change which he called the
'Kehre' or turning, splitting his career into two phases. Being and
Time and several contemporary lecture courses are generally
classifed as early Heidegger, whereas everything written afer
the mid-thirties (or a bit earlier - people disagree about the exact
date) is considered later Hei degger. Of course, the later work is
hardly a static system; new topics, fgures, and motifs surface
virtually every decade of his career.
Both the nature and the extent of the Kehre are still matters
of considerable debate, with many scholars arguing for more
of a continuous development than a revolution. Heidegger's
style certainly changed; as innovative as Being and Time is, it is
2
CONTE
far more conventional than what follows. Were Being and Time
possesses a tightly structured system, almost a Kantian architec­
tonic, the later essays often appear to be shapeless meanderngs
of poetic or mystical musings. Knowledgeable readers can get
their bearings on the earIy work by relating it to its infuences
(primarily Kant, HusserI, Kerkegaard, and Dilthey), while the
later work bears little resemblance to anything else in the canon,
except perhaps the Pre-Socratic fragments that fascinated
Heidegger so. Although a number of important continuities
persist across the two phases, the diferences are sigifcant
enough to make the Kehre a genuine break in my opinion. I will
briefy discuss two of the most important changes.
First, the role humans play in Heideggers thought changes
substantially. He organized Being and Time around a 'funda­
mental ontology' by means of an 'existential analysis of Dasein'
(55) . This means that an analysis of our way of Being, called
Dasein's existence, forms the beginning point for all further
study, especially for the study of Being. In the book's jargon, the
analysis of existence forms the foundation for ontolog. As
Heidegger acknowledges, this strategy resembles Kant's in his
frst Critique:4 Kant examines our transcendental mental facul­
ties in order to grasp the structure of phenomena since they are
the source of phenomenal order, while Heidegger studies the
nature of our awareness in general because this determines what
we can be aware of. Being and Time tries to overcome traditional
conceptions of subjectivity, but Heidegger comes to believe that
it remained trapped within the subject-centered tradition (or at
least that it lent itself too easily to this interpretation) . ¯ His later
work abandons fundamental ontology by starting with Being
rather than with us, the turn that was supposed to occur in the
never published Third Division of Part One of Being and Time.
Instead of our mode of existence shaping experience (and thus
serving as its foundation), Being ' sends' or gives us our contem­
porary way of understanding. Precisely what this means will be
the topic of many of the essays in this book, but it certainly
overturns one of the basic tenets of Being and Time.
Second, in the later work history comes to pervade everything.
'Historicity' formed one of Daseins essential traits (,existentialia')
in Being and Time, but these features themselves appeared to be
ahistorical attributes characterizing all Dasein regardless of
3
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
where or when they lived. The later work argues that both man6
and reality change profoundly throughout history. Each histori­
cal era has its own way of understanding Being, and Heidegger
spends a great deal of time reconstructing these earlier under­
standings of Being from representative metaphysical texts. This
project resembles Hegel 's study of the various historical moments
of consciousness more than Kant's examination of the mind's
single timeless confgration, though without Hegel's idea that his­
tory is heading towards a goal . At times Heidegger considers the
epochal understandings incommensurable and so incapable of
comparson, while at other ties he descrbes the history of Being
as one long decline from its gorious begnning in ancient Greece.
In either case, any 'escape' frm the metaphysical oblivion of Being
that has reigned since Plato and Arstotle requires a radically
discontinuous leap to an entirely new way of thinking rather than
Hegel's organic development of an interal potential .
The essays in Basic Writings repeatedly visit a number of
themes, so my Gide does so as well . Hopefully, the contexts
in which these themes are placed and the nuances teased out
of them have enough diversity to assuage any sense of repetitive­
ness. Heidegger insists on returning to the same ground
repeatedly to achieve deeper insight into it rather than amassing
a pile of conclusions. 7 Time and space constraints kept me from
providing commentaries for all the essays in Basic Writings.
I omit the Introduction to Being and Tme, because that book
already has so many commentaries that anyone looking for guid­
ance can easily fnd it elsewhere, and the selection from What
Calls/or Thinking?, because i t is an excerpt which really needs its
ful l context for proper understanding. I have tried to make this
commentary both accessible to those new to these writings and
useful to more advanced readers. Most of the footnotes refer to
other places in Hei degger's vast oeuvre where he discusses the
same topic; these are meant to aid research and can be safely
ignored by those just trying to make sense of the writings.
4
CHAPTER 2
OVERVIEW OF THEMES: WHAT IS BEING?
'For there is Being' The primal mystery for all thinking is
concealed in this phrase.
(238)
Throughout his long career, Heidegger asks a single question
over and over again: the question of Being. He believes that
despite their apparent diversity, all great philosophers are really
dealing with this topic, just in very diferent ways. Although this
inquiry may look like a highly abstruse and abstract subject,
Heidegger considers it 'the most basic and at the same time most
concrete
q
uestion' (50). We are constantly using a tacit under­
standing of Being in all of our activities. Every time we interact
with anything in any way, we are guided by an implicit sense of
what it is. Since we are always interacting with beings in some
way or another, we are constantly employing or, better, enacting
our understanding of Being: ' Being is the ether in which man
breathes' (SFT 98)
. Investigating it is difcult not because it
is complex or abstract, but precisely because it is so near and
ubiquitous, so simple and obvious?
Wenever we encounter something, we experienc it as a
particular kind of thing whch determines how we deal with it.3 The
kinds of actions it makes sense to do to a rock are ver diferent
from what is approprate to do with a parent, or a painting, or the
government, or an idea. We do not consciously consult a list of
facts in ordCr to decide what to do, of course, but rather live within
a non-thematic knowing-how to deal with varous sorts of things
which underlies any thematic conceptual thinking.
All comportment toward beings carries within it an under­
standing of the manner and constitution of the being of the
beings in question. We understand something like the being
5
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
of beings, but we neither grasp nor know that we understand
this being in a preconceptual way or even that i t i s this under­
standing that primarily enables all our comportment to
beings.
These broad 'categories' are the ways these entities are, i . e. , the
Being of these beings, and our understanding of them occurs in
appropriately interacting with them. It is only once we have
grasped the general way a particular entity is, such as to be
used, that our interactions with it can be more specifcally
attuned to it.
We must already understand ahead of time something like
tool and tool-character, in order to set about using a certain
tool . . " We understand such things - although at frst and to
begin with we do not pay attention to such understanding
and do not even know that we understand these sorts of
things . . . although we constantly exist in it.s
Because familiarity with these modes of Being is l ogically prior
to interacting with beings, Heidegger sometimes calls them a
form of the a priori ·
A lot of Heideggers writings are devoted to dredging up and
descri bing these tacit ways of Be-ing that we have always known
but never thought about . ¯ Being and Time examines three ways
to be which appear to be common to all cultures and historical
peri ods: 'ready-to-hand' equipment we use in our everyday
acti vi ti es, 'present -at-hand' objects we study theoreti cal ly, and
exi st ence which is Dasein's or our way of Being. The main goal
of the book as we have it is to lay out the way of Being belonging
to Dasei n (Heideggers early term for us or. more specifcally,
our awareness) in new distincti ve terms instead of concepts
taken from other ways of Being, as philosophers have always
done.
7
Now, we can see right away that a way to be is fundamentally
diferent from a being, yielding what Heidegger calls the onto­
logical diference: ' a bei ng is always characterized by a specifc
constitution of being. Such being is not itself a being.'8 Ways of
Be-ing are not themselves beings. although neither can they exist
apart
f
rom bei ngs. which leads to another motto: ' Being is always
6
OVERVIEW OF THEMES
the Being of a being' (50) . You cannot turn the corer in a busy
city and suddenly run into readiness-to-hand; rather, you
encounter tools which behave in a ready-to-hand manner. Being
is more a verb or an adverb than a noun, how things are rather
than a thing. Philosophers have traditionally viewed Being as the
ground of all other beings, making it the highest being or the
one that brings everything else into existence. But thinking of
Being as a particular being, even the ' beingest' being such as
God or a Platonic Form, commits a fundamental category mis­
take that Heidegger calls onto theolog since it confuses the
Be-ing of beings (ontolog) with the Greatest Being (theology).
The discipline of metaphysics looks beyond the variety of
individual beings to examine 'the totality of beings as such with
an eye to their most universal traits'.
9
It inspects beings qua
beings, what makes anything be regardless of the diversity of
particular entities, sifting through individual details to fnd their
over-arching 'beingness' or the Being of beings. Wereas his
early work appears to take the three contemporary ways of
Being as permanent universal features for all Dasein, his later
thought assigns individual understandings of Being to each
era. Much of this work consists in close readings of canonical
metaphysical texts in order to piece together previous ways of
Being. l
o
He usually divides the history of Being into three epochs:
the ancient Greeks defned it as physis, during the Mi ddl e Ages
all beings were creations of God, and in the modern period
to be was to be a substance, which came to mean ei ther being
a subject or an object posited or represented by a subject. 1 1
Heidegger generally regards these epochal understandings as
incommensurabl e (as in Thomas Kuhn's history of science),
and comprehensive for the period they govern, making it impos­
sible to compare diferent ones for accuracy or to organize them
into a progressive journey towards truth (though he does some­
times trace a continuous decline). A period's understanding of
Being determines what it means to be at that time, which rules
all other issues. Thus, questions about correctness can only take
place within a specifc understanding, not across epochs.
ì2
Metaphysics looks beyond individual beings to the common
traits that defne the Bein
g
of these bein
g
s, but it does not ask
where these meanings of Being come from or why they are the
way they are.
1
3
These meanin
g
s cannot be expla
i
ned by referring
7
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
to beings since they determine how we experience and under­
stand these beings. Beings always underdetermine what we make
of them. Metaphysicians often resort to ontotheological expla¯
nations: things are this way because they participate in the Forms
or because God made them this way. But this just pushes the
question back a stepq leading us to ask why the Forms
or God are such that they made everything this way. Explaining
beings in terms of other beings, even transcendent ones, leads
to either an infnite regress or an arbitrary halt at something
unexplained.
Our normal absorbed use of beings keeps us from rising to the
abstract metaphysical analysis of our contemporary beingness;
pursuing this examination, however, closes of more challenging
questi ons. Stepping back from this level to examine the various
historical forms of beingness allows us to real ize how profoundly
they difer, which disrupts our usual way of unrefectively taking
the present way of understanding Being for granted. Instead of
being the only reasonable way of coming to grips with the world,
our understanding becomes one option out of many. This is the
move from beingness to what Heidegger call s variously Seyn
(translated as Be-ing or Beying), Being itself, the truth of Beingq
or Being as Being. 'Metaphysics inquires into being in regard to
how it determi nes beings as beings. Now, in another sense, the
question of being is entirely other. It does not inqui re into being
insofar as it determi nes beings as beings; i t inquires into being as
bei ng. "4 Rather than starting from beings and asking what
grounds or determines them, thi s investigati on starts from the
multiple hi storical understandings of Being and asks about their
source in Being itself
We have to be careful here because Heidegger is not l ooking
for an explanation of the various forms of beingness, such as
that a God crafs them. Since explanations only make sense
within a particular understanding of Being, there can be no
meta-epochal explanation of how or why these understandings
themselves occur. Rather, the question highlights the fact that
these understandings occur (that they are ' sent' or ' given' to us)
as an inexplicable event which he sometimes calls Ereignis
(vari ously translated as the event of appropriation, propriation,
or enownment) = Every time such an event happens, it ushers in a
new epoch by letting beings appear in a pro
f
oundly new way.
Í J
8
OVERVIEW OF THEMES
We usually pay attention to the beings that are present or, at
most, to their essential way of presenting themselves (beingness),
ignoring the simple fact that they present themselves to us at all.
This built-in neglect is what Heidegger means when he says that
Being withdraws or conceals itself in the very act of unconceal­
ing beings. Viewing the present form of beingness as one
possibility among many instead of the self-evident and inevita­
ble Way Things Are, lets us refect on the wondrous fact that we
have an understanding of Being at all.
lb
Heidegger is trying to bring us to recollect Being, thus over­
coming this long oblivion or forgetfulness of Being. He wants to
help instigate a new epochal shif, one more radical than the
three which have occurred so far, sometimes called the other
beginning. The Greeks initiated the frst beginning by going
beyond merely busying themselves with beings to ask what they
are in general . However, Plato and Aristotle tured this inquiry
into metaphysics or philosophy by focusing on beingness and
grounding beings in a higher being. This investigation has gone
on for millennia, during which 'one can no longer be struck by
the miracle of beings: that they are' (BQ 169) . As Kant, Hegel,
and Nietzsche did before him, Heidegger wants to bring meta­
physics to a close.
Although he cannot describe post-metaphysical thinking
in any detail, being at best in a transitional state between
metaphysics and post-metaphysical thinking himself, we do
know that the thinking to come must be deeply historical .
It acknowledges its dependence on Being for how it thinks and,
since this has changed profoundly in the past, it must remain
open to future transformations. Thus, the idea of a fnal, fxed
answer to philosophical questions can no longer be a goal for
fnite dependent creatures like us.
IS
Wat we fnd intelligible and
persuasive is conditioned by our particular understanding;
although we must think in tune with our present understanding,
we can never forget that it remains just one possibility among
many. Ultimately, this is a form of becoming aware of our pre­
suppositions, perhaps the defning philosophical endeavour, but
now with the acknowledgment that the foundations our thought
rests upon can never enjoy absolute justifcation. In a particu­
larly arresting phrase, our understanding of Being is a groundless
ground.
9
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
Finally, thinking remains endlessly grateful for the gift we
have been given. We should become explicitly aware of our open­
ness to beings and celebrate it with wonder.
Wonder displaces us before everything in everything - that it is
and is what it is - in other words, before beings as beings . . . .
This is the most simple and is the greatest . . . . The acknowl­
edgment of beings as beings, however, is only sustained in
questioning what beings as such are. This question is not a
desire for explanati on or for the elimination of the most
unusual , that beings are what they are. On the contrary, this
question is an ever purer adherence to beings in their unusual­
ness, i. e., in primordial terms, in their pure emergence, in their
unconcealedness. 1 9
Although we are always in ' the clearing' in that we are always
open to beings, we rarely think about it. Heidegger wants us to
explicitly acknowledge it in thankful thinking, which means
coming to dwell where we have always already been. 20
10
CHAPTER 3
REDING THE TEXT
a. What Is Metaphysics?
Asking about metaphysics represents an indirect approach to
Heidegger's constant
q
uestion, 'what is Being?' Since we do not
know how to ask this question, much less how to answer it (44),
this essay examines metaphysics, i. e. , the study of beings consid­
ered simply as beings in Aristotle
'
s defnition. The title seems to
promise a Second-level inquiry into Being, a meta-metaphysics if
you will (see M 333): instead of asking the question of Being
directly, we will inquire into the in
q
uiry itself.
Heidegger immediately disabuses the reader of any ' expecta­
tions of a discussion about metaphysics' (93). The method of
phenomenology is to examine how phenomena show themselves
(81), so we should fnd a way to let the subject matter 'introduce
itsel f' (93). In this case, we examine the activity in question by
actually engaging in it rather than j ust talking about it, or study­
ing how others do it, or dictating how it ought to be done
according to presupposed notions. We must fnd and pursue an
exemplary metaphysical question to see what it shows us about
the subj ect in general. This shor
t
preliminary section ends by
outlining the three phases of the investigation: 'the unfolding of
a metaphysical inquiry' , elaborating it, and then 'answering it'
(93) . The rest of the essay neatly divides into three sections with
titles refecting these phases. As difcult as he is, Heidegger often
helps readers with orienting ' sign-posts' like this.
I. THE UNFOLDING OF A MEAPHYSICAL INQUIRY
The frst section of the essay opens by claiming that metaphysi­
cal in
q
uiries put the questioner into question, echoing Being and
Time's argument for fundamental ontology.l In order to get our
bearings on a question as profoundly mysterious as 'what is
11
HEIDEGGER' S LTER WRITINGS
Being' , we should begin by studying the being who is asking it,
cal led ' Dasein' in Heidegger's early works. Our way of Being
determines what kinds of thoughts we can have and what kinds
of beings we can investigate, so we can start getting a sense of
what an understandi ng of Being must be like from how we
understand in general. No matter what the topic, our questioning
can only take place ' from the essential position of the existence
[Dasein] that questions' (94).
Although this strategy resembles Being and Time's fundamen­
tal ontol ogyq there i s an important diference« Wereas the early
work tried to uncover the permanent and universal features of
all Dasein's understanding ( 59), now our specifc historical situ­
ation pl ays a role. Instead of seeking ahistorical constants
beneath varying historical conditi ons, this talk starts from the
particul ar place and time Heidegger fnds himself in - addressing
the faculty of a university in the early part of the twentieth
century.2 The prominent feature of such a group is that they are
scientifc in the sense of the German word ' Wissenschaftlich';
i . e. , they are engaged in rigorous, disciplined study conceived
more broadly than the English word ' science' .
In order t o understand a metaphysical question we must
understand the questioner, whose primary feature has just been
revealed as being scientifc; understanding this scientifc ques­
tion requires an investigation of science. Heidegger's description
of science here sounds startlingly like his conception of phe­
nomenol ogy in that both study beings impartially, suspending
all previously held views to let beings 'show what they are and
how they are' (95) . This resemblance is odd since he usually
depicts science as doing just the opposite, i.e., ftering experi­
ence through rigid preconceptions.
3
Here he speaks in almost
messianic terms of the sciences' potential were they true to 'their
most proper intention' (94).
Science's proper goal is to study 'beings themselves - and
nothing besides' (95). Science is only concerned with real things,
not wi th i maginary beings or daydreams and certainly not with
nothingness; universities do not fund Departments of Nihol ogy.
But Heidegger points out that in order to reject nothingness,
science must empl oy it. Excluding 'the nothing' from its subject
matter, as in ' nothing but beings are studied', involves precisely
what is being excluded. This means that in defning itself, science
12
WHAT IS MEAPHYSICS
'has recourse to what it rej ects' (96). This is signifcant because
we can only use a word properly if we have some understanding
of what we are speaking about;4 thus science's claim to 'know
nothing of the nothing' (96) undermines that very denial . In its
self-defnition as dealing only with beings, science deals with the
nothing.
This argument follows thinkers like Parmenides and Spinoza in
claiming that defnitions necessarily involve negation. Although
they appear entirely positive. defnitions are actually woven out
of negations because i dentifying something as, say, a dog simul­
taneously determines it as not a cat. not a kitchen, not a rainbow,
etc. Parmenides considers this a reductio ad absurdum of the
very possibili ty of distinctions: they require negation which
incoherently presupposes that nothingness is real . Heidegger
reverses this argument: distinctions are forms of negation which
is grounded on the nothing, hence the nothing must exist in
some sense.s
This highly condensed argument stands in need of consider­
ably more clarifcation and justifcation. The decision to open
with this excursion into science might be due to his audience
being maee up of researchers rather than to its being the most
natural way to raise the issue Heidegger wants to address.
6
He
may also be tring to show that supposedly abstract and esoteric
philosophical questions are not artifcial impositions from a spe­
cialized discipline, but emerge naturally when we rigorously
think through our everyday activities, in this case scholarship.
II. THE ELBORTION OF THE QUESTION
In any case, this discussion has yielded the metaphysical
question we were seeking - 'how is it with the nothing (96) -
which the second section of the essay will now pursue. However,
we immediately run into three objections that threaten to stop
the inquiry before it even gets started.
Grammar: The very structure of the question ' what is the
nothing' treats it as a being. forcing answers to assert that it
is something or other (97). But whatever we end up fnding
out about the nothing, one thing we know is that it certainly
is not a being, which suggests that all discussion of the noth­
ing is doomed to nonsense (97) . This line of thought, clearly
13
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
grasped by Heidegger, forms the basis of Rudol f Carnap's
famous attack. According to Carnap, Heidegger is just
expl oiting a l i nguistic l oophole by treati ng the logical
operation of negati on as a noun which, he naively assumes,
must name a thing. Since both the question and any answers
to it break the rules of proper usage, the whole discussion
is simply meaningless.
7
2 Intentionality: According to the phenomenological notion of
intentionality, introduced by Brentano and developed by
Husser!, consciousness is always consciousness of something.
All of our thoughts and attitudes must be about something.
But i f in fact our minds are necessarily directed to beings,
then thinking of the nothing appears impossible (97).
3 Finitude: The preliminary defnition of the nothing as ' the
negation of the totality of beings' (97) requires us frst to
grasp the totality of beings in order then to negate them, a
task far beyond our l imited intellects.
s
I cannot keep all of
my CDs in my head at once; imagine trying to think of every­
thing that is.
As in the Introduction to Being and Tme (42-4), Heidegger
is pointing out obstacles to his project only to show that they
are based on presuppositions he rejects. These three objections
are only valid ' assuming that in this question "logic" is of
supreme importance, that the intellect is the means, and thought
the way, to conceive the nothing' (97) . These objections show
that reason is incapable of reaching the nothing, but this only
pl aces the nothing beyond inquir entirely if reason is our sole
means to investigate matters. And now we can start to appreciate
the si gnifcance of the earlier claim that metaphysical questions
place the questioner in question. in order to fnd out if we can
answer this metaphysical question about the nothingq we must
examine our ability to answer questions in general . If our access
to reality is entirely, or even principally, cognitive, as the vast
majority of philosophers have believed, then these three objec­
tions do render the endeavor futile. We cannot think our way to
the nothing so, if rational analysis is our only reliable way to
pursue inquiries, we must give this one up.
The ' hermeneutic circle' gives us a preliminary reason to dis­
trust this conclusion: our very abi lity to talk about the nothing,
14
WHAT IS METAPHYSICS
even in rejecting it, demonstrates some grasp of it, otherwise we
would not know what it is we were rejecting= 'If the nothing
itself is to be questioned as we have been questioning it, then it
must be given beforehand. We must be able to encounter i t. ' 9
Our familiarity with the subject of our inquiry rests on a prior
'encounter' with it. If we could fnd and reactivate this experi­
ence, we could study the nothing frsthand. We have already
established that it could not have come from reason, so we must
examine Dasein-our way of being aware of or open to beings­
for an alterate source of experience.
Rejecting philosophys traditional focus on theoretical know­
ledge, Heidegger sees our access or openness to the world as
multi-faceted, all of which present legitimate aspects of reality.
One of Being and Tme's main conclusions is that we relate
to beings in all sorts of ways, among which theoretical observa­
tion enjoys no primacy. `` This view is rooted in phenomenology's
commitment to take experience as it is given rather than sifing
its real objective aspects out from the subjective or illusory
ones according to a presupposed criterion« If, as in this case,
logic proscribes an experience that we actually have (a claim that
has only been intimated at this point, not demonstrated), experi­
ence trumps logic. This arrangement undermines 'the reigning
and never-challenged doctrine of "logic"'.11 We have to be care�
ful not to caricature Heidegger; he is not rejecting rationality or
logic as genuine and important modes of access to beings.
Rather, he is insisting that our relation to reality possesses
other dimensions which have been severely neglected or even
demonized throughout the history of philosophy as SUbjective
distortions which present only obstacles to our quest to under�
stand reality. He writes a few years later, ' '' l ogic'' and "the logical
are simply not the ways to defne thinking without further ado,
as if nothing else were possible' (1M 127).
Heidegger calls the aspect of our awareness that he will focus
on here 'die Befndlichkeit der Stimmung', awkwardly translated
as 'the founding mode of attunement' ( 1 00); Krell later amended
his translation to the somewhat more natural-sounding, ' fnding
ourselves attuned' (PM 87). Stimmung means mood as well as
the tuning of a musical instrument (see J.28 footnote), suggest­
ing a metaphorical relationship between the two. If we are in a
bad mood, certain events will depress us whereas the same events
15
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
can be laughed of in a better mood; simi larly, the same note that
sounds sad when the instrument is tuned to a minor key can sound
cheerful in a major key. Heidegger coins the noun ' Befndlichkeit'
from the German expression, ' Wie Befnden Sie sichT This phrase
functions l i ke 'how are you doing' but its literal translati on would
be 'how do you fnd yourself' , so ' Befndlichkeit' means some­
thing like fnding oneself in a particular state or frame of mind.
The term emphasizes our passivity in that we do not decide to be
in a particular mood but simply fnd that we are so inclined.
Heidegger argues that our mood 'determines us through and
through';12 it afects which details we tune into or tune out and
how we interpret them. Moods do not compromise thinking's
proper functi oning as an external source of corruption, but are
deeply intertwined with thinking. As Heidegger states some
years l ater, ' man is not a rational creature who . o ø in addition to
thinking and willing is equipped with feelings; .. . rather, the
state of feel i ng is original , al though in such a way that thinking
and wil l i ng belong together with i t. ' 1 3 Whereas philosophers have
traditi onally considered reason and emotions distinct faculties
and sought to preserve the purity of the former from contamina­
tion by the latter, Heidegger views our grasp of the world as a
holistic blend.
We have arrived at an important juncture in the essay so let's
pause and review. So far we have seen that:
Science clai ms to focus excl usively on beings, rej ecting the
nothing.
2 Logic denies reason's ability to inquire into either the noth­
ing or beings as a whole.
3 We must have had some encounter with the nothing in order
to be able to ask about or reject it, undermining #1 .
4 Moods constitute an essential aspect, even 'the basic occur­
rence' of Dasein or our ability to question and understand
( 1 00) .
In order now to answer our metaphysical question, we must
reactivate our encounter with the nothing (#3) to give us an
experience of it which will guide our analysis. Since reason
cannot produce this experience (#2), we should look to a mood
to supply the needed data (#4), disrupting philosophy's exclusive
reliance on reason.
16
WHAT IS METAPHYSICS
According to the initial defnition of the nothing as the
negation of all beings (98), we encounter the nothing by grasping
the totality of beings and then negating it, a grasp that proved
beyond reason's ability. Heidegger now solves this problem by dis­
tinguishing 'between comprehending the whole of beings in
themselves and fnding onesel i the midst of beings as a whole.
The former is impossible in prnciple. The latter happens all the
time in our existence' (99, italics added) . We cannot rationally
comprehend beings as a whole, but a Befndlichkeit of this is com�
monplace. If a mood can provide access to phenomena relevant
to an investigation that reason cannot, this would show that rea�
son does not deserve its long�held status as the only legitimate
way to know reality. 14 This move represents the culmination of
the progressive demotion of reason throughout the nineteenth
century, from Kant's proscribing its ability to know reality
in-itself and priortization of the practical, to Kierkegaard's
emphasis on paradoxical faith and passion in decision-making, to
Nietzsche's focus on the body and will . Heidegger takes the fght
into reason's inner sanctuary and sacred ground: metaphysics.
l J
Heidegger now provides brief phenomenological descriptions
of three fundamental moods which supply an encounter with
the nothing: namely, boredom, love, and anxiety. Love is passed
over very quickly, while boredom receives more attention and, as
in Being and Time (§0), anxiety enjoys a lengthy discussion. Still
guided by the initial defnition of the nothing as the negation of
the totality of beings, he starts with love and boredom as pre­
senting beings as a whole for us to negate. However, notice
that this defnition was introduced as elucidating ' a word we
rattle of every day . . . blanched with the anemic pallor of the
obvious' (98), a description that hardly inspires confdence.
And in fact, the experience of boredom leads Heidegger to
abandon this defnition ( 1 00). If the nothing resulted from our
negation of the whole of beings, it would be the product of the
mind's activity. We would be able to bring it about voluntarily
rather than passively fnding ourselves in it as a Befndlichkeit.
Instead of negating beings as a whole, Heidegger fnds the
'correspondingly original mood' that directly 'reveals the noth�
ing' in anxiety.
Ì Ó
Acquiring this direct experience represents another turing
point in the essay since we now have the evidence needed to
1 7
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
answer Our metaphysical question ( 1 01 ) . This examination ends
up refuting many of the conclusions reached so far, reinforcing
the superiority of phenomenological descriptions over logical
argumentation. In particular, the experience undermines the
stark contrast between beings as a whole and the nothing that
logic had demanded. In place of this sharp division, anxiety
teaches us that being and nothingness intermingle. The signif­
cance of this claim, Heidegger admits, is far from obvious: 'in
anxiety the nothing i s encountered at One with beings as a whole.
Wat does this "at one with" mean?' ( 1 02) . Clearing up this
matter will require an answer to the metaphysical question that
ends both the frst and second sections of the essay, 'how is it
with the nothing?' (96, 1 0 I ) .
I I I . THE RESPONSE TO THE QUESTI ON
The frst section of the essay uncovered an exemplary metaphys­
ical question (' how is it with the nothing?' ), the second covered
the right way to conduct the inquiry (via careful examination of
a direct experience of the nothing in anxiety), and now the fnal
section of the essay will discover the true nature of the nothing
and how it relates to Dasein. Al though we were expecting to
examine either beings as a whole or the nothing separately,
experience reveals that boredoml 7 and anxiety present the two
mixed together. In these moods, we encounter beings as a whole
but modifed by the nothing; the desires and projects that nor­
mally keep us interestedl
8
in the world fnd no purchase.
When we are profoundly bored, that is, not bored by a partic­
ular thing l i ke a book or movie (which Heidegger would call
'on tic' boredom) but just plain bored, all the things we usually
enjoy seem bland, colorless, uninviting. They do not vanish, of
course; in fact, they are oppressively present. We see the phone,
but there is no one we want to talk to. The TV sits there but
whatever the programs, there is really nothing on. Nothing
attracts us: books and magazines do not call out to be read;
games do not entice us to play. Entertainments usually draw us
in but nOw they repel our attempts to lose ourselves in them. l
9
And this is how boredom imparts a sense of beings as a whole:
we get a sense of all things in that none of them can divert us
while we are stuck i n this 'muming fog' of ' remarkable indifer­
ence' (99) . In a later conversation, Heidegger describes it like
1 8
WHAT IS MEAPHYSICS
this: ' in genuine boredom, one is not only bored because of a
defnite thing, but one is bored in general . That means that noth­
ing whatsoever is of interest to oneself' (Z 208).
Following Kierkegaard, Heidegger distinguishes anxiety from
fear, which is an ontic mood. 2
0
We fear specifc beings such as a
threatening dog. Here the threat is localized, understandable,
and ofers at least possible escape. Wen we fear a particular
entity, other objects are not frightening and can even be attrac­
tive; we welcome the arrival of the police or a door we can hide
behind. This state retains diferentiations among beings: some
are frightening, some helpful, and many neutral . Anxiety, on the
other hand, has a peculiar ' indeterminateness' . 21 It is not a spe­
cifc being that makes us anxious but a nebulous sense of
discomfort, of things not being quite right.
Moreover, all beings have the same character at these times.
As in boredom, ' all things and we ourselves sink into indifer­
ence' . 22 We can still see and think about them but they no longer
matter to us, which is how boredom and anxiety reveal the
nothing as intertwined with beings as a whole. Rather than the
complete absence or simple negation of everything, we experi­
ence the nothing as a modifcation of everything that Heidegger
calls 'nihilation' . One of the efects of this modifcation is that
'in its nihilation the nothing directs us precisely toward beings'
(104) . Let's contrast this state with our usual, non-anxious
way of life.
Normally we encounter beings within what Being and Time
calls 'worldhood' , i . e. , the context of means-ends relations
that orent and guide our mundane interactions. We understand
gasoline as what we use to fuel the car in order to drive to the
store to buy a cake for the birthday party . . . . These chains are
anchored on the roles we use to defne ourselves; ultimately,
I take all the actions needed to put on a nice birthday party
for my kids because I want to be a good father. My project lays
out the feld of signifcance or worldhood in which are embed­
ded all relevant things and actions. We navigate these chains of
use and meaning so efortlessly that most of the time we are not
even aware of them. 2
3
A competent driver pays little attention
to her car as long as it is functioning smoothly; she thinks about
where she is going, what she will do when she gets there, or her
mind just wanders.
19
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
In Being and Tme, Heidegger calls this withdrawal from
attention ' inconspicuousness'24 and he shows how it character­
izes most of our everyday activities, lulling us into ' auto-pilot'
most of the time. 'We usually lose ourselves al together among
beings' ( 1 04) which, taken as a whole, results in ' the oblivious
passing of our lives' (BP 264) . But this absorption gets disrupted
when the things we are using break down; the car crashes in on
the driver's daydream for instance when it sputters and starts
spewing smoke. Localized breakdowns light up the particular
chain of usage they belong to, jolting us awake to pay attention
to what we are doing. Lighting up beings as a whole, however,
requires the kind of universal breakdown that occurs in funda­
mental moods, especially anxiety: ' the world as world is disclosed
frst and foremost by anxiety. '25
In Heidegger's usage, anxiety is the creeping sense that our
activities are meaningless so that, as in boredom, they stop
appealing to us. 'We can get no hold on things' ( 1 01 ) as they lie
slack and uninteresting. Nothing ' '' says' ' anything any longer.
Environmental entities no l onger have any involvement. The
world in which I exi st has sunk into insignifcance. '26 Although
it can strike out of the blue with no particular provocation,
2
7
contemplating one's mortality can easily trigger this overwhelm­
i ng sense of insignifcance (see HCT 29 1 ) . Wat is the point of
going to class or working out or even getting out of bed if I am
just going to die someday? Who will care whether or not I am a
good father 1 00 years from now when I along with everyone
I know will be dead? In the shadow of this thought, activities
and their relevant paraphernalia seem worthless because the
projects supporting them no longer matter. 2
8
Although this experience is horribly sufocating, like all
fundamental moods it can reveal essential truths if we stay with
it rather than feeing back to ' the comfortable enj oyment of
tranquilized bustle' .29 Heidegger discusses two specifc lessons
we can learn from anxiety. First, i t solves the riddle of how
beings as a whole can be interlaced with nothingness by present­
ing everything (beings as a whole) as not mattering (emotionally
nullifed) . Al l signifcance has drained away: ' in anxiety beings
as a whole become superfuous. ' 3o Li ke Hegel , Heidegger gives
negati on a much broader meani ng than the role al l owed by
strict 10gi c, ) 1 including these emotional cancel l ations in which
20
WHAT IS METAPHYSICS
everything appears altered, ' sink[ing] into indiference' , ' receding' ,
' oppressive' , ' repelling' .
Second, by stripping away the signifcance that things
normally enjoy, anxiety achieves the goal of metaphysics since
Aristotle, revealing being simply qua being: nihilation ' brings
Da-sein for the frst time before beings as such' . 32 Now, 'beings
as such' do not represent true reality, as if our usual meaningful
experience were illusory or merely subjective; such a distinction
would violate phenomenology's commitment to taking reality as
it presents itsel f in experience. 33 Seeing something just as a being
means viewing a car, for instance, not as a way to get to the store,
or a monthly expense, or a source of pollution, or even a car, but
just as something that is. This stripping away of all use-mean­
ings, which Heidegger calls nihilation,
discloses these beings in their full but heretofore concealed
strangeness as what is radically other - with respect to the
nothing. In the clear night of the nothing of anxiety the origi­
nal openness of beings as such arises: that they are beings -and
not nothing. 34
With their usual signifcance removed, we confront naked beings
as just being there; the double negation that they are not nothing
produces the very powerful positive recognition that they are. It
is terribly uncomfortable though because we have nothing to do
with them, no context to make sense of them or put them in
their place;
3
5
we usually fee from anxiety by occupying ourselves
with something ( 1 04).
This revelation of beings as such has a further consequence.
Being and Time defnes Dasein as being-in-the-world because
(among other things) our identity is made out of our basic proj­
ects (being a good father) which in turn are pursued or enacted
by appropriately using chains of tools (driving to the store to get
the cake) . ' Each one of us is what he pursues and cares for. In
everyday terms, we understand ourselves and our existence by
way of the activities we pursue and the things we take care of. '36
We are who we are by carrying out our proj ects through the rele­
vant equipment so, as strange as it might sound, ' Dasein is its
world existingly.
'
37 Normally, this integration allows the incon­
spicuousness of equipment to spread to ourselves as well, but
21
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
when our goals break down in anxiety, our normal ways of
defning ourselves also stop functioning. My Ïole of being a pro¯
fessor organizes my world by reveal ing philosophy books and
computers as useful and relevant, dung beetles and ice skates not
so muchø In anxiety I do not care for my projects, letting my
world fall slack in insigni fcance. The roles that usually defne
who I am and what I do no longer feel l i ke they belong to or are
me, and without these self-defning proj ects and activities, who
am I? We 'slip away from ourselves' ( 1 01 ) .
Just as anxiety strips away their mundane meanings to reveal
beings as such, so sl oughing of our usual identities can 'com­
plete the transformation of man into his Da-sein that every
instance of anxiety occasions in US' .
38
It is only when we are pre­
vented from diving into the world that we perceive the incredibly
simple fact that it manifests itself to us or, correlatively, that we
are open to it. Our openness to beings' manifestation represents
something l i ke the essence of Dasein: ' revealing [beings] - far
from being merely incidental - is also the basic occurrence of
our Da-sein. '
3
9
Only beings as such remain, and ' in the altogether
unsettling [unheimlich] experience of this hovering where there is
nothing to hold onto, pure Da-sein is all that i s still there. ' 40 This
suspension of content - when ' our concerful awaiting fnds
nothing i n terms of which i t might be able to understand itself'
(BT 393/343) ¯ i s what allows me to become aware of my aware­
ness. It is when we cannot l ose ourselves among beings that
w
e
can fnd our self in Being. This represents the culmination of
Heidegger's initial claim that metaphysical questions pl ace the
questioner in questi on (93). The eÄperience of beings as such
brought on by the question of the nothing brings us face to face
wi th our selves as such, or pure Daseins
leidegger then fol l ows the essenti al i st or perfecti oni st l i ne of
argument that, i n Ari stotl e's terms, once we fnd our ergon or
essenti al activi ty we shoul d peÎform i t with arete or excel l ence.
This peculiaÎ i mpoverishment whi ch sets i n with respect to
ourselves i n this ' i t i s bori ng for one' frst brings the se([i n al l
its nakedness to itsel as the self that is there and has taken
over the bei ng-there of its Da-sei n. For what purpose? To be
that Da-sein. 41
2
WHAT IS MEAPHYSICS
The fundamental project that emerges when all specifc projects
have been suspended is to ' shoulder once more his very Dasein,
that he explicitly and properly take this Dasein upon himself'42
This qualifcation, that we now take up our being-there ' explic­
itly and properly' (eigentlich, ' authentically' ), is key; anxiety is
what all ows us to become aware of and consciously embrace our
openness which is always there but which we never really think
about.43
Wonder is the attitude or attunement appropriate to taking
up one's Dasein, i . e. , the way to be aware of awareness with arete.
The nothing's nihilation strips beings of their familiar use-mean­
ings so that, as strange, they can strike us and stop our taking
them for granted. 4 Wonder allows us to view our openness or
ability to be aware, which we usually take for granted, as extra­
ordinary.45 In its many forms,46 this represents the later work's
heir to authenticity.
Wonder can be evoked in many ways; fttingly, the end of 'What
Is Metaphysics?' shows how it can both provoke and emerge from
metaphysical inquiry. Heidegger states that ' only on the gound
of wonder - the revelation of the nothing - does the "why?" loom
before us' ( 1 09), invoking Plato and Aristotle's agreement that
philosophy arises from wonder. Competently employing beings
takes them for granted, rendering them inconspicuous; it is only
when they are estranged from their normal meaning that we
wonder what and why they are. He calls the particular 'why' ques­
tion that ends the essay ' the basic question of metaphysics which
the nothing compels: Wy are there beings at all, and why not
rather nothing?' ( 1 1 0) . The nothing 'compels' this question by
revealing beings as superfuous; noticing their simple thereness
provokes us to question it: why are they there? Once we explicitly
think that Being is, the path is open to ask why i t is.
Al though this i s a traditional metaphysical question,
Heidegger is not posing it in the standard way. He i s not seeking
a reason or explanation for why reality is there, such as its
divine cause. That kind of answer would commit the mistake he
calls ' ontotheology' by explaining Being or the simple thereness
of everything by a specifc being; this does not help since any
cause still presupposes Being by being there as well . 47 Instead
of a request for information, this question is meant to alter the
23
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
questioner's focus or attunement. Engaging in the inquiry should
result in a transformation, not a fact. 48
Wondering why there are beings is one way to become aware
that there are beings (which means that there is Being) and that
we are aware of them; it helps us become who we are, Da-sein.
Our Da-sein is our openness and, l i ke fundamental moods,
asking the why question draws our attention to this openness
so that we can celebrate it. As he says a few years later, the
question
prevents us, in our questioning, from beginning directly with
beings as unquestionably given . . . . Instead, these beings are
held out in a questioning manner into the possibility of
not-Being . . . . Wi th our question we establish ourselves
among beings in such a way that they forfeit their self­
evidence as beings . v . . Our Dasein, too, as it questions, comes
into suspense.49
Bracketing our vari ous preoccupations with beings reveals this
openness as our ergon, the essential activity or function that
makes us Dasein. Hei degger praises both Plato and KantSO for
grasping that 'metaphysics belongs to the "nature of man". ' S I
Since what it means t o be Dasein is t o be aware of bei ngs, becom­
ing aware of this awareness represents the highest actualization
of our essence or form (to continue using Aristotelian terms that
Heidegger would not approve ofV2
The titl e asks ' what i s metaphysics q a question whichq the
frst paragraph informs us, can only be answered by asking
a particul ar metaphysical question (93) . Refecti on on our pres­
ent situation as scientifc researchers studying nothing but
beings raises the question of the nothing, which shows how
putting ourselves i n question ' transposes' us into metaphysics.
The nothing i n turn 'compels' the 'basic question of metaphys­
ics' in the essay's fnal sentence ( 1 1 0) . By bringing our funda­
mental openness to beings itself into the open, this question
lets us become who we are, completing our ' transformation'
into Dasein. Thus, ' metaphysics is the basic occurrence of
Dasein' ( 1 09).
24
WHAT IS MEAPHYSICS
STUDY QUESTIONS
1 So, what is metaphysics?
2 Wat kind of answer can we get to the question, why is there
anything instead of nothing? Wat is wrong with an answer
like, God created the world out of benefcence?
3 How does this essay challenge reason or logic? Is Heidegger
really a misologist (a hater of reason)? How fair is Camap's
objection?
b. On the Essence of Truth
The topic of truth is extremely important to Heidegger's l ater
work, fguring prominently in his 'Kehre' or change in thought
(see 23 1 ) . This essay, however, is a disorienting piece of writing
for several reasons. First, it takes the form of an extended chain
of thinking built by repeatedly introducing new terms and link­
i
ng them to ideas and terms established earlier i n the essay.
Second, whereas Being and Time drops standard philosophical
terms l ike 'man' in order to avoid the traditional meanings they
carry, ' On the Essence of Truth' retains traditional terms like
' freedom' and 'essence' but uses them in ways that seem unre­
lated to their usual meanings, which can cause considerable
confusion. Third, Heidegger swi tches to the perspective of com­
mon sense or traditional philosophy several times without
alerting the reader of this change of voice. Instead of presenting
the reader with a set of polished conclusions that look l ike they
sprung from his head wholly formed, Heidegger shows how he
wrestles with the issue, including some mis-steps which get
retracted. Although confusing, this presents a more honest
depiction of the process of thought which can teach us how to
think rather than just telling us what Heidegger thought. 5
3
Once you see the essay as a kind of conversation Heidegger is
having with himself, and you suspend the usual meanings of
words like ' essence' , ' truth' , and freedom' ¡ the essay actually
25
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
fol l ows a neat and tight line of thought. It is extremely dense,
however, ofen covering important and difcult steps in just a
couple of pages. Although he announces the moves he is making
quite directly, they go by quickly; like all of Heidegger's writings,
this work requires slow patient reading.
The essay's frst sentence announces that ' our topic is the
essence of truth' ( 1 1 5), which appears too abstract and general
to be useful ( 1 1 6) . Note, however, that it is common sense that
poses this objection. Common sense blocks philosophical
questioning by assuring us that we already know as much as
we need to about such an ' obvious' topic. Rather than posing
useless questions about the essence of truth, we should work
towards acquiring practical truths ( 1 1 6) . But, according to one
of Heidegger's favorite arguments, 5
4
seeking specifc truths
requi res that we already understand what truth i s, that is, that we
grasp its essence. Since common sense is employing 'The Usual
Concept of Truth' , we must examine this more closely.
I . THE USUAL CONCEPT OF TRUTH
Li ke Hegel before him, Hei degger points out that the ordi nary
sense of truth applies not j ust to assertions but to things as wel l .
Gol d i s true "if it is in accord wi th what it is supposed to be,
i . e. , genuine gold, while an assertion is true if it accords with the
state of afairs it describese The sentence 'The cat is on the mat'
is true if and onl y if the cat is actually on the mat. Wether
applied to objects or propositions, truth gets defned in terms
of accordance. Although cashed out in somewhat diferent terms
at diferent times, truth has long been defned as some sort of
correspondence or accordance, which gets spelled out in terms
of correctness. 55 In order to understand truth, then, we must
come to grips with these notions.
I I . THE I NNER POSSI BI LIT OF ACCORDANCE
Although philosophers generally take the notion of accordance
for granted when defning truth, it is actually quite hard to spell
out what it consists in and how it is possible. While it is easy to see
how things of the same type such as two fve-mark coins can be in
accord with each other - they look alike, can buy the same items,
etc. - statements and things are fundamentally diferent types of
26
ON THE ESENCE OF TRUTH
beings. A vocalization appears to have little to nothing in com­
mon with a physical object, so what does it mean to say that they
are in accord? Thus, citing corespondence to explain truth only
distracts us from the emperor's nudity. Even granting this tradi­
tional defnition of trth, which Heidegger does up to a point, 5
6
it
does little to illuinate truth unless it itself gets clarifed.
These questions defy the ' resistance which the "obvious" has'
( 1 1 6) by showing that in fact we do not understand how state­
ments can be in accord with matters ( 1 20) . Although common
sense and tradition reassure us that correspondence is ' the
essence of truth' , Heidegger concludes (in a lecture series from
1 928) that 'the defnition of truth as adaequatio is the starting
point, not yet the answer' . 57
Rejecting the traditional understanding of essence as the defn­
ing characteristics shared by a set of objects of the same type,58
Heidegger defnes essence as ' the ground of the inner possibility
of what is initially and generally admitted as known' ( 1 23). This
resembles Kant's transcendental inquiries into the conditions of
the possibility of something assumed to be valid, such as scientifc
knowledge in the frst Critique. Here it is the traditional concep­
tion of trth as correspondence between statement and world that
Heidegger accepts as given, but asks how it is possible. The essence
of truth he is seeking means the enabling condition or ground for
making assertions about beings and checking their accuracy.
Asserting something about something, describing a state of
afairs in a way that can be true or false, is a behavior directed
towards something. S
9
Saying that two coins are lying on the
table is a way of comporting ourselves towards them which,
of course, requires that we be aware of them. We have to notice
them as potential subjects of assertion ('hey, there is something
on the table' ), inspect them to determine their identity ('ah, they
are fve-mark coins'), and then possibly review the situation to
check the correctness or adequate correspondence of what we
have asserted (' yes, I g
o
t it right - those really are fve-mark
coins lying on the table'). From the beginning to the end of this
process - and it is a process rather than a static relationship
between parallel sets of organized elements - we have to
b
e
' open' to these beings calling attention to themselves in specifc
ways. This condition is so simple and basic that it usually escapes
our notice, but it is 'The Inner Possibil
i
ty
o
f Accordance' .
27
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
In order to make or check assertions, in order to do anything
at all, we must be aware of beings in some way. As Heidegger
says a few years later, 'if our representations and assertions -
e. g. , the statement, "The stone is hard" - are supposed to conform
to the object, then this being, the stone itsel f, must be accessible
in advance· in order to present itself as a standard and measure
for the conformity with i t. In short, the being . . . must be out
in the open. '
6
0 Only on the basis of an open comportment, i . e. ,
a way of behavi ng that lets something present itself to us, can we
make statements about it or verify that statements correspond to
i t. It i s i n thi s ' open regi on ( 1 2 1 ) or cleari ng that bei ngs and
statements ' present themselves' ( 1 22), making compari son and
accordance between such di ssi mi lar entities possible.
If the openness of comportment i s the necessary conditi on of
correspondence truth, then it is truth's 'essence' in the sense that
it enables truth to occur. ' I f the correctness (truth) of statements
becomes possi ble only through this openness of comportmentq
then what frst makes correctness possible must with more
original right be taken as the essence of truth. '6
1
Only if the cat
presents herself to me, and presents herself as on-the-mat, can I
make the true statement that ' the cat is on the mat' or check its
veracity. This means that the traditional placement of truth only
in statements no l onger holds. 'Truth does not originally reside in
the proposition' ( 1 22), but rather in the unconcealment of beings.
Making and checking correct statements depends upon things
being manifest, so this manifestness is a more appropriate locus
of truth than the parasitic statementsø
Section One ended by looking into the condition for the
possibility of the traditional notion of truth as correspondenceq
revealed in the following section to be our opening comport­
ment, and now Section Two closes by asking about the condition
for the possibility of that conditionv Wat enables this open
comportment to beings which allows us to become aware of
them and, thereby, make correct assertions about them?
I I I . THE GROUND OF THE POSSI BI LI TY
OF CORRECTNESS
Section Three opens with an obscurely worded but fascinating
questi on: ' whence does the presentative statement receive the
directive to conform to the object and to accord by way of
28
ON THE ESENCE OF TRUTH
correctness?' ( 1 23). I take it that Heidegger is asking the
same astonishing question as Nietzsche: ' what in us really wants
"truth"? . . Suppose we want truth: why not rather untruth?'
6
2
It is a startling question, one that is hard even to see as a real
question: why do we value the truth? Wy are our relations to
beings generally organized around and oriented towards accu­
rate descriptions of them? Obviously people can and do lie or
create fction, but the vast maj ority of the time we strive to
describe the world the way it is without even considering the
alternative. By default, we 'bind ourselves' to beings by trying to
make our statements conform to reality. Wy? As strange as the
question i s, it merely extends philosophy's constant ambition to
examine all assumptions.
Heidegger answers this surprising question with an admittedly
odd word-choice: freedom is why we tend to tell and value truth
as well as, answering the question posed at the end of Section
Two, the reason we are able to have open comportments. He
briefy summarizes the three steps made so far in order to show
how this latest link fts into the chain he has forged: ' [2] the
openness of comportment as the inner condition of [ 1 ] the pos­
sibility of correctness is grounded in [3] freedom' ( 1 23, all
bracketed numbers added). The essay started with [ 1 ] 'The Usual
Concept of Truth' as correctness, and then showed in Section
Two that its 'essence' or ' Inner Condition' lies in [2] ' the open­
ness of comportment' . Now Section Three is demonstrating
that [2] comportment, or behavior that takes notice of beings, is
itself grounded in or made possible by [3] freedom, w
i
th · the
conclusion (again, given his sense of 'essence') that ' the essence
of truth isfreedom' .63
Now, Heidegger cannot mean the traditional understanding
of freedom as the ability to choose one's actions without exter­
nal constraint. 6 Grounding truth in this kind of freedom would
lead to the obvious absurdity that humans simply decide what is
true; despite caricatures, Heidegger explicitly rejects this view. 6s
However, common sense again insists that we stick with the
traditional ideas or 'preconceptions' we started with, rather than
examining or redefning them. In this case, freedom gets its
meaning from man:
'
freedom is a property of man. The essence
of freedom neither needs nor allows any further questioning.
Everyone knows what man is' ( 1 24) .
2
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
I V. THE ESSENCE OF FREEDOM
Heidegger immediately disrupts this reassurance wi th an admon­
ishment that we should take to heart whenever we read his
writings: ' i ndication of the essential connection between truth
as correctness and freedom uproots those preconceptions -
granted of course that we are prepared for a transformation of
thinki ng' ( 1 24) . Much of what Hei degger says sounds strange
when interpreted according to traditional meanings, but his
goal is precisely to challenge and transform these ways of think­
ing. Being and Tme's strategy of using the term 'Dasein' instead
of standard terms l i ke 'man' or 'consciousness' is less confusing
because ' Dasein' has little conceptual baggage of its own; it
ofers more of a blank canvas which can hold an entirely new
sense with little interference. However, when successful, this new
strategy of taking over and radically redefning customary terms
can more efectively provoke ' a transformation of thinking' , that
is, a change in the way we have always thought about these ideas.
Since freedom has traditionally been considered a fundamental
property of man, examining freedom anew leads to a deeper
examination of man ( 1 24).
Heidegger defnes freedom as ' letting beings be'
66
or 'being
free for what is opened up in an open region' ( 1 23) . He often cal1s
this open region 'the clearing' (das Lichtung) in a metaphor
inspired by his frequent forest hi kes. Walking through dense
dark woods with limited visibi li ty, one can suddenly come into
an open place where trees are ' lighter' or thinner, allowing light
to stream in and giving things room to display themselves. One
of Heidegger's fundamental ideas is that Da-sein or man is like
a clearing in the midst of reality: we are the there or the 'Da'
where beings can show themselves, letting them be seen and
thought about. Uncovering the conditions for the possibility of
our speech and behavior and our overall truth-orientati on leads
to this ultimate condition:
the refecti on on what correctness genuinely is . . . leads us
to that which makes it possible in the frst place and is the
ground of this possibility For a representation to be able to
conform to beings as normative, the beings must, prior to this
conformity and on behalf of it, show themselves to it and
thus already stand in the open . . . . This open region and its
30
ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH
openness constitute the ground of the possibility of the cor­
rectness of a representation (BQ 1 74).
The 'irruption' (95) of this sphere of awareness within which
beings can become manifest is the most extraordinary event that
could ever happen, and Heidegger constantly tries to make us
appreciate it. Here. this openness is conceived as the necessar
presupposition or enabling ground (i . e. , the 'essence') of [2] our
ability to interact with beings and of [3] truth as correspondence.
Da-sein, being the there or place where things come to appear­
ance, is the 'concealed essential ground of man' as well as ' the
originally essential domain of truth' . 6` Since this freedom' is
what allows us to be what we are, it is more ftting to say that we
are a property of freedom than that it is a property of US.
6
8
Heidegger now highlights the etymology of 'existence' , the
name of Dasein's mode of Being in Being and Time, by spelling
it 'ek-sistence' , meaning standing outside oneself He rejects the
picture of the mind residing in an internal theatre, only receiving
sensory representations of the world at an irreducible distance
from itfor the more phenomenologcally accurate description of
ourselves as always already outside our mind, out in the world,
amongst beings. On this exposure to beings rests all of our com­
portment, so freedom, truth, and man must all be understood
anew in terms of this essence-
Letting beings be, the new sense of freedom, means allowing
beings into clearng to manifest themselves freely, without
forcing them into preconceived molds. We are constantly letting
beings into the clearing in our diverse dealings with them, but
our normal busyness does not really let beings be themselves.
In tune with common sense's assurances that we know all there
is to know about various phenomena, and so do not need to
think any further about them, 'precisely in the leveling and
planing of this omniscience, this mere knowing, the openedness
of beings gets fattened OUt' .
6
9
We tend to assimilate everthing
we encounter to a few familiar traditional horizons, stubborly
imposing a Procrustean bed of preconceptions even when
inappropriate. 70 Being and Time (as we have it) consists largely in
showing the inappropriateness of analysing humans with the
perspective of things or tools, while the frst section of 'The
Origin of the Work of Art' demonstrates these perspectives
31
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
inadequacy for aÎtworks. As with phenomenol ogy (see 8 1 ) , the
frst step of letting-be is suspending our preconceptions to allow
beings to show us what they are like ( 1 25) .
In addition to this ontic attitude of patient attention to things,
letting¯be also occurs at the ontol ogical level of openness itself
as an 'engagement in the disclosure of beings as such' ( 1 26) .
Although all of our comportment takes place within the open
region or clearing, we ignore the clearing to focus on the things
cleared. Have you ever stopped in the middle of running errands
to contemplate the simple fact that you are aware? How much
more often do we just ' phase out' , losing thematic awareness of
the car we are driving or the pen we are using, snapping out of it
only when a snag is hit or the job is done? Our awareness dims
down in our mundane routine where we know our way around
so well that we need pay little attention; everything just fades
away inconspicuously.
Although most of our comportments to or interactions with
beings narrow our exposure down to what is familiar and useful
while ignoring the open region, philosophy can both lift our
conceptual blinders and light up the openness. ' The ek-sistence
of historical man begins at that moment when the frst thinker
takes a questioning stand with regard to the unconcealment of
beings by asking: what are beings? In this question unconceal­
ment is experienced for the frst time. ' 1 1 A question l i ke thiS,
lacking both utility and a famil iar method of answering it, with­
draws us from ontic deal ings with individual entities to let beings
as a whole shimmer into conspicuous appearance, vividly
lighting up the utterly simple fact that there are beings and that
we are aware of them. Wen this occurs, ' beings themselves are
expressly drawn up into their unconcealment and conserved in
it' ( 1 26). Li beration from ontic busyness opens the space for
ontological engagement, i . e. , explicitly attending to the clearing
where we do not j ust experience unconcealed beings, but main­
tain awareness of their unconcealment. 12 Jt is the vital asking of
the question rather than any possible answer to it that represents
' the fulfllment and consummation of the essence of truth in the
sense of the disclosure of beings' ( 1 27).
And now we have answered the opening question of Section
Three: why are we oriented to correctly representing beings as
they are? Wat it means to be man (in Heidegger's technical
32
ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH
sense) i s to comport oneself towards beings, to reside within the
open region interacting with beings in various ways; we are
being-directed beings.73 That is why Da-sein - being the there or
the clearing - is our 'essence' in the sense of enabling condition:
only contact with things and other people lets us be men. This
free letting-be or opening up of a clearing orients all of our
comportments towards beings.
7
4 Ek-sistence itself - our direct­
edness towards beings - inclines us to the unconcealing of them;
that is what we do. Revealing beings through assertions is one
way to perform the unconcealing of beings7
S
which forms our
most basic way of Be-ing. 7
6
Letting beings be, allowing them to
manifest fully as they are, represents the 'fulfllment and con­
summation' ( 1 27) or the fourishing ( 1 28) of the unconcealment
we are always doing.
Afer uncovering these deeper levels of truth, the last para­
graph of Section Four turs to the question of untruth. Although
semblance and distortion are initially attributed to man's free­
dom, Heidegger has already ruled out the idea that we control
truth (
i
23-). His new conception of trth requires a rethinking
of untruth as well, with the specifc outcome that the two belong
together ( 1 28).
V. THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH
Once more, Heidegger gives a brief recap of the ground covered
so far ( 1 28). Ek-sistent disclosure or standing outside of our­
selves exposed to beings is what enables us to experience them
and thus make true statements about them, making freedom the
essence of truth. Our comportments fourish when they let
beings be, i . e. , cultivate entities' own ways of manifesting.
A new topic now arises: attunement. As discussed in 'Wat is
Metaphysics?' , ' attunement' refers to both moods and the tuning
of a musical instrument. Various moods tune us in to diferent
facets or aspects of the world and determine in what key events
strike us: in a celebratory mood nothing can bring me down,
whereas in an irritable mood everything annoys, even news that
would normally make me happy. Our attunement predetermines
the general way we react to what we encounter, prevailing
throughout all of our comportments ( 1 29) . As in 'Wat is
Metaphysics?' , moods put us in touch with beings as a whole in
a way that reason cannot.
77
3
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
Here the primary contrast is between attunements' disclosure
of beings as a whole and comportments' interactions with
specifc entities. Since interactions focus on individual beings,
they exclude everything else ( 1 29-30). Wereas my good mood
orients my reactions to whatever happens (beings as a whole).
changing my car's oil narrows my attention to just what is relevant
to the job (a few specifc beings) . Antarctica, e. g. , does not enter
my awareness during this process at all and, unlike my cheerful
mood. working on my car in no way orents my attitude towards
Antarctica should it arise. My car and Antarctica bear no rela­
tionship to each other whatsoever, leaving the continent, and
virtually everything else in the universe, in the dark while I take
care of the oil . Since freedom takes place in specifc comport­
ments which only spotlight relevant beings, it necessarily conceals
everything else; there is no comportment that would not conceal.
VI. UNTRUTH AS CONCEALI NG
The above discussion shows how truth and untruth belong
together ontically or in terms of individual beings; we now turn
to the ontological side. Here we fnd concealment at the very
heart of revealing ( 1 30) . First, Heidegger argues that a complete
shadowless grasp of every aspect of something is not j ust unat­
tainable by our fnite minds, but is actually incoherent. The way
unconcealment works is that when one aspect of something
comes to light. its other aspects as well as beings as a whole fade
into the shadows. 78 Due to the very nature of focus, bringing one
thing into the foreground of ones attention displ aces all else to
the background.
Second, perception and action naturally conceal unconceal­
ment itself because we pay attention to what is unconcealed
rather than the fact that it is unconcealed.
In order to bring into view what resides in a visual feld, the
visual feld itself must precisely light up frst, so that it might
illuminate what resides within it; however, it cannot and may
not be seen explicitly. The feld of view, <A"eet [aleheia] ,
must in a certain sense be overlooked.
7
9
As he l i kes to translate Heraclitus' saying. Being loves to hide.
Heidegger returns to this topic - the forgetfulness or oblivion of
3
ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH
Being - over and over again throughout his career, always trying
to turn our attention to the presentation of beings. The specifc
conclusion about truth here is that, ' letting-be is intrinsically at
the same time a concealing' .
50
Heidegger is particularly interested in the way this concealing
itsel gets concealed. Wen we focus on the object of our con­
cern, e. g. , the car's oil, we lose awareness of everything else, but
we do not realize that we are oblivious of everthing else. The
rest of the universe is so far from my thoughts that I a not even
aware that I am not aware of it; this concealment gets concealed
in what he calls the mystery.
8
1 Like much in Heidegger, the phras­
ing sounds confusing but actually descrbes a phenomenon we
encounter all the time. There are times when we forget some­
thing but we are fully aware that we have forgotten it: 'now where
did I put my keys?' A piece of information is missing but its
identity is outlined by what we do remember. Then there are
times when we forget something so completely we do not even
remember that we have forgotten it, until that shocking recall :
' Oh, no! I was supposed to meet my friend for dinner last night!
I totaly forgot! ' Although this phenomenon prepares the ground
for what Heidegger will condemn, it forms ' the proper' or 'pri­
mordial nonessence of truth' ( 1 30, 1 3 1 ); it is a necessary part of
truth rather than an unfortunate side-efect we should avoid.
I want to spend a little time on the single complete paragraph
on page 1 3 1 since it represents a turning point in the essay,
8
2
gathering up the ideas from the frst hal
f
before laying out the
topics that will occupy the rest of the essay. The paragraph
begins with Section Four's connection of freedom and letting-be
as well as their foundational character. Anything we can do to or
with beings is grounded in our ek-sistent freedom or openness to
the world. Despite this inherent orientation towards unconceal­
ing, we also have a tendency toward concealing which conceals
itself in the myster. Every unconcealing simultaneously con­
ceals but, as discussed in Section Five, we are not aware of this
ubiquitous concealing. A forgottenness which itself has been
forgotten pervades the whole process.
Section Si focuses on the mystery - i . e. , the fact that we are
not aware that we are not aware of the vast majority of beings or
beings as a whole - and now Heidegger starts laying the ground
for Section Seven by showing how this mystery leads to ' errancy' .
3
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
By and large, I know my way around beings, what is appropriate
to do to or with them, and I need look no farther than these
standard ways of seeing and using things.
83
Although this mastery
i s integral to our social nature and is required for our comport­
ments, Heidegger worries that these expectations based on long
familiarity blind us to everything that falls outside them. This
facile understanding l ays down guard-rails that allow us to glide
through our daily routine with minimal attention. We go on
auto-pilot since we know what a fork is for, what an apple
looks like, basically what various beings are. These pre-established
horizons perpetuate themselves by assimilating any new experi­
ences to what i s already known. 84 Common sense capitalizes on
this insistence on what is already known to reject any inquiries
that challenge the accepted view.
Heidegger recoils from such ' omniscience' achieved through
neglect because it blocks everything beyond what is familiar and
useful .
85
Driven by fads and desires, our horizons shrink to what
we al ready know, leaving our lives empty of worth, dignity, and
nobility. Heidegger links the mistaken idea that we can infuse
our lives with meaning by ourselves to our forgetting that Being
is the real source of our understanding and meaning. Modern
man willfully ' in-sists, i . e. , holds fast to what i s ofered by beings,
as if they were open of and in themselves' ( 1 32), or as if we could
construct our openness to them by our own eforts.
VI I . UNTRUTH AS ERRANCY
Section Seven turns from untruth as concealing to errancy.
Erring unites ek-sistant exposure to beings, the mystery as the
foregrounding of a particular set of beings against the unnoticed
background of beings as a whole, and in-sistent taking beings
the way they initially present themselves without questioning
further. In-sisting takes what we already understand about a
being to exhaust its meaning, concealing the concealment of
other possibilities by denying that there are any others. The enti­
ties might display profoundly new aspects within diferent
horizons, but I will never fnd out if I refuse to budge from the
tried and true. Scient ism - the idea that only science accurately
describes reality so that whatever does not ft into its concepts
cannot be fully real - is a contemporary form of insistence.
Minimally, ek-sistence means just being exposed to beings so
3
ON TE ESSENCE OF TRUTH
that we can become aware of them, but its highest form remains
exposed to fundamentally new ways of thinking, even about
the most familiar objects and ideas like truth. This essay (which
literally means to make an experimental attempt) pursues this
ideal of openness, fghting common sense as it 'uproots . . .
preconceptions - granted of course that we are prepared for
a transformation of thinking'

