Heidegger's Sein und Zeit #4

Heidegger ends SZ exactly where it begins: "Es gilt, einen Weg zur Aufhellung der ontologischen Fundamentalfrage zu suchen und zu gehen. Ob er der einzige oder überhaupt der rechte ist, das kann erst nach dem Gang entschieden werden. Der Streit bezüglich der Interpretation des Seins kann nicht geschlichtet werden, weil er noch nicht einmal entfacht ist. Und am Ende läßt er sich nicht "vom Zaun brechen", sondern das Entfachen des Streites bedarf schon eine Zurüstung. Hierzu allein ist die vorliegende Untersuchung unterwegs." (SZ, S. 437)

Translation: It is necessary to seek a way towards the illumination of the fundamental question of ontology and to take it. Whether it is the only way, or especially if it is the right way, can first be decided (only) after it has been taken. The contest concerning the interpretation of being (ie, the gigantomachia peri tes ousias) cannot be decided because it is not yet even being waged. And in the end, attempting to “pick a fight” with it won’t work, because even starting to wage the fight requires a prior preparation. It is to this end alone that the investigation at hand is underway."

The beginning and end of SZ (indeed, also its midpoint with the fable of Cura) describe the gigantomachia and the difficulty of the way towards its investigation. The language in both is identical: the ending phrase, "der Streit bezüglich der Interpretation des Seins", is a word for word translation of Plato's gigantomachia peri tes ousias with which SZ begins (both with its motto from the Sophist and with the opening sentences of the text itself). Indeed, as will be illustrated with passages from throughout Heidegger's corpus, 'Streit' (along with 'Krieg', 'polemos', 'Auseinandersetzung', 'Wahr-heit', etc) is Heidegger's codeword for the gigantomachia and all of these therefore serve to designate what is his 'one thought': Sein.

The SZ project was intended to go on to further volumes, but it was broken off before its middle and never resumed. The attempt to describe the knot implicated at this point where it was broken off was, however, never given up. Heidegger would write (and write) for another 50 years and would never venture far from the spot. How to describe the pathless path which must be taken in order to witness the place from which all paths take their beginning?

September 1, 2003 in Heidegger, MH/Streit | Permalink