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PostSubject: Heidegger Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:44 pm










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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:50 pm

A little something I wrote in my The Feminization of Mankind - Manifesto in regards to Heidegger's conception of persona-hood as it related to, modernistic ideals, as these have been formed by the Judeo-Christian universal man:

Heidegger, during his years as Nazi philosopher and figurehead, approached the subject of “individuality” like this:

Heidegger, Martin wrote:
The development began with the Renaissance, when the individual as a person was held up as the goal of all beings, the great man, according to the two ideals, the homo universalis and the specialist. It was the new will to develop the personality that has brought about that total transformation, according to which henceforth all things are here merely for the great individual. Everything, and therefore politics as well, is then included in a sphere in which man has the possibility and will to live as he pleases. So it is that politics, art, and science fall back into areas that are dependent on the desire for individual development, and tis becomes all the more pronounced, the more these areas become, through powerful achievements, both wider and more specialized.

But in subsequent times all the cultural domains were allowed to grow apart to the point of stretching beyond any synoptic overview, until our time, when the perils of such goings-on have become apparent with an elementary clarity in the downfall of our state.

In it we can find his concern, his existential “care”, for bringing about a super-state; one which could stand the test of time and cleanse itself from the virus that had rendered it helpless and dependent, like a woman.
The heavy-handed methods of Nazism stand in contrast to the more subtlety of modern day Judeo-Christian tactics.
One inspires, imposes, directs, and wills, while the other seduces, cajoles, lends soothing caresses and speaks with hopeful whispers.
Maybe Heidegger and his Führer underestimated the power of feminine seduction, as they had already dismissed Darwinism and Freudianism, rendering them blind to what was occurring.
The idea that “individuality” as it was sold in the west was but pretense with no real substance, a chimera dividing and conquering a people that had lost all sense of self, eluded their considerations.
Once this ideal of a “universal man” was purchased by the masses they were as good as helpless before those that possessed the methods, the understanding, and the means to use them.
Specialization simply completed the task of division under the auspices of universal individuality.

First division and then reintegration using co-dependence.
The ideal of individuality made the individual a frail entity whose only option was then to reintegrate within the whole as a “useful” and “good” citizen.

Heidegger, though preaching a reconnection of man with blood and soil, knew only of husbandry as it was practiced with animals; he had already rejected the Jews who could have taught him new farming techniques which were more effective when dealing with more sophisticated animals, such as man is.
Where he spoke of loyalty, duty, honor, the masculine state and of heroism, his enemies, those he despised, were speaking of love, “freedom of consumer choice”, hedonism, promiscuity, and a masculine state in drag; where one was telling the masses to willingly surrender to the State, the other was telling them to not trust it, to not like it, to seek to emancipate one’s self from it, thusly making the masses of “individuals” impotent before its power.

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:15 am

Your Heidegger is about as apt as the Dragon's Nietzsche. You two make a fitting couple, really.
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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:56 am

I'll have to take your word on it...my precious.

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:51 pm

Against hippie-liberals like schizo-smears and d63 and their "objectivity" of philosophy;

Heidegger, Martin wrote:
"We still have scholars today who busy themselves with philosophy and who consider freedom-from-every-standpoint not to be a standpoint, as though such freedom did not depend upon those very standpoints. These curious attempts to flee from one’s own shadow we may leave to themselves, since discussion of them yields no tangible results. Yet we must heed one thing: this standpoint of freedom-from-standpoints is of the opinion that it has overcome the one-sidedness and bias of prior philosophy, which always was, and is, defined by its standpoints. However, the standpoint of standpointlessness represents no overcoming. In truth it is the extreme consequence, affirmation, and final stage of that opinion concerning philosophy which locates all philosophy extrinsically in standpoints that are ultimately right in front of us, standpoints whose one-sidedness we can try to bring into equilibrium. We do not alleviate the ostensible damage and danger which we fear in the fact that philosopohy is located in a particular place—such location being the essential and indispenable legacy of every philosopohy—by denying and repudiating the fact; we alleviate the danger only by thinking through and grasping the indigenous character of philosophy in terms of its original essence and its necessity, that is to say, by posing anew the question concerning the essence of truth and the essence of human Dasein, and by elaborating a radically new response to that question." [The Eternal Recurrence of the Same]

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:35 am

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:09 pm

Ben Vedder in his book on Heidegger's philosophy of religion, explains the junction that Heidegger discovered, that led to modern nihilism. Heidegger traces it to Aristotle who conflates the search for Being with the search for Being-As-Entity, ontology with theology...
The consequence being excess subjectification and humanism that typically characterizes modernity and current technological nihilism.


1.


Quote :
"In Aristotle’s Metaphysics, the question of being is formulated and worked out normatively. This first philosophy is characterized in two ways as both a science of being (ontology)
and as a science of the highest and most authentic being (theology).
Theology is the inquiry into the being that is most proper, that corresponds in the highest way to the idea of being. For its part, ontology endeavors to determine the being of entities.Thus, theology is also the search for an entity. They both concern a double concept of fundamental science: the science of being and the science of the highest and authentic entity.  But whereas in ontology an explication (understanding) of being is intended in which the found characteristics are not to be understood as entities, in theology there is an ontic explanation of being. In this case being is reduced to an entity, and the difference between being and entity is not maintained. And precisely this difference—between being and entity—characterizes and motivates philosophy.

Heidegger notices a strange moment of ambiguity between the two different approaches of the question of being in Aristotle. He understands this hesitation or wavering as a consequence of the way in which Aristotle begins from the tradition that precedes him. According to Aristotle, his predecessors already ask about being as the first causes of entities. This is the question from which being as such is to be determined. This question can lead to an ontical explanation, to find a perfect entity as an instance of being, but it can also lead to the maintained difference of being and entity. Heidegger interprets this wavering or hesitation as a tension between the motive of philosophy and its factical tendency. Aristotle works out the question of being as a search for the entity that really and completely has being.

The result of this dominant tendency in the motive of first philosophy, Heidegger points out, is that the highest entity is determined as complete and perfect effectiveness.

In Aristotle, the question of being becomes the inquiry into the entity that represents being in the most perfect way. That means: being has the meaning of perfect being. Being is interpreted as complete efficacy (energeia); it has pure actuality.
Therefore, Aristotle writes that reality (energeia) is earlier than possibility (dynamis), and earlier than all of this is presence.

In Metaphysics VI.1.1026a29 he says:
“. . . but if there is a substance which is immutable, the science which studies this will be prior to physics, and will be primary philosophy, and universal in this sense, that it is primary.”

This science intends to investigate being as being (as ontology), but in fact it does so as theology, because from the beginning it understands being from the perspective of an entity that has being in the highest way. The science of being qua being poses an entity in which the authentic being is shown in the purest way. Only out of this entity can the idea of being be understood. Therefore, a discipline is needed that studies the entity that is considered to have authentic being.

The pure ontological problem has still not been mastered completely— namely, whether every understanding of being presupposes an ideal entity in order to understand the specific character of being.

From the beginning, being means for Aristotle pure and permanent presence. Therefore, what Aristotle presents as first philosophy is ambiguous; it is ontology and theology at the same time. The question of being is also the question of the perfectly qualified being. Aristotle started this project: the intertwining of the question of being that has to be distinguished from entities and the question of the perfect quality of being as something specific to the highest entity is the matter of metaphysics.

Heidegger will unravel both questions and think, in this way, against the tradition of metaphysics...
To Heidegger, the question of being and the question of god— ontology and theology— belong together but are not the same." [Vedder, Heidegger's Philosophy of Religion]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:11 pm

2.