The mystery conceals this concealment: we generally are not
aware that we are not aware of the vast maj ority of beings or
alternate facets of the beings we encounter since neither informs
our immediate activities. Untruth belongs with truth because
concealing is inevitable
;
it is the fip side of un concealment, not
an unfortunate situation we have fallen into. The idea of getting
rid of untruth once and for all to breathe the pure air of unadul·
terated truth is conceptually incoherent on Heidegger's scheme.
If man cannot get rid of untruth as unconcealing or errancy,
man can at least become aware of t
h
em ( 1 34). We should recog·
nize that we conceal aspects of the beings we focus on, as well as
all the beings that we are not focusing on, and that we tend to
conceal this very concealing. The most familiar ways we experi·
ence a being do not exhaust its Being. even if we generally act as
if they did. My pen for instance has many diferent ways of
Being: it is a writing implement, a cog in our capitalist economy,
a piece of matter that obeys the laws of physics. and beautiful .
We need to stop in-sisting that the familiar useful modes exhaust
all that there is, so that we can stay ready to ex·pose ourselves to
new perspectives. One of the virtues of art is that it brings to the
surface alternate aspects of beings that we rarely see.
This mystical-phenomenological attitude Heidegger is trying
to instill lets beings be. It patiently attends to beings until new
aspects start showing themselves, formerly unseen features
shyly poking through the familiar ones, so to speak. Ayone can
experience this: just sit and stare at a familiar object like an apple
for a full ten minutes. After a few impatient minutes ('1 know
what an apple is! '), unnoticed details begin to emerge, forcing
the realization that you have never really looked at one before.
This grateful, meditative cultivation of appearance is the
quasi-ethical attitude Heidegger is pointing us towards ( 1 26) .
This conservation of openness makes us most ourselves, most
Dasein, the being through whom beings can be themselves.
37
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
Perhaps we cannot constantly maintain such sensitivity (thou
g
h
I suspect that Zen satori might be something like this), but we
can at least keep in mind that our horizons are inherently l imited
and remain ready for the new.
VI I I . PHI LOSOPHY AND THE QUESTI ON OF TRUTH
Heidegger now connects this attitude to philosophy, in particu­
lar to 'the question of the Being of bein
g
s' . ´` This returns to the
idea broached in Section Four that philosophical questions
about beings as a whole help bring about our highest form of
ek-sistence. Since then we have discovered that ' man errs
'
( 1 33)
or falls away from this questioning stance in which beings are
expressly held in their unconcealment by insistin
g
that we know,
making genuine inquiry unnecessary ( 1 35). Throughout the
essay common sense has repeatedly tried to convince us to turn
back, to stop questioning and rest content with knowledge suited
to our normal activities.
Philosophy on the other hand is ' intrinsically discordant'
( 1 35). It acts as a gadfy irritatingly challen
g
ing what we 'know'
to be the truth, the whole truth, and the only truth. In particular,
philosophy is the one discipline (perhaps along with art) that
recognizes the ever-present structurally necessary conceal­
ments.ss Heideggerian philosophy acknowledges the mystery,
i . e. , the concealment that is necessary to unconcealment, making
fnal conclusive answers impossible. He gives up the traditional
ideal of absolutely secure knowledge that settles matters once
and for all . Given his understandin
g
of truth as intertwined with
untruth at its heart and of human understanding as continually
capable of revealing new facets, his 'epistemological' ideal
embraces the ineradicable concealments involved in all know­
ing. s
9
This is one reason why Heidegger consistently values
questions above answers.
IX. NOTE
The fnal sentence of Section Ni ne claims that this essay aims at
'a transformati on of its relatedness to Being' ( 1 38) rather than a
set of conclusions. Heideg
g
er does not seek The Ri
g
ht Answer
si nce this would only perpetuate the in-sistent concealment of
other possibiliti es. Instead, he wants to change our relation to
Being from forgetful taking for granted to
g
rateful cultivation. 0
3
ON THE ESENCE OF TRUTH
We are always already within the trth of Being or the clearing,
but we need to become explicitly aware of it and its concomitant
concealment.
Whereas most disciplines in-sist upon their particular horizon,
working within their presupposed and unquestioned under­
standing of reality and how to study it, Heidegger considers
philosophy unique in that it takes these very horizons as its sub­
ject matter.
9
1 At its best, philosophy is committed to challengng
all presuppositions, to continually reexamining its assumptions
and traditional doctrines, always remaining open to deeply
re-forming its ways of thinking which then instigate transforma­
tions of our horizons. Being can always send a new understanding,
so we need to stay humbly open to what appears to US. 92
1 How does Heidegger understand truth? Wy is unconceal­
ment the essence of truth as correspondence?
2 How is untruth inextricably linked to truth?
3 Explain insistence and ek-sistence. How does errancy forget
Being?
.
c. The Origi n of the Work of Ar
'The Origin of the Work of Ar' is the longest essay in Basic
Writings, and one of the most difcult. It is a sprawling, explor­
ative essay that twists and turs as it covers a number of topics,
obscuring its overall structure. It is also one of Heidegger's
greatest works, dealing with many subjects central to his later
thought in a fascinating way. I have returned to this essay again
and again, always fnding new ideas hidden in the thickets.
Like many of Heidegger's writings, this inquiry is organized
around a 'what is X' questi on, here ' what i s art?' And, again as
usual, Heidegger spends a lot of time preparing the ground for
the question, seeking the appropriate way to ask it before actu­
ally posing i t. Heeding the phenomenological motto 'to the
things themselves' , we must examine actual works of art i f we
are to determine what art is ( 1 44) . But this strategy immediately
entangles us in a circle since we frst have to know what art is in
39
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
order to pick out works of art for our investigation to studyo
9
3
Instead of an obstacle to overcome or avoi dq Heidegger considers
thi s ' hermeneutic' circul arity part of the very nature of thinking,
even fnding it benefci a1 . 94 In terms taken from Being and Time,
our pre¯ontol ogical or unthematic understanding (see 54) of
what art i s enables us to select artworks, which in turn can help
us articulate and develop our initial understanding. Rather than
preventing us from learningq as Meno's paradox has it, this circle
enables us to discover the nature of art by examining artworks
across the essay's three sections.
I. THI NG AND WORK
Heidegger begins hi s inspection of artworks by noting that,
whatever else they might be, artworks are things: they take up
space, occupy specifc locations, and can be moved about like
coal or potatoes. He narrows this feature down to a ' thingly
aspect , what we would usually call the work's material : ' some¯
thing stony in a work of architecture, wooden in a carving,
coloured in a painting ( 1 45). A work of art is more than just a
lump or pil e of materi al, of course, so something like meaning
or beauty must get added to the mere stuf. Since artworks are at
least partially things, we will examine the nature of things and
then try to fgure out how artworks difer from them, which
takes us into the frst section of the essay appropri ately titled,
Thing and Work a
This section begins by stating the guiding question of this new
phase of the i nquiry· ' what in truth is the thingq so far as it is a
thing? Wen we i nqui re in thi s way, our aim is to come to know
the thing¯bei ng (thingness) of the thing ( 1 46). Notice, however,
that this is not actually the questi on being asked. Heidegger says
that he's aski ng what a thing i s so far as it is a thing' in order to
di scover ' the thingJy character of the thing' , i . e. , studying things
as a distinct region of beings carefully separated from al l others«
But in fact he is aski ng what a thing is insofar as it is an artwork, as
stated i n the preceding paragraph ( 1 46). The working hypothesis
of this section is that an artwork is a thing imbued with an
addi tional quali ty and, reciprocally, that things are artworks which
l ack somethinge Despite how Heidegger describes his methodq his
approach actual ly mixes categories by defning artworks in terms
of things rather than examining each on its own terms.
40
THE ORI GI N OF THE WORK OF ART
Traditional metaphysics studies being qua being, i .e. , the
most general features that all beings share beneath superfcial
diversity. Heidegger's teacher in phenomenology Husserl argues
that careful attention to our experience reveals profound difer­
ences among a number of basic types of beings, diferences
which our descriptions of reality must acknowledge through
' regional ontology' . Getting rid of variations in order to fnd
' true being' underneath is like, in Wittgenstein's memorable
image, pulling the leaves of an artichoke to get at its real essence
when, among other things, the artichoke is its leaves. Heidegger
is committed to maintaining heterogeneous regions without
reducing them to each other or to one basic kind of being.
9
5
Indeed, Being and Time presents a detailed description of three
ways of Being with the insistence that ours (Dasein) requires
its own distinct set of concepts, although it has traditionally
been defned by categories borrowed from the other twO. 9
6
' The
Origin of the Work of Art' is committed to this fdelity to diver­
sity regarding the regions of things, equipment, and artworks.
The frst section of 'The Origin' can be read as a reductio of
reductionism. Heidegger says that he is asking about the thing
'so far as it is a thing' , while he is really looking at things as
truncated artworks or an element in a work of art. This means
understanding one region by means of a diferent one instead of
going 'to the artwork itself' . Heidegger then compounds this
error by turning to traditional conceptions of thingness to relieve
us of ' the tedious labour' of seeking it on our own ( 1 48). Wile
important, studying historical views can never take the place of
examining things for ourselves; the ' destruction' of the tradition
occurs via a dialogue between earlier thought and our own
experience.
9
7 Heidegger leads us down this dead-end (a partial
translation of ' Holzwege' , the title of the book that originally
held this essay), I believe, to let us see his thoughts evolve rather
than just handing over fully-formed conclusions. Thinking along
with the essay functions as a kind of apprenticeship, ' assuming
that thinking is a craft' . 9
8
,
The frst section works through three traditional interpreta¯
tions of thingness, all explaining regions of Being in terms of
each other. The frst views things as ' substance with its accidents'
( 1 49) or nonessential characteristics, a view championed by
Aristotle and Locke. After listing a thing's properties, e. g. ,
41
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
my cup's colour and shape, the question arises: what is it that is
grey, fve inches tal l , etc. ? Wat is the thing that possesses these
characteristics? The answer is the sub-stance that literally ' stands
under' and supports the features ( 1 50).
Heidegger points out that the subject-predicate grammar
of our language lends this theory plausibility. The sentence
'The cup is grey' , grammatically separates or articulates greyness
from the cup in order to attribute the predicate to the subject,
implicitly portraying the thing as distinct from its characteris­
tics. 99 He quickly concludes that this defnition distorts thingess
by imposing an alien and inappropriate conceptual scheme onto
it ( 1 5 1 ) . Importantly, we discover this inadequacy not from a
logical objection, but from ' attentive dwelling within the sphere
of things'
1 00
This careful alertness to the way things present
themselves to us is Heidegger's version of phenomenology, which
can never be replaced by historical views or reason's demands.
We never encounter substances with accidents in our normal
dealings with things, hence such an unfaithful description of
experience must be rejected.
We can avoid ' assaul ting' our subject ' by granting the thing, as
it were, a free feld to display its thingly character directly' ( 1 5 1 ) .
This suggests that we should describe how we actual ly experi ­
ence things rather than focusing on traditional defnitions but,
instead of doing this, Heidegger moves on to the second inter­
pretati on of the thing as the unity of sensory qualities ( l S I ) .
I think this refers to ' phenomenalism' , Berkeley's removal of
substances from substance ontol ogy which leaves bundles of
sensible quali ties. The cup is just the sum of greyness, fve­
inches-tall ness, cylindricality, etc. , with any mysterious entity
beneath the perceived qualities an unnecessary and empirically
unsupportable hypothesis.
Once agai n, the theory receives a phenomenological refuta­
tion. We experience a signifcant world populated by grey cups
and cloak-wearing people, not bare, meaningless sensations
(like empiricists' patches of colour) waiting to be interpreted.
' We never really frst perceive a throng of sensations, e. g. , tones
and noises, in the appearance of things - as this thing-concept
alleges; rather we hear the storm whistling in the chimney. ' l
o
l
Phenomenalism artifcially separates experience into two dis­
tinct steps - bare perception of sensory data and its subsequent
42
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART
interpretation into meaningful patters. But these only separate
in very unusual circumstances such as moments of shock or
bamement; for the most part we live in a meaningful world
stocked the familiar entities we know and love.
The third and fnal defnition of the thing as 'formed matter'
( 1 52) returns us to the initial discussion of artworks' thingly
aspect as their material . Giving form to matter seems to ft
artistic creation, like a sculptor giving a block of marble the
shape of a person, but these concepts actually come from equip­
ment, a third type of beings (154). A tool's purpose determines
what material to build it out of and how to shape it; an axe with
no edge, or one made of glass or pasta would not cut well. We
began our search for the nature of artworks by studying things,
which was bad enough, but now our inquiry has propelled us
into a third region of Being. Heidegger puts the three into an
obscure organization in which each region shares a feature with
one other which the third lacks, ' assuming that such a calculated
ordering of them is permissible' ( I SS).
I think that this ordering is i n fact not permissible. Each type
of Being should be studied on its own, not constructed from
pieces cut out of the others in a kind of Frankenstein ontology,
and each kind of being should be examined directly rather than
leafng through traditional theories. 'This long-familiar mode of
thought preconceives all immediate experience of beings . . . .
Prevailing thing-concepts obstruct the way toward the thingly
character of the thing' ( 1 56). Theories from the history of phi­
losophy invade mundane experience, determining how we think
about reality even when (as here) they are not borne out by our
experience.
I0Z
Putting aside, ' bracketing' , or ' destroying' these preconcep­
tions is no easy task. As a form of genealogy, studying their
history reveals them to be contingent views rather than natural,
necessary, and intrinsic features of reality, which lets us chal­
lenge them. ¯¯ The categories' appearance of self-evidence leads
us to apply them to all beings in the same way. I 0 Conversely,
dredging up and phenomenologically refuting these preconcep­
tions clears the way to see how various beings reveal themselves.
In a second invocation of phenomenology, he says that we
must suspend all these preconceptions of thngess to see it for
ourselves ( 1 57).
4
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
But instead of following his own advice and turning to an
actual artwork, Heidegger now proposes a new strategy based
on the 'calculated ordering' of the three regions which actually
compounds the problem. Because equipment partakes of both
of the other regions, we wil l frst search for the equipmental
character of equipment in hope that it will shed light on things
and works; 'we must only avoid making thing and work
prematurely into subspecies of equipment' ( 1 58). The warning
is futile because the attempt to understand thing and work
by way of equipment builds this error into the investigation.
Understanding artworks via things failed but, instead of heed­
ing his own cal l s to examine artworks directly, he now proposes
to double the error by defning both things and artworks in
terms of equipment: ' the piece of equipment i s half thing' and
' hal f artwork' ( 1 55) .
Heidegger does not study a real piece of equipment but casu­
al ly announces that he will examine a pair of shoes featured i n a
painting by Van Gogh ( 1 58) . Bel l s should go of in your head ­
he is going to l ook at a work of art! The promise i ssued at the
begi nni ng of the essay to inspect works of art directly ( 1 44) is
now getting ful fl led, almost by accident. If phenomenol ogy
is right to i nsi st on the importance of this kind of encounter, the
essay should undergo a signi fcant change at this point.
The goal of describing the essence of equipment actually
presents a problem for Heidegger. Being and Time defnes ready­
to-hand equipment as ' inconspicuous' , meaning that while it is
being used, a tool recedes from our attention.
| JJ
As long as your
car is running smoothly you pay little to no attention to it, think­
ing instead about what you will do when you arrive, or just
zoning out. However, when we do explicitly think about the tool ,
it changes into a present-at-hand thing.
Ì J0
Try writing a sentence
while focusing on your pen: it is harder and less skillful than
when you just let it 'withdraw' into the task.
Studying the shoes then faces a dilemma. On the one hand, we
have to catch equipment while it is being equipment, which hap­
pens during use ( 1 59). But precisely at this point tools are
inconspicuous and therefore hard to examine. On the other hand,
explicitly focusing on them changes them from equipment to
i nert present-at-hand objects. So, use enables them to be equip­
ment (' the peasant woman wears her shoes in the feld. Only
4
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART
here are they what they are'), but the users must not pay atten­
tion to them if they are to maintain their smooth equipmental
functioning ('they are all the more genuinely so, the less the peas­
ant woman thinks about the shoes while she is at work, or looks
at them at all, or is even aware of them' ( 1 59» . A philosopher can
study the shoes, but only at the price of halting their fuid perfor­
mance and reducing them to present-at-hand things, thereby
eliminating precisely what she wanted to study. 'nd yet' ( 1 59),
the painting somehow eludes this dilemma to make the shoes
available for direct examination as they really are. In Heidegger's
terms, the artwork efects the truth of the shoes.
Van Gogh's painting is an occurrence of truth or, as Heidegger
likes to translate the Greek word ' aletheia' , unconcealment, by
revealing a particular being in its mode of Being, i . e. , the way it
i s. In the artworkq ' this being emerges into the unconcealment of
its Being' which, in the case of equipment like the shoes, means
that, ' the equipÎentality of equipment frst expressly comes to
the fore through the work and only in the work'
| Û¯
Both the
peasant wearing the shoes and the phil osophical observer have a
tacit (or pre-ontological) understanding of equipmentalityq as
shown by their ability to use tools appropriately, but neither can
' expressly' articulate it for the reasons noted above. Artworks are
privileged sites of truth by steering between use, which cannot
thematically grasp equipment, and theoretical comprehension,
which misrepresents the nature of equipment, to successfully
present equipmentality to us.
In showing us this mode of Being, the artwork reveals its own
because its mode is such showing, ' the disclosure of the particu­
lar being in its Being, the happening of truth'
! 05
Heidegger spent
ffteen pages futilely trying to defne thingness by means of theo­
ries, ' and yet' looking at an artwork immediately reveals the
essence of equipmentality. Just as 'What Is Metaphysics?' dem­
onstrates how moods impart insights inaccessible to reason,
ìüV
so here artworks deliver what reason could not. Like every form
of revealing, reason shows us some facets of reality while con­
cealing others, and Heidegger frequently demonstrates how
much philosophy has missed by focusing exclusively on this one
mode of access. Moods and artworks also conceal , of course,
but we have had twenty-fve centuries to plumb reason's depths;
it is time to fnd out what else there is.
4
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
By looking at an artwork, we have di scovered that art works
as a site of truth ( 1 62) . Although aesthetics has traditionally
focused on beauty rather than truth, we will see that Heidegger
connects these concepts. A beautiful artwork is like an excep­
tionally successful mini-clearing, in that it reveals beings in a
particularly enlightening way.
And now Heidegger recognizes that his previous method of
inquiry was fatally flawed ' because we asked, not about the
work, but half about a thing and half about equipment' ( 1 64) . I f
we return t o the initial point that started us on the path of thing­
ness - that artworks are made out of something - we now know
that we must cast it in terms distinct to art rather than in con­
cepts borrowed from things or equipment ( 1 65). He even stops
calling this feature thingly, si nce words from other regions inevi­
tably sneak their conceptual baggage across the border into the
new regi on. I I O A whole constel l ation of new terms (such as earth,
worl d, strife, and rift) springs up in order to get at artworks as
artworks rather than as variations of things or equipment. I take
this to be the moral of the frst secti on: in principle, thingly or
equipmental concepts cannot grasp artworks; we must under­
stand art by way of art and from examining artworks.
I I . THE WORK AND TRUTH
We have discovered that the essence of art is to be a site for truth.
Now we have to come to grips with Heidegger's understanding
of truth, and work out a distinct horizon or conceptual scheme
for art which can explain how it efects this truth, especially since
philosophers from Plato to Nietzsche have portrayed art and
truth as mutually exclusive. The second section's title, 'The Work
and Truth' , announces that it will investigate what truth is and
how works instigate it ( 1 65).
The most obvious account would be that art depicts reality
and the accuracy of its depiction depends on how well the repre­
sentation matches its subject. Paintings can correspond to the
world in roughly the same way that propositions do if what they
picture exists or occurred the way they show it;
1 1 1
a painting of
a cat on a mat is true if and only if that particular cat was on that
particular mat in that posture at that time in that manner. Despite
the correspondence theory's self-evidence and distinguished
46
THE ORI GIN OF THE WORK OF ART
pedigreeJ
1
2 (or perhaps because of them), Heidegger rejects
applying this conception of truth to art.
1 1
3
Wile not exactly wrong, correspondence cannot fully explain
truth since it rests on a deeper condition, namely unconcealment.
Sentences or paintings can only correspond to facts if we can
become aware of them as potential objects of representation. In
an argument that appears in many of Heidegger's writings,
unconcealment must occur in order for us to notice a state of
afairs, represent it, and check the accuracy of a representation.
Correctness in representation - stands and falls with truth as
unconcealment of beings . . . . Wi th all our correct representa­
tions we would get nowhere, we could not even presuppose
that there already is manifest something to which we can con­
form ourselves, unless the unconcealment of beings had
already exposed us to, placed us in that cleared realm in which
every being stands for us. J 1 4
As the necessary condition for truth as correct correspondence,
unconcealment should be regarded as the real essence of truth.
Unconcealment is Heidegger's more literal translation of the
Greek word 'aletheia ' , usually just translated as truth. The word
change itself is not the point; we ' get beyond an interchange of
names' only if we 'come to know what must have happened in
order to be compelled to say the essence of truth in the word
"unconcealment'" .
1 1 S
The destruction of the traditio'l aims at
revealing the phenomena that inspired the word or concept in
the frst place but has been subsequently covered up (see 65-6) .
Now that we have a better grasp of Heidegger's understanding
of truth, we can move to our second question: how is art a
'happening' of this truth? Representational artworks obviously
show or unconceal things by depicting them, the way Van Gogh's
painting portrays a pair of shoes. However, non-artworks
represent too; a holiday snapshot apparently reveals the kids
shaking hands with Mickey Mouse as much as Velasquez's ' Las
Meninas' shows Infanta Margarita with her maids of honour.
Heidegger discers two ways in which artistic representations
are distinctive. First, as discussed above, artworks manifest
their subject's mode of Being, even when this is difcult as with
47
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
equipment ( 1 6 1 -2). Second, great works of art hi ghl ight partic­
ul arl y tel ling detai l s that i l l uminate a whole world the way Van
Gogh's depiction of the shoes evoke the peasant's entire life and
circle of activi ties, how she understands hersel f and the worl d
around her. It is not uncommon to speak of how art shows us a
worl d, i . e. , the subject's Weltanschauung, what it is l ike to be this
person or to live i n their world. Moby Dick lets us experience
the texture of a ni neteenth-century whaler's l i fe; Sense and
Sensibility evokes what bei ng an upper-class British woman i n
the l ate eighteenth century meant and felt l i ke. Heidegger tries to
capture this quality in his lyrical description of the peasant's
world in Van Gogh's painting, her daily activities and her
deepest concerns, brought out by a depiction of her shoes that
bear the traces of her livelihood and the defning milestones of a
life - birth, sustenance, celebration, need, death ( 1 59). The por¯
trait of a humble but essential part of her world distills this
complex and nuanced sense into a single item. Art can reveal an
entire personality in a single action, expression, or possession
;
think of Hamlet's indecisiveness or Mona Lisa's smile. Attentively
dwelling with such a work is like 'walking a mile in her shoes'
Ì Ì 0
So far we have focused on how artworks illuminate particular
beings, showing both their mode of Being and the world they
help make up. Van Gogh's painting reveals much more of these
than, say, a catalog photograph of a pair of shoes. But artworks
'do not simply make manifest what these isolated beings as such
are . . . rather, they make unconcealment as such happen in
regard to beings as a whole' ( 1 8 1 ). This claim surpasses anything
we have discussed so far. Heidegger now moves from art's
manifestation of beings to its revelation of Being itself, the
fundamental fact that beings are present to us at al l, that we are
open to the world in vari ous ways. As we saw, art can reveal
equipmentality which i s inconspicuous and thus difcult to
grasp expl icitly. Being, however, is what is most inconspicuous
of all , so much so that we usually dwell in forgetfulness, oblivion,
or unawareness. In terms reminiscent of equipment, Heidegger
often says that 'as it reveal s itself in beings, Being withdraws' . 1 1 7
Being i s spelled out here in terms of the clearing or unconceal­
ment of beings which ' grants and guarantees to us humans a
passage to those beings that we ourselves are not and access to
the being that we ourselves are'
ì Ì 8
4
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART
We almost never notice this most basic of all facts - that we
are aware at all - which Heidegger calls standing in the clearing.
This i s not because it is abstruse or complex but because it is so
simple. 1 1
9
We ' keep to what is present without considering pres­
encing' (EGT 99), that is, we focus on the items in front of us
rather than on the fact that they are or that we can encounter
them. This is natural and even inevitable most of the time; our
daily activities would grind to a halt i f we were continuously
focusing on our openness.
In order to bring into view what resides in a visual feldq the
visual feld itself must precisely light up frst, so that it might
illuminate what resides within it; however, it cannot and may
not be seen explicitly. The feld of view,
O
A
"
Se [a/theia],
must in a certain sense be overl ookede
1
2
0
Heidegger ofen crptically says that unconcealment itself is
concealed in favour of the unconcealed, but this just means that
w
e
pay attention to the entities that are unconcealed rather than
the fact that they are present to us, i . e. , unconcealment. Extend¯
ing the idea from ' On The Essence of Truth' that truth belongs
together with untruth ( 1 28), he says, 'the clearing in which beings
stand is in itself at the same time concealment' ( 1 78) so that
' truth, in its essence, is un-truth'
l ¿l
The revelation of a being
conceals or draws our attention away from the astonishing
simple fact that it is revealed; we miss Being for the beings»
A work of art, howeverq highlights this neglected ' layer' in
three diferent ways. First, by vividly showing us a particular
world such as that of Van Gogh's peasant, it draws our attention
to the fact that we are in a world which orients us in a particular
way or, as Heidegger sometimes puts it, that the world worlds.
The world is not identical with the clearing as a whole (see 1 80),
but represents the large 'sub-region' where we are at home and
know our way around. The world is the meaningful context
within which what we encounter makes sense. 1 2
2
Like the clearing, the world usually recedes inconspicuously,
directing our attention to the foregrounded entity: 'ordinary
understanding cannot see the world/or beings, the world in which
it must constantly maintain itself simply . . . to be able to pick
out this or that being. ' 1
2
3
Great artworks however make a world
49
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
shimmer into visibility through particularly signifcant detail s,
the way the peasant's shoes illuminate how things in general are
for her. Evoking an entire world from the usually unnoticed
bits and pieces of our daily lives, all artworks ultimately say
the same thing: ' at bottom, the ordinary is not ordinary; it is
extraordinary. '
| ¿4
The second way that artworks efect this kind of truth returns
us to the essay's starting point of the artwork's thingly element.
To recap: the initial strategy guiding the frst section was
to understand art through its thingly aspect ( 1 45). This element
initially struck us as the work's matter ( 1 52), but the formmatter
scheme belongs to equipment ( 1 54) . Using Van Gogh's painting
of a piece of equipment, the work suddenly blossomed into a
rich revelation of the peasant's world and of equipmentality
as the shoes' mode of Being, incidentally uncovering the essence
of art as setting up the truth of beings ( 1 62). We leared the
methodological lesson that one category should not be explained
in terms of another, that each region of beings deserves its own
set of concepts and terms. This is the task Heidegger now takes
up: to comprehend the fact that artworks are made out of some­
thing but in a ' wholly distinct way' ( 1 65), rather than by way of
things or equipment .
As discussed above, equipment inconspicuously withdraws
from our awareness as we focus on the goal we are pursuing.
Heidegger now adds that tools are designed to let their material
get absorbed into the task: ' the material i s a
i
l the better and more
suitable the less it resists vanishing' ( 1 7 1 ). If the hammer's mate­
rial is appropriate in that it enables the tool to work properly, we
will not think about it at all . Material only call s attention to
itself when it fail s; the wood or metal shows up as too light or
too fragile.
The complete opposite is true of artworks' relation to what
they are made of, as shown by the temple. 'By contrast the
temple-work, in setting up a world, does not cause the material
to disappear, but rather causes it to come forth for the very frst
time' ( 1 7 1 ):Wereas equipment only call s attention to its mate­
rial when it fails, a work of art accomplishes this precisely when
it succeeds. After the attempt to understand artworks in terms of
form and matter failed, he now creates a new horizon specifcally
for artworks within which this element is called earth ( 1 94).
50
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART
Earth is defned in opposition to, but also in necessary rela­
tion to, world ( 1 74) . World is described in terms of opening and
intelligibility (with phrases like measure, distinctive shape, scope,
and limits), whereas earth is closing, concealing, and inexplica­
ble. Paradoxically, earth virtually gets defned as the indefnable,
that which resists getting fxed within a system of signifcance,
i . e. , a world. For instance, we can measure a stone's weight and
explain it in terms of gravitational pull, and yet this determina­
tion somehow covers over or misses the immediate experience of
heaviness, how it feels pressing down on our hand. In revealing
meaningful features, such explanations of brute facts of the
world simultaneously conceal our more immediate contact with
things. Defnitions dissolve raw ' qualia' in favour of concepts.
Ultimately, heat 'is' just motion because it can be scientifcally
reduced to this, but the experence of hotness is fudaentally
diferent from movement. To understand the stone in scientifc
terms is precisely to lose our raw experience of the heav stony
rock; the 'feel' or 'look' of a colour, its 'greenness' , evaporates
when considered as a wavelength. These kinds of explanations
correlate a phenomenon with terms and ideas alien to its inte­
gral character, thus diluting or entirely eclipsing what it is like.
Earth 'causes every merely calculating importunity upon it to
turn into a destruction' .
ì2J
One reason Heidegger uses tautolo­
gous phrases such as ' the world worlds' or 'the thing things' is to
point to a phenomenon in its specifcity without explanations or
descriptions thinning it out.
ì2b
Of course, the trap here is that j ust calling something myste­
rious partially locates and defnes it, thus destroying any radical
mysteriousness. 1 27 Filing a phenomenon under the category
' mysterious' or 'incomprehensible' gives it a place within our
comprehensive grasp. What is extraordinary about art is that it
allows earth to present itself without integrating it into the world
at all .
This setting forth of the earth is achieved by the work as
it sets itself back into the earth . . . . The sculptor uses stone
just as the mason uses it, in his own way. But he does not use
it up . . . . The painter also uses pigent, but in such a way
that color is not used up but rather only now comes to shine
forth; l 28
S1
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
Representational art (to stay with this type of art for the moment)
sets up a world by depicting something, but it accomplishes this
through and in the medium of inherently nonrepresentational
stuf: stone, pigment, sound tones, etc. Properly functioning
equipment distracts us from its material, letting us make our way
through the world with little to no thought. Great art on the
other hand keeps us constantly aware of the fact that it is made
of something, that the sculpture does not just represent a wak­
ing slave but represents him i n stone. Wereas a (non-artistic)
photograph withdraws as a 'magic window' through which we
look at its subject, ' the work sets itself back into' ( 1 71 ) the mate­
rial , keeping it within our attention. Let's look at this in a
particular work.
Van Gogh's ' Starry Night' sets up a world by depicting a
scene: a small village sleeps beneath a roiling night sk. We can
l ook ' through' the painting to what it depi cts, namely, the
v
i l l ag­
ers' world - their daily routines, ernotional lives, spiritual state,
etc. The painting can, however, undergo a Gestalt switch into a
piece of fabric with thick globs of paint on it, which would be
earth. The two aspects can also switch back and forth, vying
for dominance, which Heidegger calls strife. 'The world, in rest­
ing upon the earth, strives to surmount it. As self-opening it
cannot endure anything closed. The earth, however, as sheltering
and concealing, tends always to draw the world into itself and
keep it there' ( 1 74) . The magic window leads the eye to l ook
through it, but the paint wants to be acknowledged, especially
when one stands before the original ; up close i t dissolves into a
splash of colours, breaking the illusione A great representational
work of art for Heidegger i s one that creates a strife between
what is depicted and the medium used to depict it, allowing us to
see both. The tension between them makes us more vividly aware
of each than in our mundane dealings with worldly equipment
or earthy things: 'in essential strife « o o the opponents raise
each other into the self-assertion of their essential natures' ( 1 74) .
Bad art lets one thrive at the expense of the other, like potboiler
novels which so absorb the reader into their world that she
forgets that she is sitting on a couch running her eyes over
squiggles of ink on paper, or overly experimental works that
repel any attempts to enter them. In great art each makes the
other stronger, as in Van Gogh's painting which vibrates with
52
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART
energy due to the beauty of the scene contrasting with the visible
brush strokes.
By troubling the medium through which we perceive the
subject, by disturbing the representational illusion, strife draws
our attention to art's miraculous evocation of something deep
and powerful in a splattering of paint or a chunk of rock. My
awareness of my emotional state listening to Bach's Cell o Suites
is heightened when I realie that my rapture, my sense of pro­
found insight, comes from rubbing horse hair across cat-gut
bound to glued-together wooden boards. I cannot escape the
feeling that such works express something profound about what
it means to be human, yet they are ' really' just vibrations pro­
duced by rubbing strings together. This incongruity between tM
profound stirrings in my heart and their mundane cause, between
art's meaningfulness and its medium's meaninglessness, makes
me aware of music as music, which helps me feel gratitude for
what I had been taking for granted. I am grateful that I can hear
and, by extension, that I am in the clearing at all .
Since works make us aware of being aware, or unconceal the
normally inconspicuous unconcealment, ' only now, in the midst
of beings, the open region brings beings to shine and ring out'
lZV
We are always within the clearing but we usually take it so much
for granted that we are not aware of it. The 'friction' or resis­
tance set up by strife prevents the clearing from inconspicuously
withdrawing, thus allowing the truth or unconcealment of Being
to take place: ' self-concealing Being is cleared' ( 1 8 1 ) .
The third way that truth happens i n art is through what
Heidegger calls its 'createdness' . Although equipment is made,
this only occurs to us when inappropriate material causes a
malfunction: 'who was the idiot who made a hammer out of
balsa wood and pewter?' On the other hand, 'in the work, creat­
edness is expressly created into the created being, so that it stands
out from it' ( 1 89-90). In strife, artworks set their subject back
into what they are made out of, which constantly confronts us
with the fact that meaning and emotional resonance have been
wrought from mere stuf.
Ultimately, createdness makes us thematically aware of the
fact that the artwork is, a fact that usually lies dormant or con­
cealed in our dealings with beings. 'The simplefactum est is to be
held forth into the open region by the work: namely ths, that
5
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
unconcealment of a being has happened here . . . or, that such
a work is at all rather than is not' ( 1 90) . Artworks are, we might
say, intentionally obtrusive; they do not go quietly into incon­
spicuousness but demand our attention as beings that are. This
is totally diferent from equipment's createdness which ' does not
become prominent in the equipment; it disappears in usefulness.
The more handy a piece of equipment is, the more inconspicu­
ous i t remains that, for example, this particular hammer is. '
1
3
0
Equipment inconspicuously hides its ' that it i s' , which is why
' the making of equipme
n
t never directly efects the happening
of truth' ( 1 89). Using tool s dims down our awareness, lulling us
into unthinking auto-pil ot, whereas artworks ' restrain all usual
doi ng and prizing, knowing and looking, in order to stay wi thin
the truth that i s happening in the work' ( 1 9 1 ) .
' Wat Is Metaphysics?' describes how the contingency of all
beings, Le. , the recognition that they might not have been, high­
lights the simple fact that they are ( 1 03). Here, the artwork's
strife keeps us aware that it has been created and thus that i t i s:
seeing the earth of i ts world, e. g. , the swirls of paint that make
up the landscape, vividly exposes the fact that the artwork has
come into being while it could have remained mere blobs of
paint in tubes. The contingency of its existence brings its factum
est to the forefront which imparts a sense of Being itself ( 1 90).
These three ways that artworks illuminate Being - setting up a
world, i nstigating strife, and hi ghlighting their own createdness ­
justify Heidegger's claim that the essay i s completely oriented to
the question of Being. 1 3 1 Like Dasein in Being and Time (see
55-6), artworks are privileged objects of i nquiry since they have
a special connection to Being that can help us achieve a proper
relationship. One indication of this is how much time Heidegger
spends analysing poetry in his later works.
Heidegger admits that organizing his discussion of art around
truth is unusual since beauty has traditionally been the dominant
topic of aesthetics ( 1 62) . He does not neglect beauty, but joins it
to truth in art . Truth is unconcealment and beauty is the uncon­
cealment of this unconcealment which occurs in an exceptional
way in great works of art . 'That is how self-concealing Being
is cleared. Light of this kind joins its shining to and into the
work. This shining, joined in the work, is the beautiful. Beauty is
one way in which truth essentially occurs as unconcealment . ' 1
32
5
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART
Although the clearing is usually 'self-concealing' in that it recedes
while revealing beings, artworks provoke its revelation, revealing
unconcealment itself, which is how Heidegger defnes beauty.
Being, trth, and beauty, three traditional values of philosophy,
are innovatively joined together here.
In addition to trth and Being, Heidegger also places the good
within art's realm. We can see this quasi-ethical aspect best when
we turn from representational art, which we have concentrated
on so far, to his deliberate selection of a Greek temple as a non­
representational work ( 1 67). Instead of invoking a world by
depicting a telling detail the way Van Gogh's portrait of the
dirt-stained shoes does, the temple directly sets up the world of
the Greeks: 'the temple, in its standing there, frst gives to things
their look and to men their outlook on thems
e
lv
e
s (1 68). Th
e
temple manifests the Greek sense of what is important and what
things mean, i . e. , their epoch's understanding of Being.
As all worlds do, 'this open relational context' ( 1 67) provides
'a guiding measure, a form in which what is essential gives
guidance' ( 1 69) . Like the peasant's world, the temple ' frst fts
together and at the same time gathers around itself the unity of
those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and
blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the
shape of destiny for human being' . ¯¯ The temple gathers the
maj or landmarks that shape a human life into a meaningful
pattern. Religion sanctifes; it takes up the brute facts of human
life we are thrown into - birth, death, companionship, family,
meals - and infuses them with meaning. The birth of my child is
a biological act performed by my species, but a Bris or baptism
joins my children to my wife and me, our past to our future, our
family to our community. This kind of ' transubstantiation' or
'change-over' is how such events ' acquire the shape of destiny' ,
how they become sacred. Rituals attune an entire community to
see, think, and value in harmony as long as ' the god has not fed'
( 1 68), i . e. , as long as this common understanding sufciently
sufuses the community's life. 1 34
This infusion of meaning into our facticity applies the strife
between earth and world to our lives. Earth in ths case repre­
sents the brute facts that characterize humans - that we are born,
eat, mate, die. Although these elements possess no intrinsic
meaning, the rites and celebrati ons of a religion weave them into
5
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
a pattern, Or world, that turns birth into a gift, mating into the
j oining of souls, and death into a passage (see 362) . Through
celebrati ons, they become the meaningful inheritance of a
people rather than the biological occurrences of a species.
Like bad artworks, religions compromise this strife when
either earth or world overpower the other. World-dominance
results from overly comprehensive or smug explanations, a com­
placent confdence that one possesses the only true religion
and that everything happens for a reason, like Kierkegaard's
despised Christendom. Sartrean ni hilism, denying all meaning
to the world in favour of the grey featurelessness that con­
fronts us in anxiety, would be an excess of earth. Genuine strife
acknowledges that our rituals do give life-events meaning
without losing sight of their givenness or arbitrariness. Ulti­
mately, circumcision is no more rational or correct than baptism
or tattooing or any of a myriad of other ways to celebrate
birth; had I been born another time or place I would undoubt­
edly believe in and live by a wholly diferent faith. But, because
of the contingent facts of my background, it does hold meaning
for me; it connects me to my son and both of us to millennia
of ancestors and future generations. Although this bond is
rationally indefensible, afliation with tradition provides a way
to be at home in this life and on this earth (see PR 1 5). I think
this is what Heidegger means by ' the protective grace of the
gods' ( 1 70) .
I project the culture I have been thrown into by deliberately
embracing and celebrating it. Of all that I am thrown into, of
course, the most basic possible feature is simply being in a clear­
ing at al l . The ' ethical ' prescription in much of Heidegger's later
work is to project this most fundamental feature of our thrown­
ness. 'The openi ng up of the open regi on, and the clearing of
beings, happens only when the openness that makes its advent i n
thrown ness i s projected' ( 1 96). We most completely real ize the
clearing when we celebrate i t, cherish and guard i t . We ought to
gratefully attend to the fact that we are open to bei ngs, which
art does excepti onally wel l . Listening to music helps us celebrate
the simple fact that we can hear, painting that we can see, etc.
Projecting openness itself, the fact that we have these ways of
being open, is the foundation and culmination of particular
celebrations. ¯¯
56
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART
STUDY QUESTI ONS
Explain world and earth and their strife. Describe how the
strife occurs in a specifc work of art.
2 How does strife occur in non-representational works, such as
the temple?
3 Wy did Heidegger create so many new terms?
d. Leter on Humani sm
' Letter on Humanism' discusses many issues central to
Heideggers later career and is widely considered one of hi s most
important writingss The essay as a whole, however, often appears
to meander without purpose or structure. Wereas an essay like
'On the Essence of Truth' follows a clear (if dense) line of argu­
ment, i
t
is mu
c
h harder to see how the various discussions in
' Letter on Humanism' come together to form a coherent whole.
The obvious way to approach the essay is through the titular
topic of humanism. Sartre had recently given a talk, later pub­
lished as
'
Existentialism Is a Humanism' , rejecting the popular
image of existentialism as pessimistically focused on despair and
human weakness. Existentialism is actually the most hopeful
school of thought, Sartre argues, since it maintains that what we
are is entirely up to us. His famous claim that existence precedes
essence means that we are not defned by a pre-existing Form or
divinely given essence; we simply show up, radically free, and our
subsequent decisions determine our essence. The death of God
leaves us in ' a situation where there are only human beings'
(quoted at 237), making us masters of our own fate and the
source of the worl d's meaning and value.
In his talk, Sartre names Heidegger as a fellow atheistic
existentialiste Whether or not we accept this assessment of the
early work, Heid�gger had come a long way in the twenty years
since Being and Time. In particular, he spent the late-thirties
studying Nietzsches thought in great detail q concluding that
his ideas (adopted and celebrated by Sartre as true humanism)
are actually symptoms of our catastrophic era. This kin
d
o
f
57
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
humanism issues from and reinforces contemporary ' homeless­
ness' which ' Nietzsche was the l ast to experience' (241 ) . Wen
Jean Beaufret poses questions about Sartre's talk, Heidegger
seizes the opportunity to separate himself from Sartre by diag­
nosing this view.
Beaufret asks how we can restore meaning to ' humanism' ,
t o which Heidegger responds that the question assumes that
such a goal is desirable (21 9, 247). Before we know whether
or not we want to revive it, we must frst investigate what
humanism i s, which he defnes as helping humans become what
they are. 1
36
This goal obviously assumes that there is something
that humans are, that we possess what is traditionally called
an essence. 1 37
Sartre equates existentialism with humanism, but the latter's
presupposition of an essence to humanity conficts with the for­
mer's denial thereof Heidegger admits that Being and Tme's
claim that 'the "essence" of Dasein lies in its existence'
1
3
8
could
be read the way Sartre does, but he wants to show that this is a
misreading. Existence here names the articulated structure of
Dasei n's way of Being, not just what happens in a person's life
(which is closer to the traditional notion of existentia or actuali­
tas) . Instead of asserti ng the mere fact that 'we l ive, "the sentence
Man ek-si sts" . . . responds to the question concerni ng man's
"essence'" . 1 39 The set of existenti ali a or essential structures that
make up Dasein's exi stence functions in many ways like a tradi­
tional essence (see 59) .
As a formal exhortati on to be true to your nature, the mean¯
i ng of humanism depends enti rely on i ts view of human nature
and our relati ons to beings as a whol e, which have varied wildly
throughout history. A civi l ized Roman ci tizen gets defned in
terms of how he rel ates to barbari ans, hi s fami ly, and the
city; seeing man as a child of God rests on an understanding of
God and this fall en world; Marx's homo faber (producing or
working man) gets its content from how he relates to natural
needs, labour, and the social distribution of goods. Even Sartre
explicitly bases hi s humanism on his ontology of godless reality.
Such far-reaching conclusions about the nature of man and the
purpose of life imply and follow from a particular conception of
what it means to be (225). This leads to Heidegger's frst major
point: ' every humanism remains metaphysical'
I
4
0
by forming
5
LETER ON HUMANISM
their views about man's essence on the basis of a conception of
what it means to be, or metaphysics.
One's defnition of the Being of beings dictates what one
takes man's essence to be, which in turn determines that specifc
form of humanism. Let us brefy look at Christian humanism
as an example.
1
41
For Christianity, to be is to be a creation of
God, so everything gets its signifcance from His Ideas. History
becomes fate, the divinely-authored story that passes from 'in
the beginning' to the fnal judgent. We should strive to get as
close to God as possible since He is the ground of all beings and
the highest Being. The ontological break between heavenly
things and the insurmountably inferior things of this world
should guide all of our decisions. In this way, a particular mean­
ing of Being and a specifc understanding of how all beings
relate to each other establishes this humanism.
Now Heidegger argues that this kind of thinking not only
misses something vital, but actually blocks our access to it.
1
4
2
The ontological diference between beings and their Being
guides the metaphysical quest to determine the Being of beings
rather than gathering facts about individual beings. 1
4
3 However,
metaphysics misses the truth of Being which lies beyond the
ontological diference. Heidegger understands truth as uncon­
cealment, i . e. , the manifestation or presencing of beings to us in
what he calls the clearing. Although metaphysics analyzes what
beings are, it does not think about the simple fact that they are
present to us at all . Indeed, Heidegger frequently says that it is
its very simplicity that makes it hard to notice.
1
4 We tend to deal
with beings without noticing that they are or that we are aware
of them, ' forgetting the truth of Being in favour of the pressing
throng of beings' . 1 45
Heidegger mentions two ways that metaphysics has obscured
the truth of Being: Plato explains the clearing with his theory
of Ideas as the way beings ' look' , while Kant (and Husserl) attri­
bute beings' openness to our own transcendental faculties. Both
commit the error of ontotheology by trying to explain Being
itself in terms of beings. 1 46 These metaphysical examinations
of beings as a whole and their Being prevent any inquiry into
the truth or unconcealment of Being. 1 47 Instead of focusing on
present things, this inquiry would turn to the highly elusive
phenomenon of their presencing to us. We could not think about
59
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
beings at all unless they manifested themselves to us, yet we do
not think about this manifestation, or the truth of Being, itself.
This is why Heidegger ofen says that Being withdraws or
conceals itself in unconcealing beings. Focusing on what is lit
up naturally ignores the light, presenting a kind of Gestalt switch
between ' the presence of what is present and . . . what is present
itsel f' . ` ´´ Turning to this inconspicuous aspect requires a pro­
found change in focus: rather than the nearest (particular beings),
Hei degger is pointing to nearness, their presence to us, which
is not at all another being. 149
Heidegger draws another consequence from this refocusing
that upends much of Sartre's thought, as well as Nietzsche's, and
it has to do wi th the essay's very frst sentence: 'we are still far
from pondering the essence of action deci sively enough' (21 7) .
Since he says a few sentences l ater that thinking is an action, this
entails that we do not properly understand thi nki ng either
(see also 374) . Whereas Sartre and Ni etzsche (and to a l esser
degree Being and Tme) extend Kant's Coperni can Revolution
to depict consci ousness as actively consti tuting the world and
imbuing i t with value, Heidegger's later work consistently empha­
sizes our passivi ty. ¯¯ While our openness is who we are, it is not
and cannot be of our doing; ' thinking accomplishes the relation
of Being to the essence of man. It does not make or cause the
relati on. Thinking brings this relation to Being solel y as some­
thing handed over to i t from Being' (2 1 7) . Our thi nki ng can only
be the recipient of our awareness of the world, not its source.
Being and Time expl ores this topic in the notion of thrown­
ness: ' Dasein is something that has been thrown; it has been
brought i nto its "there", but not of its own accord. ' I S I Among all
the particular features we discover ourselves possessing without
having chosen them - our gender, race, etc. - our essential resi­
dence in the clearing or openness to Being is the frst and the
most fundamental, since everything else depends on this
.
'We
receive many gifs, of many kinds. But the highest and really
most lasting gift given to us is always our essential nature, with
which we are gifed in such a way that we are what we are only
through it . . . . But the thing given to us, in the sense of this
dowry, is thinking. ' l s2 The ability to think or to be aware of
beings i n any way is ' given' to us by Being
.
Of course, Being is
60
LETER ON HUMANISM
not a being so this does not mean that the great Being in the sky
sent us this gift like Prometheus handing fre to humanity or
Michelangelo's God touching Adam with the spark of life (which
would be an ontotheological account) . Wat Heidegger means
is that we can only fnd that beings reveal themselves to us. We
cannot produce this unconcealment, since even to consider
doing this requires us to know that there are things out there to
be unconcealed, which means that they are already unconcealed
to us in some way (this argument also appears in 'The Question
Concerning Technology' ). Ths ineliminable moment of passiv­
ity must form the basis for any kind of activity we engage
in: 'how could man comport himself to beings - that is, experi­
ence beings as being - if the relationship to Being were not
granted him?' 1 53
The Greek notions of aletheia (usually translated as ' truth')
and physis (roughly, the empirical realm of changeable things
around us) capture the idea that Being reveals itself to us fairly
well . Medieval thought credits a particular being - God - with
opening the clearing, thus committing ontotheology, but at least
the notion of a higher benefactor can provoke grateful awe.
Heidegger sees the history of modern philosophy as the rise of
subjectivity, which means that we take credit for opening the
clearing and determining its character ourselves. Descartes sets
this trend in motion by putting the subject at the forefront of
philosophy and by claiming to construct a new more efective
way of thinking. Kant then attributes the structure of the phe­
nomenal world to transcendental subjectivity's unconscious
activityq and Nietzsche brings this arc to its culmination by plac­
ing the conscious creation of values (and ontological structures)
in the hands of the strong. The end result is that our era sees
Being as what has been posited by subjects. l s
4
We today, and many generations before us, have long forgot­
ten the realm of the unconcealment of beings, although we
continually take it for granted. We actually think that a being
becomes accessible when an ' 1' as subject represents an object.
As if the open region within whose openness something
is made accessible as object for a subject, and accessibiity
itself . . . did not already have to reig here as well! l
S5
61
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
Modern subjectivity claims responsibility for both the fact and
the way that beings present themselves to us or, in Heidegger's
terminology, the clearing.
Heidegger admits that Being and Time falls into this trap, or at
least that it can be read that way. Its phrasing
makes it alJ too possible to understand the 'project' as a
human performance. Accordingly, project is then only taken
to be a structure of subjectivity - which i s how Sartre takes i t,
by basi ng himself on Descartes (for whom [aletheia] as
[aletheiaJ does not ari se) . In order to counter thi s mistaken
concepti on and to retai n the meaning of ' project' as it is to be
taken (that of the openi ng di scl osure) , the thi nki ng after
Being and Tme repl aced the expression ' meaning of being'
with ' truth of bei ng
' .
' `ð
Sartre reads Being and Tme as claimi ng that subjects supply
all organizati on and val ue to an inert, absurd worl d, which i s
why he sees Heidegger as an ally. ' Letter on Humanism' aims to
correct this mi sunderstanding of projection as 'an achievement
of subjectivity' (23 1 ) .
One way Heidegger makes this point is by emphasizing
thrownness over projecti on. Wereas Being and Time awards a
l imited but important priority to projection, the later work
shows thrown ness inescapably dominating projection. Wat we
decide to do depends on the options and preferences we are
thrown into. 'All projection - and consequently, even all of man's
"creative" activity - is thrown, i . e. , it is determined by the depen¯
dency of Dasein on the being already in the totality, a dependency
over which Dasein itself does not have control. ' I
S
7 The idea that
Dasein projects a meaning of Being sounds too subjective, which
is why Heidegger now says that 'man is rather "thrown" from
Being itself into the truth of Being'
Í J8
In contrast to Sartre's
picture of j ust humans, 'we are precisely in a situation where
principally there is Being' (237).
Sartre frames the basic tenet of his talk in terms of two notions
that have been central to philosophy since Plato (232) - essence
and existence. Traditionally, a thing's essence precedes its exis¯
tence in the sense that its Form or divine Idea guides i ts creation
and determi nes what is proper to it. Knowing what a bed is and
62
LETER ON HUMANISM
what it is for enables the crafsperson to make one, and knowing
what we want it to do enables her to evaluate how well it serves
its purpose, i. e. , how good a bed it is. Sartre's innovation is to
reverse this relationship so that for humans, existence precedes
essence. We have no pre-set essence laying out what we are
supposed to do; we create our essence during our existence
through the radically free choices we make. But for Heidegger,
' the reversal of a metaphysical statement remains a metaphysical
statement. With it [Sartre] stays with metaphysics in oblivion of
the truth of Being. ¯` Just moving metaphysical terms around,
no matter how creatively, cannot escape or seriously alter tradi­
tional ideas.
| ôÛ
Instead of assuming the validity of these standard ideas
and just putting them into a novel arrangement, Heidegger
takes a step back to challenge the notions themselves. 'The difer­
entiation of essential (essentiality) and existential (actuality)
completely dominates the destiny of Western history' , but 'it still
remains to ask frst of all from what destiny of Being this difer­
entiation . . . comes to appear to thinking' . 1 61 Throughout his
career, Heidegger believes that humans tend to take their present
situation for granted, as if their views were self-evidently correct.
In the early work, this takes the form of Dasein's conformity
to the one (das Man).
The later work casts this idea in historical terms. We generally
take the way things are now as their natural state: 'it simply
no longer occurs to us that everyhing that we have all known
for so long, and all too well, could be otherise. ' 1 6
2
This compla­
cency fnds support in the standard conception of truth as a
static correspondence with things as they are or, in Heidegger's
terms, forgetting the truth of Being to focus on the state of
beings. 163 The truth of Being is a dynamic event of unconceal­
ment in which beings manifest themselves to be perceived,
thought about, and acted on. As the 'irruption' (95) of beings
out of concealment rather than the state of just being there,
our experience loses its air of inevitability; as something that
happens, it could happen other ways. Studying metaphsical
writings from earlier ages shows how diferently beings have
presented themselves throughout history. While people in each
era fnd their understanding self-evident, none of these ways of
grasping reality can claim absolute validity; experience can ft
6
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
each. Our own understanding is shown to be just one possible
conception, not The Way Things Are. In this way, we move from
uncritically engaging in metaphysical thinking to thi nking about
metaphysics from the perspective of the truth of Being. l
6
Since
i t studies metaphysics from a higher or deeper point of view, this
inqui ry can be called ' meta-metaphysics' .
| 0å
The fact that bei ngs show up for us is not of our doing, and
the same appl ies to how they show up: ' man does not decide
whether and how beings appear' (234) . How we think about the
world depends on how it stri kes us, what makes sense to us to say
about it, none of which can be determined by us. In order to
construct our way of thinking, we would need preferences and
goals to guide the reform, and these could not be up to us on
pain of infnite regress. Relevance, concepts, that something is
so-and-so, are all phenomenological data that we simply fnd; we
can only notice and think about 'what the addressed allows to
radiate of itself' .
1 66
One of the leitmotifs of the later work is that
thinking i s essentially a response.
We are receptive in the fact that we can think at all, as well
as the way we think. No matter what grounds we cite to justify
our beliefs or procedures, down to accepting basic logical
rules (such as the Principle of Reason or Non-Contradiction),
it depends on our fnding it authoritative, which itself cannot
be fnally grounded. Ultimately, we accept as sufcient and legit­
imate evidence that which strikes us as satisfactory. 1
6
7 Heidegger
illustrates this by repeating the analysis of negation that appears
in ' What Is Metaphysics?' (at 1 045), though it has special
relevance here in light of
S
artre's emphasis on the subject's
producti on of negati on. ' Every "no" that does not mistake itself
as willful assertion of the positing power of subjectivity . . .
answers to the claim of the nihilation illumined' (260). We
do not decide what can and should be negated; propositions
present themselves to us as negatable.
1
68
The possibility of negat­
ing them must occur to us for us to consider doing it, and it must
appeal to us as the right thing to do for us to choose to do i t.
We can formulate rules governing proper negation but, as
Wittgenstein demonstrates, it is still up to us to determine when
and how to apply them. Our action of negating is really a
response to features presented to us rather than 'the product of
a subjective act' (261 ) .
6
LETER ON HUMANISM
According to this conception of thinking, how we think
cannot be a matter of choice, nor can our most basic ways of
thinking be justifed since they are what determine what counts
as justifcati on in the frst place. This i s what Heidegger means
by the phrase, ' groundless ground' : although these ultimate
notions form the foundation or ground for our thought, they
themselves cannot be grounded. '
69
This does not rob these laws
of their legitimacy; indeed this is the only possible source of
legitimacy.
Ì ¯J
Instead, it locates the laws within the wider context
of the destiny of truth, that is, the various ways of thinking sent
to us throughout history, including our present position as recip­
ients of one particular epochal understanding of Being.
In the beingness of beings, metaphysics thinks being, yet
without being able to ponder the truth of being in the manner
of its own thinking. Metaphysics everywhere moves i n the
realm of the truth of being, which truth, metaphysically
speaking, remains its unknown and ungrounded ground . . . .
I t i s necessary t o ask what metaphysics i s in its ground. This
questioning must think metaphysically and at the same time
think out of the ground of metaphysics. l 7l
This project takes the philosophical drive to examine one's
presuppositions to its conclusion by tracing the roots of our
most basic ideas.
Now, we must keep in mind that the term 'groundless ground'
has two sides: this 'measure' lacks ultimate justifcation, but it
does supply us with ways of thinking that are as legitimate as
they can be. In Being and Time, throwness alluded to our exis­
tential abandonment in a strange realm; now Heidegger recasts
this notion in a more positive light: 'man is rather "thrown" from
Being itself into the truth of Being' (234). We are thrown into a
way of thinking that can become a welcoming home where we
dwell rather than an arid alien landscape. Our homelessness
(' Unheimlichkeit') is not a permanent feature of Dasein, but a
contemporary historical symptom of our having forgotten Being
(see 241 -3). If it were really up to us to decide how to think and
what to value without being attracted or repulsed by anything,
as portrayed by the modern subject-centered philosophy like
S
artre's notion of an original project, we would be paralysed,
6
HEI DEGGER' S LTER WRITINGS
l i ke Buridan's ass. Deciding for one way of thinking or living
over another requires that I find one preferable to the other, that
it attracts me. 'I cannot exist at all without constantly respond­
ing to this or that address in a thematic or unthematic way;
otherwise 1 could not take so much as a single step, nor cast a
gl ance at something. ' l n Whereas Nietzsche and Sartre's pro­
posed solutions to nihilism demand that we create value through
wil led acts of valuing, Heidegger considers this the ultimate
form of nihilism since it ignores the meaningfulness we fnd all
around US. 1 7
3
Heidegger uses the German phrase, ' Es gibt' - generally trans­
lated as 'there is', but literally meaning 'it gives' - to bring out
another point. Whenever ' there are' beings, they are 'given' to us
in that the process of unconcealment is something that happens
to us rather than something that we do. Again, we must resist the
onto theological image of a being supplying us with beings or
forms of understanding. One reason Heidegger's writing is so
difcul t is that he is fghting against our language's propensity to
speak only of beings, with no vocabular or grammar to talk
about Being (see 86) . In this case, the tortured phrasing comes
out as: ' the "giNes" names the essence of Being that is giving,
granting its truth. The self-giving into the open, along with the
open region itself, is Being itself. '
1
74 Normally givers are distinct
from their gifts and the act of giving, but in this case Being is not
something alongside the given beings; it i s the dynamic event of
beings presenting themselves to us, as well as the ' space' or l ocale
i n which they become manifest . As difcult as it i s to wrap your
head around the idea, Being is the giving and the givenness of
beings. In this way, ' it gives' resembles phrases like ' it i s raining' ,
where there is no separate agent doing the raining, no subsistent
subject named by the ' i t' (see WeT 1 72). The only ' thing' that is
performing the acti on of raining is the rain i tself which only
exists in the act of raining; it i s the agent, the act, and the stuff
enacted all in one (this grammatical form is sometimes called the
middle voice, between activity and passivity) .
The subject-object grammar of our language also misleads
us to think of ourselves as substantial entitiesl 75 to which this
event of appearing happens. Heidegger insists that we cannot
properly think of ourselves or Being apart from the other: Being
is essentially appearing which needs someone to appear to,
66
LETER ON HUMANISM
and we are essentially involved with beings in their appearance
to us. 1 76 Thus. whereas Sartre denies any essence to human
consciousness, Heidegger assigs us a kind of essence. namely
being open to Being. 'Wat man is - or, as it is called in the
traditional language of metaphysics, the "essence" of man - lies
in his ek-sistence. ' 1 77 Being and Times term for our specifc way
of Being, existence, is now understood in light of its etymologi­
cal roots in 'ec-stasis' or standing outside oneself', which means
' standing in the clearing of Being (228) amongst beings rather
than being closed up in some kind of inner mind. 1 78
Now, Heidegger does not exactly call this an essence, but says
that it takes the place of essence in the traditional sense. For one
thing, it is far more dynamic: disclosing beings is closer to some­
thing that we do than a quality we have or state we are in. It is
closer to the sense of Aristotele's ergon, or a being's distinctive
activity. Also, the fact that Being gets revealed in radically difer­
ent ways in diferent epochs renders the activity of revealing
beings quite formal and fexible. Our essential openness is his­
torical in that what kind of Being we reveal changes profoundly
across epochs: 'man stands ek-sistingly in the destiy of Being.
The ek-sistence of man is historical as such' (239). Heidegger
rebukes both Sartre and Husserl for ignoring this point while
praising Hegel for discovering it. 1 79
This understanding of our 'essence' leads Heidegger to a
new comprehension of ethics. Like most continental thinkers,
Heidegger refuses to issue specifc 'directives' or 'rules' for good
living (255). Instead, he discusses ethics in the sense of its etymo­
logical origin, ethos, meaning 'abode, dwelling place' (256). This
means the place where we dwell which makes us what we are,
thus pointing to the clearing.
Î ðU
This line of thought adapts a
very old form of ethics, sometimes called perfectionism, which
receives its canonical formulation in Aristotle's Nicomachean
Ethics. The idea is that once we fnd our essence or what makes
us distinctive (our ergon), the best way of living consists in
performing this activity with excellence (arete). For Heidegger,
our distinctive activity is ek-sistence or revealing Being: 'man is,
and is man, insofar as he is the ek-sisting one' (252) . This is
basic to our doing anything else and, as far as we know, no other
being can do this (an important criterion of distinctiveness in
Arstotle's system) .
l 5ì
Therefore, to be a good man means to
67
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
reveal Being wel l , which is why thinking about the truth of Being
is the original ethics.
We perform our activity with excellence by taking care of
Being. Heidegger says many times that man is thrown into the
clearing 'so that ek-sisting in this fashion he might guard the
truth of Being' .
l s2
Wereas in Being and Time thrownness is
fa
i
rly close to Sartre's claim that we are abandoned in the world
with no essential task assigned to us by anything like nature
or God (see BT 393/343), now Being throws us into a particular
task, namely revealing Being. This activity has a highest form,
which Heidegger variously calls being the shepherd of Being
(234, 245) or, altering another term from Being and Time, caring
for Being (23 1 , 246, 390) . The truth of Being 'thoroughly
governs' (233) us in that we can only think and experience in
terms of our epochs particular understanding of Being. This
holds for everyone but, in the oblivion of Being, we do not
explicitly attend to it, leaving us unable ' to experience and take
over this dwelling' . 1 83 A few thinkers and poets manage to bring
their understanding to explicit awareness and articulation, the
way phenomenol ogy dredges up the structures of consciousness
for thematic attention.
| Û4
The great thinkers and poets reach beyond the specifc under­
standing of Being they live i n to the bedrock level of having an
understanding of Being at all, being open to anything whatso­
ever. Before the particulars of what i s open to us, we should
ponder the fact that Being is open to us in any way, that we dwell
in openness, that there is Being (see 238). We fnd and raise to
awareness that within us that corresponds to Being; Being is the
appearance of beings and we are the appeared¨to·
| 5J
A number of features characterize this excellent d
i
sclosure.
The frst is paying close, sensitive attention to how beings
appear to us, allowing them to unfold their appearance the way
one nurtures a plant to maturation. We should let beings be
( Gelassenheit), let them fully manifest themselves as they 'want'
to, rather than forcing them into presupposed concepts. 1
8
6 Since
Being itself withdraws as it presents us with beings, we should
allow Being itself to come into the open by contemplating the
emergence of various forms of epochal beingess in the history
of metaphys
i
cs. Perhaps the most important way to reveal Being
well is to put i t into language. Heidegger famously starts the
6
LETER ON HUMANISM
essay with the idea that 'language is the house of Being . . . . Those
who think and those who create with words . . . [accomplish] the
manifestation of Being insofar as they bring the manifestation
to language' . 1 87 Since our encounters with Being are inherently
linguistic, bringing Being explicitly to language represents the
fulfllment or 'accomplishment' (21 7) of our relationship¤ 88
Throughout, we should celebrate our possibly unique ability
to brng beings to manifestness. This is how Heidegger insists
that his later work is a form of humanism, and a superior one
to Sartre's which 'does not set the humanitas of man high
enough' (233-). Sarre claims that his system awards man the
highest place by putting him in charge as the one who orders the
world and creates valuesø Heidegger responds that this position
is both incoherent (as discussed above) and leads to nihilism or
the complete loss of value. Willfully choosing all values as in
Sartre's fundamental project must reject any gidance as heter­
onomous alien interference; values that precede our decisions
would weight us down with an essence. With no given prefer­
ences or criteria (since their signifcance can only be determined
in light of our previously chosen fundamental project), the
choice can only be arbitrary; as the foundation of all furher val­
ues, this drains the entire structure of signicance. As the
Medieval rationalists objected to their voluntarist opponents, an
absolutely undetermined choice of good and bad cannot be
good in principle, since it is the source of all evaluationo
Heidegger argues that it is the necessarily passive reception
of preferences and criteria that enables us to make choices
at all . We receive 'from Being itself the assignment of those
directives that must become law and rule for man . . . . Only such
dispatching is capable of supporting and obligating. Otherwise
all law remains merely something fabricated by human reason. ' 1 89
Reversing Kantian autonomy, 190 Heidegger argues that only that
which lies beyond us can obligate us. Acts of valuing that arise
solely from our opting to value certain things can be changed or
retracted at will; ultimately, they can only refect the basic desire
to have our own desires fulflled or, as he often puts it, our will
willing itself. Heidegger's rejection of such values is not nihilism,
but the only way to overcome nihlism. Obligation, the sense of
responsibility to something greater, can only come from a source
exteral to us.
69
HEI OEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
Playing on the sense of gif as something precious to be
treasured, Heidegger wants us to gratefully acknowledge our
reception of signifcance as a gift. We do this by bringing i t into
the clearing by thinking about it, which is why he likes the word­
play that thinking (Denken) is thanking (Danken) . 1 9 1 We are
given the ability to think, and using it brings us, as well as the gif
and giver (Being), to their highest form. ´ Since what we fnd
when we do this is a world full of meaning, this thinking also
overcomes our contemporary homelessness, showing us that we
dwell in a home-like world (242-3) . Thus, ' demoting' ourselves
from the source of all values actually enhances our status. ' Man
is not the lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being. Man
l oses nothing in this "less"; rather, he gains in that he attends
the truth of Being' (245). Ironical ly, Sartre's humanism does
not put man high enough. As Being's servant, charged with the
sacred task of guarding its truth, Heidegger's Being-centered
humanism actually places us higher. 1
9
3
STUDY QUESTI ONS
What does Heidegger fnd problematic about Sartre's claim
that existence precedes essence?
2 How does Heidegger understand 'ethics'? How does his own
thought ft this defnition of ethics? How is his thought a
humanism?
3 How does forgetting the truth of Being do so much damage,
and how is recalling it supposed to help so much?
e. Modern Science, Metaphysics, and
Mathematics
This is probably the most readable piece in the collection. The
writing is straightforward with just a few of the convolutions
and neologisms that populate Heidegger's other essays, and the
ideas may strike many readers as rather familiar. Both Thomas
Kuhn's philosophy of sciencel
94 and Foucault's post-structuralist
analyses of science (see Chapter 4) employ similar frameworks.
70
MODERN SCIENCE, METAPHYSICS, AND MATHEMATICS
However, there are some interesting and subtle things going on
here that are not immediately visible, and the work gives us a
sense of Heidegger's thoughts on the history of thought, an
important aspect of his work that is underrepresented in ths
anthology.
The selection here is an excerpt from Wat Is a Thing?,
a 1 935-36 lecture series on Kant. Heidegger views Kant as
priarily interested in ontology rather than epistemology, 195 so
that the frst Critique explains what thigs must be like in order
to yield to scientifc analysis. Heidegger also links the investiga­
tion of what things are to an analysis of science. However, whereas
Kant takes Newtonian physics as the sole scientifc truth about
reality, the fnal word that renders earlier systems obsolete,
Heidegger spends this paper exploring ' the Characteristics of
Modern Science in Contrast to Ancient and Medieval Science'
(27 1 ) . Thus, Heidegger moves from asking 'what is a thing' to
asking 'how is moder science diferent from previous forms?' We
need to understand why he explores these epochal sciences, and
why an examination of the nature of things should detour
through science at all. Why does he not, as the motto of phe­
nomenology puts it, go to 'the things themselves' to fnd out
what things are?
In fact, the main point Heidegger makes in this piece is
that we do not and cannot immediately confront bare things
or uninterpreted facts. Rather, as Kant argued, things always
appear within a horizon or 'conceptual scheme' which guides
our experience and treatment of them; facts are always already
interpreted. In a straightforward formulation of this idea, he
says that 'there are no mere facts, but . . . a fact is only what it is
in the light of the fundamental conception' . 1 96 Facts only mean
something within a particular interpretation or horion, what
Heidegger sometimes calls the Being of that being or the
contemporary understanding of Being. Thus, the question 'what
is a thing' points us towards the horizon within which we experi­
ence things, their ' thingness' . For Kant, things are phenomena
which have been structured by our forms of intuition and con­
cepts of the understanding into scientifcally knowable objects
(see WT 1 90) . Although Heidegger's own work usually broadens
this investigation to encompass non-scientifc contexts, 1 97 he
follows Kant's lead here in focusing on science as the gateway to
71
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
thingness. Although an epoch's understanding of Being gets
stated most explicitly in the period's metaphysics, this under­
standing determines all of the disciplines at that time and so
should be visible in its science as wel1 .
1
9
8
I . SECTI ON A
This excerpt attempts to grasp the essence of modern science
and its roots in modern metaphysics through its particular take
on mathematics. It is always hard to perceive the horizon one
currently inhabits,
1
99 so Heidegger decides to il l uminate moder­
nity's defning features by contrasting it with ancient Greek
science.
2o
o Section A quickly runs through three features
commonly used to distinguish the two:
Modern science is based on hard facts and observations
whereas previous inquiry relies on free-floating speculation
or mere 'concepts' (27 1 -2).
2 Unlike the Greeks, modern science employs experiments to
discover information and test hypotheses (272) .
3 Modern science uses calculations and measurements, ignored
by ancient science (273).
Although Heidegger challenges al l three claims - arguing
that each 'modern' method was actually present in ancient
science - his larger point is that this whole way of comparing is
misguided. Investigating whether or not diferent periods use
the same techniques to study nature ignores the difculty
involved in identifying them as the same. Even if certain contem­
porary practices occurred in an earlier form of science, they
functioned and were understood in a fundamentally diferent
way. For example, on the issue of experiments (#2), it is not a
matter of what activities they undertake so much as the way it
was done and how they understood what they were doing, which
ultimately get grounded in a certain 'kind of preconception
about things' (272) . Heidegger is arguing for a holistic under­
standing of science, in which individual features such as practices
c

