Nothing in Excess
Heidegger's Hidden Sources
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|Subject: Heidegger's Hidden Sources Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:32 pm|| |
- Reinhard, May wrote:
1But if human language is in the word, only then is it in order. If it is in order, there is a chance of access to the hidden sources.a
1 We are indebted to Chang Chung-yuan,1 Paul Shih-yi Hsiao,2 Tezuka Tomio,3Hans A.Fischer-Barnicol,4 and Heinrich Wiegand Petzet,5b as well as to others
among Heidegger’s contemporaries for manifold indications of his interest in East Asian thought, and in Daoism and Zen Buddhism especially. We are also informed about Heidegger’s numerous contacts with the East Asian world, with a world to which, according to Petzet, he felt himself drawn and ‘which gladly
accepted him’ (P 166/175f). Neither Heidegger’s interest nor his contacts have been contested; moreover, Petzet remarks that Heidegger was also familiar with
East Asian thinking.6 Heidegger himself draws our attention to his acquaintance with this topic, in so far as he speaks directly, in several passages in works from
the 1950s that have been published, about ‘East Asian language’, the notion of dao, and Laozi (Lao Tzu).7c All this is known well enough.
Less well known are two further references to Laozi. First, we learn from Petzet that Heidegger quoted a large part of Jan Ulenbrook’s translation of Chapter 47 of the Laozi in a letter to Ernst Jünger (P 182/191). Petzet does not, however, note that Heidegger departs from Ulenbrook’s translation8 in the fourth line of his citation and apparently gives his own version at this point: instead of Ulenbrook’s ‘seeing the way of heaven’ he writes ‘seeing the whole of heaven’, thereby eliminating the word ‘way’ (dao). The rendition is thus in part an Ulenbrook-Heidegger version. Second, there is a similar instance in Heidegger’s letter to Hsiao of 9 October 1947 (reproduced in HAT 102). Here Heidegger paraphrases Hsiao’s translation of Chapter 15 of the Laozi, which runs:
Who is able to make still and gradually clarify what is muddy?
Who is able to move and gradually animate what is at rest?
At Heidegger’s request, Hsiao had earlier made a calligraphy of these lines for him.
I inscribed these two lines of eight characters each on such parchment as was
then available; ‘the dao of heaven’, which is not in the text, I wrote as a
decorative device in the middle. I gave a careful etymological explanation
of all the characters, so that he could grasp everything in detail. The
Heideggerian version again shows the depths of his thinking (HAT 100).
In his letter to Hsiao, Heidegger performs the following two variations of his own:
Who is able to be still and from and through stillness put something on
the way (move it) such that it comes to light?
While this version, which Heidegger puts in quotation marks, is apparently a product of the collaboration between Heidegger and Hsiao (guided by the latter’s
competence in sinology), the version that immediately follows in the letter can be ascribed to Heidegger alone. In his own handwriting it reads:
Who is able by making tranquil to bring something into Being?
The dao of heaven.
Three further chapters from the Laozi (18, 76, and 7) that are brought into the conversation (as communicated by Hsiao) shed further light on Heidegger’s
acquaintance with this text. Hsiao also reports his saying, in his lecture on culture and technology:
one would have to see old things with a newer, farther look. If we were to
attempt, for example, to ‘ground’ God through the traditional proofs of His
existence—the ontological, cosmological, or teleological—we would then
diminish God, who is more, and ineffable ‘like the dao’ (EMH 127).
Further indications can be drawn from Petzet’s accounts. For example:
In the conversation  about the ‘fourfold’ we touched on the topic of
Laozi, to which a young woman made an essential contribution. In the end
the guests…had perhaps sensed something about that ‘turn’ that…could
eventuate in a memorial thinking. The meeting with Heidegger thus
became for many participants a sign (P 73/80).
