Introduction to Philosophy - Thinking and Poetizing

Introduction to Philosophy - Thinking and Poetizing

by Martin Heidegger, Phillip Jacques Braunstein
     
 

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First published in 1990 as the second part of volume 50 of Heidegger’s Complete Works, Introduction to Philosophy presents Heidegger’s final lecture course given at the University of Freiburg in 1944 before he was drafted into the German army. While the lecture is incomplete, Heidegger provides a clear and provocative discussion of the relation between

Overview

First published in 1990 as the second part of volume 50 of Heidegger’s Complete Works, Introduction to Philosophy presents Heidegger’s final lecture course given at the University of Freiburg in 1944 before he was drafted into the German army. While the lecture is incomplete, Heidegger provides a clear and provocative discussion of the relation between philosophy and poetry by analyzing Nietzsche’s poetry. Here, Heidegger explores themes such as the home and homelessness, the age of technology, globalization, postmodernity, the philosophy of poetry and language, aesthetics, and the role of philosophy in society. Translated into English for the first time, this text will be of particular interest to those who study Heidegger’s politics and political philosophy.

Editorial Reviews

John McCumber

"Heidegger’s Introduction to Philosophy—Thinking and Poetizing sheds important light on his thinking in 1944, when the lectures of which it is composed were given. By way of discussing Nietzsche’s poems in terms of the distinction between thinking and poetizing, it clarifies both what that distinction is and how it works in Heidegger’s thought. Wisely chosen appendices and supplements give further clarification. The translation, by Phillip Jacques Braunstein, is superlative. Braunstein has deep knowledge of Heidegger and of German, and his instincts are unerring. He manages well the inevitable trade-offs between English readability and faithfulness to the German. This will be recognized as one of the best translations of Heidegger into English ever produced. The combination of illuminating texts by Heidegger and the brilliant translationby Braunstein recommend the book for adoption in advanced undergraduate courses." —John McCumber, University of California, Los Angeles

From the Publisher
"[Abiding] within the depths of Holderlin's way of speaking, Heidegger arrives at the crossing between philosophy and poetry: the creative tension or 'essential sway' within language...." —REVIEW OF METAPHYSICS

"Heidegger’s Introduction to Philosophy—Thinking and Poetizing sheds important light on his thinking in 1944, when the lectures of which it is composed were given. By way of discussing Nietzsche’s poems in terms of the distinction between thinking and poetizing, it clarifies both what that distinction is and how it works in Heidegger’s thought. Wisely chosen appendices and supplements give further clarification. The translation, by Phillip Jacques Braunstein, is superlative. Braunstein has deep knowledge of Heidegger and of German, and his instincts are unerring. He manages well the inevitable trade-offs between English readability and faithfulness to the German. This will be recognized as one of the best translations of Heidegger into English ever produced. The combination of illuminating texts by Heidegger and the brilliant translationby Braunstein recommend the book for adoption in advanced undergraduate courses." —John McCumber, University of California, Los Angeles

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253355911
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
01/11/2011
Series:
Studies in Continental Thought Series
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.80(d)

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Introduction to Philosophy - Thinking and Poetizing


By Martin Heidegger, Phillip Jacques Braunstein

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 1990 Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35591-1



CHAPTER 1

The Fundamental Experience and Fundamental Attunement of Nietzsche's Thinking


[section]6. The Godlessness and Worldlessness of the Modern Human as Nietzsche's Fundamental Experience


The thinking of a thinker is true [wahr] if it guards [wahrt] the advent of being. Thinking guards being by tending being's advent thoughtfully in its saying, by sheltering [birgt] being in the word of the saying, and at the same time thereby concealing [verbirgt] being in language. This thoughtful guarding [anden-kende Wahren] of being is the true-ness [Wahr-heit] of philosophy.

Every true philosophy is therefore, in its exterior form, an answer to the question that is asked at every point in time of the human's historical existence [Daseins]. This question may at times remain unexpressed. It can hide itself in different versions and circumlocutions to the point of being unrecognizable. However, it can be reduced everywhere and without forcefulness to the simple formula: What now is? All thinkers ask in their time about that which is.