m only be understood against the background of an era's
scientifc endeavour as a whole. Transporting ' the same' feature
to a diferent context profoundly al ters i t.
Therefore, we must turn from i ndi vi dual aspects to the back­
ground understanding that determines their meaning, i . e. , the
72
MODERN SCIENCE, MEAPHYSICS, AND MATHEMATICS
period's metaphysical horizon of the thingness of things that
'rules and determines the basic movement of science itself' (273).
This strategy looks beneath superfcial diferences among an
era's sciences to the fundamental core that motivates and unifes
all of its aspects. Like Kuhn's paradigm, our conception of what
it means to be determines how we investigate beings, what kinds
of questions make sense to ask about them, and what kinds of
answers will count as acceptable. Since individual results can be
interpreted diferently depending on one's general understand­
ing, it is only at this metaphysical level that we can explain why
science changes. The idea that 'modern science is mathematicaF
(273) gives us the clue that will lead us to this foundational level,
but we must be careful - this is not mathematics in the sense of
the study of numbers.
II. SECTI ON B
Having eschewed its normal defnition, Heidegger begins the
next section by trying to explain his sense of the mathematical
(273) . As is his wont, he traces the word back to its Greek roots,
according to which, the mathemata are the general features of
a set of things that we are familiar with prior to experience
with them: 'the animal-like of the animal, the thingness of the
thing, and so on' . 201 The mathemata are the general categories
by which we recognize and understand individual beings, the
horizons or regions of ontolog that orient our interactions with
things. Heidegger ofen argues that we need a horizon or under­
standing of Being in order to discern beings at all, as well as to
interact appropriately with them, making the mathematical 'the
fundamental presupposition of the knowledge of things' (278).
As what underlies and enables experience, these conceptual
schemes cannot be derived from experience. Rather than a con­
clusion resulting from examinations of beings, ' the mathematical
is that evident aspect of things within which we are always
already moving and according to which we experience them as
things at all, and as such things' (277) . In order to acquire the
concept ' tree' empirically, for instance, we would frst need to
pick out a set of trees and only trees in order to abstract their
common features. But selecting such a group already requires a
mastery of the category ' tree' in order to select only things of
this type for study out of all the things in the worId. 202 This is a
73
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
version of Meno's paradox, meant to demonstrate the impossi­
bility of answering Socrates' 'what is X' question. Plato's theory
of recollection - the idea that we have a vague grasp of the Forms
which enables us to recognize the right answer when we come
across it - solves it. Heidegger's solution bears a striking
resemblance to this idea.
Heidegger argues that we could not recognize or singl e out
features to study without a previous familiarity with their
concept. Numbers represent a clear example because objects
in the world do not 'contain' or present mathematical (in the
standard sense) qualities to plain perception. 'Rather, we can
count three things only if we already know "three". In thus
grasping the number three as such, we only expressly recognize
something which, in some way, we already have' (276). Before we
could even notice this facet of things - i . e. , their countability -
we must be open to it; we must have the capacity to have our
attention caught by it in order to attend to it. If we lacked the
concept of number, we would just experience chairs, apples, and
cats, but never three of anything. This exemplary status is why
the term ' mathematical' has become attached to the science of
numbers according to Heidegger.
This notion of the mathematical links Plato's theory of recol­
lection (mentioned at 290-1 ) with Kant's account of the
transcendental subject's constitution of the phenomenal realm
by means of a priori concepts and Heidegger's own early work
on Dasein's pre-ontological understanding of Being.203 Each
defnes learning as achievi ng a more explicit awareness of what
we already know or is somehow within us in a less conscious
manner, rather than the discovery of something entirely new or
forei gn. Platonic learni ng means remembering the Forms that
the soul encountered prior to thi s life but forgot due to the trauma
of bi rth and the di stracti ons of the fesh. Kant views science as
consciously retracing the organizati on that one's own mind has
autonomically imparted to phenomena. And Heidegger's early
phenomenol ogical work articulates the structure of the experi ­
ences we have all the time but do not pay attention to.
I I I . SECTI ON C
Now that we have determined the mathematical as what
underlies and motivates specifc practices, we can construct a
74
MODERN SCIENCE, MEAPHYSICS, AND MATHEMATICS
proper contrast between modem and ancient science from
this perspective. Aristotle represents the zenith of ancient Greek
science, while Newton will serve as the representative modem
scientist. Newton's frst Law of Motion, the principle of inertia,
strikes us today as 'self-evident' (280), as little more than an
articulation of what everyone sees simply by looking at moving
things. Intuitions like this lead to 'Wiggish' histories of science
that portray the Progress of Enlightenment whereby over time,
people stopped clinging to presuppositions and superstitions to
fnally pay attention to what really happens.
Heidegger scofs at this kind of narrative. 20 It was not that
people before Newton were stupid or stubbory refused to see
what was right before their eyes. Rather, they saw something
diferent due to their particular understanding. Earlier periods
could not have discovered the law of inertia because they experi­
enced reality in a fundamentally incompatible way; in Kuhn's
famous phrase, ' the proponents of competing paradigs prac­
tice their trades in diferent worlds' . 20S Although we modems
fnd the idea of inertia obvious, 'during the preceding ffteen
hundred years it was not only unknown, but nature and beings
in general were experienced in such a way that it would have
been senseless' (280) .
A period's metaphysics structures its science, setting limits to
allowable ideas and possibilities. Continuing his idea that every
un concealment is also a concealment,2
06
Heidegger argues that
the Greeks' understanding showed them the world in one way
while simultaneously hiding other ways. It was not that they sim­
ply missed a key piece of evidence; their way of understanding
Being cast all evidence into a form that could not accommodate
an idea like inertia. For the Greeks, physical bodies are just not
the kind of thing that can engage in inertial movement. In order
to grasp not just what a period believes but why they held those
beliefs, one must look beneath individual ideas to their founda­
tional metaphysical system.
IV. SECTI ON D
Heidegger now lays out Aristotle and Newton's distinct concep­
tions of nature, which represent their respective answers to
the question 'what is a thing' . Although both natural philoso­
phers are deeply committed to empirical data, their divergent
75
HEI OEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
perspectives show them quite dissimilar evidence. ' For what is
actually apprehended as appearing and how it is interpreted are
not alike' (282-3).
Heidegger applies the earlier idea that facts are always
interpreted (272) to the starting point for both physics: motion.
It is everwhere a question of the motion of bodies. But how
motion and bodies are to be conceived and what relation they
have to each other i s not established and not self-evident.
From the general and indefnite experience that things change,
come into existence and pass away, thus are in motion, it is a
long way to an insight into the essence of motion and into the
manner of its belonging to things (283).
Once agai n, a superfcial similarity masks a profound and subtle
incommensurability; al though both thinkers start from the
simple fact that things move, what each makes of this holistically
depends on the system within which it is viewed. There is no
such thing as motion in-itself which univocally dictates what we
are to make of it. Our theories are 'underdetermined' by the
data, meaning that vari ous theories can accommodate 'the same'
observations by interpreting them differently. Their varying
understandings of Being or metaphysics determine what they
make of motion, thus bridging the gap from observation to
scientifc analysis. The kind of being that belongs to things
decides how their motion i s to be understood.
Aristotle's universe contains absolute diferentiations among
bodies, motions, and places. The four sub-lunary el ements or
basic kinds of matter (earth, water, air, and fre) each have their
own place: earth's place l ies at the bottom whi le fre's domain is
on top, and ether's superlunary place behaves diferently from
everything beneath i t. These are absol ute directions within a
qualifed, heterogeneous space: earth fal l s down and fre rises
because each type of body seeks its proper place. This kind of
motion i s natural while motion which violates it, such as throw­
ing a rock upwards or submerging a bucket ful l of air, is unnatural
or violent and cannot long endure. Motion is not a force exter­
nally imposed upon inert matter but arises from things inner
nature, so the way a thing moves depends on the type of thing
that i s moving. This is Aristotl e's mathematical, his projection of
76
MODERN SCIENCE, MEAPHYSICS, AND MATHEMATICS
thingness which guides the features of his physics. Notice that
Aristotle can cite plenty of evidence ('look at how rocks fall
down while fre rises') and explain lots of phenomena ('a thrown
rock will eventually fall because sideways motion through the air
is unnatural to earth; it seeks its proper place beneath' ). This is
not superstitious myth-making or story-telling; it simply starts
from diferent principles than contemporary science.
Heidegger then contrasts Aristotle's system with Newton's
as representative of the moder epoch, focusing once again
on motion. Newton's frst law begins with 'every body' , imedi­
ately obliterating ' the distinction between earthly and celestial
bodies . . . . All natural bodies are essentially of the same kind'
(286) . Qualitative diferences between parts of space have also
been stripped of; the Cartesian grid in which points occupy
neutral positions replaces Aristotle's graduated, place-flled
universe. Newton's conception of thingness erases Aristotle's
distinctions between elements, motions, regions, etc. , making
scientifc laws truly universal (as Kant demands); the falling of
an apple obeys the same l aws as the rotation of galaxies.
Heidegger's claim is that these laws can only function like this,
indeed Newton could only fnd them sensible, on the basis of a
deep commitment to the homogeneity of space and things. Since
things are inert materi al laying about within the neutral con­
tainer of space, they can have no preferences about where they
are or what kind of motion they engage i n. 2
0
7
Wereas the initial distinction between ancient and modern
science listed isolated diferences (that were inaccurate to boot),
Heidegger has now shown how ' all these changes are linked
together and uniformly based on the new basic position expressed
in the First Law and which we caJJ mathematical ' (288). This
analysis fulflls his promise to fnd the unifying explanation for
all the disparities between these periods' sciences in the fact
that 'the concept of nature in general changes' .
2
08
Aristotle and
Newton's conceptions of motion had to clash because they were
based on conficting understandings of what things are.
V. SECTI ON E
The law of inertia would have been nonsense to the Greeks since
it does not ft into their coherent understanding of Being. As in
Quine'S web of belief, ideas and facts near the edge of the web
77
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
can be altered with few ramifcations, but overturing those near
the center calls for the entire fabric to be rewoven, since they
are intertwined with so many others. These ideas - the mathe­
matical - are what interest Heidegger. New understandings of
these facts mark epochal turns in what he calls 'actual history . o o
that always concers the openness of Being' .
20
9 These scientifc
revolutions force scientists to rethink the basic guiding concepts
of their disciplineq turning from scientifc inquiry to philosophi¯
cal questions like what is reality' , or 'what is time?'
21
0
Although
the transition from Medieval to modem times spreads across
a couple of centuries (279), Heidegger examines one telling
moment in detai l : when Galileo drops two objects of diferent
weights from the tower of Pisa. This represents one of moderni­
ty's frst examinations of motion by an experiment, one of the
ways people ofen distinguish modern science from Medieval .
The modern universe is profoundly homogeneous: ' all bodies
are al i ke. No motion is speci al e Every place is like every other'
(29 1 ) . The law of gravity therefore applies the same way to
everything, so the two objects should fall at the same pace rather
than the thing with more earth racing faster to its home « The
bodies did not actually hit the ground simultaneously, however,
disconfrming Galileos hypothesis+ But instead of bowing to
the experiment's results, Galileo made an ad hoc adjustment to
compensate for the unexpected data. Although regarded as
a hero of modern science, Galileo i s the one ignoring 'pl ain
evidence while the Medieval spectators remain faithful to i tv 2
1 1
This point in hi storyq right on the edge of a revolution, yields the
peculiar phenomenon of people who live at the same time but in
diferent epochs. They stand side¯by¯side looking at the ' same' data
but through diferent understandingsq so they see diferent things.
Both Galileo and his opponents saw the same 'fact' . But
they interpreted the same fact diferently and made the same
happening visible to themselves in diferent ways . . . . Both
thought something along with the same lppearance but they
thought something diferent . . . fundamentally, regarding the
essence of a body and the nature of its motion« 21 2
This episode vividly demonstrates the way facts depend on their
interpretation» Since Galileo's answer to the question
'
what is a
78
MODERN SCIENCE, MEAPHYSICS, AND MATHEMATICS
thing?' diverges from his contemporaries, he sees a diferent
event and draws diferent inferences from it. This scenario
functions roughly as a third argument against the possibility
of an empirical derivation of the mathematical : since Galileo
and the spectators came to contradictory conclusions from
the same 'fact' , facts themselves cannot determine their own
interretation.
The mathematical precedes experience and even counts, in a
Kantian vein, as the condition for the possibility of certain kinds
of experience: ' the project frst opens a domain where things -
i . e. , facts - show themselves' .
2
1 3
This domain is a kind of clearing,
the 'site' within which humans have access to beings, but one
which determines how beings can show up. Instead of a neutral
arena which allows anything to appear, these disciplinary
domains are circumscribed and structured by a ' basic blueprint'
(29 1 ) from which 'unfolds the entire realm of posing questions
and experiments, establishing laws, and disclosing new regions
of beings' (293). The modern domain only all ows uniform things
homogeneously obeying universal laws to appear; aberrant
phenomena are 'puzzles' awaiting integration into this scheme.
Moreover, thi s uniformity of things and relations is what 'makes
possible and requires a universal uniform measure as an
essential determinant of things, i . e. , numerical measurement' . 2J 4
Modern science is mathematical in the sense of admitting only
quantifable phenomena because of its specifc mathematical in
the sense of its determining preconceptions about reality or
things. The various aspects of an epoch ft together to form that
period's coherent mathematical. ' How [things] show themselves
in prefgured in the proj ect. Therefore, the proj ect also deter­
mines the mode of taking in and studying what shows itself,
experience. '
21
5
VI . SECTION F
Although every epoch is mathematical in the sense of operating
within a set of preconceptions, moder science takes an unprec­
edented stance towards its mathematical. Medieval thinkers
fnd out about the world by consulting the authorities on the
matter - ultimately, the Bible and Aristotle; any other sources
stand in need of exteral justifcation and must cohere with the
ofcial doga conta
i
ned there
i
n. The moder era begns by
79
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
rej ecting this reliance on divine revelation and authoritative
texts for justifcation. Modern thought dispenses with external
authority in oÏdeÎ to aLhieNe a self-reliant gÏouÏd for truth and
legitimacy. In contrast to Greek conformity to the cosmos
logos or Christian obedience to God's will, modernity gives rise
to ' a new experience and formation of freedom itself, i . e. , a bind­
ing with obligations that are self-imposed e . . a The mathematical
strives out of itself to establish its own essence as the ground of
itself and thus of all knowledge' . 21 6 As in Kant's ethical auton­
omy, onl y laws that we impose upon ourselves can bind us.
This drive towards self-rel iance becomes the clue to under­
standing the founder of modern philosophy, Descartes. As with
Kant, Heidegger reads Descartes as primarily interested in meta­
physics rather than epistemol ogy; his ideas about knowledge are
consequences of his understandi ng of Being and, i n parti cul arq
of thingnesse Descartes does not frst decide to doubt which
then uncovers the foundational ego; doubt is ho¼ he fulflls
the modern mathematical's demand to found knowledge for
oneself (30 1 ) . It is not as much their dubiousness as the fact that
his prior beliefs were pregiven' (30 I ) to reason that requires their
ejection until properly i nspected. Only by purging these alien
ideas can he achieve the goal of the mathematical : 'taking cogni­
zance of that which we already have' .
¿ Ì J
Descartes devises a method whereby we can control which
beliefs we admit into our thinking, taking care to. restock our
minds only with true ones. Since these beliefs include what is
real, this method sets up reason as ' gideline and court of appeal
for all determinati ons of Being' . 21 8 We decide the criteria that
anything must meet in order to be considered real . Instead of
being open to however things show up, our project decides
which appearances will count as legitimate and which must be
di smissed. OÎly what fts in with one's axioms can be real and
true. Mathematically measurable qualities and movements
conform to his system and hence really characterize (material)
thi ngness; qualities such as beauty or usefulness do not and
hence get relegated to mere subjectivity.
Ultimately, the ' I ' doing this thinking is what precedes every­
thing given externally, making it the highest axiom and the
arbiter of the real : ' the Being of beings is determined out of
the ' I am' as the certainty of the positing' (302) . Descartes
80
MODERN SCIENCE, METAPHYSICS, AND MATHEMATICS
discovers and secures the self before God because the thinking
I takes the place of God as determining reality. This is how
Heidegger understands the way Descartes changes the meanings
of ' subject' and ' object' . Wereas ' subject' previously meant any
subsistent entity, it now denotes the ' I' as ' the referential center
of beings as such' .
2
1
9
Things become objects which no longer
subsist on their own, but can only be what they are by presenting
themselves to the subject. The German word ' Gegenstand
suggests this view since it literally means 'to stand against' ,
making it dependent on something against which to stand.
For Heidegger, subjects make objects stand-against them by
representing them, in harmony with the early modem ' idea idea' .
Rather than beings emerging with their own nature (Greek)
or receiving it as divine gif (Medieval), modem man determines
reality's character.
Knowledge has always been based on a proj ection which
determines the real and how we investigate i t - i . e. , the mathe­
matical - but modem thinkers are the frst to try to grasp and
control their own mathematical . Descartes sets up rules to man­
age and direct reason in order to become the author of his own
way of thinking. ' With the cogito-sum, reason now becomes
explicitly posited according to its own demand as the frst
ground of all knowledge and the guideline of the determination
of the things' (304, italics in original). The signifcant feature of
moderity is less the content of our mathematical than the
stance we take towards it. We want to create and control our way
of thinking, which in tum determines reality, thus achieving
complete autonomy. 'What is decisive is that man specifcally
takes up this position as one constituted by himself . . . . Man
makes depend on himself the way he is to stand to beings as the
objective' .
2
2
0
This ambition predetermines the rest of modem philosophy;
later thinkers simply unpack its implicit consequences or play
variations on its theme.
22
1 Kant's transcendental subject who
gives nature its ' order and regularity' and Nietzsche's
U
bermensch
who creates her own values and organizes the chaos of reality are
simply extensions of Descartes' proj ect. Of course, this unity
also means that if we can pull a thread or two loose - such as
the defnition of ourselves as subject or thinking as willful
autonomy - the entire edifce of metaphysics could unravel .
22
81
HEI OEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
STUDY QUESTI ONS
Wat lessons does Hei degger draw from Gal i l eo's
experiment?
2 Wat is the mathemati cal ? Wat role does it play in science?
Why can't it be empirically derived?
3 What is so disti nctive about Descartes' thought? Is Heidegger
right to view modern thought as monolithically uni fed?
f. The Questi on Concerni ng Technol ogy
I have always found this to be one of Heidegger's best essays. Its
combination of persuasive phenomenological descriptions with
a powerful argument can be more easily applied to concrete
experience than the abstract musings on Being that populate
many of his later writings. In particular, this essay dovetails
nicely with ' Letter on Humanism' and ' Modern Science, Meta­
physics, and Mathematics' by treating many of the same ideas
with greater concentration than the l atter and greater clarity
than the former. The three can be fruitfully read together.
I . TECHNOLOGY AND ITS ESSENCE
Heidegger opens by distinguishing between technology and the
essence of technology, stating that the l atter is not at all techno­
l ogical (3 1 1 ) . This distinction is not as puzzling or perverse
as it mi ght ini tially sound. Just as the essence of a tree is not
itself a tree, so the essence of technolog is not itself a piece of
technology. The consequences of this seemingly simple point
ripple throughout the entire essay. Wat Heidegger means by
technology is straightforard: machines that perform tasks
with greater efciency than human hands. Such machines are
created by us to function as ' a means to an end' (3 1 2); we make
them in order to accomplish tasks more easily Hei degger
considers this ' instrumental and anthropological defnition'
(3 1 2) to be correct but not true,223 which means that while it does
capture certain facts about technology, it does not dig deep
enough. It takes technology for granted, without asking how it is
82
THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY
possible. Technology is a consequence of the essence of technol­
ogy and can only be understood in light of this essence.
In order to fnd the essence of technology, Heidegger goes
through one of his chain-like series of ideas. Starting with the
initial defnition of technology as a man-made means, he fnds
that the notion of a means to an end is generally viewed as the
cause of that end. In order to understand instrumentality, then,
we must grasp causality, which leads to a discussion of Aristot­
le's doctrine of four causes (3 1 3) . Like most traditional theories,
this idea has rigidifed into unquestioned doga that seems to
have ' fallen from heaven as a truth as clear as daylight' (3 1 4) .
Continuing his early project of a ' destruction' of the tradition, 224
Heidegger wants to break through this obviousness to see
causality anew, leading him to ask questions like, why are there
four causes, and why these four? Instead of taking the idea for
granted, he is asking 'what does "cause" really mean' (3 l 4)? Like
Socrates' response upon receiving a list of examples when he had
requested a defnition, Heidegger wants to know what makes
these four causes causes.
He unifes the four by reference to a more sensitive apprecia­
tion of the Greek term 'aition' , initially used in courtrooms
in the sense of responsibility for a crime. Causes are the inter­
related factors that collectively bear responsibility for an entity
existing or lying there before us (3 1 4). Were any missing, the
entity would not be. Since for Heidegger to be is to come into
appearance, 'the four ways of being responsible bring something
into appearance' (3 1 6). The fnal link of the chain explains this
coming to appearance as 'brnging-forth brings out of conceal­
ment into unconcalment' (3 1 7), thereby tying technolog to his
usual defnition of truth as unconcealent. Connecting this
conclusion back to the starting point, we fnd that ' technolog is
a way of revealing' .
¿¿J
I I . THE ESSENCE OF TECHNOLOGY AS A WAY
OF REVEALI NG
Heidegger now pauses (marked by a break in the text) to review
this chain of ideas, expressing surprise at the conceptual distance
traveled from technology to revealing (3 1 8) . Revealing turs
out to be the condition for technology. In order for us to make
something, the materials and the goal must be revealed to us;
8
HEIDEGGER' S LTER WRITINGS
we have to be aware of them i n order to use them or, real ly, to
i nteract with them in any way whatsoever. Technol ogy, li ke every
comportment towards beings, presupposes the clearing, that is,
our ability to encounter and be aware of entities.
However, Heidegger means much more than this. Throughout
his career, he insists on the hermeneutic principle that perception
is always the perception of a meaningful being. 226 Everything we
encounter appears as a specific kind of thing, with no bare obser­
vations of featureless beings. 227 Moreover, the categories or
horizons within which we experience beings are historical in that
every epoch has its own predominant interpretation of beings or
way beings manifest themselves. Many of his l ater writings,
including ' Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics' in
this anthology, try to uncover these epochal understandings of
Being. This essay gives a quasi-phenomenological description of
the way things reveal themselves to us today, which he calls
'enframing' ( Ge-stelf. This way of appearing to us is what makes
technol ogy possible.
In order for us to put objects together to make a machine,
it is not enough that we just perceive them; they must be mani­
fest as parts, as entities suitable to this task, as 'put-togetherable­
to-make' the machine, so to speak. 228 So too must the goal
present itself to us as attainable and desirable for us to embark
upon the project in the frst place. The far shore beckoning as
to-be-reached is what starts me building a ship and then, within
the horizon of the project, wood announces itself as good build­
ing material . My act of constructi on rests upon a receptive
perception of the goal along with the materials and tools to
reach it. Any problem we choose to work on must show itself as
ought-to-be-fxed-through-tools. If for instance our trials and
tribulations appeared as divine punishment visited upon us to
test our humble subservience, then they would call upon us to
weather them patiently, condemning any attempt to fx them as
hubris.
Al though the discussion has so far focused on Greek craft­
work, Heidegger is primarily interested in what is distinctive
about modern technol ogy. Certainly, 'it too is a revealing' (320),
but it reveals real ity as ' standing-reserve' (Bestand according
to which 'everywhere everything is ordered to stand by, to be
immediately on hand, indeed to stand there just so that it may
8
THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY
be on cal l for a further ordering' . 2
29
For the ancient Greeks, to be
meant to be physis ¯ i . e. , things arising according to their own
nature - and for the Medievals beings were divine creations;
today, to be means to be standing-reserve.
Technology strives for maximum efciency and convenience,
which occurs when everything is so ordered that whatever we hap­
pen to need at the moment can be met imediately and efortlessly.
All machines share the function of standing ready, waiting to ful­
fll our desires. The dishwasher crouches in the comer, waiting to
spring into action the moment I want my dishes cleaned. And the
water and electricity it requires must constantly stand at the edge
of the faucet and socket, leaning forward in anticipation of serice,
ready to give their last full measure as soon as needed. Everhing
is organized around my gratifcation and my time-table; the more
I have to do and the longer I have to wait to get what I want, the
more I have to adapt my behaviour to the machines istead of the
reverse, and thus the worse the technology.
Modem technolog's great innovation lies in storing energ,
the best possible resource since it is fexible enough to satisfy all
kinds of purposes. We extract energy from nature and store it to
be always on call for whatever task we happen to take up, mak­
ing nature work around my schedule rather than the other way
around. Instead of having to wait for the wind or the river to
turn the mill, modem technology operates when I want it to,
with a fip of a switch. Heidegger sees this as a profound change
in our relationship to reality. An older ' machine' like a windmill
is 'left entirely to the wind's blowing' yo Thanks to modern tech­
nology, I no longer need to regulate my desires and activities to
conform to the seasons or the whims of nature; energy is ready
when I want it. As fgures like Descartes and Bacon promised at
the dawn of the scientifc revolution, nature has changed from
our partner to our servant.
Revealing things as standing-reserve infects our relationship
to everything. In order to produce the electricity that stands
ready at my beck and call, I must see the raw materials as
resources for fulflling my desires. Ultimately, nature appears
only as a resource to be transformed into more useful energ.
Technology is really the means for converting less efcient forms
of standing-reserve into more efcient forms since we come to
see everything in these terms. As Heidegger puts it colourfully in
8
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
a 1 955 speech, ' nature becomes a gigantic gasoline station, an
energy source for modern technology
'
. 2
3 1
Let us now return to the distinction that opened the essay The
essence of technol ogy goes far beyond j ust constructing and
using machines; it is a more general attitude or way of revealing
that has to precede their production and use. Before we can
build agricultural gadgets to farm more efciently, for instance,
the earth must appear 'as a coal mining district, the soil as a
mineral deposit. The feld that the peasant formerly cultivated
and set in order appears diferently than it did' (320). This is
why the essence of technology is a kind of revealing that enables
the entire process of making and using machines in order to
maximize our comfort. Standing-reserve is ' an inclusive rubric'
(322); it takes over all of our thoughts about and interactions
with beings: ' our whole human existence everywhere sees itself
challenged . . . to devote itself to the planning and calculating
of everything' (ID 345). Even ' current talk about human
resources' (323) is no accident but an expression of how the
atti tude even extends to people. Many professors can attest to
the way the vocation of teaching has become the academic ' busi­
ness' ruled by the need to reduce waste and maximize output.
The essence of technology also · forms the condition of
modern science, rather than the reverse as common sense has it.
Nature must stand ready to answer science's interrogations,
preferably with simple useful answers. Scientifc research enables
us to use nature as energy only because it frst reveals nature as
conceptual standing-reserve: physics demands ' that nature . . .
remain orderable as a system of information' (328). All mystery,
anything that does not ft into systematic quantifcation, must
be lopped of from true reality and relegated to the merely
subjective.232 Like Nietzsche, Levinas, and Foucault, Heidegger
spots a hidden streak of aggression or violence within ' disinter­
ested' inquiry.
Earlier, Heidegger conceded that the defnition of technology
as a human activity and a means to an end is 'correct' (3 1 3) ,
but the subsequent ruminations have convinced him that 'the
merely instrumental, merely anthropological defnition of tech­
nology is therefore in principle untenable' (326). Although it
captures the qualities common to technological apparatus, it
misses the essence of technology. This is no small matter since
86
THE QUESTION CONCERNI NG TECHNOLOGY
all instrumental and anthropological technology presupposes
the essence of technology as a way of revealing. Constructig
machines is a human activity which we choose to do in order to
achieve certain goals; we are in control of this. However, in order
to be capable of this activity we must passively receive the mani­
festation of beings at all (the clearing), as well as their specifc
contemporary appearance as controllable (standing-reserve).
In principle, a clearing could not be 'constructed' . In order to
create a site for beings to manifest themselves, we would have to
already be aware that they exist and can become manifest to us,
as well as whatever kinds of 'tools' or 'raw materials' were
needed. But all of this presupposes the clearing. In order to
make a clearing so that we could perceive the tools and raw
materials, we would have to already reside within a clearing of
some kind which itself could not have been made by us, on pain
of infnite regress. Furthermore, beings would have to manifest
themselves as desirable to discover, and the raw materials as
useful for making a clearing. The essence of technology as a
mode of unconcealment tends to expand to make everything
seem under our control, ' but the unconcealment itself, within
which ordering unfolds, is never a human handiwork' . 233 This
essential and necessarily pri or passivity of man, the necessary
reception of the clearing as something neither of our making
nor in our control, is one of the most prominent and pervasive
themes of Heidegger's later work.
We can relate this notion to the four causes. In its Medieval
adaptation, God as the ultimate efcient cause absorbs the
other three: He determines the end of the universe (teleological),
the Forms become Ideas in God's mind (formal), while pre­
existing raw materials vanish when creation becomes ex nihilo
(material) . The divine efcient cause becomes the explanation
for everything, the ultimate ground for the existence of all
that is. And His causality is perfectly efcient; He simply says
'let there be light' and light appears.
Early modern thought maintains this emphasis on efcient
causality with the goal of attaining power. Descartes' ambition
to use technology to become lord and master of nature strives
to close the gap between desire and fulfllment, which is
achieved when we make light stream forth simply by fipping a
switch. Being the controlling center of a web of willing and able
87
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
machinery cultivates a sense of almost divine power where we
are in charge of everything around us; with a hydro-electric dam
spanning it, ' even the Rhine itself appears to be something
at our command' (321 ) . However, Heidegger's interpretation of
the Greek doctrine of the four causes teaches us that efcient
causality is just one factor in production which depends on the
cooperation of the others and how they unconceal themselves.
Materials must ' announce themselves' as resources and as put­
togetherable-in such-and-such-a-way, structures must appear
practical and promising, and goals desirable.
Thus not only are we thrown into the clearing or awareness in
general, but we also fnd ourselves in the technological mode of
unconcealment .
If the Being of beings e o a did not already prevai l, beings could
not have appeared as objects, as what is objective in objects -
and only by such objectivity do they become available to the
ideas and propositions in the positing and disposing of nature
by which we constantly take inventory of the energies we can
wrest from nature. This disposition of nature according to its
energy supply arises from the hidden essence of modern
technology.2
3
4
By enabling us to control nature, technology fosters the sense
that we are in complete control, in particular that we are in con­
trol of technol ogy itself We think of ourselves as the Kantian
subject who i s responsi ble for her clearing and its specifc char­
acter, culminating in Nietzsche's dream that those strong enough
may consciously control it. But for Heidegger, thrownness lies
at the heart of any project (see, e. g. , 234) . We must be passively
granted awareness since any attempt to bring it about would
require awareness, as well as the specifc way of thinking in
terms of using resources for our purposes, i . e. , the essence of
technology.
The moder philosophy of subjectivity which portrays us
as in control of the clearing begins when Descartes proposes to
create a new way of thinking that will enable us to control nature
better. The Aristotelian-Scholastic view of the world was useless
so he set out to build a new kind of rationality or, in Heidegger's
terms, a new clearing which could manipulate the world more
8
THE QUESTION CONCERNI NG TECHNOLOGY
efciently and efectively. This ambition is announced in the very
title of one of his books, Rules for the Regulation of Reason,235
which could attain his goal to 'make ourselves, as it were, the lords
and masters of nature' . 236 According to Heidegger's analysis,
Descartes' procedure necessarily comes too late. In order even to
want to create technolog to control nature and to use a refor­
mulated manner of thinking as the means to get it, these goals
and materials must already announce themselves in a technolog­
ical way, i . e. , as means to the end of more efcient control. Thus,
even to entertain the project of forging this new way of thinking,
to fnd it plausible and desirable, indicates that one is already
thinking in this new way.
So, according to Heidegger, all our ways of controlling the
world around us are 'merely respond[ing] to the call of uncon­
cealment' (324) . We are always already within the clearing which
cannot be our creation. Whatever is of our doing - our thoughts
and our actions - are responses to the way beings present them­
selves. The modern world calls out to us to-be-controlled,
materials announce themselves as to-be-put-together-and-used,
which is what prompts us to engage in technologcal activity.
All action depends on this reception which enables and pro­
vokes our response, but the point has a special bite when applied
to the modern clearing. Technology makes us think we are in
control of everything but, ironically, we are not in control of
being in control. This paradoxical state of afairs leads to some
strange combinations of activity and passivity: 'man fnds him­
sel placed, on the basis of the being of beings, before the task of
undertaking mastery of the earth. '237 We are ordered to become
masters, forced to force nature into our plan. The necessary
condition of modern technology's willful autonomy is a heteron­
omous determination. He calls this 'challenging claim' , i . e. , the
way that the essence of technolog provokes this reaction, enfram­
ing ( Ge-stell). ' Enframing . . . challenges [man] forth, to reveal the
actual, in the mode of ordering, as standing-resere . . . . Techno­
logcal activity . . . always merely responds to the challenge of
enframing, but it never comprises enframing itself or brings it
about' (325-) . We are challenged to challenge nature.
The project of autonomy, especially in the sense of taking
control of one's own thoughts, runs throughout the histor of
philosophy, from Socrates chiding his fellow Athenians for not
89
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
examining their beliefs, to Descartes doubting all of his beliefs in
order to restock his mind in a well-ordered and controlled way,
to Kant's insistence on both ethical and epistemological auton­
omy, to Nietzsche's encouragement to take control of one's own
latent creative capacities. Heidegger, however, di smisses the idea
as incoherent. We can only give ourselves a law on the basis of
al ready being aware of the law and the law 'striking us' as good
and right to foll ow. Although we may parade our beliefs before
the tribunal of reason for approval or rejecti on, the judge's own
authority cannot receive ultimate justifcation this way. The
themes of mood (Befndlichkeit) and thrownness in Heidegger's
early work now expand to encompass the particul ar ways of
thinking we fnd appropriate. Wat we deem rational i s a matter
of what appeals most to our considered judgment. This does not
rob our thinking of legitimacy, since there can be no higher court
of appeals than what we ultimately fnd to be right.
I I I . RESPONDI NG TO THE CHALLENGE
Heidegger punctuates the essay with another break at page 328
and expresses dissatisfaction with the progress so far. He has
determined the essence of technology to be enframing, a worry­
ing condition, but we still do not know what to do about
it (328) . We have discovered that the essence of technology is a
kind of revealing, one that challenges man to reveal nature in
a challenging way. The question concerning technology now seems
to be, how should we respond to this challenge? But in order to
answer this, we must frst gain a better understanding of what the
challenge is. We can rule out the notion that enframing beings as
standing-resere falsifes them. Modern enframing is our uncon­
cealment and hence is true; things now reveal themselves as
standing-reserve and so they really are that kind of Being. Beings
are as much standing-resere today as they were divine creations
in the Mi ddle Ages and physis in ancient Greece (see 201 ) .
It turns out that ' what i s dangerous is not technol ogy . . . . The
essence of technol ogy, as a desti ning of revealing, i s the danger'
( 333) . As usual , Heidegger is less concerned with ' ontic' prob­
lems l i ke pollution than he is with the ontol ogical issue of how
Being comes to presence. This ontological issue presents two
i nterdependent dangers. The frst is the menace that haunts
much of the later work ¯ the forgetfulness of Being. As he states
90
THE QUESTION CONCERNI NG TECHNOLOGY
many times throughout his career, Being, the simple fact that
beings are present to us, is very hard to attend to since we usually
focus on the beings that are present. Wile this concer applies
to all of Being's historical manifestations,238 the modern epoch's
understanding of Being is particularly prone to hide Being:
' when enframing holds sway, regulating and securing of the
standing-resere mark all revealing. They no longer even let
their own fundamental characteristic appear, namely, this reveal­
ing as such' . 239
Enframing forms a particularly strong concealment of uncon­
cealment by fostering the sense that we create and control our
mode of revealing. Since technology's goal is to maximize power
through means that we make,
man . . a exalts himself and postures a lord of the earth. In this
way the illusion comes to prevail that everything man encoun­
ters exists only insofar as it is hs constrct . . . . Man stands so
decisively in subservience to . . . the challengng-forth of
enframing that he does not grasp enframing as a clai, that he
fails to see himself as the one spoken to. 24
Viewing ourselves as in control of our thinking and the source of
our clearing blocks the realization that these have been conferred
upon us, that Being is 'given' to us (this is the more literal transla­
tion of ' es gibt Sin' ). Although Heidegger repeatedly rejects the
attempt to compare epochal understandings, both Greek physi
and Medieval divine creation are more amenable to this realiza­
tion than enframing. At least these earlier understandings of
Being see things and meaning arising from a source other than
ourselves, making wonder and gratitude approprate, if some­
what misplaced and misinterpreted, responses. If, on the other
hand, it is all our doing, there is no room for gratitude or feeling
responsible for taking care of our boon.
Let us contrast a traditional farmer with a modern scientist
raising plants. The farmer knows down to his bones that he is
completely dependent on nature's cooperation, and this shapes
how he works. 'In sowing grain [the peasant] places seed in the
keeping of the forces of growth and watches over its increase' . 24l
It needs some rain but not too much, some sunshine but not too
much, richness in the soil, etc. If any of these factors is out of
91
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
proportion to the crop's needs, there i s l ittle he can do. On the
other hand, i f the modern technol ogical agriculturists plants
need water, she simply turns on the sprinkler and water immedi­
ately bursts forth. If they need light, she fips a swi tch and light
beams down on them. Hydroponic growing even does away with
the ground as an inefcient medium. The overall efect is to
insti l l the feeling that she is in total control of the process and
that she unilaterally creates the end product, the way the efcient
cause swallowed up the other causes. Heidegger points out that
at the heart of all of this control, the scientist is as dependent as
the farmer on the brute fact that plants grow under these condi­
tions. She does not create the process of organic growth, but just
makes the circumstances optimally conducive for the plant to
grow. If it were to change its normal behaviour for some unknown
reason, she would be powerless to force it to grow; natural disas­
ters ofen impart this sense of the usually ignored limitations of
technology. No matter how efective, the efcient cause always
needs the cooperation of the others.
Thus, both the scientist and the farmer are really in a partner­
ship with the plant, but only the farmer knows this. Heidegger
argues that although we are the ones who dig the coal out of the
ground, bur it, and transform its energy into the more useful
form of electricity, this is not creation but merely transforma­
tion. We depend on coal being combustible i n specifc, stable,
usable ways which we did not create. Technology fosters the
illusion that we are in complete control , but i n principle we can
only cooperate with what the avai l able resources and the laws of
nature yiel d. 242 'Onl y a minute fraction of what lies before us in
this way has been laid down by man, and even then only with the
aid of what was lying there before. The stones from which
the house is built come from the natural rock' (WeT 200) . In the
language of 'The Ori gi n of the Work of Art' , the farmer main­
tains the strife between world and earth, whereas the scienti st
futilely tries to absorb earth into worl d; in the terms of Being
and Time, we can only project what we have been thrown i nto.
The second feature of the ontol ogical danger relates to
Heidegger's idea that every revealing is at the same time a con­
ceali ng;24
3
seeing something as one kind of being excludes seeing
it as any other kind. On a larger scale, each epoch's understand­
ing of Being prevents us from experiencing the others. Heidegger
92
THE QUESTION CONCERNI NG TECHNOLOGY
plays on the etymological connection of the word ' epoch' with
'epoche' to suggest the bracketing or withdrawal that character­
izes all clearings (see N 4: 239) . Just as all epochs forget Being but
the modern era is particularly prone to do so, the same is true of
the way that al l epochs block other modes of appearing. 'Where
this ordering holds sway, it drives out every other possibility of
revealing' .
2
4 Enframing is a j ealous clearing, demanding that
we have no other clearings alongside it. This is clearly visible in
scientism, the view that science tells us all there is to know about
the world. No understanding of Being i s false, but neither can
any be considered the single absolute truth; any claim to be the
one tre revelation should be rej ected.
These two aspects of the danger posed by enframing ¯ ( 1 ) its
concealment of Being as the source of all understandings, and
(2) its insistence on being the one true understanding - are inter­
connected. 'The challenging-enframing not only conceals [2] a
forer way of revealing (bringing-forth [Le. , Greek poiesisD but
also [ 1 ] conceals revealing itself and with it that wherein uncon­
cealment, i . e. , truth, propriates' (333). We can see how this
happens in Kant for instance: it is because ( 1 ) we are the source
of the formal features of experience that (2) these and only these
features are necessary and universal to our experience. On the
other hand, if our clearing descends upon us from Being, then a
new one could occur at any time (thus reintroducing the Humean
contingency that Kant seeks to eliminate) . 'If Enframing is a
destining of the coming to presence of Being itself, then we may
venture to suppose that Enframing, as one among Being's modes
of coming to presence, changes' (QT 37).
Now that we understand the danger better, we should be able
to fgure out how to fx the problem, but Heidegger introduces a
twist here. Just as Descartes' drive to change his own thinking to
the technol ogical comes too late, so any attempt to overcome
technol ogy necessarily comes too early. Trying to bend technol­
ogy to our will in order to render i t harmless is itself an expression
of the technological attitude. 'The instrumental conception of
technol ogy conditions every attempt to bring man into the right
relation to technology . . . . We will, as we say, "get" technolog
"intelligently in hand". We will master it' . 245 This very way of
framing the problem and setting about fxing it is guided by the
technological attitude, and so can only perpetuate it instead of
93
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
overcoming it. Because enframing as the essence of technology
consists in viewing issues as problems to be solved by taking
action, ' human activity can never directly counter this danger'
(339). One way that the essence of technology difers from tech­
nology is that it cannot be dealt with the way that technological
issues are without perpetuating the danger, thus somewhat justi­
fying Heidegger
'
s disdain for on tic problems. As long as we
ignore the ontological issue, no decisive change can happen.
Heidegger follows a line of Holderlin's poetry which implies
that ' precisely the essence of technology must harbor in itself the
growth of the saving power' . 24
6
Instead of trying to fx technol­
ogy, which would treat it as under our control and thereby
perpetuate the technological way of seeing the world, we should
turn to the essence of technology. Whereas technology's aston­
ishing power allows us to feel in control, the essence of technology
as a way of revealing is neither our creation nor under our
control . This allows us to ' experience enframing as a destining
of revealing' (330). The German word translated here as ' destin­
ing' (' Geschick') has strong connecti ons to 'what is ftting,
sui table, appropriate' ('schicklich' ), as well as to both ' sending'
(' Schicken' ) and history (, Geschichte') . 247 The particul ar clearing
sent to us at this point i n history is what makes us who we are;
it is our destiny
It is tempting to read all of thi s in terms of traditional notions
of destiny, which yields a mystical Heidegger telling (ontotheo­
logical) stories of a super-Being sending our destiny to us. But
we have to remember that, according to the ontol ogical difer­
ence, Being is not a being; it is not God or a god or any kind of
separate agent performing acti ons (see 33 1 ) . Like Nietzsche,
Hei degger fights the substance-ontology built into the grammar
of our l anguage which implies that every acti on arises from a
distinct agent. As di scussed in ' Letter on Humanism' , Be-ing as
sender is not separable from the sending or from what is sent.
' Nothing that efects, as Being, precedes the mode in which it -
Being itself - takes place so as to adapt itself; and no efect, as
Being, follows after. Sheerly, out of its own essence of concealed­
ness, Being brings itself to pass into its epoch. '24
8
Being is not in
any way a being; it does not exist apart from man nor is it any
kind of agent. Rather, Be-ing is pÎesencing in the clearing
that we are. We receive the clearing as something that i s not
9
THE QUESTION CONCERNI NG TECHNOLOGY
our creation but which determines us through and through (337).
Heidegger wants to remove the clearing from our imagined
control, undermining the technological illusion that we are in
complete control of the world and ourselves.
He is also playing on the sense of mystery contained in the
traditional notion of destiny. The epochs of Being resist our
attempts to comprehend why they are the way they are, or to
place them in a logical order.2
4
9 As the source of our rationality,
our clearing cannot itself be explained, nor can we apply a
particular epoch's understanding to that which grants all under­
standing. Heidegger rejects Hegel's attempt to make the historical
changes in thinking into a rational evolution, claiming instead
that, ' the surmounting of a destining of Being . . . each time
comes to pass out of the arrival of another destining, a destining
that does not allow itself either to be logically and historio­
graphically predicted or to be metaphysically construed as a
sequence belonging to a process of history' . 25o Being thrown into
a particular way of reasoning, we fnd certain ways of arguing
plausible and others ridiculous, some types of evidence persua­
sive and some irrelevant. 251 But these ways of thinking cannot
themselves be justifed without employing either these ways of
thinking or retreating to another beginning point which then
would stand in need of justifcation itself. The appropriate way
to think of Being preseres its mysteriousness, the way phil oso­
phy respects untruth in 'On the Essence of Truth' and artworks
bring earth into the open as the self-closing.
¿J¿
Heidegger is not completely consistent in his analysis of the
history of thinking. On the one hand, he wants to avoid a
Hegelian pattern of epochs, often calling the switch between
them a leap or a chasm to indicate the impossibility of a bridge
making them continuous. In Kuhn's terminology, diferent eras
are incommensurable and hence cannot be compared or joined
into an overall trend. On the other hand, sometimes he does sug­
gest a tenuous connection among them. 'The epochs can never
be derived from one another much less be placed on the track of
an ongoing process. Nevertheless, there is a legacy [
U
berlie!er­
ung] from epoch to epoch' . 2S3 1t is this 'legacy' that allows him to
write narratives of the intelligible or even inevitable develop­
ment (usually decline) of the history of philosophy, where Plato's
initial distinction between Being and appearance contains all
95
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
future variati ons in embryo, up to Nietzsche's ultimate reversal
of the two.
Finally, Heidegger invokes destiny's connotation that our lives
are watched over by benevolent beings. He wants us to see the
sendings as gifts for which we should be grateful, even though
there i s not anyone to be grateful to. The essay ends with the
hope to 'awaken and found anew our vision of, and trust in, that
which grants' (340). Even though the modern clearing of enfram­
ing is ' the danger' , it is still a revelation of Being and so should
be treasured. We cannot scof at the particular epoch we have
been thrown into but should gratefully safeguard the clearing
that we have.
Every destining of revealing propriates from a granting and
as such a granting . . . . The granting that sends one way or
another into revealing i s as such the saving power. For the
saving power l ets man see and enter into the highest dignity
of his essence.
2
5
4
Having a clearing at all is such an awesome event that we should
never stop wondering at it or being grateful for it, although this
above all thi ngs i s usually taken for granted. Our 'ethical task' is
to dwel l in and nurture our awareness the way the farmer cul ti­
vates a seed. 2
5
5
This attitude is what can overcome nihilism. Heidegger argues
that the idea that all values come from human valuing, the key to
Nietzsche's attempt to overcome nihilism, actually represents
the ultimate form of nihilism. As fnite mortals, we are simply
unable to sustain value in the world in such a way that will make
a good, meaningful life on our own; values that result from our
choices cannot obligate us or fll us with awe. We need tradition,
community, and the natural patterns the ancients called 'cosmos
logos' . For Heidegger, there is something profoundly comforting
in the fact that the epochs come to us, that ultimately we are not
in control, which is why overcoming the oblivion of Being i s at
the same time the overcoming of nihilism. Although the con­
cepts of benevolence or malevolence cannot really apply to Being
as the source of the ' sendings' , the epochal understandings fur­
nish us with whatever meaningfulness we fnd in this life, making
them the greatest gifs possible. The fact that, in principle, we
9
THE QUESTION CONCERNI NG TECHNOLOGY
cannot alter our clearing, combined with this inculcation of
trusting gratitude for however things appear to us, make up what
is called later Heidegger's 'quietism' .
STUDY QUESTI ONS
I Wy can't we overcome technology by our own eforts?
2 Explain standing-reserve. Describe something that is not
usually considered technology as standing-reserve.
3 Wat is the diference between technology and the essence of
technology? Wat are they? Wy is this distinction so
important?
g. Bui l di ng Dwel l i ng Thi nki ng
Initially this essay may read like a perplexing poetic ramble
circling around two obscure groups of terms - the fourfold and
dwellingbuildinglocale - which bear little discernible relation
to each other. Fortunately, much of the work becomes intelligi­
bleonceoneseeshowitdevelops Heidegger's morestraightforward
phenomenological descriptions of space in Being and Time256
and ' Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics' , which
may serve as helpful background readings. The fourfold is a new
idea in Heidegger's later thought that plays a prominent role in
several essays of the ffties, and I must admit that I feel less con­
fdence in my grasp of it than just about any other notion in
Basic Writings.
The opening paragraph of the essay asks what dwelling is and
how building belongs to it, and each of the two sections making
up the body of the essay responds to one of these questions.
However, if building does belong to dwelling, as the second
question suggests, then we will not be able to answer the frst
question with an isolated defnition just of dwelling. We will
only understand dwelling if we also come to understand build­
ing, and both efors may require a rethinking of thinking. Thus,
from the essay's very begnning, even its frst sentence, we fnd
the three titular terms interconnected. This holism, i. e. , the idea
97
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
that parts can only be grasped by locating them in the whole to
which they belong, runs throughout the essay.
I . WHAT I S IT TO DWELL?
Foll owing his usual procedure of starting with the common or
average everyday understanding of a topic, Heidegger frst lays
out the standard view of the relationship between building and
dwelling: we construct certain kinds of buildings such as houses
so that we may live within them. Building functions as the means
to secure the end of dwelling, two independent acti ons brought
into an instrumental connection for a specifc goal . Wile this is
in some sense correct, it also covers over essential features, ' for
bui l di ng is not merely a means and a way toward dwelling - to
bui l d is i n itself to dwel l ' . 2
5
7 The holistic interconnecti on between
the two undermines this depiction of a means-ends relati onship
between entirely se
p
arate activities.
This objection receives its justi fcation from language which
' tells us about the essence of a thing' .
2
5
8
Especially in his later
work, Heidegger takes etymology very seriously for at least two
reasons. First, language is often misconceived as merely a means
to express an internal idea259
- the vehicle for ideas traveling
from mind to mind. Like many twentieth-century philosophers,
Heidegger believes that we can only think linguistically, that
rather than a neutral transparent medium, language's own char­
acteristics necessarily inform our thinking.
2
60 Second, Heidegger
sometimes descrbes the initial coinage of words as penetrating
mini-descriptions of fresh experiences of phenomena before they
get dulled by continuous handling or hijacked by standard views.
Al though etymology cannot serve as proof, excavating the insights
captured in these 'essential words'2
6
1 frequently yields important
suggestions. In this case, the fact that the Old High German word
for building also means to dwell supplies the clue (349).
A cl oser examination of building uncovers its two varieties:
the cherishing, protective way that farmers cultivate crops,
and the construction of edifces like houses. Despite their difer­
ences, both kinds of building are forms of dwelling. 2
62 We miss
this because the way we carry out our everyday lives inconspicu­
ously ' recedes' (349), making it hard to grasp how we actually
experience the worl d. The elusiveness of the mundane inspires
and guides phenomenology in general , and it runs throughout
9
BUILDING DWELLING THINKING
Heidegger's career. As the Introduction to Being and Tme states,
that which pervades every moment of our lives is, for that very
reason, hardest to think about. 263 Then, when we do tr to think
about and articulate how we live in the world, we tend to mis­
construe it profoundlyq giving rise to the chronic errors that clog
the history of philosophy«
Dwelling recedes by dispersing into the various activities
and projects we pursue, including building, which hide their
fundamental unity. Remarking on the etymol ogical proximity
between the words for dwelling and being, Heidegger argues that
dwelling is the way that we are, our ' Being' or ' basic character' . 26
Dwel ling is so essential to who we are that it accounts for all of
our behaviour. Like all of our basic actions, we can only under­
stand building in l i ght of dwelling, justifying his earlier rejection
of their common sense means-ends relationship: ' we do not
dwell because we have built, but we build and have built because
we dwell, that is, because we are dwellers' (350). Dwelling is how
we are, which informs everything we do. Therefore, we must
grasp any particular behaviour in light of dwelling, the subject
of the essay's frst question¶
Another brief etymological discussion links dwelling to peace,
to the free, to sparing, concluding that dwelling should be under­
stood as sparing (351 ) . Just a letting be does not mean apathetic
indiference in 'On the Essence of Truth' , 26S so here sparng
does not leave things alone. Genuine sparng helps something
achieve its own essence, rather like the way cultivating facilitates
plants growing towards their telos. This sparng sufuses all
that we do, so we might get a better sense of it by taking another
look at our behaviour in general , which gets unifed by dwelling.
Now, however, Heidegger emphasizes that dwelling means ' the
stay of mortals on the earth' (35 1 ). And a shif in the essay occurs
here by means of the holistic notion that we only comprehend
individual items in relation to their opposing term: so we under­
stand what mortals are by way of divinities, and earth once it has
been paired with sky. In fact, all four belong together so that
none can exist or make sense unless encompassed in their 'primal
oneness' . 26
6
We have now moved from dwelling-building to one
of Heidegger's most obscure ideas: the fourfold+
Heidegger briefy discusses the four components one by oneq
but insists at the end of each description that talking about any
99
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
one of them involves the other three. 267 Al though we can only
focus on one 'at a time, their deep unity must always be kept in
mind. 20s Earth focuses on natural growth and abundance (with a
whiff of physis), ½hile sky seems to indicate nature's i nherent
patterns, what the Greeks called the ' cosmos logos' , i . e. , the
intell igible structure of the universe evinced in phenomena li ke
the regul arity of the seasons. Mortals are ' capable of death as
death' (352) in that, unlike animals, we know that we will die. 2
69
Heidegger ofen associates the gods with the sense of the world
as meaningful , while their loss amounts to something akin to
nihilism. 270
The fourfold represents something l ike the ' logical space'
organizing our lives and projects. In the connected essay,
' Poetically Man Dwell s' , the four elements create a ' spanning'
or ' between . . . measured out for the dwelling of man' .
2
7
1
We live
out our lives within the place stretched out between these
general features of our existence: afer birth and before death,
on the earth and under the sk, too late for the old gods and
too early for a new holiness (PLT 4), between the conditions
that make us what we are and what we make out of these
conditions - i . e. , between thrownness and projection. We are
riddled with needs (ultimately leading to death), placed on a
fecund earth whose cycles we can grasp and cooperate with. We
are the animals who know that we are fated to die, as well as the
beings who await the divine blessing of a meaningful life.
Dwelling now appears as safeguarding the fourfold. We dwell
by letting these dimensions come into their essence each in its
own way. While they vary, in each case we let the dimension
unfold itself rather than forcing our desires or expectations onto
it. Saving the earth means working it without exhausting it,
unlike technological mastery which treats land merely as a
resource to be maximally exploited (320) . Receiving the sk
refrains from disrupting the natural patterns of night and day
by lighting up the night for our convenience or squeezing every
second of productivity out of a day. We await divinities instead
of creating gods or determining our own ultimate values, as
Nietzsche recommends. Initiating our death secures 'a good
death' (352) at home among family and friends, instead of des­
perately clinging to survival in a sterile hospital . Every case of
preserving consists in letting be, allowing each dimension to
1 00
BUILDING DWELLI NG THINKING
present itself in its own way rather than steamrolling over its
intrinsic tendencies to get what we want.
This sparing cannot accept the fourfold abstractly, but must
take place with particular beings, namely, things» 2¯ We can only
let the fourfold fower in our dealings with things, and even then
only when we allow them to be truly things (353). Safeguarding
things means letting them fully be themselves and, when this is
done, they in turn allow the fourfold. Among the ways in which
we let things be are the two types of building, leading to an
enriched version of the conclusion reached earlier: 'dwelling,
inasmuch as it keeps the fourfold in things, is, as this keeping,
a building' (353). This connection now brings us to the essay's
second question.
I I . HOW DOES BUI LDI NG BELONG TO DWELLI NG?
Since dwelling only happens with things and, more specifcally,
when they are fully allowed to be things, we now tum to them.
Unfortunately, philosophers have long represented things very
diferently from the way we experience them. In particular sub�
stance ontolog defnes things as an objective base supporting
qualities. This conception divides features into those that really
belong to the thing and those that are ' afterard read into it' ,273
somewhat like Locke's distinction between primary and second­
ar qualities. Only certain features enjoy the status of true reality,
while the rest of our experience of things gets demoted to merely
subjective projections. Heidegger's phenomenological approach,
on the other hand, accepts all that shows itself as real . Since the
theoretical attitude shears of so much the richness of our expe­
rience, Heidegger says that our thinking traditionally ' understates'
the essence of things.274 Like Being and Time, much of this essay
consists in contrasting the theoretical conception of things with
how they actually appear in our normal but inconspicuous
encounters with them.
What it means to be a thing is to gather the fourfold i a
particular way,27S and Heidegger briefy (and rather obscurely)
shows how his chosen example of a bridge treats each element
with respect. 276 This gathering organizes the surrounding area
into a new arrangement. According to a kind of Gestalt theory
of perception, installing the bridge fundamentally changes the
landscape into which it has been placed, creating a new whole
1 01
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
which is more than just the sum of the bridge and the environ­
ment. Instead of simply joining the pre-existing banks over a
river, 'the banks emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the
stream . . . . The bridge gathers the earth as landscape around the
stream' (354). Once it has been erected, the bridge retroactively
brings about its setting. 277
This organization has efects that refute our usual means-ends
outlook. 27
8
We normally think of something like a bridge as a
tool we use in pursuing our projects, in this case crossing the
river to gather wood or crops and brnging them to town to sell .
But Heidegger attributes much of what we think of as our agency
to the thing, rendering our actions responses to the environ­
ment's ' solicitations' . Instead of our autonomously deciding
upon a goal and then constructing or employing the means
necessary to achieve it, Heidegger says that ' the bridge initiates
the lingering and hastening ways of men to and fro' (354). This
transference of agency from an ego regally determining her own
actions to ' external ' forces - language, things, Being - is an
important part of Heidegger's anti-humanism, i . e. , his attack on
traditional conceptions of human nature.
He introduces two technical terms here to i l luminate how
buildings perform this function: ' things which, as locales, allow
a site we now in anticipation call buildings' (356). The bridge is
a l ocale in that i t sets up a site, which is an area arranged so as to
make sense to people and to make sense of their lives. The bridge
organizes the world of those who live there by lighting up some
jobs and destinations while drawing attention away from others:
'by this site are determined the places and paths by which a space
is provided for' (356). The bridge unifes the area, laying out the
tasks of carrying crops to the city or seed to the felds, coloring
in what lies on the near side as home and the far side as the out­
side. ' Things such as locales shelter or house men's lives' by the
' founding and j oining of spaces' , setting out and organizing the
projects, values, and meanings within which we live. 279 The area
is now divided into places or qualitative zones: friendly and hos­
tile, work and rest, familiar and strange.
Now, just as things can be treated either as theoretical objects
or as living breathing parts of our everyday lives, so the value­
laden space we live in can be reduced to mathematically expres­
sible extension for theoretical analysis. Descartes initiated this
102
BUILDING DWELLING THINKING
latter perspective by defning physical objects as inert matter
occupying exact positions within a featureless, homogeneous,
neutral grid. Like substance ontology, this view sorts out real
objective features from subjective projections so that 'nearess
and remoteness between men and things can become mere
distance'
.
2
80
We should not be bullied by the usefulness or universal appli­
cability of theoretical space into ceding it full reality, while
relegating all the usual meaningful features that we actually live
and work and move around in to the merely subjective. 2
8
1
We must un-cover this lived-space we dwell in that remains
beneath the theoretical notion of space by exaining ' the
spaces through which we go daily' , which ' are provided for by
locales . . . grounded in things of the type of buildings' (358).
Wereas Cartesian space is a homogeneous container which
neither afects nor is afected by what it contains, our lived space
unfolds from and around buildings. Moreover, just as Being and
Time posits a lived-time in which the three tenses intermingle
instead of the theoretical conception of a sequence of discrete
now-points, 2
8
2 so lived-space is not defned by the rules of geom­
etry or physics. Rather than being a self-enclosed substantial
e
go occupying one point in space, we ek-sist which means that
we stand outside ourselves with other beings. Rather than just
'this encapsulated body' at this objective position, ' I already
perade the space of the room' (359). Just as Being and Time
argues that I live predominantly in the future, grasping my
present situation in anticipation of my goals, so I am spatially
'nearer' to the object of my concern than I am to my present
position to which I give little thought. Entities located next to
me, my glasses, say, or my shoes, are remote in lived-space if
I pay little attention to them. 2
8
3
Heidegger rejects the Cartesian picture of subjects facing bare
material objects whose only meaning is what we endow them
with in an endless featureless space. Rather, we dwell in a com­
munity, within the natural rhythms of seasons and growth/decay,
in a world charged with meaning. In his earlier work he called
this context of signifcance the world; here he calls it the fourfold
of earth, sk, mortals, and divinities.
284
In this essay, as in much
of his work, Heidegger attempts to call our attention to what we
take for granted in all of our behaviour and which escapes the
103
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
theoretical gaze. The emphasis here is on the role played by the
space laid out by buildings. Our lives take place within a ' rapport
with things' , which can evaporate 'in states of depression' or
during theoretical analysis but which defnes our normal behav­
iour. 2
85
Taking these perceptions as authoritative, as science
(and Sartre and Nietzsche) argue for, puts us on the road to the
subj ect-object picture with all its many implications. However, as
Heidegger says many times, such breakdowns allow us to see
what was there all along. These anxious/depressed and theoreti­
cal views of bare objects should not be taken for the true reality,
but seen as the impoverished substitute that it is. Such geyness
of objects should point us to the technicolour of things that i s
our usual habitat. These are the things that provide l ocales within
which we know our way around, that give us directives and guide
our actions, that are-to-be-valued or simply do not catch our
attention rather maintaining a static presence.
In the related essay 'The Thing' , Heidegger says that ' thinking
i n this way, we are called by the thing as the thing. In the
strict sense of the German word bedingt, we are the be-thinged,
the conditioned ones. We have left behind us the presumption
of all unconditionedness. ' 2
8
6 This last sentence is particularly
important as a summary manifesto of Heidegger's repeated
attempts to rethink traditional notions of freedom and rational­
ity within the context of the radical fnitude, dependence, and
inescapable conditionedness that form the human condition.
Instead of compromising us somehow, this conditionedness is a
necessary condition for us to think and act. In order for us to
build, we must fnd this action appropriate, we must need or
want what the building will accomplish, and an appropriate
location must solicit us to build there. Building ' receives the
directive for its erecting of 10cales' .
2
8
7
Building is a response to
the conditions we always operate under and within. Being recep­
tive to these directives, callings, and inherent signifcance is part
of what it means to dwell (360-1 ) . The fact that these directives
and meanings prompt us to build undermines the means-ends
way of understanding the relationship between building and
dwelling. 2
88
We dwell -i . e. , we fnd within ourselves needs, desires,
preferences, etc. - which then pushes us towards performing
various actions, among which is the organization of spaces and
the building of buildings in order to meet these needs. If we had
104
BUILDING DWELLING THINKING
not had these needs or, like many animals, found ourselves
disposed to fulfll them in diferent ways, we would never have
built at all .
I fnd the essay's second example of a building, an old farm�
house in the Black Forest, far more convincing and illuminating
of how things gather the fourfold. Its location - sheltered from
the wind by the mountain and facing the meadows - reveals the
earth's cooperation which the peasants use without trying to
control it. The house's structure protects it from the sk's weather
without fully removing it; their winter nights remain long,
whereas artifcial heat and light remake ours into more conve­
nient periods. The ' altar corer' gives a place to the gods, whose
presence i s shown by the way the house accommodates mortals.
Having both crb and cofn in the same house 'designed for
the diferent generations under one roof the character of their
journey through time' (362) . The generations living together
highlights the various stages of life and, in particular, their
continuity. Hiding the dead, aged, and infrm fosters the illusion
of an indefnite extension of the present, while the peasant
children see their destiny in the elders and the dead. Due to the
spatial arrangement of their home, life appears as an organized
whole, rather than an ongoing now�point. In describing how
buildings shape spaces meaningfully, Heidegger made the point
that boundaries are not limitations but are what gives a thng its
identity (356); the farmhouse does this for a life.
Although he often idealizes the past, either ancient Greece or
Germany's feudal peasants, Heidegger consistently rejects the
notion of returning to earlier times (see 362) . The farmhouse
serves as an illuminating example of dwelling, not the right way
to live which we need to resurrect. We need to learn to dwell
in our lives with all of their distinctive features instead of simply
occupying them. This, and not housing shortages, represents
the true housing problem.
2
8
9
Although all of our actions are
grounded on the context of intelligibility and signifcance we
fnd ourselves in, we think of these features as dependent on
us - on our autonomous rational thought and freely willed
decisions. Thanks to our rapport with things, thanks to the very
conditionedness that philosophy's quest for autonomy has
tried to slough of, we live in a world flled with meaning. We
have to realize this and cherish it, which we can do through
1 05
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
thinking about it. As he says in an essay from 1 955, ' thinking
and poetizing must return to where, in a certain way, they have
always already been but have never yet built. Only through build­
ing, however, can we prepare a dwelling in that locality. '2
9
0
STUDY QUESTI ONS
I Why is building already a dwelling?
2 Pick an example of a successful building you are familiar
with and describe how it gathers the fourfold.
3 Explain the diferences between Cartesian space and
Hei degerrian space.
h. The Way to Language
The title of this essay suggests that we need a way to get to
language as if it were a distant destination that we must travel
to (397). But of course, just being able to read the essay shows
that in some sense we already possess language, making a jour­
ney to it appear unnecessary. Although speech has long been
considered our defning trait as the zoon logicon, Heidegger
doubts that we have a proper relationship to language which
would enable us to experience it as it really is (398). The fact that
we are l inguistic to our core actually hinders our attempt to
grasp language since, as he frequently says, what is nearest to us
is for that very reason farthest away. We rarely notice and, when
we do, we have difculty articulating pervasive phenomena
such as our own way of Being (54) , Being itself (234), and now
l anguage. So while we obviously do not need a way to language
in the sense of frst attaining speech, we do need to reach it as i t
really is. He puts hi s goal in an essay called ' Language' this way:
'we would like only, for once, to get to just where we are already' .
29
1
Although we are immersed in langage, we lack a proper under­
standing of it which, if achieved, will transform our relation to
language and, ultimately, our lives as a whole.
Heidegger describes the essay's project as the attempt
'
to bring
language as language to language' (398). Such Dr. Seussian
1 06
THE WAY TO LNGUAGE
repetition is just the kind of wording that makes many readers
suspicious that he is engaging in intentional obfuscation for the
appearance of profundity. But when you slow down and pay
attention the phrase actually makes perfect sense. The frst part,
'to bring language' , simply specifes the subject matter: we are
talking about language here. Talking about it, of course, means
bringing it 'to language' . Even if there is a level of pre-linguistic
awareness to our actions, as some contend (and as some attri­
bute to Heidegger), certainly all higher order thinking occurs in
language. Understanding these kinds of topics means gving
a logos or linguistic account of them.
It is the middle phrase-'bringing language as language to
language' -that perplexes. How else can we study something
than by talking about it as itself? Well, Heidegger repeatedly
argues that most philosophical and mundane interpretations
approach their object with the wrong horizon, i. e. , they use the
wrong concepts to view and explain the topic. Perhaps the main
point of Being and Time (as we have it) is that we mis-take our­
selves as tools or objects, whereas our way of Being is so
distinctive that it demands its own set of concepts. 2
9
2 The frst
section of 'The Origin of the Work of Art' shows at some length
how artworks defy the categories of things and tools, thus
demonstrating the need for their own terms.
293
Examples can be
multiplied. The phenomenological motto, 'to the thngs them­
selves' , means, among other things, that we must employ the
appropriate horion in order to capture a phenomenon faith­
fully
.
Thus, bringing language to language as language, i
.
e. ,
talking about language within the right horizon, is absolutely
essential and surprisingly rare. Similar to his treatment of art in
'The Origin of the Work of Art' , the frst section of this essay
shows how Wester philosophy has consistently conceived of
language not as language but as something else, which dooms
all attempts to understand it.
I . SECTI ON I
At their ' acme' , the ancient Greeks saw language as a way
of showing and letting appear (thereby producing aleheia)
but then, perhaps in the Classical era, they started understand­
ing language in terms of designation. This alteration results
from their conception of truth changing from unconcealment to
107
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
correspondence, one of the most signifcant events in Wester
history for Hei degger. 294 Words become things that refer to
other things. Language hooks the set of words up with the set of
referents, and truth consists in the correct correlation between
sentences and states of afairs. Heidegger believes that this view
has dominated Western thought, culminating in Wilhelm von
Humboldt's work,
2
9
5
making it the proper place to demonstrate
the conception's problems.
Humboldt does not think about language as language because
he starts from a detailed quasi-Kantian or Hegelian theory of
human conception which shapes all of his ideas. In line with this
modern philosophy of subjectivity, Humboldt traces everything
back to the sUbject's activity. Instead of being studied for its
own sake, language only represents one instance of subjectivity's
behavior (405). Heidegger's opening prescription to bring lan­
guage as language to language appears more substantial in
light of the fact that Humboldt fail s to do this, instead bringing
l anguage as the subject's activity to the language of modern
metaphysics.
I I . SECTION I I
The second section of 'The Way t o Language' begins by repeat­
ing the essay's guiding instruction to avoid alien horizons or
general notions which language instantiates in order 'to let lan­
guage be experienced as l anguage' .
296
Now that we have cleared
away these misguided attempts to understand language in terms
of something else, we can begin thinking about it in its own
terms. As in Being and Tme's analysis of Dasein (BT 69/43),
Heidegger examines the phenomenon in its ' average everyday­
ness' , i . e. , how it occurs in its usual mundane contexts, with the
goal of fnding what unifes all of these features. Language
occurs primarily and for the most part in our speech (406) . Of
course, we must now avoi d another traditional misconception
of speech, namely ' the phonetic, acoustic, physiol ogical expla­
nation' which presents speech as ' the creation of sounds' (408).
Speaking does make sounds of course, but that is not how we
experi ence it pri marily and for the most part. 297 This character­
ization is the kind of third person objective account that
phenomenologists bracket in favor of describing how we actu­
ally experience the phenomenon.
1 08
THE WAY TO L
N
GUAGE
Speech occurs in our lives as a way to relate to beings. Talking
about things makes them present to ourselves and to others.
When I tell you that my dog has brown and black fur, I present
him to you; making small talk forms a connection between
speakers without transferring any real informational content
('pretty hot today, huh?'298) . Speaking of something points it out
or highlights it, loosening or 'freeing' it from its previously seam­
less integration into the unnoticed background. The noise the
refrigerator is making or the feel of your shoes suddenly step out
from the undiferentiated surroundings to make a demand on
your attention when commented on. Accordingly, Heidegger
defnes language as a kind of showing or pointing. reaching out
to every region of presencing, letting what is present in each case
appear in such regions' . 299
A surprising phrase turns up in the course of this discussion:
'it is language that speaks. ' l
o
o
The common sense and traditional
view is that language is a tool by which we express what goes on
inside of us. Besides all of the problems associated with the
notion of a prvate interal event getting labeled and then
exported to other minds,
JJl
Heidegger takes great exception to
the notion that language is entirely up to US. 302 Much of his later
work expounds the notion sometimes called ' anti-humanism'
which attacks the view of ourselves as autonomous self-trans­
parent subjects in total control of what we do, say, think, etc. 303
Although words often feel like pure crystalline meaning that
springs forth spontaneously from our minds, expression has to
take place within a fairly determinate vocabulary in line with a
fairly frm grammar for communication to work. Only certain
arrangements of words successfully express something and
only a small minority of grammatically correct statements can
be made in any context without provoking funny looks and con­
fusion. Only the relatively tiny set of statements in accord with
the speaker's epochal understanding of Being are acceptable.
A scientifc principle which is self*evident' to us, e. g. , would not
even rise to the level of fal sity for preceding eras, but rather
remain 'senseless' in the absence of an appropriate way of think­
ing (see 280). Thus, at the heart of what seems most our own, we
fnd ourselves constrained by an alien vocabulary and grammar,
by structures of intelligibility we have inherited rather than cre­
ated. Our private, personal speech is really the activation of
1 09
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
norms and rules that we did not make. 'We not only speak
language, we speak from out of it. We are capable of doing so
only because in each case we have already listened to language. '30
Successful speech-acts obey a massive shared set of conventions.
Poets, portrayed by Romantic theories of genius as heroically
dominating language to forge utterly original and personal
expressions, actually submit the most to language. Poets do not
put words in a headlock to force them to do their bidding, but
rather pay careful attention to linguistic nuances. Sensitive
listening, the ability to discern subtle shades of meaning, and the
willingness to let words guide them are the qualities that distin­
guish good poets. 'The more poetic a poet is . . . the greater is
the purity with which he submits what he says to an ever more
painstaking listening. '305 But this is just an extreme for of what
we all do whenever we speak, which is why speaking is always
a form of l istening.
In addition to compliance with these standards, there is a
deeper way that speaking is a listening. As previously discussed,
describing a scene shows it to my interlocutors, but I can only
tell them what has shown itself to me. Just as in Heidegger's
analysis of correspondence truth assertions can only correspond
to something that has manifested itself, 3
0
6 so too we can only talk
about something i f it has shown itself to us. Not only must it
have appeared, but the particular details pointed out must have
already called attention to themselves as relevant. My dog's fur
announces itself as brown and black, as well as deserving discus­
sion; if it had not, I would not have noticed it or thought it worth
menti oning. In conversations, we end up ' showing one another
the sorts of things that are suggested by what is addressed in our
discussion, showing one another what the addressed all ows to
radiate of itself' (409). I warn someone of a slippery patch in the
hall for example because it presents itself to me as dangerous
and important, the kind of thing one ought to al ert others to.
My speech is and can only be a reaction to how the world pres­
ents itself to me; ' every spoken word is already a response. ' 307
If our assertions are to correspond to the world, as the tradi­
tional theory of truth has it, then the world has to present itself
to me in representable ways. The world must possess a grammar,
that we can say it; it ' lets itsel be told (41 1 ) . This is Heidegger's
take on the twofold meaning of ' logos' as both language and
1 1 0
THE WAY TO LNGUAGE
rational structure-speaking about the world requires that it
present itself in an intelligible and sayable form. Heidegger
makes this point with the term ' rif-design' (' Aufriss'), which
refers both to drawings and the act of ripping, as in farmers cut­
ting lines in a feld to render it open to life-sustaining growth.
I think that what Heidegger is getting at here i s captured by
our word 'articulate' , which means both the property of being
made up of distinct parts and the act of expressing an idea in
langage. A skeleton is articulate because neatly divisible into
discrete units, while a person i
s
articulate by being able to
describe the articulations of the world correctly and thoroughly.
The intelligibility of the world and the words we use to say it are
inextricably intertwined.
3
0
8
By this point, an apparent contradiction has arisen. On the one
hand, Heidegger argues that language depends on a prior appear­
ance of reality, giving langage a mimetic or mirroring function
which 'is precded by a thing's letting itself be shown' . 3
0
9 On this
reading, things present themselves to us with certain qualities
shining out as relevant, as to-be-noticed-and-communicated,
leaving our speech to 'reiterate the saying we have heard' (41 1 ) .
On the other hand, Heidegger also talks about language as
what initially opens up and articulates the world, so that we can
only perceive what has been singled out and named. Language
points, ' letting what is present in each case appear' . 3
1
0
This view,
sometimes called linguistic idealism, claims that our ability to
discern and think about various features of reality is a product
of and correlates with our vocabulary. Our basic acquisition of
words took place early on, making our linguistic clearing one of
those things we are 'always already' within, but taking a wine
appreciation course presents an object lesson: you learn to pick
out previously imperceptible shades of taste as you master a set
of terms (high and l ow notes, woody, complexity, etc. ). These
words play a necessary role in taste detection so that you come
to discriminate fner shades as you acquire their names, while
perception and thinking become cruder as your vocabular thins
out, eventually collapsing into the merely formal category of
' something' . On this view, reality does not simply fall into a pre­
determined set of objects on its own, like the animals waiting for
Adam to name them, but comes into greater resolution as our
language becomes more precise and sophisticated.
1 1 1
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
So which view is right? Does reality precede language or does
l anguage initially unconceal reality? Heidegger actually dis­
misses the question of which grounds which because in this
' search for grounds we pass on by the essence of language' (41 2) .
I take this t o mean that he rega
r
ds the question of whether
reality grounds language or language grounds reality as a bad
questi on. Language's relationship to Being is not amenable to
causal or chronological analysis; language reveals Being and
Being tells language what to say. Although we have the urge to
stop the circle with one as the ground of the otherq Heidegger
argues that thi s circle is irreducible. Instead of making one the
foundation of the other, he steps outside the pair to think about
how they belong together. Reality must have a sayable structure
and language must respond to this in order to express it, but
what enables us to perceive this structure and arrive at appropri­
ate terms? If speech as listening to language lets itself be told
the saying, such letting can be given only insofar¯and in so
