Re: "Letter on Humanism"--Reading 4



On Mon, 3 Apr 1995, breno onetto wrote:

> I don't know if these lessons are yet translated in english, i suppose you
> must read that stoff in german and became from yourself the contents from
> the lessons; the most important of them the first, WS.34/35 about the hymnen
> Germanien und der Rhein, are the basic lesson wich think the conceps for the
> others, capital for the understanding of Heideggers second Hauptwerk, die
> Beitraege zur Philosophie...
>
> Breno Onetto
> D-44801 Bochum
> BRD.
>

I see you have swallowed the Otto Poeggeler line concerning the
Beitraege. :) In truth, I'm not certain why he continues to insist that
this is is second Hauptwerk, because he himself has indicated since 1972
in his argument with Alexander Schwan that the stuff from the '30's
cannot be read as pure phenomenology because of their contamination by
the thought of the "great poetic instauration" derived from Nietzsche.
That there was no sudden change around 1930 is certainly true: it took
Heidegger over a decade to finally think through the problem of
subjectivity, which is actually to take Heidegger's own assessment more
literally than it perhaps deserves. The Beitraege are interesting, but
by no means a second major work.

I raise this in part because as far as I know, the fourfold only comes
into Heidegger's writings around 1950 and disappears about 5 years
later. Earth and World appeared around 1934, and showed a little more
duration, but it should not be lost that the various designations that
Heidegger applied to this are precisely this: variations on a theme,
whose main phrase is concealing/unconcealing. The thought of being as
concealing/unconcealing takes on many poetic forms. This should be taken
quite literally: poetry gives form to and points to the fundamental
experience of being.

In The Origin of the Work of Art, Heidegger emphasizes that the
opposition world/earth cannot be assimilated to concealing/unconcealing,
although both appear to describe the same process and movement. The best
explanation I have seen for this point is that the two oppositions take
place on parallel but different planes (to use a spatial metaphor). The
Streit of being takes form in the Streit of world and earth in the work
of art itself, while the latter Streit points to the "higher" Streit
within being itself.

While this may seem to imply a difference between thinking and artistic
production, I think it rather implies an equivocation on what "poetic
existence" means. The peasant woman trudging home after a hard days
labour inhabits of world that is set back on the earth; as inhabiting a
space defined by world and earth, that is to say an artwork, she dwells
poetically. She does NOT, however, recognize being as
concealing/unconcealing. The poet/thinker does experience
concealing/unconcealing as such and sets it into work as truth. This
latter is also a poetic existence, insofar as the poet inhabits the
mediate place between being and world; to inhabit this mediate place is
to exist poetically, or in the manner of the poet as poet. Even here,
though, I am still not certain if in the end Heidegger maintains a
distinction between the thinker (himself) and the poet (Holderlin) in
their essential tasks, for the thinker cannot institute a world whereas a
poet can. This latter point is one that Poeggeler rejects because it
rests on a romantic understanding of the artist which he claims Heidegger
rejected in the '50's.

Enough for today.

Chris


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