Quote :
"The ontotheological structure of Western philosophy takes on a specific form in modernity: it no longer refers to god as the highest entity, but to human being. Especially in his interpretation of Nietzsche, Heidegger shows how ontotheology leads to radical subjectivism in modern thinking. Anthropology is the starting point for understanding reality in modernity. The paragon of this is Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494).
In 1486, at the beginning of modernity, he writes a text that is typical of the modern Western ideal of humanity. In his Oratio de dignitate hominis, God speaks as follows:

“We have given to thee, Adam, no fixed seat, no form of thy very own, no gift pecularly thine, that thou mayest feel as thine own, have as thine own, possess as thine own the seat, the form, the gifts which thou thyself shalt desire. A limited nature in other creatures is confined within the laws written down by us. In conformity with thy free judgment, in whose hands I have placed thee, thou are confined by no bounds; and thou wilt fix limits of nature for thyself. I have placed thee at the center of the world, that from there thou mayest more conveniently look around and see whatsoever is in the world. Neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal have We made thee.
Thou, like a judge appointed for being honorable, art the molder and maker of thyself; thou mayest sculpt thyself into whatever shape thou dost prefer. Thou canst grow downward into the lower natures which are brutes. Thou canst again grow upward from thy soul’s reason into the higher natures which are divine.”

Mirandola represents God as permitting humanity to have what it wishes and to be what it wants. Man’s will determines what he is: he is able to make and to mold himself. In making himself, the human being does not have a fixed abode, a face, or a special task. He is completely in his own hands. The human being is understood as an entity that is a causa sui: a being that causes itself. The only fixed ground, as something from which the human being can live out his life, is what he makes of himself. The only certainty for human beings is human beings. Modernity is driven by the idea that human beings produce their own reality.

The moment of subjectivity dominates the philosophy of modernity with regard to religion as well. This can be seen explicitly in Feuerbach’s work. He understands religious reality as an image of humanity, placed by a human being outside of himself, and which the human worships as god. Humanity makes an object out of its essence, which it considers to be another entity. Feuerbach writes in The Essence of Christianity; “The object of any subject is nothing else than the subject’s own nature taken objectively. Such as are a man’s thoughts and dispositions, such is his God; so much worth as a man has, so much and no more has his God. Consciousness of God is selfconsciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge.” Feuerbach adds to this: “By his God thou knowest the man, and by the man his God; the two are identical.” Thus, for Feuerbach theology is anthropology.

The question of being as a whole is onto-theo-ego-logical.”

Human being becomes, as an ego, the ground of reality parexcellence.

According to its realistic interpretation, the principle of causation says that “everything necessarily has a cause (meaning a cause in reality). But according to the principle of explanation, the formula is: An adequate scientific explanation has to be found for everything.
Thus, once the ground of knowledge is found in the modern thinking subject, a gap appears with regard to reality. Reality itself is no longer the criterion for knowledge; rather, a subjective logic becomes the ground from which reality is understood. Modern philosophy finds the answer to the inquiry into being and the meaning of objects in the constitution and construction of things for a human subject. The conditions for the possibility of knowledge are found in human subjectivity. With the shift from the objective, realistic foundation to the subjective approach, the principle of reason changes. In the subjective approach, human subjectivity as the ground of reality makes objectivity possible. Human subjectivity appears as the ground par excellence. When Kant asks for the conditions of possibility of knowledge of reality, Heidegger sees this as a further explication of the question of sufficient reason.

Heidegger understands the subjectivistic and anthropological approach as a symptom of nihilism. The phenomenon of homelessness is typical of the time we live in and is essentially connected with the subjectification of reality. He sees the uprooting and the loss of meaning in connection with the subjectification of meaning, which is, according to him, the peak of meaninglessness. When everything has to do justice to human beings, then the era of complete meaninglessness begins. In several places in his work, Heidegger points out that the anthropological character of meaning is characteristic of modernity: “Today, then, anthropology is no longer just the name for a discipline, nor has it been such for some time. Instead, the word describes a fundamental tendency of man’s contemporary position with respect to himself and to the totality of beings. According to this fundamental position, something is only known and understood if it is given an anthropological explanation. Anthropology seeks not only the truth about human beings, but instead it now demands a decision as to what truth in general can mean.” In this modern age, we only know what something means when we know what it means for human beings. In such a constellation or framework, all search for truth becomes anthropology, as does the theological search for truth, and the truth of religion.

Meaninglessness is the phenomenon of being not brought to light. Being does not come into the open, because the truth of entities is already decided in anthropology. Wherever the essence of the truth of entities is decided, there the reflection on the truth of being does not take place. Truth becomes certainty and is formulated as that which is relevant and makeable for a human subject.

Understanding entities as produceable, as makeable material, and understanding the human being as such an entity is characteristic of modernity. Entities are modeled on their surrender to unconditional planning, calculation, and organization. Modern humanity sees its reality as produceable. Applied to humanity, this means that it makes itself. The idea of humanity as produceable by and for itself figures in the idea of the causa sui, which generally refers to complete self-determination and selfactualization.
The idea of causa sui is connected with the ontotheological structure of Western thinking." [Vedder, Heidegger's Philosophy of Religion]

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"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:17 pm

3.

Quote :
"The criticism of religion ends with the teaching that man is the highest being for man.”
But Heidegger asks: How does one come from the first to the second thought, i.e. that man is his own root, and that man is the highest entity for man — isn’t an intermediate thought missing, namely that man is all there is?

In Western metaphysics generally, the relation between meaning and entities is deduced from entities themselves. Entities are characterized by self-persistence. Spinoza puts this clearly: “Each thing, in so far as it is in itself, endeavors to persist in its own being.” Furthermore, “The conatus with which each thing endeavors to persist in its own being is nothing but the actual essence of the thing itself.” Every orientation to a purpose, goal, or motive is understood as an off- shoot of an entity’s own self-persistence. The modern age is of the opinion that, as a consequence of the idea of self-persistence, the criterion for and the answer to the question of meaning is to be found in the human being as a needy entity, who finds his destiny in the satisfaction of all his needs.38 In all dimensions of human existence, some- thing becomes meaningful on the basis of human need. Mean- ingfulness becomes an economic question that has as its answer, the total satisfaction of needs.

Modernity has as its dominant characteristics, “first, that man installs and secures himself as subiectum, as the nodal point for beings as a whole; and secondly, that the beingness of beings as a whole is grasped as the representedness of whatever can be produced and explained.”

Man is produced by man’s own activity. This implies the total self-realization of man. Subjectifying the prin- ciple of sufficient reason in modernity leads to the human being as the source and the site of the production of meaning. As a result, humans become the center of reality in two ways. First, they are the ground from which reality is actualized. Second, as this ground, they are the most important material and there- fore the primary object of investigation. Humans become raw material for humans, with all its consequences: “Since man is the most important raw material, one can reckon with the fact that some day factories will be built for the artificial breeding of human material, based on present-day chemical research.”

The principle of sufficient reason has its biggest application in technology. Everything that exists is prepared for production and is material for the needs of human subject.
The homo faber itself is also an object of technology. This means that the inventor and perfector of everything ingeniously perfects himself, thus completing human power. The application of technology to man implies the perfection of the inventor and cause of technology. Technology becomes the perspective on being as such.
Technology is always progress. It is a pursuit of permanent self-surpassing toward an endless goal.

Here lies the error of the technological ideal: it is unable to give meaning to the ‘now’ because it is always anticipating what is to come. This is because every present is seen as a pre-history, in which every- thing ever again is a means to an end in an endless future. Every present is, in principle, inferior from the perspective of future technical perfection. In this way, technological perfection carries along unspoken, destructive power with regard to every actual present.

Human being cannot overtake its own conditions of possibility which are more original and earlier.

Asking for the meaning of being means, according to Heidegger, asking for that which already precedes as the way or the space that makes man pos- sible as a historical being. This space is the ground on which everything rests, that which is already present and supports all entities." [Vedder, Heidegger's Philosophy of Religion]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:26 pm

Satyr, is there a way to buy a physical copy of your books MANifesto and The Feminization of Mankind? I actually was wondering the same question while thinking of buying a christmas present, but didn't ask for some reason. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:35 pm

Vrilseeker wrote:
Satyr, is there a way to buy a physical copy of your books MANifesto and The Feminization of Mankind? I actually was wondering the same question while thinking of buying a christmas present, but didn't ask for some reason. Smile

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat May 31, 2014 7:44 pm






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"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat May 31, 2014 7:44 pm


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:23 pm

There's a remark in there, where Dasein's attunement to Being is compared to tuning into a radio station at particular frequencies... and the presencing of the concealed, the opening of a world...

