Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931-1938

Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931-1938

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Ponderings II–VI begins the much-anticipated English translation of Martin Heidegger's "Black Notebooks." In a series of small notebooks with black covers, Heidegger confided sundry personal observations and ideas over the course of 40 years. The five notebooks in this volume were written between 1931 and 1938 and thus chronicle Heidegger's year as Rector of the University of Freiburg during the Nazi era. Published in German as volume 94 of the Complete Works, these challenging and fascinating journal entries shed light on Heidegger's philosophical development regarding his central question of what it means to be, but also on his relation to National Socialism and the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1930s in Germany. Readers previously familiar only with excerpts taken out of context may now determine for themselves whether the controversy and censure the "Black Notebooks" have received are deserved or not. This faithful translation by Richard Rojcewicz opens the texts in a way that captures their philosophical and political content while disentangling Heidegger's notoriously difficult language.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253020673
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 05/02/2016
Series: Studies in Continental Thought
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Richard Rojcewicz is the translator of several works by Heidegger, including The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides (IUP, 2015), The Event (IUP, 2012), and (with Daniela Vallega-Neu) Contributions to Philosophy: Of the Event (IUP, 2012). Rojcewicz is author of The Gods and Technology: A Reading of Heidegger.

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Ponderings IIâ"VI

Black Notebooks 1931â"1938

By Martin Heidegger, Richard Rojcewicz

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 2014 Vittorio Klostermann GmbH, Frankfurt am Main
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02074-1



October 1931

M. H.


Cf. pp. 19 and 132.

What should we do?

Who are we?

Why should we be?

What are beings?

Why does being happen?

Philosophizing proceeds out of these questions upward into unity.

* * *


What we extol as blessing depends on what afflicts us as plight.

And on whether plight truly urges us on, i.e., urges us away from staring at the situation and talking it over.

Greatest plight — that we must finally turn our backs on ourselves and on our "situation" and actually seek ourselves.

Away from detours, which merely lead back to the same beaten paths; sheer evasions — remote and desultory — before the ineluctable.

The human being should come to himself!

Why? Because a human being "is" a self — yet is in such a way as to lose or indeed never win himself and to sit somewhere otherwise captivated and transported — we still scarcely see all this great being and potential for being as we gaze at wretched imitations and dried up and incomprehensible exemplars — proffered "types."

But: how does a human being come to his self?

Through what are his self and its selfness determined?

Is that not already subordinated to a first choice!

Insofar as the human being does not choose and instead creates a substitute for choosing, he sees his self

1. through reflection in the usual sense;

2. through dialogue with the thou;

3. through meditation on the situation;

4. through some idolatry.

Supposing, however, that the human being had chosen and that the choice actually struck back into his self and burst it open

i.e., supposing that the human being had chosen the disclosability of the being of beings and by this choice was placed back into Dasein, must he then not proceed far into the stillness of the happening of being, a happening which possesses its own time and its own silence?

Must he not have long been silent in order to find again the power and might of language and to be borne by them?

Must not all frameworks and specialties be shattered here and all worn-down paths be devastated?

Must not a courage, one which reaches very far back, attune the disposition here?

Someone who sticks fast to the foot of the mountain — how will he ever even see the mountain?

Only more and more rock faces.

But how to come upon the mountain?

Only through a leap from another mountain; but how to come upon that one?

Already to have been there; to be someone placed on the mountain and ordered to be there.

Who was already so? And is it still because no others can drive him away?

Beginning and re-beginning of philosophy!


We stand before nothingness — to be sure, but in such a way that we do not put nothingness and this standing into effect, do not know how to put them into effect — cowardice and blindness before the opening of the being that bears us into beings.


Must the great lone path be ventured, silently — into Da-sein, where beings become more fully beings? Untroubled by all situations?

Has it not long been folly and confusion and groundlessness to run after the "situation"?

"Situation" — at the beach and in the sand, small mussels are splashed about, into them we wriggle and see only wrigglers but never the waves and the upsurge of beings!


Nothingness — which is higher and deeper than nonbeings — too great and worthy for any individual or all together to stand before it.

Nonbeings — which are less than nothingness — because expelled from the being that negates all beings.