This question of thinking emerges in an experience through which thinking is determined by what prevails as the "ground" [»Grund«] of that which is. Every thinking rests on a fundamental-experience [Grund-erfahrung]. What determines [be-stimmt] thinking pervasively attunes [durchstimmt] it at the same time in its origin and breadth. All thinking resonates within a fundamental-attunement [Grund-stimmung].

So long as we are not experienced with the fundamental experience of a thinker and are not attuned to his fundamental attunement; so long as we do not fundamentally consider both of these in a constantly more originary way; until then, every attempt to think with [mitdenken] the thinking of a thinker remains futile.

However, the fundamental experience of a thinker cannot be communicated in passing by a title. A name that would designate the fundamental attunement suffices equally little. On the other hand, however, a thinker's appropriate aphorisms can serve to indicate in advance [vorzudeuten] the fundamental experience and the fundamental attunement of his thinking.

The fundamental experience and fundamental attunement in which Nietzsche thinks that which is may be indicated with the citation of two aphorisms. Yet since according to Nietzsche's own statement, philosophers "are thrown far ahead because the attention of contemporaries slowly turns toward them at first," Nietzsche's aphorisms tell us very little until we have interpreted them ourselves in an adequately indicative [vordeutend] fashion.

To be sure, one takes Nietzsche's writings as though they could be easily understood and were written for immediate household use, as though anyone could read around in them and look up any number of sayings according to their needs. But this appearance [Schein] of ease and superficiality is the real difficulty in this philosophy, since this appearance, through the impressionable and charming quality of its language, seduces us into forgetting the thought. We do not reflect [besinnen] any further about the realms out of which the thinker actually speaks, or into which region of the human's sojourn the thinker speaks. We consider to an even lesser extent that the innermost destiny of the history of the West is expressed in Nietzsche's thinking. We are not aware that, through what is spoken in this thoughtful word, we are already moved [versetzt] into the confrontational setting-apart [Aus-einander-Setzung] with him, whether we take this burden upon ourselves or let it lie there, and consequently stumble about in a confusion of mere opinions.

However, if we attempt to exert ourselves differently, then we must never remain at a fixed interpretation. For all genuine thinking and thinking-along with a thinker is a wandering, indeed the wandering into that which, as the simple, lies near. Experience only exists in such wandering. Only in experience do we become more experienced. The quiet gathering toward what is essential only emerges with increasing experiencedness [Erfahrenheit].


a) The "Creation" of the Gods by Humans

The one phrase that can indicate Nietzsche's fundamental experience and fundamental attunement to us reads: "Almost two thousand years and not a single new god!" (vol. VIII, pp. 235–36). Nietzsche wrote this aphorism in the fall of 1888, just a few months before the outbreak of his insanity, when he was at the point of presenting his philosophy as a whole according to a new plan. The title of the planned work reads: Revaluation of all Values. It was to consist of four books. Nietzsche only succeeded in writing the first book in just a few weeks. It is titled: The Antichrist: Attempt at a Critique of Christianity. The second book is titled: The Free Spirit: Critique of Philosophy as a Nihilistic Activity. The title of the third book is: The Immoralist: Critique of the most Catastrophic Kind of Ignorance, Morality. The fourth book, which was to affirmatively present Nietzsche's own philosophy is titled: Dionysus: Philosophy of the Eternal Return. The name of an Asian-Greek god shines above the last phase of the last figure of Western metaphysics.

The quoted aphorism, "Almost two thousand years and not a single new god!" comes from the first book, The Antichrist. This phrase does not just say what Nietzsche so often previously expressed, "God is dead"; rather, it says that Europe has been unable for two thousand years to create a new god. For, this is an essential thought of Nietzsche's: that the gods are "created" by humans. They are "created" according to the respective "religious ability" [Begabung] of peoples. The following sentences precede Nietzsche's aphorism:

The fact that the strong races of Northern Europe have not pushed away the Christian God does not speak well of their religious ability, not to mention their taste. They ought to have dealt with such a sick and decrepit monster of décadence{which according to Nietzsche's opinion is the Christian God}. But that is a curse upon them since they have not dealt with the Christian God: they have adopted the sickness, the old age, the contradiction into all their instincts — they have not created a god since then!