Not sure if I agree with that analogy...; what does anyone make of it?


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"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:39 am

Didn't watch the film...its too long. I may get to it at some point.

I can glean, from your comment, that what is being proposed is something I may agree with.

For me, self-awareness, the Know thyself, is the recognition of consciousness of the body that brings it about - makes it possible.
The mind begins as outwardly focused, and has no self-consciousness, other than sensations of feelings.
Self-consciousness is the beginning of integrating the mind/body divide.

Moderns prefer to nurture this divide, so as to escape the implications, because what is recognized is not necessarily pleasant, or flattering, or hopeful.
They create consciousness with no connection to the brain, love with no connection to lust, or to survival, no connection of value to judgment, or of beauty with symmetry and fitness...and so on.

They seek to broaden the divide so as to then settle upon the noetic, the spiritual, the idea(l), as the all-encompassing abstraction....free, eternal, not determined by a past/./nature, ion their fantasies...the sanctification of existence.
Whether they approach it as an external other (God), or from the immanent hidden, emerging through them, the idea(l) remains the same: absolute unity, immersion in a singularity.

I seek to integrate mind with body, to reconnect the noumenon with the phenomenon, because this takes this delusional artifice, this weapon, away form these cowards.

Consciousness IS the experience of otherness, rooted in brain processes.
Value IS the recognition of utility in otherness, based on need and projected object/objective.
Love IS a evolutionary mutation that offers a survival advantage.


And so on...

Whatever hue these Nihilists take, and whatever words they use, they remain the same.
And I remain here to remind them of what they are.


now back to the subject...
So, since consciousness proceeds from an outwardly focused sense to one where it recognizes, among this otherness, self, as the source of its own sensing - as a reflection - this recognition is determined by all the limitations and methods evolved to perceive.
therefore, one perceives self as an interpretation of (inter)activity, as if it were an other, creating this first delusion which Jaynes expanded upon, of a God, or a consciousness outside our consciousness.
Now, because the mind simplifies/generalizes interactivity using a many sensual methods, as form, color, tone, texture, and these are no more than interpretations of (inter)activity (energy, vibration, flux) the sophistication of the processing organ, the brain, determines the quality of this self-awareness.

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:37 pm

Heidegger wrote:
Thinking accomplishes the relation of being to the essence of the human being. It does not make or cause the relation. [Letter on Humanism]

Heidegger wrote:
[T]he essence of action is accomplishment. [Letter on Humanism]
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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:09 am

Looks like an interesting book:

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PostSubject: Re: Heidegger Sun Nov 06, 2016 3:17 pm

A thorough background to Heidegger's Hidden Sources: The Kyoto School.


Graham Parkes wrote:
"Reinhard May has argued on the basis of close textual comparisons that Heidegger’s formulations of his major thoughts on Being, Nothing, the clearing, and on the complex relations between language, Way, and Saying, were influenced by his readings of German translations of Daoist and Zen texts and his collaboration with Paul Shih-yi Hsiao on translating selected chapters from the Laozi. Since Heidegger was so reticent about his acquaintance with East Asian ideas, it is hard to determine when he first started reading in that area. While it is likely, given the intellectual milieu in which he grew up, that this acquaintance came early, the first confirmed instance so far is Petzet’s report of Heidegger’s consulting the Buber edition of the Zhuangzi in 1930, an event that indicates a prior familiarity with that text. This revelation should not perhaps have come as a major surprise in view of Heidegger’s general reticence with respect to the sources of his ideas. The present essay aims, as a complement to the preceding discussion of Heidegger’s hidden sources, to sketch some relevant background for readers unacquainted with Japanese thought, and in particular to convey a sense of the major figures in this context: Tanabe Hajime, Nishida Kitar , and Kuki Sh z.
The enormous enthusiasm for Heidegger’s ideas in East Asian philosophical circles, and the fact that his later thinking has so many patent affinities (some of which he himself acknowledges) with East Asian thought, suggest some kind of prior harmony. In view of the conclusions drawn by Reinhard May, one is forced to entertain the possibility that this harmony may have been occasioned by some quiet appropriation on Heidegger’s part.

Kuki wrote a draft of his best-known work, ‘Iki’ no k z (The Structure of ‘iki’); and when he left France in 1927, it was for Freiburg, to study phenomenology with Husserl—at whose home he would meet a young Dozent by the name of Martin Heidegger.

Another Japanese philosopher of note, Yamanouchi Tokury , went to study in Europe in 1921, as the first of several soon-to-be-eminent thinkers from Japan to make ‘the Freiburg pilgrimage’ to study with Husserl (and then Heidegger). The same age as Heidegger, Yamanouchi was a scholar of broad range who was one of the first to introduce phenomenology to Japan and would later initiate the formal study of Greek philosophy at Kyoto University. At Kyoto he had as a teacher and then senior colleague Nishida Kitar (1870–1945), a thinker whose epoch-making work Zen no kenky (An Inquiry into the Good) of 1911 is regarded as the first masterpiece of modern Japanese philosophical thought. Later, during the 1930s, Yamanouchi was to become one of the few thinkers of sufficient stature to challenge Nishida’s formidable philosophical system. The following year two more visitors—men destined to become major figures in modern Japanese philosophy—arrived in Germany: Tanabe Hajime and Miki Kiyoshi. Both were younger colleagues of ‘the Master’, Nishida. Miki went first to Heidelberg to work with Heinrich Rickert, and thence to Marburg to study with Heidegger after the latter’s move there in late 1923. Tanabe went to Berlin to work with Alois Riehl, but soon moved to Freiburg to study with Husserl. In Freiburg he was introduced to Heidegger who, though four years his junior, impressed him as brilliant.

Japanese commentators sometimes characterize in broad strokes the major difference between the philosophy of the so-called Kyoto School and the mainstream of the Western philosophical tradition by saying that, whereas European thought tends towards philosophies of life based upon inquiry into the nature of being, East Asian philosophies tend to lay greater emphasis on the topics of death and nothingness. This generalization can provide a preliminary orientation that is by no means misleading, especially since what makes Heidegger’s Being and Time such a revolutionary work is the central place it accords to das Nichts, as well as the ‘existential conception’ of death developed there—as confirmed by the crucial role these ideas play in Heidegger’s subsequent pursuit of the ‘question of Being’. It is thus an extremely interesting question to what extent Heidegger had already developed his ideas on nothingness and death by the time of his first contact with the ideas of the Kyoto School.

After his return to Japan in 1924, Tanabe published his essay ‘A New Turn in Phenomenology: Heidegger’s Phenomenology of Life’, the first substantial commentary on his thought to be published in any language.17 The essay is of particular interest since its concluding section gives us an idea of how Heidegger’s 1923 lecture course ended. (The transcript published in the Gesamtausgabe is said by the editor to be lacking the last page or two: ‘it breaks off suddenly in the middle of the train of thought’.) Missing from the transcript in the Gesamtausgabe—but prominent in the conclusion of Tanabe’s discussion of Heidegger’s phenomenology of life—is an account of the role played by the confrontation with death in the attainment of self-understanding.

Just as life is not merely a passage [of time], so death is not the mere termination or breaking off of such a passage. Rather death stands before Dasein as something inevitable. One can even say that it is precisely in the way life regards death and deals with it in its concern that life displays its way of being. If it flees from the death that stands before it as something inevitable, and wants to conceal and forget it in its concern with the world of relations, this is the flight of life itself in the face of itself—which means precisely that the ultimate possibility-of-being of life becomes an impossibility-of-being. On such a basis, to grasp Dasein in its primordial way of being is ultimately impossible.
Because the way in which Dasein is concerned with death—from which it would like to flee but cannot— informs its very way of being, one must rather emphasize that it is just there, where life voluntarily opens itself to certain death, that it is truly manifest to itself (JH 107–Cool.

