The Piety of Thinking: Heidegger’s Pathway to Comparative Philosophy

  • Hwa Yol Jung
Part of the The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research book series (ANHU, volume 21)


The influence of Heidegger on twentieth-century thought has been immense, pervasive, and immeasurable. As he sought and brought maker of a philosophical epoch. Once the young German critical theorist JÜrgen Habermas, though he was by no means totally or unqualifiedly sympathetic to Heidegger’s thought, summarily acknowledged Heidegger as the most influential thinker since Hegel. Heidegger intends to deconstruct or subvert the hegemony of the metaphysical or logocentric tradition of the West from Plato to Nietzsche. By deconstruction, Heidegger means to emphasize a critical procedure in which the accepted concepts are traced back to their sources for the sake of reconstruction. His deconstructive thought poses challenges for us who are living in an epoch which has experienced the globalization or planetarization of Western science and technology, that is, the global domination of what Heidegger himself calls “calculative thinking.”


Filial Piety Western Philosophy Comparative Philosophy Chinese Writing Ontological Difference 
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    In a recent collection of essays that explore the status of phenomenology in Japan, it is claimed that in Japan phenomenology became “a field of scholarship they [the Japanese] could explore, evaluate and appropriate in their own terms: ultimately, as it seems, it became a genuine mode of Japanese philosophizing. The result is a Japanese phenomenology, that is to say: a reflection which is unmistakenly heir to Husserl, but reflects as much the Japanese intellectual legacy and the philosophical quest of contemporary Japan, from the Meiji era to World War II and the present” (ed. Yoshihiro Nitta and Hirotaka Tatematsu, Japanese Phenomenology, Analecta Husserliana, vol. 8, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1979), p. x.Google Scholar
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    We have already noted etymological and semantic filiation of the German words hören (“to hear”), horchen (“to hearken”), gehören (“to belong”), and gehorchen (“to obey”) in addition to the Latin obaudire that has the double meaning of hearing and obeying. Hans-Georg Gadamer points further to the familial intimacy of these auditory words when he notes: “It is the Greek word oikeion, i.e., that which pertains to the household, to the oikos. It is an ordinary expression for relatives and house friends, i.e., for all who belong to the household. Oikos, household, thus has the broad sense of an economic unit such as the Greek household characteristically was. But oikeion is just as much an expression for that place where one feels at home, where one belongs and where everything is familiar. We too have usages similar to the usage of the Greek oikeion which display this double aspect in the conceptual field of household. In German, hoi oikeioi is rendered as die Angehörigen, and in abstraction from this normal usage we have come to speak of das Angehörige, meaning everything which pertains to the household and not only those people who belong to it” (Dialogue and Dialectic, trans. P. Christopher Smith [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980], p. 18). For a discussion of ecology based on the auditory model of sound as performance, see my “The Orphic Voice and Ecology,” Environmental Ethics 3 (1981):329-40.Google Scholar
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    I am greatly indebted to the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan for my understanding of geopiety, which is distinctly Heideggerian. From reading his works, I learned that geography is not confined to the reading maps but is a philosophical and humanistic discipline. Among his writings, see especially “Geopiety: A Theme in Man’s Attachment to Nature and to Place,” in Geographies of the Mind: Essays in Historical Geosophy in Honor of John Kirtland Wright, ed. David Lowenthal and Martyn J. Bowden (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), pp. 11-39. For expositions on geopiety in Heidegger’s thought, see J. Glenn Gray, “Heidegger’s Course: From Human Existence to Nature,” Journal of Philosophy 54 (1957):197—207; Vincent Vycinas, Earth and Gods (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1961); and Michael E. Zimmerman, “Toward a Heideggerean Ethos for Radical Environmentalism,” Environmental Ethics 5 (1983):99-131.Google Scholar
