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The Power of Essential Thinking in Heidegger’s Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis)

  • George Kovacs
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 133)

Abstract

The following reflections examine the nature and task of Heidegger’s consistent attention to and fascination with the art of thinking. His many writings marking his pathway of thought, according to his intention and claim, trace a journey, a movement of meditative thinking; they forge ahead in the practice of and in educating for what is essential in the experience of thinking. Though the question of Being constitutes the main “matter” of thinking, of his philosophy, the labor indispensable for working out this question is the task of thinking. His teaching, in the final analysis, may be even more (surely not less) enlightening about thinking than about Being; it is time to recognize and thus to reckon with the fact that he is as much a philosopher of thinking as a philosopher of the “is,” of the wonder and anxiety about the fact that there are beings and not rather nothing, that there is a historical, essential unfolding of Being as event, as appropriation (Ereignis). The preparation (education) for essential thinking constitutes a demanding historical task; it begins with the liberation from the illusion that logic in the traditional sense is the (only and ideal) teacher of thinking, that thinking is the function (exercise, activity) of the (intellectual, rational) faculty of human subjectivity. According to Heidegger’s “Nachwort,” written in 1943, to his inaugural lecture entitled “Was ist Metaphysik?” at the University of Freiburg, given in 1929, Being is not engendered by thinking (it is not the “product of thinking”); but rather “essential thinking is an event of Being.”1 Thus the word “Ereignis” (event, appropriation) tells something, not only about Being (it becomes a “name” for Being), but also about thinking (it describes a more radical, inceptional, essential thinking). This event-nature of thinking and Being may be regarded as a lasting insight of Heidegger’s philosophy. This study examines and raises some questions about the very idea and the power of this radical, essential thinking mainly in light of his Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), his second main work (the first one being Sein and Zeit). It explores (1) the need for essential thinking, (2) the nature and the power of essential thinking, and (3) the final ambition and delimitation of (and some questions about) the power of essential thinking.