Finally, Petzet draws our attention to two other informative remarks of Heidegger’s. First, in conversation with a Buddhist monk from Bangkok in September 1964, Heidegger said that ‘he himself would often hold to Laozi—but that he knew him only through the German intermediaries, such as Richard Wilhelm’.9 Second, Petzet reports that on hearing the Buddhist monk say that ‘nothingness is not “nothing”, but rather the completely other: fullness. No one can name it. But it—nothing and everything—is fulfillment’, Heidegger responded with the words, ‘That is what I have been saying, my whole life long’ (P 180/190). Heidegger apparently said something similar in connection with one of D.T.Suzuki’s books.10
We learn from Petzet again that Heidegger was familiar as early as 1930 with a German version of the Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu), a selection edited by Martin Buber. This edition, a slim volume of 124 pages and the first German book edition of the Zhuangzi, was published in 1910 by Insel Verlag in Leipzig under the title Speeches and Parables of Tschuang-Tse.11g Heidegger responded to a certain issue by quoting and interpreting a passage half a page long entitled ‘The Joy of the Fishes’.12 Thirty years later Heidegger once again deals publicly with passage from Buber’s edition of the Zhuangzi, the one-page episode entitled The Chimes-Stand’.13 And on the occasion of a visit from Chang Chung-yuan in Freiburg in 1972, Heidegger showed his guest, according to the latter’s report, a German translation of the Zhuangzi and posed a number of questions which they then discussed (PEW 27:419).
It is clear from all this that Heidegger valued and appreciated East Asian thought, and Daoist ideas above all. Nor, obviously, was there a dearth of relevant information available, which he could easily have gleaned from the literature in German and English. Heidegger received numerous visits from East Asian colleagues over a period of about fifty years, and in the course of conversations with them he apparently listened with patient attention to the responses they would give to his precisely formulated and penetrating questions.14 Hsiao’s report, in particular, underscores this assumption (EMH 126f). Just how well Heidegger was actually acquainted with Daoist ideas can only be surmised at this point, and so we shall leave this question aside.15
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|Subject: Re: Heidegger's Hidden Sources Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:40 pm|| |
- Reinhard, May wrote:
- 2.1 Heidegger’s thinking definitely exhibits not insignificant similarities with East Asian thought. An indication of this comes, again, from Hsiao, who writes as follows: ‘Much of what [Heidegger] has “brought to language” has…been said often in the same or a similar way in the thinking of the Far East’.16 While these kinds of considerations are gradually coming to the attention of Heidegger studies in Europe, they are rarely given further discussion. Nor has there been much response to the astonishing fact that the reception of his thought in Japan has been for over sixty years as thorough as it has been comprehensive—a fact that can and should be taken as importantly indicative of Heidegger’s relations to East Asian thought.
By comparison with the enormous amount of secondary literature on Heidegger, comparative philosophical studies in Western languages play only a very minor role even though they are sometimes of high quality, as evidenced by the 1987 volume Heidegger and Asian Thought edited by Graham Parkes.
Heidegger himself did not fail to acknowledge such attempts to show correspondences17 and agreement18 between a thinking that overcomes metaphysics and an East Asian philosophical tradition that lacks metaphysics19 in the Western sense.20 And yet, while on the one hand he treated such attempts with a certain scepticism,21 on the other, as Otto Pöggeler has written (HAT 49),
he ‘gladly acknowledged to visitors the closeness of his thinking to the Taoist
tradition and Zen Buddhism’.
2.2 Considering all the indications adduced above, it is reasonable to ask whether the manifest correspondences and similarities are simply a matter of chance, or whether, put pointedly, they were deliberately elaborated by
Heidegger and thus represent the unrecognized or merely unacknowledged result of a reception and integration of East Asian thought on his part. It is in any case no longer possible peremptorily to dismiss the carefully formulated question of the influence of East Asian thought on Heidegger, especially since Hsiao remarks that the collaboration on a partial translation of the Laozi (undertaken at Heidegger’s request!) had some influence on him.22
Hsiao has reported at some length on his 1946 collaboration with Heidegger in two closely concurrent versions, the first of which appeared only in 1977, a year after Heidegger’s death, when it elicited considerable astonishment.23 Since Hsiao’s account is readily available and may be well known, there is no need for a lengthy recapitulation here. Both reports make clear (the second was written specially for the Parkes volume in 1987) that the eight chapters of the Laozi that they worked on translating ‘exercised some influence’ on Heidegger (EMH 127).