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    Color and sound are two radically different ways of organizing the human sensorium and the world. There is a qualitative difference in human experience between the visual and the acoustic. As music is the organized movement of sound, the spatiality of sound is most fully actualized in the tones of music. Color does not separate itself from the object, whereas sound separates itself from its source (e.g., voice or the sound of a musical instrument). In other words, color is a dependent attribute of an object, whereas sound is not. While the color we see is the property of a thing itself and we confront color in space, the tone we hear is not the property of anything and we encounter it out of or from space. Color is locatable and localizable in one single position with the object, whereas sound, once separated from its source, has no definite topological property or determination although its source is locatable. Sound travels in no one direction, it travels in all directions. Musical tones have no locatable places: they are neither “here” nor “there” but everywhere (i.e., placeless or ubiquitous). In Poetic Thinking: An Approach to Heidegger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), David Halliburton writes that “In the performance of a symphony, … responsibility may be seen in the interconnecting indebtedness of each constituent: the musicians, as users of equipment (instruments, chairs, music stands, and the like), together with their skills; the artisans responsible for the preparation of the equipment; the members of the audience, together with their capacity to hear and to sustain attention; the score, a being with a thingly character that allies it with equipment even as it carries an already constituted inclination (the totality of the composer’s notations); the composer, as one who brings forth within the same order as the artisan; that artisan who is the printer of the score; the manner (in the sense of melody, timbre, tone) of the score as performed; the space of time in which that manner emerges through the concerted composure of performance; the space of time of the tradition without which the music could not move into its own articulation — without which, as the temporal structure that preserves the reciprocal responsibility of all the constituents, it would not be music; and finally, the space of time which is the world play’s manner of moving, through all that is thus indebted, to its own disclosure” (p. 217).Google Scholar
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    See my “Vico’s Rhetoric: A Note on Verene’s Vico’s Science of Imagination,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 15 (1982):187–202.Google Scholar
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    I Chi: Book of Rites, 2 vols., trans. James Legge (New Hyde Park: University Books, 1967), 2:102–3. Speaking of the locus of the personal as moral performance embodied in the Confucian thought of rite, Herbert Fingarette writes: “We would do well to take music, of which Confucius was a devotee, as our model here. We distinguish sensitive and intelligent musical performances from dull and unperceptive ones; and we detect in the performance confidence and integrity, or perhaps hesitation, conflict, ‘faking,’’ sentimentalizing.’ We detect all this in the performance; we do not have to look into the psyche or personality of the performer. It is all ‘there,’ public. Although it is there in the performance, it is apparent to us when we consider the performance not as ‘the Beethoven Opus 3’ (that is, from the composer perspective), nor as a ‘public concerT’ (the li perspective), nor as a ‘post-Mozartian opus’ (the style perspective), but primarily as this particular person’s performance (the personal perspective)” (Confucius — The Secular as Sacred [New York: Harper & Row, 1972], p. 53).Google Scholar
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    David Farrell Krell sketches the fourfold as envisioned by Heidegger in the following pictogram in which the crossing of Being is not a crossing out (Durchstrechung) but a crossing through (Durchkreuzen): See “Analysis,” in Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche, vol. 4, Nihilism, trans. Frank A. Capuzzi (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), p. 289. For a fine discussion of Taoism in this connection, see Kuang-ming Wu, Chuang Tzu: World Philosopher at Play (New York: Crossroad, 1982).Google Scholar
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    In The World Viewed, rev. ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979), Stanley Cavell uses the term “automatism.” The significance of automatism for our discussion here is twofold. First, as mechanical reproduction or representation, photography, for example, is of reality but not reality itself, photographic automatism removes the human agent from the task of reproduction or representation. Second, photography is not hand-made but mechanically reproduced — and what is mechanically reproduced is an image of original reality, that is, the mechanical fact of photography points to the absence of the human hand in forming its objects. To put it in the Heideggerian terminology, in photography thinking is no longer a “handicraft.”Google Scholar
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    See Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Dell, 1977).Google Scholar
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    See Philosophy East and West 20 (July 1970).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hwa Yol Jung
    • 1
  1. 1.Moravian CollegeUSA

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