An Overview: Heidegger

Heidegger thinks his one thought, Being (= das Sein, later das Seyn, later still das Sein) as the gigantomachia peri tes ousias. This is already the case at the start of Sein und Zeit in 1927 and remains so until the end, 50 years later.

15 years after SZ in his Parmenides lectures (1942/43) he says:

"Wahrheit" ist niemals "an sich", von sich vorhanden, sondern erstritten. (...) Vielmehr ist das Gesuchte und Umkämpfte selbst, in sich, abgesehen vom Kampf des Menschen um es, in seinem Wesen ein Streit: "Unverborgenheit". Wer da streitet und wie die Streitenden streiten, ist dunkel. Es gilt aber, endlich einmal dieses streithafte Wesen der Wahrheit zu bedenken, das seit zweitausend und fünfhundert Jahren im stillsten aller Lichter leuchtet. Es gilt, den im Wesen der Wahrheit sich ereignenden Streit eigens zu erfahren. (GA54, S 25).

Again:

Die Frage muß aber gefragt werden, worin das Prinzip des "Agons" [bei den Griechen] seinen Grund hat und von woher das Wesen des "Lebens" und des Menschen seine Bestimmung empfängt, so daß es sich "agonal" verhält. Das "Wettkämpferische" kann nur dort erwachen, wo zuvor und überhaupt das Streithafte als das Wesenhafte erfahren ist. (GA54, S 26)

"Streit" is the word used on the last page of SZ to translate "gigantomachia" from the first page of SZ (thereby bracketing the work within the terms of this ontological contest at origin).

Heidegger's whole enterprise in SZ and after is directed to the clarification of the problems which are knotted in this thought. These problems may be characterized as follows:

- how to think plurality at origin, ie how to think the gigantomachia?

- how to think through the abysmal borders (space of the door) which enable and structure plurality at origin?

- how to achieve or find or come to such thinking? (Der Anfang zeigt sich, wenn er sich überhaupt zeigt, gewiß nicht ohne unser Zutun. Aber die Frage bleibt doch, welcher Art dieses Zutun ist, von woher und wie es bestimmt ist und wird. GA54, S28/29)

- what does the way of thinking towards the contested plurality at origin have to do with the spaces at origin and with time? Is there a kind of 'knot in time' (Eliot) through which the spaces at origin somehow 'reach back' in time to enable the way towards them? That is, do these original spaces govern also that space which must first be crossed to reach them? How so? Is this knot of time and of spaces what Sein und Zeit would have us understand as the necessary preparation to a thinking of the gigantomachia? "[D]as Entfachen des Streites bedarf schon eine Zurüstung. Hierzu allein ist die vorliegende Untersuchung unterwegs." (SZ, S. 437)

Heidegger found Hölderlin to be his great predessor on this convoluted pathway. Nietzsche also described it without, however, being able to take it himself. That both ended in protracted silence shows the difficulties and the dangers of the way towards and among the contesting shapes and spaces at origin....

The central questions posed by Heidgeger touched on many others: how to rethink human being and the various worlds of human being in the light of this context? how to rethink the tradition in this light? how to rethink contemporary problems of technology and environment in this light? But, as Heidegger always insisted, whatever contribution he was able to make in these areas was entirely dependent on the cogency of his one thought and of the abgründigen questions implicated in it.

June 15, 2004 in Heidegger, MH/Streit | Permalink

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