Unfortunately, even if one restricts consideration to the chapters on dao, one can only speculate about which of these they may have worked on.24 Collaboration on the project was not resumed after the summer of 1946. According to Fischer-Barnicol, Heidegger attempted to produce with Hsiao a German version of the Laozi ‘and abandoned it after eight chapters’.25 Their extremely thorough attempts at translation were based, according to Hsiao, on the version of the original text edited and with a commentary by Zhiang Xi-zhang.26 Heidegger did not give Hsiao any of the texts of their tentative translations, and it is questionable whether they still exist. According to Pöggeler (HAT 77), they have not yet been found in Heidegger’s Nachlass.
In this context the following remark by Chang Chung-yuan deserves particular attention: ‘Heidegger is the only Western philosopher who not only thoroughly intellectually understands but has intuitively grasped Taoist thought’.27 Even if one is dubious about Chang’s assessment, which is hardly susceptible of substantive proof, the fact remains that the question of influence cannot simply be dismissed. Indeed, an inquiry into this question recommends itself all the
Along with Hsiao, neither Parkes nor Pöggeler, nor even Cho, discounts some degree of influence, even though none of them has up to now adduced decisive evidence.28 In his essay ‘West-East Dialogue’ Pöggeler simply surveys the extent of the relations between Heidegger’s and East Asian thought, with
primary reference to Petzet, Hsiao, and Fischer-Barnicol; after which he proceeds to discuss, sometimes in detail, the so-called parallels between East Asian thought (Daoism and Zen Buddhism) and Heidegger’s later work. He concludes that Heidegger was in a position to incorporate impulses from the East Asian tradition into his own efforts at thinking, and thereby to provide a decisive stimulus for East-West dialogue. ‘Heidegger’, he says, ‘has more than any other European philosopher initiated dialogue between the West and the Far East’
(HAT 76). While Pöggeler appears to allow for a certain, rather vague, influence Parkes is more reticent with respect to this question: ‘The question of influence—of Eastern thought on Heidegger’s work—while interesting, is of secondary significance in comparison with the independent congruence of ideas’ (HAT 2).
He prefers to speak of a ‘preestablished harmony’ between Heidegger’s thinking and Daoism and to emphasize ‘the integrity of his thought’ (HAT 9). In an important essay that is highly poetical and sparkles with detail, Thoughts on the Way: Being and Time via Lao-Chuang’, Parkes successfully demonstrates the presence of a number of Daoist ideas (in particular) in Being and Time.h He proceeds from the assumption that Being and Time comes from a period
antedating Heidegger’s contact with Chinese philosophy (HAT 106, 109). And yet, when he returns elsewhere to the question of influence, he alleges in a rather careful formulation a certain influence from Chinese and Japanese philosophy on Heidegger’s later work.29 With regard to Heidegger’s etymologizing and style tending towards the poetic, he concedes: ‘In this he was surely influenced by his study of the Chinese language, and—given his years of contact with philosophers from Japan and his interest in Japanese culture generally—he probably also had some acquaintance with D gen’s ideas’ (p. 440). (1974):137–52, 138; compare his slightly different, stronger formulation of a year later:
‘Heidegger…not only intellectually understands Tao but has intuitively experienced the essence of it as well’ (Tao: A New Way of Thinking, ix). With respect to these remarks one must bear in mind that Chang had discussed the Zhuangzi with Heidegger in 1972 (see PEW 27:419) and was thus able to form his own impression as a competent interlocutor.
2.3 As we see, the question of influence becomes more pressing as the indications accumulate. It is clearly a timely question from a number of perspectives, a question that can no longer be ignored, with many consequences for Heidegger-interpretation, the significance of which cannot as yet be fully evaluated. We must bear in mind, however, that (aside from Otto Pöggeler) Heidegger scholars have failed to take it seriously and have up to now taken care to exclude it, even though there have been sufficient grounds for raising it since
Hsiao’s report first appeared. It is possible that something Heidegger himself said has constituted a decisive obstacle to interest in the question first of all, and then to the development of a sense of its appropriateness. Heidegger made the following unequivocal statement in the well-known Spiegel interview:
It is my conviction that a reversal can be prepared itself only from the same
part of the world in which the modern technical world originated, and that
it cannot come about through the adoption of Zen Buddhism or other
Eastern experiences of the world. Rethinking requires the help of the
European tradition and a reappropriation of it. Thinking is transformed
only by thinking that has the same origin and destiny [Bestimmung].30i
The question of influence would now seem to be superfluous, having been thus settled ex cathedra, as it were. But it would appear to be much more appropriate to pay attention to so-called meaningful (but simply fortuitous) parallels and to emphasize them in agreement with Heidegger. This would allow us to underscore, where applicable, the global significance of his thinking in a fitting manner. Why, then, should Heidegger have simply dismissed ‘Eastern experiences of the world’ if he himself incorporated some of them constructively in his work and in a most significant way?j Serious consideration of the question of influence then meets with incomprehension and has to reckon with considerable difficulties. Aside from this dismissal on Heidegger’s part, there is in the texts published so far no direct reference to the fact that he gained significant stimulus and constant inspiration from East Asian thought—or that he found anything of worth there at all. Outside his works, he did at least say to Fischer-Barnicol that while he had worked with Japanese from early on, he had learned more from the Chinese (EMH 102).