The last word "created" is underscored because it expresses one of Nietzsche's essential thoughts. The God and the gods are a "product" [Erzeugnis] of the human.

We are here at the point, from an allegedly superior knowledge that naturally does not reach very far, to critically ask whether a God, conceived as a human product, could actually be a God. We could also ask something else, namely, what a "religious ability" is supposed to be if it, as "religious," is not already based on the divine and is already claimed by the divine through a God, and only by this claim becomes "religious," provided that the "religious" is allowed to be stamped as a matter of "ability," and also assuming that "the religious" is that realm in which one can simply speak of the God and the gods at any time. For, the "religious" is not just nominally "Roman." The Greeks had no "religion" because they were and still are the ones looked at [Angeblickten] by the gods.

These and other considerations about the creation of the gods, about "the religious ability" and about religion itself, propounded at the right time and at the right place, may have their place. Yet initially these considerations are hasty and easily rush us, who are propounding them, into an area that knows no bounds and thereby removes us from a confrontation with what needs to be thought here.

For prior to that, we have to take notice of a twofold issue: first, the scope of the thought of the human as the "creating one" and of the "creative" in the human; second, the historical origin, and that is also the "metaphysical" foundation of the thought.


b) The Scope of the Thought of the Human as the "Creating One," the "Creative" in the Human

For Nietzsche, not only are the gods and God human "products," but everything that is. We gather this from one of Nietzsche's notes from the year 1888. It is in a place where it is rarely found, where it does not belong in the first place, and definitely not in the manner in which it stands there. It is in the book compiled by Nietzsche's sister and Peter Gast, which one knows by the title The Will to Power, where it was appended completely arbitrarily and thoughtlessly as a preface to the first part of the second book; and it is even inserted without any numbering, which is otherwise provided for all the other pieces gathered together for the production of this fateful book. The note, whose illuminating scope in regard to the leading theme of the lecture is easily recognizable, reads as follows:

All beauty and sublimity that we have lent to real and imaginary things, I want to take back as the property and product of the human: as the human's most beautiful apology. The human as poet, as thinker, as God, as love, as power — oh its royal generosity with which it has endowed to things in order to impoverish itself and to make itself feel miserable! That was up to now its greatest selflessness so that it was amazed and worshiped and knew how to hide from itself that it was the one who had created all that it admired. (Der Wille zur Macht, vol. XV, p. 241)


It is clearly said here: the human as poet, as thinker, as God, as love, and finally as power. The word "power" is named last out of clear thinking, as "power" for Nietzsche is always will to power. Will to power, however, is poetizing, thinking, the godhead of the God. For Nietzsche, "will to power" is also love. The human is all of this insofar as [the human] stands in a distinguished way within the will to power. Everything that is, is loaned and lent by the human and carries its forms: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

Everything that is, is one single anthropomorphism. The human is "the creator" in it. "The creative" is the essence of the human. If we insert a Roman word here, namely the word "genius," then we immediately recognize what else is to be considered here, namely the historical origin of anthropomorphism and its metaphysical core. In Nietzsche's note, the modern thought of the human as "genius" expresses itself with its final consequence. Genius and the creative are the indication and standard for that which obtains in truth and deserves care, i.e., that which awakens "culture" and characterizes it.


c) The "Metaphysical" Ground of the Thought of the Creative Human: The Modern Determination of the Essence of the Human

The thought of the creative human or, stated more clearly, the thought that the human achieves its highest fulfillment in creativity and as genius, and likewise the concurrent thought of "culture" as the highest form of existence [Daseinsform] of the historical human, is founded on the modern determination of the essence of the human as the subject setting-itself-upon-itself, by which all "objects" are first determined as such in their objectivity [Objektivität].