Keywords

Main Work Basic Disposition Ontological Difference Inaugural Lecture Simple Thinking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. All translations in this study, unless indicated otherwise, are mine. This study was supported by a research grant from the Florida International University Foundation and from Florida International University.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    Martin Heidegger, Wegmarken, Gesamtausgabe,Band 9, edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1976), p. 308 (ein Ereignis des Seins). (Hereafter: GA 9). Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Martin Heidegger, Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), Gesamtausgabe,Band 65, edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1989), pp. 3 (Gedankengang),5 (das übergängliche Denken),66 (Übergang, Untergang),459 (Denken des Seins, Sammlung),460 (Erdenken),464 (Berufung des Denkens). (Hereafter: GA 65; and occasionally also as his “second main work.”) Date of composition of GA 65: 1936–1938.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    GA 65,pp. 73, 456, 459, 460, 462, 463.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Martin Heidegger, Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Logik im Ausgang von Leibniz, Gesamtausgabe, Band 26, edited by Klaus Held ( Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1978 ), p. 27.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Martin Heidegger, Logik: Die Frage nach der Wahrheit, Gesamtausgabe,Band 21, edited by Walter Biemel (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1976), pp. 48, 49, 134, 135.Google Scholar
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    See the many names for Being in GA 65,pp. 229, 230, 244, 247, 248, 250–251, 263, 269, 270, 271, 288, 469, 470, 472, 492.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,p. 237. See also pp. 233, 235, 251, 472.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    GA 65,pp. 464, 465.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Martin Heidegger, Grundfragen der Philosophie: Ausgewählte “Probleme” der “Logik,” Gesamtausgabe,Band 45, edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1984), p. 185. (Hereafter: GA 45.) Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    GA 45,p. 187.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    GA 45,p. 188; GA 65,pp. 20, 21.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    GA 45,p. 189. See also GA 65,pp. 56–58, 255, 405, 407.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    GA 45,p. 218. See also GA 65,pp. 52, 58.Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    GA 45,p. 190.Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    GA 45,p. 190. See also pp. 212, 215.Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    GA 45,p. 214. See also GA 45,pp. 212, 215, 217, and GA 65,pp. 245, 254.Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    GA 45,p. 215. See also GA 65,p. 45.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    GA 45, p. 215. See also GA 65,pp. 11, 397.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,p. 395. See also pp. 14, 233, 237, 250, 251.Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    GA 65,pp. 3, 84. See also pp. 32, 61, 479, 494.Google Scholar
  22. 21.
    GA 65,p. 83.Google Scholar
  23. 22.
    GA 65,pp. 84, 103.Google Scholar
  24. 23.
    “Das Sein als Er-eignis ist die Geschichte… (GA 65,p. 494). See also GA 65,p. 479 (Die Geschichte ist… das Wesen des Seyns selbst). Google Scholar
  25. 24.
    “Die Seinsgeschichte ist weder die Geschichte des Menschen und eines Menschentunis noch die Geschichte des menschlichen Bezugs zum Seienden und zum Sein. Die Seinsgeschichte ist das Sein selbst und nur dieses.” This passage is from Heidegger’s “Die Erinnerung in die Metaphysik” (written in 1941), Nietzsche,Band 2, 1st ed. (Pfullingen: Neske, 1961), p. 489. See also pp. 481, 484, 485. The significance of the quoted passage for the understanding of the ontological difference and for the development of Heidegger’s thought is rightly emphasized by William J. Richardson, Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought,Preface by Martin Heidegger, Phaenomenologica, vol. 13 (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1963), p. 437.Google Scholar
  26. 25.
    GA 65,pp. 5, 6.Google Scholar
  27. 26.
    GA 65, p. 6.Google Scholar
  28. 27.
    GA 65,p. 7.Google Scholar
  29. 28.
    “Aus einem einfachen Ruck des wesentlichen Denkens muss das Geschehen der Wahrheit des Seyns versetzt werden vorn ersten Anfang in den anderen, damit im Zuspiel das ganz andere Lied des Seyns erklinge” (GA 65,pp. 8–9).Google Scholar
  30. 29.
    GA 65,p. 8.Google Scholar
  31. 30.
    GA 65,p. 7.Google Scholar
  32. 31.
    GA 65,p. 8.Google Scholar
  33. 32.
    GA 65,p. 8.Google Scholar
  34. 33.
    GA 65,p. 8.Google Scholar
  35. 34.
    GA 65,p. 8.Google Scholar
  36. 35.
    GA 65,p. 7.Google Scholar
  37. 36.
    GA 65,p. 7.Google Scholar
  38. 37.
    GA 65,p. 19.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,p. 18. See also p. 19 on the most inceptional force (Kraft) of thinking.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,p. 18.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,p. 19.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,p. 19.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,p. 19.Google Scholar
  45. 44.
    For further reflections on the “uselessness” and “unmodernity” of philosophy in Heidegger’s sense, see especially his lecture course at the University of Freiburg, Summer Semester, 1935, published as Einführung in die Metaphysik, Gesamtausgabe,Band 40, edited by Petra Jaeger (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1983), pp. 10–14.Google Scholar
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    GA 65,p. 19.Google Scholar
  47. 46.
    GA 65,p. 19.Google Scholar
  48. 47.
    GA 65,pp. 18, 19.Google Scholar
  49. 48.
    Martin Heidegger, “Principes de la pensée” (French translation from the German by F. Fédier), Cahiers de l’Herne: Martin Heidegger (Paris: L’Herne, 1983), p. 105; see also p. 112. The original German text (written in 1958) “Grundsätze des Denkens” was published in Jahrbuch für Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 6 (1958), 33–41. Heidegger’s most comprehensive meditation on thinking takes place in his Was heisst Denken? (lecture course at the University of Freiburg, Winter Semester, 1951–1952 and Summer Semester, 1952 ), 2nd ed. ( Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1961 ).Google Scholar
  50. 49.
    Martin Heidegger, “Principes de la pensée, p. 106.Google Scholar
  51. 50.
    Martin Heidegger, “Seyn und Denken,” Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens (1910–1976), Essential Thinking in Heidegger’s Beiträge zur Philosophie 53 Gesamtausgabe,Band 13, edited by Hermann Heidegger (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1983), p. 30. (Hereafter: GA 13). See also GA 13,pp. 23, 33. For the later Heidegger’s explanation of “thinking” as “thanking,” see his Was heisst Denken? (especially pp. 91–95). An insightful analysis of the idea of “thinking” as “thanking” can be found in W.J. Richardson’s Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought,pp. 601–602.Google Scholar
  52. 51.
    GA 13,p. 30.Google Scholar
  53. 52.
    Martin Heidegger, GA 9, p. 311. The translation is by R.F.C. Hull and Alan Crick (here slightly modified), in Martin Heidegger, Existence and Being, with an introduction and analysis by Werner Brock ( Chicago: Regnery-Gateway, 1967 ), pp. 359–360.Google Scholar
  54. 53.
    GA 9,p. 311.Google Scholar
  55. 54.
    GA 65,pp. 480, 481.Google Scholar
  56. 55.
    GA 65,p. 481. See also pp. 480, 483.Google Scholar
  57. 56.
    GA 65,pp. 499, 501, 510.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

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  • George Kovacs

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