3 Given what we have seen so far, the following four points speak in favour of dealing with the question of influence: first, Heidegger’s demonstrated fondness for the Daoist ideas in the Laozi and Zhuangzi, especially in the Buber edition, and his many competent conversation-partners on East Asian topics; second, the collaboration with Hsiao, requested and followed through by Heidegger, on translating the Laozi into German, and the valuable acquaintance with East Asian thought that he gleaned from the project; third, the large number of parallels that have since been discerned, especially with the later work; fourth, Heidegger’s characteristic paraphrasing or poetic rewriting of an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the Laozi.
Under the circumstances, one cannot dismiss the possibility that Heidegger intentionally incorporated East Asian ideas, in an encoded manner, into his work. The question of influence is therefore by no means superfluous, and it is engaged in the study that follows. The investigation does not presume to lead to results that are final and definite; indeed, it is not in a position to offer a treatment that is even half-way exhaustive. Something like that could possibly be effected only by an intercultural team-project that would undertake an exegesis of every text in the entire Heidegger corpus (which is still not available). But the present study aims to provide a stimulus and sufficient new impulses to prompt further investigations of this kind. It would thereby also strengthen the kind of comparative philosophical research into foundations that is necessary these days, and which would naturally take into account non-Western philosophical thinking.
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|Subject: Re: Heidegger's Hidden Sources Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:05 pm|| |
- Reinhard, May wrote:
31.1 In order to pursue the supposition of further correspondences between Heidegger’s thinking and Daoist ideas, we turn to three central topics [Topoi] that are found again and again in his work.51 Our first concern is with the topos ‘Nothing’ [das Nichts], which runs significantly [wegweisend] through Heidegger’s work like a red thread, and ultimately distinguishes itself from everything else that has been thought and said in Western philosophy about the topic of Nothing.
Nothing, emptiness, and the clearing
We shall trace Heidegger’s lines of thinking primarily through formulations that he himself chose with careful consideration. We shall thereby find that to clarify the path of his thinking (Denkweg) he elucidates certain major ideas repeatedly, and in an especially striking way in his later texts, thus interpreting his own work.52 One should therefore pay close attention to these characteristic elucidations of his major ideas.
We encounter Heidegger’s major guiding [wegweisend] idea already in the context of ‘the elaboration [and answering] of the question of the meaning of “Being”, in the following formulation: ‘The Being of beings “is” not itself a being’.53 What is it then, for Heidegger? It is nothing. Heidegger eventually says,
‘Nothing is the characteristic [Kennzeichnung] of Being’.54 Or, even more clearly: ‘Being: Nothing: Same’.55v
Heidegger reaches this result over the course of many stages of formulation. On the way, and in reversing the question of Being, as it were, he also deals with (and answers) the question of Nothing. The inquiry into the ‘meaning of Being’, which for him has been forgotten and so ‘still remains’ to be answered (SZ 21,230), is at the same time an inquiry into Nothing, and into the meaning of Nothing in contrast to the nothingness of nihilism. Thus in both aspects of the inquiry the task of the ‘true overcoming of nihilism’ comes to the fore.56
Heidegger employs the following formulations, which, when read serially, give unequivocal expression to his conclusions:
Nothingness…reveals itself as belonging [zugehörig] to the Being of
beings…. This Nothing [of beings] ‘works’ [west] as Being…. That which
is not a being [is] Nothing understood as Being itself.57
Supplementing the formulations in Being and Time (21, 35), Heidegger remarks moreover: ‘The essential origin [Wesensherkunft] of the Being of beings has not
been properly thought’.58 By contrast with Being, which for Heidegger is ‘not any kind of being’ (SZ 4), one understands by beings everything ‘that we can in any way mean’.59 As for Being, he explains: ‘Being “is” no more than Nothing “is”. But it gives [Es gibt] both’ (QB 97).w And he later suggests, with reference to the simple expression ‘Being: Nothing’, that ‘it is better to give up the “is” here’ (‘SLT’ 85). As early as 1935 Heidegger expresses a similar thought, though not as clearly as in later formulations: ‘But Being remains untraceable,
almost like Nothing, or in the end exactly [ganz] like it…. The Other to it [Being] is only Nothing’ (IM 35/27, 79/60).