It is an intriguing quirk of textual history that this account of Tanabe’s was for sixty-five years the sole source for Heidegger’s first words on the topic of death. It was only with the appearance in 1989 of the German text of the ‘Aristotle Introduction’ from October 1922 that his first written thoughts on death reached print. Judging from what has been published so far, there is no evidence that Heidegger had engaged the ideas of death and nothingness on an existential or ontological level before the ‘Aristotle Introduction’. And while the lectures from the summer semester of 1923 make cursory reference to such themes as das Man and Angst, there is no discussion of death or nothingness. The next public presentation of Heidegger’s ideas about death (after the winter course of 1923) would appear to be in his lecture ‘The Concept of Time’, which was delivered in July 1924 in Marburg.

It is interesting to compare Tanabe’s account of the 1923 lecture course with the relevant passages in the earlier ‘Aristotle Introduction’:

"Just as factical life...is not a process [Vorgang], so too death is not a termination of the kind that intrudes and cuts this process short. Death is something that stands in front of [bevor steht] factical life as something inevitable.... The forced lack of worry that characterizes life’s concern [Sorge] with its death culminates in a fleeing into ‘realworldly’ concerns [Besorgnisse]. But this looking-away from death is so little a grasping of life in itself that it becomes precisely life’s own evasion of life and its authentic being-character.... In the having of certain death (a having that takes hold), life becomes visible in itself."

The content (and even the style) of Tanabe’s account is quite similar. What appears to distinguish this later version is the talk of life’s ‘voluntarily [opening] itself to certain death’, which anticipates Heidegger’s later talk of openness with respect to death but is also characteristic of the Japanese bushid , the ‘way of the samurai warrior’, a mode of existence influenced by Buddhism and which is also ‘the way of death’.

It is clear that Heidegger, when he made Tanabe’s acquaintance, was already working towards the existential conception of death that would play such an important role in Being and Time; but it is possible that his encounter with this incisive and passionate thinker from the East Asian tradition stimulated him to develop his thinking about death along somewhat different lines from those he might otherwise have followed. Several circumstances tend to strengthen this supposition, the first of which requires a look forward in order to take a step back.

A consideration of the sources Heidegger cites in connection with the full- fledged treatment of the topic of death in Being and Time—Dilthey, Simmel, Jaspers (SZ 249, note 1)—reveals a number of familiar elements but nothing like the complex configuration of death and nothingness that so powerfully motivates the existential analysis of authentic temporality in that work. Heidegger lays special emphasis on the relevance of Jaspers’ conception of death as a Grenzsituation (‘limit-situation’), a topic he had discussed earlier in an essay from 1921 on Jaspers’ ground-breaking work Psychologie der Weltanschauungen, first published in 1919.23 In a discussion of Jaspers’ engagement with the problem of comprehending life in its totality, Heidegger quotes and paraphrases as follows:

‘The relation of the human being to its own death is different from that to all other transitoriness, only the nonbeing of the world as a whole is a comparable idea’. ‘Only the destruction of one’s own being or of the world as a whole is something total for the human being’. There is an ‘experiential relation to death’, which is not to be confused with a ‘general knowing about death’, only ‘when death has entered into experience [in das Erleben...getreten ist] as a limit-situation’, that is to say, ‘only where ‘consciousness of the limit and infinitude’ has not been lost.

Heidegger refrains from discussing these passages from Jaspers, but the concern with totality, an experiential relation to death, and the idea of death’s ‘entering into’ experience figure importantly in the existential conception of death that he would later elaborate in Being and Time. And indeed these passages are from the section of Jaspers’ book to which Heidegger draws special attention in the footnote at Sein und Zeit 249.

Heidegger’s citations in the ‘Anmerkungen’ break off on page 262 of the third edition of Psychologie der Weltanschauungen; on the next page Jaspers begins a discussion of the Buddhist attitude towards death, referring to Buddhism as ‘the classic example of the experience of transitoriness as the central experience influencing the whole attitude towards life [Lebensgesinnung]’ (263). Quoting from the Indian Ashvagosha, Jaspers gives an account of the Buddhist attitude towards death as thoroughly nihilistic and pessimistic—an account apparently influenced by the (rather unreliable) interpretations given by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. The Buddhists are said to renounce the world on account of its transitory nature: ‘Death is overcome in so far as everything that can die is experienced as an object of indifference’ (264–5). Their desire is for ‘the ultimate death’ that is found in release from the cycle of death and rebirth: ‘Death and transitoriness give rise in the Buddhists to a drive for the eternal reign of the peace of nothingness’ (265). While this attitude may be characteristic of certain schools of early (Hinayana) Buddhism, it is the antithesis—as we shall see —of the attitude towards death of later, Mahayana Buddhism.

Tanabe gives another retrospective account (in the late 1950s) of his enthusiastic discovery of Heidegger’s ideas about death, in his contribution to the Festschrift for the latter’s seventieth birthday. He begins by contrasting the general inclination towards philosophies of life in the Western tradition with the more ‘death-oriented’ approach characteristic of East Asian philosophies. For philosophers in the Buddhist tradition, ‘in thinking of the enigmatic inevitability of death, the ephemerality and fragility of life pervade us to the very marrow’ (‘Todesdialektik’, 93–4).
For this reason, Tanabe continues, he had always been dissatisfied in his studies of Western philosophy—until he went to Freiburg. He goes on to recall how deeply impressed he was to discover, on first attending Heidegger’s lectures, ‘that in his thinking a meditation on death had become central to philosophy and supported it from the ground up. I could not help feeling that I had now found a way to the philosophy I had been seeking’. Tanabe’s lifelong concern with the philosophy of religion:

Christianity had interested him intensely during his school days, and he devoted most of his later career to religious philosophy, undertaking numerous comparisons between Christianity and Japanese Buddhism. It is reasonable to suppose that, at the time he met Heidegger, ‘the philosophy [Tanabe] had been seeking’ already comprised the problem of death, and that the discovery that Heidegger was working a number of existential concerns into his ‘phenomenology of life’ showed him that such topics could be engaged philosophically as well as on a personal level.

Otto Pöggeler has shown the relevance of Heidegger’s early engagement with Augustine, Luther, and Kierkegaard for the existential analytic he was to develop in Being and Time, and their ideas were no doubt an influence on his conceptions of anxiety, death, and nothingness.28 John Van Buren has provided more details in an informative essay on Heidegger’s early engagement with ‘primal Christianity’.

There is also a striking prefiguration of Heidegger’s idea of Vorlaufen in den Tod (SZ, § 53) in Augustine, who characterizes ‘the time of this life’ as a ‘running to death’ (cursus ad mortem; Lauf in den Tod), a phrase reiterated by Luther. Heidegger is spectacularly grudging in his cursory acknowledgement of Kierkegaard for having developed the concept of anxiety. In view of Tanabe’s early interest in the religion, Heidegger’s prolonged concern with the ‘factical experience of life’ in Christianity not long before the former’s arrival would make it all the more likely that the two thinkers would spark one another’s philosophical interest in the topic of death.

In the course of frequent discussions of Heidegger, Tanabe criticizes his conceptions of death and nothingness as being insufficiently radical. He implies an elitist quality to Heidegger’s account of the way an appropriate confrontation with death leads to authentic existence, suggesting that the resolute facing of death is a way open only to ‘sages and heroes’ (85).

Heidegger’s conception is of ‘a death interpreted entirely from the standpoint of life, a nothingness interpreted from the standpoint of being’. In laying out his ‘positive’ ideas about ‘living as one who is dead’, Tanabe allows that ‘Heidegger’s position is somewhat similar to Zen imperatives’ such as ‘Die to yourself once and for all!’ and ‘Above all else, the Great Death!’ (161–2). Tanabe’s own position, based on the notion of ‘Other-power’ (tariki) developed in Shin Buddhism and thus attainable by ‘ordinary ignorant people’, may be summed up as a ‘dialectic of death and life’ in which ‘just as death does not follow life but is already within life itself, so is life restored within death and mediated by it’. Tanabe’s engagement with the problem of death here and in other works shows that the issue increases in importance as his thinking matures, while in Heidegger’s thought it tends to diminish.