Less — because undecided, neither amid beings, since these latter are more fully, nor amid nothingness.


A disregarding of the situation is to be set in motion, but out of the positive aspect of the ineluctable — the disregarding of the situation and the justification for doing so.

We first are our situation when we no longer ask after it.

Back into the "unconscious" — i.e., not into "complexes" but into the truly happening and necessary "spirit."

This devilish — or rather deified — farming of the situation! The semblance of seriousness.


Mankind no longer knows what to do with itself — and consequently conjectures "everything" in the end.


Mankind believes it must do something with itself — and does not understand that Da-sein has already done something with it (beginning of philosophy) — from which mankind fled long ago.

This — the fact that in Dasein beings have being — i.e., become more fully beings and more fully nullified — is the mission [Auftrag] of humanity in this happening.


Being and Time I a very imperfect attempt to enter into the temporality of Dasein in order to ask the question of being for the first time since Parmenides, cf. p. 24.


Objection to the book: I have even today still not enough enemies — it has not brought me a Great enemy.


Thoughtlessness toward the "tradition" and disdain of the contemporary belong to the keen-hearing diffidence before the past.


Jaspers writes three slapdash and uninformed volumes about that which philosophy — in creative individual works, and only so — bears in silence (silence-bearing), namely, the fact that philosophy goes to the issues. And thus every common barker and writer is handed the formula to talk on and on even about the philosophically ultimate. And thus the impotence of "contemporary" persons for philosophizing — indeed even only for a return to antiquity — is not only proven but also justified. Even "being" is now brought into the longest-winded idle talk, and each one may with equal justification maunder on about what strikes him.


Yet "say" it to yourself daily in your taciturnity: be silent about bearing silence. Cf. p. 17.


The essence of truth must first be transformed and must be transposed into a new sharpness and hardness so that beings may find admittance.

To admit beings — let them through "through" Da-sein. Ambiguity of the "through" ["Durch"].


Therefore, it was a mistaken view that Being and Time could overcome "ontology" directly. The appalling "result" is indeed only that the prattle about "being" has increased and has become still more groundless.


Everything is to be set still deeper; thus first made ripe for transformation.

Everything — i.e., first and only the beginning of philosophy.


We are not strong and originary enough to "talk" truly through silence and diffidence. Therefore, one must talk about everything, i.e., prattle. (Cf. p. 93.)


Being is to be set more deeply into Dasein through the actual question of the essence of language.

Thus with Dasein a transformation of truth and being is to be compelled.

That is a happening of history proper; for this history the "individual" is inconsequential and counts only inasmuch as he secures for himself in effective work a possibility of repeatable impulses.


Being not without language — but precisely therefore not "logical." Language not without being.


The law-awakening must happen out of the depth of Dasein through the fully assumed conditionality of an individual human being.

What is human resides in trusting to the depth of Dasein! The adverse criticism of human partiality is to be endured.

What is effective is not that which is deemed worthy of agreement.


The one who must philosophize "today" — and by that I mean someone under the irrevocable power of the beginning of Western philosophy in antiquity — has the assignment of maintaining constantly effective a dual attitude in all hardness and decisiveness: on the one hand, the interpretation of the ancients, as if what mattered was nothing else than to let them alone come into words (beginning and history of the question of being), and then the attitude of the most broadly and deeply interpretive questioning out of the ground of Dasein — as if at issue was nothing other than to help "being" to a bursting forth in actual work and in a first solitude (overcoming of the question of being).

This duality, however, is one (cf. p. 14) — this one nevertheless is the grace of the calling to an incomparable fate.


We are merely plowing the field, so that this fate might find a place where it could bring the seed to itself in safekeeping.


Or rather: we are merely gathering stones and weeds in a devastated field and are clearing it so that the plow will find an unobstructed path.


The time is not ripe for understanding the question of being, neither in terms of a living inner mastery of its proper and full history nor in terms of its essential power of attack on the possibilities of Dasein (art — faith — nature).

Still less, however, is the time strong for that which the question of being actually only prepares: its overcoming in the sense of an actual re-beginning with the beginning.

The presentiment itself lies far from the fact that the essence of truth must first be transformed again and become actual in Dasein by way of a work.