In the course of striving to clarify his understanding of Being and Nothing in the 1969 Le Thor seminar, Heidegger supplements the older formulations from 1946 on with new ones that are basically indistinguishable as far as content is concerned. Some of these we have already seen and can tell from them how
superbly Heidegger employs his subtle, productive, and elegant paraphrasing
technique. Let us clarify this point by considering a few more examples, which will
also help us to understand his thinking better.
In a direct inquiry into Being, Heidegger writes in the ‘Letter on Humanism’:
‘And yet Being—what is Being? It is It itself (BW 210/Wm 162). With respect to Nothing this can be formulated as: ‘Being as Boing’ (QB 33; cf. 81f, 89–91).x
A later explanatory remark, intended to obviate any misunderstanding, reads as follows: ‘[The idea] that Being is not absolutely for itself [für sich] is diametrically opposed to Hegel’ (‘SLT’ 108). With this Heidegger distinguishes
himself from Hegel unequivocally.60 As for the further difference between Heidegger and the Presocratics (Parmenides in particular), this would ultimately be as important as that between Heidegger and Hegel.61
Heidegger’s position with respect to the context articulated here is quite unique in the Western tradition. This point is further emphasized by the expressions he uses to describe Nothing in order to assimilate it to other topoi, and yet without affecting or undermining the new sense of Being and Nothing.
He justifies his procedure by way of a detailed and very telling reference to Wilhelm von Humboldt. On being asked, in the Le Thor seminar, whether his use of old expressions for a new thinking is able to characterize this new thinking adequately—‘How far is it possible to use the same terms both within and outside metaphysics?’—Heidegger refers to the last page of On the Way to Language and repeats the citation [of Humboldt] he made there: ‘Another meaning is then installed in the same housing [Gehäuse], something different is conveyed in the same coinage, and a differently graduated train of ideas is indicated according to the same laws of connection’.62
In the following passages Heidegger puts ‘presencing’ [Anwesen] in place of ‘Being’ [Sein] and ‘unconcealedness’ [Unverborgenheit] in place of ‘Nothing’ [Nichts] (and vice versa), thereby elucidating the new ‘sense’ of the old ‘housing’:
The enigma is…‘Being’. For that reason ‘Being’ remains simply the
provisional word. Let us see to it that our thinking does not simply follow
it blindly. Let us first ponder the fact that ‘Being’ is originally called
‘presencing’, and ‘presencing’ means: to come to and endure in
Presencing occurs [ereignet sich] only where unconcealedness already
Nothing belongs…as absence [ab-wesend] to presencing [Being] (QB
Presencing [An-wesen] needs and uses [braucht] the Open of a clearing
[Lichtung] (ID 31/19).
To let-presence means: to reveal [Entbergen], to bring into the Open. In
revealing there plays a giving, one that in letting-presence [Anwesenlassen]
gives presencing, or Being (TB 5/5).
In each case Heidegger substitutes one for the other, ‘Nothing’ for ‘Being’ (and, for ‘Being’, ‘presence’) and vice versa, and thereby effects permanent translations: for ‘Nothing’ now also ‘unconcealedness’, the ‘Open’, and the
‘clearing’. Another term that belongs to this sequence of correspondences is ‘truth’ in the sense of ‘Being’, ‘Nothing’, and ‘unconcealedness’. In Being and Time Heidegger writes, ‘Being and truth “are” equiprimordial’ (SZ 230); while he later also takes ‘Nothing’ and ‘Being’ to be equiprimordial in the formulation: ‘to think that Nothing that is equiprimordially the Same as Being’.65
These kinds of obvious correspondences, which are easily to be found throughout Heidegger’s work and represent essential factors in its design, always concern his major thought, namely ‘Nothing’, which constitutes unmistakably (as we have seen already in the case of Being and Time) the ‘meaning of Being’.