By setting its essence upon itself, the human rises into the willing of its own self. With this up-rising [Aufstand] of the human into the will as the willing of itself, all things simultaneously become an object [Gegenstand] for the first time. The human in this up-rising and the world as object belong together. Within the world as object, the human stands in the up-rising. The up-rising human only admits the world as object. Reification [Vergegenständlichung] is now the fundamental comportment toward the world. The innermost and today still-concealed essence of the reification, not its consequence or even just its mode of expression, is technology.

The up-rising of the modern human to reification is the metaphysical origin of the history of the modern human, in the course of which the human binds its essence ever more univocally in the absolute fact that [the human] is the creating one.

By virtue of this, namely that the modern human wills itself as the "creating one," two developments are decided here that correspond to each other and thus belong together: the creating one in the sense of the creatively active, and the creating one in the sense of the worker. The same era that accomplished the transformation of the human essence to subjectivity, the Renaissance, then carried this human essence back into the Roman and Greek age as the human image. Since then, one views the poets and the thinkers, the artists and the statesmen of the Greeks as "creative" humans, an idea which is as un-Greek as hardly any other of the ideas still circulating, with the exception of the corresponding opinion of the nineteenth century, that the Greeks were a "culture-creating" people. If the Greeks had spent their time creating a "culture," then they would never have become who they are.


d) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Thought in a Greek Way

But how can we claim that the idea of the creative and creating human is foreign to the Greek essence? Do not even the Greeks call poetizing by the name [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], determinations according to which we still today say "poesy" [Poesie] instead of "poetry" [Dichtung]? But what does [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] mean? According to the dictionary, it literally means "making" [ma-chen]. But what is making, particularly thought as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], i.e., understood in a Greek way? Do the Greeks think of "creating" in the sense of the creative producer, in the sense of the worker, or in the sense of the unity of both meanings? Never. What then do [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] mean?

We think [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in a Greek way when we think it — precisely as what is here called the human comportment of Greek humanity toward beings — such that we thereby take the Greek experience of being as the basis, and not just any vague and unexamined idea of what is real in which we moderns, uncultivated in thinking and sufficiently confused, have been brought up. Beings, thought in a Greek way, are what are present and stand here as such in the unconcealed. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is the "bringing-forth" [«hervor-bringen»] of something to presence into the unconcealed. We have to take our German word hervor-bringen completely literally at this point: "here" [»her«] — from out of the heretofore concealed; and "forth" [»vor«] — into the unconcealed, the open, which the human has before and around itself; and "bringing" — which means receiving something, administering, and giving. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is this bringing-forth. We can therefore also say "produce" [her-stellen], only when we also understand this word in the elucidated sense: positioning something as present in presence and leaving it there. In "making," precisely understood as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], it is not the self-enactment of an activity that is the essential by which something new is achieved. An adequate interpretation of fragment 112 of Heraclitus could shed some light on the real Greek meaning of the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (cf. Summer Semester 1944 [GA 55, pp. 375ff.]).

Every comportment that we today conceive of as "artistic creating" is for the Greeks a [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Poetizing is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], in a distinguished sense. There prevails in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] the taking-over of what happens to humans, the further conveyance of this occurrence, the offering-up and the setting-up. There is nothing here of the "action" [Aktion] of the creative spirit, and nothing of the "passion" [Passion] of an enraptured feeling of being overcome which then expresses itself and understands what has been expressed as testimony of one's own "cultural soul."

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is the bringing of that which already "is" and that appears in what has been brought as the being that it is. That which is brought forth in the bringing-forth [Hervor-bringen] is not something new but is rather the ever more ancient of the ancient [das Ältere des Alten]. Yet whenever bringing-forth is only intent on what is always new, it abandons its own essence as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Bringing-forth turns into the rebellious-autocratic action of the humanity of subjectivity that enjoys its life and thus attests to itself before itself. Human activity establishes itself in the capriciousness of accomplishing whatever is the newest. The Western age called modernity does not even know by which name it calls itself.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Introduction to Philosophy - Thinking and Poetizing by Martin Heidegger, Phillip Jacques Braunstein. Copyright © 1990 Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

Phillip Jacques Braunstein teaches in the philosophy department at Loyola Marymount University.

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