Tanabe continued to develop in print his ideas on ‘the enigmatic inevitability of death, the ephemerality and fragility of life’ in a work entitled Existenz, Love, and Praxis (1947) in which he proposes that philosophy return to the Socratic conception of the discipline as ‘practice for death’. He goes on to link this conception with similar understandings from the Christian tradition as well as with the samurai idea of ‘the way of death’.

An even closer accommodation between Buddhism and Christianity on the topic of death is attempted in the later essay ‘Memento Mori’ (1958), where the notion of life-death (sh ji ichinyo)—a perpetual death-and-resurrection within every moment of life—becomes the crux.35 One of Tanabe’s formulations of this idea is remarkably similar to a locution Heidegger uses (borrowing from Rilke) in the essay ‘What Are Poets For?’ In tackling the question of how death can be incorporated into life without leading to nihilism and suicide, Tanabe writes:

The reason we have been driven to life’s self-contradiction is that we have unreflectingly pursued life’s direct enjoyment, and as a result have lost the self-perception that life is always ‘backed’ by death and that we do not know when these two sides will be reversed, with death appearing in front and life driven to the rear. It is a result of going against the injunction ‘Forget not death’ and of forgetting death. Heidegger’s understanding of death, he argues, is not radical enough and fails to reach as deeply as his (Tanabe’s) own ‘dialectics of death’ which is based on a late Buddhist understanding of the interfusion of life and death and is elaborated this time by way of a quasiHegelian dialectic.

Tanabe would also make the idea of zettai mu (absolute nothingness) central to the philosophy of religion he develops in his mature thought—even though his different understanding of the idea became a major point of contention in his subsequent philosophical disagreements with Nishida.40
At the conclusion of a chapter of An Inquiry into the Good entitled The Phenomena of Consciousness as the Sole Reality’ (Chapter 6), Nishida suggests that—by contrast with situations in the physical world under the law of causality —in consciousness something can arise out of nothing. In a chapter dealing with his conception of God as the ground of reality, he follows the via negativa of Nicholas of Cusa and the idea of God as total negation: ‘From this standpoint, God is absolute nothingness’ (Chapter 7). He goes on to say that ‘precisely because He is able to be nothingness, there is no place whatsoever where he is not present, no place where he is not at work’. And in the context of a later invocation of Nicholas of Cusa and Jacob Boehme, Nishida writes:

Nothingness separated from being is not true nothingness; the one separated from the all is not the true one; equality separated from distinction is not true equality. In the same way that if there is no God there is no world, if there is no world there is no God.

In the course of the next decade or so, Nishida continued to grapple with the problem of how, in consciousness, something appears to arise from nothing, in the context of an ongoing analysis of the nature of ‘creative will’. The discussion in Intuition and Reflection in Self-Consciousness (1917), which actually refers more to Western sources (such as Boehme and Pseudo-Dionysius, Fichte and Bergson) than to East Asian ones, emphasizes the close connection between creative will and nothingness.
To say that the will comes from, and returns to, creative nothingness ... seems to be in serious contradiction with the law of causality. However, there is no fact more immediate and indubitable than the birth of being from non-being, which occurs constantly in the actuality of our experience.... When we penetrate to the immediacy of that creative act which produces being from nothingness, letting no [logical/scientific] explanations overlay it, we find absolute free will. ...If thought thus creates natural reality, it is itself in turn created by will, the immediate, absolute process of creation. Beneath these apparently solid cognitive activities, being is constantly being produced by nothingness.

Later in the same work Nishida speaks again, alluding perhaps to the Laozi, of a ‘birth of being from non-being’:

At this level of immediate experience causal thinking has no place; being is born from nothingness....
Like our will, which is nothingness while it is being, and being while it is nothingness, this world transcends even the categories of being and nothingness...for here being is born from nothingness (157, 166).

Given that Nishida was well read in the Chinese classics and was especially fond of the Laozi and Zhuangzi, this familiarity would explain his use of locutions concerning being’s being born from nothingness even in the context of an explication in terms of Western philosophical concepts.44
Nishida further develops his ideas about the self as ‘absolute will’ in a work from 1920, Ishiki no mondai (The Problem of Consciousness), where he writes that the true self ‘exists at the juncture of being and non-being’ and that the world of will ‘emerges from nothingness and enters back into nothingness’.

But it is in the essays from the next few years, which were eventually published in 1927 under the title Hataraku mono kara miru mono e (From the Acting to the Seeing), that Nishida elaborates his central idea of the ‘topos of nothingness’ (mu no basho) as the fons et origo of all reality. These essays, the earliest of which were written while Tanabe was with Heidegger in Freiburg, unfold the idea of a ‘true nothingness’ that is not relative to being but is rather a field or ‘activity’ (the influence of Fichte’s idea of Tathandlung is evident here) that embraces both being and non-being. The deepest ground of the will is again referred to as a ‘creative nothingness’ but more often as ‘absolute nothingness’ (zettai mu).

Heidegger scholars assume without question that the revolutionary understanding of nothingness presented in Being and Time came out of his creative ‘destruction’ of the history of Western ontology. Reinhard May has shown the remarkable similarity between the locutions in which Heidegger develops the topos of Nichts relative to the topoi of Sein and Lichtung in his middle and later periods; but the similarity of the earlier formulations to Nishida’s ideas is just as remarkable. While the documentation that would decide the question appears to be lacking, there is one consideration that militates in favour of the possibility that Heidegger learned of, and was influenced by, the idea of nothingness that was being developed by Nishida during the 1920s—and which would come to assume, in the form of ‘absolute nothingness’, a central place in the philosophy of the Kyoto School.

What makes this topic in the comparative history of ideas even more complicated, as well as more interesting, is that a strain of Asian thinking about nothingness feeds into the Western tradition, and into German philosophy in particular, from the end of the eighteenth century. Near the end of ‘What Is Metaphysics?’, Heidegger quotes with approval, though not without qualification, Hegel’s well-known formulation in Book I of the Science of Logic: ‘Pure Being and pure Nothing are the same’. It is significant in the present context that Hegel follows this equation with a pointed reference to Buddhist thought that Heidegger could not have overlooked: ‘In oriental systems, and especially in Buddhism, nothingness, or the void [das Leere], is the absolute principle’. We find another reference to Asian ideas of nothingness in Schelling, on whom Heidegger began to give seminars in 1928 (with Kuki Sh z auditing the first). In The Philosophy of Mythology Schelling writes of Laozi’s notion of nothingness as follows:

The great art or wisdom of life consists precisely in attaining this pure potential, which is nothing and yet at the same time all. The entire Dao de jing is concerned with showing, through a great variety of the most pregnant tropes, the great and insuperable power of non-being.

A more immediate (though generally unremarked) precursor with respect to a radical notion of nothingness is Max Scheler, whom Heidegger refers to often in his lectures from the 1920s, as well as in Being and Time. In his essay ‘Vom Wesen der Philosophie’ of 1917, Scheler proposed as the fundamental basis of philosophical activity the insight ‘that there is anything at all or, put more precisely, that “there is not nothing” (whereby the word “nothing”...means absolute nothing...)’.

After a discussion of how the circumstance that ‘there isn’t nothing’ prompts philosophical wonderment, Scheler goes on to say: ‘Whoever has not looked into the abyss of absolute nothing in this way will also completely overlook the eminently positive nature of the content of the insight that there is anything at all and not rather nothing’.

This phrasing will be familiar to those acquainted with Heidegger’s writings on the topic from the late 1920s and mid-1930s. In a discussion of religious activity in the essay ‘Problems of Religion’ (1920), Scheler returns to the topic of absolute nothing:

To believe in ‘nothing’ is something quite different from not believing. It is —as evidenced by the powerful emotional impact that the thought of ‘nothing’ exercises on our soul—a highly positive state of the spirit. Absolute nothing is to be sharply distinguished from every merely relative nothing as a phenomenon. Absolute nothing is not-being-something and not- existing in one, in utter unity and simplicity.