Only if we are actually errant — actually go into errancy, can we strike up against "truth."

The deep, uncanny, and thus at the same time great attunement of the errant ones as a whole: the philosopher.


Only with increasing depth does genuine breadth expand.

But also only that depth closed up again in the configured work will in the future encompass the breadth.


Yet whither the philosopher presses forward and what to him beings as a whole newly become — that is his ultimate, and he must be able to make it precisely the originary and first. Precisely this is denied again in a necessary way.

And therefore he is precisely from his deepest depth originarily able to be overcome.

To know this gives for the first time fruitful and clear position in the work to the work and thereby to the effecting and disdaining of what is ineffective.


The essence of time is to be questioned disclosively in order to find ourselves in our moment.


Need to consider history truly, i.e., that which remained undone and henceforth shut itself off, so much so that the semblance could arise that it is not at all there and never was.


The freedom which indulges that undone history is to be awakened once again.

Not as if the earlier could be retrieved — but so that it can come to us now and quickly out of ourselves according to our necessities.


Inquisitiveness and craftiness never allow a thing to show its essence.


The philosophy to come must be an exhortation — exhortation to the being of the "there." Cf. p. 11.


The great difficulty of the new beginning: to let the voice exhort and to awaken attunement; but at the same time for the creating ones — to think all this in advance with clarity and to bring it into a creating concept.

The exhortation exhorts humanity to its higher affiliation and deeper rootedness.


This exhortation — of philosophy — is the poetry of being. The poetry of being earlier than beings (for us) and yet only in order to propound beings as older. The bursting forth of being in the packings of its poetry.

"Poets" — They poetize "only" beings in each case! and yet in that way also being!


Or must not philosophy a fortiori poetize beings? Yes, and even beings as such — as a whole.


Which poetizing? If yet no creating — poetizing for Da-sein — only there does being in general occur. Being becomes poem; therefore finite! Not the converse — to poetize beings and thus first empower them; i.e., to make Dasein at the same time mature for power and in the service of power!


The poetizing exhortation leads before something cor-responding — what cor-responds to the poetized — this "responding" manifests itself thus for the first time.


Can an individual still compel something essential?

Does that not lack the community of the few who endure it?

Where is the simplicity of preparation for taking something essential and thereby persevering?

Yet are these not questions stemming from a merely semblant thoughtfulness?

Must not a responsibility simply be accepted?

What is a responsibility?

To pledge oneself for something and sacrifice oneself!

Pledge oneself for what? For Da-sein to become powerful in humans and their measure and might!

But how to bring about this pledging?

Depth and breadth of the engagement of Da-sein in the question of being!

Whither with the asking of this question? Into the [??].

The whither is not the concerning-what! Instead, the concerning-what belongs to the questioning itself, which as a whole — as this whole of the question concerning being — has its whither.

But the [??] must be borne in silence through the questioning and in the attuned silence must be gained by struggling toward grace. Cf. p. 8.


This whither is the striven for in disclosive striving.


First thoroughly fathom the silence, in order to learn what may be said and must be said.


Science: do we still need science — i.e., what passes for it today? Who are the "we"?

Who needs essential science (like passion)?

The leaders and guardians — who are these — where should they stand as which persons?

Science still only an acrobatics of methods, a trust in the carrying on of learned pursuits, and the cocky presumption of transmitting and offering.


"Science" like passion and leadership. ["Wissenschaft" wie Leidenschaft und Führerschaft].


How is the pledging supposed to become effective? It has its own — hidden — mode of radiating out. And in the end this is a subordinate question.

More than enough if the responsibility is accepted.


Pledging as beginning of the origin — originary beginning!


Science must once again take its course — anew out of the originary pledging — and thereby it alters in its being and estimation.


Philosophy — is it for the sake of cultivation or for mere factual knowledge? Neither the one nor the other; as much the one as the other.

That means: it can never be grasped originarily from them — because its descendants as well as its origins are of a deeper stem.


Only charged concepts — ones that anticipate and engage — are "formative." "Space and time" — a long-since-familiar wordplay which still signifies only a neutral schema of forms, thanks to Kant and science.