Thus Heidegger makes a clear distinction between this idea and what he calls ‘empty nothing’66 or also nugatory nothing [das nichtige Nichts]. By contrast:
‘This [true] Nothing…is nothing nugatory [nichts Nichtiges]. It belongs to presencing [Being]. Being and Nothing are not given beside one another. Each uses itself on behalf of the other in a relationship whose essential richness we have hardly begun to ponder’ (QB 97/Wm 247).
These interpretations of ‘Nothing’ have, for Heidegger, nothing to do with nihilism as it has been understood so far (since Nietzsche); their aim is rather the overcoming of nihilism. There can be no misunderstanding here, since Heidegger states as early as 1935 what nihilism means for him, namely: ‘to concern oneself only with beings in forgetfulness of Being’ (IM 203/155). The overcoming [Überwindung]—or, as he puts it later, the Denken?’, in VA 2:16;QB 77; ID 31; ‘Time and Being’, in On Time and Being, translated by Joan
Stambaugh (New York 1972), 1–24, 5; Brief an Richardson (1962), in William J. Richardson, SJ, Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought (The Hague,1963/1974), xxi. ‘getting over’ [Verwindung]67—of nihilism is then characterized as follows: ‘To press the inquiry into Being expressly to the border of Nothing and to incorporate it [Nothing] into the question of Being’ (IM 203/155). In this context Heidegger provides again in 1963 a highly informative selfinterpretation in a letter to a Japanese colleague (as he had done in the ‘letter’ to
Ernst Jünger in 1955 [QB 97/Wm 247]), which deals with the misunderstandings to which his major idea of ‘Nothing’ has been subject. He takes his characterization of the human being as ‘place-holder [Platzhalter] of Nothing’68 as a point of departure for the following clarification:
That lecture [‘What Is Metaphysics?’ (1929)] which was translated into
Japanese as early as 1930, was understood immediately in your country, in
contrast to the nihilistic misunderstanding of what was said [about Nothing]
which is prevalent to this day in Europe. The Nothing that is talked about
there refers to that which in relation to what-is [das Seiende] is never any
kind of being, and ‘is’ thus Nothing, but which nevertheless determines
what-is as such and is thus called Being.69
A presentation of elements in Heidegger’s texts can thus show that he thinks Nothing (with repeated elucidations) in such a way that, unlike in the West, it is immediately understood in Japan.70 And yet a non-Western source for such thinking has presumably not been considered over there.71
This much is now clear: for Heidegger, the topos that corresponds to Being is Nothing, the primary topic of his thinking. The initial question concerning the Being of beings has thereby received an answer, one that culminates in the formula: ‘Being: Nothing: Same’ (‘SLT’ 101). This Nothing is obviously no nugatory nothing: it is rather the ‘Nothing of [von] Being [Seyn]’,72 an essential Nothing, a real Nothing. In other words: ‘Even Nothing “belongs” for us to “Being” (IM 85/64).
1.2 The East Asian way of thinking distinguishes itself in Daoism through the ancient insight, embodied in Chapter 2 of the Laozi, to the effect that yu (being) and wu (nothing) mutually produce one another (xiang sheng). Victor von Strauss translates the passage in question as follows: ‘Being and non-being give birth to one another’; whereas Richard Wilhelm renders it as: ‘Being and nonbeing engender one another’.73 While Wilhelm in his commentary (which tends not to make precise distinctions) sometimes speaks of ‘Being’ [Sein] and now, with reference to Laozi 1, of ‘being and non-being’ [Seiendes und Nichtseiendes], stressing the ‘unity’ of the two (128; 42, 83), von Strauss speaks in his commentary on Laozi 2 of ‘a correlative relationship between the two [yu and wu]’ (174).z After emphasizing that one cannot talk of a temporal sequence here, ‘nor simply of their simultaneity’, he goes on to explain: ‘Since one is, or comes to be, only through the other, the poet can say that being and non-being [Sein und Nichtsein] mutually produce, engender, or give birth to one another’ (175).