In a footnote at this point Scheler says that this unity distinguishes absolute nothing from the Buddhist idea of nirvana, which he (mis-) understands as ‘merely freedom and redemption from the actual world’. Although Scheler’s enterprise is more explicitly religious than Heidegger’s, his talk later in the same paragraph of ‘metaphysical Angst’ and ‘religious Schauder in the face of absolute nothing’ is a striking anticipation of Heidegger’s formulations several years later. Otto Pöggeler reports Heidegger’s saying to him that the Japanese had, much to his surprise, introduced something into the discussion of das Nichts that had not previously occurred to him—a most interesting remark, even though it is unclear at what point on his path of thinking this introduction may have occurred. The crucial question here is at what point Heidegger read hazama and Faust’s Zen: Der lebendige Buddhismus in Japan (1925).

The question bears directly on the foregoing discussion of nothingness, since hazama’s introduction, which includes a comprehensive overview of the development of Mahayana Buddhism, makes it perfectly clear that the Buddhist conceptions of nirvana and nothingness are by no means nihilistic or worlddenying. (He gives accounts of such key figures as N g rjuna, Rinzai, D gen, Bash , and Hakuin.) The idea of ‘perfect’ or ‘consummate’ nothing (muichimotsu, vollendetes Nichts) comes up again and again in the Zen texts translated in this volume—as when the Zen master Hakuin writes of one who has seen into his own nature: ‘Then his own being is nothing other/than the nature of consummate nothingness,/and is sublimely elevated over the play of thinking’.

Hazama offers numerous explanations of this consummate nothingness, and Heidegger will also have been intrigued by his explication of the ‘twenty-fold’ nothingness in the Prajñ p ramit S tra. Kuki was already acquainted with Heidegger’s philosophy, since it is mentioned in the first draft of his manuscript on the idea of iki, which he had completed in Paris the previous year. His Haidegg no tetsugaku (The Philosophy of Heidegger) from 1933 would be the first book-length study of Heidegger’s thought to be published in any language.

Among the Japanese thinkers who visited Heidegger in the 1920s it was Kuki who seems to have made the most forceful impression. In The Structure of ‘iki’ Kuki distinguishes three ‘moments’ in the notion of iki, which he sees as being distinctive of East Asian cultures, and of Japanese culture in particular.69 He goes on to suggest, however, that the French ‘coquetterie’, supplemented by connotations of ‘chic’, ‘elegance’, and ‘refinement’, comes close to capturing the first of the three moments (IK 11–12). This coquetry has to do with a sexual attraction between a man and a woman that is cultivated without being consummated, and is defined as ‘a dualistic attitude in which the unitary self posits the other sex opposite itself, constituting a possible relationship between itself and the other sex’ (IK 17).

Since the paradigm for this first moment is to be found in the relationship between the geisha and her patron in the ‘gay quarter’ of Yoshiwara in eighteenth-century Tokyo, it is not surprising that one finds no mention of this central aspect of iki in Heidegger’s ‘Conversation’. Indeed it would be hard to imagine an atmosphere more remote from Heidegger’s milieu than the ‘floating world’ of Edo-period Japan. The only feature of this moment that might have appealed to him is Kuki’s emphasis on coquetry as embodying the possibility of sexual union and his insistence that the phenomenon is destroyed if the possibility is allowed to become an actuality.

The other two moments of iki, into which coquetry can be, as it were, sublimated, are the ideal of bushid , the ‘way of the samurai warrior’, and the ‘resignation’ (akirame) of Buddhism. Kuki writes: ‘Within iki the ideal of bushido is still very much alive’ (IK 19); and while he elucidates this ideal as a sublimation of the first moment with reference to the resolute pride of the geisha, it is important for our purposes to note that the major maxim of bushido is: ‘The way of the samurai is the way of death’. While the basic idea here is the warrior’s willingness to sacrifice his life for his lord, the more existential aspect of it is exemplified in the way the attitude of the warrior on entering combat is generalized to the rest of his behaviour: only by totally extirpating the drive for self-preservation, by fully embracing his death in advance, will the warrior be capable of fighting at the top of his form.

After his time in Marburg, Kuki went back to France, and in August 1928 he delivered two lectures in French at a colloquium at Pontigny under the title ‘Propos sur le temps’. In the first talk, ‘The Notion of Time and Repetition in Oriental Time’, Kuki deals mainly with Hindu and Buddhist ideas of temporality, but he also discusses bushido. The talk begins with a reference to Heidegger’ s contention in Being and Time that “‘the primordial phenomenon” of time is the future...the Sich-vorweg-sein (being-ahead-of-itself)’. It is possible that Heidegger was already acquainted with bushido, perhaps from conversations with Tanabe, but assuming that ‘the way of death’ came up in his conversations with Kuki, there must have been astonishment on both sides at the parallels with the existential conception of death in Being and Time. This characterization of the idea of ‘running forward’ to engage one’s death, in particular, reads like a passage from a Zen swordsmanship manual:

When Dasein by running forward to its death lets death assume power over it, it understands itself, free for death, in the superior power of its own finite freedom in order to...become clear-sighted for whatever might befall in the situation thus revealed.... Only a being that is essentially futural in its being, such that, free for its death and shattering itself [zerschellend] against it, it can let itself be thrown back on to its actual situation...can be momentary [augenblicklich] for ‘its time’.

One of the earlier sources in Europe for an understanding of bushido was the work of Kuki’s mentor Okakura Kakuzo, who introduced many of the underlying principles of Japanese culture to the West with the publication in English of The Ideals of the East with Special Reference to the Art of Japan in 1903. Kuki’s second set of propos opens with a reference to Okakura, and he could hardly have talked with Heidegger about Japanese art without recommending his mentor’s work.75 Heidegger certainly came across Okakura’s name later, when he read Zen: Der lebendige Buddhismus in Japan, in the preface to which the editor recommends Okakura’s Die Ideale des Ostens (Leipzig 1923) as ‘a beautiful introduction to the history of Japanese culture’ (p. xi).

Heinrich Petzet also cites Okakura in the context of a discussion of Heidegger’s acquaintance with Asian thought. Apparently, Heidegger came to be very interested in Chinese and Japanese art, and when Petzet had to write a review of an exhibition of Zen paintings and drawings, Heidegger ‘brought [his] attention to the literature on the subject that seemed to him important’. Assuming that works by Okakura were among the literature Heidegger thought important, he will have learned from them much about Daoism and the Zen- inspired arts of Japan, such as Noh drama and tanka and haiku poetry (with which he was certainly familiar by the time he wrote the dialogue with the Japanese visitor). He would in any case have been introduced to these things by Kuki, since they figure prominently in the text of his talk on Japanese art.

To return to the idea of iki: the third moment, briefly, has to do with Buddhist resignation. Kuki writes that the ‘background’ of iki comprises two aspects:

The Buddhist worldview, which regards the ephemeral and impermanent as the realm of distinctions and emptiness and nirvana as that of assimilations, and also the religious view that preaches resignation in the face of evil and detached contemplation of fate (IK 21).

This idea of Kuki’s may be the pretext for Heidegger’s introduction of the idea of Leere (emptiness) into the ‘Conversation’—though in connection with Noh drama, an art form far removed from the milieu of the Edo period exemplified by iki. If we recall that Tezuka, in his account of his hour with Heidegger, mentions Kuki only at the beginning and briefly, and says nothing whatsoever about the idea of iki, it seems likely that the ‘Conversation’ is indeed ‘a kind of confession’ in which Heidegger finally acknowledges his acquaintance with Japanese ideas to which Kuki had introduced him almost thirty years earlier.

Another factor making the milieu of Marburg more conducive to research into things East Asian was the presence on the faculty there, when Heidegger joined it in 1923, of Rudolf Otto, a scholar famous for his research on mysticism and the idea of the numinous. Heidegger had long been interested in the texts of Meister Eckhart, and so he no doubt read an article Otto published in 1925 comparing Eckhart’s ideas with Eastern mysticism.