near¯as our own essence i s granted entry into the sayingo We
hear it only because we belong to it' (41 1 ) . We can only hear and
say what the world says if we are creatures capable of articulat¯
ing real ity and real i ty is articulatable, combini ng into what he
cal l s the rift¯designq the well ¯j oined structure of a showi ng in
which what is addressed enjoins the speakers and their speech
(408). Now we must turn to this deepest enabling condition«
I I I . SECTI ON I I I
We only encounter bei ngs linguistically, but language i s a
response to this encountero Heidegger steps outside of this
chicken¯and¯egg paradox of priority to portray them as equi­
primordial . Instead of asking which accounts for the other,
he i nquires into the way they belong together. How i s it that
language and beings accommodate each other, fnding the other
ftting or ' well-j oined'? Heidegger calls the occurrence of their
presencing to each other ' Ereignis' , translated here as ' propria¯
tion' . This rich word means 'event' , but it also resonates with
' eigen' which signifes what is one's own, proper, or authentic;
the prefx er¯ adds the sense of drawing something into this
condition. The term also suggests 'eriugen' and ' ereugen' , bring¯
ing something within hearing or seeinge Ereignis means both our
being drawn into the clearing where we can perceive, think, and
1 1 2
THE WAY'TO LNGUAGE
talk about beings, and the correlative drawing of beings into
the clearing where they can appear to us. We can only speak by
listening, and we can only listen if we belong to the realm of
speakable things. 3 l J Our belongng here is complemented or
'well-joined' by Being's owning us.
After establishing our dependence on beings showing them­
selves, this section explores the question, 'whence does the
showing arise?' (41 4). But Heidegger immediately chastises this
inquir: ' our question asks too much, and too quickly . . . . We
can never try to know it, much less cognize it in the appropriate
way . . . . We can only name it, because it will deign no discussion'
(41 4). Once we think of the appearance to each other of beings
and speech as an event, we naturally want to know why and how
it happened. But we cannot look 'behind' the appearance of
beings for the source or cause of their appearing, nor can we
study how manifestation occurs, because any kind of examina­
tion or analysis must always already take place within the
manifestation of beings (423). This primordial 'event' is not a
cause which efects the clearing, nor is it an occurrence that liter­
ally took place at a specifc time and place ' for it is the pl ace that
encompasses all l ocales and time-play-spaces' . ¯ ¯ Propriation is
nothing beyond the presence of speakable beings around us, just
as Being or the ' there is' is not another being behind or under­
neath all beings.
Like language, this unique event needs to be approached on its
own terms: ' there is nothing else to which propriation reverts,
nothing in terms of which it might even be explained . . . . What
propriates is propriati on itself-and nothing besides . . . . The
propriati on that rules in the saying is something we can name
only if we say: It-propriation-owns. '
3
1
3
In German this last
phrase is closer to 'propriation propriates' , resembling other
tautological expressions Heidegger is fond of, such as 'the world
worlds' , ' the thing things' , or ' l anguage speaks' (again, clearer
in German: 'die Sprache spricht') . Propriation is and is only the
event of our ability to perceive, think, and speak about beings,
their intelligble presence to us. This event cannot be explained
by reference to a cause like Forms or God or transcen
d
ental
subjectivity, since these are just present beings as well, even if
they possess unusual forms of presence. Like the brute fact that
beings are not nothing in 'What Is Metaphysics?' (1 1 0) , or the
1 1 3
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
ineradicable concealment that accompanies unconcealment
in 'On the Essence of Truth' ( 1 35-6), or inexplicable earth in
' The Origin of the Work of Art' ( 1 72), the event of beings and
man manifesting themselves to each other must simply be expe­
rienced and noted in sober awe. Explanations fail and, in the
attempt, dissipate the grateful wonder we should have.
As the source of our way of thinking, propriation cannot be
accounted for by this thinking. Like language, we cannot get
outside of it in order to survey it comprehensively (423). Each
era gets ' sent' or appropriated into its own understanding of
Being which forms a coherent way to think about everything and
which determines every attempt to make sense of things. The
world we live in is ruled by a ' gentle law' or gathered' by a
coherent sense of how thi ngs are (41 6). We cannot use this sense
of things to expl ain propriation because any such attempt has to
employ the particul ar understandi ng that ' propriati on bestows'
(4 1 6) upon us.
Propriation bestows upon us a meani ngful clearing in which
an articulated world appears and appeals to us to articulate i t.
Si nce our essence i s to be the beings to whom beings appear
and who speak of these beings, propriation is what allows us
to become who we are. 3 1 4 Poets and thinkers do this with excel­
lence i n that they articulate the profound folds of the world
without ever taking this ability for granted or turning language
into an inconspicuous medium to satisfy our desires.
3
1
5 Their
articulations thankfully celebrate their ability to articulate.
3
1
6
Correlatively, beings have a ' drive' towards manifestation, so to
speak, so that speaking of them brings their unconcealment to
its highest point: 'the saying that rests on propriation is, as show­
ing, the most proper mode of propriating' (420) . We are, in an
almost Hegelian sense, ' needed' and 'used' by the world to mani­
fest itself more fully.
31
7 In this way, the event of mutual
appropriation allows man and beings to bring each other to
fulfllment.
Heidegger has twice intimated that our sense of a way to
language would change along the way of thinking about it.
Jì ð
Rather than a mere passage to something which then gets
abandoned and forgotten upon arriving at the destination, he
says that ' in language as the saying, something like a way unfolds
essentially' .
3
1
9
Language remains a way in that its ' gentle law'
1 1 4
THE WAY TO LNGUAGE
makes its way (' wegen') in the world, articulating a coherent
sense of things that lays out the ways of living open to us. This
rif-design carves into beings as a whole the taxonomy of reality
that appears self-evident to us, encompassing what is noble
and what base, what is great and what mean.
3
2
0
As the farmer
rends the earth to make it hospitable to his plants, so propriation
has rendered the earth inhabitable for us to dwell in by deposit­
ing meaning and signifcance into a sayable articulation of
things. It is up to us to listen to it.
We fnd ourselves in a world with regular intelligible patterns
and graspable groups, presented with life-paths such as work,
family, and friends that appeal to us and allow us to be at home
on this earth. It is perfectly possible that either of these condi­
tions could have been missingq leading to skepticism or nihilism
respectively. Although this always runs the risk of hypostasizing
Being into a benevolent agent, Being functions as a farmer that
has broken up the world into grooves or furrows we can follow,
in which meaning blooms. We may not need a way to language
in the sense of an initial approach to it, but we always need the
linguistic ways of the world¶
STUDY QUESTI ONS
Wat does it mean to bring language as language to
language? Does Heidegger accomplish this? Wy or why
not?
2 Explain Heidegger's claim that l anguage speaks and man
only responds. Do you fnd this plausible? Wy or why not?
i. The End of Phi l osophy and the Task
of Thi nki ng
This is one of Heidegger's l ast writings, and one of his clearest.
It gves us a small sample of the dialogues with previous thinkers
that occupies so much of his work but gets underrepresented in
this anthology (see BW x) . Like many continental thinkers,
Heidegger believes that doing philosophy cannot be separated
1 1 5
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
from studying the history of philosophy. Because our thought is
at least partially conditioned and provoked by what precedes us,
a thorough analysis of an issue should include an examination
of how i t has been dealt with in the past, tracing how and why
we have inherited it in this particular form. Although quite brief,
this essay's discussions of Hegel and Husser! supply at least a
sense of this very important theme in Heideggers writings.
Let's start with the ti tl e: from the outsetq 'The End of Philoso­
phy and the Task of Thi nki ng' sets up a contrast between
philosophy and thinki ng si nce the former is coming to an end
while a task sti l l remai ns for the latter. This distinction should
alert us that ' thi nking' is bei ng used here as a techni cal term with
a di stinctive meaning rather than j ust entertai ni ng thoughts or
the activity studied by epi stemologyo The title lays out two ques­
tions to be expl ored: has philosophy ended or at least begun to
end, and what might be the task for thi nking at or after philoso­
phys end. The essay's two sections take up these questions
i n turn, as shown by their titl es.
3
2 1
I . THE END OF PHI LOSOPHY
The frst half of the title, 'The End of Philosophy' , sounds por­
tentous, even arrogant as Heidegger admits (436) . He explains
that philosophy's end does not mean that the activity has com­
pletely stopped, but rather that it has reached completion; it
has achieved its end in the sense of its te/os or goal . Specifcally,
it has fulfll ed its original conception by dissolving into the
sciences. Many philosophers might agree that science has indeed
taken the place of philosophy in contemporary society, but
bemoan this as a catastrophe, or at least unfortunate. Heidegger,
however, calls this state ' the legitimate completion of philoso­
phy' , m a rather surprising attitude given his passionate devotion
to the history of philosophy.
Obviously, in order to understand why Heidegger thinks phi­
losophy is coming to an end we must understand what exactly
he means by philosophy. He lays hi s cards on the table by defn­
ing philosophy as metaphysics in the frst sentence of the frst
section. 32
3
Although this might seem like an artifcially narrow
defnition since it ignores the other conventional branches of
philosophy, Heidegger believes the metaphysical determination
of what i t means to be sets the guidelines for all other thinking.
1 1 6
THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING
Logic, ethics, aesthetics, and epistemology all derive from one's
basic understanding of beings, making metaphysics truly the
queen of philosophy.
Since he defnes philosophy as metaphysics, we must now
examine what he means by metaphysics, and this explanation
takes up the rest of the paragraph. Metaphysics thinks ' beings as
a whole . . . with respect to Being' as the ground of all that is,
which means ' that from which beings as such are what they are' .
32
4
Metaphysical theories are ways of accounting for reality by means
of a single principle; things are by virtue of being a certain kind
of thing (like substance) or by possessing a particular quality
(like participation in the Forms or having been created by God),
which constitutes their ground. In one astonishing sentenc, Hei­
degger surveys a number of nineteenth-century philosophical
systems in terms of the ground they assign to beings as a whole:
antic causality (perhaps Reid or Mill), Kant's transcendental sub­
jectivity, Hegel 's dialectical absolute spirit, Marx's means of
production, and Nietzsche's will to power (432). Each of these
philosophies contains a version of the statement, 'everything is
realy _. where what
f
lls in the blank explains all that is.
Now if philosophy is understood here as the attempt to dis­
cover what beings really are, then the idea that science has taken
over this job stops seeming so strange. Physics has assumed the
role of determining reality's basic explanatory principles, i. e. , the
ground or Being of beings. Philosophers have been trying to
explain what makes beings real and what makes them what they
are since Thales' frst proposal that everything is water. Little by
little, over the course of the centuries, other disciplines have taken
over various sub-felds of beings (what Husser! called ontological
regions) - inanimate moving objects, stars, living beings, the
mind, information, etc. Whenever a type of being became ame­
nable to mathematical analysis and experimentation for greater
control, science annexed it.
3
2
5
Now, Heidegger is saying, this pro­
cess is complete. Metaphysics has succeeded by becoming physics.
Since this has been philosophy's intrinsic goal from inception, its
present dissolution into the sciences represents its fulfllment
rather than an exterally imposed or accidental fnish.
J¿Þ
Now this does not mean that science and philosophy are
identical . Heidegger briefy recaps an argument he often makes
that the sciences unwittingly depend on philosophy for the
1 1 7
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
categories that defne their regions of beings.
m
Scientifc disci­
plines operate withi n carefully delineated boundaries: physics
measures the position and velocity of particles but brackets their
aesthetic appeal or mythological resonance; evol utionary biology
studies fossils and skeletons but cannot accommodate the possible
i nfuence of superatural entities. Science's success partially
results from narrowing its focus to one set of beings or one aspect
of them, and it only functions within that region; asking about the
region itself requires a perspective external to that discipline. As
soon as it begins to seriously investigate its grounding concepts,
such as when scientifc revolutions throw basic notions into doubt
and force fundamental questions like 'what is matter?' 'what is
time?' , science exceeds its boundaries to step into philosophy.
I I . THE TASK OF THI NKI NG
This essay operates on an astonishing scale. Heidegger is tring
to encompass the entire history of philosophy from Plato to
Nietzsche and, by grasping it as a whole, to catch a glimpse of its
conceptual and chronological limitations. Thinking of philoso­
phy as a circumscribed historical movement rather than a set of
timeless issues or a permanent impulse in human nature leads us
towards what might lie outside its boundaries. There may be
other ways to carry on the activity initiated by the Pre-Socratics
besides the metaphysical project of grounding and explaining
beings that Plato and Aristotle set us on. Heidegger's 'destruc­
tion' of the tradition dismantles the history of philosophy in
order to understand its motivations and to uncover neglected
alternatives, placing it close to genealogy as Nietzsche and
Foucault practice it. The initial ' task for thinking' , then, is to
survey the history of philosophy for paths not taken because
these possibilities may be viable options afer the 'end of philos­
ophy' . We should also examine what lies outside philosophy as
metaphysics, such as the Pre-Socratic writingsø Precisely because
they were pre-philosophical , the Pre-Socratics ofer hints of what
a fundamentally diferent kind of project might look like, though
it would be post-philosophical for us.
Thinking i s not so much non-philosophy as post-philosophy,
which indicates an important relationship with philosophy.
Heidegger believes that throughout its history, philosophy has
depended upon something which it cannot think.
3
2
8
What has
1 18
THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING
been systematically omitted, what in some sense could not have
been said, represents the explicit doctrines' necessary presuppo­
sitions and so leaves traces in what has been said.
3
29
Philosophers'
omissions point towards it, kind of like how the shape of a miss­
ing puzzle piece i s outlined by its very absenceø As we have seen,
the sciences rest upon philosophys regional ontologies without
being able to examine them; philosophy in turn presupposes this
unthought which it cannot think. Out task is to fnd what phi­
losophy leaves unspoken by listening very carefully to what
philosophy does say.
33
0
Heidegger focuses on two recent German philosophers who
wielded a pa-rticularly strong infuence on him. He credits Hegel
with the frst truly philosophical understanding of histor, 331
while Husserl's Logical Investigations helped draw the young
Heidegger into philosophy,
3
3
2
to become Husserl's prize pupile
Both philosophers also call their enterprise 'phenomenolog'
and prclaim the motto, 'to the things themselves (437). All
metaphysics and science aspire to this goal of an unprejudiced
study of reaity as it really is (see 94) . Although Husserl uses the
motto to criticize a specifc philosophical movement,333 it cap­
tures a universal ambitione All philosophers want to get to the
things themselves (or the matter [Sache] itself; they just disagree
on what these thngs are and how they can be reached+ For
instance, Plato bypasses the ersatz things of the temporal, corpo­
real world in favour of the really real Forms, whie Nietsche gets
to what he sees as the things themselves by igorng dysfunc­
tional fantasies of timeless being in favour of the ever-changing
forces of this world. Although they reach diametrically opposed
ontologies, both thinkers seek the same formal goal of attaining
the things themselves.
This motto obscures something precisely where philosophy
has brought its matter to absolute knowledge and to ultimate
evidence' (41 ) . Even such a formal and seemingly uncontrover­
sial statement of their subject matter unintentionally traces the
silhouette of what these thinkers do not and cannot address.
In factq this unsaid operates even where they stake out their most
secure epistemological positions, i.e., just where they believe they
have rid themselves of all unexamined assumptionsq namely,
Hegel's absolute knowledge and Hussed's ultimate evidence or
'originary intuition (43). It strikes precisely where they consider
1 1 9
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
themselves least vulnerable because even their optimal evidence
needs something which does not itself come to evidence.
This hidden assumption of all philosophy turs out to be,
unsurprisingly, the clearing. Both Hegel and Husserl seek absolute
indisputable evidence; they are looking for the state in which phe­
nomena show themselves as they really are so that the foundations
for genuine and fnal knowledge can be laid there. They survey
various types of awareness and ways that phenomena show them­
selves, looking for a completely trustworthy path 'to the things
themselves' . But in order to examine these types of presentations,
this variety of views on the world must ofer itself for inspection.
Furthermore, a particular criterion of truth must appeal to them
as being the correct evaluative tool, and the ambition to fnd
absolute knowledge or evidence must strike them as the essential
goal . Of course, all this is done by means of reasoning, but these
reasons must appear as persuasive, something which cannot be
rationally established. The way it shows itself to us is the sole
' binding character' (45) that any idea can have.
Both philosophers unknowingly presuppose that beings show
themselves
33
4 to them in what Heidegger calls the open clearing,
and that they show up in particular ways. Philosophy never
thinks of the clearing but must reside within it in order to phi­
losophize at all . l35 To deal with beings i n any way one must be
open to them, letting them show themselves as to-be-dealt-with
in specifc ways. All attempts to think ahout the clearing, to
establ ish how and why we encounter beings, have misfred by
referring the issue to particular beings that ground beings as
a whole (Forms, God, transcendental subjectivity, etc. ). Explain­
ing Being in terms of beings is the fundamental ' ontotheological'
mistake that makes all philosophy up to now metaphysics. 33
6
The
clearing is to philosophy what philosophical regional concepts
are to science, namely, that which it requires but is constitution­
ally incapable of thinking.
Both Hegel and Husserl consider subjectivity to be the matter
of philosophy, i . e. , the topic we most need to think about. For
both, things themselves only appear in their appropriate form
when appropriately linked to subjectivity, conceived respectively
as the dialectical-historical arrival at Spirit ( Geist) and the
revelation of transcendental subjectivity b phenomenological
bracketing. By founding our access to reality upon subjectivity,
1 20
THE END OF PHI LOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING
these philosophers attribute the establishment of our awareness
of the world to our own mind; the l ight of reason shines out to
illuminate reality. But, extending the metaphor, this overlooks
the necessary condition for illumination, namely, an open
space.
3
3
7 There must be a clearing, based on the metaphor of an
open area in a forest where the trees thin out to let light stream
in, for light to illuminate anything.
Although phlosophy requires the clearing, it necessarily
neglects or even obscures it, creating what Heidegger calls
the forgetfulness of Beingø In keeping with his frequent claim
that concealing is inextricably intertwined with unconcealing,
Heidegger arges that the very nature of metaphysics as the
examination of beings as a whole necessarily bars us from think­
ing Being. 'Presence as such, and together with it the clearing
that grants it, remains unheeded[.] Only what aletheia as clearing
grants' is experienced and thought, not what it is as such. '
3
3
8
To
put it formulaically: both our normal focus on beings and the
metaphysical inquiry into their Being obscures Being itself. We
spend our everyday lives dealing with various entities - alarm
clocks, cars, taxes, police ofcers - while a select few disengage
from this busyness to metaphysically investigate how these beings
are, but none of us attend to the fundamental fact that they are.
We pay attention to what is present and its manner of presenta­
tion, but not to its presence, to the utterly simple fact that we are
open to it. Ironically, the apparently innocuous pursuit of ' the
things or beings themselves' is precisely the problem since focus­
ing on beings bypasses Being or their unconcealment (truth).
Heidegger says at one point that ever since Being and Time, his
'thinking has been concerned constantly with one occurrence:
that in the history of Western thinking, right from the begin­
ning, beings have been thought in regard to being, but the truth
of being has remained unthought' .
3
3
9
This covering over is quite natural; as Heidegger likes to trans­
late Heraclitus, Being l oves to hide (1M 1 20-1 ) . Being has to
withdraw for us to deal efectively with the particular beings in
front of us. Light only renders objects visible if it is invisible
itself; seeing the light would block o
u
r perceptions of the things
that are lit, like blocks of amber separating us from the object.
Just as light reveals by remaining concealed, so Being withdraws
from explicit awareness to let beings present themselves. Pursuing
121
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITI NGS
our various endeavors, we ignore the clearing in favour of the
cleared, overl ooking their presencing for what is present.
Metaphysicians disengage (epocht from these mundane deal­
ings with the proliferation of individual beings in order to inquire
about beings as a whole or beings qua beings.34
o
They answer the
question ' what are beings?' by referring beings as a whole to a
ground or by determining the qualities that make things exist.
The particular answers they arrive at express their era's under­
standing of Being but, like Hegel 's forgetful Consciousness, each
metaphysician takes his own answer as the fnal defnitive word
on the matter. They regard the history of metaphysical systems
up to them as a series of unfortunate fumblings around in the
dark, while reality waited patiently to be seen it as it really is
once a clear-eyed view of things is fnally won. The only value
earlier philosophers have lies in how they have prepared the
ground for the correct view to emerge.
Thinking studies the history of philosophy in order 'to think
the historicity of that which grants a possible history to philoso­
phy' (436). Thinking engages earlier periods in serious dial ogue,
eschewing questions of correctness or how closely they approxi­
mate our contemporary views or lead up to US. 3
1
The various
metaphysical theories of beingness are ways that beings have
manifested themselves to man and, collectively, they show how
Being has sent many radically diferent understandings of Being.
Since we are not in control of our understandin
g
, a new one can
occur to us at any point, rendering the notion of a fnal correct
explanation of reality impossible. Instead of seeking fnal
answers, we need to remain resolutely open to however things
manifest themselves, committed to a ' readiness to be astounded'
(327). This attitude also releases the grip of scientism, the idea
that science alone tells us the truth about reality.34
2
Heidegger takes a novel approach to metaphysical questions
like, ' what are beings?' or ' what is being?' or 'why are there beings
at all rather than nothing?' As the frst paragraph of this essay
explains, 'if the answer could be given it would consist in a trans­
formati on of thinking, not in a propositional statement about
a matter at stake' (43 1 ) . Instead of seeking an answer, these ques­
tions highlight the mysterious fact that beings are present to us,
which usually gets ignored. The fact that there is Being, or ' the
belonging together of Being and thinking' (445) is the ultimate
1 2
THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING
mystery, one which does not and should not seek resolution.
Whereas metaphysical explanations cover i t up, questioning
makes it vividly manifest.
This grateful wondering at presencing is the Task of Thinking.
Whereas philosophy goes 'to the matter [Sache] itself' , thinking
pursues the "'primal matter' [ Ursache] ' , in order 'to become
explicitly aware of the matter here called clearng' (42). Think­
ing aims at that which underlies all phenomena and evidence to
thankfully celebrate it instead of taking credit for them and
selecting among them. It is humbler than philosophy in that it
ascribes to Being much that has traditionally been attributed to
us, and in the siplicity of its subject matter (436). We should
thoughtfully dwell in the place where we always already are but
do not heed, to attend to the matter of thinking as a farmer
tends her crops.
Plato took the wrong approach in trying to defne Being.
Of course, this is not Plato's fault since, like all thinkers. he only
responded to what was revealed to him,34
3
but it started philoso­
phy down the path of metaphysics. However, studying the history
of philosophy reveals its boundaries, and boundaries imply an
outside. We gain some insight into what our options after the
end of philosophy might be by examining what occurred
before the beginning (44) . Heidegger's stance on the Pre-Socrat­
ics as the only thinkers in history is ambivalent. Sometimes he
explicitly disavows any attempt to replicate their thought or
lear directly from them since our situation is so diferent from
theirs. Our epoch must respond to the present technological
sending of Being. On this view, the Pre-Socratics only supply an
instructive example of what one alternative to philosophy looks
like, which can serve the genealogical function of loosening the
grip of metaphysics' self-evidence, but which cannot be taken up
as our own.
At other timesy however, the very simplicity and Ubiquity of
the matter of thought, i. e. , the clearing, makes it look like an
ahistorcal constant that anyone at any time could percive in
roughly the same way, despite Heidegger's emphasis on historic­
ity. If it is just a matter of wondering at the fact of presencing
then, even though the specifc manner difers from epoch to
epoch, all periods rest upon and thus could discover the mere fact
of presencing. As the ahistorical basis for history, the clearing
1 23
HEIDEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
seems to be trans-epochal even though this contradicts the
general thrust of his later work.
3
4
Heidegger's examination of the history of philosophy in this
essay reaches three conclusions:
Despite its apparent diversity, philosophy has been surpris­
ingly singular in its metaphysical aspiration to think beings
with respect to their Being. Every great phil osopher has
fol l owed Thales' lead in ofering a version of the metaphysi­
cal ' everything is really _ ' statement. This metaphysical
project i s what makes science the successor to philosophy.
2 The geneal ogical element in this excavation or, more literally,
de-construction (Ab-bau), removes the air of inevitability
that has accrued to philosophy's subject matter and method
due to its long tenure. Heidegger wants to expose other pos­
sibilities, a pressing need given the fact that philosophy is
now drawing to a close (though sometimes he speculates that
this end may last quite a long time) . He i s determining what
philosophy is in order to see what it is not, i. e. , what other
ways of thinking might be available to us once we emerge
from the long dominance of metaphysics. And the best place
to look for extra-philosophical options for after the end is at
the other end of philosophy, namely, before its beginning.
3
5
Philosophy has been one type of activity - metaphysics, i . e. ,
the determining of universal traits of all beings, i. e. , the
Being of beings or beingness. Thinking this way is a histori­
cal event which began with Plato and Aristotle and is now
ending as science takes over this task.
3 There is a non-philosophical activity practiced by at least
some of the Pre-Socratics which does not ofer another
' Everything is really __' statement. Rather than asking
about beings and their beingness, this thinking tries to 'ques­
tion as to how there can be presence as such' (447) . Of course,
as pointed out in the very frst paragraph of the essay,
' answers' to this endeavour will not take the form of a propo­
sitional fact which could only be another ground. Instead,
thinking induces a ' transformation in thinking' , instilling the
fundamental mood or attunement of grateful wonder towards
presencing rather than explaining and controlling present
entities. This is the task of thinking which can only come
1 24
THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING
about with the end of philosophy. If this new way of thinking
is to be genuinely diferent from what has come before, then
we cannot predict anything about it but can only prepare
ourselves for a new calling.
34
STUDY QUESTI ONS
How does Heidegger defne philosophy? Wy? Is this a fair
characterization? Wy or why not? How does he defne
thinking?
2 In what way(s) is this essay genealogical?
12
CHAPTER 4
RECEPTION AND INFLUENCE
Heidegger is unquestionably one of the most infuential philoso¯
phers of the twentieth centuryq quite possibly the single most
important fgure in the continental tradition. I have argued at
some length in A Thing of This World (Braver, 2007) that he
stands to the twentieth century the way Kant stood to the nine­
teenth, as the unavoidable thinker who must be dealt with one
way or another by everyone in his wake, and the fgure to whom
much of what follows can be traced. Virtually every important
continental philosopher of the century pays homage to his genius,
even those strongly opposed to him.
His early work created existential phenomenol ogy by fusing
Husserl 's methods with Kierkegaard's concers (along with
Kant's transcendental strategy and Diltheys hermeneutics). This
movement was central to continental philosophy in the frst half
of the twentieth century, lead by Jean-Paul Sartre (whose Being
and Nothingness has been jokingly called a French ' translation'
of Being and Time), and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, whose Phe­
nomenology of Perception flls in gaps on the body and percepti on
left by Being and Time.
After the Kehre or change in his thought in the early¯thi rtiesq
Hei degger left existential phenomenology behind, i ssuing a
decisive critique of Sartre in the ' Letter on Humanism' . Hi s later
work tries to forge a profoundly new way of thinking; it i s faÎ
more innovative (and more di fcult) than the early work, and it
has enj oyed even greater infuence. The group of thinkers loosely
grouped together as postmodernists al l work in the shadow of
the later thoughtq while the Frankfurt school partially defnes
itself i n opposition to Heidegger. On the other hand, while his
early work has been somewhat assimilated and accepted by ana­
lyti c philosophers, especi ally in the feld of philosophy of mind,
the later work remains the unread subject of easy attack or
ridicule in analytic circles. Its 'poetic' or mystical ' style, as well
126
RECEPTION AND INFLUENCE
as its intense focus on history, could not but have alienated many
analytic thinkers. I will briefy discuss three prominent continen­
tal thinkers who owe an especially large debt to Heidegger's later
thought.
Hans-Georg Gadamerwas the twentieth century's leader of her­
meneutic philosophy, a movement going back to Schleiermacher's
work in the early nineteenth century which reached an impor­
tant turing point and expansion in Being and Time. A personal
student of Heidegger ('what was most important for me, how­
ever, I leared from Hei
d
egger' l ), Gadamer combines ideas from
the early work, in particular the notion of the fore-structures
of understanding, with much from the later work, especially
Heideggers discussions of truth, history, and art. Gadamer
traces his own foundational idea that artworks have a distinct
kind of truth to Heidegger's talk, 'The Origin of the Work of
Art
?
and Gadamer's view of texts as embodying their period's
world-view, forcing us to understand them on their own terms
instead of blithely translating them into ours, refects both Hei­
degger's claims and his practice in the later work.
Michel Foucault said in one of his last interviews that
' Heidegger has always been for me the essential philosopher . . . .
My whole philosophical development was determined by my
reading of Heidegger' .
3
Foucault divides history into epochs,
each with its own system of truth that determines what kind of
statements and scientifc approaches are allowable, which is why
he singles out Heideggers historical concepti on of truth as par­
ticularly important. 4 Although this notion develops throughout
Foucault's career - from the episteme to a disciplinary apparatus
to games of truth - it retains a basic similarity to Heidegger's
epochal understandings of Being
.
5
Jacques Derrida, perhaps the most brilliant continental phi­
losopher since Heidegger. calls Heidegger 'uncircumventable' ,
6
noting that his own work 'would not have been possible without
the opening of Heidegger's questi ons' . 7 Derrida insists ' that
Heideggers text is extremely important to me, and that it consti­
tutes a novel , irreversible advance all of whose critical resources
we are far from having exploited' (Ibid. . 54) . Even his famous
term ' deconstruction' was partially inspired by Heidegger's
early ' Destruktion' of the tradition. In addition to Heideggers
willingness to give 'violent' readin
g
s of philosophical texts,
127
HEI DEGGER'S LTER WRITINGS
Derrida continues Heidegger's struggle with the problem of how
to escape from metaphysics.
How Heidegger's reputation will fare in the future is, of
course, impossible to tell . For those who approach the study of
philosophy historically, Heidegger's broad influence makes him
unavoidable. The fact that he has continued to publish prolif­
cally even decades afer his death ensures that there will continue
to be work to be done in Heidegger scholarship for some time to
come. I certainly believe that he hit on a number of crcial
insights and raised many profound questionsq whose depths we
are far from plumbing. One of the most fascinating features
of his thought is that his absolute focus on the single topic of
Being is balanced by or, rather, carried out through the explora­
tion of an astounding variety of subjects. This is only ftting
since thinking, considered as a whole, is and can only be the
expression of Being.
1 28
NOTES
CHAPTER 1
Unless otherwise noted, all references in this book are to Baic
Writings.
2 'Patience is the truly human way of being thoughtful about things.
Genuine patience is one of the basic virtues of philosophizing - vir­
tue which understands that we always have to build up the pile of
kindling with properly selected wood so that it may at one point
c
atch fre' (RPS 73).
3 Quoted in Biemel ( 1 976: 6) . See also STP 5.
4 See 77, BP 72-73, BP 1 55, PIK 48, PIK 1 36, PIK 252, PIK 289,
KPM 1 41 -1 42. Many critics have discussed this point, with
She rover ( 1 972) and Blattner ( 1 999) addressing it at length (see
Braver (2007: 532n 9) for a full list of references).
5 See TB 28, TB 46, N 4: 1 41 , FS 40-1 , M 1 25, M 1 87.
6 I will ofen retain Heidegger's term 'man' despite its sexism because
it acts as a technical term in his usage.
7 See 238, 276, 28 1 .
CHAPTER 2
See 238-9, 264, 28 1 , WCT 50, N 1: 36, STF 85, M 267, EGT 56,
OBT 1 59.
2 See 58¬ 234, 246, 263, 41 5, WCT 98, WCT 1 1 0, WCT 1 52, WCT 202,
WCT 239, PR 5, N III: 56, OBT 1 93, OBT 1 98, BQ 1 59, P 1 49.
3 See 234, 263, BP 1 6, BP 68, BP 75, BP 275, BP 293, BP 299, BT
1 8911 49, BT 21 3/ 1 69, BT 41 4/362.
4 PIK 1 6-1 7, see also BW 46, BW 54, BW 1 60, BW 275-7, RCT
1 43-, FCM 357.
5 PIK 1 6, see also BW 289, BP 72, KPM 7, KPM 50, KPM 1 59.
6 See 276, KPM 1 58.
7 See 59, 66. Although the stated goal of the book is to fnd the right
horizon for the meaning of Being, to which the analysis of Dasein's
Being is subordinated (see 602, 86-7, BT 278/235, KPM 1 98-9),
this topic was to have been addressed prmarily in the Third Division
of Part One which never got published. The two divisions we have
1 2
NOTES
focus on explaining Dasein's way of Being, i. e. , the existential
analysis (see 55).
8 BP 78, see also BW 44, PR 63.
9 PM 287, see also PM 232, BW 1 26, BW 242, BW 432, M 1 86,
M 3 1 7, ID 70, OBT 99, OBT 1 33.
1 0 This strain of hi s work is underrepresented in this anthology, as
Krell admits at BW x. The most relevant essays are ' Modem
Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics' and 'The End of
Philosophy and the Task of Thinking'.
1 1 Heidegger's history of Being is not entirely consistent across his
career. The Pre-Socratics, who seem to have anticipated much of
Heidegger's own thought, might count as a separate era, though he
generally exempts them from the ranks of metaphysics entirely. It
is also unclear to what extent the contemporary era of technologi­
cal standing-reserve is distinct from the modem age of substance.
1 2 See 291 �3, 432�3, STF 1 38, OBT 58.
1 3 See 232, 46-7, M 269q M 3 1 7, WCT 1 00q BQ 1 70, PM 1 04n. a,
PM 277o STF 64, CP 1 21 /§85, N III: 2 1 7, OBT 1 93, OBT 1 96.
1 4 FS 22, see al so FS 59-60, TB 6, M 322, M 333, PR 62.
1 5 See 201 , 288, 436, PR 79, PR 1 05, ID 66�7, N HI: l 64, FS 61 .
1 6 See TB 41 , N III : 1 89-90, M 1 46, WT 39-0.
1 7 See 436, WCT 1 59-60, M 302.
1 8 Although hi s early work does not follow this principle, the i ntro­
duction to Being and Tme does state it in the di scussion of the
history of phil osophy (7 1 ) . Also, the book's fnal sentence puts its
opening thesi s into question (see also TB 28).
1 9 BQ 1 50� I , see also BW 1 03, BW 1 90.
20 See 241 , BQ 1 46, WT 242, PM 3 1 9, OWL 85, OWL 93, PL 1 90.
1 See 55-7, 385, FCM 9.
2 See 94, PIA 48, PIA 85.
3 See 51 -2, 1 87, 291 -2.
CHAPTER 3
4 We can see a parallel here with the pre-ontological understanding
of Being one must possess just to ask the question of Being (see
45-6), as well as the necessar circle between studying artworks in
order to grasp art relying on a previous understanding of what art
is in order to pick out artworks to study ( 1 4) .
5 Sartre, heavily infuenced by 'Wat is Metaphysics?' , adapts this
argument to show the ' reality' of nothingness in human conscious­
ness in Being and Nothingness.
6 Years later, Heidegger remarked that ' the intention of the lecture,
held before a gathering of scientists and faculty, was thus: to show
the scientists that there is something other than the object of their
exclusive occupations and that this other precisely frst enables that
very thing with which they are preoccupied' (FS 57). He defends i t
against the charge of being 'arbitrary and contrived' by attributing
130
NOTES
the formulation to Taine, 'who may be taken as the representative
and sig of an entire era' (PM 84n. a).
7 Carap ( 1 959: 69-72).
8 98, see also 1 29.
9 98, see also 45.
1 0 See 53, 73, 1 5 1 , BT 1 76/1 37, PIA 1 7.
1 1 97, see also BT 1 667/ 1 29. Heidegger's unabashed call to end the
hegemony of logic particularly upsets Carap: 'the author of the
treatise is clearly aware of the confict between his questions and
statements, and logic . . . . All the worse for logic! ' Carnap ( 1 959:
71 ).
1 2 1 00, see also BT 1 75/ 1 36, HCT 256, N 1: 99, FCM 67, FCM 89.
1 3 N 1: 5 1 , see also WIP 9 1 , FCM 68.
1 4 See 1 05, 1 08, OTB 1 99.
1 5 Since it has given rise to so much virulent misunderstanding, 1 will
repeat that Heidegger is not attacking or dismissing reason, but
trying to view it as one faculty among many. Each has its strengths
and weaknesses, but philosophy has only praised reason and
attacked emotions for virtually all of its history.
1 6 1 00, see also KPM 1 66.
1 7 Heidegger does not explicitly say that boredom reveals the nothing,
but this fts his description better than revealing beings as a whole.
See his more detailed discussion in FCM.
1 8 I n the sense of inter-esse as being-in-the-world in a concernful way
(see 37 1 ) .
1 9 See 1 03, FCM 86, FCM 1 03.
20 See BT 1 80-21 1 41 -2, BT 230-5/ 1 86-9 1 , BT 391 -/341 -4, HCT
284.
21 1 01 , see also BT 23 I 1 1 86, HCT 289.
22 1 01 , see also FCM 92, FCM 1 38.
23 See 58, 1 60.
24 See BT 99/69, BT 1 06175, CP 348.
25 BT 2321 1 87, see also BT 1 05175, HCT 291 . It is intriguing to specu­
late on how love might perform this function, though Heidegger
does not explain how it happens.
26 BT 393/343, see also BT 23 1 1 1 87, PM 88n. a. As Bill Blattner points
out in this volume's 'prequel' , this description resembles depres­
sion, which Heidegger himself sufered from, rather than what we
would now call anxiety (see Blattner 2006: 1 3, 1 42, 1 85n. 88).
27 1 06, see also BT 23411 89.
28 , Thus, i aiety, 'Dasein fnds itsel face to face with the 'nothing' of
the possible impossibiity of its existence . . . . Beig-towrds-death is
essentialy aniety' (BT 3 1 01266, see also BT 295/251 , HC 291 ).
29 1 06, see also FCM 82.
30 1 02, see also FCM 1 47. Here we can see the possible inspiration for
Sarre's notion of de trop.
31 See 1 05, M 278.
32 1 03, see also FS 57, BQ 1 50.
131
NOTES
33 Heidegger will come to defne metaphysics precisely as the making
of this kind of distinction, but by then he will also have distanced
himself from metaphysics thus defned. See e. g. , M 339, N 2: 230.
34 1 03, see also 1 90, KPM 5 1 , KPM 1 66-7, PM 234.
35 Compare Sartre's famous description of Roquentin's nauseous
encounter with the chestnut tree: ' the words had vanished and with
them the signifcance of things, their methods of use, and the fee­
ble points of reference which men have traced on their surface . . . .
Usually existence hides i tself . . . . And then all of a sudden, there i t
was, clear as day; existence had suddenly unveiled itself It had lost
the harmless look of an abstract category; i t was the very paste of
things' Sartre ( 1 964: 1 27).
36 BP 1 59, see also BP 30 1 , BT 1 551 1 1 9, HCT 244.
37 BT 41 6/364, see also BP 1 7 1 , HCT 202.
38 1 02q see also KPM 1 99-200.
39 1 00, see al so 94, 1 04.
40 1 0 1 , see also BT 321 1277, BT 394/343, FCM 283.
41 FCM 1 43, i talics i n original, see also FCM 1 27.
42 FCM 1 7 1 , i talics added, see also FCM 1 65.
43 Hei degger ofen descri bes his early work as continuing and radical­
izing Kant's transcendental inqui ry. Where Kant examined the
conditions for the possibility of specifc types of judgments -
scientifc, ethical, and aesthetic - Heidegger analyzes our openness
to the world, i . e. , our being Da-sein or the clearing, as the condition
for the possibility of any kind of experience whatsoever (see PIK
289, PIK 292). In 'Wat Is Metaphysics?' he seems to waver between
the claim that an experience of the nothing is itself the enabling
condition of all awareness (see 1 04, 1 08, 1 09, KPM 501 , KPM 1 67,
KPM 1 99, FS 57) and the claim that anxiety simply allows us to
explicitly experience the openness that we are always already within
(see 1 1 0, FCM 1 43). Personally, I favour the latter view. There is
also the suggestion of a compromise between these two options in
the idea that anxiety is 'constant though doubtlessly obscured . . .
only sleeping' ( 1 05-6, see also BT 2341 1 89, BT 299/255, HCT 290)
but this notion seems phenomenologically dubious to me.
4 See 1 09, PM 233-.
45 As has been ofen noted, Heideggerian wonder is similar to
Wittgenstein's early defnition of mysticism: 'it is not how things
are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists' Wittgenstein
( 1 988; 73/§6.44) . Wittgenstein later describes the feeling he
associ ates with the idea of an absolute good in similar terms:
'I believe the best way of describing it is to say that when I have i t
I wonder at the existence of the world. And I am then inclined to use
such phrases as "how extraordinary that anything should exist' ' '
Wittgenstein ( 1 993: 41 ) .
46 Such as grateful thinking (denkenldanken) or preservingsheltering
the mystery, notions we will be examining in other chapters.
47 See 238, FS 57.
1 32
NOTES
48 See 1 38, 43 1 , 1M 32, WIP 97.
49 1M 30-1 , see also BQ 1 46, BQ 1 50-1 , FCM 1 72.
50 See 1 1 0, KPM 1, OWL 25.
5 1 1 09, see also KPM 1 70.
52 See 57, 1 1 0, WCT 1 42, FCM 283.
53 This ki nd of 'apprenticeship' in thinking al so occurs in the frst
section of 'The Origin of the Work of Art' . See 1 4, 379.
54 Repeated for other topics at 45, 98, 1 44, 276-7, ET 1 1 3, OWL 7 l .
55 See 1 1 8, 1 62, 1 75, MFL 2, MFL 1 24, BQ 1 4-1 8, BT 257/21 4.
56 See BT 257-8/21 41 5, BQ 3 l .
57 MFL 1 25, see also BT 258/21 5, BQ 20.
58 See 1 1 5, 1 75, 3 1 2, BQ 45.
59 In ofcial phenomenological terms, it is 'intentional' in that it is
directed towards an object.
60 BQ 1 8, see also BQ 82, BQ 1 74, BP 21 0, HPS 65, MFL 1 27, MFL
2 1 6-1 7, PM 280, FCM 342.
61 1 22, see also 1 76-7, 446, BT 263/220, BQ 82, PIS 350, ET 9, ET 86,
MFL 1 27-8.
62 Nietzsche ( l 989a: 9) .
63 1 23, see also FCM 339.
6 See 1 23, 1 26.
65 See 1 23-. Neither Nietzsche nor Derrida subscribe to this view
either, for that matter, despite caricatures.
66 1 25, see also 3 5 1 , ET 45, P 143.
67 1 24, see also 1 78, KM 87, KPM 1 98, FCM 34l .
68 See STF 9, EF 93.
69 1 29, see also FS 8, DT 65, M 242, OBT 74.
70 See 1 3 1 , 1 567, PM 1 4n. b, TB 35.
71 1 26, see also 1 03, 1 8 1 , 42-5, BQ 1 75-, BQ 1 8 1 , EGT 1 0,
EGT 1 20-1 .
72 Note, though, that this ontological engagement still deals with
beings, but now for the sake of BeiÜg or the clearing rather than
fulflling our desires. Afer all, Being is always the Being of a being
(see 50, 1 86).
73 This is Heidegger's version of the phenomenological notion of
intentionality, which took the form of being-in-the-worId i Being
and Time.
74 See 1 27, 1 77, FCM 339, FCM 342.
75 See 78, 1 21 , 406, MFL 1 25-, FCM 29.
76 See 1 27, BP 22l .
7 7 See 98-9, 1 29.
78 This is HeideggeÎs version of HusserI's doctrine of adumbrations,
the idea that the perception of a physical object necessarily per­
ceives only part of it; the sides facing us hide the back sides. If we
tum the object to see the back sides, then they now obscure the
sides that had been visible.
79 BQ 1 27-8, see also BQ 1 78, EGT 1 1 8, EGT 1 22.
80 1 30, see also 1 78-9, 48, BP 322, KM 1 97, EGT 7 1 , EGT 1 1 4.
13
8 1 See 1 30, EGT 1 08, M 323.
NOTES
82 In his marginal notes from 1 943 (PM 1 48n. a), Heidegger points
to a signi fcant shift or ' leap' occurring between Secti ons Five and
Six (though he does not single out this paragraph).
83 See 1 3 1 . Being and Tme calls this understanding what ' one' (das
Man) does with things (see BT 1 671 1 29, BT 2 1 31 1 69, BT 264/222,
BP 322) .
84 We can note d signi fcant overlap here with Emmanuel Levinas
who defnes knowledge as reducing the other to the same or, in
Heidegger's terms, in-sistent c10sedness (see Levinas ( 1 996: 1 4,
1 5 1 )). Gadamer also discusses the dangers of prejudices, though
he stresses the fact that they play a useful and ineliminable role in
understanding as well .
85 See 1 32, 25 1 , 262, 295-6, 33 1 , CP §274/348-9, WCT 76-7, FS 8,
PM 307, QT 1 04, N III: 1 76, N IV:44, N IV: 203, OBT 7 1 , OBT 77.
86 1 24, see al so BQ 2 1 , N III: 56.
87 1 35, see also EGT 26, 1M 1 1 5, M 1 84.
88 See 1 35-6, 1 72, 204, PLT 222-3, PLT 225.
89 Although I fnd that his early work betrays this principle, the
introduction to Being and Time does state it (7 1 ) . Also, the book's
fnal sentence puts its fundamental thesis into question.
90 See 1 38, 43 1 , 42, M 333, WIP 97, FCM 59.
9 1 See 50-3, 1 87, 289, 435, TDP 25, BP 1 3, PIK 20, PIK 247,
N II: 1 1 2, N II: l 1 6.
92 See 246, 436, BQ 35, BQ 38, WCT 1 59-60, WCT 1 65.
93 Heidegger makes the same move with beings and Being at 48, the
nothing at 98, and truths and the essence of truth at 1 1 6.
94 See 1 44, BT 1 951 1 53, BT 362/3 1 4.
95 See 1 56. One of the features uniting ' post-modern' thinkers such
as Levinas, Derrida, and Foucault is this rallying cry to protect
diference or otherness against homogenization though it takes
quite diferent forms in their works.
96 As early as the supplement to his dissertation, Heidegger insisted
that ' a basic requirement for a theory of categories is characteriz­
ing and demarcating the diferent domains of objects into spheres
that are categorially irreducible to one another' (Sup 63, see also
Sup 78, BW 58, BW 66) .
97 A few years earlier i n talking about the history of philosophy, he
said that ' the basic presupposition for being able to take the past
seriously lies in willing not to make one's own labour easier than
did those who are supposed to be revived' (BP 1 00).
98 1 44, see also 379-80.
99 Nietzsche made the same point about how language distinguishes
an agent from her actions, all the way up to the ultimate subject:
'we fnd ourselves i n the midst of a rude fetishism when we call to
mind the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language -
which is to say, of reason. It is this which sees everywhere deed
and doer . . . and which projects its belief in the ego-substance on
1 3
NOTES
to all things - only thus does it create the concept ' thing
'
. . . . I fear
we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar'
Nietzsche ( 1 990: 48).
1 00 I SO, see al so 1 25, 258, 353, WCT 233, FCM 23.
1 01 1 5 1 -2, see also 408, BT 207/ 1 64, IPR 6, TDP 71 -2, PIS 288,
HCT 266, BP 208-9, EGT 6-6.
1 02 See 46, 65-6, 1 48, HCT 1 29.
1 03 See 66, 1 57, 1 65, 1 94, Sup 1 60, BP 22-3, BP 1 1 7, HCT 29, HCT
87, HCT 1 36, HCT 300, WT 39-0, ET 1 97.
1 04 See 1 48, 1 50, 1 53, 1 56.
1 05 See BT 99/69, CP §274/348.
1 06 See BT 1 06175, BT 41 2-5/361 -4. The situation is actually more
complicated than this, with a middle phase when you are improv­
ing a skill or repairing a broken tool (see BT 201 l 1 58).
1 07 1 61 , see also 1 95.
1 08 1 64, see also N 1: 1 87.
1 09 See 1 00, confrmed here at 1 5 1 .
1 1 0 See 1 6-5. Being and Time uses the term 'Dasein' instead of 'man'
or 'consciousness' to avoid this problem.
I I I Wittgenstein's early conception of language centers around his
picture theory of meaning whch takes this simlarity as
fundaental.
1 1 2 See 1 62, 1 1 8, 1 76, 46.
1 1 3 See 1 62, 1 8 1 , PLT 1 97. The art historian Meyer Schapiro criti­
cized Heidegger for attributing the shoes in Van Gogh's painting
to a peasant farmer when they were in fact Van Gogh's own shoes.
However, we can see from Heidegger's rejection of artistic truth
as correct portrayal that, regardless of its acuracy, Schapiro's
objection misses the point. Derrida says as much in his extended
discussion of their exchange: ' Schapirio is mistaken about the
primary function of the pictorial reference. He also gets wrong a
Heideggerian argument which should ruin in advance his own
restitution of the shows to Van Gogh: art as "putting to work of
truth" is neither an "imitation", nor a "description" copying the
"real", nor a "reproduction'" Derrida ( 1 987: 3 1 2, see also 325).
1 1 4 1 77, see also 1 22, 46, BT 261 -3/21 8-20, MFL 1 27-28, BQ 82,
PIS 350, ET 9, ET 86.
1 1 5 1 76, see also BT 262/220.
1 1 6 This fts in with Heidegger's early view that the equipment we use
helps constitute our identity by making up our world. 'We are
able to understand and encounter ourselves constantly in a spe­
cifc way by way of the beings which we encounter as intraworldly.
The shoemaker is not the shoe; but shoe-gear, belonging to the
equipmental contexture of his environing world, is intelligible as
the piece of equipment that it is only by way of the particular
world that belongs to the existential constitution of the Dasein as
being-in-the-world. In understanding itself by way of things, the
Dasein understands itself as being-in-the-world by way of its
1 3
NOTES
world. The shoemaker is not the shoe but, eÄisting, he is his world'
(BP 1 7 1 , see also BP 1 59, BT 41 6/364) .
1 1 7 EGT 26, see also EGT 99, PM 3 1 3, WCT 98, WCT 1 1 0, WCT
237, BQ 1 78, BQ 1 83 .
1 1 8 1 78. Heidegger connects Being, the clearing, and Truth many
times (see 1 77, 1 97, 2 1 0, 235, 240, BQ 1 83).
1 1 9 See 58, 234, 246, 263, 4 1 5, WCT 98, WCT 1 1 0, WCT 1 52, WCT
202, WCT 239, PR 5, N 1I I: 56, OBT 1 93, OBT 1 98, BQ 1 59,
P 1 49.
1 20 BQ 1 27-8, see also EGT 1 00, EGT 1 22, P 1 35, P 1 42.
1 2 1 1 79, see also 1 85. Heidegger makes a brief argument that truth's
strife between unconcealment and concealment bears an afnity
with artworks' earth-world strife ( 1 87), althoUgh the two cannot
simpl y be identifed with each other ( 1 80) . Art's structural
isomorphism with truth is what accounts for its unusual ability to
effect truth. He lists a number of other ways that truth occurs in
beings ( 1 867), but this is one reason why artworks enjoy a privi­
leged status.
1 22 See 1 68, 1 70.
1 23 FCM 347, see also FCM 355, BT 1 1 4/83, BT 406/355.
1 24 1 79, see also 1 9 1 , 200, BQ 1 4, CP §51 l 1 , CP §243/272,
CP §269/339.
1 25 1 72, see also PLT 1 70, PLT 224.
1 26 See 4 1 5, DT 65. This strategy resembles Husserl 's formal
indicati ons' .
1 27 See 223, PT 56, EHP 43, STF l 38.
1 28 1 73, see also 1 35-6, 1 7 1 , 1 89.
1 29 1 97, see al so N 1 : 1 1 9, N 1 : 1 87, 1M 2045.
1 30 1 90, see also 1 78, P 1 49-50.
1 3 1 See 2 1 0, BQ 1 64.
1 32 1 8 1 , italics in original , see also 206, 1M 1 40, 1M 1 70, N 1 : 1 95,
N I : 1 98, PM 1 78. This synthesis can be seen as a fascinating
reinterpretati on of the medieval doctrine of the identity of tran­
scendentals, i. e. , the idea that the highest values that apply to all
categories - Being, truth, and beauty, as well as good, one, etc. -
are all the same. One of the best known formulati ons of this
doctrine was given by Duns Scotus, the subject of Heideggers
Habilitationschrit (a German version of the dissertation).
l 33 1 67, see also 1 59-60, 361 -2.
l 34 See 1 69, 1 93, 1 99, 242.
l 3 5 For a detailed discussion of this topic, see Braver (2007: 325-9).
1 36 Hegel, Nietzsche, and early Heidegger all use this phrase (see
BT 1 861 1 45, BT 1 8811 48).
1 37 See 229, 224, 248.
l 38 BT 67/42, quoted at 229.
1 39 230, see also 232.
1 40 225-6, see also 247.
1 41 224, see also FCM 42, KPM 5.
136
NOTES
1 42 See 226-7, 235, 246, N III: l 89, N HI: 2l ?, N IV: 207, PM 28 1 ,
M 1 86-7, M 268-9, CP 1 20/§83.
143 See M 300, M 322-3, M 375, TB 37.
1 4 See 234, 246, 263.
1 45 235, see also N IV: 21 1 -1 2, EOT 99, EOT 1 22.
1 46 See 235, M 347, N IV: 208, STF 64.
1 47 See 247, PM 278, PM 288.
1 48 233, see also OBT 1 32-3, FS 59--0, M 334. ·
149 235o One of the obstacles here is the 'puzzling ambiguity' (233) by
which Being can mean a specifc way of Being or the mere
presence of beings at alL Heidegger admits to his own 'ambig­
ous use of the word ' Being' . . . between ' Being' as 'the Being of
beings,' and Being as ' Being' in respect of its proper sense, that
is, in respect of its truth (the clearing)' (OWL 20, see also OWL
26). He comes to refer to the latter with a number of diferent
terms (such as Ereigni, Beyng, Being crossed out, and the truth
of Being) to prevent this confusion.
1 50 Note that the term 'passive' only roughly approximates
Heidegger's ideas. He actually wants to forego the entire active¯
passive distinction (see DT 6 1 , BQ 1 5 1 ) . I address this topic in
great detail in 2007: 273-9.
1 5 1 BT 329/284, see also BP 221 .
1 52 WCT 1 42, see also WCT 1 5 1 , P 1 47, FS 73, PM 279, PM 294,
DT 64, PR 69, PR 75, CP 1 67/§1 20.
1 53 N IV: 1 52, see also N 1II: 68.
1 54 See 261 , 296-304, M 257-8, P 1 03-, CP 1 79/§ 1 34, CP 221 1§1 92,
N IV: 28, N IV: 86, N IV: I 03.
1 )5 N IV: 93, see also N IV: 1 39, PM 300.
1 56 FS 40-1 , see also FS 4
7, BW 259, P 1 03q M 257-8, M 287.
1 57 KPM 1 65q see also BW 234, BW 240-1 , BW 260, PM 1 35, M 276.
1 58 234, see also 23 1 , 241 , 252, 259.
1 59 232. Heidegger applies the same point to Nietzsche at 241 .
1 60 Heidegger's many discussions of the difculty of escaping meta­
physics is one of his greatest infuences on Derrida.
1 61 232, see also WCT 1 61 .
1 62 1M 56, see also BW 3 1 4, WT 39, M 268-9, STF 1 7 1 , STF 1 87. In
a 1 93 1 course, Heidegger discusses Aristotle's treatment of beings
in terms of categories and potential-actual: 'what is the origin of
this distinction? What is the justifcation for this twofold deploy­
ment in the address and saying of being? Aristotle ofers no
explanation or reason for this, neither here nor elsewhere. He does
not even so much as raise the question. This diferentiation of the
on is simply put forth. It is somewhat like when we say that mam­
mals and birds are included in the class of animals' (AM 8, see
also AM 1 02q FCM 357). Foucault takes up this specifc
topic - namely, the historical origin and metaphysical arbitrari­
ness of animal taxonomy - in The Order of Things.
1 63 See 1 32, 235, 242.
1 37
NOTES
1 64 See 226, 254, M 1 9, M 37, PM 279, CP 1 201§85.
1 65 M 333, see also PM 3 1 8.
1 66 409, see also 372, 384, WCT 6, PT 27, N IV: 21 4, PR 47, PLT 6,
PLT 1 8 1 , PLT 209, PM 293, OWL 76.
1 67 This bears a similarity to Wittgenstein's solution to the pseudo­
problem of rule-following. See Wittgenstein (200 1 : §1 98, §20 1 ,
§21 7, §21 9, §506) . We can also see the infuence of HusserI 's
understanding of phenomenology as based on intuitive evidence.
1 68 We can see here remnants of HusserI's notion of categorial intu­
ition which claims that we directly 'perceive' phenomena such as
logical relations between objects of our experience.
1 69 See PR I l l , PM 234, DT 83, M 73.
1 70 See 25 1 , 264, PM 235.
1 7 1 PM 232, see also PM 277, PM 289.
1 72 Z 2 1 7, see also BW 1 80, BW 330, BW 361 , STF 1 48-9, STF
1 545.
1 73 See 25 1 , 262, N IV:44, N IV: 202-3, BQ 1 59, OTB 77, PM 3 1 3,
PM 3 1 9.
1 74 238, see al so 235, 391 , 41 5, WCT 1 2 1 , N IV: 21 7-1 8, TB 1 9, TB
38-0.
1 75 Here is a point on which Heidegger agrees with Nietzsche who
uses the example of l ightning as a phenomenon in which the
subject-acti on distinction collapses. See Nietzsche ( 1 989b: 1. 1 3,
p
.
4
5).
1 76 See 235, 248, 252, PM 283, PM 308-1 0, ID 30-3, DT 77-8, WCT
79, M 1 33, M 28 1 .
1 77 229, see also 220, 233, 252, N I: 1 93, PM 284.
1 78 This idea has i ts roots in Being and Tme's initial defnition of
Dasein as being-in-the-worId, and ultimately in HusserI's notion
of intentionality. It also marks another point of contact between
Heidegger and Wittgenstein.
1 79 See 243, PM 324, EGT 1 4, ID 43-4.
1 80 See 258, Z 21 7.
1 8 1 See 1 70, 1 98, 228-30, Z 2 1 7, ID 3 1 .
1 82 234, see also 23 1 , 237, 246, 337, BQ 1 63, M 2 1 1 , CP 2 1 3/§ 1 78,
PR 86, WCT 1 2 1 , PLT 1 84.
1 83 241 , see also 330.
1 84 See 258, M 238, FS 80.
1 85 See 1 0 1 -2, 227, 233-, PM 236, CP 1 691§ 1 22, PLT 228.
1 86 See 1 25, 1 28, 1 5 1 , 333, 351 -3, Z 62.
1 87 2 1 7, see also 262, 264, PR 96, ID 39.
1 88 See 230, 237, 262-3, OBT 232, FCM 291 .
1 89 262, see also 1 32, 25 1 , 33 1 , FS 56.
1 90 And certain ideas found in Being and Time: ' resoluteness consti­
tutes the loyalty of existence to its own Self. As resoluteness
which is ready for anxiety, this loyalty is at the same time a possi­
ble way of revering the sole authority which a free existing can
have' (BT 443/391 ).
1 3
NOTES
1 9 1 See WCT 1 43, WCT 146, WCT 235.
1 92 See WCT 1 26, WCT 1 42.
1 93 See 233, 248, WCT 235.
1 94 Heidegger even uses Kuhn's key term 'paradig' in a discussion
of science a few years before this work (ET 46). Many have noted
the similarities between Kuh and continental thought, including
Kuhn himself· 'the philosophy I knew and had been exposed to,
and the people in my environment to talk to, were all of them out
of the English logical empiricist tradition, in one way or another.
This was a tradition which by and large had no use for the
continental and particularly the German philosophical tradition.
I think, in some sense or other, I can be described as in some part
having reinvented that tradition for myself' Ku (2002: 321 ).
1 95 This contradicts the view of the neo-Kantian school that domi­
nated German academic philosophy when Heidegger began his
studies that the frst Critique is a work of epistemology.
1 96 272, see also BT 1 8911 49, BT 21 311 69, BT 41 4/362, HC 1 45, PIK
22, N II: 1 1 4, BQ 48, BQ 60, BQ 73. Nietzsche, whom Heidegger
was studying intensely and beginning to lecture on at this time,
also claims that interpretation is built into experience: 'against
positivism, which halts at phenomena - 'there are only facts' -
I would say: No, facts is precisely what there is not, only
interpretations' Nietzsche ( 1 968: §8 1 ) .
1 97 See PIK 289, KPM 1 41 -2.
1 98 See e. g. , OBT 57, OBT 73.
1 99 See discussions of the similar notion of worldhood: ' the world as
already unveiled in advance is such that we do not in fact specif­
cally occupy ourselves with it, or apprehend it, but instead it is so
self-evident, so much a matter of course, that we are completely
oblivious of it' (BP 1 65).
200 Since Aristotle dominates Medieval science too, this period needs
no separate discussion (28 1 , 283).
201 275, see also 49-50, 4345, FCM 1 86, KPM 7, KM 87, OBT 59,
TDP 22, PLT 1 70.
202 Heidegger applies this 'hermeneutic circle' argument to other
topics at 45-6, 98, 1 4, ET 1 1 3, OWL 7 1 .
203 Notice how close the wording is between the early: 'we live already
in an understanding of Being' (4), and the later: ' the mathemati­
cal is that evident aspect of things within which we are always
already moving' (277).
204 See 271 , 432-3, OBT 58, BQ 47-8, 1M 1 1 0-1 1 , FS 9, M 206,
AM 67.
205 Kuhn ( 1 996: 1 50). Compare with Foucault: 'people have ofen
wondered how on earh nineteenth-centur botanists and biolo­
gists managed not to see the trth of Mendel's statements. But it
was precisely because Mendel spoke of objects, employed meth­
ods and placed himself within a theoretical perspective totally
alien to the biology of his time . . . . Here was a new object, calling
139
NOTES
for new conceptual tools, and for fresh theoretical foundations.
Mendel spoke the truth, but he was not dans Ie vrai (within the
true) of contemporary biol ogical discourse: it simply was not
along such lines that objects and biol ogical concepts were formed.
A whole change in scale, the deployment of a totally new range of
objects in biology was required before Mendel could enter into
the true' Foucault ( 1 972: 224) .
206 See 1 30, 1 78, OBT 60, PLT 1 70.
207 Many of these ideas are explored i n greater depth in Being and
Tme's discussion of Descartes' scientifc space (BT § 1 9-2 1 ,
pp. 1 23/89-1 341 1 0 I ) .
208 288, see also 201 , FCM 1 88, FCM 261 , OBT 60, OBT 1 3 1 -2,
PR 55, PR 79, PR 87.
209 304, see also 50-2, 1 87, WCT 222.
2 1 0 See 50-2, 1 87, BP 52--, N 11: 1 1 2-1 3, WCT 3 3 , WCT 1 5 1 .
21 1 290. Kuhn also believes that early converts to a new paradigm
often have to cling to it i n spite of greater evidence supporting
establ ished science; see, e. g. , Kuhn 1 996: 1 50-9.
2 1 2 290. Kuhn simil arly comments that 'all these natural phenomena
[Galileo] saw diferently from the way they had been seen before'
Kuhn ( 1 996: 1 1 9, see also 1 50) and Norwood Hanson gives
a negative answer to the question, 'do Kepler and Tycho see the
same thing in the east at dawn?' since ' theories' and interpretations
are "there" in the seeing from the outset' Hanson ( 1 958: 5, 1 0) .
According to Hanson, this is due to the fact that ' seeing is a
"theory-laden" undertaking. Observation of 7 is shaped by prior
knowledge of 7
¹
(ibid. , 1 9, see also 54, 1 57). We can also see a
resemblance with the Duhem-Quine thesis that, due to the fact
that obseration is laden with holistic theories, there is no such
thing as a truly crucial experiment that forces us to abandon a
theory; we can always revise assumptions or interpret observa­
tions diferently instead.
2 1 3 291 , see also OBT 59, BT 41 4/362.
21 4 292-3, see also 278, BT 1 28/95-6.
2 1 5 292, see also BT 445/393, OBT 58-9, PLT 1 70, FCM 32, FCM 89,
FCM 1 86, FCM 275. Wat Heidegger calls the mathematical ,
Foucault calls an era's ' episteme' or ' historical a priori' in his early
work: 'this a priori is what, in a given peri od, delimits in the total­
ity of experience a feld of knowledge, defnes the mode of being
of the objects that appear in that feld, provides man's everyday
perception with theoretical powers, and defnes the conditions in
which he can sustain a discourse about things that is recognized
to be true' Foucault ( 1 994: 1 58, see also xxii) .
2 1 6 296, see also 332, OBT 66, OBT 69, OBT 8 1 , OBT 1 83.
2 1 7 302, see also 276, 290, 305.
2 1 8 304, see also 300, FS 8 , OBT 60.
2 1 9 OBT 67, see also OBT 7 1 , OBT 1 76-7, OBT 1 9 1 , OBT 1 95, OBT
2 1 6, BW 303 .
1 4
NOTES
220 OBT 69, see also 295-6, 332.
221 See OBT 66, OBT 75, N IV: 28, N IV: 86, N IV: 1 03, PM 300,
CP §259/300.
222 See OBT 76, OBT 84. Braver (2007: 303-8) discusses this topic in
greater depth.
223 3 1 3, see also 1 5 1 , 361 .
224 See 66, 83.
225 3 1 8, see also 1 84, 24.
226 See 1 52, BT 1 90-1 11 50, PR 47, TOP 71-5, WCT 1 29-30.
227 Except in the unusual circumstance of anxiety discussed in 'Wat
Is Metaphysics?' (see 1 01 , 359).
228 See 1 05, 26 1 , 3 1 9, 372, 409, ID 35. I discuss this topic at greater
length in Braver (2007: 305-25)_
229 322, see also OBT 1 4, OTB 21 7, ID 34f, WCT 1 35, EHP 87_
230 320, see also 352.
23 1 DT 50, see also 321 , 326, EHP 87, BT 1 00170, PM 3 1 3_
232 See 1 29, 1 53, 1 72, OBT 72, OBT 85, WCT 43.
233 324, see also 21 7, N 1: 46-7.
234 WCT 234, see also OTB 21 7, ID 34_
235 Heidegger discusses the title of this book, which he considers the
place where 'the modern concept of science is coined,' at 299.
236 Descartes ( 1 985: VI. , 62, 1 42-3)_
237 OTB 1 88, all italics mine, see also ID 35, OWL 62, M 1 52, QT 37,
FS 63, FS 75, WCT 234_
238 See 327, 33 1 .
239 332-3, see also 420, QT 36, QT 41 , QT 43.
240 332, see also 295-6, ID 34, FS 56.
241 320, see also EHP 74, WC 1 90-1 .
242 Heidegger makes a similar case for artistic creation at 200.
243 See 1 30, 1 78, 1 85, EGT 7 1 , EGT 1 1 4.
24 332, see also 335, 339, PR 79-80, PR 88, WCT 43_
245 3 1 3, see also 329, OTB 21 7, Z 266.
246 334, see also QT 41 -3, M 56, ID 37, ID 40, DT 50.
247 See 329, N 4: 1 96, PR xiv-xv, PR 62, TB 1 7_
248 QT 4, see also BW 235, BW 238, BW 391 , BW 41 5, PM 308-1 0.
249 See 330, 335, QT 45, FS 9, PR 5 1 , PR 1 1 1 .
250 QT 39, see also QT 4, PR 1 08, BW 433, TB 52.
251 Here we can see how deeply Heidegger infuenced Foucault.
252 See 1 33-6, 1 72, 223, 238, 48, EHP 43.
253 PR 91 , see also TB 9.
254 337, sees also 233-, 239, 330, 420, EGT 25, EGT 58_
255 See 234, 245, 337, QT 45.
256 BT 1 23/89 1 48/1 1 3, see also HCT 223-36.
257 348. Heidegger ofen contrasts correctness with truth, see 1 5 1 ,
3 1 3, 3 3 1 , 408.
258 348, see also 350, PLT 2 1 5-1 6.
259 See 221 , 223, 41 0-1 1 , 423, BT 2051 1 62, PLT 1 92, PLT 208,
PLT 21 5 .
1 41
NOTES
260 This is one reason why Heidegger often says that we do not speak
language, but language speaks (41 1 ) . Derrida develops this line of
thinking.
26 1 350, see also 1 76, 388, PLT 1 74-5, PL 2 1 6, P 88, N I: 1 45,
FCM 25, FCM 287.
262 See 349, PLT 2 1 7.
263 58, see also 1 60, 234, 327, 4 1 5.
264 350, see also PLT 2 1 5.
265 1 25, see also 333.
266 35 1 , see also PLT 1 73, PLT 1 78-80.
267 See 35 1 -52, PLT 1 78-9.
268 Being and Tme similarly emphasizes the holistic unity of Dasein's
being-in-the-world (see BT 78/53, BT 226/ 1 8 1 , BT 275/232, HCT
1 57), while 'The Origin of the Work of Ar' defnes earth and
world as interdependent (see 1 74, PLT 202) .
269 Being and Time makes a similar distinction between Dasein's
being-towards-death and animals' perishing (see BT 2845/241 ,
BT 291 /274) .
270 See also 1 68, 242, PLT 229.
27 1 PLT 220, see also BT 426/374.
272 See 50, 1 86, 353, PLT 1 73q PLT 1 77, PLT 1 99.
273 355, see al so 767, 82, 1 48-5 1 , BT 1 01 1 71 , BT 1 32/99, BT 320/275,
HCT 83, HCT 86.
274 355, see also PLT 1 70-l .
275 See 355, PLT 1 77, PLT 1 99, PLT 205.
276 See also PLT 1 74, PLT 1 79-80, PLT 1 99-200.
277 See 1 68, 356, 361 , M 23. This discussion bears a strong resem­
blance to Wallace Stevens' poem, 'necdote of a jar'. Placing an
unnatural object like a jar in the midst of wilderness fundamen­
tally changes how the whole scene appears. The glass catches our
eye, becoming the center of the scene around which everything
else is organized. Just as the jar makes the 'wilderness surround
that hi l l ' , so 'the bridge gathers the earth as landscape around the
stream' (354) .
278 See 348, 36 1 .
279 360, see also FS xvi .
280 357, see also 29 1 , BT 1 29/96, BT 1 35-8/ 1 02-, BT 1 41 / 1 06,
BT 4l 3/36 1 -2, FS 53.
28 1 I n addition t o the phenomenol ogical method of ofering a
descri ption which captures more of our experience than the
'refuted' vi ew, Heidegger also gives a more logical argument for
the pri ority of l ived-space over theoretical space: J ived-space can
account for and accommodate mere space, but theoretical space
can never account for the pl aces we actual ly live in (357).
282 See BT 377/329, BT 474/422, BT 479/426.
283 See 358-9, BT 1 40-2/ 1 06-7.
284 In related essays, he brings these two
p
hases of his career together
by calling the fourfold the world (see PLT 1 79, PLT 1 99, PLT 201 ) .
142
NOTES
285 359, see also 1 01 -3.
286 PLT 1 8 1 , see also PLT 200.
287 360, all italics in original, see also 1 80, 330, STF 148-9, STF
1 545.
288 See 350, 361 .
289 See 363, PLT 1 79. Throughout his career Heidegger shows great
indiference to ' ontic' concerns in favour of philosophical issues.
Pollution is not the real problem with technology, but our relation
to Being. People living on the streets is of less concer than that
we do not know how to dwell . He even claims that 'compared to
[our encounter with Nietzsche], world wars remain superfcial'
(PM 321 , see also WCT 66, PLT 1 70).
290 PM 3 1 9, see also PLT 1 85, PLT 223.
291 PLT 1 90, see also OWL 85, OWL 93, PM 3 1 9o
292 The existentialia as opposed to categories (see 59, 66, BT 70/44).
293 See 1 567, 1 65.
294 See BQ 8 1 , P 55, PM 1 8 1 -2. I address this topic in greater detail
in Braver (2007: 291-303).
295 See 402, OWL 96-7, PLT 1 92-3, PLT 1 96, PLT 208, TDP 1 55,
BP 205, BT 201 1 1 59, BT 267/224, EGT 77, EGT 91 , EGT 99.
296 406, see also PLT 1 9 1 .
297 See 1 51 -2, BT 207/ 1 64, PIS 288, HCT 21 0, HCT 266, BP 208-9,
EGT 646, WCT 1 48-50.
298 See BT 1 97/1 55, HCT 263. Bill Blattner suggested this example in
conversation.
299 41 1 , see also 78, BT 56/32, BT 1 96/1 54, BT 205/1 62, HCT 262,
FCM 309-1 2, OWL 47, OWL 93, OWL 1 07, WCT 202, PR 1 07,
MFL 21 8.
300 41 1 , see also PLT 1 90, PLT 1 97-8, PLT 21 6, PT 25.
301 Wittgenstein i n particular never tires of attacking this view of
langUage and the mind i n his later work.
302 See 223, 348, 408, 41 0, 423, PLT 1 92, PLT 1 96, PLT 21 5-1 6,
WCT 1 28.
303 I n Basic Writings, ' Letter on Humanism' and 'The Question
CoUceÏning Technology' take up this topic at length.
304 41 1 . These themes fgUÏe prominently in the work of Derrida
(who speaks of his mother tongue as foreign) and Foucault (see,
e. g. , Foucault ( 1 994: 3 1 3; 1 996: 52-3), as well as in the school of
thought known as structuralism.
305 PLT 2 1 6, see also BW 200, OWL 59, OWL 1 88.
306 See 1 22, 1 76-7, 46, BT 26 1 121 8-263/220, MFL 1 27.
307 41 8, see also OWL 7 1 , OWL 76q PLT 209, PLT 2 1 6, PR 96,
PT 25.
308 See 1 88-9, 408, PLT 2047.
309 41 0, see also FCM 3 1 41 5, FCM 339-40, FCM 346.
3 1 0 41 1 , see also 1 98, 230, PLT 1 98-9, OWL 65-6, OWL 73 , OWL 88,
OWL 1 55, EGT 52, EGT 63-, EGT 73, EGT 90, OBT 232, M 6,
P 76, P 99, P 1 1 4, WCT 1 20, QT 40-1 , EHP 55--.
14
NOTES
3 1 1 See 41 1 , 41 3, 41 6, EGT 66, ID 38-9. The German words for hear­
ing and belonging are very similar.
3 1 2 41 4, see also DT 65.
3 1 3 4 1 5, see also PLT 1 79-80, PLT 1 90-1 , WCT 1 53, WCT 1 72, FS
59, DT 67.
3 1 4 See 397-8, 41 6, OWL 30, OWL 90, ID 38.
3 1 5 See 420-1 , WCT 1 1 8-1 9.
3 1 6 See 425, PLT 208, OWL 59, WCT 1 28, ERP 58-60.
3 1 7 4 1 8, see also 236-7, 262-3, PLT 208, DT 83.
3 1 8 At 397-9 and 41 2-1 3 .
3 1 9 4 1 3, see also OWL 2 1 , OWL 9 1 .
320 See 1 67, 1 70, ERP 36, PLT 1 92, N 1: 1 45.
321 On pages 432 and 436, another example of hi s helpful signposts.
322 434, see also PM 323, M 4.
323 See 265, 432.
324 432, see also M 283, M 297-8, M 306, M 337, MFL 2 1 8-1 9.
325 435, KPM 1 93.
326 See FCM 368. Reidegger also briefy alludes to hi s frequent claim
that the end of metaphysics has arrived with the uttermost possi­
bility of philosophy' (433)q namely Nietzsche's reversal of Plato's
founding distinction between the reaIly real timeless unchanging
Forms and the temporal, physical collection of things we experi­
ence with our senses (see, e. g. , OBT 1 57, OBT 1 62, OBT 1 73).
327 See 50-2, 1 87, 293, 373, 435, 444, FCM 32, FCM 1 86.
328 See 435, PM 234, PM 335, M 241 , OBT 1 58-9, OBT 1 96-97,
STF 64.
329 We can see fore-shad owings of Derrida's deconstruction here-
330 See PM 332, KPM 1 40, KPM 1 75, OBT 1 33, PR 6 1 , PL 1 84.
33 1 See PM 324, BP 1 59, EGT 1 4.
332 See ' My Way to Phenomenol ogy' i n OTB (pp. 7482) for a vivid
descri ption of his encounter with this book.
333 Namely, t he neo-Kantians who rejected Hegel i n order t o go
' back to Kant' . See WT 59 and KPM 2 1 3-1 7 for brief
discussions.
334 Thi s i s quite close to Heideggers idiosyncratic translation of
' phenomenol ogy' , the method shared by both thi nkers, in the
Introducti on of Being and Time (see 8 1 ).
335 See 227, 234, 443, PM 277, PM 332, M 269.
336 See 235, 446.
337 See 262, 443, KPM 21 0, PM 277-8, PM 3 1 8.
338 48, see al so 235, 242, EGT 26, EGT 99, EGT 1 22, 1M 1 1 0.
339 OBT 1 59, see al so BW 226, WCT 222, M 1 46, M 1 84, M 299.
340 See 1 03, 1 26.
341 See 432-3, 46, FS 9, M 206, OBT 58, BQ 47-8, 1M 1 1 0-1 1 .
Gadamer's hermeneutics takes these guidelines to heart.
342 See 437, 448.
343 See 323, N 3: 5, N 3 : 1 88, N 4: 1 8 1 , QT 54, WCT 46, PR 23-, PR
87, EGT 1 9, EGT 55.
14
NOTES
344 I address this topic in geater depth in Braver (2007: 339-0).
345 See 435, STF 64, EGT 1 6.
346 See 436, WeT 1 59-60, OBT 1 58, M 74, M 302, PLT 1 85, PLT
209, PLT 223, DT 62, DT 68.
I Gadamer (2002: 1 8 1 ) .
2 Ibid. , 1 76, 225-6.
3 Foucault ( 1 996: 470).
4 Foucault (2005: 1 89).
CHAPTER 4
5 One could juxtapose Foucault's 'The Discourse on Language' with
Heidegger's 'Modern Science, Mathematics, and Metaphysics' or
'The Age of the World Picture' (in OBT) for a quick, instructive
comparison.
6 Derrda ( 1 982: 22) .
7 Derrida ( 1 98 1 : 9).
FURTHER READING
The secondary literature on Heidegger continues to grow at an
impressive, if not alarming rate. There are a number of very
good general purpose collections of essays, including Heidegger:
A Critical Reader (Dreyfus and Hall . eds. ); A Companion to
Heidegger (Dreyfus and Wrathall, eds. ); and The Cambridge
Companion to Heidegger (Guignon, ed. ). The four volume set
Heidegger Reexamined (Dreyfus and Hall, eds. ) reprints many
well*regarded essays sorted by topic. Reading Heidegger: Com­
memorations (Sallis, ed. ) , and Martin Heidegger: Politics, Art,
and Technology (Harries and Jamme, eds. ) are good collections
that skew towards the later work.
Otto Poggelers Martin Heidegger's Path of Thinking and
William 1. Richardsons Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to
Thought are considered classic treatments of Heidegger's entire
career; Richard Polts Heidegger: An Introduction is a more recent
and more introductory discussion that focuses mainly on Being
and Tme but al so has short helpful analyses of some later
writings.
Among the more specialized treatments, John D. Caputo's
Demythologizing Heidegger argues that Heidegger's later thought
contains a serious internal inconsistency. ofering a balance of
sympathy. comprehension, and criticism rarely achieved in this
secondary li terature. Stanley Rosen's The Question of Being:
A Reversal of Heidegger is a dense critique of Heidegger's
conception of metaphysics, especially the way it is grounded in
a reading of Plato and Aristotle. I fnd Michel Haar's works -
Heidegger and the Essence of Man and The Song of the Earth:
Heidegger and the Grounds of the History of Being ¬ ver stimu­
lating. I would also recomend Riner Schirann's Heideger -
On Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy and Michael
E. Zimmermans Heidegger's Conrontation with Modernity:
Technology, Politics, and Art. Richard Rorty always makes
14
FURTHER REDING
interesting, even provocative points. and much of his discussion
of Heidegger can be found in Essays on Heidegger and Others:
Philosophical Papers Volume 2.
Those interested i n Heidegger's involvement with the Nai
Party would do well to consult Hugo Ott's Martin Heidegger:
A Political Lie and lain D. Thomsons Heidegger on Ontotheo­
logy: Technology and the Politics of Education. A more general
biography would be Ridiger Safranski's Martin Heidegger:
Between Good and Evil.
My own A Thing of This World: A History of Anti-Realism
(Evanston: Northwester University Press, 2007) addresses
Heidegger's later work at length, showing how it difers from his
early work and how it sets the agenda for continental philoso­
phers afer him, as well as relating it to various analytic ideas
and thinkers. It discusses many of the topics touched on here in
greater depth.
Hopefully, this commentary has helped you l earn how to read
Heidegger's own writings rather than just presenting summaries
of his thought. If I have succeeded, readers will fnd themselves
prepared for and interested in reading more of his works, so let
me ofer a few suggestions. Some works that help illuminate Hei­
degger's Kehre or turn from early to later thought are The
Metaphysical Foundations of Logic, The Fundamental Concepts
of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude, and Kant and the
Problem of Metaphysics. The Introduction and Postscript to
' Wat Is Metaphysics?' (in PM), both written later than the essay
itself. and Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected 'Problems' of
'Logic' (especially the Appendices) are very helpful discussions
of the fundamental investigation of Being. Those interested in
Heideggers engagement with other philosophers should read
Platos Doctrine of Truth' (in PM), 'The Age of the World
Picture' , and 'Nietzsche's Word: God Is Dead'" (both in OBT) .
His 1 200 pages of lectures on Nietzsche are relatively readable
(in general, his lectures tend to be more accessible than his
writings or talks) and give a nice account of his thoughts on the
history of philosophy.
If you liked the discussions of the fourfold in Building
Dwelling Thinking . then take a look at the essays collected in
PLT and OWL. Further discussions of technology occur in
essays contained in QT, especially 'The Turing' and ' Science
147
FURTHER REDING
and Refection' . What Is Called Thinking? and Introduction to
Metaphysics are important works which discuss both earlier phi­
losophers and Heidegger's own project. Some scholars consider
Contributions to Philosophy to be his second magnum opus afer
Being and Time, but I regard it as unfnished (albeit intriguing);
many also fnd its translation problematic. A similar work writ­
ten right after Contributions is Mindfulness, which I fnd much more
accessible and interesting. Finally, The Principle of Reason remains
a personal favorite of mine which deserves more attention.
BI BLI OGRPHY
WORKS BY MARTI N HEI DEGGER
(2005), Introduction to Phenomenological Research (trans.
D. O. Dahlstrom) . Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
(2003), Four Seminars (trans. A. Mitchell and F Rafoul).
Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
(2002) , The Essence of Human Freedom: An Introduction to
Philosophy (trans. T Sadler) . New York: Continuum.
(2002), The Essence of Truth: On Plato's Cave Allegory and
' Theaetetus' (trans. T Sadler) . New York: Continuum.
(2002), Mindfulness (trans. P Emad and T Kalary). New York:
Continuum.
(2002), Off the Beaten Track (trans. and ed. J Young and
K. Haynes) . New York: Cambridge University Press.
(2002), Supplements: From the Earliest Essays to 'Being and
Time' and Beyond (J van Buren, ed. ). Albany: State University
of New York Press.
(2001), The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World,
Finitude, Solitude (trans. W McNeill and N. Walker) .
Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
(2001 ), Zollikon Seminars: Protocols - Conversations - Letters
(trans. F Mayr and R. Askay). Evanston, IL: Northwester
University Press.
(2000), Elucidations of Holderlin's Poetry (trans. K. Hoeller).
Amherst: Humanity Books.
(2000), Introduction to Metaphysics (trans. G. Fried and R. Polt).
New Haven: Yale University Press.
(2000), Toward the Defnition of Philosophy (trans. T Sandler).
New York: Athlone.
( 1 999), Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning) (trans.
P Emad and K. Maly). Bloomingon: Indiaa University Press.
1 49
BI BLIOGRAPHY
( 1 998), Pathmarks (W McNeill , ed. ) . Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
( 1 997), Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant 's ' Critique of
Pure Reason' (trans. P. Emad and T. Kalary). Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
( 1 997), Plato's Sophist (trans. R. Rojcewicz and A. Schuwer) .
Bl oomington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 996), HolderUn's Hymn ' The Ister ' (trans. W McNeill and
1. Davis). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 995), Aristotle's 'Metaphysics ' e 1-3: On the Essence and
Actuality of Force (trans. W Brogan and P. Warnek). Bloom­
ington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 994), Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected 'Problems' of
'Logic' (trans. R. Rojcewicz and A. Schuwer) . Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
( 1 994), Hegel's 'Phenomenology of Spirit ' (trans. P. Emad and
K. Maly) . Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 993), Basic Concepts (trans. G. E. Aylesworth) . Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
( 1 993), Basic Writings (revised edn, D. F Krell , ed. ) . San
Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
( 1 993), Heraclitus Seminar (coauthored wth E. Fink, trans.
C. H. Siebert) . Evanston, IL. : Northwester University Press.
( 1 992), The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic (trans. M. Heim) .
Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 992), Parmenides (trans. R. Rojcewicz and A. Schuwer) .
Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 991 ) , The Principle of Reason (trans. R. Lilly) . Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
( 1 990), Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (5th enlarged edn. ,
trans. R. Taft). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 985), History of the Concept of Time (trans. T. Kisiel ). Bloom­
ington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 985), Schelling's Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom
(trans. 1. Stambaugh) . Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
( 1 982), The Basic Problems of Phenomenology (trans.
A. Hofstadter) . Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 979, 1 984, 1 987, 1 982), Nietzsche 4 vols (D. F Krell, ed. ). San
Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
1 50
BIBLIOGRAPHY
( 1 977), Martin Heidegger in Conversation (trans. B. S. Murthy,
R. Wisser, ed. ). New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann.
( 1 977), The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays
(trans. W Lovitt) . New York: Harper Torchbooks.
( 1 976), The Piety of Thinking (trans. 1. G. Hart and 1 C.
Maraldo) . Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
( 1 975), Early Greek Thinking: The Dawn of Western Philosophy
(trans. D. F Krell and F A. Capuzzi) . San Francisco:
HarperSanFranci sco.
( 1 973), The End of Philosophy (trans. J Stambaugh). New York:
Harper and Row.
( 1 972), On Tme and Being (trans. J Stambaugh). New York:
Harper Torchbooks.
( 1 97 1 ), On the Way to Language (trans. P. D. Hertz) . San
Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
( 1 971 ), Poetry, Language, Thought (trans. A. Hofstadter).
New York: Harper and Row.
( 1 970), Hegel's Concept of Experience. New York: Harer and
Row.
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Harer Torchbooks.
( 1 968), What Is Caled Thinking? (trans. J G. Gray). New York:
Harper and Row.
( 1 967), What Is a Thing? (trans. W B. Barton Jr. and V Deutsch).
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( 1 966), Discourse on Thinking (trans. J M. Anderson and
E. H. Freund). San Francisco: Harper Torchbooks.
( 1 962), Being and Time (trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson) .
San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
( 1 956), What Is Philosophy? (trans. J. T. Wilde and W Kluback).
New Haven, Conn. : New College and University Press.
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Braver, L. (2007), A Thing of This World: A History of Continen­
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Press.
Caputo, 1. D. ( 1 993), Demythologizing Heidegger. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
Carnap, R. ( 1 959), Elimination of Metaphysics Through
Logical Analysis of Language' , in A. 1. Ayer (ed. ), Logical
Positivism. New York: The Free Press, pp. 60-8 1 .
Derrida, 1 ( 1 987), Truth in Painting (trans. 0. Bennington and
1. McLeod). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
". ( 1 982), Margins of Philosophy (trans. Alan Bass) .
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Descartes, R. ( 1 985), ' Discourse on the Method' , in
1. Cottingham, R. Stoothof, and D. Murdoch (trans. ),
The Philosophical Writings of Descartes vol . 1 . New York:
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to Heidegger. Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell Publishers Inc.
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the College de France 1981-1982 (trans. 0. Burchell) . New York:
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(2nd edn. , S. Lotringer, ed. ) . New York: Semiotext(e) .
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Sciences. New York: Vintage Books.
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on Language (trans. A. M. S. Smith) . New York: Harper
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Gadamer, H. -0. (2002), ' Question and answer play back
and forth between the text and its interpreter . in D. R. Steele
(ed. ), Genius: In Their Own Words. Open Court: Chicago,
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Guignon, C. B. (ed. ). (2006), The Cambridge Companion to
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Haar, M. ( 1 993), Heidegger and the Essence of Man (trans.
W McNeill). Albany: State University of New York Press.
-. ( 1 993), The Song of the Earth: Heidegger and the
Grounds of the History of Being (trans. R. Lilly). Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
Hanson, N. ( 1 958), Patterns of Discovery. New York: Cambridge
University Press.
Harries, K. and Jamme, C. (eds. ) . ( 1 994), Martin Heidegger:
Politics, Art, and Technology. New York: Holmes & Meier
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Essays, 1970-1993 (newedn. ). Chicago: University of Chicago
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-. ( 1 996), The Structure of Scientic Revolutions (3rd edn. ).
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Levinas, E. ( 1 996), Basic Philosophical Writings (A. T Peperzak,
S. Critchley, and R. Bernasconi, eds). Indianapolis: Indiana
University Press.
Nietzsche, F ( 1 990), Twilight of the Idols/The Anti- Christ (trans.
R. J. Hollingdale) . New York: Penguin Books.
-. ( 1 989a), Beyond Good and Evil (trans. W Kaufmann) .
New York: Vintage Books.
-. ( 1 989b), On the Genealogy of Morals/Ecce Homo (trans.
W Kaufman). New York: Vintage Books.
-. ( 1 968), The Will to Power (new edn. , trans. W Kaufman).
New York: Vintage Books.
Ott, H. ( 1 993), Martin Heidegger: A Political Lie (trans.
A. Blunden) . New York: Basic Books.
Poggeler, O. ( 1 991 ), Martin Heidegger's Path of Thinking (trans.
D. Magurshak and S. Barber). Amherst, N Humanity Books.
Polt, R. ( 1 999), Heidegger: An Introduction. Ithaca, NY: Corell
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Rorty, R. ( 1 991 ), Esays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical
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Rosen, S. (2002), The Question of Being: A Reversal of Heidegger.
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1 5
I NDEX
Antarctica 34
Arstotle 1 , 4, 9, 1 1 , 21 , 22, 23,
24, 41 , 67, 75-7, 79, 83, 88,
1 1 8, 1 24, 1 37n1 62, 1 39n200
art 37, 38, 39-1 ,
4-56, 1 27, 1 36n1 21 ,
1 41 n242
Bacon, Francis 85
Being 1-145
Being and Time 1-, 6, 1 1 -1 2,
1 4, 1 5, 1 7, 1 9-20, 21 , 25, 30,
3 1 , 40, 41 , 4, 54, 57-8, 60,
62, 65, 67-8, 92, 98, 1 01 , 103,
1 07, 1 08, 1 21 , 1 26, 1 27,
1 29-30n7, 1 30n1 8, 1 33n73,
l 34n83, 1 34n89, 1 35n1 1 0,
1 38n1 78, 1 38n1 90, 1 40n207,
1 42n268-9, 14n334, 1 48
Berkeley, George 42
Blattner, Bill 1 29n4, 1 3 1 n26,
1 43n298
Brentano, Franz 14
Carap, Rudolf 14, 25, 1 3 1 nl l
clearing 10, 28, 30, 32-3, 39, 46,
48-9, 53-, 59-62, 67, 79, 84,
87-9, 91 , 93-7, 1 1 2-14,
1 203, 1 32n43, 1 33n72,
1 36nl 1 8, 1 37n1 49
Derrida, Jacques 1 27-8, 1 33n65,
1 34n95, 1 35n1 1 3, 1 37n1 60,
1 42n260, 1 43n304, 1 4n329
Descartes, Rene 61 -2, 77, 80-2,
85, 87-90, 93, 1 02-3, 1 06,
1 40n207
destruction 41 , 43, 47, 83, 1 1 8,
1 24, 1 27
Dilthey, Wilhelm 3, 1 26
Ereignis 8, 96, 1 1 2-1 4, 1 37n149
essence 269, 3 1 , 33, 41 , 47,
57-8, 60, 62-3, 67, 70, 82-3,
86-7, 94, 97
forgetfulness of Being 9, 34-5,
48, 59, 63, 65, 90-1 , 93, 96,
1 21
Foucault, Michel 70, 86, 1 1 8,
1 27, 1 34n95, 1 37n1 62,
1 39-0n205, 1 40n21 5,
1 41 n25 1 , 1 43n304, 1 45n5
fourfold 2, 97, 99-1 01 , 1 03, 1 05,
1 42n284, 1 47
Frankenstein ontolog 43
Frankfurt School 1 26
Gadamer, Hans-Georg 1 27,
1 34n84, 1 44n34l
Galilei, Galileo 78-9, 82
15
Hegel, G. W F
4, 9, 20, 26, 67,
95, 1 08, 1 1 4, 1 1 6-22,
1 36n1 36, 1 44n333
Heraclitus 34, 1 21
hermeneutic circle 1 4-1 5, 39-0,
1 30n4, 1 34n93, 1 39n202
I NDE
hi story of Being 4, 7, 63-5, 68,
78, 84, 92-3, 95, 1 1 4, 1 22-4,
1 30n l l
Holderlin, Friedrich 94
Humboldt, Wilhelm von 1 08
Hume, David 93
Husser!, Edmund 2, 3, 1 4, 4 1 , 59,
67, 78, 1 1 6-21 , 1 33n78,
1 36nI 26, 1 38nI 67-8,
1 38n1 78
Jaspers, Karl 2
Kant, Immanuel 3, 4, 9, 1 7,
24, 27, 59, 60, 6 1 , 69, 7 1 ,
74, 77, 79-8 1 , 88, 90, 93,
1 08, 1 1 7, 1 26, 1 29n4,
1 32n43, 1 39n1 95,
1 44n333
Kehre 2-, 25, 62, 1 26, 1 47
Kierkegaard, S0ren 3, 1 7, 1 9, 56,
1 26
Kuhn, Thomas 7, 70, 73, 75, 95,
1 39n I 94, 1 40n21 1 -1 2
language 42, 68-9, 98, 1 02,
1 06-1 5, 1 34-5n99,
1 42n260
Levinas, Emmanuel 86, 1 34n84,
1 34n95
Locke 41 , 1 01
Marx, Kar! 5 8 , 1 1 7
Meno 40, 74
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice 1 26
metaphysics 7-9, 1 1 -1 4, 1 7, 2 1 ,
23, 24, 41 , 58-9, 63-5, 72-3,
75-7, 80-1 , 84, 95, 1 1 6-24,
1 28, 1 30n 1 1 , 1 32n33,
1 37nI 60, 1 4n326
Mil l , John Stewart 1 1 7
mystery 5, 35-8, 5 1 , 86, 95,
1 22-3, 1 32n46
Newton, Isaac 7 1 , 75, 77
Nietzsche, Friedrich 2, 9, 1 7, 29,
46, 57-8, 60, 6 1 , 66, 8 1 , 86,
88, 90, 94, 96, 1 00, 1 04, 1 1 7,
1 1 8, 1 1 9, 1 33n65, 1 34-5n99,
1 36n1 3� 1 37n1 59, 1 38n1 75,
1 39n 1 96, 1 43n289, 1 44n326,
1 47
nihilism 56, 66, 69, 96, 1 00, 1 1 5
ontological diference 6, 59, 94
ontotheology 7-8, 23, 59, 6 1 , 66,
94, 1 20
Parmenides 1 3
phenomenol ogy 1 1 -1 2, 14, 1 5,
1 7-1 8, 2 1 , 3 1 -2, 37, 39,
41 -, 64, 68, 7 1 , 74, 82, 84,
97, 98, 1 0 1 , 1 07, 1 08, 1 1 9,
1 20, 1 26, 1 32n43, 1 3 3n59,
1 33n73, 1 38n1 67, 1 42n28 1 ,
I 44n334
philosophy 1 , 5-7, 9, 1 3, 1 4, 1 5,
1 6, 23, 25, 26, 29, 32, 38-9,
43, 45, 46, 6 1 , 62, 65, 78,
89-90, 95, 99, 1 0 1 , 1 05, 1 07,
1 1 6-24, 1 26
physis 7, 61 , 85, 90-1 , 1 00
Plato 4, 7, 9, 23, 24, 46, 59, 62,
74, 95, 1 1 8, 1 1 9, 1 23-4,
1 44n326, 1 47
156
poetry 54, 68, 94, 1 06, 1 1 0, 1 1 4,
1 26
postmodernism 1 26
Quine, W v O. 77-8, 1 40n21 2
Sartre, Jean-Paul 56, 57-8, 60,
62-70, 1 04, 1 26, 1 30n5,
1 3 1 n30, 1 32n35
science 1 2-1 3, 1 6, 24, 27, 36, 5 1 ,
71 -82, 85, 86, 91 -3, 1 04, 1 09,
1 1 6-1 9, 1 20, 1 22, 1 24,
INDE
1 30-1 n6, 1 32n43, 1 39n1 94,
1 40n207, 1 40n21 1 , 1 41 n235
Seuss, Dr. 1 06
Socrates 74, 83, 89-90
space 66, 768, 97, 1 02-6, 1 1 3,
1 21 , 1 40n207, 1 42n28 1
Spinoza 1 3
Stevens, Wallace 1 42n277
tautology 5 1 , 1 1 3
technology 2, 82-97, 1 47
Thales 1 1 7, 1 24
thinking 1 , 5, 9-1 0, 1 6, 30, 39, 40,
60, 645, 70, 89, 9 1 , 1 05-6,
1 1 6, 1 1 8-25, 1 32n46, 1 33n53
truth 2, 25-39, 45-55, 59-6 1 , 63,
65, 68, 82, 83, 86, 90, 1 07-8,
1 1 0, 1 21 , 1 34n93, 1 35nI 1 3,
1 36nI 1 8, 1 36nI 21 , 1 36n1 32,
1 37n1 49, 1 39-0n205,
1 41 n257
van Gogh, Vincent 44-5, 47-50,
52, 55, 1 35n l 1 3
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 41 , 64,
1 32n45, 1 35nl l l , 1 38n1 67,
1 38nI 78, 143n301
wonder 1 0, 23, 24, 49-50, 91 , 96,
1 1 4, 1 23-
world or worldhood 1 9-22,
42-3, 48-52, 55-6, 70, 75, 92,
1 00, 1 02-3, 1 1 41 5, 1 3 1 n1 8,
1 32n43, 1 32n45, 1 35-6nI 1 6,
1 36n1 21 , 1 38nI 78, 1 39nI 99,
1 42n268, 1 42n284
Zen 38
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. even in the script itself. The burden of thought is swallowed up in the w ritten s cript unless the writing is cap ab le of remaining. with which we are here s ol e l y concern ed. (WCT 49) . a way. d emand s dwelling nea re s t . a progress of thinking. cont i nua ll y on what appears to to us (BW 276) .The most d ifficult learn in g is to come to know actual ly and to the very fo un datio n s what we al ready be know. To learn means to ma ke everything we do answer to whatever essentials address us. Such learning. (WCT 14) . We are here attempting to learn th inking We are all o n the way together and are not rep roving ea ch other.