Chapter 40 of the Laozi goes on to elaborate the idea that everything [alles Seiende] in the world, or all things [wan wu] originate [sheng] from being [yu], and that being [yu] originates [sheng] from nothing [wu]. Von Strauss translates: ‘All beings originate from being, / Being originates from non-being’.
74a In other words: ‘Being shows itself in Nothing [am Nichts], but also vice versa; the two constantly come to expression reciprocally, one in the other [am
This kind of correspondence between being and nothing is characteristic of the basic insights of East Asian doctrines concerning dao. This perspective was taken over by Zen Buddhism in the Mah y na tradition, synthesized with similar insights from early Buddhism, and then developed further. This is clear from two Zen texts that are translated in the collection by hazama Sh ei, which in all probability—almost certainly—Heidegger knew well and appreciated for deepening and enriching his knowledge of the field.76 A passage in the Shinjin-mei [‘The Seal of Faith’] reads: ‘Being is none other than nothing,/nothing is none other than being’ (70). And in the Sh d -ka [‘Hymn on the Experience of the Way’]: ‘Nothing is everything, and / everything is nothing brought to completion’ (73; cf. 84).b
Finally, we find in a text from 1939 by Nishida Kitar , who can be regarded as the pioneer of comparative philosophy from the East-West perspective, the easily remembered formula: ‘Being is nothing, nothing is being’.77 Fifteen years after the publication of Nishida’s article in German, Tezuka elucidates, in response to a pointed question of Heidegger’s, the (classic) Zen Buddhist way of thinking mentioned earlier,78 and on which Heidegger appears to play adroitly in his ‘Conversation’.79c
1.3 Let us now juxtapose the relevant textual excerpts. First:
…that one is only through the other…(Laozi 2, von Strauss commentary).
The Other to it [Being] is simply Nothing (Heidegger, IM 79/60).
Being and Nothing are not given beside one another. Each uses itself on
behalf of the other…(QB 97/Wm 247).d
Being is none other than nothing,/Nothing is none other than being.80
Nothing as ‘Being’ (Heidegger, ‘WM?’ [GA 9] 106, note b).
Nothing and Being the Same (‘WM?’ [GA 9] 115, note c).
Being: Nothing: Same (‘SLT’ 101).e
These passages juxtaposed in this way, while of course needing to be understood in context, allow hardly any doubt to remain that in Heidegger’s non-Western understanding of ‘Nothing’ (‘Being’), which is elaborated clearly and distinctly in his later texts (see 1.1), and in the light of which he wants to have his earlier texts just as clearly understood, he is indebted to Daoist and Zen Buddhist ways of thinking.81 We have good grounds, then, for supposing that Heidegger elaborated (sometimes verbatim) these kinds of correspondence with the help of the texts named above, with which he was familiar (see Chapter 1), and integrated them into his work.
2.1 A similar situation appears to obtain with respect to Heidegger’s understanding and presentation of the problematic of the thing, which he deals with in several different texts. A textual comparison brings to light a similarity between the sentence patterns Heidegger employs with respect to the characterization of Being in Being and Time and the characterization of the thing in the so-called ‘thing lecture-course’ from 1935 to 1936.82 In the Western philosophical tradition, things (in the narrower sense) are understood as all nonhuman entities.83 Heidegger himself offers a (broader) characterization when he writes: ‘In the language of philosophy things in themselves and things that appear, everything [alles Seiende] that in any way is, is called a thing.84f
The real question, which leads pointedly into the elucidation of ‘the being’ [Wesen] of things, is originally posed in the Freiburg lecture from the winter semester 1935/6 that was given under the title ‘Basic Questions of Metaphysics’ and published in 1962 as The Question of the Thing: On Kant’s Doctrine of Transcendental Principles [title of the English translation: What is a Thing?].
