What Is Called Thinking? Martin Heidegger

ISBN: 9780060905286

Published: March 12th 1976


252 pages


What Is Called Thinking?  by  Martin Heidegger

What Is Called Thinking? by Martin Heidegger
March 12th 1976 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, AUDIO, mp3, ZIP | 252 pages | ISBN: 9780060905286 | 8.76 Mb

~~This series of lectures are etymological investigations as much as they are philosophical. (Or perhaps they should just be called etymological-philosophical investigations.) Through exhaustive etymological-philosophical “translations” of a handful of statements - The “What is called thinking?” of the title, Nietzsche’s “The wasteland grows- woe to him who hides wastelands within!”, and Parmenides’ “One should both say and think that being is” - Heidegger confronts the entire problematic of Western metaphysics in a context of modern and ancient thought.Part One primarily deals with posing the titular question and then discoursing on Nietzsche’s idea of “the wasteland grows” in relation to the ideas of “the last men”, the superman, and the “highest and heaviest thought to emerge from Western metaphysics”, the eternal recurrence of the same.

These are contrasted with an indictment of “technological” thinking- the pervading mode of thought in contemporary societies, “common usage” of language, which propagates a dulling of the true world-exploratory power of language, through abuse and degradation of the fullness of the meaning of words. “Technological” thinking by nature does not reveal essences, but is rather devoted to sapping as much energy as possible from the objects of our experience for the purposes of material progress.

This is where Heidegger makes the (in)famous claim that “science does not think. By this he does not mean to dismiss or degrade natural science as a valuable practice, but to put it in its proper element. By its very nature, science seeks and discloses one side of a multi-sided existence, sticks to one track of thinking toward a specific end, and is barred by its form from seeing or explaining its essential relation to Being or beings. Heidegger identifies this scientific, progressive, and ends-oriented mode of thinking as coming to have subsumed almost the entirety of modern thought and thus now is to be taken for the whole of thought - which implies the beginning of the age of Nietzsche’s last men, who blink in the place of thinking.

(His analysis of the term “blink” as used by Nietzsche is unforgettable.) Heidegger then discusses what he determines to be the culmination of Western metaphysics, Nietzsche’s idea of the eternal recurrence of the same, in relation to the emergence of the superman - the mortal being capable of Thinking equal to the task of confronting the modern world.The eternal recurrence of the same is used as a bridge into Part Two, where Heidegger makes claims that its central ideas were already to be found in pre-Platonic, pre-Socratic thought, that Greek thinking was instinctively more at home in its duality in Being than modern thought- this is elucidated through Parmenides’ “One should both say and think that being is” in relation to Heidegger’s question of what is called thinking and its various linguistic/philosophic/historic components.

Again, an etymological-philosophical analysis takes up most of this half of the book, and through multiple iterations and thinkings-through we reach a new translation of Parmenides’ saying : “Useful is the letting-lie-before-us, so (the) taking-to-heart, too : beings in being.”Heidegger’s main claim is that since Plato thought has been dulled by the overuse and low valuation of language, and that the problematics of Being in Western metaphysics are related to a fundamental lack in the way we speak of things, and therefore in our concepts, that our common usage of words has blighted our relation to the objects that they envelope and to which we are disclosed as they are disclosed to us.

Our relationship to the presences in the world and what they leave unconcealed when they are present depend on the path we take to Thinking them, so that we must relearn the radiant value of each word, since words are the only medium through which we come know the world - a limited sense of the potentiality of language would mean a delimited path to knowing. For instance, my favorite part of these lectures might have been the section on the Old English origin of “To think”, thanc, which originally implied a simultaneous gathering together of perception, memory, and thanks into a projecting-forward of the total fullness of ourselves- Thinking as a kind of devotional activity, almost in the religious sense, in relation to Being, to the presences that emerge in the world, involving and amassing every aspect of ourselves and our past experiences.

This idea of thanc might ultimately come the nearest to what Heidegger would value as Thinking- an inseparable, essential duality of Being and Thinking.So what is called thinking? Paying heed to the presence of what is present. Letting what lies before us in the world lie before us, while at the same time taking it to heart, to keep it in the only place where it is safely kept, in the thinking of our own Being as beings.

”Unconcealedness, the rising from unconcealedness, the entry into unconcealedness, the coming and the going away, the duration, the gathering, the radiance, the rest, the hidden suddenness of possible absenting.” These lectures make for a deep and slow moving, wide-flowing book, generous, gentle, actually quite simple in its conclusions that we should take seriously our call to Being, to search out what it is that calls us into being, and be grateful and humble and thankful for our fate as rational animals, to take up our mortal task.

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