who question .For my students.

Sarah Campbell and Tom Crick. I want to thank my children Sophia. to Charles Guignon for useful suggestions. whose support never falter s . My grati tude goes to Bill Blattner who helped the manuscript see the ligh t of day. Ben and Julia .for their patience and good humour in letting me spend time on this manuscript. Jason 'Rush' Wray and Meg Shutts. . My T. The editors at Continuum. Yvonne. A. And my most heart­ felt thanks go to my wife. easing all difficulties and responding to inquiries with astonishing speed. have been a pleasure to work with. and to Colin Anderson fo r clarifying issues concerning Greek translation.'s in particular.ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I want to thank my 'Later Heidegger' classes of 2004 and 2006 at Hiram College for their service as guinea pigs for these commentaries. gave me a lot of feedback.

4 vols. (volume denoted by Roman numeral) Of the Beaten Track f On Time and Being On the Way to Language Parmenides Phenomenological Interpretations of Aristotle Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' Plato 's 'Sophist' Poetry. 5th edn. Language. Thought ix .. enlarged Mind fulness The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic Nietzsche.LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AM BP BQ BT BW CP DT EF EGT EHP ET FS HCT HPS ID 1M IPR KPM M MFL N OBT OTB OW L P PIA PIK PIS PLT Aristotle's 'Metaphysics e 1-3' The Basic Problems of Phenomenology Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected 'Problems' of 'Logic' Being and Time (cited by Englis h/German pagination) Basic Writings (only ci ted by BW when following refer­ ences to other books) Contributions to Philosophy (cited by paragrap h/page number) Discourse on Thinking The Essence of Human Freedom: An Introduction to Philosophy Early Greek Thinking Elucidations of HOlder/in's Poetry The Essence of Truth Four Seminars History of the Concept of Time Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit Identity and Dif erence f An Introduction to Metaphysics Introduction to Phenomenological Research Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics.

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS PM PR Pathmarks The Principle of Reason PT The Piety of Thinking The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays QT STF Schelling's Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom Supplements: From the Earliest Essays to 'Being and S up Time ' and Beyond TB On Time and Being TDP Towards the Definition of Philosophy WeT What Is Called Thinking? WIP What Is Philosophy? What Is a Thing? WT Z Zollikon Seminars: Protocols .Letters .Conversations .

I want students to learn to read these dark. This lack is due in part to their obscurity. there are surprisingly few guides to these works. slow patient repeated readings repay one's efforts generously. Heidegger rarely spent much time on their biographies. My solution to this problem is to write commentaries for the essays collected in the anthology. Basic Writings. with further read­ ings yielding insights indefinitely. and then the essay again.CHAPTER 1 CONTEXT Heidegger's later work attempts to think in the absence of some very basic assumptions that have long ruled philosophy and common sense.2 If you read the original essay carefully. then my commentary. see BW ix). especially in comparison with the number of commentaries on Being and Time. using this guide as a ladder to be thrown away once climbed. it does a terrific job of providing important and representative essays from across his career. making it the most frequently used text for classes in English on later Heidegger. Despite their difficulty and importance. He once began a course on Aristotle by noting simply that. Wrestling with Heidegger's writings has been the most exciting intellectual adventure of my professional Hfe. you should find it readable. Throughout his many lectures on great philosophers. 'Aristotle was . but also to the absence of any magnum opus that can represent this phase of his career the way Being and Time stands for the early period. I suspect. it will have achieved its purpose. Although Heidegger's writings may appear impenetrable at first. which is one of the reasons these writings can be so disorienting. My goal throughout has been to illuminate each essay's structure. I Although not assembled by Heidegger himself (he did make suggestions. magnificent essays for themselves. giving readers a roadmap to enable them to find their own way through rather than simply presenting Heidegger's ideas in more straightforward prose. and if this commentary helps others embark on the journey.

figures. and motifs surface virtually every decade of his career. Heidegger assumed the chair of philosophy at the University of Freiburg previously held by his teacher Edmund Husser\.3 and then turned to his thought. Of course. but preferred giving unofficial seminars and public talks. especially the way they set the course for Western thought's understanding of truth. but he did not quit nor did he ever seriously address his participation . in which his former friend Karl Jaspers played a significant role. Notoriously. but neither will I delve into much detail about his life. He lived a long and productive life. In the years after Being and Time was published. Heidegger's style certainly changed. worked. After Being and Time ( 1 927) became a sensation. He was forbidden from teaching as part of the general post-war denazification. new topics. but by the end of the decade he came to focus on Nietzsche as the philosopher who brought metaphysics to its end . There is some evidence that he grew disenchanted with the party (and vice versa). he joined the Nazi Party and became rector of Freiburg University in 1933. Technology and the enigmatic 'fourfold' are prominent topics of these last decades. to teaching at a university.people disagree about the exact date) is considered later Heidegger. Both the nature and the extent of the Kehre are still matters of considerable debate. as well as writing essays. The first point that a guide to Heidegger's later writings must address is what it means to call these essays 'later'. He was allowed to resume teaching in 1 949. only to resign the position less than a year later. Heidegger's writings during the 1 930's center on the topic of truth. Being and Time and several contemporary lecture courses are generally classified as early Heidegger. with many scholars arguing for more of a continuous development than a revolution . it is 2 . the later work is hardly a static system.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS born. and died' . My comments will not be quite so brief. far better accounts than I can give are readily available (see 'Notes for Further Reading' at the end of this book for suggestions). whereas everything written after the mid-thirties (or a bit earlier . as innovative as Being and Time is. splitting his career into two phases. he spends a lot of time on the ancient Greeks. Heidegger's thinking and writing style underwent a profound change which he called the 'Kehre' or turning. leaving over 100 volumes in his collected writings (the Gesamtausgabe).

in the later work history comes to pervade everything . I will briefly discuss two of the most important changes. but these features themselves appeared to be ahistorical attributes characterizing all Dasein regardless of 3 .existentialia') in Being and Time. and Dilthey). but it certainly overturns one of the basic tenets of Being and Time. the Pre-Socratic fragments that fascinated Heidegger so. forms the beginning point for all further study. Precisely what this means will be the topic of many of the essays in this book. 5 His later work abandons fundamental ontology by starting with Being rather than with us. while Heidegger studies the nature of our awareness in general because this determines what we can be aware of. this strategy resembles Kant's in his first Critique:4 Kant examines our transcendental mental facul­ ties in order to grasp the structure of phenomena since they are the source of phenomenal order. but Heidegger comes to believe that it remained trapped within the subject-centered tradition (or at least that it lent itself too easily to this interpretation) . Where Being and Time possesses a tightly structured system. As Heidegger acknowledges. Being 'sends' or ' gives ' us our contem­ porary way of understanding. First. This means that an analysis of our way of Being. HusserI. Kierkegaard. especially for the study of Being . called Dasein's existence. almost a Kantian architec­ tonic. while the later work bears little resemblance to anything else in the canon. He organized Being and Time around a 'funda­ mental ontology' by means of an 'existential analysis of Dasein' (55) . Knowledgeable readers can get their bearings on the earIy work by relating it to its influences (primarily Kant. the later essays often appear to be shapeless meanderings of poetic or mystical musings.CONTEXT far more conventional than what follows. In the book's jargon. except perhaps. 'Historicity' formed one of D asein 's essential traits (. Although a number of important continuities persist across the two phases. the differences are significant enough to make the Kehre a genuine break in my opinion. the role humans play in Heid egger's thought changes substantially. Instead of our mode of existence shaping experience (and thus serving as its foundation). Being and Time tries to overcome traditional conceptions of subjectivity. Second. the analysis of existence forms the foundation for ontology. the turn that was supposed to occur in the never published Third Division of Part One of Being and Time.

HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS where or when they lived. so my Guide does so as well . because that book already has so many commentaries that anyone looking for guid­ ance can easily find it elsewhere. while at other times he describes the history of Being as one long decline from its glorious beginning in ancient Greece. the contexts in which these themes are placed and the nuances teased out of them have enough diversity to assuage any sense of repetitive­ ness. This project resembles Hegel's study of the various historical moments of consciousness more than Kant's examination of the mind's single timeless configuration. these are meant to aid research and can be safely ignored by those just trying to make sense of the writings. though without Hegel's idea that his­ tory is heading towards a goal. any 'escape' from the metaphysical oblivion of Being that has reigned since Plato and Aristotle requires a radically discontinuous leap to an entirely new way of thinking rather than Hegel's organic development of an internal potential. Hopefully. I omit the Introduction to Being and Time.7 Time and space constraints kept me from providing commentaries for all the essays in Basic Writings. 4 . and Heidegger spends a great deal of time reconstructing these earlier under­ standings of Being from representative metaphysical texts. Heidegger insists on returning to the same ground repeatedly to achieve deeper insight into it rather than amassing a pile of conclusions. Most of the footnotes refer to other places in Heidegger's vast oeuvre where he discusses the same topic. I have tried to make this commentary both accessible to those new to these writings and useful to more advanced readers. In either case. At times Heidegger considers the epochal understandings incommensurable and so incapable of comparison. The later work argues that both man6 and reality change profoundly throughout history. The essays in Basic Writings repeatedly visit a number of themes. because it is an excerpt which really needs its full context for proper understanding. Each histori­ cal era has its own way of understanding Being. and the selection from What Calls/or Thinking?.

all great philosophers are really dealing with this topic. but precisely because it is so near and ubiquitous. just in very different ways. but rather live within a non-thematic knowing-how to deal with various sorts of things which underlies any thematic conceptual thinking. we are guided by an implicit sense of what it is. We do not consciously con sult a lis t of facts in o rder to decide what to do. Every time we interact with anything in any way. so simple and obvious? Whenever we encounter something. or the government.CHAPTER 2 OVERVIEW OF THEMES: WHAT IS BEING? 'For there is Being. Al l co mport men t tow ard b eings carries within it an under­ standing of the manner and constitution of the being of the beings in question. He believes that despite their apparent diversity. we are constantly employing or. Investigating it is difficult not because it is complex or abstract. of course. or a painting. we experience it as a particul ar kind of thing which determines how we deal with it. or an idea. I Although this inquiry may look like a highly abstruse and abstract subject.3 The ki n ds of actions it makes sense to do to a rock are very different from what is appropriate to d o w ith a parent.' The primal mystery f all thinking is or concealed in this phrase. better. We are constantly using a tacit under­ standing of Being in all of our activities. Heidegger considers it 'the most basic and at the same time most concrete question' (50). We understand something like the being 5 . Heidegger asks a single question over and over again: the question of Being. (238) Throughout his long career. Since we are always interacting with beings in some way or another. enacting our understanding of Being: 'Being is the ether in which man breathes' (SFT 98).

'present -at-hand ' objects we study theo retical ly. in order to set about using a certain tool . .7 Now. o ur awareness) in new d istinctive terms instead of concepts t aken from other ways of Being. the Being of these beings. . such as to be used. '8 Ways of Be-ing are not themselves being s. . Heid egger sometimes calls them a the a priori . 6 Being and Time examines three ways to be which appear t o be common t o all cultures and historical per i o d s : 'ready-to-hand' equi pm en t we use in our everyday ac tivities. Such being is not itself a being . i.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS of beings.although at first and to begin with we do not pay attention to such understanding and do not even know that we understand these sorts of things . A lot of Heid egger 's writings are devoted to d redging up and describing these tacit ways of Be-ing that we have al ways known bu t never thought abou t .e. which leads to another motto: 'Being is always form of 6 . The main goal of the book as we have it is to lay o ut the way of Being belonging to Dasein (Hei d egger 's early term for us or. and exist ence which is Dasein's or our way of Being. It is only once we have grasped the general way a particular entity is. but we neither grasp nor know that we understand this being in a preconceptual way or even that it is this under­ standing that primarily enables a ll our comportment to beings. and our understanding of them occurs in appropriately interacting with them. yielding what Heidegge r calls the onto­ logical difference: 'a bei ng is always characterized by a specific constitution of being . although neither can they exist apart from bei ngs.4 These broad 'categories' are the ways these entities are. we can see r ight away that a way to be is fundamentally different from a b eing.s Be cause familiarity with these modes of B eing is logically prior to interacting with beings. as philosophers have always done. . that our interactions with it can be more specifically attuned to it . " We understand such thin gs . although we constan tly exist in it. more specifically. We must already understand ahead of time something like tool and tool-character.

and in the modern period to be was to be a substance. rather. Thus. Philosophers have traditionally viewed Being as the ground of all other beings. questions about correctness can only take place within a specific understanding.l o He usually divides the history of Being into three epochs: the ancient Greeks defined it as physis. his later thought assigns individual understandings of Being to each era. commits a fundamental category mis­ take that Heidegger calls onto theology since it confuses the Be-ing of beings (ontology) with the Greatest Being (theology). during the Middle Ages all beings were creations of God. what makes anything be regardless of the diversity of particular entities. 1 1 Heidegger generally regards these epochal understandings as incommensurable ( as in Thomas Kuhn's history of science). which came to mean either being a subject or an object posited or represented by a subject. You cannot turn the corner in a busy city and suddenly run into readiness-to-hand. and comprehensive for the period they govern. even the 'beingest' being such as God or a Platonic Form.OVERVIEW OF THEMES the Being of a being' (50). making it impos­ sible to compare different ones for accuracy or to organize them into a progressive journey towards tru t h (though he does some­ times trace a continuous decline). 12 Metaphysics looks beyond individual beings to the common traits that define the Being of these being s. but it does not ask where these meanings of Being come from or why they are the way they are. sifting through individual details to find their over-arching 'beingness' or the Being of beings. A period's understanding of Being determines what it means to be at that time. The discipline of metaphysics looks beyond the variety of individual beings to examine 'the totality of beings as such with an eye to their most universal traits'. how things are rather than a thing.9 It inspects beings qua beings. you encounter tools which behave in a ready-to-hand manner. Being is more a verb or an adverb than a noun. But thinking of Being as a particular being. making it the highest being or the one that brings everything else into existence. not across epochs. 1 3 These meaning s cannot be explained by referring 7 . Whereas his early work appears to take the three contemporary ways of Being as permanent universal features for all Dasein. which rules all other issues. Much of this work consists in close readings of canonical metaphysical texts in order to piece together previous ways of Being.

in another sense. there can be no meta-epochal explanation of how or why these understandings themselves occur. This is the move from beingness to what Heidegger calls variously Seyn (translated as Be-ing or Beying). 'Metaphysics inquires into being in regard to how it determines beings as beings. such as that a God crafts them. the question highlights the fact that these understandings occur (that they are 'sent' or 'given' to us) as an inexplicable event which he sometimes calls Ereignis (variously translated as the event of appropriation. Now. however. or enownment) Every time such an event happens. even transcendent ones."4 Rather than starting from beings and asking what grounds or determines them. I S ­ . the question of being is entirely other. 8 . leads to either an infinite regress or an arbitrary halt at something unexplained. But this just pushes the question back a step leading us to ask why the Forms or God are such that they made everything this way.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS to beings since they determine how we experience and under­ stand these beings. pursuing this examination. which disrupts our usu al way of unreflectively taking the present way of understanding Being for granted . closes off more challenging questions. our understanding becomes one option out of many. Our normal absorbed use of beings kee p s us f rom rising to the abstract m etaphysical analysis of our contemporary beingness. Rather. Stepping back from this level to examine the various historical forms of beingness allows us to realize how profoundly they differ. Since explanations only make sense within a particu l ar understanding of Being. Metaphysicians often resort to ontotheological expla nations: things are this way because they participate in the Forms or because God made them this way. it ushers in a new epoch by letting beings appear in a pro found ly new way. Instead of being the only reasonable way of coming to grips with the world. Being itself. . . it inquires into being as being. We have to be careful here because Heidegger is not looking for an explanation of the various forms of beingness. propriation. It does not inquire into being insofar as it determi n es beings as beings. Beings always underdetermine what we make of them. Explaining beings in terms of other beings. the truth of Being or Being as Being. this investigation starts from the multiple historical understandings of Being and asks about their source in Being itself.

J7 we do know th at the thinking to come must be deeply historical. ignoring the simple fact that they present themselves to us at all. It acknowledges its dependence on Being for how it thinks and. Viewing the present form of beingness as one possibility among many instead of the self-evident and inevita­ ble Way Things Are. This built-in neglect is what Heidegger means when he says that Being withdraws or conceals itself in the very act of unconceal­ ing beings. during which 'one can no longer be struck by the miracle of beings: that they are' (BQ 169). one more radical than the three which have occurred so far. Ultimately. Thus. The Greeks initiated the first beginning by going beyond merely busying themselves with beings to ask what they are in general. to their essential way of presenting themselves (beingness). at most. 9 . being at best in a transitional state between metaphysics and post-metaphysical t h in king himself.IS What we find intelligible and persuasive is conditioned by our particular understanding. However. since this has changed profoundly in the past. fixed answer to philosophical questions can no longer be a goal for finite dependent creatures like us. this is a form of becoming aware of our pre­ suppositions. although we must think in tune with our present understanding. and Nietzsche did before him. it must remain open to future transformations. Heidegger wants to bring meta­ phy sics to a close. lets us reflect on the wondrous fact that we have an understanding of Being at all. but now with the acknowledgment that the foundations our thought rests upon can never enjoy absolute justification. our understanding of Being is a groundless g round. In a particu­ larly arresting phrase. This investigation has gone on for millennia. we can never forget that it remains just one possibility among many.OVERVIEW OF THEMES We usually pay attention to the beings that are present or. Hegel. the idea of a final. Although he cannot describe post-metaphysical thinking in any detail. Plato and Aristotle turned this inquiry into metaphysics or philosophy by focusing on beingness and grounding beings in a higher being. 16 Heidegger is trying to bring us to recollect Being. He wants to help instigate a new epochal shift. As Kant. sometimes called the other beginning. thus over­ coming this long oblivion or forgetfulness of Being. perhaps the defining philosophical endeavour.

The acknowl­ edgment of beings as beings. . On the contrary. however. is only sustained in questioning what beings as such are. before beings as beings . 20 10 . . thinking remains endlessly grateful for the gift we have been given. We should become explicitly aware of our open­ ness to beings and celebrate it with wonder. ..19 Although we are always in 'the clearing' in that we are always open to beings. we rarely think about it. Wonder displaces us before everything in everything .in other words. that beings are what they are. .HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS Finally. . this question is an ever purer adherence to beings in their unusual­ ness. . i. This is the most simple and is the greatest .that it is and is what it is . in their unconcealedness. Heidegger wants us to explicitly acknowledge it in thankful thinking. This question is not a desire for explanation or for the elimination of the most unusual . which means coming to dwell where we have always already been . in their pure emergence.e. in primordial terms.

Heidegger immediately disabuses the reader of any 'expecta­ tions of a discussion about metaphysics' (93).e. this essay examines metaphysics.l In order to get our bearings on a question as profoundly mysterious as 'what is 11 . elaborating it. The rest of the essay neatly divides into three sections with titles reflecting these phases. We must find and pursue an exemplary metaphysical question to see what it shows us about the subject in general. i. echoing Being and Time 's argument for fundamental ontology. The title seems to promise a Second-level inquiry into Being.CHAPTER 3 READING THE TEXT a. or study­ ing how others do it. As difficult as he is. and then 'answering it' (93). . a meta-metaphysics if you will (see M 333): instead of asking the question of Being directly. we examine the activity in question by actually engaging in it rather than just talking about it. much less how to answer it (44). I. The method of phenomenology is to examine how phenomena show themselves (81). In this case. This short preliminary section ends by outlining the three phases of the investigation: 'the unfolding of a metaphysical inquiry'. or dictating how it ought to be done according to presupposed notions. so we should find a way to let the subject matter 'introduce itself' (93). What Is Metaphysics? Asking about metaphysics represents an indirect approach to Heidegger's constant question. 'what is Being?' Since we do not know how to ask this question. TH E UNFOLDING OF A METAPHYSICAL INQUIRY The first section of the essay opens by claiming that metaphysi­ cal in quiries put the questioner into question. Heidegger often helps rea ders with orienting 'sign-posts' like this. the study of bei ngs consid­ ered simply as beings in Aristotle 's definition. we will inquire into t he inqu iry itself.

I n order t o understand a metaphysical question we must understand the questioner. suspending all previously held views to let beings 'show what they are and how they are' (95) . involves precisely what is being excluded .. i.2 The prominent feature of such a group is that they are scientific in the sense of the German word ' Wissenschaftlich'. science must employ it. i . 3 Here he speaks in almost messianic terms of the sciences' potential were they true to 'their most proper intention' (94). Science's proper goal is to study 'beings themselves . our questioning can only take place ' from the essential position of the existence [Dasein] t hat questions' (94). No matter what the topic. this talk starts from the particular place and time Heidegger finds himself in . But Heidegger points out that in order to reject nothingness. Heidegger's description of science here sounds startlingly like his conception of phe­ nomenology in that both study beings impartially.e. as in ' nothing but beings are studied'. Our way of Being determines what kinds of thoughts we can have and what kinds of beings we can investigate.and nothing besides' (95). Excluding 'the nothing' from its subject matter. called 'Dasein' in Heidegger's early works. science . now our specific historical situ­ ation plays a role. 12 . This resemblance is odd since he usually depicts science as doing just the opposite.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS Being'. so we can start getting a sense of what an understanding of Being must be like from how we understand in general. understanding this scientific ques­ tion requires an investigation of science. . Although this strategy resembles Being and Time's fundamen­ tal onto l ogy there is an important di ffere nce Whereas the e a rly work tried to uncover the permanent and universal features of all Dasein's understanding (59). whose primary feature has just been revealed as being scientific. Instead of seeking ahistorical constants beneath varying historic a l conditions. we should begin by studying the being who is asking it. d i scipline d study conceived more broadly than the English word 'science ' .addressing the faculty of a university in the early part of the twentieth century.e. Science is only concerned with real things. . fil te ring experi­ ence through rigid preconceptions. not wi th imaginary beings or daydreams and certainly not with nothingness. universities do not fund Departments of Nihology. This means that in defining itself. they are engaged in rigorous.

say. However. which suggests that all discussion of the noth­ ing is doomed to nonsense (97).s This highly condensed argument stands in need of consider­ ably more clarification and justificati o n . but emerge naturally when we rigorous ly think through our everyday activities. definitions are actually woven out of ne g ations because identifying som ething as. not a kitchen. we immediately run into three objections that threaten to stop the inquiry before it even gets started. this discussion has yielded the metaphysical question we were seeking . Parmenides considers this a reductio ad absurdum of the very possibility of di stinctions : they require ne gati on which incoherently presupposes that nothingness is real . THE ELABORATION OF THE QUESTION In any case. clearly 13 . hence the nothing must ' exist ' in some sense. Grammar: The very structure of the question 'what is the nothing' treats it as a b eing . This is significant because we can only use a word properly if we have some understanding of what we are spe aking about. in this case scholarship. etc . In its self-definition as dealing only with beings. one thing we know is that it certainly is not a being.'how is it with the nothing ' (96) which the second section of the essay will now pursue. 6 He may also be trying to show that supposedly abstract and esoteric philosophical questions are not artificial impositions from a spe­ cialized discipline. science deals with the nothin g . This line of thoug ht. II. forcing answers to assert that it is something or other (97).WHAT IS METAPHYSICS 'has recourse to what it rejects' (96). a dog simul­ taneously determines it as not a cat .4 thus science's claim to 'know nothing of the nothing' (96) undermines that very denial . Although they appear entirely positive. Heidegger reverses this argument: distinctions are forms of negation which is grounded on the nothing. not a rainbow. But whatever we end up finding out about the nothing. This argument follows thinkers like Parmenides and Spinoza in c laiming that definitions necessarily involve negation. The decision to open with this excursion into science might be due to his audience being maee up of researchers rather than to its be ing the most natural way to raise the issue Heidegger wants to address.

we must give this one up. must name a thing. that the intellect is the means. imagine trying to think of every­ thing that is. 7 Intentionality: According to the phenomenological notion of intentionality. As in the Introduction to Being and Time (42-44) . then thinking of the nothing appears impossible (97). But if in fact our minds are necessarily directed to beings. s I cannot keep all of my CDs in my head at once. the whole discussion is simply meaningless. but this only places the nothing beyond inquiry entirely if reason is our sole means to investigate matters. And now we can start to appreciate the significance of the earlier claim that metaphysical q uest ions place the questioner in question : in order to find out if we can answer this metaphysical que stion about the nothing we must examine our ability to answer questions in general . . consciousness is always consciousness of something. then these three objec­ tions do render the endeavor futile. introduced by Brentano and developed by Husser!. to conceive the nothing' (97) . If our access to reality is entirely. 14 . he naively assumes. forms the ba s i s of Rudolf Carnap's famous attack. The 'hermeneutic circle' gives us a preliminary reason to dis­ trust this conclusion: our very ability to talk about the nothing. All of our thoughts and attitudes must be about something. as the vast majority of philosophers have believed. We cannot think our way to the nothing so. or even principally. According to Carnap.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS 2 3 grasped by Heidegger. These objections show that reason is incapable of reaching the nothing. Heidegger is j u st ex ploiting a ling u istic loophole by treating the logical operation of negation as a noun which. cognitive. Finitude : The preliminary definition of the nothing as 'the negation of the totality of beings' (97) requires us first to grasp the totality of beings in order then to negate them. if rational analysis is our only reliable way to pursue inquiries. Since both the question and any answers to it brea k the rules of proper usage. These three objections are only valid 'assuming that in this question "logic" is of supreme importance. Heidegger is pointing out obstacles to his project only to show that they are based on presuppositions he rejects. and thought the way. a task far beyond our limited intellects.

awkwa rd ly translated as 'the founding mode of attunement' ( 1 00).WHAT IS METAPHYSICS even in rejecting it. One of Being and Time's main conclusions is that we relate . " tion enjoys no primacy. If we are in a bad mood. This arrangement undermines 'the reigning and never-challenged doctrine of "logic"'. ' to beings in all sorts of ways. demonstrates some grasp of it. '''logic'' and "the log ical a re s imply not the ways to define thinking w itho ut further ado. as if nothing else were possible' (1M 127).'9 Our familiarity with the subject of our inquiry rests on a prio r 'encounter' with it. Rather. as in t his case. If we could find and reactivate this experi­ ence. 10 This 15 . certain events will depress us whereas the same events commitment to . then it must be given beforehand. so we must examine Dasein. he is not rejecting ration alit y or logic as genuine and impo rt ant modes of access to beings. We must be able to encounter it. suggest­ ing a met apho ric al relatio nsh ip between the two.28 footnote). Heidegger calls the aspect of our awareness that he will focus on he re 'die Befindlichkeit der Stimmung'. Heidegger sees our access or openness to the world as multi-faceted. we could study t he nothing firsthand.our way of being aware of or open to beings­ for an alternate source of experience. He writes a few years later. logic proscribes an exp erience that we actu ally have (a claim that has only been intimated at th i s poin t.11 We have to be care� ful not to caricature Heidegger. We have already established that it could not have come from reason. ' finding ourselves attuned' (PM 87). Krell later amended his translation to the somewhat more natural-sounding. otherwise we would not know what it is we were rejecti ng 'If the nothing itself is to be questioned as we have been ques tioning it. Stimmung means mood as well as the tuni ng of a musical instrument (see J. not demonstrated). all of which present legitimate aspects of reality. experi­ ence trumps logic. R eject ing philos ophy s traditional focus on theoretical know­ ledge. among which theoretical observa­ view is rooted in phenomenology's take experience as it is give n rather than sifting its real objective aspects out from the subjective or illusory ones according to a presupposed criter ion If. he is insisting th at our relation to reality possesses other dimen sio ns which have been severely neglected or even demonized t hro ugh o u t the history of p hi losophy as SUbjective d istor tio ns which pre sen t only obstacles to our quest to under� stand reality.

although in such a way that thinking and willing belong together with it. Moods do not compromise thinking's proper functioning as an external source of corruption. The term emphasizes our passivity in that we do not decide to be in a particular mood but simply find that we are so inclined.1 2 it affects which details we tune into or tune out and how we interpret them. . Heidegger argues that our mood 'determines us through and through'. In order now to answer our metaphysical question. 2 Logic denies reason's ability to inquire into either the noth­ ing or beings as a whole. 16 .. Science claims to focus exclusively on beings. ' Wie Befinden Sie sichT Th is phrase functions like 'how are you doing' but its literal translation would be 'how do you find yourself'. We have arrived at an important juncture in the essay so let's pause and review. . rather. 4 Moods constitute an essential aspect. . Heidegger coins the noun 'Befindlichkeit' from the German expression. even 'the basic occur­ rence' of Dasein or our ability to question and understand ( 1 00) . Heidegger views our grasp of the world as a holistic blend . So far we have seen that: . Since reason cannot produce this experience (#2).HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS can be laughed off in a better mood. disrupting philosophy's exclusive reliance on reason. but are deeply intertwined with thinking. we must reactivate our encounter with the nothing (#3) to give us an experience of it which will guide our analysis. . '13 Whereas philosophers have traditionally considered reason and emotions distinct faculties and sought to preserve the purity of the former from contamina­ tion by the latter. 'man is not a rational creature who in addition to thinking and willing is equipped with feelings. rejecting the nothing. the state of feeling is original . we should look to a mood to supply the needed data (#4). similarly. As Heidegger states some years later. 3 We must have had some encounter with the nothing in order to be able to ask about or reject it. undermining # 1 . so 'Befindlichkeit' means some­ thing like finding oneself in a particular state or frame of mind. the same note that sounds sad when the instrument is tuned to a minor key can sound cheerful in a major key.

We cannot rationally comprehend beings as a whole. If the nothing resulted from our negation of the whole of beings. Heidegger takes the fight into reason's inner sanctuary and sacred ground: metaphysics. blanched with the anemic pallor of the obvious' (98). I S Heidegger now provides brief phenomenological descriptions of three fundamental moods which supply an encounter with the nothing: namely. as in Being and Time (§40). but a Befindlichkeit of this is com� monplace. this would show that rea� son does not deserve its long�held status as the only legitimate way to know reality. and anxiety. the experience of boredom leads Heidegger to abandon this definition ( 1 00). Heidegger now solves this problem by dis­ tinguishing 'between comprehending the whole of beings in themselves and finding oneself in the midst of beings as a whole. . boredom. to Kierkegaard's emphasis on paradoxical faith and passion in decision-making. to Nietzsche's focus on the body and will. If a mood can provide access to phenomena relevant to an investigation that reason cannot. italics added). he starts with love and boredom as pre­ senting beings as a whole for us to negate. notice that this definition was introduced as elucidating 'a word we rattle off every day . 14 This move represents the culmination of the progressive demotion of reason throughout the nineteenth century. And in fact. from Kant's proscribing its ability to know reality in-itself and prioritization of the practical. Instead of negating beings as a whole. Still guided by the initial definition of the nothing as the negation of the totality of beings. Love is passed over very quickly. 1 6 Acquiring this direct experience represents another turning point in the essay since we now have the evidence needed to 17 . The former is impossible in principle. we encounter the nothing by grasping the totality of beings and then negating it. However. while boredom receives more attention and. Heidegger finds the 'correspondingly original mood' that directly 'reveals the noth� ing' in anxiety.WHAT IS METAPHYSICS According to the initial definition of the nothing as the negation of all beings (98). The latter happens all the time in our existence' (99. it would be the product of the mind's activity. anxiety enjoys a lengthy discussion. a grasp that proved beyond reason's ability. love. a description that hardly inspires confidence. . We would be able to bring it about voluntarily rather than passively finding ourselves in it as a Befindlichkeit.

games do not entice us to play. In particular. reinforcing the superiority of phenomenological descriptions over logical argumentation. Heidegger describes it like 18 . I I I . colorless. in fact. Heidegger admits. Entertainments usually draw us in but nOw they repel our attempts to lose ourselves in them. They do not vanish. experience reveals that boredoml 7 and anxiety present the two mixed together. 1 0 I ). The TV sits there but whatever the programs. the experience undermines the stark contrast between beings as a whole and the nothing that logic had demanded. Nothing attracts us: books and magazines do not call out to be read.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS answer Our metaphysical question ( 1 0 1 ) . they are oppressively present. When we are profoundly bored. anxiety teaches us that being and nothingness intermingle. all the things we usually enjoy seem bland. and now the final section of the essay will discover the true nature of the nothing and how it relates to Dasein. What does this "at one with" mean?' ( 1 02). This examination ends up refuting many of the conclusions reached so far. In these moods. not bored by a partic­ ular thing like a book or movie (which Heidegger would call 'on tic' boredom) but just plain bored. Although we were expecting to examine either beings as a whole or the nothing separately. l 9 And this is how boredom imparts a sense of beings as a whole: we get a sense of all things in that none of them can divert us while we are stuck in this 'muming fog' of 'remarkable indiffer­ ence' (99) . of course. the desires and projects that nor­ mally keep us interestedl 8 in the world find no purchase. we encounter beings as a whole but modified by the nothing. The signifi­ cance of this claim. Clearing up this matter will require an answer to the metaphysical question that ends both the first and second sections of the essay. is far from obvious: 'in anxiety the nothing is encountered at One with beings as a whole. uninviting. In a later conversation. there is really nothing on. TH E RESPONSE TO THE QU ESTIO N The first section of the essay uncovered an exemplary metaphys­ ical question ('how is it with the nothing?'). that is. but there is no one we want to talk to. 'how is it with the nothing?' (96. In place of this sharp division. the second covered the right way to conduct the inquiry (via careful examination of a direct experience of the nothing in anxiety). We see the phone.

has a peculiar 'indeterminateness'. i.22 We can still see and think about them but they no longer matter to us. Let's contrast this state with our usual. Anxiety.23 A competent driver pays little attention to her car as long as it is functioning smoothly. some helpful. Moreover. My project lays out the field of significance or worldhood in which are embed­ ded all relevant things and actions. Here the threat is localized. ultimately. and many neutral. That means that noth­ ing whatsoever is of interest to oneself' (Z 208). . Following Kierkegaard. 'all things and we ourselves sink into indiffer­ ence'.. one is not only bored because of a definite thing. This state retains differentiations among beings: some are frightening. understandable. we experi­ ence the nothing as a modification of everything that Heidegger calls 'nihilation'.e. and offers at least possible escape. other objects are not frightening and can even be attrac­ tive. but one is bored in general. which is how boredom and anxiety reveal the nothing as intertwined with beings as a whole. These chains are anchored on the roles we use to define ourselves. Heidegger distinguishes anxiety from fear. I take all the actions needed to put on a nice birthday party for my kids because I want to be a good father. what she will do when she gets there.20 We fear specific beings such as a threatening dog. the context of means-ends relations that orient and guide our mundane interactions. non-anxious way of life. . all beings have the same character at these times. Normally we encounter beings within what Being and Time calls 'worldhood'. . we welcome the arrival of the police or a door we can hide behind. she thinks about where she is going. We navigate these chains of use and meaning so effortlessly that most of the time we are not even aware of them. or her mind just wanders. on the other hand. Rather than the complete absence or simple negation of everything.21 It is not a spe­ cific being that makes us anxious but a nebulous sense of discomfort. One of the effects of this modification is that 'in its nihilation the nothing directs us precisely toward beings' (104). which is an ontic mood. As in boredom. When we fear a particular entity.WHAT IS METAPHYSICS this: 'in genuine boredom. 19 . of things not being quite right. We understand gasoline as what we use to fuel the car in order to drive to the store to buy a cake for the birthday party .

'25 In Heid e gger 's usage. especially a nx i ety : 'the world as world is d i sc l o s ed first and foremost by anx i ety.28 Although this experience is horribly suffocating. The world in which I exist has sunk into insignificance. Lighting up beings as a whole.29 H eidegge r discusses two specific less ons we can learn from anx i et y. taken as a whole. 'We usually lose ourselves altogether among beings' ( 1 04) whic h .)1 including these emotional c ancel l atio n s in which 20 . ' 3o Like Hegel. Nothing ' ''says'' anythin g any longer. they stop appealing to us. '26 Although it can strike out of the blue with no p articul a r provocation. activities and their relevant paraphernalia seem worthless bec au se the project s support i ng them no longer matter. lulling us into 'auto-pilot' most of the time. What is the point of going to class or working out or even getting out of bed if I am just going t o die someday? Who will care whether or not I am a good father 1 00 years from now when I along with everyone I know will be dead? In the shadow of this thought. results in ' the oblivious p as s in g of our lives' (BP 264). anxiet y is the creeping sense that our activities are meanin g l e s s so that. 'We can get no hold on things' ( 1 0 1 ) as they lie slack and u n interest i n g. like all fundamental moods it can reveal essential truths if we stay with it rather than fleeing back to 'the comfortable enjoyment of tranquilized bustle' . jolting us awake t o pay attention to what we are doing.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS In Being and Time. But this absorption gets disrupted when the thin g s we are u s ing break down. Localized breakdowns light up the particular chain of usage they belong to. First. it solves the riddle of how bein g s as a whole can b e interlaced with nothingness by present­ ing eve ry t hing (be i ng s as a whole) as not mattering (emotionally nullified) . 2 7 contemplating one's mortality can easily trigger this overwhelm ­ in g sense of insignificance (see HCT 29 1 ) . as in boredom. Heidegger calls this withdrawal from attention 'inconspicuousness'24 and he shows how it character­ izes most of our everyd ay activities. the car c ra she s in on the driver's daydream for instance when it sputters and s ta rt s spewing smoke. howeve r. All s ig ni fi cance has drained away: 'in anxiety bei ngs as a whole become su p e rfl uou s. requires the kind of universal breakdown that occurs in funda­ menta l moods. Heidegger give s negation a mu ch broader meaning than the role a llowed by strict 10gic. Environmental entities no lon g er have any involvement.

32 Now. It is terribly uncomfortable though because we have nothing to do with them. 3 5 we usually flee from anxiety by occupying ourselves with something ( 1 04).33 Seeing something just as a being means viewing a car. discloses these beings in thei r full but heretofore concealed strangeness as what is radically other . but j u st as so mething that is. 'Each one of us is what he pursues and cares for.WHAT IS METAPHYSICS everything appears altered. this integration allows the incon­ spicuousness of equipment to spread to ourselves as well. not as a way to get to the store. Second.and not nothin g . or a source of pollution. which Heidegger c a lls nihilation. 'Dasein is its world existingly. 'sink [ing] into indifference'. the double negation that they are not nothing produces the very powerful positive recognition that they are. for instance. 'repelling' . such a distinctio n would violate phenomenology's commitment to taking reality as i t pres ents itsel f in expe rience. but 21 . we confront naked beings as just being there. as strange as i t mi ght sound. '36 We are who we are by c a rryin g out our projects through the re l e­ vant e q u i pm en t so. This revelation of beings as such has a further consequence. revealing being simply qua being: nihilation 'brings Da-sein for the first time before beings as such'.34 With their usual significance removed. by stripping away the significance that things normally enjoy. In everyday terms.with respect to the nothing. or a monthly expense. This stripping away of all use-mean­ ings. 'receding'. anxiety achieves the goal of metaphysics since Aristotle. ' 37 Norm ally. as if our usual meaningful experience were illu sory or merely subjective. 'beings as such' do not represent true reality. Being and Time defines Dasein as being-in-the-world because (among other things) our identity is made out of our basic proj­ ects (being a good father) which in turn are pursued or enacted by ap p ropri ate ly using chains of tools (driving to the store to get the cake). we understand ourselves and our ex is t ence by way of the activities we pursue and the things we take care of. In the clear night of the nothing of anxiety the origi­ nal openness of beings as such arises: that they are beings . no context to make sense of them or put them in their place. 'oppressive'. or even a car.

38 It is only when we are pre­ vented from diving into the world that we perceive the incredibly simple fact that it m an i fe s ts itself to us or. correlatively. dung beetles and ice skates not so m u c h In anxiety I do not care for my projects. in Aristotle's terms. Fo r what pu rpo se? To be that Da-sein.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS when our goals break down in anxiety. The roles that us ual ly define who I am and what I do no longer feel like they be l o ng to or are me. that we are open to it. or pure D a se i n ­ . and 'in the alt oget her unsettling [unheimlich] experience of this hovering where there is nothing to hold onto. My ro le of being a p ro fessor organizes my world by revealing philosophy books and computers as useful and relevant. Our openness to beings' manifestation represents something like the essence of Dasein: 'revealing [beings] . so s l o ughi ng off our usual identiti es can 'com­ plete the transformation of man into his Da-sein that every instance of anxiety occasions in US' . It is when we cannot lose ourselves among beings that we can find our self in Being. . Just as anxiety strips away their mundane meanings to reveal beings as such.41 ourselves 22 . The ex p e ri en ce of beings as such b roug h t on by the question of the n o th i n g b r i n gs us face to face wi t h our selves as such. This represents the culmination of Heidegger's initial c la im that metaphysical questions place the questioner in q u est i o n (93). letting my world fall slack in insignificance. lieidegger then fol l ows the essentialist or perfectionist line of argument that. This p ec uli a r impoverishmen t which sets in with respect to in this 'it is boring for one' first brings the se([in all its nakedness to itself as the self that is there and has taken ove r the being-there of its Da-sei n . and without these self-defining projects and activities. ' 39 Only beings as such remain.far from being merely incidental . who am I? We 'slip away from ourselves' ( 1 0 1 ). pure Da-sein is all that is s ti l l there.when 'our concernful awaiting finds nothing in terms of which it might be able to understand itself' (BT 393/343) is what allows me to become aware of my aware­ ness. once we find our ergon or essential activity we should pe r fo r m it with arete or excel lence. '40 This s u s pen s i on of content .is also the basic occurrence of our Da-sein. our normal ways of defining ourselves also stop functioning.

the revelation of the nothing . the path is open to ask why it is. anxiety is what allows us to become aware of and consciously embrace our openness which is always there but which we never really think about. The nothing 'compels' this question by revealing beings as superfluous.47 Instead of a request for information. 'authentically'). invoking Plato and Aristotle's agreement that philosophy arises from wonder. Competently employing beings takes them for granted.44 Wonder allows us to view our openness or ability to be aware. Heidegger is not posing it in the standard way. Heidegger states that 'only on the ground of wonder .45 In its many forms. The nothing's nihilation strips beings of their familiar use-mean­ ings so that.'42 This qualification. it is only when they are estranged from their normal meaning that we wonder what and why they are.e. is key. they can strike us and stop our taking them for granted. as strange. as extra­ ordinary. such as its divine cause. this question is meant to alter the 23 . that he explicitly and properly take this Dasein upon himself. this does not help since any cause still presupposes Being by being there as well . He is not seeking a reason or explanation for why reality is there. Although this is a traditional metaphysical question. which we usually take for granted.WHAT IS METAPHYSICS The fundamental project that emerges when all specific projects have been suspended is to 'shoulder once more his very Dasein.43 Wonder is the attitude or attunement appropriate to taking up one's Dasein. that we now take up our being-there 'explic­ itly and properly' (eigentlich.does the "why?" loom before us' ( 1 09). and why not rather nothing?' ( 1 1 0). He calls the particular 'why' ques­ tion that ends the essay 'the basic question of metaphysics which the nothing compels: Why are there beings at all. That kind of answer would commit the mistake he calls 'ontotheology' by explaining Being or the simple thereness of everything by a specific being. . noticing their simple thereness provokes us to question it: why are they there? Once we explicitly think that Being is. the way to be aware of awareness with arete. fittingly. Wonder can be evoked in many ways. the end of 'What Is Metaphysics?' shows how it can both provoke and emerge from metaphysical inquiry. rendering them inconspicuous.46 this represents the later work's heir to authenticity. i.

48 Wondering why t here are beings is one way to become aware that there are beings (which means that there is Being) and that we are aware of them. . like fundamental moods. completing our 'transformation' into Dasein . asking the why question draws our attention to this openness so that we can celebrate it. becom­ i ng aware of this awareness represents the highest actualization of our essence or form (to continue using Aristotelian terms that Heidegger would not approve ofV2 The title asks 'what is metap hy s ics a question which the first paragraph i nforms us. too. Instead. . . as it questions. As he says a few years later. . which shows how putting ourselves in question 'transposes' us into metaphysics. . 'SI Since what it means to be Dasein is to be aware of beings. can only be answered by asking a particular metaphysical question (93). Engaging in the inquiry should result in a transformation. Da-sein. not a fact. 24 . Our Da-sein is our openness and. . The nothing in turn 'compels' the 'basic question of metaphys­ ics' in the essay's final sentence ( 1 1 0) . comes into suspense. '. Thus. 'metaphysics is the basic occurrence of Dasein' ( 1 09). from beginning directly with beings as unquestionably given . By bringing our funda­ mental openness to beings itself into the open. the essential activity or func t ion that makes us Dasein. . it helps us become who we are. Heidegger praises both Plato and KantSO for grasping that 'metaphysics belongs to the "nature of man " . these beings are held out in a questioning manner into the possibility of not-Being . the question prevents us. . Reflection on our pres­ ent situation as scientific researchers studying nothing but beings raises the question of the nothing.HEI DEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS questioner's focus or attunement. Our Dasein. With our question we establish ourselves among beings in such a way that they forfeit their self­ evidence as beings . .49 . this question lets us become who we are. Bracketing our various preoccupations with beings reveals this openness as our ergon. in our questioning.

Second. figuring prominently in his 'Kehre' or change in thought (see 23 1 ) . and you suspend the usual meanings of words like 'essence'. why is there anything instead of nothing? What is wrong with an answer like. this presents a more honest depiction of the process of thought which can teach us how to think rather than just telling us what Heidegger thought. Instead of presenting the reader with a set of polished conclusions that look like they sprung from his head wholly formed. 5 3 Once you see the essay as a kind of conversation Heidegger is having with himself. This essay. On the Essence of Truth The topic of truth is extremely important to Heidegger's later work.WHAT IS METAPHYSICS STUDY QU ESTIONS 1 2 3 So. Heidegger switches to the perspective of com­ mon sense or traditional philosophy several times without alerting the reader of this change of voice. which can cause considerable confusion . is a disorienting piece of writing for several reasons. Third. 'truth'. it takes the form of an extended chain of thinking built by repeatedly introducing new terms and link­ i ng them to ideas and terms established earlier in the essay. what is metaphysics? What kind of answer can we get to the question. God created the world out of beneficence? How does this essay challenge reason or logic? Is Heidegger really a misologist (a hater of reason)? How fair is Camap's objection? b. Although confusing. First. whereas Being and Time drops standard philosophical terms like 'man' in order to avoid the traditional mean ings they carry. Heidegger shows how he wrestles with the issue. however. the essay actually 25 . and ' freedom' . including some mis-steps which get retracted. 'On the Essence of Truth' retains traditional terms like 'freedom' and 'essence' but uses them in ways that seem unre­ lated to their usual meanings.

HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS follows a neat and tight line of thought. we must come to grips with these notions. like all of Heidegger's writings. etc. I I . Since common sense is employing 'The Usual Concept of Truth ' . But. we should work towards acquiring practical truths ( 1 1 6) .54 seeking specific truths requires that we already understand what truth is. Gold is true "i f it is in accord with what it is supposed to be. i. Although he announces the moves he is making quite directly. While it is easy to see how things of the same type such as two five-mark coins can be in accord with each other . genuine gold. then. which appears too abstract and general to be useful ( 1 1 6) . we must examine this more closely. can buy the same items. 55 In order to understand truth. while an assertion is true if it accords with the state o f affairs it d e scr ibes The sentence 'The cat is on the mat' is true if and on l y if the cat is actually on the mat. Heidegger points out that the ordinary sense of truth applies not just to assertions but to things as well. often covering important and difficult steps in just a couple of pages. It is extremely dense. however. . truth has long been defined as some sort of correspondence or accordance. however. Note. this work requires slow patient reading. that it is common sense that poses this objection. . they go by quickly. THE USUAL CONCE PT OF TRUTH Like Hegel before him. according to one of Heidegger's favorite arguments. I .e. The essay's first sentence announces that 'our topic is the essence of truth' ( 1 1 5). Whether applied to objects or propositions. TH E I N N E R POSS I B I LITY OF ACCORDANC E Although philosophers generally take the notion of accordance for granted when defining truth. Rather than posing useless questions about the essence of truth. Although cashed out in somewhat different terms at different times. . that we grasp its essence. that is. it is actually quite hard to spell out what it consists in and how it is possible.they look alike. which gets spelled out in terms of correctness. Common sense blocks philosophical questioning by assuring us that we already know as much as we need to about such an 'obvious' topic.statements and things are fundamentally different types of 26 . truth gets defined in terms of accordance.

of course.58 Heidegger defines essence as 'the ground of the inner possibility of what is initially and generally admitted as known' ( 1 23). not yet the answer' . such as scientific knowledge in the first Critique. there is something on the table'). describing a state of affairs in a way that can be true or false. but it is 'The Inner Possibil ity o f Accordance' . so what does it mean to say that they are in accord? Thus. 56 it does little to illuminate truth unless it itself gets clarified. which Heidegger does up to a point. Heidegger concludes (in a lecture series from 1 928) that 'the definition of truth as adaequatio is the starting point. Although common sense and tradition reassure us that correspondence is 'the essence of truth'. citing correspondence to explain truth only distracts us from the emperor's nudity. Asserting something about something. A vocalization appears to have little to nothing in com­ mon with a physical object. The essence of truth he is seeking means the enabling condition or ground for making assertions about beings and checking their accuracy.and it is a process rather than a static relationship between parallel sets of organized elements . 27 . requires that we be aware of them.we have to be 'open' to these beings calling attention to themselves in specific ways. and then possibly review the situation to check the correctness or adequate correspondence of what we have asserted ('yes.those really are five-mark coins lying on the table'). I go t it right . From the beginning to the end of this process . These questions defy the 'resistance which the "obvious" has' ( 1 1 6) by showing that in fact we do not understand how state­ ments can be in accord with matters ( 1 20). is a behavior directed towards something. but asks how it is possible. Even granting this tradi­ tional definition of truth.57 Rejecting the traditional understanding of essence as the defin­ ing characteristics shared by a set of objects of the same type.ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH beings. they are five-mark coins'). inspect them to determine their identity ('ah. This condition is so simple and basic that it usually escapes our notice. This resembles Kant's transcendental inquiries into the conditions of the possibility of something assumed to be valid. We have to notice them as potential subjects of assertion ('hey. S9 Saying that two coins are lying on the table is a way of comporting ourselves towards them which. Here it is the traditional concep­ tion of truth as correspondence between statement and world that Heidegger accepts as given.

must be accessible in adva nce : in order t o present itself as a standard and measure for the conformity with it. th e statement. then t h i s b ein g. TH E GROU N D O F THE POSS I B I LITY OF CORRECTN ESS Section Three opens with an obscurely worded but fascinati ng q uestion: 'whence does the pres e ntative statement receive the d i rec t ive to conform to th e object and to accord by way of 28 . 'if our representations and assertions e. the s t o ne itself. It is in this 'open re gi o n ( 1 2 1 ) or cle ar in g that beings and statements 'present themselves' ( 1 22). .H E IDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS In order to make or check assertions. but rather in the unconcealment of beings. then it is truth's 'essence' in the sense that it enables truth to occur. 'Truth does not originally reside in the proposition' ( 1 22). . I I I .e. i. and presents herself as on-the-mat. '6 1 Only if the cat presents herself to me. Making and checking correct statements depends upon things being manifest. . so this manifestness is a more appropriate locus of truth than the parasitic statem ents Section One ended by looking into the condition for the possibility of the traditional notion of truth as co rrespondence revealed in the following sec ti on to be our opening comport­ ment.. If the openness of comportment is the n ecess a ry condition of correspondence truth.are supposed to conform to the object. ' I f the correctness (truth) of s tateme nt s becomes possible onl y through this openness of comp ortme nt then what first makes correctness possible must wi th more original right be taken as th e essence of truth. m a k i n g comparison and accordance between such dissimilar entities possible. This means that t he traditional placement of truth only in statements no l onger holds. . . must be out in t he open . thereby.g. ' 60 Only on the basis of an open comportment. "The stone is hard" . can I make the true statement that 'the cat is on the mat' or check its ve raci ty. can we make statements about it or verify that s tatem e nts corre spond to it. As Heidegger says a few years later. we must be aware of beings in some way. and now Section Two closes by asking about the condition for th e possibility of that c ondi t i o n What enables this open comportment to beings which allows us to become aware of them and. m ake correct assertions about them? ' . in order to do anything at all. the bei ng .. a way of b ehav i ng that lets something p re se n t itself to us. In short.

despite caricatures. In this case. .6s However. and then showed in Section Two that its 'essence' or 'Inner Condition' lies in [2] 'the open­ ness of comportment' . Suppose we want truth: why not rather untruth?' 62 It is a startling question. but the vast majority of the time we strive to describe the world the way it is without even considering the alternative. Now Section Three is demonstrating that [2] comportment. The essence of freedom neither needs nor allows any further questioning. Heidegger cannot mean the traditional understanding of freedom as the ability to choose one's actions without exter­ nal constraint. I take it that Heidegger is asking the same astonishing question as Nietzsche: 'what in us really wants "truth"? . the reason we are able to have open comportments. is itself grounded in or made possible by [3] freedom. rather than examining or redefining them. all bracketed numbers added). common sense again insists that we stick with the traditional ideas or 'preconceptions' we started with.63 Now. with · the conclusion (again.64 Grounding truth in this kind of freedom would lead to the obvious absurdity that humans simply decide what is true. freedom gets its meaning from man: ' freedom is a property of man. or behavior that takes notice of beings. Why? As strange as the question is. By default. one that is hard even to see as a real question: why do we value the truth? Why are our relations to beings generally organized around and oriented towards accu­ rate descriptions of them? Obviously people can and do lie or create fiction. Heidegger answers this surprising question with an admittedly odd word-choice: freedom is why we tend to tell and value truth as well as. Heidegger explicitly rejects this view. The essay started with [ 1 ] 'The Usual Concept of Truth' as correctness. it merely extends philosophy's constant ambition to examine all assumptions. He briefly summarizes the three steps made so far in order to show how this latest link fits into the chain he has forged: '[2] the openness of comportment as the inner condition of [ 1 ] the pos­ sibility of correctness is grounded in [3] freedom' ( 1 23 . 29 . we 'bind ourselves' to beings by trying to make our statements conform to reality. Everyone knows what man is' ( 1 24). given his sense of 'essence') that ' the essence of truth isfreedom' . answering the question posed at the end of Section Two.ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH correctness?' ( 1 23).

This open region and its 30 . prior to this conformity and on behalf of it. it offers more of a blank canvas which can hold an entirely new sense with little interference. However. a change in the way we have always thought about these ideas. One of Heidegger's fundamental ideas is that Da-sein or man is like a clearing in the midst of reality: we are the there or t he 'Da' where beings can show themselves. . Since freedom has traditionally been considered a fundamental property of man. show themselves to it and thus already stand in the open . Uncovering the conditions for the possibility of our speech and behavior and our overall truth-orientation leads to this ultimate condition: the reflection on what correctness genuinely i s . that is. Walking through dense dark woods with limited visibility. . . the beings must. He often cal1s this open region 'the clearing' (das Lichtung) in a metaphor inspired by his frequent forest hikes. Heidegger defines freedom as 'letting beings be' 66 or 'being free for what is opened up in an open region' ( 1 23) . For a representation to be able to conform to beings as normative. this new strategy of taking over and radically redefining customary terms can more effectively provoke 'a transformation of thinking'. Being and Time's strategy of using the term 'Dasein' instead of standard terms like 'man' or 'consciousness' is less confusing because 'Dasein' has little conceptual baggage of its own. allowing light to stream in and giving things room to display themselves. Much of what Heidegger say s sounds strange when interpreted according to traditional meanings. leads us to that which makes it possible in the first place and is the ground of this possibility. examining freedom anew leads to a deeper examination of man ( 1 24). when successful. letting them be seen and thought about. . . TH E ESSENCE OF FREEDOM Heidegger immediately disrupts this reassurance with an admon­ ishment that we should take to heart whenever we read his writings: 'indication of the essential connection between truth as correctness and freedom uproots those preconceptions granted of course that we are prepared for a transformation of thinking' ( 1 24) .H EIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS IV. but his goal is precisely to challenge and transform these ways of think­ ing. one can suddenly come into an open place where trees are 'lighter' or thinner.

amongst beings. 68 Heidegger now highlights the etymology of 'existence'. and Heidegge r constantly tries to make us appreciate it. this mere knowing.. out in the world. is the 'concealed essential ground of man' as well as 'the originally essential domain of truth' . He rejects the picture of the mind residing in an internal theatre. 67 Since this ' freedom' is what allows us to be what we are. being the there or place where things come to appear­ ance. Letting beings be. by spelling it 'ek-sistence'. the 'essence') of [2] our ability to i ntera c t with beings and of [3] truth as correspondence. meaning standing outside oneself. the openedness of beings gets flattened OUt'. it is more fitting to say that we are a property of freedom than that it is a property of US. but our normal busyness does not really let beings be themselves. means allowing beings into clearing to manifest themselves freely. only receiving sensory representations of the world at an irreducible distance from itfor the more phenomenologically accurate description of ourselves as always already outside our mind. 70 Being and Time (as we have it) consists largely in showing the inappropriateness of analysing humans with the perspective of things or tools. this openness is conceived as the necessary p resupposition or enabling ground (i.e. In tune with common sense's assurances that we know all there is to know about various phenomena. He re. without forcing them into preconceived molds. 69 We tend to assimilate everything we encounter to a few familiar traditional horizons. while the first section of 'The Origin of the Work of Art' demonstrates these perspectives ' 31 . On this exposure to beings rests all of our com­ portment. truth. so freedom. and so do not need to think any further about them. Da-sein. The 'irruption' (95) of this sphere of awareness within which beings can become manifest is the most extraordinary event that could ever happen. stubbornly imposing a Procrustean bed of preconceptions even when inappro priate. and man must all be understood anew in terms of this essence. We are constantly letting beings into the clearing in our diverse dealings with them.ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH openness constitute the ground of the possibility of the cor­ rectness of a representation (BQ 1 74). the new sense of freedom. the name of Dasein's mode of Being in Being and Time. 'precisely in the leveling and planing of this omniscience.

explicitly attending to the clearing where we do not just experience unconcealed beings. Although most of our comportments to or interactions with be ings narrow our exposure down to what is familiar and useful while ignoring the open region. vividly lighting up the utterly simple fact that there are b eings and t h at we are aware of them . 'beings themselves are expressly drawn up into their unconcealment and conserved in it' ( 1 26). with­ draws us from ontic dealings with individual entities to let beings as a whole shimmer into conspicuous appearance. Liberation from ontic bu sy ness opens the space for ontological engagement. Have you ever stopped in the middle of running errands to contemplate the simple fact that you are aware? How much more often do we just 'phase out' . Although all of our comportment takes place within the open region or clearing. When this occurs. lacking both u tili t y and a familiar method of answering it. . losing thematic awareness of the car we are driving or the pen we are using. ' 1 1 A question like thiS.e. the first step of letting-be is suspending our preconceptions to allow beings to show us what they are like ( 1 2 5 ) . everything just fades away inconspicuously.12 Jt is the vital asking of the question rather than any possible answer to it that represents 'the fulfillment and consummation of the essence of truth in the sense of the disclosure of beings' ( 1 27).HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS inadequacy for a rt wo rks. letti n g b e also occurs at the ontological level of openness itself as an 'engagement in the disclosure of beings as such' ( 1 26). 'The ek-sistence of historical man begins at that moment when the first thinker t ake s a questioning stand with regard to the unconcealment of b eings by asking: what are b ein g s? In this question unconceal­ ment is experienced for th e first time. philosophy can both lift our conceptual blinders and light up the openness. As wi th phenom enol ogy ( se e 8 1 ). i. In addition to this ontic attitude of pat ien t attention to things. And now we have answered the opening question of Section Three: why are we oriented to correctly representing beings as they are? What it means to be man (in Heidegger's technical - 32 . but main­ tain awareness of their unconcealment. snapping out of it only when a snag is hit or the job is done? Our awareness dims down in our mundane routine where we know our way around so well that we need pay little attention. we ignore the clearing to focus on the things cleared.

being the there or the clearing .is our 'essence' in the sense of enabling condition: only contact with things and other people lets us be men. TH E ESSENCE OF TRUTH Once more. Various moods tune us in to different facets or aspects of the world and determine in what key events strike us: in a celebratory mood nothing can bring me down. 'attunement' refers to both moods and the tuning of a musical instrument. Revealing beings through assertions is one way to perform the unconcealing of beings7 S which forms our most basic way of Be-ing. 77 33 . to reside within the open region interacting with beings in various ways. we are being-directed beings.e. the last para­ graph of Section Four turns to the question of untruth. A new topic now arises: attunement. Heidegger gives a brief recap of the ground covered so far ( 1 28).76 Letting beings be. V. making freedom the essence of truth. Our attunement predetermines the general way we react to what we encounter.inclines us to the unconcealing of them. After uncovering these deeper levels of truth. prevailing throughout all of our comportments ( 1 29). even news that would normally make me happy. 74 Ek-sistence itself . with the specific outcome that the two belong together ( 1 28).. that is what we do. Our comportments flourish when they let beings be.our direct­ edness towards beings . His new conception of truth requires a rethinking of untruth as well.ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH sense) is to comport oneself towards beings. represents the 'fulfillment and con­ summation' ( 1 27) or the flourishing ( 1 28) of the unconcealment we are always doing. cultivate entities' own ways of manifesting. This free letting-be or opening up of a clearing orients all of our comportments towards beings. Although semblance and distortion are initially attributed to man's free­ dom. As in 'What is Metaphysics?'.73 That is why Da-sein . As discussed in 'What is Metaphysics?'. allowing them to manifest fully as they are. i. Ek-sistent disclosure or standing outside of our­ selves exposed to beings is what enables us to experience them and thus make true statements about them. whereas in an irritable mood everything annoys. Heidegger has already ruled out the idea that we control truth ( i 23-4). moods put us in touch with beings as a whole in a way that reason cannot.

<XA. U NTRUTH AS CONCEALI N G The above discussion shows how truth and untruth belong together on t i cally or in terms of individual beings. they exclude everything else ( 1 29-30). The way unconcealment works is that when one aspect of something comes to light .78 Due to the very nature of focus. we now turn to the ontological side. it necessarily conceals everything else. in the dark while I take care of the oil. perception and action naturally conceal unconceal­ ment itself because we pay attention to what is unconcealed rather than the fact that it is unconcealed. In order to bring into view what resides in a visual field. He i degge r argues that a complete shadowless grasp of every aspect of something is not just unat­ tainable by our finite minds. working on my car in no way orients my attitude towards Antarctica should it arise. The field of view. so that it might illuminate what resides within it. unlike my cheerful mood . 79 As he likes to translate Heraclitus' saying . however.g. Antarctica. but is actually incoherent. Here we find concealment at the very heart of revealing ( 1 30) . leaving the continent. Since freedom takes place in specific comport­ ments which only spotl ight relevant beings.the forgetfulness or oblivion of 34 .HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS Here the primary contrast is between attunements' disclosure of beings as a whole and comportments' interactions with specific entities. VI. it cannot and may not be seen explicitly. and virtually everything else in the universe."eet<x [aletheia]. the visual field itself must precisely light up first. changing my car's oil narrows my attention to just what is relevant to the job (a few specific beings) . Since interactions focus on individual beings. bringing one thing into the foreground of one 's attention displaces all else to the background. Whereas my good mood orients my reactions to whatever happens (beings as a whole) . must in a certain sense be overlooked. First. does not enter my awareness during this process at all and. Heidegger returns to this topic .. Being loves to hide. e. My car and Antarctica bear no rela­ tionship to each other whatsoever. Second. there is no comportment that would not conceal. its other aspects as well as beings as a whole fade into the shadows.

35 . 8 1 Like much in Heidegger. Every unconcealing simultaneously con­ ceals but. A forgottenness which itself has been forgotten pervades the whole process. no! I was supposed to meet my friend for dinner last night! I totally forgot!' Although this phenomenon prepares the ground for what Heidegger will condemn. we lose awareness of everything else. always trying to turn our attention to the presentation of beings. When we focus on the object of our con­ cern.g. 1 3 1 ). the fact that we are not aware that we are not aware of the vast majority of beings or beings as a whole . The paragraph begins with Section Four's connection of freedom and letting-be as well as their foundational character.over and over again throughout his career.. I want to spend a little time on the single complete paragraph on page 1 3 1 since it represents a turning point in the essay. Section Six focuses on the mystery . There are times when we forget some­ thing but we are fully aware that we have forgotten it: 'now where did I put my keys?' A piece of information is missing but its identity is outlined by what we do remember. we also have a tendency toward concealing which conceals itself in the mystery.e. it forms 'the proper' or 'pri­ mordial nonessence of truth' ( 1 30. it is a necessary part of truth rather than an unfortunate side-effect we should avoid.ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH Being . e. as discussed in Section Five. Despite this inherent orientation towards unconceal­ ing. the car's oil. Anything we can do to or with beings is grounded in our ek-sistent freedom or openness to the world. this concealment gets concealed in what he calls the mystery. the phras­ ing sounds confusing but actually describes a phenomenon we encounter all the time.. 'letting-be is intrinsically at the same time a concealing' . 8 2 gathering up the ideas from the first hal f before laying out the topics that will occupy the rest of the essay. 80 Heidegger is particularly interested in the way this concealing itself gets concealed. but we do not realize that we are oblivious of everything else. The rest of the universe is so far from my thoughts that I am not even aware that I am not aware of it. until that shocking recall: 'Oh. we are not aware of this ubiquitous concealing.and now Heidegger starts laying the ground for Section Seven by showing how this mystery leads to 'errancy'. The specific conclusion about truth here is that. Then there are times when we forget something so completely we do not even remember that we have forgotten it.i.

the idea that only science accurately describes reality so that whatever does not fit into its concepts cannot be fully real . Minimally. V I I .is a contemporary form of insistence. Heidegger worries that these expectations based on long familiarity blind us to everything that falls outside them. The enti­ ties might display profoundly new aspects within different horizons. basically what various beings are. and I need look no farther than these standard ways of seeing and using things. our horizons shrink to what we already know.H EIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS By and large. . and in-sistent taking beings the way they initially present themselves without questioning further. Scient ism . Heidegger links the mistaken idea that we can infuse our lives with meaning by ourselves to our forgetting that Being is the real source of our understanding and meaning. I know my way around beings.e. or as if we could construct our openness to them by our own efforts. These pre-established horizons perpetuate themselves by assimilating any new experi­ ences to what is already known. Heidegger recoils from such 'omniscience' achieved through neglect because it blocks everything beyond what is familiar and useful . what is appropriate to do to or with them. the mystery as the foregrounding of a particular set of beings against the unnoticed background of beings as a whole. Erring unites ek-sistant exposure to beings. This facile understanding lays down guard-rails that allow us to glide through our daily routine with minimal attention. but I will never find out if I refuse to budge from the tried and true. ek-sistence means just being exposed to beings so 36 .84 Common sense capitalizes on this insistence on what is already known to reject any inquiries that challenge the accepted view. holds fast to what is offered by beings. as if they were open of and in themselves' ( 1 32). and nobility. U NTRUTH AS ERRANCY Section Seven turns from untruth as concealing to errancy. 85 Driven by fads and desires. Modern man willfully ' in-sists. leaving our lives empty of worth. In-sisting takes what we already understand about a being to exhaust its meaning. We go on auto-pilot since we know what a fork is for. dignity. i. concealing the concealment of other possibilities by denying that there are any others. what an apple looks like. 83 Although this mastery is integral to our social nature and is required for our comport­ ments.

