Re: "Letter on Humanism"--Reading 5

On Sun, 9 Apr 1995, Iain Thomson wrote:

> Chris,
> In what sense are you saying that Heidegger thought Ereignis is
> unnecessary? In the sense that it is not necessary that there be
> being rather than nothing (that intelligibility is a historically
> contingent fact), or in some stronger sense?
> I find this an intriguing but problematic suggestion. Could you
> elaborate? Thanks,
> Iain Thomson
> UCSD Philo.

I had to check what I wrote to see what I meant. What I meant was, the
particular constellation that being sends as it happens (eignen) is not
necessary, but once it happens that which follows as part of this
constellation is necessary. It is this latter necessity that I have
difficulties with.

Your suggestion raises some interesting points with this, however. If
there is a necessary connection between expressly thinking of being in
itself and the event of being, this would rule out two mutually
supporting and commonly held theses: that the events of being up until
now have been plural and that thinking for Heidegger is a universal
event. To make this more clear, it implies that the normal assumption of
a plurality of historical cultures cannot hold, because only one culture
ever raised the question of being in itself: the greeks. (Well,
Heidegger implied this anyway; I'm not certain about other cultures.)
What I am trying to draw out is the implication that only in the greek
culture did being send anything (happen); in all other cultures by
implication - well, what happened here fails me. How did other cultures
become cultures if not through a sending of being? The fissure I'm
exploring is the one between Heidegger saying that being happens only
insofar as it is thought as such and the one that says that thus far it
happened only once.

This is all very tentative, so responses would be welcome.


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