Heidegger's Sein und Zeit #3

In section #42 of SZ (that is, at the middle of its 83 sections), Heidegger cites and translates the following Latin fable from Hyginus:
Cura cum fluvium transiret, videt cretosum lutum sustulitque cogitabunda atque coepit fingere. dum deliberat quid iam fecisset, Jovis intervenit. rogat eum Cura ut det illi spiritum, et facile impetrat. cui cum vellet Cura nomen ex sese ipsa imponere, Jovis prohibuit suumque nomen ei dandum esse dictitat. dum Cura et Jovis disceptant, Tellus surrexit simul suumque nomen esse volt cui corpus praebuerit suum. sumpserunt Saturnum iudicem, is sic aecus iudicat: 'tu Jovis quia spiritum dedisti corpus, corpus recipito, Cura enim quia prima finxit, teneat quamdiu vixerit. sed quae nuc de nomine eius vobis controversia est, homo vocetur, quia videtur esse factus ex humo'.
The translation used by Heidegger (from K Burdach) may be translated as follows:
As 'Care' once crossed a stream, she saw some clay: she picked up a piece thoughfully (sinnend) and began to shape it. While she considered in herself what she had created, Jupiter came up to her. Care asked him to provide spirit to the clay form. This he was pleased to do for her. But when she wished to give her name to her creation, Jupiter would not allow it and said that his name ought to be given to it. While 'Care' and Jupiter argued over the name, the earth (Tellus) came up and wanted the creation to be named after her since she had, afterall, given it a part of her body. The three claimants (Streitenden) asked Saturn to settle the matter. And Saturn gave them an apparently just decision as follows: 'You, Jupiter, because you have provided the spirit, should receive the spirit when the creature dies; you, earth, because you provided the body, should receive the body. But because 'Care' first shaped this creature, so should it be that she possesses it as long as it lives. And because the name is subject to dispute (Streit), so should it be that it is called "homo", since it is made out of earth ("humus")'.

The Cura fable is a structural replication of the gigantomachia with which SZ begins and ends. In both cases there are three divine figures (or groups of figures): giants/gods/child vs earth/Jupiter/Cura-homo; in both cases the first figure is, or is born from, 'earth'; in both cases the second figure is identical (Zeus/Ju-piter = Ziu-pater); in both cases, the third figure 'holds to both' or combines what the other two figures are exclusively (Cura actively combines them, 'homo' passively); in each case, there is an argument or contest between the three which has to be decided; in each case, the decision has constitutional significance - the nature of being in the first case, the nature of human being in the second.

Further, the nature of human being in both the gigantomachia and the Cura fable is identified as 'both'. The gods and the giants in the gigantomachia are terrible in the singularity of their constitution and, as such, inherently beyond the human. Only the child shows a human face in being subject to both claims. Similarly in the Cura fable, 'homo' is compounded of both earth and spirit. 'Living' means nothing other than to remain subject to these competing claims and, therefore subject to 'care'. Only death releases the components which are compounded in human being back to their own elementary natures (which, however, are themselves aboriginally compounded in being).

Heidegger comments on the Cura fable as follows: "Das Ganze der Daseinsverfassung selbst ist daher in seiner Einheit nicht einfach, sondern zeigt eine strukturale Gliederung, die im existenzialen Begriff der Sorge zum Ausdruck kommt." (SZ,#42, S 200). That is: 'The whole of the constitution of human being is therefore a unity without being a single unit; instead, it reveals a structural articulation of members which comes to expression in the existential-ontological concept of care (Cura)'.


August 31, 2003 in Heidegger, MH/Streit | Permalink

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