. it is the flip side of un concealment. 37 . We need to stop in-sisting that the familiar useful modes exhaust all that there is. . but its highest form remains exposed to fundamentally new ways of thinking. so to speak. Untruth belongs with truth because concealing is inevitable . 86 The mystery conceals this concealment: we generally are not aware that we are not aware of the vast maj ority of beings or alternate facets of the beings we encounter since neither informs our immediate activities. a cog in our capitalist economy. as well as all the beings that we are not focusing on.granted of course that we are prepared for a transformation of thinking' . so that we can stay ready to ex·pose ourselves to new perspectives. preconceptions . We should recog· nize that we conceal aspects of the beings we focus on. fighting common sense as it 'uproots . meditative cultivation of appearance is the quasi-ethical attitude Heidegger is pointing us towards ( 1 26). The idea of getting rid of untruth once and for all to breathe the pure air of unadul· terated truth is conceptually incoherent on Heidegger's scheme.ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH that we can become aware of them. This grateful. This essay (which literally means to make an experimental attempt) pursues this ideal of openness. forcing the realization that you have never really looked at one before. After a few impatient minutes ('1 know what an apple is! '). It patiently attends to beings until new aspects start showing themselves. This conservation of openness makes us most ourselves. even about the most familiar objects and ideas like truth. a piece of matter that obeys the laws of physics. the being through whom beings can be themselves. One of the virtues of art is that it brings to the surface alternate aspects of beings that we rarely see. formerly unseen features shyly poking through the familiar ones. not an unfortunate situation we have fallen into. man can at least become aware of them ( 1 34). My pen for instance has many different ways of Being: it is a writing implement. and that we tend to conceal this very concealing. and beautiful. unnoticed details begin to emerge. Anyone can experience this: just sit and stare at a familiar object like an apple for a full ten minutes. If man cannot get rid of untruth as unconcealing or errancy. This mystical-phenomenological attitude Heidegger is trying to instill lets beings be. even if we generally act as if they did. most Dasein. The most familiar ways we experi· ence a being do not exhaust its Being .

his 'epistemological' ideal embraces the inerad i cable concealments involved in all know­ ing . 90 38 . the whole truth.ss Heideggerian philosophy acknowledge s the mystery. making genuine inquiry unnecessary ( 1 35).e. but we can at least keep in mind that our horizons are inherently limited and remain ready for the new. philosophy is the one discipline (perhaps al ong with art) that recognizes the eve r-present structurally necessary conceal­ ments. Throughout the essay common sense has repeated ly tried to convince us to turn back. P H I LOSOPHY AND THE QU ESTION OF TRUTH Heidegger now connects this attitude to phil o sophy. he want s to ch ange our relation to Being from forgetful ta k ing for g ranted to grate fu l cultivation . the concealment that is necessary to unconcealment. to stop questi on i ng and rest content with k nowl ed ge suited to our normal activities. Philosophy on the other hand is ' intrinsically discordant' ( 1 35). He g ives up the traditional ideal of absolutely secure knowledge that settles matters once and for all . It acts as a gadfly irritatingly challeng ing what we 'know' to be the truth. making fi nal con c lusive answers impossib l e. i. . 8 7 This returns to the idea broached in Sect ion Four that phi l osophical q u estions about beings as a whole help bri ng about our highest form of ek-sistence. Heidegg er does not seek The Ri g ht Answer since this would on ly perpetuate the in-sistent concealment of other possibilities. Since then we have d i s covered that 'man errs ' ( 1 33) or falls away from this q uestion i ng stance in which beings are expressly held in their unconcealment by insistin g that we know. In particular. s9 This is one reason why Heidegger consistent ly values questions above answers. VI I I . in particu ­ lar to 'the question of the Being of bein g s ' . IX. Given his understand i n g of truth as intertwined with untruth at its heart and of human understanding as continually capable of reveal in g new facets. NOTE The final sen t e nce of Section Ni ne claims that this essay aim s at 'a t ra n s fo r m a t i o n of its relatedness to Being' ( 1 38) rather than a set of conclusions. Instead.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS Perhaps we cannot constantly maintain such sensitivity (thou gh I s u spec t that Zen satori might be something l i ke this). and the only truth.

I have returned to this essay again and again. obscuring its overall structure. here 'what is art?' And. but we need to become explicitly aware of it and its concomitant concealment. explor­ ative essay that twists and turns as it covers a number of topics. and one of the most difficult. dealing with many subjects central to his later thought in a fascinating way. Whereas most disciplines in-sist upon their particular horizon. It is also one of Heidegger's greatest works.ON THE ESSENCE OF TRUTH We are always already within the truth of Being or the clearing. seeking the appropriate way to ask it before actu­ ally posing it. philosophy is committed to challenging all presuppositions. again as usual. to continually reexamining its assumptions and traditional doctrines.92 1 2 3 How does Heidegger understand truth? Why is unconceal­ ment the essence of truth as correspondence? How is untruth inextricably linked to truth? Explain insistence and ek-sistence. working within their presupposed and unquestioned under­ standing of reality and how to study it. Heidegger considers philosophy unique in that it takes these very horizons as its sub­ ject matter. Like many of Heidegger's writings. 9 1 At its best. always remaining open to deeply re-forming its ways of thinking which then instigate transforma­ tions of our horizons. The Orig in of the Work of Art 'The Origin of the Work of Art' is the longest essay in Basic Writings. How does errancy forget . Heeding the phenomenological motto 'to the things themselves'. Heidegger spends a lot of time preparing the ground for the question. It is a sprawling. Being? c. this inquiry is organized around a 'what is X' question. Being can always send a new understanding. always finding new ideas hidden in the thickets. we must examine actual works of art if we are to determine what art is ( 1 44). But this strategy immediately entangles us in a circle since we first have to know what art is in 39 . so we need to stay humbly open to what appears to US.

H EIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS order to pi c k out works of art for our investigation to study 93 Instead of an ob stacle to ove rc ome o r avo i d H eidegge r c ons i ders t h is ' her m e ne u t i c ' c irc u l a r i t y part of the very nature of th i nk i ng . He n a r row s this feature down to a 'thingly a s pect . so something like mea ning or be a uty must get added to the mere stuff. I. coloured in a p aint i ng ( 1 45). TH I N G AND WORK Heidegger begins his inspection of artworks by noting that. that th i s is not actually the q u e s t i o n being asked. 40 . . A work of art is more than just a l ump or pi l e of material. . wh atever else they migh t be. Sin ce a rtwo rks a re at l e as t p a r t ial ly things . we will examine th e nature of t h ings and then try t o figure out how artworks differ from them. wooden in a carvi ng. The working hypothesis of t hi s section is th at an artwork is a t hing imbued with an additional q u a l i ty and. Notice. however. Rather t han p reve n ti ng us from le a rn i ng as Meno's pa rad ox has it. occu py sp ecifi c locations. i . . . as stated in the preced ing paragraph ( 1 46). ' ­ ' ' ' . H e idegge r says that he's as ki n g what a t h i ng is s o far as it is a thing' in o rde r to di scover ' the thingJy character of the thing'. which takes u s into the first section of the e s s ay app ro pri ately titled. and can be moved about like coal or potatoes. . artworks a re things : they take up space. ' ' . what we would usually call the work's m ateri al: 'some th i ng stony in a work of architecture. ou r aim is to come to know the th i ng be i n g (th in gness ) of the t h i ng ( 1 46).e.94 In terms t a ke n from Being and Time. that things are artworks which l ack some thing Despite how H e i degger d esc rib e s his met hod h i s appro ach ac tual ly mixes cat egories by defining artworks in terms of things rather than examini ng each on its own terms. reciprocally. which in turn can help us articulate and de velop our initial understanding. s t ud y i ng things as a distinct regio n of beings carefully sep arate d from all o t he rs But in fac t he is as k i n g what a thing is inso far as it is an artwork. this circle enables us to discover the nature of art by examin i ng artworks ac ross the essay's three sections. of course. . even finding it beneficia1. T hing a n d Wo r k T his sec t io n begi n s by s t at i n g the gui d ing q ue st i on o f this new ph ase of the i n qui ry : 'what in truth is the thi n g so far as it is a t h i ng? When we i n qui re in th i s way. . our p re on t o l ogi cal or unthematic un d e r s t an d ing (see 54) of w ha t art is enables us to select artworks.

e. 95 I ndeed. all explaining regions of Being in terms of each other. the 'destruction' of the tradition occurs via a dialogue between earlier thought and our own experience. The first views things as 'substance with its accidents' ( 1 49) or nonessential characteristics. The first section of 'The Origin' can be read as a reductio of reductionism. Being and Time presents a detailed description of three ways of Being with the insistence that ours (Dasein) requires its own distinct set of concepts. Getting rid of variations in order to find 'true being' underneath is like.formed conclu sions. equipment. . Heidegger says that he is asking about the thing 'so far as it is a thing'. stu dying historical views can never take the place of examini n g things for ourselves. H e i degger's teacher in phenomenology Husserl argues that careful attention to our experience reveals profound differ­ ences among a number of basic types of beings. This means understanding one region by means of a different one instead of going 'to the artwork itself' . Heidegger is committed to maintaining heterogeneous regions without reducing them to each other or to one basic kind of being. while he is really looking at things as truncated artwork s or an element in a work of art. pulling the leaves off an artichoke to get at its real essence when. . 97 Heidegger lead s us down this dead-end (a partial translation of ' Holzwege ' . the most general features that all beings share beneath superficial d iversity. Heidegger then compounds this error by turning to traditi o n al conceptions of thingness to relieve us of 'the tedious labour' of seeking it on our own ( 1 48). The first section works through three trad i tional interpreta tions of thingness. e. among other things. and artworks. 'assuming that thinking is a craft'. Thinking along with the essay functions as a kind of apprenticeship. i. the artichoke is its leaves. th e title of the book that originally held this essay).g . 96 'The Origin of the Work of Art' is committed to this fidelity to diver­ sity regarding the regions of things. although it has traditionally been defined by categories borrowed from the other twO. While important. a view championed by Aristotle and Locke. After listing a thing's properties. to let us see his thoughts evolve rather than j ust handing over fu lly.THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART Traditional metaphysics studies being qua being. I believe. in Wittgenstein's memorable image. 98 . ­ 41 . differences which our descriptions of reality must acknowledge through 'regio n al ontology'.

i mplicitly po rtraying the thing as distinct from its characteris­ tics. in the appearance of things . rather we hear the storm whistling in the ch i mney. etc. the theory receives a phenomenological refuta­ tion .? What is the thing that possesses these characteristics? The answer is the sub-stance that literally 'stands under' and supports the features ( 1 50). ' l o l Phenomenalism artificially separates experience into two dis­ tinct steps . grammatically separates or articulates greyness from the cup in order to attribute the predicate to the subject. tones and noises.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS my cup's colour and shape. We can avoid 'assaulting' our subject 'by granting the thing.99 He quickly concludes that this definition distorts thingness by imposing an alien and inappropriate conceptual scheme onto it ( 1 5 1 ).g . etc. which can never be replaced by historical views or reason's demands. not bare. Berkeley's removal of substances from substance ontology which leaves bundles of sensible qualities. 42 ..as this thing-concept alleges. 'We never really first perceive a throng of sensations. Heidegger moves on to the second inter­ pretation of the thing as the unity of sensory qualities ( l S I ). the question arises: what is it that is grey. instead of doing this. meaningless sensations (like empiricists' patches of colour) waiting to be interpreted. a free field to display its thingly character directly' ( 1 5 1 ). as it were. . five­ inches-tallness. Once again. cylindricality. Importantly. five inches tall. The sentence 'The cup is grey'. This suggests that we should describe how we actually experi­ ence things rather than focusing on traditional definitions but. hence such an unfaithful description of experience must be rejected . Heidegger points out that the subject-predicate grammar of our language lends this theory plausibility. I think this refers to 'phenomenalism' .bare perception of sensory data and its subsequent . with any mysterious entity beneath the perceived qualities an unnecessary and empirically unsupportable hypothesis. We never encounter substances with accidents in our normal dealings with things. The cup is just the sum of greyness. we discover this inadequacy not from a logical objection. e. but from 'attentive dwelling within the sphere of things' 100 Th i s careful alertness to the way things present themselves to us is Heidegger's version of phenomenology. We experience a significant world populated by grey cups and cloak-wearing people.

. 'assuming that such a calculated ordering of them is permissible ' ( I SS). but now our inquiry has propelled us i nto a third region of Being. studying their history reveals them to be contingent views rather than natural. But these only separate in very unusual circumstances such as moments of shock or bamement. A tool's purpose determines what material to build it out of and how to shape it. which lets us chal­ lenge them. but these concepts actually come from equip­ ment. for the most part we live in a meaningful world stocked the familiar entities we know and love. a third type of beings (154). dredging up and phenomenologically refuting these preconcep­ tions clears the way to see how various beings reveal themselves. necessary. Heidegger puts the three into an obscure organization in which each region shares a feature with one other which the third lacks. I think that this ordering is in fact not permissible. In a second invocation of phenomenology. 'This long. 102 Putting aside. Prevailing thing-concept s obstruct the way toward the thingly character of the thing' ( 1 56). 'bracketing' . and intrinsic features of reality. . not constructed from pieces cut out of the others in a kind of Frankenstein ontology. or one made of glass or pasta would not cut well. We began our search for the nature of artworks by studying things. which was bad e nough . or ' destroying ' these preconcep­ tions is no easy task. I04 Conversely. The third and final definition of the thing as 'formed matter' ( 1 52) returns us to the initial discussion of artworks' thingly aspect as their material. Each type of Being should be studied on its own. . Theories from the history of phi­ losophy invade mundane experience. 1 03 The categories ' appearance of self-evidence leads us to apply them to all beings in the same way. like a sculptor giving a block of marble the shape of a person. he says that we must suspend all these preconceptions of thingness to see it for ourselves ( 1 57). As a form of genealogy. 43 . Giving form to matter seems to fit artistic creation.THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART interpretation into meaningful patterns. determining how we think about reali ty even when (as here) they are not borne out by our experience.familiar mode of tho ught preconceives all immediate experience of beings . an axe with no edge. and each kind of be ing should be examined directly rather than leafing through traditional theories.

explicitly focusing on them changes them from equipment to inert present-at-hand objects. However. Because equipment partakes of both of the other regions. Heidegger does not study a real piece of equipment but casu­ ally announces that he will examine a pair of shoes featured in a painting by Van Gogh ( 1 58). instead of heed­ ing his own calls to examine artworks directly. almost by accident. On the one hand. or just zoning out. 1 06 Try writing a sentence while focusing on your pen: it is harder and less skillful than when you just let it 'withdraw' into the task. The warning is futile because the attempt to understand thing and work by way of equipment builds this error into the investigation. Heidegger now proposes a new strategy based on the 'calculated ordering' of the three regions which actually compounds the problem. The goal of describing the essence of equipment actually presents a problem for Heidegger. we have to catch equipment while it is being equipment. he now proposes to double the error by defining both things and artworks in terms of equipment: 'the piece of equipment is half thing' and 'hal f artwork' ( 1 55). the essay should undergo a significant change at this point. I f phenomenology is right to insist on the importance of this kind of encounter. which hap­ pens during use ( 1 59). Being and Time defines ready­ to-hand equipment as 'inconspicuous'. But precisely at this point tools are inconspicuous and therefore hard to examine. On the other hand. So.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS But instead of following his own advice and turning to an actual artwork. it changes into a present-at-hand thing. Bells should go off in your head ­ he is going to look at a work of art! The promise issued at the beginning of the essay to inspect works of art directly ( 1 44) is now getting fulfilled . we will first search for the equipmental character of equipment in hope that it will shed light on things and works. meaning that while it is being used. 'we must only avoid making thing and work prematurely into subspecies of equipment' ( 1 58). l O S As long as your car is running smoothly you pay little to no attention to it. Understanding artworks via things failed but. think­ ing instead about what you will do when you arrive. Studying the shoes then faces a dilemma. a tool recedes from our attention. use enables them to be equip­ ment ('the peasant woman wears her shoes in the field. Only 44 . when we do explicitly think about the tool.

In showing us this mode of Being. . it is time to find out what else there is. 1 08 Heidegger spent fifteen pages futilely trying to define thingness by means of theo­ ries. but the users must not pay atten­ tion to them if they are to maintain their smooth equipmental functioning ('they are all the more genuinely so. Artworks are privileged sites of truth by steering between use. Van Gogh's painting is an occurrence of truth or. which misrepresents the nature of equipment. in the case of equipment like the shoes. or is even aware of them' ( 1 59» . 'And yet' ( 1 59). 109 so here artworks deliver what reason could not. which cannot thematically grasp equipment. the less the peas­ ant woman thinks about the shoes while she is at work. A philosopher can study the shoes. but only at the price of halting their fluid perfor­ mance and reducing them to present-at-hand things. reason shows us some facets of reality while con­ cealing others. In the a rtwork 'this being emerges into the unconcealment of its Being' which. means that. 45 . of course. 1 07 Both the peasant wearing the shoes and the philosophical observer have a tacit (or pre-ontological) understanding of e q uipmentality as shown by their ability to use tools appropriately. as Heidegger likes to translate the Greek word 'aletheia'.e. . the happening of truth' . and Heidegger frequently demonstrates how much philosophy has missed by focusing exclusively on this one mode of access. the artwork reveals its own because its mode is such showing. but neither can 'expressly' articulate it for the reasons noted above. 'the disclosure of the particu­ lar being in its Being. thereby eliminating precisely what she wanted to study. unconcealment. Moods and artworks also conceal. Just as 'What Is Metaphysics?' dem­ onstrates how moods impart insights inaccessible to reason. Like every form of revealing. i. In Heidegger's terms. by revealing a particular being in its mode of Being. but we have had twenty-five centuries to plumb reason's depths. to successfully present equipmentality to us. the painting somehow eludes this dilemma to make the shoes available for direct examination as they really are.THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART here are they what they are'). the way it is. or looks at them at all. and theoretical comprehension. 'the eq uipmentality of equipment first expressly comes to the fore through the work and only in the work' . 'and yet' looking at an artwork immediately reveals the essence of equipmentality. the artwork effects the truth of the shoes. .

'The Work and Truth'. A beautiful artwork is like an excep­ tionally successful mini-clearing. thingly or equipmental concepts cannot grasp artworks. I f we return t o the initial point that started u s o n the path of thing­ ness . we must under­ stand art by way of art and from examining artworks. THE WORK AN D TRUTH We have discovered that the essence of art is to be a site for truth. The most obvious account would be that art depicts reality and the accuracy of its depiction depends on how well the repre­ sentation matches its subject. He even stops calling this feature thingly. And now Heidegger recognizes that his previous method of inquiry was fatally flawed 'because we asked. and work out a distinct horizon or conceptual scheme for art which can explain how it effects this truth. strife. Despite the correspondence theory's self-evidence and distinguished 46 . but half about a thing and half about equipment' ( 1 64) . world. The second section's title. I take this to be the moral of the first section: in principle. since words from other regions inevi­ tably sneak their conceptual baggage across the border into the new region .HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS By looking at an artwork. we have discovered that art works as a site of truth ( 1 62) . Now we have to come to grips with Heidegger's understanding of truth. in that it reveals beings in a particularly enlightening way. I I . Paintings can correspond to the world in roughly the same way that propositions do if what they picture exists or occurred the way they show it . 1 1 1 a painting of a cat on a mat is true if and only if that particular cat was on that particular mat in that posture at that time in that manner. not about the work. we will see that Heidegger connects these concepts.we now know that we must cast it in terms distinct to art rather than in con­ cepts borrowed from things or equipment ( 1 65).that artworks are made out of something . Although aesthetics has traditionally focused on beauty rather than truth. and rift) springs up in order to get at artworks as artworks rather than as variations of things or equipment. I IO A whole constellation of new terms (such as earth. announces that it will investigate what truth is and how works instigate it ( 1 65). especially since philosophers from Plato to Nietzsche have portrayed art and truth as mutually exclusive.

Heidegger discerns two ways in which artistic representations are distinctive. a holiday snapshot apparently reveals the kids shaking hands with Mickey Mouse as much as Velasquez's 'Las Meninas' shows Infanta Margarita with her maids of honour. placed us in that cleared realm in which every being stands for us. we 'get beyond an interchange of names' only if we 'come to know what must have happened in order to be compelled to say the essence of truth in the word "unconcealment'" . J 14 As the necessary condition for truth as correct correspondence. we can move to our second question: how is art a 'happening' of this truth? Representational artworks obviously show or unconceal things by depicting them. The word change itself is not the point. . First. unless the unconcealment of beings had already exposed us to.stands and falls with truth as unconcealment of beings . Now that we have a better grasp of Heidegger's understanding of truth. as discussed above. we could not even presuppose that there already is manifest something to which we can con­ form ourselves. . unconcealment must occur in order for us to notice a state of affairs. . Correctness in representation . Sentences or paintings can only correspond to facts if we can become aware of them as potential objects of representation. unconcealment should be regarded as the real essence of truth. artworks manifest their subject's mode of Being. non-artworks represent too. and check the accuracy of a representation. With all our correct representa­ tions we would get nowhere. In an argument that appears in many of Heidegger's writings. even when this is difficult as with 47 .THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART pedigreeJ 1 2 (or perhaps because of them). Heidegger rejects applying this conception of truth to art. Unconcealment is Heidegger's more literal translation of the Greek word 'aletheia ' . 1 1 3 While not exactly wrong. represent it. usually just translated as truth. 1 1S The destruction of the traditio'll aims at revealing the phenomena that inspired the word or concept in the first place but has been subsequently covered up (see 65-6). the way Van Gogh's painting portrays a pair of shoes. However. correspondence cannot fully explain truth since it rests on a deeper condition. namely unconcealment.

. Being. so m uc h so that we usually dwell in fo rge t fulne s s. This claim surpasses anything we have discussed so far. or p o ssessi o n . expression. th ey make unconce almen t as such happen in regard to beings as a whole' ( 1 8 1 ). however. 1 1 8 ­ 48 . what it is like t o be this person or to live in their world . Atten tively dwelling w i th such a work is like 'walking a mile in her shoes' . S ec o n d . a catalog photograph of a p ai r of shoes.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS equi pm en t ( 1 6 1 -2). It is not uncommon to speak of how art shows us a world. Heidegger often says that 'as it reveals itself in beings.e. sustenance. oblivion. i. H e id egge r tries to capture this qu ality in his lyrical de scrip ti o n of the peas an t 's world in Van Go gh 's pain ti ng. showing both their mode of Being and the world t hey h el p make up. how she understands herself and the wo rl d around her. Moby Dick lets us experience the tex tu re of a n i n e teent h -cen tury whaler's life. 1 17 Being is spelled out h e re in terms of the clearing or unconceal­ m en t of bei n gs which 'grants and gu aran tees to us humans a p a ssage to those be ings that we ourselves are not and access to the being that we ours elve s are ' . celebration. b rought out by a dep icti o n of her shoes that bear the traces of her livelihood and the defining milestones of a life . need. . . Being withdraws' . say. her daily activities and her deepe s t co ncerns. the fundamental fact that beings are p resen t to us at all. Sense and Sensibility e vo ke s what bei n g an upper-cl a ss British woman in the late e igh teenth century meant and felt like. death ( 1 59). rather. Van Gogh's painting reveals much more of these than. that we are open to the world in various ways. In terms reminiscent of equipment. Heidegger now moves from art's ma ni fe statio n of be ing s to its revelation of Being itself. As we saw. The po r trait of a humble but essential part of her world distills this complex and nuan ced sense into a single item. 1 1 6 So far we have focused on how artworks illuminate particular bein gs. Art can reveal an entire personality in a single acti o n . think of Hamlet's indecisiveness or Mona Lisa's smile. But artworks 'do not simply make manifes t what these isolated beings as such are . is what is most inconspicu ous of all . the subject's Weltanschauung. art can reveal equipmentality which is inconspicuous and thus difficult to grasp explici t ly. or unawareness. great works of art h i gh l i gh t partic­ ul a rl y te l ling details that illuminate a who le world the way Van Gogh 's d ep i c ti on of the shoes evoke the peasant's entire life and circle of activities.birth.

but this just means that we pay attention to the entities that are unconcealed rather than the fact that they are present to us. .THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART We almost never notice this most basic of all facts . This is natural and even inevitable most of the time. 122 Like the clearing. Extend ing the idea from 'On The Essence of Truth' that truth belongs togethe r with untruth ( 1 28). First. as Heidegger sometimes puts it. Heidegger often cryptically says that unconcealment itself is concealed in favour of the unconcealed. by vividly showing us a particular world such as that of Van Gogh's peasant. . i. we focus on the items in front of us rather than on the fact that they are or that we can encounter them . however highlights this neglected 'layer' in three different ways. in its essence. we miss Being for the beings A work of art. to be able to pick out this or that being. 1 21 The revelation of a being conceals or draws our attention away from the astonishing simple fact that it is revealed.that we are aware at all . the world in which it must constantly maintain itself simply .which Heidegger calls standing in the clearing. it draws our attention to the fact that we are in a world which orients us in a particular way or. is un-truth' .'1 23 Great artworks however make a world ­ . directing our attention to the foregrounded entity: 'ordinary understanding cannot see the world/or beings. .e. 'the clearing in which beings stand is in itself at the s ame time concealment' ( 1 78) so that 'truth. O:A" SeUX [a/etheia]. he says. it cannot and may not be seen explicitly. our daily activities would grind to a halt if we were continuously focusing on our openness. unconcealment. so that it might illuminate what resides within it. must in a certain sense be ove rlooked 1 20 . the world usually recedes inconspicuously. In order to bring into view what resides in a visual field the visual field itself must precisely light up first. however. The field of view. that the world worlds. The world is the meaningful context within whi ch what we encounter makes sense. This is not because it is abstruse or complex but because it is so simple. 1 1 9 We 'keep to what is present without considering pres­ encing' (EGT 99). but represents the large 'sub-region' where we are at home and know our way around. . 49 . that is. . The world is not identical with the clearing as a whole (see 1 80).

the way the peasant's shoes illuminate how things in general are for her. This is the task Heidegger now takes up: to comprehend the fact that artworks are made out of some­ thing but in a 'wholly distinct way' ( 1 65). incidentally uncovering the essence of art as setting up the truth of beings ( 1 62). he now creates a new horizon specifically for artworks within which this element is called earth ( 1 94). the ordinary is not ordinary. If the hammer's mate­ rial is appropriate in that it enables the tool to work properly. After the attempt to understand artworks in terms of form and matter failed. Material only calls attention to itself when it fails. We learned the methodological lesson that one category should not be explained in terms of another. does not cause the material to disappear. it is extraordinary. ' 1 24 The second way that artworks effect this kind of truth returns us to the essay's starting point of the artwork's thingly element. a work of art accomplishes this precisely when it succeeds. the wood or metal shows up as too light or too fragile. as shown by the temple. Evoking an entire world from the usually unnoticed bits and pieces of our daily lives. To recap: the initial strategy guiding the first section was to understand art through its thingly aspect ( 1 45). Heidegger now adds that tools are designed to let their material get absorbed into the task: 'the material is ai l the better and more suitable the less it resists vanishing' ( 1 7 1 ). but rather causes it to come forth for the very first time' ( 1 7 1 ):-Whereas equipment only calls attention to its mate­ rial when it fails.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS shimmer into visibility through particularly significant details. that each region of beings deserves its own set of concepts and terms. Using Van Gogh's painting of a piece of equipment. equipment inconspicuously withdraws from our awareness as we focus on the goal we are pursuing. the work suddenly blossomed into a rich revelation of the peasant's world and of equipmentality as the shoes' mode of Being. 50 . 'By contrast the temple-work. This element initially struck us as the work's matter ( 1 52). As discussed above. all artworks ultimately say the same thing: 'at bottom. in setting up a world. but the form/matter scheme belongs to equipment ( 1 54). we will not think about it at all . rather than by way of things or equipment. The complete opposite is true of artworks' relation to what they are made of.

l28 S1 . and limits). 125 One reason Heidegger uses tautolo­ gous phrases such as 'the world worlds' or ' the thing things' is to point to a phenomenon in its specificity without explanations or descriptions thinning it out. scope. To understand the stone in scientific terms is precisely to lose our raw experience of the heavy stony rock. how it feels pressing down on our hand. . . 127 Filing a phenomenon under the category ' mysterious ' or 'incomprehensible' gives it a place within our comprehensive grasp. World is described in terms of opening and intelligibility (with phrases like measure. heat 'is' just motion because it can be scientifically reduced to this.THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART Earth is defined in opposition to. . . But he does not use it up . whereas earth is closing. the 'feel' or 'look' of a colour. thus diluting or entirely eclipsing what it is like. and inexplica ­ ble. but in such a way that color is not used up but rather only now comes to shine forth. . Earth 'causes every merely calculating importunity upon it to turn into a destruction' . a world. In revealing meaningful features. its 'greenness'. 126 Of cou r se. the trap here is that j ust calling something myste­ rious partially locates and defines it. thus destroying any radical mysteriousness. Ultimately. The painter also uses pigment . that which resists getting fixed within a system of significance.e. and yet this determina­ tion somehow covers over or misses the immediate experience of heaviness. distinctive shape. What is extraordinary about art is that it allows earth to present itself without integrating it into the world at all . evaporates when considered as a wavelength. in his own way. but the experience of hotness is fundamentally different from movement. world ( 1 74) . concealing . but also in necessary rela­ tion to. . . i. earth virtually gets defined as the indefinable. These kinds of explanations correlate a phenomenon with terms and ideas alien to its inte­ gral character. For instance. such explanations of brute facts of the world simultaneously conceal our more immediate contact with things. Definitions dissolve raw ' qualia' in favour of concepts. The sculptor uses stone just as the mason uses it. This setting forth of the earth is achieved by the work as it sets itself back into the earth . we can measure a stone's weight and explain it in terms of gravitational pull. Paradoxically.

Let's look at this in a particular work. breaking the illusion A great representational work of art for Heidegger is one that creates a strife between what is depicted and the medium used to depict it. but it accomplishes this through and in the medium of inherently nonrepresentational stuff: stone.their daily routines. as sheltering and concealing. Great art on the other hand keeps us constantly aware of the fact that it is made of something. that the sculpture does not just represent a wak­ ing slave but represents h im in stone. Bad art lets one thrive at the expense of the other. spiritual state. . In great art each makes the other stronger. tends always to draw the world into itself and keep it there' ( 1 74) . letting us make our way through the world with little to no thought. sound tones. up close it dissolves into a splash of colours. . pigment. undergo a Gestalt switch into a piece of fabric with thick globs of paint on it. especially when one stands before the original. ernotional lives. 'the work sets itself back into' ( 1 7 1 ) the mate­ rial. The painting can. like potboiler novels which so absorb the reader into their world t hat she forgets that she is sitting on a couch running her eyes over squiggles of ink on paper. in rest­ ing upon the earth. 'The world. as in Van Gogh's painting which vibrates with . Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' sets up a world by depicting a scene: a small village sleeps beneath a roiling night sky. The tension between them makes us more vividly aware of each than in our mundane dealings with worldly equipment or earthy things: 'in essential strife the opponents raise each other into the self-assertion of their essential natures' (1 74). strives to surmount it. however. the v illag­ ers' world . The magic window leads the eye to look through it. keeping it within our attention. The earth. however. . namely. We can look 'through' the painting to what it depicts. or overly experimental works that repel any attempts to enter them. which Heidegger calls strife. 52 . The two aspects can also switch back and forth. which would be earth . etc. As self-opening it cannot endure anything closed.H EIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS Representational art (to stay with this type of art for the moment) sets up a world by depicting something. Properly functioning equipment distracts us from its material. etc. vying for dominance. but the paint wants to be acknowledged. Whereas a (non-artistic) photograph withdraws as a 'magic window' through which we look at its subject. allowing us to see both.

THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART

energy due to the beauty of the scene contrasting with the visible brush strokes. By troubling the medium through which we perceive the subject, by disturbing the representational illusion, strife draws our attention to art's miraculous evocation of something deep and powerful in a splattering of paint or a chunk of rock. My awareness of my emotional state listening to Bach's Cello Suites is heightened when I realize that my rapture, my sense of pro­ found insight, comes from rubbing horse hair across cat-gut bound to glued-together wooden boards. I cannot escape the feeling that such works express something profound about what it means to be human, yet they are 'really' just vibrations pro­ duced by rubbing strings together. This incongruity between tM profound stirrings in my heart and their mundane cause, between art's meaningfulness and its medium's meaninglessness, makes me aware of music as music, which helps me feel gratitude for what I had been taking for granted. I am grateful that I can hear and, by extension, that I am in the clearing at all. Since works make us aware of being aware, or unconceal the normally inconspicuous unconcealment, 'only now, in the midst of beings, the open region brings beings to shine and ring out' . 129 We are always within the clearing but we usually take it so much for granted that we are not aware of it. The 'friction' or resis­ tance set up by strife prevents the clearing from inconspicuously withdrawing, thus allowing the truth or unconcealment of Being to take place: 'self-concealing Being is cleared' ( 1 8 1 ) . The third way that truth happens i n art is through what Heidegger calls its 'createdness'. Although equipment is made, this only occurs to us when inappropriate material causes a malfunction: 'who was the idiot who made a hammer out of balsa wood and pewter?' On the other hand, 'in the work, creat­ edness is expressly created into the created being, so that it stands out from it' ( 1 89-90). In strife, artworks set their subject back into what they are made out of, which constantly confronts us with the fact that meaning and emotional resonance have been wrought from mere stuff. Ultimately, createdness makes us thematically aware of the fact that the artwork is, a fact that usually lies dormant or con­ cealed in our dealings with beings. 'The simplef actum est is to be held forth into the open region by the work: namely this, that
53

HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS

unconcealment of a being has happened here . . . or, that such a work is at all rather than is not' ( 1 90). Artworks are, we might say, intentionally obtrusive; they do not go quietly into incon­ spicuousness but demand our attention as beings that are. This is totally different from equipment's createdness which 'does not become prominent in the equipment; it disappears in usefulness. The more handy a piece of equipment is, the more inconspicu­ ous it remains that, for example, this particular hammer is. ' 1 30 Equipment inconspicuously hides its 'that it is', which is why 'the making of equipme n t never directly effects the happening of truth' ( 1 89). Using tools dims down our awareness, lulling us into unthinking auto-pilot, whereas artworks 'restrain all usual doing and prizing, knowing and looking, in order to stay within the truth that is happening in the work ' ( 1 9 1 ) . 'What Is Metaphysics?' describes how the contingency of all beings, Le. , the recognition that they might not have been, high­ lights the simple fact that they are ( 1 03). Here, the artwork's strife keeps us aware that it has been created and thus that it is: seeing the earth of its world, e.g., the swirls of paint that make up the landscape, vividly exposes the fact that the artwork has come into being while it could have remained mere blobs of paint in tubes. The contingency of its existence brings its factum est to the forefront which imparts a sense of Being itself ( 1 90). These three ways that artworks illuminate Being - setting up a world, instigating strife, and highlighting their own createdness ­ justify Heidegger's claim that the essay is completely oriented to the question of Being. 1 3 1 Like Dasein in Being and Time (see 55-6), artworks are privileged objects of inquiry since they have a special connection to Being that can help us achieve a proper relationship. One indication of this is how much time Heidegger spends analysing poetry in his later works. Heidegger admits that organizing his discussion of art around truth is unusual since beauty has traditionally been the dominant topic of aesthetics ( 1 62). He does not neglect beauty, but joins it to truth in art. Truth is unconcealment and beauty is the uncon­ cealment of this unconcealment which occurs in an exceptional way in great works of art. 'That is how self-concealing Being is cleared . Light of this kind joins its shining to and into the work. This shining, joined in the work, is the beautiful. Beauty is one way in which truth essentially occurs as unconcealment . ' 1 32
54

THE ORIGIN OF THE WOR K OF ART

Although the clearing is usually 'self-concealing' in that it recedes while revealing beings, artworks provoke its revelation, revealing unconcealment itself, which is how Heidegger defines beauty. Being, truth, and beauty, three traditional values of philosophy, are innovatively joined together here. In addition to truth and Being, Heidegger also places the good within art's realm. We can see this quasi-ethical aspect best when we turn from representational art, which we have concentrated on so far, to his deliberate selection of a Greek temple as a non­ representational work ( 1 67). Instead of invoking a world by depicting a telling detail the way Van Gogh's portrait of the dirt-stained shoes does, the temple directly sets up the world of the Greeks: 'the temple, in its standing there, first gives to things their look and to men their outlook on them selves ' (1 68). The temple manifests the Greek sense of what is important and what things mean, i.e. , their epoch's understanding of Being. As all worlds do, 'this open relational context' ( 1 67) provides 'a guiding measure, a form in which what is essential gives guidance' (1 69). Like the peasant's world, the temple 'first fits together and at the same time gathers around itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the shape of destiny for human being' . 133 The temple gathers the maj or landmarks that shape a human life into a meaningful pattern. Religion sanctifies; it takes up the brute facts of human life we are thrown into - birth, death, companionship, family, meals - and infuses them with meaning. The birth of my child is a biological act performed by my species, but a Bris or baptism joins my children to my wife and me, our past to our future, our family to our community. This kind of 'transubstantiation' or 'change-over' is how such events 'acquire the shape of destiny', how they become sacred. Rituals attune an entire community to see, think, and value in harmony as long as 'the god has not fled' ( 1 68), i.e. , as long as this common understanding sufficiently suffuses the community's life. 134 This infusion of meaning into our facticity applies the strife between earth and world to our lives. Earth in this case repre­ sents the brute facts that characterize humans - that we are born, eat, mate, die. Although these elements possess no intrinsic meaning, the rites and celebrations of a religion weave them into
55

Ulti­ mately. Projecting openness itself. Listening to music helps us celebrate the simple fact that we can hear. because of the contingent facts of my background. But. 'The opening up of the open region. it does hold meaning for me. cherish and guard it. Genuine strife acknowledges that our rituals do give life-events meaning without losing sight of their givenness or arbitrariness. would be an excess of earth. that turns birth into a gift. I think this is what Heidegger means by 'the protective grace of the gods' ( 1 70) .HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS a pattern. and the clearing of beings. We ought to gratefully attend to the fact that we are open to beings. affiliation with tradition provides a way to be at home in this life and on this earth (see PR 1 5). the fact that we have these ways of being open. 1 35 56 . the most basic possible feature is simply being in a clear­ ing at all. Or world. We most completely realize t h e clearing when we celebrate it. etc. The 'ethical' prescription in much of Heidegger's later work is to project this most fundamental feature of our thrown­ ness. happens o n l y when the openness that makes its advent in thrown ness is projected' ( 1 96). is the foundation and culmination of particular celebrations. religions compromise this strife when either earth or world overpower the other. they become the meaningful inheritance of a people rather than the biological occurrences of a species. I project the culture I have been thrown into by deliberately embracing and celebrating it. of course. Of all that I am thrown into. a com­ placent confidence that one possesses the only true religion and that everything happens for a reason. and death into a passage (see 362). Although this bond is rationally indefensible. it connects me to my son and both of us to millennia of ancestors and future generations. Like bad artworks. had I been born another time or place I would undoubt­ edly believe in and live by a wholly different faith. denying all meaning to the world in favour of the grey featurelessness that con­ fronts us in anxiety. Through celebrations. mating into the joining of souls. Sartrean nihilism. World-dominance results from overly comprehensive or smug explanations. like Kierkegaard's despised Christendom. painting that we can see. which art does exceptionally wel l . circumcision is no more rational or correct than baptism or tattooing or any of a myriad of other ways to celebrate birth.

Existentialism is actually the most hopeful school of thought. In particular. In his talk. making us masters of our own fate and the source of the world's meaning and value. His famous claim that existence precedes essence means that we are not defined by a pre-existing Form or divinely given essence . . he spent the late-thirties studying Nietzsche s thought in great detail concluding that his ideas (adopted and celebrated by Sartre as true humanism) are actually symptoms of our catastrophic era. This kind o f ' . since it maintains that what we are is entirely up to us. it is much harder to see how the various discussions in 'Letter on Humanism' come together to form a coherent whole.THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART STUDY QU ESTIONS 2 3 Explain world and earth and their strife. radically free. we simply show up. Describe how the strife occurs in a specific work of art. How does strife occur in non-representational works. rejecting the popular image of existentialism as pessimistically focused on despair and human weakness. Sartre names Heidegger as a fellow atheistic existentialist Whether or not we accept this assessment of the early work. The death of God leaves us in 'a situation where there are only human beings' ( quoted at 237). such as the temple? Why did Heidegger create so many new terms? d. Sartre had recently given a talk. Heid�gger had come a long way in the twenty years since Being and Time. Letter on H u manism 'Letter on Humanism' discusses many issues central to Heidegger s later career and is widely considered one of his most important writings The essay as a whole. however. 57 . Whereas an essay like 'On the Essence of Truth' follows a clear (if dense) line of argu­ ment. Sartre argues. ' . The obvious way to approach the essay is through the titular topic of humanism. later pub­ lished as ' Existentialism Is a Humanism'. and our subsequent decisions determine our essence. often appears to meander without purpose or structure.

but he wan t s to show that this is a m i s re a di n g.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS rei n fo rces contemporary 'homeless­ ness' which ' Ni etzs ch e was t he last to experience' (24 1 ) . Before we know whether or not we want to revive it. As a fo rmal exhortation to be true to your n at ure. which have varied wildly throughout history. 247). not just wh at h appe n s in a pe rs on's life (which is c l ose r to the traditional notion of existentia or actuali­ tas) . th e m e a n in g of humanism depends e n ti re ly on its v i e w of hum an nature and our relati ons to beings as a wh ole. but th e latter 's p re s up p o s i t i on of an e s se n ce to h uman i ty conflicts with the for­ mer's d e nia l t h e re o f. which he defines as he lp in g humans become what they are. H eid e gger seizes the opportunity to separate himself from Sartre by diag­ n o si n g t hi s vi e w. 1 36 This goal obviously assumes that there is something that huma n s are. Existence h ere names the articulated structure of D as e i n's way of Being.reachin g conclusions about the nature of man an d the purpose of life i m pl y and follow from a part i cula r conce p tio n of what it means to be (225). h i s fa m i l y. t o which H e ideg g e r res p on d s that the q ue sti on assumes that such a g oal is desirable (2 1 9 . . Beaufret asks how we ca n re store m eani n g to 'humanism' . I n s te ad of as se r ti n g the mere fact that 'we live. When Jean Beaufret poses q u e s t i o n s about Sartre's talk. and the city. 1 37 Sartre equates existentialism with h um ani sm . s ee ing man as a c hi ld of God rests on an un de rs tan d i ng of God and this fallen world. Marx's homo f aber (prod uc i n g or wo rki n g man) gets its con te nt from how he relates to natural needs. This leads to H e id e gger 's first major point: 'every humanism remains metaphysical' I 40 by fo r min g humanism issues from and ­ 58 . A civ ili ze d Roman ci tizen gets defined in terms of how he re l at e s to barbarians. that we p o s s e s s what is traditionally called an es sence. . H eide gger admits that Being and Time's claim that 't he "essence" of Dasein lies in i t s existence' 1 3 8 could be read the way Sartre does. labour. we must first investigate what humanism is. "the s e n t en ce M an e k -s i s t s " . re s p o n ds to the q ue st io n co n cerni ng man's "essence'" . 1 39 The set of existen tialia or e s se n tia l structures that make up Dasein's e x i s t e n ce functions in many ways like a tradi­ tional essence (see 59) . and the social distribution of goods. Such far. Even Sartre expl ic i t ly bases his h u m a n i s m on his o n to l o g y of godless reality.

History becomes fate. 1 42 The ontological difference between beings and their Being guides the metaphysical quest to determine the Being of beings rather than gathering facts about individual beings. In this way. 145 Heidegger mentions two ways that metaphysics has obscured the truth of Being: Plato explains the clearing with his theory of Ideas as the way beings 'look'. or metaphysics. it does not think about the simple fact that they are present to us at all . which in turn determines that specific form of humanism. this inquiry would turn to the highly elusive phenomenon of their presencing to us. a particular mean­ ing of Being and a specific understanding of how all beings relate to each other establishes this humanism. while Kant (and Husserl) attri­ bute beings' openness to our own transcendental faculties. the manifestation or presencing of beings to us in what he calls the clearing. metaphysics misses the truth of Being which lies beyond the ontological difference. 1 41 For Christianity. to be is to be a creation of God. 147 Instead of focusing on present things. so everything gets its significance from His Ideas.LETTE R ON HUMANISM their views about man's essence on the basis of a conception of what it means to be. the divinely-authored story that passes from 'in the beginning' to the final judgment. Now Heidegger argues that this kind of thinking not only misses something vital. . The ontological break between heavenly things and the insurmountably inferior things of this world should guide all of our decisions. We could not think about 59 . Heidegger frequently says that it is its very simplicity that makes it hard to notice. Indeed. 1 44 We tend to deal with beings without noticing that they are or that we are aware of them.e. i. 'forgetting the truth of Being in favour of the pressing throng of beings' . Although metaphysics analyzes what beings are. 146 These metaphysical examinations of beings as a whole and their Being prevent any inquiry into the truth or unconcealment of Being. 1 43 However. Let us briefly look at Christian humanism as an example. We should strive to get as close to God as possible since He is the ground of all beings and the highest Being. but actually blocks our access to it. Both commit the error of ontotheology by trying to explain Being itself in terms of beings. Heidegger understands truth as uncon­ cealment. One's definition of the Being of beings dictates what one takes man's essence to be.

. Being and Time explores this topic in the notion of thrown­ ness: 'Dasein is something that has been thrown.HEIDEGG ER'S LATER WRITINGS beings at all unless they manifested themselves to us. their presence to us. . 'We receive many gifts. in the sense of this dowry. it is not and cannot be of our doing. . This is why Heidegger often says that Being withdraws or conceals itself in unconcealing beings. this entails that we do not properly understand thinking either (see also 374) . . is thinking . Whereas Sartre and Nietzsche (and to a lesser degree Being and Time) extend Kant's Copernican Revolution to depict consci ousness as actively constituting the world and imbuing it with value. It does not make or cause the relation. 1 48 Turning to this inconspicuous aspect requires a pro­ found change in focus: rather than the nearest (particular beings). Thinking b r i n gs this relation to Being solely as some­ thing handed over to it from Being' (2 1 7) . 1 50 While our openness is who we are. Heidegger is pointing to nearness. which is not at all another being. . Being is 60 . ' l s2 The ability to think or to be aware of beings in any way is 'given' to us by Being . Since he says a few sentences later that thinking is an action. it has been brought into its "there". Our thinking can only be the recipient of our awareness of the world. but not of its own accord . of many kinds. not its source. . ' thinking accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of man . But the highest and really most lasting gift given to us is always our essential nature. as well as Nietzsche's. ' I S I Among all the particular features we discover ourselves possessing without having chosen them . what is present itself' . But the thing given to us. yet we do not think about this manifestation. with which we are gifted in such a way that we are what we are only through it . or the truth of Being. and it has to do with the essay's very first sentence: 'we are still far from pondering the essence of action decisively enough' (2 1 7). Focusing on what is lit up naturally ignores the light. Of course.our essential resi­ dence in the clearing or openness to Being is the first and the most fundamental. etc.our gender. 149 Heidegger draws another consequence from this refocusing that upends much of Sartre's thought. race. since everything else depends on this. presenting a kind of Gestalt switch between 'the presence of what is present and . Heidegger's later work consistently empha­ sizes our passivity. itself.

did not already have to reign here as well! l S5 61 . but at least the notion of a higher benefactor can provoke grateful awe. The end result is that our era sees Being as what has been posited by subjects. We actually think that a being becomes accessible when an '1' as subject represents an object.with o p en i ng the clearing. although we continually take it for granted. experi­ ence beings as being . Descartes sets this trend in motion by putting the subject at the forefront of philosophy and by claiming to construct a new more effective way of thinking.that is. have long forgot­ ten the realm of the unconcealment of beings. thus committing ontotheology.if the relationship to Being were not granted him?' 153 The Greek notions of aletheia (usually translated as 'truth') and physis (roughly. ls4 . . which means that they are already unconcealed to us in some way (this argument also appears in 'The Question Concerning Technology'). This ineliminable moment of passiv­ ity must form the basis for any kind of activity we engage in: 'how could man comport himself to beings . As if the open region within whose openness something is made accessible as object for a subject. We cannot produce this unconcealment. Kant then attributes the structure of the phe­ nomenal world to transcendental subjectivity's unconscious act ivity and Nietzsche brings this arc to its culmination by plac­ ing the conscious creation of values (and ontological structures) in the hands of the strong. whic h means that we take credit for opening the clearing an d dete rmi ning its character ourselves. Medieval thought credits a particular being . We today. . and many generations before us.LETTER ON HUMANISM not a being so this does not mean that the great Being in the sky sent us this gift like Prometheus handing fire to humanity or Michelangelo's God touching Adam with the spark of life (which would be an ontotheological account). What Heidegger means is that we can only find that beings reveal themselves to us.God . since even to consider doing this requires us to know that there are things out there to be unconcealed. t h e empirical realm of changeable things around us) capture the idea that Being reveals itself to us fairly well. and accessibility itself . Heidegger sees the history of modern philosophy as the rise of subjectivity.

or at least that it can be read that way. Heide gger admits that Being and Time falls into this trap. ' I S7 The idea t h at Dasein proj ec t s a meaning of Being sounds too subjective. by b asi n g himself on Descartes (for whom [aletheia] as [aletheiaJ does not a rise) .HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS Modern subjec tivity claims responsibility for both the fact and the way that beings present themselves to us or. 'we are precise ly in a situation where principally there is Bein g ' (237). the later work shows thrown n e ss i n escap ab ly do minating projection.is thrown.. ' Letter on Humanism' aims to correct this m i s understanding of projection as 'an achievement of su bj ecti v ity ' (23 1 ) . absurd world. I S8 In contrast to Sartre's picture of just humans. One way Heidegger makes this p o i n t is by emphasizi ng thrownness over proj ecti on . project is then only taken to be a structure of subjectivity .essence and existence. a dependency over which Dasein itself does not have control. Sartre frames the b as i c tenet of his talk in terms of two notions that have been central to philosophy since Plato (232) . Traditionally. i. Its phrasing makes i t alJ too possible to understand the 'p roj ect ' as a human performance. I So Sartre reads Being and Time as claiming that subjects s u pp l y all organization and value to an inert.e. wh ich is why Heidegger now says that 'man is rather "thrown" from Being its el f into the truth of Being' .and consequently. What we decide to do depends on the options and preferences we are thrown into. Whereas Being and Time awards a limited but important p rio r ity to projection. a thing's essence precedes its exis tence in the sense that its Form or divine Idea guides i ts creation and de te r m in es what is proper to it. which is why he sees H e i d e gge r as an ally. even all of man's "creative" activity . the thinking after Being and Time replaced the expression 'meaning of being' with 'truth of being ' . In order to c ounter this mista ke n con cep ti o n and to retain the meaning of 'proj e c t ' as it is to be taken (that of the openi ng disclosure). in Heide gge r 's te rmin olo gy. Acco rdingl y. 'All projection . the clearing .which is how Sartre takes it. Knowing what a bed is and ­ ­ 62 . it is de term ined by the dep en dency of Dasein on the being alrea dy in t he t otality.

in Heidegger's terms. could be otherwise. ' 1 59 Just moving metaphysical terms around. 'the reversal of a metaphysical statement remains a metaphysical statement. We generally take the way things are now as their natural state: 'it simply no longer occurs to us that everything that we have all known for so long. and all too well. experience can fit 63 . thought about. but 'it still remains to ask first of all from what destiny of Being this differ­ entiation . cannot escape or seriously alter tradi­ tional ideas. But for Heidegger. The later work casts this idea in historical terms. Studying metaphysical writings from earlier ages shows how differently beings have presented themselves throughout history. .LETTER ON H U MANISM what it is for enables the craftsperson to make one. . it could happen other ways. as if their views were self-evidently correct. as something that happens. existence precedes essence. and acted on. no matter how creatively. 1 60 Instead of assuming the validity of these standard ideas and just putting them into a novel arrangement. 163 The truth of Being is a dynamic event of unconceal­ ment in which beings manifest themselves to be perceived. As the 'irruption' (95) of beings out of concealment rather than the state of just being there. We have no pre-set essence laying out what we are supposed to do. this takes the form of Dasein's conformity to the one (das Man). forgetting the truth of Being to focus on the state of beings. we create our essence during our existence through the radically free choices we make. none of these ways of grasping reality can claim absolute validity. While people in each era find their understanding self-evident. '162 This compla­ cency finds support in the standard conception of truth as a static correspondence with things as they are or. 161 Throughout his career. 'The differ­ entiation of essential (essentiality) and existential (actuality) completely dominates the destiny of Western history'. Sartre's innovation is to reverse this relationship so that for humans. i. With it [Sartre] stays with metaphysics in oblivion of the truth of Being. Heidegger believes that humans tend to take their present situation for granted. comes to appear to thinking' . and knowing what we want it to do enables her to evaluate how well it serves its purpose. Heidegger takes a step back to challenge the notions themselves. our experience loses its air of inevitability.e. . how good a bed it is. In the early work.

We are receptive in the fact that we can think at all. 'Every "no" that does not mistake itself as willful assertion of the positing power of subjectivity . as well as the way we think. not The Way Things Are. are all phenomenological data that we simply find. and the same applies to how they show up: 'man does not decide whether and how beings appear' (234) . We can formulate rules governing proper negation but. Ultimately. as Wittgenstein demonstrates. which itself cannot be finally grounded. In this way. none of which can be determined by us. concepts. we move from uncritically engaging in metaphysical thinking to th i nki n g about metaphysics from the perspective of the truth of Being. 166 One of the leitmotifs of the later work is that thinking is essentially a response. In order to construct our way of thinking. we would need preferences and goals to guide the reform. Our own understanding is shown to be just one possible conception. Our action of negating is really a response to features presented to us rather than 'the product of a subjective act' (26 1 ) . we can only notice and think about 'what the addressed allows to radiate of itself' . We do not decide what can and should be negated. it depends on our finding it authoritative. l 64 Since it studies metaphysics from a higher or deeper point of view. 64 . 1 67 Heidegger illustrates this by repeating the analysis of negation that appears in 'What Is Metaphysics?' (at 1 04-5).HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS each. this inq u i ry can be called 'meta-metaphysics'. How we think about the world depends on h ow it strikes us. propositions present themselves to us as negatable. we accept as sufficient and legit­ imate evidence that which strikes us as satisfactory. 1 68 The possibility of negat­ ing them must occur to us for us to consider doing it. 1 65 The fact that beings show u p for us is not of our doing. Relevance. what makes sense to us to say about it. and these could not be up to us on pain of infinite regress. and it must appeal to us as the right thing to do for us to choose to do it. it is still up to us to determine when and how to apply them . . though it has special relevance here in light of S artre's emphasis on the subj ect's production of negation. that something is so-and-so. answers to the claim of the nihilation illumined' (260). . No matter what grounds we cite to justify our beliefs or procedures. down to accepting basic logical rules (such as the Principle of Reason or Non-Contradiction).

met aphysics thinks bei ng. that is. 'groundless ground': although these ultimate notions form the foundation or ground for our thought. but it does supply us with ways of thinking that are as legitimate as they can be. it locates the laws within the wider context of the d estiny of truth. We are thrown into a way of thi n king that can become a welcoming home where we dwell rather than an arid alien landscape. Our homelessness (' Unheimlichkeit') is not a permanent feature of Dasein. how we think cannot be a matter of choice. the various ways of thin king sent to us throughout history. This que s tioning must think metaphysically and at the same time think out of the ground of metaphysics. This is what Heidegger means by the phrase. metaphysically speaking. l7l This project takes the philosophical drive to examine one's presuppositi on s to its conclusion by tracing the roots of our most basic ideas. we must keep in mind that the term 'groun dl ess ground' has two sides: this 'measure' lacks ultimate justification. Now. ' 69 This does not rob th e s e laws of their legitimacy. nor can our most basic ways of thinking be justified since they are what determine what counts as justification in the first place. I t i s necessary t o ask what metaphysics i s in its groun d . we would be paralysed. as portrayed by the m ode rn subject-centered phil o s op hy like S artre's notion of an original proj ect . they themselves cannot be grounded. thrownness alluded to our exis­ tential abandonment in a strange realm. but a contemporary historical symptom of our h aving forgo t ten Being (see 24 1 -3). remains its unknown and ungrounded ground . In Being and Time. . 65 . which truth. yet without being able to ponder the truth of b e ing in the manner of its own think ing. 1 70 Instead. If it were really up to us to decide how to think and what to value without be ing attracted or repulsed by any t h ing. . now Heidegger recasts this notion in a more positive light: 'man is rather "thrown" from Being it self into the truth of B eing' (234) . in cluding our present p o siti on as recip­ ients of one particular epo chal un ders t andi ng of Being. In the beingne s s of b eings. Metaphysics everywhere moves in the re alm of the truth of bei n g . . indeed this is the only possible source of legitimacy.LETTE R ON H U MANISM A cc ord ing to this conception of thinki ng.

The only 'thing' that is performing the action of raining is the rain it s elf which only exists in the act of raining. ' 1 74 Normally givers are distinct from their gifts and the act of giving.HEI DEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS like Buridan 's ass. no subsistent subject named by the 'it' (see WeT 1 72). is Being itself. Being is the giving and the givenness of beings. otherwise 1 could not take so much as a single step.to bring out another point. nor cast a glance at something. where there is no separate agent doin g the raining. the tortured phrasing comes out as: 'the " g ives " names the essence of Being that is giving. that it attracts me. with no vocabulary or grammar to talk about Being (see 86) . Deciding for one way of th i nking or living over another requires that I find one preferable to the other. and the stuff enacted all in one (this grammatical form is sometimes called the middle voice. as well as the 'space' or locale in w hi ch they become manifest. along with the open region itself. 66 . but in this case Being is not something alongside the given beings. 'I ca n no t exist at all without constantly respond ­ i n g to this or that address in a thematic or unthematic way. The subject-object grammar of our language also misleads us to think of ourselves as substantial entitiesl 75 to which this event of appearing happens. 'it gives' resembles phrases like 'it is raining'. 'Es gibt' . As difficult as it is to wrap your head around the idea. ' l n Whereas Nietzsche and Sartre's pro­ posed solutions to nihilism demand that we create value through willed acts of valuin g . it is the dynamic event of beings p re s enting themselves to us. 1 7 3 Heidegger uses the German phrase. the act . between activity and passivity) . The self-giving into the open. granting its truth. Heidegger considers this the ultimate form of nihilism since it ignores the meaningfulness we find all around US. Whenever 'there are' beings. but literally meaning 'it gives' . In this case. we must resist the onto theological image of a being supplying us with beings or form s of understanding. it is the agent. Again. One reason Heidegger's writing is so difficult is that he is fighting against our language's propensity to speak only of beings. they are 'given' to us in that the process of unconcealment is something that happens to us rather than something that we do.generally trans­ lated as 'there is'. Heidegger insists that we cannot properly think of ourselves or Being apart from the other: Being is e s sentially appearing which needs someone to appear to. In this way.

Heidegger rebukes both Sartre and Husserl for ignoring this point while praising Hegel for discovering it. Heidegger assigns us a k ind of ess ence. existence. he discusses ethics in the sense of its etymo­ logical origin. This is basic to our doing anything else and. our distinctive activity is ek-sistence or revealing Being: 'man is. 1 79 This understanding of our 'essence' Heidegger leads Heidegger to a new comprehension of ethics. no other Aristotle's system) . The idea is that once we find our essence or what makes d isti nctive ( o ur ergon). the "essence" of man . This thus pointing to the clearing . or a being's distinctive activity. to be 67 can do this (an important criterion of distinctiveness in a good man means to . which means 'standing in th e clearing of Be ing ' (228) amongst beings rather than being closed up in some kind of inner mind . 176 T h u s. but says that it takes the place of essence in the traditional sense. the best way of living consists in means the place where we dwell which makes us what we are. receives its canonical formulation in Aristotle's Nicomachean us performing this activity with excellence (arete). whereas Sartre denies any essence to human consciousness. ' 1 77 Being and Time 's term for our specific way of Being. For one thing. as it is called in the traditional language of metaphysics. ethos. Instead.LETTER ON H U MANISM and we are essentially involved with bei ng s in their appearance to us. Also. Like most continental thinkers. mean i n g 'abode. and is man. dwelling place' (256). I SO This line of thought adapts a sometimes called perfectionism. The ek-sistence of man is historical in that what kind of Being we reveal changes profoundly as such' (239). refuses to issue specific 'directives' or 'rules' for good living (255). the fact that Being gets revealed in radically differ­ ent ways in different epochs renders the activity of revealing beings quite formal and flexible.or. is now understood in light of its etymologi­ cal roots in 'ec-stasis' or ' s tanding outside oneself'. as far as we know. which Ethics. Our essential openness is his­ torical across epochs: 'man stands ek-sistingly in the destiny of Being. Heidegger does not exactly call this an essence. It is closer to the sense of Aristotele's ergon.lies in h i s ek-sistence. insofar being as he is the ek-sisting one' (252). very old form of ethics. For Heidegger. 1 78 Now. 'What man is . it is far more dynamic: disclosing beings is closer to some­ thing that we do than a quality we have or state we are in. namely being open to Being. l S I Therefore.

allowing them to unfold their appearance the way one nurtures a plant to maturation. being open to anything whatso­ ever. that there is Being (see 238). 1 8 6 Since Being itself withdraws as it presents us with beings. 246. we should ponder the fact that Being is open to us in any way. 1 8 5 A number of features characterize this excellent d i s closure. The truth of Being 'thoroughly governs' (233) us in that we can only think and experience in terms of our epoch 's particular understanding of Being. in the oblivion of Being. The first is paying close. 390).HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS reveal Being well. namely revealing Being. We perform our activity with excellence by taking care of Being. altering another term from Being and Time. Heidegger says many times that man is thrown into the clearing 'so that ek-sisting in this fashion he might guard the truth of Being' . we do not explicitly attend to it. the way phenomenology dredges up the structures of consciousness for thematic attention. caring for Being (23 1 . we should allow Being itself to come into the open by contemplating the emergence of various forms of epochal beingness in the history of metaphys ics. leaving us unable 'to experience and take over this dwelling'. that we dwell in openness. Heidegger famously starts the 68 . sensitive attention to how beings appear to us. which is why thinking about the truth of Being is the original ethics. which Heidegger variously calls being the shepherd of Being (234. rather than forcing them into presupposed concepts. Being is the appearance of beings and we are the appeared -to . 1 84 The great thinkers and poets reach beyond the specific under­ standing of Being they live in to the bedrock level of having an understanding of Being at all. We find and raise to awareness that within us that corresponds to Being. let them fully manifest themselves as they 'want' to. l s2 Whereas in Being and Time thrownness is fai rly close to Sartre's claim that we are abandoned in the world with no essential task assigned to us by anything like nature or God (see BT 393/343). 245) or. 1 83 A few thinkers and poets manage to bring their understanding to explicit awareness and articulation. We should let beings be ( Gelassenheit). Perhaps the most important way to reveal Being well is to put it into language. This activity has a highest form. Before the particulars of what is open to us. now Being throws us into a particular task. This holds for everyone but.

As the absolutely unde te rm ined choice of good and bad cannot be . the choice can only be arbitrary. . and a superior one to Sartre's which 'does not set the humanitas of man high enough' (233-4) . 190 Heidegger argues that only that which lies beyond us can obligate us. values that precede our decisions would weight us down with an essence. our will Heidegger argues that it is the necessarily passive reception but the only way to overcome nihilism. to have our own desires ful fi lled or. This is how Heidegger insists that his later work is a form of humanism. With no given prefer­ ences or cri te ri a (since their significance can only be determined in light of our previously chosen fundamental project) . as he often puts it. . an good in principle. can only come from a source external to us. 69 . Heidegger's rej ection of such values is not nihilism. as the foundation of all further val­ ues. . Sartre claims that his system awards man the highest place by putting him in charge as the one who orders the world and creates values Heidegger responds that this position . ultimately. Medieval rationalists objected to their voluntarist opponents. . bringing Being explicitly to language represents the fulfillment or 'accomplishment' (2 1 7) of our relationship 1 88 . Only such dispatching is capable of sup p o rting and obl i gating. Otherwise all law remains merely something fabricated by human reason. is both incoherent (as discussed above) and leads to nihilism or the complete loss of value. . [accomplish] the manifestation of Being insofar as they bring the manifestation to language' . 1 87 Since our encounters with Being are inherently linguistic. . ' 1 89 Reversing Kantian autonomy. Acts of valuing that arise solely from our opting to value certain things can be changed or retracted at will. Those who think and those who create with words . Obligation. they can only reflect the basic desire willing itself. . . Willfully choosing all values as in Sartre's fundamental project must reject any guidance as heter­ onomous alien interference. Throughout. We receive 'from Being itself the assignment of those directives that must become law and rule for man . since it is the source of all evalu ation of prefere nces and criteria that enables us to make choices at all . the sense of responsibility to something greater.LETTER ON HUMANISM essay with the idea that 'language is the house of Being . we should celebrate our possibly unique ability to bring beings to manifestness. this drains the entire structure of significance.

The writing is straightforward with just a few of the convolutions and neologisms that populate Heidegger's other essays. 1 9 3 STUDY QU ESTIONS 2 3 What does Heidegger find problematic about Sartre's claim that existence precedes essence? How does Heidegger understand 'ethics'? How does his own thought fit this definition of ethics? How is his thought a humanism? How does forgetting the truth of Being do so much damage. Sartre's humanism does not put man high enough . and the ideas may strike many readers as rather familiar. Heidegger's Being-centered humanism actually places us higher. 70 . Metaphysics. 191 We are given the ability to think. to their highest form. and Mathematics This is probably the most readable piece in the collection. 'demoting' ourselves from the source of all values actually enhances our status. Man loses nothing in this "less". and using it brings us. he gains in that he attends the truth of Being' (245). rather. As Being's servant. Man is the shepherd of Being. as well as the gift and giver (Being). Ironically. showing us that we dwell in a home-like world (242-3) . charged with the sacred task of guarding its truth. this thinking also overcomes our contemporary homelessness. and how is recalling it supposed to help so much? e. Modern Science. 'Man is not the lord of beings. which is why he likes the word­ play that thinking (Denken) is thanking (Danken). Heidegger wants us to gratefully acknowledge our reception of significance as a gift.HEIOEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS Playing on the sense of gift as something precious to be treasured. In Since what we find when we do this is a world full of meaning. We do this by bringing it into the clearing by thinking about it. Thus. Both Thomas Kuhn's philosophy of sciencel 94 and Foucault's post-structuralist analyses of science (see Chapter 4) employ similar frameworks.

MODERN SCIENCE. Although Heidegger's own work usually broadens this investigation to encompass non-scientific contexts. Why does he not. a fact is only what it is in the light of the fundamental conception' . Heidegger moves from asking 'what is a thing' to asking 'how is modern science different from previous forms?' We need to understand why he explores these epochal sciences. . a 1 935-36 lecture series on Kant. facts are always already interpreted. and the work gives us a sense of Heidegger's thoughts on the history of thought. Heidegger views Kant as primarily interested in ontology rather than epistemology.195 so that the first Critique explains what things must be like in order to yield to scientific analysis. things are phenomena which have been structured by our forms of intuition and con­ cepts of the understanding into scientifically knowable objects (see WT 1 90). go to 'the things themselves' to find out what things are? In fact. The selection here is an excerpt from What Is a Thing?. the question 'what is a thing' points us towards the horizon within which we experi­ ence things. AND MATHEMATICS However. as the motto of phe­ nomenology puts it. there are some interesting and subtle things going on here that are not immediately visible. he says that 'there are no mere facts. 1 96 Facts only mean something within a particular interpretation or horizon. Rather. Heidegger also links the investiga­ tion of what things are to an analysis of science. things always appear within a horizon or 'conceptual scheme' which guides our experience and treatment of them. In a straightforward formulation of this idea. the main point Heidegger makes in this piece is that we do not and cannot immediately confront bare things or uninterpreted facts. their 'thingness'. However. METAPHYSICS. but . what Heidegger sometimes calls the Being of that being or the contemporary understanding of Being. the final word that renders earlier systems obsolete. . Heidegger spends this paper exploring 'the Characteristics of Modern Science in Contrast to Ancient and Medieval Science' (27 1 ) . an important aspect of his work that is underrepresented in this anthology.197 he follows Kant's lead here in focusing on science as the gateway to 71 . Thus. and why an examination of the nature of things should detour through science at all. whereas Kant takes Newtonian physics as the sole scientific truth about reality. Thus. For Kant. as Kant argued.

1 98 I . Even if certain contem­ porary practices occurred in an earlier form of science. 2 3 Although Heidegger challenges all three claims . Heidegger is arguing for a holistic under­ standing of science.e. we must turn from individual aspects to the back­ ground understanding that determines their meaning. SECTION A This excerpt attempts to grasp the essence of modern science and its roots in modern metaphysics through its particular take on mathematics. Unlike the Greeks. modern science employs experiments to discover information and test hypotheses (272).HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS thingness. they functioned and were understood in a fundamentally different way. this under­ standing determines all of the disciplines at that time and so should be visible in its science as wel1 . Investigating whether or not different periods use the same techniques to study nature ignores the difficulty involved in identifying them as the same. ignored by ancient science (273). 2oo Section A quickly runs through three features commonly used to distinguish the two: Modern science is based on hard facts and observations whereas previous inquiry relies on free-floating speculation or mere 'concepts' (27 1 -2). It is always hard to perceive the horizon one currently inhabits. on the issue of experiments (#2). For example. in which individual features such as practices c� m only be understood against the background of an era's scientific endeavour as a whole. Transporting 'the same' feature to a different context profoundly alters it. Therefore. 1 99 so Heidegger decides to illuminate moder­ nity's defining features by contrasting it with ancient Greek science. the 72 . which ultimately get grounded in a certain 'kind of preconception about things' (272) .his larger point is that this whole way of comparing is misguided.arguing that each 'modern' method was actually present in ancient science . i. Although an epoch's understanding of Being gets stated most explicitly in the period's metaphysics. . it is not a matter of what activities they undertake so much as the way it was done and how they understood what they were doing. Modern science uses calculations and measurements.

and as such things' (277). Heidegger begins the next section by trying to explain his sense of the mathematical (273) . SECTION B Having eschewed its normal definition. In order to acquire the concept ' tree' empirically. II. This strategy looks beneath superficial differences among an era's sciences to the fundamental core that motivates and unifies all of its aspects. As is his wont.201 The mathemata are the general categories by which we recognize and understand individual beings. we would first need to pick out a set of trees and only trees in order to abstract their common features. for instance. what kinds of questions make sense to ask about them. 'the mathematical is that evident aspect of things within which we are always already moving and according to which we experience them as things at all. Since individual results can be interpreted differently depending on one's general understand­ ing. he traces the word back to its Greek roots. But selecting such a group already requires a mastery of the category 'tree' in order to select only things of this type for study out of all the things in the worId. according to which. but we must be careful .this is not mathematics in the sense of the study of numbers. and what kinds of answers will count as acceptable. Heidegger often argues that we need a horizon or under­ standing of Being in order to discern beings at all. AND MATHEMATICS period's metaphysical horizon of the thingness of things that 'rules and determines the basic movement of science itself' (273).202 This is a 73 . these conceptual schemes cannot be derived from experience. Like Kuhn's paradigm. the thingness of the thing. and so on' . the mathemata are the general features of a set of things that we are familiar with prior to experience with them: 'the animal-like of the animal. Rather than a con­ clusion resulting from examinations of beings. As what underlies and enables experience. it is only at this metaphysical level that we can explain why science changes. as well as to interact appropriately with them.MODERN SCIENCE. The idea that 'modern science is mathematicaF (273) gives us the clue that will lead us to this foundational level. the horizons or regions of ontology that orient our interactions with things. METAPHYSICS. our conception of what it means to be determines how we investigate beings. making the mathematical 'the fundamental presupposition of the knowledge of things' (278).

Heide gger argues that we could not recognize or sin gle out features to study without a previous familiarity with their concept.203 Each d efines lea r n in g as ac h ievi ng a more explicit awareness of what we already know or is somehow within us in a l ess conscious manner. we must have the capacity to have our attention caught by it in order to attend to it. rat h e r than the d i s c ove ry of s o methin g entirely new or foreign.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS version of Meno's paradox. I I I . we can count three thin gs only if we already know "three". we can construct a 74 . Numbers represent a clear ex ample because objects in the world do not 'contain' or present mathematical (in the standard sense) qualities to plain perception . apples. Kan t views sci ence as con scio u sly ret raci n g the o rgani zat i o n that one's own mind has a u ton omi c all y imp a r te d to phenomena. This exemplary status is why the term 'mathematical' has become attached to the science of numbers according to Heidegger. Heid e gger 's solution bears a strikin g resemblance to this idea . 'Rather. in some way. . meant to demonstrate the i mpossi ­ bility of answering Socrates' 'what is X' question. If we lacked the concept of number.e. we already have' (276). This notion of the mathematical links Plato's theory of recol­ lection (mentioned at 290. we would just experience chairs. and cats.solves it.i.the idea that we have a vague grasp of the Forms which enables us to reco gnize the right answer when we come across it . SECTION C Now that we have determined the mathematical as wh at un d erlies and motiv ate s specific practice s. but never three of anythin g . Plato's theory of recollection . we only exp ressly recognize something which. Before we could even notice this facet of things .ontologi cal unde rstandin g of Being . their countability we must be open to it. Platonic learning means remembering the Forms that the soul encountered p r ior to th i s life but forgot due to the trauma of birth an d the distractions of the flesh. And H eid e g g e r's early phenomeno logical work a r ticulates the structure of the ex pe r i ­ ences we have all the time but do not pay attention to.1 ) with Kant's account of the transcendental subject 's constitution of the pheno m en al realm by means of a p riori concepts and Heidegger's own early work on Dasein's pre . In thus grasping the number three as such.

204 It was not that people before Newton were stupid or stubbornly refused to see what was right before their eyes. reality in a fundamen tally incomp atible way.206 Heidegger argues that the Greeks' unders tan ding showed them the wo rld in one way while simultaneously hiding other ways. which represent their respective answers to the question 'what is a thin g ' . physical bodies are just not the kind of thing that can engage in inertial movement. In order to grasp not just what a period believes but why they held those beliefs. their way of un d e rs tan di n g B eing cast all evidence into a form that could not accommodate an idea like inertia.20S Although we modems find the idea of i n e rtia obvious. For the Greeks. people s to p pe d cli ngin g to pres upp o s iti on s and superstitions to finally pay atte nt i o n to what really happens. A period's met ap hysic s structures its science. one must look beneath individual ideas to their founda­ tional metaphysical system . strikes us today as 'self-evident' (280). AND MATHEMATICS proper contrast between modem and ancient science from Aristotle represents the zen ith of anci ent Greek science. Intuitions like this lead to 'Whiggish' histories of science that portray the Progress of Enli ghtenment where by over time. Alth ough both natural philoso­ phers are deeply committed to empirical d ata . in Kuhn's p aradigm s prac­ ti ce their trades in different worlds'. Rather. the principle of in er tia . but nature and beings in gene ral were ex p erienced in such a way that it would have been senseless' (280). set ting limits to allowable ideas and p os s i bili ties. METAPHYSICS. SECTION D Heidegger now lays out Aristotle and Newton's distinct concep­ ti o n s of nature. H eidegger scoffs at this kind of narrative. they saw s om ething different due to their parti cu l ar un derstanding . ' the proponents of competing this p er spective. 'during the p rece ding fifteen hundred years it was not only unknown. thei r dive rgent 75 . IV. Newto n 's first Law of Motion. It was not th at they sim­ ply missed a key piece of evidence.MODERN SCIENCE. Earlie r perio ds could not have discovered the law of inertia because they experi­ enced famou s phrase. Continuing hi s idea that eve ry un co ncealment is also a concealment. while Newton will serve as the repre sentative modem scientist . as little more than an articulation of what eve ryon e sees simply by l oo k ing at moving things.

thus bridging the gap from observation to scientific analysis. air. thus are in motion. These are absolute directions within a qualified. a superficial similarity masks a profound and subtle incommensurability. such as throw­ ing a rock upwards or submerging a bucket full of air. From the general and indefinite experience that things change. his projection of ' 76 . Motion is not a force exter­ nally imposed upon inert matter but arises from thi n gs inner nature. meaning that various theories can accommodate 'the same' observations by interpreting them differently. what each makes of this holistically depends on the system within which it is viewed. come into existence and pass away. Their varying understandings of Being or metaphysics determine what they make of motion. water. motions.HEI OEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS perspectives show them quite dissimilar evidence. The four sub-lunary elements or basic kinds of matter (eart h . This is Aristotle's mathematical. There is no such thing as motion in-itself which univocally dictates what we are to make of it. Aristotle's universe contains absolute differentiations among bodies. and places. heterogeneous space: earth falls down and fire rises because each type of body seeks its proper place. and fi re) each have their own place: earth's place lies at the bottom while fire's domain is on top. This kind of motion is natural while motion which violates it. and ether's superlunary place behaves differently from everything beneath it. ' For what is actually apprehended as appeari n g and how it is interpreted are not alike' (282-3). is unnatural or violent and cannot long endure. although both thinkers start from the simple fact that things move. It is everywhere a question of the motion of bodies. The kind of being that belongs to things decides how their motion is to be understood. Once again. it is a long way to an insight into the essence of motion and into the manner of its belo n gin g to thi n gs (283). Our theories are 'underdetermined' by the data. Heidegger applies the earlier idea that facts are always interpreted (272) to the starting point for both physics: motion. so the way a thing moves depen ds on the type of thing that is moving. But how motion and bodies are to be conceived and what relation they have to each other is not established and not self-evident.

ideas and facts near the edge of the web 77 . on the basis of a deep commitment to the homogeneity of space and things. Notice that Aristotle can cite plenty of evidence ('look at how rocks fall down while fire rises') and explain lots of phenomena ('a thrown rock will eventually fall because sideways motion through the air is unnatural to earth. focusing once again on motion. making scientific laws truly universal (as Kant demands). METAPHYSICS. V.MODERN SCIENCE. it simply starts from different principles than contemporary science. Heidegger's claim is that these laws can only function like this. indeed Newton could only find them sensible. Heidegger then contrasts Aristotle's system with Newton's as representative of the modern epoch. This is not superstitious myth-making or story-telling. it seeks its proper place beneath'). Heidegger has now shown how 'all these changes are linked together and uniformly based on the new basic position expressed in the First Law and which we caJJ mathematical' (288). . All natural bodies are essentially of the same kind' (286). Since things are inert material laying about within the neutral con­ tainer of space.. As in Quine'S web of belief. SECTION E The law of inertia would have been nonsense to the Greeks since it does not fit into their coherent understanding of Being. immedi­ ately obliterating 'the distinction between earthly and celestial bodies . regions. etc. the falling of an apple obeys the same laws as the rotation of galaxies. This analysis fulfills his promise to find the unifying explanation for all the disparities between these periods' sciences in the fact that 'the concept of nature in general changes' . . they can have no preferences about where they are or what kind of motion they engage in. Qualitative differences between parts of space have also been stripped off. Newton's first law begins with 'every body'. the Cartesian grid in which points occupy neutral positions replaces Aristotle's graduated. AND MATHEMATICS thingness which guides the features of his physics. Newton's conception of thingness erases Aristotle's distinctions between elements. . place-filled universe. motions. 208 Aristotle and Newton's conceptions of motion had to clash because they were based on conflicting understandings of what things are.207 Whereas the initial distinction between ancient and modern science listed isolated differences (that were inaccurate to boot).