This topic would receive an extended discussion in Otto’s Mysticism East and West, the first German edition of which was published the following year. Also in 1925, Otto wrote a foreword to hazama and Faust’s anthology, in which he speaks of Zen as the basis for the samurai code of bushido (pp. iv-v). He begins the foreword with a reference to his own earlier discussion of Zen based on texts published in The Eastern Buddhist (p. iii), a venerable journal founded in Kyoto shortly after the turn of the century. In that earlier essay Otto reports that Japanese philosophers consider Eckhart (as they do to this day) to be the Western thinker who comes closest to Zen.

By 1927, then, Heidegger had engaged in philosophical dialogue with three of the greatest thinkers of twentieth-century Japan, whose formidable intellects covered a range of fields: philosophy of science and religion (Tanabe), social and political thought (Miki), and metaphysics and aesthetics (Kuki). He had been introduced to the philosophy of Nishida, and had had ample opportunity to learn about the Buddhist idea of nothingness, the affinity between Meister Eckhart and Zen, and the basic ideas of Daoist thought.

In a pronouncement that could have issued from the pen of a commentator on the thinker-poet Bash (in whose work Heidegger developed a keen interest), he writes: ‘In the poetizing of the poet and the thinking of the thinker, there is always so much world-space bestowed that in it any thing whatsoever—a tree, a mountain, a house, a bird-call—completely loses its indifference and ordinariness’. In the light of Heidegger’s contact with Nishida’s ideas (as mediated by Tanabe and probably also by Kuki), an obscure but central passage in ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ becomes clearer. In the course of a discussion of truth as the unconcealment produced by the struggle of world and earth, Heidegger says more about the Lichtung, the illuminated clearing that in Being and Time had been equated with Dasein and which now appears co-extensive with Sein itself and das Nichts.
Beings stand in Being [Das Seiende steht im Sein]….

And yet, beyond beings—though not away from them but this side of them —something Other is happening. Amidst beings in totality there is an open space. A clearing is there. From the perspective of beings it is ‘beinger’ than beings [seiender als das Seiende]. The open middle is thus not surrounded by beings, but the central illumining clearing itself encircles— like the Nothing we hardly know—all that is (PLT 53/Hw 41).

Here, complementary to the Daoist ideas, is something like the Zen Buddhist idea of nothingness: mu, or k —emptiness, distinct but not different from form. Heidegger’s Lichtung may be seen as the German version of Nishida’s mu no basho, or topos of nothingness.90 Nishida had begun in the mid-1920s to use a striking image to express the way the topos of absolute nothingness ‘backs’ or ‘lines’ all the other spheres of human activity and thought, in the way the lining of a garment completes it but remains invisible from the outside.

The topic of Heidegger’s relations to Nishida is a fascinating one that calls for more research. D, T.Suzuki reports that in a conversation with Heidegger in 1953 he asked him what he thought of Nishida’s philosophy; Heidegger’s response was: ‘Nishida is Western’.

After this highly productive period from 1935 to 1936, another visitor from Japan arrived, Nishitani Keiji, a student of Nishida’s with an intense interest in Nietzsche. Nishitani was to stay in Germany until 1938, attending Heidegger’s seminars in Freiburg and having many informal conversations with him at his home.96 Nishitani relates how in 1938 he presented Heidegger with a copy of the first volume of D.T.Suzuki’s Essays in Zen Buddhism, only to find that he had already read the book and was eager to discuss it. In conversation in Kyoto in 1989, Professor Nishitani recounted how Heidegger had given him ‘a standing invitation’ to come to his house on Saturday afternoons to talk about Zen. Heidegger was apparently most interested in the striking imagery that characterizes so many of the classical Zen texts. He would have found excellent examples in the hazama and Faust collection, which translates excerpts from such works as The Gateless Gate (Mumonkan) and The Blue Cliff Records (Hekiganroku) that are rife with wild Zen imagery. Nishitani also concurs with other East Asian interlocutors in saying that Heidegger was always an avid and insightful questioner when it came to the topic of Asian thought.98 In a brief note written on the occasion of Heidegger’s death,
Nishitani made the following pregnant observation:

With respect to metaphysics Heidegger wanted to go a step further and inquire into what lies beneath it. It became clear that this attempt made direct contact with Eastern insights, such as those of Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Zen Buddhism. For this reason Heidegger used to question me about Zen Buddhism.
Let me conclude by remarking upon an interesting reaction to some of Heidegger’s middle period works on the part of Karl Jaspers, who is an important figure in this story as a long-standing friend of Heidegger’s whose admiration for Asian thought was as open as the latter’s was concealed. Jaspers was spending the summer of 1949 in the ‘Nietzsche country’, when he wrote to Heidegger from St Moritz on 6 August to thank him for sending three recently published books: the new edition of What Is Metaphysics? with the introduction and afterword, and the second editions of On the Essence of Truth and the Letter on Humanism.100 Jaspers writes:

Many questions arise for me. I have still not managed to get to the mid- point of the whole thing. It helps somewhat to think of Asian ideas, which I’ve been interested in for years, knowing well that I lack a penetrating understanding, and yet finding myself wonderfully stimulated from that direction. Your ‘Being’, the ‘clearing of Being’, your reversal of our relation to Being into Being’s relation to us, the remainder of Being itself— I seem to have perceived something of the sort in Asia. That you are driving toward that at all, and—according to your interpretation of Being and Time—always have done, is extraordinary.

Nor is it surprising that Heidegger should decline to take up the cue.
What you say about Asian ideas is exciting [aufregend]: a Chinese who attended my lectures on Heraclitus and Parmenides from 1943–44 [Paul Hsiao] also found resonances with Eastern thinking. Where I am unfamiliar with the language I remain sceptical [skeptisch]; and I became all the more so when the Chinese, who is himself a Christian theologian and philosopher, translated a few verses of Laotse with me. Through questioning I learned how completely alien that kind of language [Sprachwesen] is; we then abandoned the attempt. Nevertheless there is something very exciting here, and in my opinion something essential for the future.... The resonances presumably have a quite different root: since 1910 I have been accompanied by the master of learning and life Eckhardt; this and the ever-renewed attempt to think through the to gar auto noein estin te kai einai of Parmenides; the constant question of the auto, which is neither noein nor einai; the lack of the subject-object relationship in the Greeks brought me—along with my own thinking—to something that looks like a turn-around [Umkehrung] and yet is something different and prior.

It is clear from the second half of the paragraph that what Heidegger finds ‘exciting’ is the prospect of exploring the nature of Asian languages and ideas, rather than his friend’s finding resonances between Heidegger’s ideas and Asian thought. (Though one could perhaps stretch the meaning of aufregend to take it to suggest that Heidegger finds Jaspers’ association of his thinking with Asian ideas annoying.)
While Heidegger’s point about Meister Eckhart and the Greeks is well taken, there is nevertheless still something disingenuous about his deprecatory account of the translation project with Paul Hsiao and his peremptory dismissal of Jaspers’ finding of resonances with Asian ideas. Given his familiarity with Daoism two decades before (at the time of the composition of the first two texts he had sent Jaspers), and that by ten years earlier he had become quite familiar— through the tutelage of Nishitani—with Zen ideas, Heidegger’s flat denial of any ‘resonances with Eastern thinking’ speaks volumes.
Jaspers actually mentions ‘Laotse’ in his subsequent reply; but since this elicits no further comment he sensibly drops the topic.

In a discussion of the term Ereignis in ‘Der Satz der Identität’ (1957), Heidegger writes that the word ‘can no more be translated than the Greek word logos or the Chinese Tao’. At the time, few readers of the essay would have known that Heidegger was speaking from experience—having spent a summer, ten years earlier, working with Paul Hsiao on translating chapters of the Laozi containing the word dao.104 In 1958 Heidegger completed the essay ‘Das Wesen der Sprache’, and Reinhard May has shown how the two paragraphs on Tao, ‘the key word in the poetic thinking of Laotse’ (WL 92/US 198), shed light on Heidegger’s frequent use of the key word Weg in his writings before and since. Finally, an essay ‘Grundsätze des Denkens’, published in a journal the same year —and not included in any subsequent edition of Heidegger’s works—cites the line from the Laozi’. ‘Whoever knows his brightness veils himself in his darkness’.