But: "People without space" and their most singular individuals without time.

What is "space" here?

What is "time" here? Origin of ?. Is that also space as time for a "people"?

Space and time not the juxtaposed, which is simply "given," but instead the opening and upsurge of being, which must be striven for.


How today everyone must immediately dispose of every half-thought he has in fact swindled out of someone or other and must store this up in "great works" — instead of keeping for himself genuine insight — such that the insight would produce something essential and would itself thereby disappear. Only if much does not come to light, is held back, do we have some evidence that the occasion has been created for something great to take form.


The ridiculousness of a "philosophy of existence," not a jot better than "philosophy of life."


To philosophize: to be under no superior.

The new, not inceptual, end-like beginning.

But: to bring being into words means something altogether different from erecting and disseminating an "ontology." (Cf. p. 22.)


Today (March, 1932) I am in all clarity at a place from which my entire previous literary output (Being and Time, "What is Metaphysics?," Kantbook, and "On the Essence of Ground" I and II) has become alien to me. Alien like a path brought to an impasse, a path overgrown with grass and vegetation — a path which yet retains the fact that it leads into Da-sein as temporality. A path on whose edges stands much that is contemporary and mendacious — often in such a way that these "path markings" are taken as more important than the path itself. (Cf. p. 102, 104.)


Excerpted from Ponderings IIâ"VI by Martin Heidegger, Richard Rojcewicz. Copyright © 2014 Vittorio Klostermann GmbH, Frankfurt am Main. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
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Table of Contents

Translator's Introduction
Intimations x Ponderings (II) and Directives
Ponderings and Intimations III
Ponderings IV
Ponderings V
Ponderings VI
Editor's Afterword

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Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931-1938 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
gedavis More than 1 year ago
These working notes are a fascinating supplement for Heidegger scholarship, providing enlightenment about the development of his thought. But they ARE supplementary to Heidegger’s development of monographic work, and should be read accordingly. The notebooks vastly deserve being read for their developmental merit. As an old scholar of Heidegger's work, I gladly recommend purchasing these compilations of notes. The notebooks do NOT—as the back cover MIS-indicates—”cast a dark shadow over Heidegger’s legacy.” That blub quotes a gossip column by Peter Gordon in the usually-authoritative NY Review of Books. Gordon doesn’t understand Heidegger (amply demonstrated by his breezy discussion) and gives little attention to the notebooks themselves. But exploiting aromas of scandal sells books. Framing Heidegger is just doing business. The notebooks are “much-anticipated” (publisher description) because the Editor of the German version, Peter Trawny, made his name claiming that the notebooks are scandalous (and Gordon relies on Trawny). In other words, the German Editor created the anticipation that the English publisher now cites, using a blurb on the back of the book by a writer relying on Trawny. But Heidegger’s Private Secretary, who employed Trawny, argues that the Editor went his own way, in his own self-serving interest, with arguments that have no philosophical merit (google: harpt05.html ). Gordon’s reliance on gossip (which Indiana University Press evidently endorses) suggests a patheticness of academic historiography that is a common feature of Heidegger’s notebooks. No wonder that historians want to find dark shadows: Heidegger’s animus toward academic ideology targets the vacuousness of historiography during his times—and presently, too? The conceptual pretenses of intellectual historiography are in contest with their own shadows, now as then. Keep in mind that “national socialism” is a generic notion during Heidegger’s times which preceded the assimilation of that rubric by the German Workers’ Party in the 1920s. Heidegger has no sympathy for “Nazi” ideology and no interest in aligning university reform with Berlin. Exactly the opposite: He briefly wanted coordinated university-based reform efforts to determine Berlin policy. That seemed feasible in early 1933. It became clearly unfeasible to Heidegger by August of 1933 (letter to Carl Schmitt; the phrase "inner truth and greatness of the national socialist movement" is from Rudolf Bultmann, in a letter to Heidegger, 1932). But Heidegger's desire for university reform is evident in the 1920s (e.g., Heidegger's 1927 letter to Karl Löwith—as well as the political character of Aristotle's rhetoric, so vital to Heidegger. But BUY the notebooks! Gary E. Davis | Berkeley