. fundamentally.are what interest Heidegger.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS can be altered with few ramifications. Heidegger examines one telling moment in detail: when Galileo dro p s two objects of different weights from the tower of Pisa. yields the peculiar phenomenon of people who live at the same time but in different epochs. These ideas . . . ­ ' . so the two objects should fall at the same pace rather than the thing with more earth racing faster to its h ome The bodies did not actu a lly hit the ground simultaneously. regarding the essence of a body and the nature of its motion 2 12 . . No motion is special Every place is like every other' (29 1 ). . Galileo made an ad hoc adjustment to co m pensate for the une xpected data. . The law of gravity therefo re appli e s the same way to everything. This episode vividly demons tr ates the way facts depend on their interp retation Since G a l i l eo's answer to the question ' what is a . New understandings of these facts mark epochal turns in what he calls 'actual history . Both G alileo and his opponents saw the same 'fact' . Both though t something along with the same llppearance but they thought something different . ' . or 'what is time?' 21 0 Although the transition from M ed i eval to modem time s spreads across a couple of centuri es (279). Galileo is the one i gnoring ' plain evidence while the Medieval spectators remain faithful to it 2 1 1 This point in history right on the edge of a revolution. . This represents one of moderni­ ty's first examinations of motion by an experiment. ' . d i sco nfir m in g Galileo s hypothesis But instead of bowing to the experiment's res u lts. since they are intertwined with so many others.the mathe­ matical . . ' '. 78 . But they interpreted the same fact differently and made the same happening visible to t hemselves in d ifferent ways . 209 These scientific revolutions force scientists to rethink the basic guiding concepts of their disci pline turning from scientific i n q ui ry to philosophi cal questions like wh at is reality'. . but overturning those near the center calls for the entire fabric to be rewoven. however. Although regarded as a hero of modern science. . that always concerns the openness of Being' . one of the ways people often distingu ish modern science from Medieval. The modern universe is profoundly h o m ogeneou s : 'all bodies a re alike. They stand si de by si de looking at the 'same' data but through di fferent understan dings so they see d ifferent things.

. 'How [things] show themselves in prefigured in the project.2J4 Modern science is mathematical in the sense of admitting only quantifiable phenomena because of its specific mathematical in the sense of its determining preconceptions about reality or things. METAPHYSICS. The mathematical precedes experience and even counts. facts themselves cannot determine their own interpretation. ' 21 5 VI . modern science takes an unprec­ edented stance towards its mathematical. numerical measurement' . these disciplinary domains are circumscribed and structured by a 'basic blueprint' (29 1) from which 'unfolds the entire realm of posing questions and experiments. The modern domain only allows uniform things homogeneously obeying universal laws to appear. i. AND MATHEMATICS thing?' diverges from his contemporaries. SECTION F Although every epoch is mathematical in the sense of operating within a set of preconceptions. This scenario functions roughly as a third argument against the possibility of an empirical derivation of the mathematical: since Galileo and the spectators came to contradictory conclusions from the same 'fact' . he sees a different event and draws different inferences from it. experience. the Bible and Aristotle. .show themselves'.ultimately.e. Medieval thinkers find out about the world by consulting the authorities on the matter . Therefore. The modern era begins by 79 . Moreover. but one which determines how beings can show up. facts . any other sources stand in need of external justification and must cohere with the official dogma contained therein. the 'site' within which humans have access to beings.e. as the condition for the possibility of certain kinds of experience: 'the project first opens a domain where things i. The various aspects of an epoch fit together to form that period's coherent mathematical. in a Kantian vein. aberrant phenomena are 'puzzles' awaiting integration into this scheme. establishing laws. this uniformity of things and relations is what 'makes possible and requires a universal uniform measure as an essential determinant of things. and disclosing new regions of beings' (293).MODERN SCIENCE. 2 13 This domain is a kind of clearing. the project also deter­ mines the mode of taking in and studying what shows itself. Instead of a neutral arena which allows anything to appear.

As with Kant. Instead of being open to however thin g s show up. In contrast to Greek conformity to the cosmos logos or Christian obedience to God's will.218 We decide the criteria that anything must meet in order to be considered real. making it the highest axiom and the arbiter of the real : 'the Being of beings is determined out of t he ' I am' as the certainty of the positing' (302) . . Ultimately. our project decides which appearances will count as legitimate and which must be dismissed. modernity gives rise to 'a new experience and formation of freedom itself. . It is not as much their dubiousness as the fact that his prior beliefs were p re given ' (30 I ) to reason that requires their ejection until properly inspected. restock our minds only with true ones. This drive towards self-reliance becomes the clue to under­ standing the founder of modern philosophy. Descartes . Since these beliefs include what is real.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS rejecting this reliance on divine revelation and authoritative texts for justification. . . Mathematically measurable qualities and movements conform to his system and hence really characterize (material) thingness. qualities such as beauty or usefulness do not and hence get relegated to mere subjectivity. this method sets up reason as 'guideline and court of appeal for all determinations of Being' . doubt is h ow he fulfills the modern mathematical's demand to fo un d kn owl edge for oneself (30 1 ) . ' 80 . 2 16 As in Kant's ethical auton­ omy. Modern thought dispenses with external au tho r ity in o rde r to achi eve a self-reliant gro und for truth and legitimacy. The mathematical strives out of itself to establish its own essence as the ground of itself and thus of all knowledge'.e. th e ' I ' doing this thinking is what precedes every­ thing given externally. a bind­ ing with obligations that are self-imposed . . only laws that we imp ose upon ourselves can bind us. Descartes. Only by purging these alien ideas can he achieve the goal of the mathematical: 'taking cogni­ zance of that which we already have' . i. On ly what fits in with one's axioms can be real and true. his ideas abo ut knowledge are co ns e q ue nce s of his understanding of B ei ng and. 2 1 7 Descartes devises a method whereby we can control which beliefs we admit i n to our thinking. H ei d eg ge r reads Descartes as p ri ma ri l y interested in meta­ physics rather than epistemology. in pa rt icul ar of thingne ss Descartes does not first decide to doubt which then uncovers the foundational ego. taki n g care to.

thus achieving complete autonomy. For Heidegger. 'What is decisive is that man specifically takes up this position as one constituted by himself . We want to create and control our way of thinking.the entire edifice of metaphysics could unravel. . it now denotes the 'I' as 'the referential center of beings as such' . in harmony with the early modem 'idea idea' . Descartes sets up rules to man­ age and direct reason in order to become the author of his own way of thinking. but can only be what they are by presenting themselves to the subject. . making it dependent on something against which to stand. The significant feature of modernity is less the content of our mathematical than the stance we take towards it.but modem thinkers are the first to try to grasp and control their own mathematical. the mathe­ matical . . AND MATHEMATICS discovers and secures the self before God because the thinking I takes the place of God as determining reality. 22 1 Kant's transcendental subject who gives nature its 'order and regularity' and Nietzsche's Ubermensch who creates her own values and organizes the chaos of reality are simply extensions of Descartes' project.such as the definition of ourselves as subject or thinking as willful autonomy . Knowledge has always been based on a proj ection which determines the real and how we investigate it . Man makes depend on himself the way he is to stand to beings as the objective' . reason now becomes explicitly posited according to its own demand as the first ground of all knowledge and the guideline of the determination of the things' (304. This is how Heidegger understands the way Descartes changes the meanings of 'subject' and 'object'. 'With the cogito-sum.i. 2 1 9 Things become objects which no longer subsist on their own. later thinkers simply unpack its implicit consequences or play variations on its theme. Rather than beings emerging with their own nature (Greek) or receiving it as divine gift (Medieval). italics in original). 222 81 . The German word ' Gegenstand' suggests this view since it literally means 'to stand against'. subjects make objects stand-against them by representing them. 220 This ambition predetermines the rest of modem philosophy. modem man determines reality's character. Whereas 'subject' previously meant any subsistent entity. which in tum determines reality. METAPHYSICS.e.MODERN SCIENCE. . this unity also means that if we can pull a thread or two loose . Of course.

223 which means that while it does capture certain facts about technology. I . this essay dovetails nicely with ' Letter on Humanism' and 'Modern Science. Heidegger considers this 'instrumental and anthropological definition' (3 1 2) to be correct but not true. What Heidegger means by technology is straightforward: machines that perform tasks with greater efficiency than human hands.HEIOEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS STU DY QU ESTI ONS What lessons does Heidegger draw from Galileo's experiment? 2 3 What is the mathem atical? What role does it play in science? Why can't it be empirically derived? Wh at is so disti nctive about Descartes' thought? Is Heidegger righ t to view modern thought as monolithically unified? f. it does not dig deep enough . In particular. Such machines are created by us to function as 'a means to an end' (3 1 2). This distinction is not as puzzling or perverse as it might initially sound . Meta­ physics. Its combination of persuasive phenomenological descriptions with a powerful argument can be more easily applied to concrete experience than the abstract musings on Being that populate many of his later writings. without asking how it is 82 . The three can be fruitfully read together. The consequences of this seemingly simple point ripple throughout the entire essay. TECHNOLOGY AN D ITS ESSENCE Heidegger opens by distinguishing between technology and the essence of technology. stating that the latter is not at all techno­ logical (3 1 1 ) . we make them in order to accomplish tasks more easily. It takes technology for granted. The Question Concerning Technology I have always found this to be one of Heidegger's best essays. so the essence of technology is not itself a piece of technology. Just as the essence of a tree is not itself a tree. and Mathematics' by treating many of the same ideas with greater concentration than the latter and greater clarity than the former.

Were any missing . Start i ng with the initial definition of technology as a man-made means. and why these four? Instead of taking the idea for granted. 225 I I .THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY possible. initially used in courtrooms in the sen se of responsibility for a crime. In order to understand instrumentality. why are there four causes. In order for us to make something. leading him to ask questions like. Revealing turns out to be the condition for technology. we must grasp causality.224 Heidegger wants to break th rough this obviousness to see causality anew. the entity would not be. 'the four ways of being responsible bring something into appearance ' (3 1 6). expressing s urprise at the conceptual distance traveled from techno l ogy to revealing (3 1 8) . Like most traditional theories. Heidegge r goes throu gh one of his chain-like series of ideas. we find that 'technology is a way of revealing'. which leads to a discussion of A ri stot­ le's doctri ne of four causes (3 1 3) . Since for Heidegger to be is to come into appearance. then. THE ESSENCE OF TEC H N O LOGY AS A WAY OF R EVEALI NG Heidegger now pauses (marked by a break in the text) to review this chain of ideas. Technology is a consequence of the essence of technol­ ogy and can only be understood in light of this essence. this idea has ri gidified into unquestioned dogma that seems to have 'fallen from heaven as a truth as clear as dayl i ght ' (3 1 4). the materials and the goal must be revealed to us. thereby tying technology to his usual definition of truth as unconcealment. He unifies the four by reference to a more sensitive apprecia­ tion of the Greek term 'aition'. Heidegger wants to know what makes these four causes causes. In o rde r to find the essence of technology. Causes are the inter­ related factors that collectively bear responsibility for an entity existing or lying there before us (3 1 4). The final link of the chain explain s this coming to appearance as 'bringing-forth brin gs out of conceal­ ment into unco ncealment ' (3 1 7). he is asking 'what does "cause" really mean ' (3 l 4)? Like Socrates' response upon receiving a list of ex amples when he had requested a definition. Connecting this conclusion back to the starting point. Continuing his early project of a 'destruction' of the tradition. he finds that the notion of a means to an end is generally viewed as the cause of that end. 83 .

Throughout his career. Although the discussion has so far focused on Greek craft­ work. but it reveals reality as 'standing-reserve' (Bestand) acc o rding to which 'everywhere everything is ordered to stand by. our ability to encounter and be aware of entities. This way of appearing to us is what makes technology possible. to be immediately on hand. really. as 'put-togetherable­ to-make' the machine. If for instance our trials and tribulations appeared as divine punishment visited upon us to test our humble subservience. and Mathematics' in this anthology. This essay gives a quasi-phenomenological description of the way things reveal themselves to us today. the categories or horizons within which we experience beings are historical in that every epoch has its own predominant interpretation of beings or way beings manifest themselves. they must be mani­ fest as parts. wood announces itself as good build­ ing material .228 So too must the goal present itself to us as attainable and desirable for us to embark upon the project in the first place.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS we have to be aware of them in order to use them or. Technology. 'it too is a revealing' (320). Certainly. condemning any attempt to fix them as hubris. so to speak. Metaphysics. including 'Modern Science. My act of construction rests upon a receptive perception of the goal along with the materials and tools to reach it.226 Everything we encounter appears as a specific kind of thing. Heidegger is primarily interested in what is distinctive about modern technology. then they would call upon us to weather them patiently. to interact with them in any way whatsoever. Heidegger means much more than this. it is not enough that we just perceive them. In order for us to put objects together to make a machine. that is. Many of his later writings. Any problem we choose to work on must show itself as ought-to-be-fixed-through-tools. indeed to stand there just so that it may 84 . with no bare obser­ vations of featureless beings. presupposes the clearing. try to uncover these epochal understandings of Being. he insists on the hermeneutic principle that perception is always the perception of a meaningful being. like every comportment towards beings. within the horizon of the project. as entities suitable to this task.227 Moreover. The far shore beckoning as to-be-reached is what starts me building a ship and then. which he calls 'enframing' ( Ge-stelf) . However.

to be meant to be physis i . waiting to spring into action the moment I want my dishes cleaned. things arising according to their own nature . ready to give their last full measure as soon as needed. I must see the raw materials as resources for fulfilling my desires. modem technology operates when I want it to. Technology strives for maximum efficiency and convenience. In order to produce the electricity that stands ready at my beck and call. to be means to be standing-reserve. nature has changed from our partner to our servant. Instead of having to wait for the wind or the river to turn the mill. leaning forward in anticipation of service.e. Everything is organized around my gratification and my time-table. The dishwasher crouches in the comer. . and thus the worse the technology. I no longer need to regulate my desires and activities to conform to the seasons or the whims of nature. waiting to ful­ fill our desires. Technology is really the means for converting less efficient forms of standing-reserve into more efficient forms since we come to see everything in these terms. Modem technology's great innovation lies in storing energy. the more I have to adapt my behaviour to the machines instead of the reverse. energy is ready when I want it. the more I have to do and the longer I have to wait to get what I want. mak­ ing nature work around my schedule rather than the other way around. with a flip of a switch.and for the Medievals beings were divine creations. An older 'machine' like a windmill is 'left entirely to the wind's blowing' yo Thanks to modern tech­ nology. Revealing things as standing-reserve infects our relationship to everything. We extract energy from nature and store it to be always on call for whatever task we happen to take up. And the water and electricity it requires must constantly stand at the edge of the faucet and socket. which occurs when everything is so ordered that whatever we hap­ pen to need at the moment can be met immediately and effortlessly. nature appears only as a resource to be transformed into more useful energy. the best possible resource since it is flexible enough to satisfy all kinds of purposes.THE QU ESTION CONCER NING TECHNOLOGY be on call for a further ordering'. Ultimately. As Heidegger puts it colourfully in - 85 . today. All machines share the function of standing ready. Heidegger sees this as a profound change in our relationship to reality. As figures like Descartes and Bacon promised at the dawn of the scientific revolution.229 For the ancient Greeks.

Heidegger conceded that the definition of technology as a human activity and a means to an end is 'correct' (3 1 3). and Foucault. it takes over all of our thoughts about and interactions with beings: 'our whole human existence everywhere sees itself challenged . for instance. All mystery. . Earlier.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS a 1 955 speech. it misses the essence of technology. remain orderable as a system of information' (328). an energy source for modern technology ' . anything that does not fit into systematic quantification.23 1 Let us now return to the distinction that opened the essay. to devote itself to the planning and calculating of everything' (ID 34-5). merely anthropological definition of tech­ nology is therefore in principle untenable' (326). The essence of technology goes far beyond j ust constructing and using machines. This is no small matter since 86 . 'nature becomes a gigantic gasoline station. but the subsequent ruminations have convinced him that 'the merely instrumental. rather than the reverse as common sense has it. . Nature must stand ready to answer science's interrogations. . the earth must appear 'as a coal mining district. it is a more general attitude or way of revealing that has to precede their production and use. This is why the essence of technology is a kind of revealing that enables the entire process of making and using machines in order to maximize our comfort. The essence of technology also ·forms the condition of modern science. Even 'current talk about human resources' (323) is no accident but an expression of how the attitude even extends to people. preferably with simple useful answers. Heidegger spots a hidden streak of aggression or violence within 'disinter­ ested' inquiry. Many professors can attest to the way the vocation of teaching has become the academic 'busi­ ness' ruled by the need to reduce waste and maximize output. must be lopped off from true reality and relegated to the merely subjective. Before we can build agricultural gadgets to farm more efficiently. the soil as a mineral deposit. Scientific research enables us to use nature as energy only because it first reveals nature as conceptual standing-reserve: physics demands 'that nature . The field that the peasant formerly cultivated and set in order appears differently than it did' (320). . Although it captures the qualities common to technological apparatus. Standing-reserve is 'an inclusive rubric' (322). Levinas.232 Like Nietzsche.

Being the controlling center of a web of willing and able 87 . Early modern thought maintains this emphasis on efficient causality with the goal of attaining power. is never a human handiwork'. as well as whatever kinds of 'tools' or 'raw materials' were needed. The divine efficient cause becomes the explanation for everything. And His causality is perfectly efficient. the necessary reception of the clearing as something neither of our making nor in our control. and the raw materials as useful for making a clearing. In order to create a site for beings to manifest themselves. In principle. the Forms become Ideas in God's mind (formal). Descartes' ambition to use technology to become lord and master of nature strives to close the gap between desire and fulfillment. The essence of technology as a mode of unconcealment tends to expand to make everything seem under our control. 'but the unconcealment itself. on pain of infinite regress.233 This essential and necessarily prior passivity of man.THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY all instrumental and anthropological technology presupposes the essence of technology as a way of revealing. in order to be capable of this activity we must passively receive the mani­ festation of beings at all (the clearing). We can relate this notion to the four causes. However. as well as their specific contemporary appearance as controllable (standing-reserve). He simply says 'let there be light' and light appears. the ultimate ground for the existence of all that is. beings would have to manifest themselves as desirable to discover. is one of the most prominent and pervasive themes of Heidegger's later work. But all of this presupposes the clearing. we would have to already reside within a clearing of some kind which itself could not have been made by us. we would have to already be aware that they exist and can become manifest to us. In its Medieval adaptation. God as the ultimate efficient cause absorbs the other three: He determines the end of the universe (teleological). In order to make a clearing so that we could perceive the tools and raw materials. Furthermore. we are in control of this. Constructing machines is a human activity which we choose to do in order to achieve certain goals. within which ordering unfolds. a clearing could not be 'constructed'. while pre­ existing raw materials vanish when creation becomes ex nihilo (material). which is achieved when we make light stream forth simply by flipping a switch.

'even the Rhine itself appears to be something at our command' (32 1 ) . Materials must 'announce themselves' as resources and as put­ togetherable-in such-and-such-a-way. the essence of technology. We must be passively granted awareness since any attempt to bring it about would require awareness. . The modern philosophy of subjectivity which portrays us as in control of the clearing begins when Descartes proposes to create a new way of thinking that will enable us to control nature better. in particular that we are in con­ trol of technology itself.e. thrownness lies at the heart of any project (see. a new clearing which could manipulate the world more 88 . and goals desirable. e. The Aristotelian-Scholastic view of the world was useless so he set out to build a new kind of rationality or.234 . But for Heidegger.. 234). If the Being of beings did not already prevail. This disposition of nature according to its energy supply arises from the hidden essence of modern technology. with a hydro-electric dam spanning it. We think of ourselves as the Kantian subject who is responsible for her clearing and its specific char­ acter. Heidegger's interpretation of the Greek doctrine of the four causes teaches us that efficient causality is just one factor in production which depends on the cooperation of the others and how they unconceal themselves. . However. Thus not only are we thrown into the clearing or awareness in general.g. beings could not have appeared as objects. as well as the specific way of thinking in terms of using resources for our purposes. in Heidegger's terms. By enabling us to control nature. technology fosters the sense that we are in complete control. but we also find ourselves in the technological mode of unconcealment . culminating in Nietzsche's dream that those strong enough may consciously control it. i. as what is objective in objects and only by such objectivity do they become available to the ideas and propositions in the positing and disposing of nature by which we constantly take inventory of the energies we can wrest from nature. structures must appear practical and promising.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS machinery cultivates a sense of almost divine power where we are in charge of everything around us. .

All action depends on this reception which enables and pro­ vokes our response. . . Thus. This ambition is announced in the very title of one of his books. Techno­ logical activity . to find it plausible and desirable. which is what prompts us to engage in technological activity.e. Technology makes us think we are in control of everything but.are responses to the way beings present them­ selves. always merely responds to the challenge of enframing. He calls this 'challenging claim'. as means to the end of more efficient control. So. We are challenged to challenge nature. from Socrates chiding his fellow Athenians for not 89 . as standing-reserve .our thoughts and our actions . the lords and masters of nature'.235 which could attain his goal to 'make ourselves. on the basis of the being of beings. i. The project of autonomy. to reveal the actual. . challenges [man] forth. runs throughout the history of philosophy. in the mode of ordering. The necessary condition of modern technology's willful autonomy is a heteron­ omous determination. but it never comprises enframing itself or brings it about' (325-6). Descartes' procedure necessarily comes too late. according to Heidegger. Whatever is of our doing . these goals and materials must already announce themselves in a technolog­ ical way. . This paradoxical state of affairs leads to some strange combinations of activity and passivity: 'man finds him­ self placed. . we are not in control of being in control. i. Rules for the Regulation of Reason.THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY efficiently and effectively. but the point has a special bite when applied to the modern clearing. 236 According to Heidegger's analysis. In order even to want to create technology to control nature and to use a refor­ mulated manner of thinking as the means to get it.e. all our ways of controlling the world around us are 'merely respond[ing] to the call of uncon­ cealment' (324). indicates that one is already thinking in this new way. before the task of undertaking mastery of the earth. . '237 We are ordered to become masters. The modern world calls out to us to-be-controlled. . forced to force nature into our plan. 'Enframing . ironically. even to entertain the project of forging this new way of thinking. . as it were. especially in the sense of taking control of one's own thoughts. materials announce themselves as to-be-put-together-and-used. . enfram­ ing (Ge-stell). We are always already within the clearing which cannot be our creation. the way that the essence of technology provokes this reaction.

.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS examining their beliefs. is the danger' (333). things now reveal themselves as standing-reserve and so they really are that kind of Being. to Nietzsche's encouragement to take control of one's own latent creative capacities. We have discovered that the essence of technology is a kind of revealing. I I I . however. Beings are as much standing-reserve today as they were divine creations in the Middle Ages and physis in ancient Greece (see 20 1 ) . Although we may parade our beliefs before the tribunal of reason for approval or rejection. Heidegger is less concerned with 'ontic' prob­ lems like pollution than he is with the ontological issue of how Being comes to presence. a worry­ ing condition. As usual . Heidegger. The themes of mood (Befindlichkeit) and thrownness in Heidegger's early work now expand to encompass the particular ways of thinking we find appropriate. The question concerning technology now seems to be. We can rule out the notion that enframing beings as standing-reserve falsifies them. how should we respond to this challenge? But in order to answer this. He has determined the essence of technology to be enframing. What we deem rational is a matter of what appeals most to our considered judgment. one that challenges man to reveal nature in a challenging way. since there can be no higher court of appeals than what we ultimately find to be right. The first is the menace that haunts much of the later work the forgetfulness of Being. . Modern enframing is our uncon­ cealment and hence is true. This ontological issue presents two interdependent dangers. we must first gain a better understanding of what the challenge is. It turns out that 'what is dangerous is not technology . to Descartes doubting all of his beliefs in order to restock his mind in a well-ordered and controlled way. dismisses the idea as incoherent. to Kant's insistence on both ethical and epistemological auton­ omy. . This does not rob our thinking of legitimacy. The essence of technology. RESPO N D I N G TO TH E CHALLE N G E Heidegger punctuates the essay with another break at page 328 and expresses dissatisfaction with the progress so far. but we still do not know what to do about it (328). as a destining of revealing. As he states - 90 . the judge's own authority cannot receive ultimate justification this way. We can only give ourselves a law on the basis of already being aware of the law and the law 'striking us' as good and right to follow.

THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY

many times throughout his career, Being, the simple fact that beings are present to us, is very hard to attend to since we usually focus on the beings that are present. While this concern applies to all of Being's historical manifestations,238 the modern epoch's understanding of Being is particularly prone to hide Being: 'when enframing holds sway, regulating and securing of the standing-reserve mark al l revealing. They no longer even let their own fundamental characteristic appear, namely, this reveal­ ing as such'.239 Enframing forms a particularly strong concealment of uncon­ cealment by fostering the sense that we create and control our mode of revealing. Since technology's goal is to maximize power through means that we make, man . . exalts himself and postures as lord of the earth. In this way the illusion comes to prevail that everything man encoun­ ters exists only insofar as it is his construct . . . . Man stands so decisively in subservience to . . . the challenging-forth of enframing that he does not grasp enframing as a claim, that he fails to see himself as the one spoken to.240
.

Viewing ourselves as in control of our thinking and the source of our clearing blocks the realization that these have been conferred upon us, that Being is 'given' to us (this is the more literal transla­ tion of 'es gibt Sein'). Although Heidegger repeatedly rejects the attempt to compare epochal understandings, both Greek physis and Medieval divine creation are more amenable to this realiza­ tion than enframing. At least these earlier understandings of Being see things and meaning arising from a source other than ourselves, making wonder and gratitude appropriate, if some­ what misplaced and misinterpreted, responses. If, on the other hand, it is all our doing, there is no room for gratitude or feeling responsible for taking care of our boon. Let us contrast a t r aditional farmer with a modern scientist raising plants. The farmer knows down to his bones that he is completely dependent on nature's cooperation, and this shapes how he works. 'In sowing grain [the peasant] p laces seed in the keeping of the forces of growth and watches over its increase' .24l It needs some rain but not too much, some sunshine but not too much, richness in the soil, etc. If any of these factors is out of
91

HEI DEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS

proportion to the crop's needs, there is little he can do. On the other hand, if the modern technological agri culturi st s plants need water, she simply turns o n the sprinkler and water immedi­ ately bursts forth . If they need light, she flips a switch and light beams down on them. Hydroponic growing even does away with the ground as an inefficient medium. The overall effect is to instill the feeling that she is in tot al control of the process and that she u nil ate rally creates the end product, the way the efficient cause swallowed up the other causes. Heidegger points out that at the heart of all of this con t ro l, the scientist is as dependent as the farmer on t h e brute fact that plants grow under these condi­ tions. She does not create the process of organic growth, but just makes the circumstances optimally conducive for the plant to grow. If it were to change its normal behaviour for some unknown reason, she would be powerless to force it to grow; natural disas­ ters often impart this sense of the usually ignored limitations of technology. No matter how effective, the efficient cause always needs the cooperation of the others. Thus, both the scientist and the farmer are really in a partner­ ship with the plant, but only the farmer knows this. Heidegger argues that although we are the ones who dig the coal out of the ground, burn it, and transform its energy into the more useful form of electricity, this is not creation but merely transforma­ tion . We depend on coal be i n g combustible in specific, stable, usable ways which we did not create. Technology fosters the illusion that we are in complete control, but in principle we can only cooperate wit h what the available resources and the laws of n ature yield.242 'On ly a minute fraction of what lies before us in this way has been laid down by man , and even then only with the aid of what was l y i ng there before. The stones from which the house is built come from the natural rock' (WeT 200) . In the language of 'The O r i gin of the Work of Art', the farmer main­ tains the strife between world and earth, whereas the scientist futilely tries to absorb earth into world; in the terms of Being and Time, we can o n l y project what we have been thrown into. The second feature of the ontological danger relates to Heidegger's idea that every revealing is at the same time a con­ cealing;24 3 seeing something as one kind of being excludes seeing it as any other kind . On a larger scale, each epoch's understand­ ing of Being prevents us from experiencing the others. Heidegger
'

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THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY

plays on the etymological connection of the word 'epoch' with 'epoche' to suggest the bracketing or withdrawal that character­ izes all clearings (see N 4:239) . Just as all epochs forget Being but the modern era is particularly prone to do so, the same is true of the way that all epochs block other modes of appearing. 'Where this ordering holds sway, it drives out every other possibility of revealing'. 244 Enframing is a jealous clearing, demanding that we have no other clearings alongside it. This is clearly visible in scientism, the view that science tells us all there is to know about the world. No understanding of Being is false, but neither can any be considered the single absolute truth; any claim to be the one true revelation should be rejected. These two aspects of the danger posed by enframing ( 1 ) its concealment of Being as the source of all understandings, and (2) its insistence on being the one true understanding - are inter­ connected. 'The challenging-enframing not only conceals [2] a former way of revealing (bringing-forth [Le. , Greek poiesisD but also [ 1 ] conceals revealing itself and with it that wherein uncon­ cealment, i.e. , truth, propriates' (333). We can see how this happens in Kant for instance: it is because ( 1 ) we are the source of the formal features of experience that (2) these and only these features are necessary and universal to our experience. On the other hand, if our clearing descends upon us from Being, then a new one could occur at any time (thus reintroducing the Humean contingency that Kant seeks to eliminate). 'If Enframing is a destining of the coming to presence of Being itself, then we may venture to suppose that Enframing, as one among Being's modes of coming to presence, changes' (QT 37). Now that we understand the danger better, we should be able to figure out how to fix the problem, but Heidegger introduces a twist here. Just as Descartes' drive to change his own thinking to the technological comes too late, so any attempt to overcome technology necessarily comes too early. Trying to bend technol­ ogy to our will in order to render it harmless is itself an expression of the technological attitude. 'The instrumental conception of technology conditions every attempt to bring man into the right relation to technology . . . . We will, as we say, "get" technology "intelligently in hand" . We will master it' .245 This very way of framing the problem and setting about fixing it is guided by the technological attitude, and so can only perpetuate it instead of
-

93

'Nothing that effects. it is not God or a god or any kind of separate agent performing actions (see 3 3 1 ) . Be-ing as sender is not separable from the sending or from what is sent. Heidegger follows a line of Holderlin's poetry which implies that 'precisely the essence of technology must harbor in itself the growth of the saving power' . Being brings itself to pass into its epoch. no decisive change can happen.247 The particular clearing sent to us at this point in history is what makes us who we are. 'human activity can never directly counter this danger' (339). Whereas technology's aston­ ishing power allows us to feel in control. it does not exist apart from man nor is it any kind of agent. appropriate' ('schicklich'). We receive the clearing as something that is not 94 . As long as we ignore the ontological issue. Because enframing as the essence of technology consists in viewing issues as problems to be solved by taking action. it is our destiny. as Being. suitable.246 Instead of trying to fix technol­ ogy. as well as to both 'sending' ('Schicken') and history (. Sheerly. This allows us to 'experience enframing as a destining of revealing' (330). as Being. As discussed in ' Letter on Humanism'. It is tempting to read all of this in terms of traditional notions of destiny. Rather. Like Nietzsche.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS overcoming it. One way that the essence of technology differs from tech­ nology is that it cannot be dealt with the way that technological issues are without perpetuating the danger. Heidegger fights the substance-ontology built into the grammar of our language which implies that every action arises from a distinct agent. according to the ontological differ­ ence. which yield s a mystical Heidegger telling (ontotheo­ logical) stories of a super-Being sending our destiny to us. '248 Being is not in any way a being. precedes the mode in which it Being itself . which would treat it as under our control and thereby perpetuate the technological way of seeing the world. we should turn to the essence of technology. thus somewhat justi­ fying Heidegger 's disdain for on tic problems.takes place so as to adapt itself. Be-ing is presencing in the clearing that we are. But we have to remember that. Geschichte') . Being is not a being. out of its own essence of concealed­ ness. follows after. the essence of technology as a way of revealing is neither our creation nor under our control . The German word translated here as 'destin­ ing' (' Geschick') has strong connections to 'what is fitting. and no effect.

some types of evidence persua­ sive and some irrelevant. a destining that does not allow itself either to be logically and historio­ graphically predicted or to be metaphysically construed as a sequence belonging to a process of history' . our clearing cannot itself be explained. The appropriate way to think of Being preserves its mysteriousness.2S3 1t is this 'legacy' that allows him to write narratives of the intelligible or even inevitable develop­ ment (usually decline) of the history of philosophy. The epochs of Being resist our attempts to comprehend why they are the way they are. often calling the switch between them a leap or a chasm to indicate the impossibility of a bridge making them continuous. we find certain ways of arguing plausible and others ridiculous. 'The epochs can never be derived from one another much less be placed on the track of an ongoing process. undermining the technological illusion that we are in complete control of the world and ourselves. there is a legacy [ Uberlie! er­ ung] from epoch to epoch'. 252 Heidegger is not completely consistent in his analysis of the history of thinking. sometimes he does sug­ gest a tenuous connection among them.249 As the source of our rationality. . nor can we apply a particular epoch's understanding to that which grants all under­ standing. On the one hand. . In Kuhn's terminology. Heidegger rejects Hegel's attempt to make the historical changes in thinking into a rational evolution.251 But these ways of thinking cannot themselves be justified without employing either these ways of thinking or retreating to another beginning point which then would stand in need of justification itself. different eras are incommensurable and hence cannot be compared or joined into an overall trend. 'the surmounting of a destining of Being . he wants to avoid a Hegelian pattern of epochs. the way philoso­ phy respects untruth in 'On the Essence of Truth' and artworks bring earth into the open as the self-closing. where Plato's initial distinction between Being and appearance contains all 95 . Heidegger wants to remove the clearing from our imagined control. Nevertheless.25o Being thrown into a particular way of reasoning. each time comes to pass out of the arrival of another destining. He is also playing on the sense of mystery contained in the traditional notion of destiny. claiming instead that. On the other hand. or to place them in a logical order.THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY our creation but which determines us through and through (337).

the key to Nietzsche's attempt to overcome nihilism. actually represents the ultimate form of nihilism. He wants us to see the sendings as gifts for which we should be grateful. making them the greatest gifts possible. As finite mortals. up to Nietzsche's ultimate reversal of the two. the epochal understandings fur­ nish us with whatever meaningfulness we find in this life. Even though the modern clearing of enfram­ ing is 'the danger'. The fact that. we 96 . For Heidegger.2 5 5 This attitude is what can overcome nihilism. We need tradition. even though there is not anyone to be grateful to. it is still a revelation of Being and so should be treasured. values that result from our choices cannot obligate us or fill us with awe. Every destining of revealing propriates from a granting and as such a granting . which is why overcoming the oblivion of Being is at the same time the overcoming of nihilism. Finally. we are simply unable to sustain value in the world in such a way that will make a good. that which grants' (340). Our 'ethical task' is to dwell in and nurture our awareness the way the farmer culti­ vates a seed. The essay ends with the hope to 'awaken and found anew our vision of. .HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS future variations in embryo. . although this above all things is usually taken for granted. . there is something profoundly comforting in the fact that the epochs come to us. community. Heidegger invokes destiny's connotation that our lives are watched over by benevolent beings. We cannot scoff at the particular epoch we have been thrown into but should gratefully safeguard the clearing that we have. For the saving power lets man see and enter into the highest dignity of his essence. and trust in. 2 54 Having a clearing at all is such an awesome event that we should never stop wondering at it or being grateful for it. that ultimately we are not in control. Heidegger argues that the idea that all values come from human valuing. and the natural patterns the ancients called 'cosmos logos '. The granting that sends one way or another into revealing is as such the saving power. Although the con­ cepts of benevolence or malevolence cannot really apply to Being as the source of the 'sendings'. meaningful life on our own. in principle.

the idea 97 . Fortunately. We will only understand dwelling if we also come to understand build­ ing. and Mathematics'. and I must admit that I feel less con­ fidence in my grasp of it than just about any other notion in Basic Writings.which bear little discernible relation to each other. make up what is called later Heidegger's ' quietism' . STU DY QU ESTIONS I 2 3 Why can't we overcome technology by our own efforts? Explain standing-reserve. Thus. and both efforts may require a rethinking of thinking. What is the difference between technology and the essence of technology? What are they? Why is this distinction so important? g. Building Dwelling Thi n king Initially this essay may read like a perplexing poetic ramble circling around two obscure groups of terms . However. The opening paragraph of the essay asks what dwelling is and how building belongs to it. much of the work becomes intelligi­ ble once one seeshowitdevelops Heidegger's more straightforward phenomenological descriptions of space in Being and Time256 and 'Modern Science. .THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY cannot alter our clearing. if building does belong to dwelling. i.the fourfold and dwelling/building/locale . and each of the two sections making up the body of the essay responds to one of these questi ons. This holism. as the second question suggests. we find the three titular terms interconnected. from the essay's very beginning. The fourfold is a new idea in Heidegger's later thought that plays a prominent role in several essays of the fifties. Describe something that is not usually considered technology as standing-reserve. Metaphysics. even its first sentence. then we will not be able to answer the first questio n with an isolated definition just of dwelling. combined with this inculcation of trusting gratitude for however things appear to us.e. which may serve as helpful backgroun d readings.

A closer examination of building uncovers its two varieties: the cherishing. that rather than a neutral transparent medium. language's own char­ acteristics necessarily inform our thinking. and the construction of edifices like houses.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS that parts can only be grasped by locating them in the whole to which they belong. Like many twentieth-century philosophers. WHAT IS IT TO DWELL? Following his usual procedure of starting with the common or average everyday understanding of a topic. two independent actions brought in t o an instrumental connection for a specific goal . Al though etymology cannot serve as proof. Building functions as the means to secure the end of dwelling. I . excavating the insights captured in these 'essential words'26 1 frequently yields important suggestions. Heidegger sometimes describes the initial coinage of words as penetrating mini-descriptions of fresh experiences of phenomena before they get dulled by continuous handling or hijacked by standard views. Heidegger first lays out the standard view of the relationship between building and dwelling: we construct certain kinds of buildings such as houses so that we may live within them. protective way that farmers cultivate crops. This objection receives its justification from language which 'tells us about the essence of a thing'. The elusiveness of the mundane inspires and guides phenomenology in general.262 We miss this because the way we carry out our everyday lives inconspicu­ ously 'recedes' (349). Heidegger takes etymology very seriously for at least two reasons. While this is in some sense correct.the vehicle for ideas traveling from mind to mind.2 5 7 The holistic interconnection between the two undermines this depiction of a means-ends relationship between entirely se p arate activities. it also covers over essential features. language is often misconceived as merely a means to express an internal idea259 . ' fo r building is not merely a m ea ns and a way toward dwelling . runs throughout the essay. the fact that the Old High German word for building also means to dwell supplies the clue (349). In this case. both kinds of building are forms of dwelling. 260 Second.to build is in itself to dwell'. and it runs throughout 9S . Heidegger believes that we can only think linguistically. making it hard to grasp how we actually experience the world. First. 2 5 8 Especially in his later work. Despite their differ­ ences.

. the subject of the essay's first question Another brief etymological discussion links dwelling to peace. 99 .263 Then. that which pervades every moment of our lives is. Therefore. but we build and have built because we dwell. including building. Just as letting be does not mean apathetic indifference in 'On the Essence of Truth'.264 Dwelling is so essential to who we are that it accounts for all of our behaviour. Now. and earth once it has been paired with sky. rather like the way cultivatin g facilitates plants growing towards their telos. for that very reason.BUILDING DWELLING THINKING Heidegger's career. when we do try to think about and articulate how we live in the world. we can only under­ stand building in light of dwelling. As the Introduction to Being and Time states. 266 We have now moved from dwelling-building to one of Heidegger's most obscure ideas: the fourfold Heidegger briefly discusses the four components one by one but insists at the end of each description that talking about any . Heidegger emphasizes that dwelling means 'the stay of mortals on the earth' (35 1 ). . that is. Like all of our basic actions. Remarking on the etymological proximity between the words for dwelling and being. to sparing. we tend to mis­ construe it profoundly giving rise to the chronic errors that clog the history of philosophy Dwelling recedes by dispersing into the various activities and projects we pursue.26S so here sparing does not leave things alone. . justifying his earlier rejection of their common sense means-ends relationship: 'we do not dwell because we have built. In fact. all four belong together so that none can exist or make sense unless encompassed in their 'primal oneness'. our ' Being' or 'basic character'. Dwelling is how we are. because we are dwellers' (350). And a shift in the essay occurs here by means of the holistic notion that we only comprehend individual items in relation to their opposing term: so we under­ stand what mortals are by way of divinities. hardest to think about. Heidegger argues that dwelling is the way that we are. which hide their fundamental unity. . so we might get a better sense of it by taking another look at our behaviour in general. This sparing suffuses all that we do. we must grasp any particular behaviour in light of dwelling. which gets unified by dwelling. however. to the free. Genuine sparing helps something achieve its own essence. which informs everything we do. concluding that dwell ing should be under­ stood as sparing (35 1 ) .

HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS

one of them involves the other three.267 A lt hough we can only focus on one 'at a time, their deep unity must always be kept in mind .20s Earth focuses on natural growth and abundance (with a whiff of physis), wh i l e sky seems to indicate nature's inherent patterns, what the Greeks called the 'cosmos logos ', i.e. , the intell igible structure of the universe evinced in phenomena like the regularity of the seasons. Mortals are 'capable of death as death ' ( 3 5 2) in that, unlike animals, we know that we will die.2 69 Heidegger often associates the gods with the sense of the world as meaningful, while their loss amounts to something akin to nihilism.270 The fourfold represents something like the 'logical space' organizing our lives and projects. In the connected essay, 'Poetically Man Dwells', the four elements create a 'spanning' or 'between . . . measured out for the dwelling of man' . 2 7 1 We live out our lives within the place stretched out between these general features of our existence: after birth and before death, on the earth and under the sky, too late for the old gods and too early for a new holiness (PLT 4), between the conditions that make us what we are and what we make out of these conditions - i.e. , between thrownness and projection. We are riddled with needs (ultimately leading to death), placed on a fecund earth whose cycles we can grasp and cooperate with. We are the animals who know that we are fated to die, as well as the beings who await the divine blessing of a meaningful life. Dwelling now appears as safeguarding the fourfold. We dwell by letting these dimensions come into their essence each in its own way. While they vary, in each case we let the dimension unfold itself rather than forcing our desires or expectations onto it. Saving the earth means working it without exhausting it, unlike technological mastery which treats land merely as a resource to be maximally exploited (320) . Receiving the sky refrains from disrupting the natural patterns of night and day by lighting up the night for our convenience or squeezing every second of productivity out of a day. We await divinities instead of creating gods or determining our own ultimate values, as Nietzsche recommends. Initiating our death secures 'a good death' (3 52) at home among family and friends, instead of des­ perately clinging to survival in a sterile hospital. Every case of preserving consists in letting be, allowing each dimension to
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BUILDING DWELLING THINKING

present itself in its own way rather than steamrolling over its intrinsic tendencies to get what we want. This sparing cannot accept the fourfold abstractly, but must take place with particular beings, namely, thi ngs 272 We can only let the fourfold flower in our dealings with things, and even then only when we allow them to be truly things (353). Safeguarding things means letting them fully be themselves and, when this is done, they in turn allow the fourfold. Among the ways in which we let things be are the two types of building, leading to an enriched version of the conclusion reached earlier: 'dwelling, inasmuch as it keeps the fourfold in things, is, as this keeping, a building' (353). This connection now brings us to the essay's second question.
.

II. HOW DOES B U I LD I N G BELONG TO DWELLI NG?

Since dwelling only happens with things and, more specifically, when they are fully allowed to be things, we now tum to them. Unfortunately, philosophers have long represented things very differently from the way we experience them. In particular sub� stance ontology defines things as an objective base supporting qualities. This conception divides features into those that really belong to the thing and those that are 'afterward read into it',273 somewhat like Locke's distinction between primary and second­ ary qualities. Only certain features enjoy the status of true reality, while the rest of our experience of things gets demoted to merely subjective projections. Heidegger's phenomenological approach, on the other hand, accepts all that shows itself as real. Since the theoretical attitude shears off so much the richness of our expe­ rience, Heidegger says that our thinking traditionally 'understates' the essence of things.274 Like Being and Time, much of this essay consists in contrasting the theoretical conception of things with how they actually appear in our normal but inconspicuous encounters with them. What it means to be a thing is to gather the fourfold in a particular way,27S and Heidegger briefly (and rather obscurely) shows how his chosen example of a bridge treats each element with respect.276 This gathering organizes the surrounding area into a new arrangement. According to a kind of Gestalt theory of perception, installing the bridge fundamentally changes the landscape into which it has been placed, creating a new whole
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HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS

which is more than just the sum of the bridge and the environ­ ment. Instead of simply joining the pre-existing banks over a river, 'the banks emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the stream . . . . The bridge gathers the earth as landscape around the stream' (3 54). Once it has been erected, the bridge retroactively brings about its setting.277 This organization has effects that refute our usual means-ends outlook. 278 We normally think of something like a bridge as a tool we use in pursuing our projects, in this case crossing the river to gather wood or crops and bringing them to town to sell. But Heidegger attributes much of what we think of as our agency to the thing, rendering our actions responses to the environ­ ment's 'solicitations'. Instead of our autonomously deciding upon a goal and then constructing or employing the means necessary to achieve it, Heidegger says that 'the bridge initiates the lingering and hastening ways of men to and fro' (354). This transference of agency from an ego regally determining her own actions to 'external' forces - language, things, Being - is an important part of Heidegger's anti-humanism, i.e. , his attack on traditional conceptions of human nature. He introduces two technical terms here to illuminate how buildings perform this function: 'things which, as locales, allow a site we now in anticipation call buildings' (356). The bridge is a locale in that it sets up a site, which is an area arranged so as to make sense to people and to make sense of their lives. The bridge organizes the world of those who live there by lighting up some jobs and destinations while drawing attention away from others: 'by this site are determined the places and paths by which a space is provided for' (356). The bridge unifies the area, laying out the tasks of carrying crops to the city or seed to the fields, coloring in what lies on the near side as home and the far side as the out­ side. 'Things such as locales shelter or house men's lives' by the 'founding and joining of spaces', setting out and organizing the projects, values, and meanings within which we live. 279 The area is now divided into places or qualitative zones: friendly and hos­ tile, work and rest, familiar and strange. Now, just as things can be treated either as theoretical objects or as living breathing parts of our everyday lives, so the value­ laden space we live in can be reduced to mathematically expres­ sible extension for theoretical analysis. Descartes initiated this
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as in much of his work. in a world charged with meaning. In his earlier work he called this context of significance the world.BUILDING DWELLING THINKING latter perspective by defining physical objects as inert matter occupying exact positions within a featureless. grounded in things of the type of buildings' (358). Entities located next to me. .28 3 Heidegger rejects the Cartesian picture of subjects facing bare material objects whose only meaning is what we endow them with in an endless featureless space. Heidegger attempts to call our attention to what we take for granted in all of our behaviour and which escapes the 1 03 . Whereas Cartesian space is a homogeneous container which neither affects nor is affected by what it contains. 284 In this essay. Rather than just 'this encapsulated body' at this objective position. neutral grid. and divinities. within the natural rhythms of seasons and growth/decay. say. Rather. our lived space unfolds from and around buildings. so I am spatially 'nearer' to the object of my concern than I am to my present position to which I give little thought. 'I already pervade the space of the room' (359). here he calls it the fourfold of earth. we ek-sist which means that we stand outside ourselves with other beings. grasping my present situation in anticipation of my goals. . 280 We should not be bullied by the usefulness or universal appli­ cability of theoretical space into ceding it full reality. Rather than being a self-enclosed substantial ego occupying one point in space. homogeneous. sky.282 so lived-space is not defined by the rules of geom­ etry or physics. just as Being and Time posits a lived-time in which the three tenses intermingle instead of the theoretical conception of a sequence of discrete now-points. are remote in lived-space if I pay little attention to them. or my shoes. which 'are provided for by locales . mortals. this view sorts out real objective features from subjective projections so that 'nearness and remoteness between men and things can become mere distance' . Moreover. we dwell in a com­ munity. Like substance ontology.28 1 We must un-cover this lived-space we dwell in that remains beneath the theoretical notion of space by examining 'the spaces through which we go daily'. Just as Being and Time argues that I live predominantly in the future. my glasses. while relegating all the usual meaningful features that we actually live and work and move around in to the merely subjective.

Our lives take place within a 'rapport with things'.288 We dwell . we are the be-thinged. that are-to-be-valued or simply do not catch our attention rather maintaining a static presence. among which is the organization of spaces and the building of buildings in order to meet these needs. 28 7 Building is a response to the conditions we always operate under and within. We have left behind us the presumption of all unconditionedness. Building 'receives the directive for its erecting of 10cales'.i. that give us directives and guide our actions. and inherent significance is part of what it means to dwell (360. the conditioned ones. which can evaporate 'in states of depression' or during theoretical analysis but which defines our normal behav­ iour.1 ) . In order for us to build. These are the things that provide locales within which we know our way around.285 Taking these perceptions as authoritative. Heidegger says that 'thinking in this way. preferences. Being recep­ tive to these directives. If we had 1 04 . . In the strict sense of the German word bedingt. puts us on the road to the subject-object picture with all its many implications.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS theoretical gaze. such breakdowns allow us to see what was there all along.which then pushes us towards performing various actions. this conditionedness is a necessary condition for us to think and act. as science (and Sartre and Nietzsche) argue for. desires. '28 6 This last sentence is particularly important as a summary manifesto of Heidegger's repeated attempts to rethink traditional notions of freedom and rational­ ity within the context of the radical finitude. Instead of compromising us somehow. but seen as the impoverished substitute that it is. However. callings. we must need or want what the building will accomplish.e. The fact that these directives and meanings prompt us to build undermines the means-ends way of understanding the relationship between building and dwelling. . The emphasis here is on the role played by the space laid out by buildings. dependence. These anxious/depressed and theoreti­ cal views of bare objects should not be taken for the true reality. as Heidegger says many times. we are called by the thing as the thing. Such greyness of objects should point us to the technicolour of things that is our usual habitat. and inescapable conditionedness that form the human condition. etc. we find within ourselves needs. In the related essay 'The Thing'. we must find this action appropriate. and an appropriate location must solicit us to build there.

thanks to the very conditionedness that philosophy's quest for autonomy has tried to slough off. aged. The generations living together highlights the various stages of life and. their continuity. Heidegger made the point that boundaries are not limitations but are what gives a thing its identity (356). The house's structure protects it from the sky's weather without fully removing it. their winter nights remain long.reveals the earth's cooperation which the peasants use without trying to control it. We need to learn to dwell in our lives with all of their distinctive features instead of simply occupying them. This.on our autonomous rational thought and freely willed decisions. We have to realize this and cherish it. Heidegger consistently rejects the notion of returning to earlier times (see 362) . like many animals. far more convincing and illuminating of how things gather the fourfold. Having both crib and coffin in the same house 'designed for the different generations under one roof the character of their journey through time' (362). Hiding the dead. whereas artificial heat and light remake ours into more conve­ nient periods. which we can do through 1 05 . 289 Although all of our actions are grounded on the context of intelligibility and significance we find ourselves in. life appears as an organized whole. I find the essay's second example of a building. Although he often idealizes the past. and not housing shortages. Due to the spatial arrangement of their home. In describing how buildings shape spaces meaningfully. The farmhouse serves as an illuminating example of dwelling. The 'altar corner' gives a place to the gods. Thanks to our rapport with things. either ancient Greece or Germany's feudal peasants. we think of these features as dependent on us . and infirm fosters the illusion of an indefinite extension of the present. while the peasant children see their destiny in the elders and the dead. whose presence is shown by the way the house accommodates mortals. not the right way to live which we need to resurrect. we live in a world filled with meaning. an old farm� house in the Black Forest. found ourselves disposed to fulfill them in different ways. Its location . the farmhouse does this for a life.BUILDING DWELLING THINKING not had these needs or. rather than an ongoing now�point.sheltered from the wind by the mountain and facing the meadows . in particular. we would never have built at all. represents the true housing problem.

Seussian 1 06 . 'thinking and poetizing must return to where. Such Dr. He puts his goal in an essay called 'Language' this way: 'we would like only. Heidegger doubts that we have a proper relationship to language which would enable us to experience it as it really is (398). in a certain way. if achieved. As he says in an essay from 1 955. h. Although speech has long been considered our defining trait as the zoon logicon. '290 STU DY QU ESTIONS I 2 3 Why is building already a dwelling? Pick an example of a successful building you are familiar with and describe how it gathers the fourfold. The Way to Language The title of this essay suggests that we need a way to get to language as if it were a distant destination that we must travel to (397). can we prepare a dwelling in that locality. they have always already been but have never yet built. So while we obviously do not need a way to language in the sense of first attaining speech. our lives as a whole. We rarely notice and.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS thinking about it. for once. Being itself (234). Explain the differences between Cartesian space and Heidegerrian space. But of course. just being able to read the essay shows that in some sense we already possess language. as he frequently says. Only through build­ ing. 29 1 Although we are immersed in language. when we do. making a jour­ ney to it appear unnecessary. ultimately. we have difficulty articulating pervasive phenomena such as our own way of Being (54). to get to just where we are already'. however. we lack a proper under­ standing of it which. and now language. Heidegger describes the essay's project as the attempt ' to bring language as language to language' (398). we do need to reach it as it really is. The fact that we are linguistic to our core actually hinders our attempt to grasp language since. will transform our relation to language and. what is nearest to us is for that very reason farthest away.

'to the things them­ selves'. bringing language to language as language. whereas our way of Being is so distinctive that it demands its own set of concepts. they started understand­ ing language in terms of designation . the ancient Greeks saw language as a way of showing and letting appear (thereby producing aletheia) but then. The phenomenological motto. Understanding these kinds of topics means giving a logos or linguistic account of them. How else can we study something than by talking about it as itself? Well. talking about language within the right horizon. Perhaps the main point of Being and Time (as we have it) is that we mis-take our­ selves as tools or objects. The first part. Heidegger repeatedly argues that most philosophical and mundane interpretations approach their object with the wrong horizon. means bringing it 'to language' . But when you slow down and pay attention the phrase actually makes perfect sense. perhaps in the Classical era. It is the middle phrase-'bringing language as language to language'-that perplexes. that we must employ the appropriate horizon in order to capture a phenomenon faith­ fully. Similar to his treatment of art in 'The Origin of the Work of Art'.e. is absolutely essential and surprisingly rare. Talking about it. i . This alteration results from their conception of truth changing from unconcealment to 107 . among other things.THE WAY TO LANGUAGE repetition is just the kind of wording that makes many readers suspicious that he is engaging in intentional obfuscation for the appearance of profundity. Thus. as some contend (and as some attri­ bute to Heidegger).292 The first section of 'The Origin of the Work of Art' shows at some length how artworks defy the categories of things and tools. the first section of this essay shows how Western philosophy has consistently conceived of language not as language but as something else. . which dooms all attempts to understand it. . 293 Examples can be multiplied. I . certainly all higher order thinking occurs in language. of course. e. i. they use the wrong concepts to view and explain the topic. simply specifies the subject matter: we are talking about language here. SECTION I At their 'acme'. means. Even if there is a level of pre-linguistic awareness to our actions. thus demonstrating the need for their own terms. 'to bring language'.

29 5 making it the proper place to demonstrate the conception 's problems. SECTION I I The second section of 'The Way t o Language' begins b y repeat­ ing the essay's guiding instruction to avoid alien horizons or general notions which language instantiates in order 'to let lan­ guage be experienced as language' . but that is not how we experience it primarily and for the most part . Speaking does make sounds of course. As in Being and Time's analysis of Dasein (BT 69/43). instead bringing language as the subject 's activi ty to the language of modern metaphysics. Heidegger examines the phenomenon in its 'average everyday­ ness ' . 297 This character­ ization is the kind of third person objective account that phenomenologists bracket in favor of describing how we actu­ ally experience the phenomenon . with the goal of finding what unifies all of these features.e. 1 08 . culminating in Wilhelm von Humboldt's work. I I . namely 'the phoneti c . Language hooks the set of words up with the set of referents. Of course. i. acoustic. 296 Now that we have cleared away these misguided attempts to understand language in terms of something else. In line with this modern philosophy of subjectivity. Humboldt does not think about language as language because he starts from a detailed quasi-Kantian or Hegelian theory of human conception which shapes all of his ideas.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS correspondence. language only represents one instance of subjectivity's behavior (405). Language occurs primarily and for the most part in our speech (406). we can begin thinking about it in its own terms. . Humboldt traces everything back to the s Ubject 's activity. how it occurs in its usual mundane contexts. Instead of being studied for its own sake. one of the most significant events in Western history for Heidegger. we must now avoid another traditional misconception of speech. Heidegger believes that this view has dominated Western thought. and truth consists in the correct correlation between sentences and states of affairs. Heidegger 's opening prescription to bring lan­ guage as language to language appears more substantial in light of the fact that Humboldt fails to do this. physiological expla­ nation' which presents speech as 'the creation of sounds' (408).294 Words become things that refer to other things.

Accordingly.. The noise the refrigerator is making or the feel of your shoes suddenly step out from the undifferentiated surroundings to make a demand on your attention when commented on.ev i den t' to us. by structures of intelligibility we have inherited rather than cre­ ated. Only certain arrangements of words successfully express something and only a small minority of grammatically correct statements can be m ade in any context without provoking funny looks and con­ fusion .g. When I tell you that my dog has brown and black fur. Speaking of something points it out or highlights it. making small talk forms a connection between speakers without transferring any real informational content ('pretty hot today. wo uld not even rise to the level of falsity for preceding eras. etc. at the heart of what seems most our own. letting what is present in each case appear in such regions'. Our private. but rather remain 'senseless' in the absence of an appro pri ate way of think­ ing (see 280). personal speech is really the activation of 1 09 . Besides all of the problems associated with the notion of a private internal event getting labeled and then exported to other minds. reaching out to every region of presencing. Heidegger defines language as a kind of showing or ' pointing . huh?'298). we find ourselves constrained by an alien vocabulary and grammar. e. loosening or 'freeing' it from its previously seam­ less integration into the unnoticed background. expression has to take place within a fairly determinate vocabulary in line with a fairly firm grammar for communication to work. Talking about things makes them present to ourselves and to others.303 Although words often feel like pure crystalline meaning that springs forth spontaneously from our minds.299 A surprising phrase turns up in the course of this discussion: 'it is language that speaks.THE WAY TO LAN GUAGE Speech occurs in our lives as a way to relate to beings.302 Much of his later work expounds the notion sometimes called 'anti-humanism' which attacks the view of ourselves as autonomous self-trans­ parent subjects in total control of what we do. Thus. A scientific p rinciple which is ' self. say. Only the relatively tiny set of statements in accord with the speaker's epochal understanding of Being are acceptable. think. lOI Heidegger takes great exception to the notion that language is entirely up to US.'loo The common sense and traditional view is that language is a tool by which we express what goes on inside of us. I present him to you.

the greater is the purity with which he submits what he says to an ever more painstaking listening.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS norms and rules that we did not make. Not only must it have appeared. In addition to compliance with these standards. I warn someone of a slippery patch in the hall for exam ple because it presents itself to me as dangerous and important. which is why speaking is always a form of listening. Just as in Heidegger's analysis of correspondence truth asserti ons can only correspond to something that has manifested itself. there is a deeper way that speaking is a listening. . as t he tradi­ tional theo ry of truth has it.306 so too we can only talk about something if it has shown itself to us. but I can only tell them what has shown itself to me. The world must possess a grammar. but the pa rticula r detai ls pointed out must have already called attention to themselves as relevant. Poets do not put wo rds in a headlock to force them to do their bidding. as well as deserv i ng discus­ sion. In convers ati o ns. Poets. My d og's fur announces itself as brown and black. the ability to discern subtle shades of meaning. it 'lets itself be told' (4 1 1 ). actually submit the most to language. 'We not only speak language. We are capable of doing so only because in each case we have already listened to language. As previously discussed. describing a scene shows it to my interlocutors. we speak from out of it. and the willingness to let words guide them are the qualities that d istin­ guish good poets. we end up 'sh owing one another the sorts of things that are suggested by what is addressed in our discussion. the kind of thing one ou ght to alert others to. po rtrayed by Romantic theories of genius as heroically do m inating language to fo rge utterly original and personal expressions. then the world has to present itself to me in representable ways. '307 If our assertions are to correspond to the world. I would not have noticed it or thou ght it worth mentioning. This is Heidegger's take on the twofold mean in g of 'logos' as both l anguage and 110 . Sensitive listening. . 'The more poetic a poet is .'304 Successful speech-acts obey a massive shared set of conventions. ' every spoken word is already a re s ponse. s howing one another what the addressed allows to radiate of itself' (409). that we can say it. but rather pay careful attention to linguistic nuances. '305 But this is just an ex treme form of what we all do whenever we speak. if it had not. My speech is and can only be a reaction to how the world pres­ ents itself to me.

while a person i s articulate by being able to describe the articulations of the world correctly and thoroughly. I think that what Heidegger is getting at here is captured by our word 'articulate'. 111 . but taking a wine appreciation course presents an object lesson: you learn to pick out previously imperceptible shades of taste as you master a set of terms (high and low notes. Language points. 'letting what is present in each case appear' . complexity. things present themselves to us with certain qualities shining out as relevant. reality does not simply fall into a pre­ determined set of objects on its own. Heidegger also talks about language as what initially opens up and articulates the world. Our basic acquisition of words took place early on. making our linguistic clearing one of those things we are 'always already' within. sometimes called linguistic idealism. woody. etc. which means both the property of being made up of distinct parts and the act of expressing an idea in language. as in farmers cut­ ting lines in a field to render it open to life-sustaining growth. On the one hand. as to-be-noticed-and-communicated. Heidegger makes this point with the term 'rift-design' ( ' Aufriss'). These words play a necessary role in taste detection so that you come to discriminate finer shades as you acquire their names. claims that our ability to discern and think about various features of reality is a product of and correlates with our vocabulary. leaving our speech to 'reiterate the saying we have heard' (41 1 ) . which refers both to drawings and the act of ripping. so that we can only perceive what has been singled out and named. Heidegger argues that language depends on a prior appear­ ance of reality. 309 On this reading. like the animals waiting for Adam to name them. 308 By this point. while perception and thinking become cruder as your vocabulary thins out. O n the other hand. but comes into greater resolution as our language becomes more precise and sophisticated.). an apparent contradiction has arisen. 3 1 0 This view.THE WAY TO LANGUAGE rational structure-speaking about the world requires that it present itself in an intelligible and sayable form. A skeleton is articulate because neatly divisible into discrete units. On this view. The intelligibility of the world and the words we use to say it are inextricably intertwined. giving language a mimetic or mirroring function which 'is preceded by a thing's letting itself be shown'. eventually collapsing into the merely formal category of 'something'.

combin i ng into what he calls the rift design t he well joined structure of a s h ow i ng in which what is addressed enjoi n s the spea kers and t h eir speech (408). ­ .HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS So which view is right? Does reality precede language or does language initially unconceal reality? Heidegger actual ly dis­ misses the question of which grounds which because in this 'search for grounds we pass on by the essence of language ' (41 2). ' . he inquires into the way they belong together. This rich word means 'event'. but language i s a response to this en c ounter Heidegger steps outside of this ch i cken and e gg p aradox of priority to portray them as equi­ primordial. the prefix er adds the sens e of drawing someth i n g into this condition. bring ing something within hearing or seeing Ereignis means both our being drawn into the clearing where we can perceive. such letting can be g iven only inso fa r and in so near as our own essence is granted entry into the s aying We hear it only because we belo n g to it' (4 1 1 ) . Reality must have a sayable structure and l anguage must respond to this in order to express it. but it also resonates with 'eigen' which signifies what is one's own. think. SECTION I I I We only e n cou n ter bei n gs linguistically. finding the other fitting or 'well-joined'? H eide gge r calls the occurrence of their presencing to each other 'Ereignis'. Instead of mak ing one the foundation of the other. or authentic. l anguage reveals B e ing and Being tells language what to say. I I I . Although we have the urge to stop the circle with one as the ground of the other Heidegger argues that this circle is irreducible. he steps outside the pair to think about how they belong together. The term also suggests 'eriiugen' and 'ereugen'. but what enab l es us to perceive this structure and arrive at appropri­ ate ter m s? If speech as l istening to language lets itsel f be told the saying. 112 . ' ' . proper. L anguage 's relat i onship to B eing is not amenable to causal or chronological analy sis . I take this to mean that he regards the question of whether reality grounds language or language grounds reality as a bad q uest i on. Now we must t urn to t his deepest enabling co n dition . We can only hear and say what the world says if we are creatures capab l e of art iculat ing rea l it y and reality is articulatable. translated here as ' propria tion' . Instead of as k ing which acco u nts for the other. How is it that la n guage and beings accommodate each other. and . ­ ' -' ­ .

. because any kind of examina­ tion or analys i s must always already take place within the manifestation of beings (423). After establishing our dependence on beings showing them­ selves. Like the brute fact that beings are not nothing in 'What Is Metaphysics? ' (1 1 0). their intelligible presence to us. we naturally want to know why and how it happen ed . This event cannot be explained by refe rence to a cause like Forms or God or transcendental subjectivity. . We can never try to know it. even if they possess unusual forms of presence. 3 1 2 Propriation is nothing beyond the presence of speakable beings around us.THE WAY'TO LANGUAGE talk about beings. or the 113 . clearer in German: 'die Sprache spricht') . because it will deign no discussion' (4 1 4). resembling other tautological expressions Heidegger is fond of. . But Heidegger immediately chastises this inquiry: 'our question asks too much. nor is it an occurrence that liter­ ally took p lace at a spec i fi c time and place 'for it is the place that encompasses all locales and ti me -p lay-spaces' . or 'language speaks ' (again. . such as 'the world worlds'. thin k . The propriation that rules in the saying is something we can name only if we say: It-propriation-owns. ' 3 1 3 In German this last phrase is closer to ' propriation propriates'. . . much less cognize it in the appropriate way . But we cannot look 'behind' the appearance of beings for the source or cause of their appearing. . Once we think of the appearance to each other of beings and speech as an event. Like language. this unique event needs to be approached on its own terms: 'there is nothing else to which propriation reverts. . and the correlative drawing of beings into the clearing where they can appear to us. this section explores the question . . . 'the thing things ' . and we can only listen if we belong to the realm of speakable things. nothing in terms of which it might even be explained . nor can we study how manifestation occurs. 3 l J Our belonging here is complemented or 'well -joined' by Being's owning us. . since these are just present beings as well. . What propriates is prop riation itself-an d nothing besides . and too quickly. This p rimordial 'event' is n ot a cause which effects the clearing. Pro priation is and is only the event of our ability to perceive. just as Being or the ' there is' is not another being behind or under­ neath all beings. We can only name it. and speak about beings. 'whence does the showing arise?' (41 4). We can only speak by listening.

Each era gets 'sent' or appropriated into its own understanding of Being which forms a coherent way to think about everything and which determines every attempt to make sense of things. 3 1 9 Language remains a way in that its 'gentle law' 114 . he says that 'in language as the saying. 3 1 4 Poets and thinkers do this with excel­ lence i n that t he y articulate the profound folds of the world without ever taking this ability for granted or turning language into an inconspicuous medium to satisfy our desires. 3 1 8 Rather than a mere passage to something which then gets abandoned and forgotten upon arriving at the destination. we cannot get outside of it in order to survey it comprehensively (423). Propriation bestows upon Since o u r essence is and who speak us a mean i ngful clearing in which an articulated world appears and appeals to us to articulate i t . the event of beings and man manifesting themselves to each other must simply be expe­ rienced and noted in sober awe. We cannot use this sense of things to explain propriation because any such attempt has to ' employ the particular understanding that 'propriation bestows ' (4 1 6) upon us. 'needed' and 'used' by the world to mani­ fest itself more fully. the event of mutual appropriation allows man and beings to bring each other to fulfillment. something like a way unfolds essentially'. as show­ ing. Heidegger has twice intimated that our sense of a way to language would change along the way of thinking about it. in an almost Hegelian sense. propriation is what allows us to bec ome who we are. so to speak. to be the beings to whom beings appear of these beings. so that speaking of them brings their unconcealment to its highest point: 'the saying that rests on propriation is. the most proper mode of propriating' (420). or inexplicable earth in 'The Origin of the Work of Art' ( 1 72).HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS ineradicable concealment that accompanies unconcealment in 'On the Essence of Truth' ( 1 35-6). in the attempt. propriation cannot be accounted for by this thinking. 3 1 5 Their articulations thankfully celebrate their ability to articulate. beings have a 'drive' towards manifestation. As the source of our way of thinking. Explanations fail and. Like language. 31 7 In this way. We are. dissipate the grateful wonder we should have. 3 1 6 Correlatively. The world we live in is ruled by a 'gentle law' or g athe red' by a coherent sense of how t hi ngs are (4 1 6).

in whi ch meaning blooms. STU DY QU ESTIO N S What does it mean to bring language as language to language? Does Heidegger accomplish this? Why or why not? 2 Explain Heidegger's claim that language speaks and man only responds. presented with life-paths such as work. It is up to us to listen to it. encompassing what is noble and what base. Heidegger believes that doing philosophy cannot be separated 115 . We may not need a way to language in the s en se of an initial approach to it. and one of his clearest. This rift-design carves into beings as a whole the taxonomy of reality that appears self-evident to us. what is great and what mean. We find ourselves in a world with regular intelligible patterns and graspable groups. .THE WAY TO LANGUAGE makes its way (' wegen') in the world. Altho u gh this always runs the risk of hypostasi zing B eing into a benevolent agent. 320 As the farmer rends the earth to make it hospitable to his plants. The End of Philosophy and the Task of Th inking This is one of Heidegger's last writings. and friends that appeal to us and allow us to be at home on this earth. family. It gives us a small sample of the dialogues with previous thinkers that occupies so much of his work but gets underrepresented in this anthology (see BW x). articulating a coherent sense of things that lays out the ways of living open to us. so propriation has rendered the earth inhabitable for us to dwell in by deposit­ ing meaning and significance into a sayable articulation of things. It is perfectly possible that either of these condi­ tions could have been m issing leading to skepticism or nihilism respectively. Do you find this plausible? Why or why not? i. Like many continental thinkers. B eing functions as a farmer that has broken up the world into grooves or furrows we can follow. but we always need the linguistic ways of the wo rld .

Heidegger. Because our thought is at least partially conditioned and provoked by what precedes us.m a rather surprising attitude given his passionate devotion to the history of philosophy. but bemoan this as a catastrophe. 32 1 ' . He explains that philosophy's end does not mean that the activity has com­ pletely stopped. and what might be the task fo r thinking at or after philoso­ p hy s end. or at least unfortunate. it ha s achieved its end in the sense of its te/os or goal. ' I . a thorough analysis of an issue should include an examination of h ow it has been dealt with in the past. . This distinction should alert us that 'thinking' is being used here as a technical term with a distinctive meaning rather than j ust e n te r ta i n i n g thoughts or the activity studied by e p i s t em ology The title lays out two ques­ tions to be explored: has philosophy ended or at least begun to end. The essay's two sections take up these questions in turn. 116 . 'The End of Philosophy'. however. it has fulfilled its original conception by dissolving into the sciences. even arrogant as Heidegger admits (436) . this essay's discussions of Hegel and Husser! supply at least a sense of this very important theme in H e i de gger s writings. Obviously. tracing h ow and why we have inherited it in this particular form. Heidegger believes the metaphysical determination of what it means t o be sets the guidelines for all other thinking. Although q ui t e brief.32 3 Although this might seem like an artificially narrow definition since it ignores the other conventional branches of philosophy. in order to understand why Heidegger thinks phi­ losophy is coming to an end we must understand what exactly he means by philosophy. He lays his cards on the table by defin­ ing philosophy as metaphysics in the first sentence of the first section. calls this state 'the legitimate completion of philoso­ phy'. TH E END OF P H I LOSOPHY The first half of the title. Many philosophers might agree that science has indeed taken the place of philosophy in contemporary society.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS from studying the history of philosophy. sounds por­ tentous. but rather that it has reached completion. as shown by their titles. Specifically. Let's start with the title: from the o ut se t 'The End of Philoso­ phy and the Task of Thinking' sets up a contrast between philosophy an d thinking since the former is coming to an end while a task still remains for the latter.

inanimate moving objects. with respect to Being' as the ground of all that is. other disciplines have taken over various sub-fields of beings (what Husser! called ontological regions) . Little by little. Since he defines philosophy as metaphysics. and this explanation takes up the rest of the paragraph. 324 Metaphysical theories are ways of accounting for reality by means of a single principle. Now if philosophy is understood here as the attempt to dis­ cover what beings really are. Hei­ degger surveys a number of nineteenth-century philosophical systems in terms of the ground they assign to beings as a whole: antic causality (perhaps Reid or Mill). Hegel's dialectical absolute spirit. and epistemology all derive from one's basic understanding of beings. Heidegger is saying. 325 Now. which constitutes their ground.. Kant's transcendental sub­ jectivity. the ground or Being of beings.THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING Logic. Metaphysics thinks 'beings as a whole .e. 'everything is really __ '. we must now examine what he means by metaphysics. Heidegger briefly recaps an argument he often makes that the sciences unwittingly depend on philosophy for the 117 . . then the idea that science has taken over this job stops seeming so strange. Metaphysics has succeeded by becoming physics. the mind. . things are by virtue of being a certain kind of thing (like substance) or by possessing a particular quality (like participation in the Forms or having been created by God). Philosophers have been trying to explain what makes beings real and what makes them what they are since Thales' first proposal that everything is water. etc. living beings. which means 'that from which beings as such are what they are'. over the course of the centuries. science annexed it. this pro­ cess is complete. i. Physics has assumed the role of determining reality's basic explanatory principles. making metaphysics truly the queen of philosophy. stars. Each of these philosophies contains a version of the statement. Whenever a type of being became ame­ nable to mathematical analysis and experimentation for greater control. In one astonishing sentence. Since this has been philosophy's intrinsic goal from inception. its present dissolution into the sciences represents its fulfillment rather than an externally imposed or accidental finish. information. and Nietzsche's will to power (432). where what fills in the blank explains all that is. 326 Now this does not mean that science and philosophy are identical. aesthetics. Marx's means of production. ethics.

which indicates an important relationship with philosophy. by grasping it as a whole. 328 What has . Heidegger is trying to encompass the entire history of philosophy from Plato to Nietzsche and. such as when scientific revolutions throw basic notions into doubt and force fundamental questions like 'what is matter?' 'what is time?'. though it would be post-philosophical for us. philosophy has depended upon something which it cannot think.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS categories that define their regions of beings. The initial 'task for thinking'. 1 18 . THE TASK OF TH I N KI N G This essay operates on an astonishing scale. the Pre-Socratics offer hints of what a fundamentally different kind of project might look like. science exceeds its boundaries to step into philosophy. evolutionary biology studies fossils and skeletons but cannot accommodate the possible influence of supernatural entities. Thinking of philoso­ phy as a circumscribed historical movement rather than a set of timeless issues or a permanent impulse in human nature leads us towards what might lie outside its boundaries. Thinking is not so much non-philosophy as post-philosophy. and it only functions within that region. is to survey the history of philosophy for paths not taken because th e se possibilities may be viable options after the 'end of philos­ ophy' . Heidegger's 'destruc­ tion' of the tradition dismantles the history of philosophy in order to understand its motivations and to uncover neglected alternatives. such as the Pre-Socratic writings Precisely because they were pre-philosophical. There may be other ways to carry on the activity initiated by the Pre-Socratics besides the metaphysical project of grounding and explaining beings that Plato and Aristotle set us on. As soon as it begins to seriously investigate its grounding concepts. m Scientific disci­ plines operate within carefully delineated boundaries: physics measures the position and velocity of particles but brackets their aesthetic appeal or mythological resonance. I I . then. Heidegger believes that throughout its history. We should also examine what lies outside philosophy as metaphysics. to catch a glimpse of its conceptual and chronological limitations. placing it close to genealogy as Nietzsche and Foucault practice it. asking about the region itself requires a perspective external to that discipline. Science's success partially results from narrowing its focus to one set of beings or one aspect of them.

kind of like how the shape of a miss­ ing puzzle piece is outl ined by its very absence As we have seen. ' ' . . In fact this unsaid operates even where they stake out their most secure epistemological positions. ' . He credits Hegel with the first truly philosophical understanding of history. the sciences rest upon philosophy s regional ontologies without being able to examine them. they j ust disagree on what these things are and how they can be reached For instance. j ust where they believe they have rid themselves of all unexamined assumptions namely. corpo­ real world in favour of the really real Forms. Plato bypasses the ersatz things of the temporal.THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING been systematically omitted.. 331 while Husserl's Logical Investigations helped draw the young Heidegger into philosophy. i. 3 29 Philosophers' omissio n s point towards it. philosophy in turn presupposes this unthought which it cannot think. It strikes precisely where they consider . 'to the things themselves (437). 332 to become Husserl's prize pupil Both philosophers also call their enterprise 'phenomenology' and proclaim the motto.333 it cap­ tures a universal ambition All philosophers want to get to the things themselves (or the matter [Sache] itself) . while Nietzsche gets to what he sees as the things themselves by igno ring dysfunc­ tional fantasies of timeless being in favour of the ever-changing forces of this world. what in some sense could not have been said. Although Husserl uses the motto to criticize a specific philosophical movement. Even such a formal and seemingly uncontrover­ sial statement of their subject matter unintentionally traces the silhouette of what these thinkers do not and cannot address. ' 119 . . ' ' . All metaphysics and science aspire to this goal of an unprejudiced study of reality as it really is (see 94) . 330 Heidegger focuses on two recent German philosophers who wielded a pa rticularly strong influence on him. Although they reach diametrically opposed ontologies.e. Out task is to find what phi­ losophy leaves unspoken by listening very carefully to what philosophy does say. represents the explicit doctrines' necessary presuppo­ sitions and so leaves traces in what has been said. both thinkers seek the same formal goal of attaining the things themselves. This motto obscures something precisely where philosophy has brought its matter to absolute knowledge and to ultimate evidence' (44 1 ) . ' . Hegel's absolute knowledge and Hussed's ultimate evidence or 'originary intuition (443).