In the essay ‘Science and Reflection’ from 1953, Heidegger emphasizes that every meditation on the present situation must be rooted in ‘our historical Dasein’ by way of ‘a dialogue with the Greek thinkers and their language’—and laments that such a dialogue has not yet begun.106 He then adds, almost in passing: ‘[This dialogue] has hardly even been prepared yet, and remains in turn the precondition for our inevitable dialogue with the East Asian world’. Despite its putative inevitability, the Inquirer in the ‘Conversation’ expresses doubts as to the very possibility of such a dialogue, on the grounds that if language is the house of Being ‘we Europeans presumably inhabit a quite different house from the East Asians’ (WL 5/US 90).

I do not yet see whether what I am trying to think as the essential nature [Wesen] of language is also adequate to the nature of East Asian language —whether in the end, which would at the same time be the beginning, thinking experience can be reached by an essence of language that would ensure that Western European and East Asian saying can enter into dialogue in such a way that there sings something that wells up from a single source [Quelle] (WL 8/US 94).

Later in the conversation the Inquirer appears to be more convinced that ‘for East Asian and European peoples the essential nature of language (Sprachwesen) remains quite different’ (WL 23/US 113). The Japanese visitor, however, seems decidedly more sanguine. In talking about his experience of translating Heidegger’s essay on Hölderlin’s Heimkunft and some poems by Kleist, he says:

In the course of the translating it often seemed as if I were wandering back and forth between two different language-essences, and yet in such a way that every now and then something shone forth that made me think that the essential source [Wesensquell] of fundamentally different languages might be the same.

Since ‘the Japanese’ in this dialogue is at least ninety per cent Heidegger, we can understand this discrepancy as representing genuine ambivalence on the part of the author rather than a burst of objective reportage or a sudden access of ability to write dramatic dialogue.

In the context of a discussion of the possibility of ‘planetary thinking’ in ‘Zur Seinsfrage’ (1955), Heidegger remarks that neither side is equal yet to the encounters that the cultivation of planetary thinking will require: ‘This holds equally for the European and East Asian languages, and above all for the realm of their possible dialogue. Neither of them can by itself open up and ground this realm’ (QB 107/Wm 252). A hint of how this realm might begin to be opened up is given in a passage quoted earlier from the 1959 essay ‘Hölderlins Erde und Himmel’, where Heidegger speaks in vatic tones of the ‘great beginning’ of Western thought.

There can of course be no going back to it. Present as something waiting over against us, the great beginning becomes something small. But nor can this small something remain any longer in its Western isolation. It is opening itself to the few other great beginnings that belong with their Own to the Same of the beginning of the infinite relationship, in which the earth is included.108
The opening anticipated here must at the very least be an opening to the ‘great beginning’ of East Asian thought, wherever one locates it.

There is more talk of beginnings in the open letter of 1963 to Kojima Takehiko, also quoted earlier, where Heidegger writes of the necessity for ‘the step back’ (der Schritt zurück) if human beings are to escape the domination of positivism, as exemplified in the tendency for das Stellen, and find the way by which they can come into their own:

The step back does not mean a flight of thinking into bygone ages, and least of all a reanimation of the beginnings of Western philosophy. ... The step back is rather the step out of the track in which the progress and regress of ordering [Bestellen] take place (JH 224).

Backtracking, a step off the path could well bring us back to one of those ‘other great beginnings’ mentioned earlier—and would thus be a prime instance of reculer pour mieux sauter. Confirmation for this surmise would appear to come from a remark Heidegger made two years later in the Der Spiegel interview of 1966, where he alludes to the possibility that ‘some day there might surface in Russia and in China ancient traditions of a “thinking” that might help make it possible for human beings to have a free relationship to the technical world’.109 Advocates of philosophical dialogue with East Asian traditions will be disappointed, however, by Heidegger’s next move with respect to this issue (a page later), which seems to constitute a less helpful Schritt zurück. He is responding to a query about an earlier pronouncement of his concerning the ‘question mark placed before the task of the Germans’ by Hölderlin and Nietzsche:

I am convinced that it is only from the same part of the world in which the world of modern technology arose that a reversal can come about, and that it cannot happen by way of an adoption of Zen Buddhism or any other oriental experience of the world. In order to think differently we need the help of the European tradition and a reappropriation of it. Thinking is only transformed by a thinking that is of the same descent and provenance.

As a dismissal of a naive substitution of Eastern wisdom for Western thinking, this passage is clearly unobjectionable. However, the point of a number of Heidegger’s earlier and later remarks on this topic seems to be precisely that a proper ‘reappropriation’ of the European tradition would occur by way of a ‘step back out of [that] track’ and an opening towards an ‘other great beginning’—and that at this point in its history European thinking requires the injection of ideas from an other source. A psychologically inclined hermeneutics would want to ask what complex prompted Heidegger to bring up the topic of Zen Buddhism, which he had never mentioned in four decades of published works, only to dismiss its relevance in a tone that smacks of Eurocentric isolationism. This talk of a unilateral reappropriation of the European tradition rings somewhat hollow in view of the preceding pronouncements concerningthe unfeasibility of precisely that—and the desirability of a bilateral approach involving East Asian thought.

This sole mention of Zen Buddhism recalls a reference to it by a German friend of Heidegger’s, as recounted in the often dismissed anecdote by William Barrett: ‘A German friend of Heidegger told me that one day when he visited Heidegger he found him reading one of Suzuki’s books. “If I understand this man correctly”, Heidegger remarked, “this is what I have been trying to say in all my writings”’. This book was probably the first volume of Suzuki’s Essays in Zen Buddhism, which contains several discussions of the Buddhist notion of nothingness as well as numerous references to Meister Eckhart, and which Nishitani in 1938 discovered Heidegger already owned. In any case, Heidegger’s remark takes on a new significance in the light of his familiarity with the contents of the hazama and Faust volume.

Suspicions that Heidegger may be speaking differently to a domestic audience and to the Japanese are confirmed by a passage written in 1968, in which he appears to be optimistic again about the possibility of opening up a realm for thinking dialogue between the cultures. In the foreword to the Japanese translation of his lecture ‘Zur Frage nach der Bestimmung der Sache des Denkens’ he writes:
By thinking the clearing and characterizing it adequately, we reach a realm that can perhaps make it possible to bring a transformed European thinking into a fruitful engagement with East Asian ‘thinking’. Such an engagement could help with the task of saving the essential nature of human being from the threat of an extreme technological reduction and manipulation of human Dasein.

Given the importance of that task, and Heidegger’s dialogue with Japanese philosophers over a period of forty years, one would like to read the ‘doves’ feet’ (as they are called in German) around the second ‘thinking’ not as indicative of second-rate thought but as acknowledging a difference between equals.

Even at this stage of the investigation, the conclusion is unavoidable that Heidegger was less than generous in acknowledging how much he learned from the East Asian tradition. But what is most important here are the implications for how we read Heidegger’s texts—especially as more comparative studies are undertaken, but also in the context of the Western tradition simpliciter. The possibility that he may have absorbed a considerable amount from an alien philosophical but non- metaphysical tradition prompts, at the very least, the adoption of a different perspective on Heidegger’s claims—however justified they may be—to have overcome or subverted the tradition of Western metaphysics.

In the absence of confirmatory texts (letters, transcripts, and so on), scholars with a stake in regarding Heidegger’s philosophy as exclusively Western in its genealogy may persist in taking the similarities between his ideas and those of his Japanese colleagues as purely coincidental. Taken on its own, the present essay could then be understood as a study of oneof those remarkable coincidences in the history of ideas, where similar patterns of thinking are developed simultaneously by different thinkers in the absence of any influence. But as a complement to the evidence adduced by Reinhard May in the main body of this volume, this essay is a call for a reorientation of our assessment of Heidegger’s place in the ‘planetary thinking’ that is beginning to appear on our horizons as the millennium draws near." [Rising sun over Black Forest: Heidegger’s Japanese connections, in Reinhard May, Heidegger’s hidden sources]

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