1 20 . Philosophy never thinks of the clearing but must reside within it in order to phi­ losophize at all . conceived respectively as the dialectical-historical arrival at Spirit (Geist) and the revelation of transcendental subjectivity by phenomenological bracketing. something which cannot be rationally established. all this is done by means of reasoning.336 The clearing is to philosophy what philosophical regional concepts are to science. transcendental subjectivity. Both Hegel and Husserl consider subjectivity to be the matter of philosophy. Of course. a particular criterion of truth must appeal to them as being the correct evaluative tool. They survey various types of awareness and ways that phenomena show them­ selves. God. Furthermore. By founding our access to reality upon subjectivity. All attempts to think ahout the clearing. namely. the clearing.e. letting them show themselves as to-be-dealt-with in specific ways. etc. The way it shows itself to us is the sole 'binding character' (445) that any idea can have. and that they show up in particular ways. things themselves only appear in their appropriate form when appropriately linked to subjectivity.). and the ambition to find absolute knowledge or evidence must strike them as the essential goal. For both. . Both philosophers unknowingly presuppose that beings show themselves3 34 to them in what Heidegger calls the open clearing. unsurprisingly. Explain­ ing Being in terms of beings is the fundamental 'ontotheological' mistake that makes all philosophy up to now metaphysics. i.l35 To deal with beings in any way one must be open to them. But in order to examine these types of presentations. they are looking for the state in which phe­ nomena show themselves as they really are so that the foundations for genuine and final knowledge can be laid there. have misfired by referring the issue to particular beings that ground beings as a whole (Forms. looking for a completely trustworthy path 'to the things themselves' . this variety of views on the world must offer itself for inspection. the topic we most need to think about.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS themselves least vulnerable because even their optimal evidence needs something which does not itself come to evidence. but these reasons must appear as persuasive. that which it requires but is constitution­ ally incapable of thinking. This hidden assumption of all philosophy turns out to be. Both Hegel and Husserl seek absolute indisputable evidence. to establish how and why we encounter beings.

alarm clocks. Just as light reveals by remaining concealed. Being loves to hide (1M 1 20-1 ) . Light only renders objects visible if it is invisible itself. but not to its presence. right from the begin­ ning. not what it is as such. it necessarily neglects or even obscures it. the apparently innocuous pursuit of 'the things or beings themselves' is precisely the problem since focus­ ing on beings bypasses Being or their unconcealment (truth). the light of reason shines out to illuminate reality. but the truth of being has remained unthought' .while a select few disengage from this busyness to metaphysically investigate how these beings are. remains unheeded[. based on the metaphor of an open area in a forest where the trees thin out to let light stream in. We pay attention to what is present and its manner of presenta­ tion. 121 . to the utterly simple fact that we are open to it. seeing the light would block o ur perceptions of the things that are lit. his 'thinking has been concerned constantly with one occurrence: that in the history of Western thinking. like blocks of amber separating us from the object. for light to illuminate anything. Ironically. an open space. Heidegger argues that the very nature of metaphysics as the examination of beings as a whole necessarily bars us from think­ ing Being. beings have been thought in regard to being. so Being withdraws from explicit awareness to let beings present themselves. Although philosophy requires the clearing. taxes. cars. 'Presence as such. as Heidegger likes to trans­ late Heraclitus.THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING these philosophers attribute the establishment of our awareness of the world to our own mind. Pursuing . We spend our everyday lives dealing with various entities . Being has to withdraw for us to deal effectively with the particular beings in front of us. but none of us attend to the fundamental fact that they are. 3 3 9 This covering over is quite natural. creating what Heidegger calls the forgetfulness of Being In keeping with his frequent claim that concealing is inextricably intertwined with unconcealing. extending the metaphor.] Only what aletheia as clearing grants' is experienced and thought. police officers . 3 37 There must be a clearing. But. this overlooks the necessary condition for illumination.' 3 38 To put it formulaically: both our normal focus on beings and the metaphysical inquiry into their Being obscures Being itself. namely. Heidegger says at one point that ever since Being and Time. and together with it the clearing that grants it.

or 'the belonging together of Being and thinking' (445) is the ultimate 1 22 . which usually gets ignored. these ques­ tions highlight the mysterious fact that beings are present to us. like Hegel's forgetful Consciousness. a new one can occur to us at any point. the idea that science alone tells us the truth about reality. we ignore the clearing in favour of the cleared. each metaphysician takes his own answer as the final definitive word on the matter. Thinking studies the history of philosophy in order 'to think the historicity of that which grants a possible history to philoso­ phy' (436). collectively.342 Heidegger takes a novel approach to metaphysical questions like.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS our various endeavors. eschewing questions of correctness or how closely they approxi­ mate our contemporary views or lead up to US.34 1 The various metaphysical theories of beingness are ways that beings have manifested themselves to man and. Thinking engages earlier periods in serious dialogue. The only value earlier philosophers have lies in how they have prepared the ground for the correct view to emerge. rendering the notion of a final correct explanation of reality impossible. Instead of seeking final answers. They regard the history of metaphysical systems up to them as a series of unfortunate fumblings around in the dark. while reality waited patiently to be seen it as it really is once a clear-eyed view of things is finally won. not in a propositional statement about a matter at stake' (43 1 ) . we need to remain resolutely open to however things manifest themselves. Since we are not in control of our understanding . overlooking their presencing for what is present. This attitude also releases the grip of scientism. 'what are beings?' or 'what is being?' or 'why are there beings at all rather than nothing?' As the first paragraph of this essay explains. The particular answers they arrive at express their era's under­ standing of Being but. they show how Being has sent many radically different understandings of Being.34o They answer the question 'what are beings?' by referring beings as a whole to a ground or by determining the qualities that make things exist. Instead of seeking an answer. The fact that there is Being. 'if the answer could be given it would consist in a trans­ formation of thinking. committed to a 'readiness to be astounded' (327). Metaphysicians disengage (epocht) from these mundane deal­ ings with the proliferation of individual beings in order to inquire about beings as a whole or beings qua beings.

studying the history of philosophy reveals its boundaries. At other times. We gain some insight into what our options after the end of philosophy might be by examining what occurred before the beginning (444) . one which does not and should not seek resolution. but which cannot be taken up as our own. even though the specific manner differs from epoch to epoch. in order 'to become explicitly aware of the matter here called clearing' (442). Heidegger's stance on the Pre-Socrat­ ics as the only ' thinkers ' in history is ambivalent. We should thoughtfully dwell in the place where we always already are but do not heed. Think­ ing aims at that which underlies all phenomena and evidence to thankfully celebrate it instead of taking credit for them and selecting among them.. i. the Pre-Socratics only supply an instructive example of what one alternative to philosophy looks like. Whereas philosophy goes 'to the matter [Sache] itself'.e. despite Heidegger's emphasis on historic­ ity. Sometimes he explicitly disavows any attempt to replicate their thought or learn directly from them since our situation is so different from theirs. and boundaries imply an outside. As the ahistorical basis for history. It is humbler than philosophy in that it ascribes to Being much that has traditionally been attributed to us. However. thinking pursues the "'primal matter' [ Ursache]'. Of course. which can serve the genealogical function of loosening the grip of metaphysics' self-evidence. and in the simplicity of its subject matter (436). Plato took the wrong approach in trying to define Being. he only responded to what was revealed to him. Our epoch must respond to the present technological sending of Being.343 but it started philoso­ phy down the path of metaphysics. the very simplicity and Ubiquity of the matter of thought. this is not Plato's fault since.THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING mystery. however. If it is just a matter of wondering at the fact of presencing then. like all thinkers. makes it look like an ahistorical constant that anyone at any time could perceive in roughly the same way. the clearing. Whereas metaphysical explanations cover it up. On this view. This grateful wondering at presencing is the Task of Thinking. all periods rest upon and thus could discover the mere fact of presencing. the clearing 1 23 . to attend to the matter of thinking as a farmer tends her crops. questioning makes it vividly manifest.

i. removes the air of inevitability that has accrued to philosophy's subject matter and method due to its long tenure. Thinking this way is a histori­ cal event which began with Plato and Aristotle and is now ending as science takes over this task. He is determining what philosophy is in order to see what it is not. Rather than asking about beings and their beingness. instilling the fundamental mood or attunement of grateful wonder towards presencing rather than explaining and controlling present entities. The genealogical element in this excavation or. This is the task of thinking which can only come 1 24 2 3 . 'answers' to this endeavour will not take the form of a propo­ sitional fact which could only be another ground. de-construction (Ab-bau). before its beginning. 344 Heidegger's examination of the history of philosophy in this essay reaches three conclusions: Despite its apparent diversity. And the best place to look for extra-philosophical options for after the end is at the other end of philosophy. Instead. a pressing need given the fact that philosophy is now drawing to a close (though sometimes he speculates that this end may last quite a long time). 345 Philosophy has been one type of activity . .HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS seems to be trans-epochal even though this contradicts the general thrust of his later work. more literally.e.metaphysics.e. Heidegger wants to expose other pos­ sibilities. philosophy has been surpris­ ingly si n gular in its metaphysical aspiration to think beings with respect to their Being. . i. namely. this thinking tries to 'ques­ tion as to how there can be presence as such' (447). This metaphysical project is what makes science the successor to philosophy.e. There is a non-philosophical activity practiced by at least some of the Pre-Socratics which does not offer another 'Everything is really ___ ' statement. Of course. thinki n g induces a 'trans formation in thinking'. as pointed out in the very first paragraph of the essay.. the determining of universal traits of all beings. i. what other ways of thinking might be available to us once we emerge from the long dominance of metaphysics. the Being of beings or beingness. Every great philosopher has followed Thales' lead in offeri n g a version of the metaphysi­ cal 'everything is really __' statement.

346 STU DY QU ESTIONS 2 How does Heidegger define philosophy? Why? Is this a fair characterization? Why or why not? How does he define thinking? In what way(s) is this essay genealogical? 1 25 . then we cannot predict anything about it but can only prepare ourselves for a new calling. If this new way of thinking is to be genuinely different from what has come before.THE END OF PHILOSOPHY AND THE TASK OF THINKING about with the end of philosophy.

' 1 26 . as the unavoidable thinker who must be dealt with one way or another by everyone in his wake. the later work remains the unread subject of easy attack or ridicule in analytic circles. This movement was central to continental philosophy in the first half of the twentieth century. I have argued at some length in A Thing of This World (Brave r. i s suing a deci si ve critique of Sartre in the ' Letter on Humanism ' . . and it has enjoyed even greate r influence. Its 'poetic' or mystical' style. The group of thinkers loo s ely grou pe d together as postmodernists all wor k in the shadow of th e later t ho ug h t while the Frankfurt school partially defines itself in opposition to Heidegger. while his early work has been somewhat assimilated and accepte d by ana­ lyt i c philosophers. ' . and the figure to whom much of what follows can be traced. On the other hand. es p e c i ally in the field of philosophy of mind. His early work created existential phenomenology by fusing Husserl's methods with Kierkegaard's concerns (along with Kant's transcendental strategy and Dilthey s hermeneutics). His later work tries to forge a profoundly new way of thinking. and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. After the Kehre or cha n ge in his thought in the early thi r tie s H eidegge r left exi s tential phenomenology behind. as well ­ . whose Phe­ nomenology of Perception fills in gaps on the body and perception left by Being and Time. 2007) that he stands to the twentieth century the way Kant stood to the nine­ teenth. Virtually every important continental philosopher of the century pays homage to his genius.CHAPTER 4 RECE PTION AND INFLUENCE Heidegger is unquestionably one of the most influential philoso phers of the twentieth century quite possibly the single most important figure in the continental tradition. lead by Jean-Paul Sartre (whose Being and Nothingness has been jokingly called a French 'translation' of Being and Time). even those strongly opposed to him. it is fa r more innovative (and more difficult) than the early work.

reflects both Hei­ degger's claims and his practice in the later work. which is why he singles out Heidegger 's historical conception of truth as par­ ticularly important.RECEPTION AND INFLUENCE as its intense focus on history. and art. 1 27 . Even his famous term 'deconstruction' was partially inspired by Heidegger's early 'Destruktion' of the tradition. I will briefly discuss three prominent continen­ tal thinkers who owe an especially large debt to Heidegger's later thought. 5 Jacques Derrida. perhaps the most brilliant continental phi­ losopher since Heidegger. how­ ever. in particular the notion of the fore-structures of understanding. 3 Foucault divides history into epochs. and th at it consti­ tutes a novel. Gadamer traces his own foundational idea that artworks have a distinct kind of truth to Heidegger's talk. Michel Foucault said in one of his last interviews that 'Heidegger has always been for me the essential philosopher . could not but have alienated many analytic thinkers. 54) . each with its own system of truth that determines what kind of statements and scientific approaches are allowable. . 'The Origin of the Work of Art ? and Gadamer's view of texts as embodying their period's world-view. Hans-Georg Gadamerwas the twentieth century's leader of her­ meneutic philosophy. calls Heidegger 'uncircumventable'. My whole philosophical development was determined by my reading of Heidegger' . .from the episteme to a disciplinary apparatus to games of truth . history. forcing us to understand them on their own terms instead of blithely translating them into ours.it retains a basic similarity to Heidegger's epochal understandings of Being . Gadamer combines ideas from the early work. a movement going back to Schleiermacher's work in the early nineteenth century which reached an impor­ tant turning point and expansion in Being and Time. A personal student of Heidegger ('what was most important for me.7 Derrida insists 'that Heidegger 's text is extremely important to me. I learned from Hei degger'l). with much from the later work. 6 noting that his own work 'would not have been possible without the opening of Heidegger's questions'. . . especially Heidegger 's discussions of truth. In addition to Heidegger 's willingness to give 'violent' reading s of philosophical texts.4 Although this notion develops throughout Foucault's career . irreversible advance all of whose critical resources we are far from having exploited' ( I b i d .

carried out through the explora­ tion of an astounding variety of subjects. I certainly believe that he hit on a number of crucial insights and raised many profound questions whose depths we are far from plumbing. . Heidegger's broad influence makes him unavoidable. How Heidegger's reputation will fare in the future is. One of the most fascinating features of his thought is that his absolute focus on the single topic of Being is balanced by or.HEIDEGGER'S LATER WRITINGS Derrida continues Heidegger's struggle with the problem of how to escape from metaphysics. 1 28 . rather. For those who approach the study of philosophy historically. considered as a whole. impossible to tell. of course. The fact that he has continued to publish prolifi­ cally even decades after his death ensures that there will continue to be work to be done in Heidegger scholarship for some time to come. is and can only be the expression of Being. This is only fitting since thinking.

RCT 1 43-4. WCT 50. see also BW 44-6. PR 5. 28 1 .1 7. 263. BT 4 1 4/362. PIK 1 36. PIK 1 6-. WCT 239. STF 85. PIK 252. See 59. M 267. FCM 357. 5 See TB 28. 28 1 . BQ 1 59. N III:56. EGT 56. PIK 289. BP 293. BP 68. N 4: 1 4 1 . 276. all references in this book are to W ritings. N 1:36. See 276. 263. WCT 1 1 0. KPM 1 4 1 -1 42. BP 75. M 1 25. The two divisions we have . BP 72.NOTES CHAPTER 1 Unless otherwise noted. BP 299. OBT 1 93. PIK 48. Genuine patience is one of the basic virtues of philosophizing . KPM 1 58. this topic was to have been addressed primarily in the Third Division of Part One which never got published. 264. See 5 8 234. 2 Basic 'Patience is the truly human way of being thoughtful about things. 7 See 238. KPM 7. PIK 1 6. KPM 50. KPM 1 59 . 3 Quoted in Biemel ( 1 976: 6). See also STP 5. BW 1 60. CHAPTER 2 2 3 4 5 6 7 See 23 8-9 . 1 29 . 4 1 5. BP 72-73. BP 1 55. BW 275-7. with Sherover ( 1 972) and Blattner ( 1 999) addressing it at length (see Braver (2007: 532n 9) for a full list of references). 4 See 77. P 1 49. 86--7 . Although the stated goal of the book is to find the right horizon for the meaning of Being. BT 1 8911 49. 66. to which the analysis of Dasein's Being is subordinated (see 60-2. see also BW 289. M 1 87. BP 1 6. BW 54. BT 278/235. BT 2 1 3/ 1 69. OBT 1 59. BP 275. TB 46. 246. FS 40-4 1 . WCT 202. 6 I will often retain Heidegger's term 'man' despite its sexism because it acts as a technical term in his usage. See 234. WCT 1 52.vir­ tue which understands that we always have to build up the pile of kindling with properly selected wood so that it may at one point catch fire' (RPS 73). WCT 98. Many critics have discussed this point. OBT 1 98. KPM 1 98-9).

FS 6 1 . 385. BW 242. PM 3 1 9. See 29 1�3. M 1 86. ID 70. PIA 8 5 . OWL 93. WT 242. OBT 1 96. M 333. PIA 48. WCT 1 59-60. as well as the necessary circle between studying artworks in order to grasp art relying on a previous understanding of what art is in order to pick out artworks to study ( 1 44). BQ 1 5 0� I . though he generally exempts them from the ranks of metaphysics entirely. The most relevant essays are ' Modem Science. as Krell admits at BW x. OBT 1 33. might count as a separate era. TB 6. 1 87. a. Although his ea rly work does not follow this principle. Sartre. WT 39-40. N III : 1 89-90. PM 287. FS 22. We can see a parallel here with the pre-ontological understanding of Being one must possess just to ask the question of Being (see 45-6). PM 27 7 STF 64. The Pre-Socratics. N III:2 1 7. was thus: to show the scientists that there is something other than the object of their exclusive occupations and that this other precisely first enables that very thing with which they are preoccupied' (FS 57). BW 432. See 24 1 . It is also unclear to what extent the contemporary era of technologi­ cal standing-reserve is distinct from the modem age of substance. OBT 5 8 . ID 66�7. PR 1 05 . 288.e. see also B W 44. held before a gathering of scientists and faculty. M 322. and Mathematics' and 'The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking'. STF 1 38. PLT 1 90. N HI: l 64. Metaphysics. . 432�3 . the intro­ duction to Being and Time does state it in the discussion of the history of philosophy (7 1 ) . 436. Years later. adapts this argument to show the 'reality' of nothingness in human conscious­ ness in Being and Nothingness. Heidegger remarked that 'the intention of the lecture. See 5 1 -2. OWL 85. Heidegger's history of Being is not entirely consistent across his career. BP 78. . M 1 46. See 94 . PR 63. BW 1 90. PR 79. OBT 99. See 436. 446-7. M 26 9 M 3 1 7. See TB 4 1 . see also PM 232.NOTES 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 focus on explaining Dasein's way of Being. the existential analysis (see 55). i. M 302. O BT 1 93. FCM 9. See 20 1 . This strain of his work is underrepresented in this anthology. He defends it aga inst the cha rge of being 'arbitrary and contrived' by attributing 130 . 29 1 -2. C HAPTER 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 See 55-7. WCT 1 00 BQ 1 70. the book's final sentence puts its opening thesis into question (see also TB 28).. PR 62. PM 1 04n. see also BW 1 03 . See 232. M 3 1 7. BW 1 26. CP 1 2 1 /§85. . BQ 1 46. Also. heavily influenced by 'What is Metaphysics?'. see also FS 59-60. who seem to have anticipated much of Heidegger's own thought.

It is intriguing to specu­ late on how love might perform this function. see also FS 5 7 . M 278 . See his more detailed di scussi o n in FCM . HCT 284. Being-towards-death is essentially anxiety' (BT 3 1 01266. 73. HCT 29 1 ) . All the worse for logic!' Carnap ( 1 959: 7 1 ). 1 wil l repeat that Heidegger is n ot attacking or dismissin g reason. See 53. HCT 29 1 . Here we can see the possible inspiration for Sartre's notion of de trop. 'Dasein finds itselfface toface with the 'nothing' of the possible impossibility of its existence . which Heidegger himself suffered from. Carnap ( 1 9 5 9: 69-72) . BT 230-. HCT 289. and logic . BQ 1 50.5/ 1 86-9 1 . Heidegger's unabashed call to end the hegemony of logic particularly upsets Carnap: 'the author of the treatise is clearly aware of the conflict between his questions and statements. . see also KPM 1 66. 1 85n. BT 393/343. FCM 68. see also BT 1 7 5 / 1 3 6 . see also B T 2 3 I 1 1 8 6 . though Heidegger does not explain how it happen s. 1 00. 1 0 1 . BT 23211 87. FCM 1 38 . see also FCM 92. . 98. BT 1 06175. Since it has given rise to so much virulent misunderstanding. FCM 89. See 1 05. 1 06 . I n t he sense of inter-esse as being-in-the-world in a concernful way (see 37 1 ) . Thus. . see also WIP 9 1 . see also FCM 82. see also BT 295/25 1 . . As Bill Blattner points out in this volume's 'prequel'. 1 5 1 . . See BT 99/69. B T 39 1 -4/341 -4. this description resembles depres­ sion. See BT 1 80--21 1 4 1 -2. see also BT 1 66-7/ 1 29. FCM 67. 'who may be taken as the representative and sign of an entire era' (PM 84n. HCT 256. FCM 103. FCM 86. see also 1 29.NOTES 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 the formulation to Taine. a. in anxiety. See 1 03. 1 42. 1 00. a). N 1:99. Heidegger does not explicitly say that boredom reveals the nothing. 97. 1 08. see also 45. rather than what we would now call anxiety (see Blattner 2006: 1 3. 131 . 88). 1 03 . See 1 05. but this fits his de scri ption better than revealing beings as a whole. PIA 1 7 . 1 06. but trying to view it as one faculty among many. . BT 1 76/ 1 37. see also BT 23 1 1 1 87. but phil o sophy has only praised reason and attacked emotions for virtually all of its h i st ory. 1 60. 1 02. see also BT 23411 89. OTB 1 99 . Each h a s it s strengths and weaknesses. 98. See 5 8 . N 1 : 5 1 . PM 88n. see also BT 1 0517 5. see also FCM 1 47. . CP 348. 1 0 1 .

FCM 1 43 . Where Kant examined the conditions for the possibility of specific types of judgments scientific. see also BT 3 2 1 1277. 1 0 1 .NOTES 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 Heidegger will come to define metaphysics precisely as the making of this kind of distinction. It had lost the harmless look of an abstract category. i. g. it was the very paste of things' Sartre ( 1 964: 1 27). N 2:230. i talics i n original. their methods of use. but that it exists' Wittgenstein ( 1 988. FS 57) and the claim that anxiety simply allows us to explicitly experience the openness that we are always already within (see 1 1 0. notions we will be examining in other chapters. As has been often noted. but by then he will also have distanced himself from metaphysics thus defined . Usually existence hides itself . as the condition for the possibility of any kind of experience whatsoever (see PIK 289. 1 32 . PM 234. BT 299/255. KPM 1 99. . BT 4 1 6/364. only sleeping' ( 1 05-6. HCT 290) but this notion seems phenomenologically dubious to me.e. see also B P 1 7 1 . I favour the latter view. In 'What Is Metaphysics?' he seems to waver between the claim that an experience of the nothing is itself the enabling condition of all awareness (see 1 04. . FS 57. There is also the suggestion of a compromise between these two options in the idea that anxiety is 'constant though doubtlessly obscured . H C T 202 . 1 0 2 see also KPM 1 99-200 . . . KPM 5 1 . M 339. PM 233-4. BP 1 59.. 1 08. KPM 50-1 . Compare Sartre's famous description of Roquentin's nauseous encounter with the chestnut tree: 'the words had vanished and with them the significance of things. 1 09. 73/§6 . FCM 28 3 . Such as grateful thinking (denkenldanken) or preserving/sheltering the mystery. existence had suddenly unveiled itself. see also BT 2341 1 89. Heidegger often describes his early work as continuing and radical­ izing Kant's transcendental inquiry. FCM 1 43). see also FCM 1 27 . ethical. clear as day. . And I am then inclined to use such phrases as "how extraordinary that anything should exist''' Wittgenstein ( 1 993: 4 1 ) . see also 1 90. PIK 292). And then all of a sudden. KPM 1 67. see also FCM 1 65 . our being Da-sein or the clearing. Heideggerian wonder is similar to Wittgenstein's early definition of mysticism: 'it is not how things are in the world that is mystical. 1 04. see also BP 30 1 . . .44) . 1 00. KPM 1 66-7. . Wittgenstein later describes the feeling he associates with the idea of an absolute good in similar terms: 'I believe the best way of describing it is to say that when I have it I wonder at the existence of the world.Heidegger analyzes our openness to the world. HCT 244. Personally. See 238. See 1 09. BT 1 5 51 1 1 9. . see also 94. 1 03 . . FCM 1 7 1 . See e. BT 394/343. and the fee­ ble points of reference which men have traced on their surface . and aesthetic . there it was. italics added.

ET 1 1 3. 79 BQ 1 27-8. see also BQ 1 46. BQ 1 50-1 . see also 1 78-9. See 1 1 8. 1 29. EGT 7 1 . 1 26. EGT 1 20-1 . Repeated for other t opics at 45. 446. for that matter. See STF 9. P 143. EGT 1 1 8 . Note. see also FS 8.1 . B T 263/220. EGT 1 14. 74 See 1 27. 76 See 1 27. BP 22 l . 78 This is H eidegger s version of HusserI's doctrine of ad umbrations. MFL 1 27. 1 24. FCM 283. OWL 25. Neither Nietzsche nor Derrida subscribe to this view either. ET 45. 379. If we tum the obj ect to see the back sides. MFL 1 27-8 . This kind of 'apprenticeship' in thinking also occurs in the first section of 'The Origin of the Work of Art'. see also 3 5 1 . 75 See 78. B Q 82. KPM 1 98 . ET 9 . 3 1 2. MFL 2. KPM 87. WIP 97. See BT 257-8/2 1 4. FCM 29. 1 26. FCM 1 72. This is Heidegger's version of the phenomenological notion of intentionality. BP 2 1 0. KPM 1. that this ontological engagement still deals with beings. the idea that the perception of a physical object necessarily per­ ceives only part of it. see also BQ 1 78. though. b. 1 22. MFL 2 1 6-1 7. BT 257/2 1 4. HPS 65. see also FCM 339. See 1 44. it is 'intentional' in t hat it is directed towards an object. 1 25. EGT 1 22. 1 77. BQ 3 l . Being is always the Being of a being (see 50. BQ 1 4. See 1 23-4. see also BQ 82. See 1 1 5. See 57. 1 86). WCT 1 42. BQ 1 75-6. BQ 1 8. MFL 1 25. DT 65. MFL 1 25-6. 1 56-7. EGT 1 04. 1 29. KPM 1 97. OBT 74. see also BT 258/2 1 5. 442-5. 276-7. FCM 339.1 8 . BQ 44-5 . 448. BQ 1 8 1 . BQ 20. 1 62. despite caricatures. 1 09. which took the form of being-in-the-worId in Being and Time. 1 8 1 . PM 280. see also 1 76-7. 1 2 1 . M 242. BQ 1 74. FCM 342. PM 1 44n. 1M 32. 1 75. 406.NOTES 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 See 1 38. then they now obscure the sides that had been visible. In official phenomenological terms. MFL 1 24. 1 44. 1M 30. 1 1 0. After all. See 1 3 1 .1 5. 1 23 . the sides facing us hid e the back sides. FCM 34 l . 98. see also 1 78. BP 322. see also 1 03. See 1 1 0. 43 1 . FCM 342. 1 75. TB 3 5 . ET 86. but now for the sake of Being or the clearing rather than fulfilling our desires. See 1 23. OWL 7 l . 7 7 See 98-9. see also KPM 1 70. EF 93. PIS 3 50. ' 133 . 80 1 30. Nietzsche ( l 989a: 9).

436. 435. of reason. BT 2 1 31 1 69. 1M 1 1 5. all the way up to the ultimate subject: 'we find ourselves in the midst of a rude fetishism when we call to mind the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language which is to say. WIP 97. FCM 59. See 246. Nietzsche made the same point about how language distinguishes an agent from her actions. BQ 35. See 50-3. See 1 38. FS 8. Heidegger makes the same move with beings and Being at 48. in-sistent c10sedness (see Levinas ( 1 996: 1 4. 1 24. 1 35.NOTES 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 See 1 30. PLT 222-3 . . It is this which sees everywhere deed and doer . N IV:44. he said that 'the basic presupposition for being able to take the past seriously lies in willing not to make one's own labour easier than did those who are supposed to be revived' (BP 1 00). BW 58. QT 1 04. and which projects its belief in the ego-substance on 1 34 . a). WCT 76-7. BT 362/3 1 4. 1 72. BT 1 951 1 53. See 1 44. see also BQ 2 1 . N II: 1 1 2. 33 1 . PLT 225. 262. the introduction to Being and Time does state it (7 1 ) . PM 307. N III: 1 76. One of the features uniting 'post-modern' thinkers such as Levinas. Heidegger insisted that 'a basic requirement for a theory of categories is characteriz­ ing and demarcating the dif erent domains of objects into spheres f that are categorially irreducible to one another' (Sup 63. We can note a significant overlap here with Emmanuel Levinas who defines knowledge as reducing the other to the same or. See 1 35-6. Gadamer also discusses the dangers of prejudices. EGT 1 0 8. BP 322) . N II: l 1 6. 295-6. OBT 7 1 . 1 5 1 )). In his marginal notes from 1 943 (PM 1 48n. M 333. See 1 32. see also 379-80. BT 264/222. BW 66). N III:56. WCT 1 65 . 43 1 . in Heidegger's terms. and truths and the essence of truth at 1 1 6. Be ing and Time calls this understanding what 'one' (das Man) does with things (see BT 1 671 1 29. OBT 77. Heidegger points to a significant shift or 'leap' occurring between Sections Five and Six (though he does not single out this paragraph). N IV:203. 442. BQ 38. PIK 20. the nothing at 98. 204. Derrida. 25 1 . 289. WCT 1 59-60. B P 1 3. see also EGT 26. the book's final sentence puts its fundamental thesis into question. . CP §274/348-9. 1 87. See 1 3 1 . TDP 25. 97 98 99 A few years earlier in talking about the history of philosophy. M 323. Although I find that his early work betrays this principle. 1 44. PIK 24-7. As early as the supplement to his dissertation. M 1 84. See 1 56. Also. and Foucault is this rallying cry to protect difference or otherness against homogenization though it takes quite different forms in their works. though he stresses the fact that they play a useful and ineliminable role in understanding as well . see also Sup 78.

with a middle phase when you are improv­ ing a skill or rep ai ring a broken tool (see BT 20 1 l 1 58). 1 8 1 . See 1 64--5 . Being and Time uses the term 'Dasein' instead of ' man' or ' consci o usne ss ' to avoid this problem. 1 76. 353. PIS 288. see al so 1 95. BQ 82. PIS 350. nor a " reproducti on '" Derrida ( 1 987: 3 1 2.NOTES to all things . HCT 1 29. BP 208-9. IPR 6 . WCT 233. . is intelligible as the piece of equipment that it is only by way of the particular world that bel on gs to the exis ten tia l constitution of the Dasein as being-in-the-world. PLT 1 97. see also 1 25. 1 65. WT 39-40. ET 1 97. He also gets wrong a Heideggerian argument which should ruin in advance his own restitution of the shows to Van Gogh: art as "putting to work of truth" is neither an "imitation". See 66. B T 207/ 1 64. This fits in wi th Heidegger's early view that the equipment we use helps constitute our identity by making up our world. See 1 00. 1 50. 446. confirmed here at 1 5 1 . 1 5 1 -2. Schapiro 's objection misses the point. I SO. The situation is actually more com plicated than this. see also 325). BP 22-3 . CP §274/348. EGT 64--6 . HCT 266. Wi ttgenstein's early conception of language centers around his picture theory of meaning which takes this similarity as fundamental. See 1 48. 65-6. BT 26 1-3/2 1 8-20. nor a "description" copying the "real" . However. 1 57. 446. 258. see also BT 262/220. 1 1 8. See 1 62. See BT 99/69. MFL 1 27-28. 1 56. TDP 7 1 -2. BT 4 1 2-5/361-4. 1 64. Derrida says as much in his extended discussion of their exchange: ' Schapi rio is mistaken about the primary function of the pictorial reference. 1 48. See BT 1 06175. See 1 62. HCT 1 36. BP 1 1 7. see als o 408. The art historian Meyer Schapiro criti­ cized Heid egger for attributing the shoes in Van Gogh's painting to a peasant farmer when they were in fact Van Gogh 's own shoes. see also 1 22. 1 6 1 . HCT 87. FCM 23. The shoemaker is not the shoe. but sh o e -ge ar. Sup 1 60. ET 86. . 1 77.only thus does it create the concept ' th in g ' . In u nderstan d in g itself by way of things. See 46. 1 76. 1 53. HCT 29. see also N 1: 1 87. regardle ss of its accuracy. belonging to the equipmen tal contexture of his environing world. . HCT 300. I fear we are not getting rid of God becau se we still believe in grammar' 1 00 101 1 02 1 03 1 04 105 1 06 1 07 1 08 1 09 1 10 III 1 12 1 13 1 14 115 1 16 Nietzsche ( 1 990: 48). we can see from Heidegger's rejection of artistic truth as correct portrayal that. 1 94. ET 9. the Dasein understands itself as being-in-the-world by way of its 1 35 . 'We are able to understand and encounter ourselves constantly in a spe­ cific way by way of the beings which we encounter as intraworldly.

OBT 1 93. i. but this is one reason why artworks enjoy a privi­ leged status. See 223. N 1 : 1 87. FCM 347. 1 93 . see also EGT 1 00. P 1 42. WCT 1 1 0. 1 79. see also 206. EGT 1 22. BT 67/42. see also FCM 42. see also P LT 1 70. One of the best known formulations of this doctrine was given by Duns Scotus. see also 1 35-6. see Braver (2007: 325-9). as well as good. see also 1 85 . PM 3 1 3. WCT 202. italics in original. The shoemaker is not the shoe but. 234. 263 . 230. 246. 3 6 1 -2. WCT 98. BQ 144. 1 90. 1 8 1 . 1M 1 70. P 1 49. See 1 68. 1 72. 1M 204-5 . . 200. 242. the idea that the highest values that apply to all categories . BT 1 1 4/83. 1 97. KPM 5 . PM 1 78. 1 99.Being. OBT 1 98.NOTES 1 17 1 18 1 19 1 20 121 1 22 1 23 1 24 1 25 1 26 1 27 1 28 1 29 1 30 131 1 32 l 33 l 34 l35 1 36 1 37 l 38 1 39 1 40 141 world. WCT 1 1 0. See 4 1 5. see also FCM 355. Art's structural isomorphism with truth is what accounts for its unusual ability to effect truth. B Q 1 64. etc. For a detailed discussion o f this topic. 1 7 1 . ex i s ting. s ee also 1 78. see a l so N 1: 1 1 9. He lists a number of other ways that truth occurs in beings ( 1 8 6-7). Nietzsche. see also 247. C P §243/272. see also BP 1 59. 2 1 0. See 229. one. Heidegger connects Being. DT 65.e. 1 97. 1 67. the clearing. BQ 1 83). 224. This synthesis can be seen as a fascinating reinterpretation of the med ieval doctrine of the identity of tran­ scendentals. quoted at 229. see also 1 59-60. STF l 38. CP §51 l 1 . Heidegger makes a brief argument that truth's strife between unconcealment and concealment bears an affinity with artworks' earth-world strife ( 1 87). BQ 1 59. 1M 1 40. see also 1 9 1 . BT 406/35 5 . N 1II: 56. WCT 239. EHP 43. 1 70. 4 1 5. P 1 49-50. altho ugh the two cannot simply be identified with each other ( 1 80) . ' ' 136 . 225-6. WCT 98. WCT 237. Hegel. See 58. WCT 1 52. and beauty. BT 1 8811 48). 1 79. 224. the subject of Heidegger s Habilitationschrift (a German version of the dissertation). PLT 224. BQ 1 78. 1 73. and early Heidegger all use this phrase (see BT 1 861 145. 248 . EGT 26. See 1 69. PR 5. CP §269/339. BQ 1 27-8. This strategy resembles Husserl's formal indications' . he is his world' (BP 1 7 1 . and Truth many times (see 1 77. are all the same. BT 4 1 6/364) . 240. 1 78 . BQ 1 83 . see also 232. N 1 : 1 95. truth. P 1 35. See 2 1 0. PT 56. 235. N I : 1 98. see also EGT 99. 1 89 .

see also OWL 26). EOT 1 22. PM 28 1 . 235. STF 1 87. 235. see also B P 22 1 . WT 39 .7 . PR 75. Note that the term 'passive' only roughly approximates Heidegger's ideas. N IV:93. see also BW 3 1 4. N IV:86. FS 40. He does not even so much as raise the question. N IV: 1 52. CP 1 79/§ 1 34. See M 300. 246. see also 23 1 . M 322-3.NOTES 1 42 143 144 145 1 46 1 47 1 48 149 1 50 151 1 52 1 53 1 54 1 )5 1 56 1 57 1 58 1 59 1 60 161 1 62 1 63 See 226-7. BW 260. 24 1 . PR 69. See 247.namely. CP 22 1 1§ 1 92.in The Order of Things. It is somewhat like when we say that mam­ mals and birds are included in the class of animals' (AM 8. STF 1 7 1 . 233. See 26 1 . PM 300. Being crossed out. Heidegger applies the same point to Nietzsche at 241 . ' ' ­ . see also FS 47. . PM 288.1 . see also N IV: 1 39. KPM 1 65 see also BW 234. M 1 86-. N HI:2 l ? . CP 1 67/§ 1 20. . between 'Being' as 'the Being of beings. PM 294. PM 1 35. I address this topic in great detail in 2007: 273-9. M 268-9. P 1 03-4. 232. EOT 99. Beyng. N III: l 89. BQ 1 5 1 ). . N IV:28. 259. . See 1 32. and the truth of Being) to prevent this confusion. Heidegger's many discussions of the difficulty of escaping meta­ physics is one of his greatest influences on Derrida. M 268-9. He actually wants to forego the entire active passive distinction (see DT 6 1 . M 257-8. see also AM 1 02 FCM 357). see also WCT 1 5 1 . 234. in respect of its truth (the clearing)' (OWL 20.1 2. This differentiation of the on is simply put forth. the historical origin and metaphysical arbitrari­ ness of animal taxonomy . M 287. Heidegger discusses Aristotle's treatment of beings in terms of categories and potential-actual: 'what is the origin of this distinction? What is the justification for this twofold deploy­ ment in the address and saying of being? Aristotle offers no explanation or reason for this. WCT 142. FS 59--60. see also N 1II:68. FS 73. BW 240-1 . 263. M 34 7 . N IV: I 03 . P 1 47. see also WCT 1 6 1 . DT 64.' and Being as 'Being' in respect of its proper sense. M 334. 1M 56. see also N IV:2 1 1. M 375. STF 64. 235. PM 279. PM 278. BW 259. that is. N IV:208. Foucault takes up this specific topic . TB 37. · 235 One of the obstacles here is the 'puzzling ambiguity' (233) by which Being can mean a specific way of Being or the mere presence of beings at alL Heidegger admits to his own 'ambigu­ ous use of the word 'Being' . 252. P 1 03 M 257-8. M 276. See 234. 296--304. 242. 232. See 235. neither here nor elsewhere. In a 1 93 1 course. N IV: 207. 246. He comes to refer to the latter with a number of different terms (such as Ereignis. 1 37 . C P 1 20/§83 . see also OBT 1 32-3. BT 329/284. .

PLT 1 84. PM 283. 233-4. We can see here remnants of HusserI's notion of categorial intu­ ition which claims that we directly 'perceive' phenomena such as logical relations between objects of our experience. PM 234. 337. N IV:44. §20 1 . PM 3 1 3 . CP 1 691§ 1 22. 252. PM 324. 229. 248. We can also see the influence o f HusserI's understanding of phenomenology as based on intuitive evidence. see also PM 3 1 8 . PM 236. ID 3 1 . 3 5 1 -3. see also 372. 24 1 . PR 96. 1 3 . See PR I l l . This bears a similarity to Wittgenstein's solution to the pseudo­ problem of rule-following. p. STF 1 48-9. BQ 1 63. DT 83. TB 38-40. PM 235. See 1 70. FS 56. See 243 . Z 2 1 7 . Z 2 1 7. 237. BW 330. see also 23 1 . 1 98 . BQ 1 59. 262. Z 62.1 0. see also 1 32. See 1 0 1 -2. ID 30-3. M 1 33. PLT 228 . 262. 227. FS 80. P M 289. ID 39. See 25 1 . WCT 1 2 1 . TB 1 9. 409. DT 77-8.NOTES 1 64 1 65 1 66 1 67 1 68 1 69 1 70 171 1 72 1 73 1 74 1 75 1 76 1 77 1 78 1 79 1 80 181 1 82 1 83 1 84 1 85 1 86 1 87 1 88 1 89 1 90 See 226. ID 43-4. See Wittgenstein (200 1 : § 1 98.1 8. PLT 1 8 1 . M 238. Z 2 1 7. This idea has i ts roots in Being and Time's initial definition of Dasein as being-in-the-worId. OWL 76. N IV: 2 1 4. PR 86. N IV: 2 1 7. 264. See 258. 333. see also 220. PT 27. CP 1 201§8 5 . 234. WCT 1 2 1 . WCT 79. 264. M 28 1 . 39 1 . 254. OBT 232. 233. §2 1 7. 1 38 . this loyalty is at the same time a possi­ ble way of revering the sole authority which a free existing can have' (BT 443/39 1 ). 4 1 5 . 252. See 25 1 . PM 3 1 9. 237. M 333. N I: 1 93 . CP 2 1 3/§ 1 78. P M 232. see also 262. See 1 25. 238. See 258. 262-3. 1 28 . see also 330. Here is a point on which Heidegger agrees with Nietzsche who uses the example of lightning as a phenomenon in which the subject-acti on distinction collapses. PM 279. see also 235. 384. See 230. BW 36 1 . EGT 1 4. 1 5 1 . 4 5). As resoluteness which is ready for anxiety. see also BW 1 80. PLT 209. §2 1 9. see also P M 277. PM 308. PR 47. STF 1 54-5. N IV: 202-3. 228-30. §506) . 3 3 1 . OTB 77. 2 1 7. M 1 9. FCM 29 1 . See 235. and ultimately in HusserI's notion of intentionality. It also marks another point of contact between Heidegger and Wittgenstein . 25 1 . WCT 6. M 73. PM 284. See Nietzsche ( 1 989b: 1 . 246. PLT 6. And certain ideas found in Being and Time: 'resoluteness consti­ tutes the loyalty of existence to its own Self. M 2 1 1 . PM 293. M 37.

Heidegger even uses Kuhn's key term 'paradigm' in a discussion of science a few years before this work (ET 46). OBT 59. KPM 87. FS 9. FCM 1 86. BQ 60. KPM 7. See WCT 1 26. N II: 1 14. BT 4 1 4/362. whom Heidegger was studying intensely and beginning to lecture on at this time. that we are completely oblivious of it' (BP 1 65). PLT 1 70. But it was precisely because Mendel spoke of objects. or apprehend it.. OBT 57. OWL 7 1 . employed meth­ ods and placed himself within a theoretical perspective totally alien to the biology of his time . including Kuhn himself: ' the philosophy I knew and had been exposed to. OBT 5 8 . I can be described as in some part having reinvented that tradition for myself' Kuhn (2002: 321). facts is precisely what there is not. See discussions of the simil ar notion of worldhood: 'the world as al ready unveiled in advance is such that we do not in fact specifi ­ cally occupy ourselves with it. . See e. WCT 146. 1 44. See PIK 289. Since Aristo tle dominates Medieval science too. Compare with Foucault: 'people have often wondered how on earth nineteenth-century botanists and biolo­ gists managed not to see the truth of Mendel's statements. PI K 22.g. KPM 1 4 1 -2. BQ 48. and the later: 'the mathemati­ cal is that evident aspect of things within which we are always already moving' (277). BQ 47-8. were all of them out of the English logical empiricist tradition. and the people in my environment to talk to. Many have noted the similarities between Kuhn and continental thought. This contradicts the view of the neo-Kantian school that domi­ nated German academic philosophy when Heidegger began his studies that the first Critique is a work of epistemology. in one way or another. Kuhn ( 1 996: 1 50) . 248. calling 1 39 . I think. 98. only interpretations' Nietzsche ( 1 968: §48 1 ) . also claims that interpretation is built into experience: 'against positivism . Here was a new object. 275.NOTES 191 1 92 1 93 1 94 1 95 1 96 1 97 1 98 1 99 200 20 1 202 203 204 205 See WCT 1 43. AM 67. see also 49-50. Heidegger applies this 'hermeneutic circle' argument to other topics at 45-6. see also BT 1 8911 49. this period needs no separate discussion (28 1 . Notice how close the wording is between the early: 'we live already in an understanding of Being' (44). 434-5. See 233. OBT 73. but instead it is so self-evident.'there are only f acts' I would say: No. Nietzsche. WCT 235. HCT 1 45. . . This was a tradition which by and large had no use for the continental and particularly the German philosophical tradition. M 206. BT 2 1 311 69. WCT 235. 432-3. TDP 22. which halts at phenomena . WCT 1 42. 283). so much a matter of course. 1M 1 1 0--1 1 . See 27 1 . in some sense or other. BQ 73. 272. ET 1 1 3.

290. in a given period. this is d u e to the fact that 'seeing is a "theory-laden" undertaking. 1 57). see also 332. the deployment of a totally new range of objects in biology was required before Mendel could enter into the true' Foucault ( 1 972: 224) . we can always revise assumptions or interpret observa­ tions differently instead. see also 1 50) and Norwood Hanson gives a negative answer to the question. FCM 1 88 . Kuhn similarly comments that 'all these natural phenomena [Galileo] saw differently from the way they had been seen before' Kuhn ( 1 996: 1 1 9. . OBT 1 3 1 -2. pp. OBT 66. OBT 1 83 . Mendel spoke the truth. see also 276. 1 0) . 1 8 7. OBT 69. 1 78. OBT 1 76-7 . 304. Many of these ideas are explored in greater depth in Being and Time 's discussion of Descartes' scientific space (BT § 1 9-2 1 . OBT 1 95 . due to the fact that observation is laden with holistic theories. OBT 5 8-9. OBT 2 1 6. 304. WCT 222. 1 87. FCM 275.g . 305. 290. 29 1 . OBT 60. See 50-2. 1 40 . . 290. FCM 26 1 . Kuhn also believes that early converts to a new paradigm often have to cling to it in spite of greater evidence supporting established science. We can also see a resemblance with the Duhem-Quine thesis that. 288. Observation of x is shaped by prior knowledge of x ' (ibid . and for fresh theoretical foundations. see also B T 445/393. BT 4 1 4/362. see also 300. A whole change in scale. 1 23/89. see also 50-2. PR 87. OBT 60. According to Hanson. B T 1 28/95-6. 1 9. PR 55. 302. PLT 1 70. there is no such thing as a truly crucial experiment that forces us to abandon a theory. see also 20 1 . BP 52---4 . Kuhn 1 996: 1 50-9. e. PLT 1 70. FCM 32. Foucault calls an era's ' episteme' or ' historical a priori' in his early work: 'this a priori is what. WCT 1 5 1 .NOTES 206 207 208 209 210 21 1 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 for new conceptual tools. OBT 67. 292-3 . See 1 30. What Heidegger calls the mathematical. 292. but he was not dans Ie vrai (within the true) of contemporary biological discourse: it simply was not along such lines that objects and biological concepts were formed. OBT 1 9 1 . see also 54. WCT 3 3 . FCM 1 86. see also xxii) . provides man's everyday perception with theoretical powers. see also OBT 7 1 . and defines the conditions in which he can sustain a discourse about things that is recognized to be true' Foucault ( 1 994: 1 58 . see.1 3 . PR 79. see also 278. BW 303 . OBT 60.1 341 1 0 I ) . see also OBT 59. N 11: 1 1 2. defines the mode of being of the objects that appear in that field. delimits in the total­ ity of experience a field of knowledge. F S 8 . 296. FCM 89. OBT 8 1 . 'do Kepler and T ycho see the same thing in the east at dawn?' since 'theories' and interpretations are "there" in the seeing from the outset' Hanson ( 1 95 8 : 5.

244. 3 3 1 . 332-3. WCT 234. See 329. M 1 52.1 6 . PR xiv-xv. See 1 52. 330. Here we can see how deeply Heidegger influenced Foucault. see also EHP 74. 223. 324. 320. 348 . N 1:46-7. N IV: 1 03. QT 39. 332. See 22 1 . BW 433. See OBT 66. See 330. PM 308-10. BT 1 23/89 148/1 1 3. FS 63. 3 1 9. TB 1 7 _ QT 44. WCT 43_ 3 1 3. 334. 326. 420. 245. see also TB 9. 348. 423. PR 47. I discuss this topic at greater length in Braver (2007: 305-25)_ 322. PM 300. See 66. TB 52. DT 50. EGT 58_ See 234. ID 40. see also 1 84. Braver (2007: 303-8) discusses this topic in greater depth. 239. FS 9. see also QT 41-3. QT 4 1 . WCT 1 29-30. sees also 233-4. 1 78. see also OBT 1 44. PR 79-80. PLT 1 92. see also QT 44. OTB 2 1 7. Heidegger often contrasts correctness with truth. OBT 72. see also 350. 223. PLT 2 1 5. B T 20511 62. BW 238. 238. 408. See 1 33-6. EHP 43. ID 37. 1 72. QT 43. WCT 1 35. 1 72. OTB 2 1 7. OBT 84. 36 1 . 3 1 3. 33 1 . 26 1 . QT 45.NOTES 220 22 1 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 23 1 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 OBT 69. BT 1 90-111 50. OBT 75. WCT 1 90-1 .1 1 . see also OTB 2 1 7. BT 1 00170. See OBT 76. all italics mine. 1 53. 332. BW 39 1 . EGT 1 14. 1 41 . see also 329. see 1 5 1 . PR 9 1 . PR 88. see also 2 1 7. CP §259/300. see also 420. PR 1 08. DT 50. 335. see also ID 35. 1 85. 359). see also 335. PM 3 1 3 _ See 1 29. FS 56. EGT 25. which he considers the place where 'the modern concept of science is coined. see also 295-6. 409. M 56. 372. N 4: 1 96. OBT 85. see also 1 5 1 . ID 34fT. see also 32 1 . 448. PLT 2 1 5 . OWL 62. EHP 87_ 320. 83. FS 75. TOP 7 1-5. 339. 337. Except in the unusual circumstance of anxiety discussed in 'What Is Metaphysics?' (see 1 0 1 . PR 1 1 1 . WCT 43. PR 62.' at 299. 337. ID 34. BW 4 1 5. 3 1 8. Z 266. see also HCT 223-36. ID 35. Heidegger makes a similar case for artistic creation at 200. Descartes ( 1 985: VI. QT 44-5. QT 37. 4 1 0. 62.. 332. N IV:86. 1 42-3)_ OTB 1 88. N IV:28. PLT 208. ID 34_ Heidegger discusses the title of this book. QT 36. PR 5 1 . see also 295-6. 3 1 3. WCT 234_ See 327. See 1 05. EGT 7 1 . see also BW 235. EHP 87. See 1 30. see also 352.

FS 5 3 . See 1 68. See also 1 68 . Being and Time similarly emphasizes the holistic unity of Dasein's being-in-the-world (see BT 78/53. BT 4 l 3/36 1 -2. Placing an unnatural object like a jar in the midst of wilderness fundamen­ tally changes how the whole scene appears. BT 1 40-2/ 1 06-7 . 356. but theoretical space can never account for the places we actually live in (357). see also FS xvi . BT 226/ 1 8 1 . PLT 1 78-9 .NOTES 260 26 1 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 27 1 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 28 1 282 283 284 This is one reason why Heidegger often says that we do not speak language. See 3 5 1 -52. BT 1 32/99. 36 1 . 36 1 . see also PLT 1 73 . see also 3 3 3 . I n addition t o the phenomenological method of offering a description which captures more of our experience than the 'refuted' view. PLT 220. PLT 1 78-80. BT 275/232. see also 1 60. 360. See 50. PLT 202) . BT 1 29/96. see also 1 76. so 'the bridge gathers the earth as landscape around the stream ' (3 54) . 355. 142 . PLT 1 99 . PLT 2 1 7. see also BT 426/374. 3 50. 1 86. Just as the jar makes the 'wilderness surround that hill'. FCM 25. 'Anecdote of a jar'. This discussion bears a strong resem­ blance to Wallace Stevens' poem. See 348. In related essays. 4 1 5 . 242. BT 1 3 5-8/ 1 02-4. PLT 1 74-5 . See 358-9. PLT 1 99-200. PLT 2 1 6. BT 474/422. 1 48-5 1 . 82. PLT 20 1 ) . 353. HCT 8 3 . PLT 205. 3 5 1 . PLT 1 99. see also PLT 2 1 5 . Derrida develops this line of thinking. BT 320/275. 327. PLT 229. See BT 377/329. 234. M 23. but language speaks (4 1 1 ) . See also PLT 1 74. see also 76-7. 355. BT 1 4 1 / 1 06. . The glass catches our eye. 3 50. PLT 1 99. Heidegger also gives a more logical argument for the priority of lived-space over theo retical space: J ived-space can account for and accommodate mere space. See 355. FCM 287. PLT 1 77. P 88. HCT 86. 3 8 8 . 1 25 . Being and Time makes a similar distinction between Dasein's being-towards-death and animals' perishing (see BT 284-5/24 1 . BT 1 0 1171 . becoming the center of the scene around which everything else is organized. he brings these two p hases of his career together by calling the fourfold the world (see PLT 1 79. BT 29 1 /274) . 58. see also 29 1 . See 349. HCT 1 57). 357. N I: 1 44-5. PLT 1 79-80. see also PLT 1 70-l . PLT 1 7 3 PLT 1 77. BT 479/426. while 'The Origin of the Work of Art' defines earth and world as interdependent (see 1 74.

EGT 77. See BQ 8 1 . MFL 2 1 8 . OWL 7 3 . but our relation to Being. 360. see also WCT 66. FCM 346. People living on the streets is of less concern than that we do not know how to dwell. see also 78. PLT 1 96. TDP 1 55. . PLT 204-7. . HCT 263. Pollution is not the real problem with technology. EGT 91. P 55. PLT 1 70). PLT 208. PM 3 1 9. See 363. See 350. M 6. PT 25. as well as in the school of thought kn ow n as structuralism. I n Basic Writings. 143 . See 1 22. PM 1 8 1 -2. PLT 1 8 1 . Wittgenstein in particular never tires of attacking this view o f lan guage and the mind in his later work. HCT 266. PT 25. OWL 88. all italics in original. WCT 1 28 . Throug ho ut his career Heidegger shows great indifference to 'ontic' concerns in favour of philosophical issues. PIS 288. See BT 1 97/1 55. These themes fi gure prominently in the work of Derrida (who speaks of his mother tongue as foreign) and Foucault (see. Foucault (1 994: 3 1 3. OWL 96-7. BT 205/1 62. P LT 198-9. P 1 1 4. EGT 90. BT 207/1 64. see also BW 200. BT 70/44). HCT 2 1 0. PLT 1 96. EGT 52. STF 148-9. see also P LT 200. see also FCM 3 1 4. PR 1 07. 4 1 1 . . 4 1 0. See 1 88-9. see also PLT 1 9 1 . 408. BT 20 1 1 1 59. see also PLT 1 90. BT 26 1 12 1 8-263/220. see also 1 0 1 -3 . see also OWL 85.NOTES 285 286 287 288 289 359. 66. 361 . see also PLT 1 85. 446.1 5. He even claims that 'compared to [our encounter with Nietzsche]. PLT 223 . BT 267/224. OWL 93. I address this topic in greater detail in Braver (2007: 29 1-303). 230. OWL 1 88. 408. OWL 93. world wars remain superficial' (P M 32 1 . PLT 1 92. FCM 339-40. QT 40. OWL 7 6 PLT 209. PLT 1 97-8. P LT 2 1 6. See 402. PLT 1 92-3. ' Letter o n Humanism' and 'The Question Co nce rning Technology' take up this to p ic at length. HCT 262. 423. WCT 1 48-50. 4 1 8. OWL 47. PLT 2 1 5-1 6. P 76. BT 1 96/1 54. 4 1 0. BT 56/32. PLT 2 1 6. PLT 1 79. OWL 65-6. WCT 1 20. PR 96. See 1 5 1-2. 406. 1 65 . 348. PLT 2 1 6. EGT 99. EGT 64-6. P 99. MFL 1 27 . 4 1 1 . BP 205. e. 3 30. WCT 202. EHP 55--6.g. 41 1 . FCM 309-1 2. PLT 1 90. see also 1 98. PM 3 1 9 The existentialia as opposed to categories (see 59. See 223. OWL 1 5 5 . Bill Blattner suggested this example in conversation. see also 1 80.1 . BP 208-9. 4 1 1 . See 1 56-7. see also OWL 7 1 . 1 996: 52-3). EGT 63-4. EGT 73. STF 290 29 1 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 1 54-5. 1 76-7. OBT 232. OWL 1 07. OWL 59.

PR 23-4. See 227. FCM 1 86. PM 332. 432. M 24 1 . O n pages 4 3 2 an d 436. 234. PM 3 1 8 .NOTES 31 1 312 313 3 14 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 33 1 332 333 3 34 335 336 337 338 339 340 34 1 342 343 See 4 1 1 . WCT 1 28 . ' 1 44 .1 9 . PLT 1 84. FCM 32. M 1 84. 4 1 6. 4 1 3. PM 234. OBT 1 73).1 1 .1 . FS 9. PM 335. 435.1 9 . OBT 1 3 3 . 4 1 5. e. EGT 99. EGT 5 5 . N amely. KPM 1 75. N 3 : 5 . PR 6 1 . ' . 443 . physical co l l ecti o n of th i n gs we experi­ ence with our senses (see. 4 3 5 . See 397-8. See 235. OBT 1 62. OBT 1 59. 434. KPM 2 1 0. EGT 1 4. See 437. EGT 1 22. We can see fore-shad owings of Derrida's deconstruction here See PM 332. The German words for hear­ ing and belonging are very similar. OBT 1 57 . OBT 1 58-9. ERP 36 . 1 8 7. 448. See WT 59 and KPM 2 1 3. see also 235. EGT 1 9. M 269. 242. 373. PLT 208. N 4: 1 8 1 . WCT 46. PLT 1 92. S ee 425. 74-82) for a vivid d escription of his e n coun te r with this book . DT 8 3 . See 420. Th is is quite close to Hei d e gge r s idiosyncratic translation of 'phenomenology'.1 . PR 87. in the Intro duction of Being and Time (see 8 1 ) . see a l so PLT 1 79-80. PM 277-8 . 443. KPM 1 40. M 1 46. 4 1 6. 444. another exampl e of h i s help ful signposts. see also M 283. K P M 1 93.1 3 . t h e neo-Kantians w h o rejected H ege l in order t o go 'back to Kant'. WCT 1 1 8. PM 277. 293. M 337. See 432-3 . 446 . OBT 58. ERP 58-60. 1 70. WCT 1 72. 448 . M 299 . EGT 66. see also 236-7. 44 6. See 50-2. N 3 : 1 88 . ID 38-9.1 7 for brief discussions. DT 67. 1M 1 1 0. ID 3 8 . OWL 59. M 44. See 1 67 . see al s o DT 65. S ee PM 324. See 323. FS 59. . BP 1 59. MFL 2 1 8. PLT 1 90. the method shared by both thinkers. See 'My Way to Phenomenology' in OTB (pp. M 297-8. Reidegger also briefly alludes to his frequent claim that the end of metaphysics has arrived with the uttermost possi­ b i l ity of philosophy' (433) namely Nietzsche's reversal of Plato's founding distinction between the re a Il y real timeless unchanging Forms and th e temporal. See 262. OBT 1 96-97. 4 1 4. See 265. WCT 1 5 3. 262-3. 1M 1 1 0. 432. see also BW 226. QT 54. PLT 208. OWL 30. see also PM 323. N 1 : 1 45 . M 306 . g. OWL 9 1 . EGT 26.. 4 1 3. 4 1 8. See FCM 368. 1 26. BQ 47-8 . OWL 90. see also OW L 2 1 . At 397-9 and 4 1 2. STF 64. See 1 03. M 206. Gadamer's hermeneutics takes these gu i d e l ines to heart. See 435. WCT 222.

NOTES 344 345 346 I address this topic in greater depth in Braver (2007: 339-40). PLT 209. Ibid. DT 62. . STF 64. OBT 1 58. . 225-6. PLT 1 85. instructive comparison. and Metaphysics' or 'The Age of the World Picture' (in OBT) for a quick. Foucault (2005 : 1 89). Derrida ( 1 982: 22). 1 76. Derrida ( 1 98 1 : 9). M 74. CHAPTER 4 I 2 3 4 5 6 7 Gadamer (2002: 1 8 1 ) . See 435 . M 302. DT 68. One could juxtapose Foucault's 'The Discourse on Language' with Heidegger's 'Modern Science. See 436. PLT 223. EGT 1 6 . Mathematics. Foucault ( 1 996: 470). WeT 1 59-60.

eds. ) are good collections that skew towards the later work. Art. Richard Pol t 's Heidegger: An Introduction is a more recent and more introductory discussion that focuses mainly on Being and Time but a l so has short helpful analyse s of some later writings.) reprints many well . Reading Heidegger: Com­ memorations (Sallis. Among the more specialized treatments. if not alarming rate. and Technology (Harries and Jamme. eds. Z imme r man's Heidegger's Confrontation with Modernity: Technology. Richard Rorty always makes 146 . includi ng Heidegger: A Critical Reader (D reyfus and Hall . especially the way it is grounded in a reading of Plato and Aristotle. ed . The four volume set Heidegger Reexamined (Dreyfus and Hall.). Stanley Rosen's The Question of Being: A Reversal of Heidegger is a dense critique of Heidegger's conception of metaphysics. I would also recommend Reiner Schiirmann's Heidegger On Being and A cting: From Principles to Anarchy and Michael E.). offering a balance of sympathy. Otto Po gge l er 's Martin Heidegger 's Path of Thinking and William 1. comprehension. and A rt. and Martin Heidegger: Politics. and The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger (Guignon.). ed.very stimu­ lating. John D. eds. ). A Companion to Heidegger (Dreyfus and Wrathall. I find M ichel Haar's works Heidegger and the Essence of Man and The Song of the Earth: Heidegger and the Grounds of the History of Being . Caputo's Demythologizing Heidegger a rgues that Heidegger's later thought contains a serious internal inconsisten cy. There are a number of very good general purpose collections of essays. eds.FU RTHER READING The secondary literature on Heidegger continues to grow at an impressive. R i cha rdson 's Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought are considered classic treatments of Heidegger's entire career. Politics.regarded essays sorted by topic. and criticism rarely achieved in th i s sec ondary literature.

If I have succeeded. 'The Age of the World Picture'. as well as relating it to various analytic ideas and thinkers. so let me offer a few suggestions. and Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected 'Problems' of 'Logic ' (especially the Appendices) are very helpful discussions of the fundamental investigation of Being. then take a look at the essays collected in PLT and OWL. Those interested i n Heidegger's involvement with the Nazi Party would do well to consult Hugo Ott's Martin Heidegger: A Political Lif and lain D. and much of his discussion of Heidegger can be found in Essays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical Papers Volume 2 . Thomson's Heidegger on Ontotheo­ e logy: Technology and the Politics of Education. especially 'The Turning' and 'Science 147 . even provocative points. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World.FURTHER READING interesting. Solitude. 2007) addresses Heidegger's later work at length. Hopefully. showing how it differs from his early work and how it sets the agenda for continental philoso­ phers after him. It discusses many of the topics touched on here in greater depth. readers will find themselves prepared for and interested in reading more of his works. this commentary has helped you learn how to read Heidegger's own writings rather than just presenting summaries of his thought . his lectures tend to be more accessible than his writings or talks) and give a nice account of his thoughts on the history of philosophy. A more general biography would be Riidiger Safranski's Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil. Finitude. and Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. If you liked the discussions of the fourfold in ' Building Dwelling Thinking ' . and 'Nietzsche's Word: " God Is Dead'" (both in OBT). The Introduction and Postscript to 'What Is Metaphysics?' (in PM). Some works that help illuminate Hei­ degger's Kehre or turn from early to later thought are The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic. both written later than the essay itself. His 1 200 pages of lectures on Nietzsche are relatively readable (in general. My own A Thing of This World: A History of Anti-Realism (Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Further discussions of technology occur in essays contained in QT. Those interested in Heidegger 's engagement with other philosophers should read ' Plato 's Doctrine of Truth' (in PM).

which I find much more accessible and interesting. many also find its translation problematic. The Principle of Reason remains a personal favorite of mine which deserves more attention. but I regard it as unfinished (albeit i n tri gui n g). Finally. What Is Called Thinking? and Introduction to Metaphysics are important works which discuss both earlier phi­ losophers and Heidegger's own project. Some scholars consider Contributions to Philosophy to be his second magnum opus after Being and Time. A similar work writ­ ten right after Contributions is Mind fulness.FURTHER READING and Reflection' . .

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I N D EX

Antarctica 34 Aristotle 1 , 4, 9, 1 1 , 2 1 , 22, 23, 24, 4 1 , 67, 75-7, 79, 83, 88, 1 1 8, 1 24, 1 37n 1 62, 1 39n200 art 37, 38, 39-4 1 , 44-56, 1 27, 1 36n 1 2 1 , 1 4 1 n242 Bacon, Francis 85 Being 1-145 Being and Time 1-4, 6, 1 1- 1 2, 1 4, 1 5, 1 7, 1 9-20, 2 1 , 25, 30, 3 1 , 40, 4 1 , 44, 54, 57-8, 60, 62, 65, 67-8, 92, 98, 1 0 1 , 103, 1 07, 1 08, 1 2 1 , 1 26, 1 27, 1 29-30n7, 1 30n 1 8, 1 3 3n73, l 34n83, 1 34n89, 1 3 5n 1 1 0, 1 38n 1 78, 1 38n 1 90, 1 40n207, 1 42n268-9, 144n334, 1 48 Berkeley, George 42 Blattner, Bill 1 29n4, 1 3 1 n26, 143n298 Brentano, Franz 14 Carnap, Rudolf 14, 25, 1 3 1 n l l clearing 10, 28, 30, 32-3, 39, 46, 48-9, 53-6, 59-62, 67, 79, 84, 87-9, 9 1 , 93-7, 1 1 2-14, 1 20-3, 1 32n43, 1 33n72, 1 36n l 1 8, 1 37n 1 49 Derrida, Jacques 1 27-8, 1 33n65, 1 34n95, 1 3 5n 1 1 3, 1 37n 1 60, 1 42n260, 1 43n304, 1 44n329

Descartes, Rene 6 1 -2, 77, 80-2, 85, 87-90, 93, 1 02-3, 1 06, 140n207 destruction 4 1 , 43, 47, 83, 1 1 8, 1 24, 1 27 Dilthey, Wilhelm 3, 1 26
Ereignis

8, 96, 1 1 2-14, 1 37n 149 essence 26-9, 3 1 , 33, 4 1 , 47, 57-8, 60, 62-3, 67, 70, 82-3, 86-7, 94, 97

forgetfulness of Being 9, 34-5, 48, 59, 63, 65, 90-1 , 93, 96, 121 Foucault, Michel 70, 86, 1 1 8, 1 27, 1 34n95, 1 37n1 62, 1 39-40n205, 1 40n2 1 5, 1 4 1 n25 1 , 143n304, 1 45n5 fourfold 2, 97, 99- 1 0 1 , 1 03, 1 05, 1 42n284, 147 Frankenstein ontology 43 Frankfurt School 1 26 Gadamer, Hans-Georg 1 27, 1 34n84, 1 44n34l Galilei, Galileo 78-9, 82 Hegel, G. W F. 4, 9, 20, 26, 67, 95, 1 08, 1 14, 1 1 6-22, 1 36n 1 36, 144n333 Heraclitus 34, 1 2 1 hermeneutic circle 1 4- 1 5 , 39-40, 1 30n4, 1 34n93, 1 39n202
155

1 26. 1 20. 1 3 . 1 04. I 44n334 philosophy 1 . 5-7. 60. 1 22. 72-3. 1 44n326. 7. 1 3 3n59. 73. 67. 1 37n I 60. 1 30n5. 1 1 6-2 1 . 1 1 6. 63-5. 32. 75-7. 1 6. Friedrich 94 Humboldt. 25. 74 Merleau-Ponty. 1 3 8n 1 67. 94 ontotheology 7-8. O. Wilhelm von 1 08 Hume. 1 07. 92-3 . 1 42n28 1 . 35-8. 1 40n2 1 1 . 43. 9. 90. 88 . 1 05. 7. 1 5 . 63-5. 95. 1 1 0. 99. 70. 82. 66. 75. 24. 1 32n46 156 . 80. 1 30n 1 1 . 78. 29. 1 3 3n65. 14. 46. 8 5 . 3 1 -2. 6 1 . 1 5. 1 7. 1 1 4. 1 26 physis 7. 1 1 9. 57-8 . 5 8-9. 1 39n 1 95. 9 1 -3. 1 00. 1 32n43 . Jean-Paul 56. 1 1 6-24. 1 43n289. 2 1 . 1 38n I 67-8 . 6 1 . 1 36n I 26. 6 1 . 95. Isaac 7 1 . 27. 1 0 1 . 78. 1 06. 1 22-3. John Stewart 1 1 7 mystery 5. 1 02. 4 1 . 94. Kant. 1 04. 1 1 4. 60. 1 1 8 . 95. 24. 1 4. 1 0 1 Marx. 98. 66. 90. 1 1 7 Meno 40. 1 42n260 Levinas. 46. 1 1 9. 98. 2 1 . 1 30n l l Holderlin. 1 34n84. 23.1 8 . 1 26 postmodernism 1 26 Quine.1 . 77 Nietzsche. 26.1 4. 1 47 Kierkegaard. 1 26. 59. 1 20. 24. Emmanuel 86. 1 3 3n78. 59. 39. 1 24. 97. 69.1 . 1 7. 1 28. 1 3 3n73. 68. 96. 59. 1 1 9. 86. Edmund 2. 1 4. 1 32n35 science 1 2. 1 26. 1 44n326. 1 9 . 74. 5 1 . 64. 95. 9. 7 1 . 94. 1 0 1 .INDEX history of Being 4. 25. 4 1 -4. 59. 3. 66. 23. 6 1 . 1 22-4. 4. 1 44n326 Mill.1 9. 85. 36. 9. 1 26. 84. 75. 46. 1 1 7.1 2.1 2 language 42. 84. 1 47 nihilism 56. 65. Thomas 7. 1 34-5n99. Karl 2 Newton. 1 6. 1 34n95 Locke 4 1 . 1 39n 1 96. 94. 29. 86. 77. 1 3 8n 1 78 Jaspers. 1 23-4. 68. 93. 1 1 . 95. 69. 62-70. 23. 1 1 8 . 6 1 . 1 3 2n43. 4 1 . 62. 1 32n33. 1 7. 27. 86. 5 7-8. 56. Friedrich 2. 1 08. 1 38n 1 75. 7 1 -82. Immanuel 3. 84. 1 1 7. 95. 7 1 . 1 00 Plato 4. 62. 77-8 . 74. 1 47 poetry 54. 1 1 6-24. 3 8-9.1 5. 74. 1 06. 1 40n2 1 2 Sartre. David 93 Husser!. 96. 1 39n I 94. 68. Kar! 5 8 . 5 1 . 89-90. 23. S0ren 3. 1 1 5 ontological difference 6. 8 1 . 1 7. 45. 1 26 Kuhn. 1 34-5n99. 59. 1 04. 1 36n 1 3� 1 37n1 59. 1 29n4. 1 00. 1 20 Parmenides 1 3 phenomenology 1 1 . 24. v. 1 44n3 3 3 Kehre 2-4. W. 1 07. 68-9. 60. 1 7. 88.1 3 . 9. 62. 1 08. Maurice 1 26 metaphysics 7-9. 37. 90. 1 09. 1 3 1 n30. 78 . 79-8 1 .

83. 1 40n2 1 1 . 97. 1 3 1 n 1 8. 1 35nl l l . 1 06 Socrates 74. 75. 49-50. 39. 40. 1 47 Thales 1 1 7. 70. 25-39. 45-55. 1 36n I 1 8. 42-3. 1 42n28 1 Spinoza 1 3 Stevens. 48-52. Wallace 1 42n277 tautology 5 1 . 24. 1 1 6. 1 6. 1 32n43. 60. 9 1 . 23. 96. Ludwig 4 1 . 1 34n93. 1 00. 1 2 1 . 1 1 8-25. 82. 89-90 space 66. 1 33n53 truth 2. 1 36n 1 2 1 . 30.INDEX 1 30-1 n6. 1 1 4-1 5. 65. 1 32n46. 90. 1 1 3. 1 4 1 n257 van Gogh. 68. 82-97. 83. 1 35-6n I 1 6. 1 23-4 world or worldhood 1 9-22. 1 35nI 1 3 . 52. 143n301 wonder 1 0. 9 1 . 1 39n 1 94. 86. 1 02-6. 1 38n 1 67. 1 40n207. 1 24 thinking 1 . 1 32n45. 1 35n l 1 3 Wittgenstein. 55. 5. 1 37n 1 49. 64. 5 5-6. 1 32n43. Vincent 44-5. 1 42n284 Zen 38 157 . 1 1 3 technology 2. 1 2 1 . 9-1 0. 1 07-8. 1 32n45. 1 39-40n205. 1 4 1 n235 Seuss. 1 38n I 78. 1 39n I 99. 59-6 1 . 64-5. 63. 70. 92. 1 42n268. 1 02-3. 47-50. 76-8. 1 38n I 78. 1 1 0. 1 36n I 2 1 . 89. 105-6. 1 40n207. Dr. 1 1 4. 1 36n 1 32.

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