The appropriate answer must be sought (and understood), according to Heidegger, in the context of ‘the changing fundamental position within the relation to beings’, as ‘the task of an entire age’.85 This means, for Heidegger, giving up the idea that Plato, Aristotle, and ‘all subsequent thinkers’—one would have to add, in the Western philosophical tradition—have thought ‘the being [Wesen] of the thing’ adequately.86
Heidegger nevertheless attempts with his elucidation a new beginning from an unaccustomed perspective, one that can find an appropriate starting-point only outside Western philosophical thinking. ‘The question of the thing comes from its origin into motion [Bewegung] again’ (WT? 48/36). His (non-Western) answer corresponds almost verbatim to the following expression:
What gives things their thingness is not itself a thing (Zhuangzi, 22).87
And according to Heidegger:
[The] thingness of the thing…cannot itself be a thing again (WT? 9/7, cf. What gives things their thingness is not itself a thing (Zhuangzi, 22).87
And according to Heidegger:
[The] thingness of the thing…cannot itself be a thing again (WT? 9/7, cf.
Compare with the well-known formulation in Being and Time:
The Being of beings ‘is’ not itself a being (SZ 6).g
In both these cases Heidegger’s answer (congruent with the connections articulated above) runs parallel to what he says about Nothing (or emptiness: see next section),88 as in the lecture on the thing: ‘The thingness [Dingheit] [of the thing] must be something unconditioned [Unbedingtes]’ (WT? 9/7). No different conclusion could be reached with the Zhuangzi, if we think through to the end the idea in it that we cited above.89h
It is now clear that Heidegger’s elucidation of the thing-problematic corresponds in substance to that presented in section 1.3 above. It will thus have become equally clear where Heidegger has sought and found the starting-point for his new beginning.
2.2 It is possible to show the influence of East Asian ways of thinking in another, similar context: namely, in the lecture The Thing’ from 1950. A passage from Chapter 11 of the Laozi reads, in Wilhelm’s translation: ‘The work of pitchers consists in their nothingness [Nichts, wu]’ (51). Von Strauss translates: ‘The use of the container [Gefäss] accords with its non-being [Nicht-sein] ‘(68;cf. 204–6).’ The first part of the lecture on the thing engages this issue in several passages. Heidegger speaks of a jug, saying: ‘The jug is a thing as container [Gefäss]’.90 Also: ‘The thingly character [Dinghafte] of the thing, however, does not consist in its being a represented object, nor can it be determined at all in terms of the objectness of the object’ (PLT 167/VA 2:39).
The question of the thingly character [Dinghaftigkeit] of the thing had been raised earlier (1935 and 1936) in ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ in connection with the lecture course on ‘The Thing’.91 In the later lecture Heidegger continues the elucidation begun in the mid-1930s by following Laozi 11, in so far as he paraphrases as follows: ‘The thingly character of the container [Gefäss] does not in any way consist in the material of which it is made, but rather in the emptiness [Leere] that does the containing [fasst]’.92 Recall that in the ‘Conversation’ it is said that ‘emptiness is…the same as Nothing’ (WL 19/US 108).
If in a marginal note in Being and Time Heidegger remarks on the topic ‘Nothing of Being [Seyn]’ (SZ [GA] 10a), so in a similar context, establishing as it were the connection between Being and Time and his later philosophy, he speaks of the ‘emptiness of Being…[which] is never to be filled by the plenitude of beings’.93 Speaking again (in 1969) of ‘Being’, he remarks comprehensibly and conclusively ‘that Being was never thought as Being by the Greeks or even brought into question’ (‘SLT’ 105). Thus, for Heidegger the return to Greek thinking makes sense only when combined with the return to the original reposing of the question of the Being of beings (‘SLT’ 105), that is—to amplify a little94—only when Being as the Same of Being and Nothing is thereby brought through poetic thinking [denkend-dichtend] (to stay with Heidegger’s way of speaking) on to the way. At any rate, we must be prepared for what Heidegger recognized as early as 1935: ‘True talk about Nothing always remains
uncommon’ (IM 26/20). In the West, at least, so far.
3 Let us now turn to another topos that Heidegger often treats in his texts, and which he apparently employs in the contexts here articulated for the purpose of illustrating his thinking. From Being and Time on, he uses in appropriate contexts the word ‘clearing’ [Lichtung] in his elucidations of Being and Nothing. A selection of six relevant texts will help clarify his use of this key term.
His aim is obviously to present a matter that plays a role in connection with the word ‘nothing’ in ancient Chinese thought, but in a pictographic constellation, the meaning of which is hardly even thought of any more today.
As far as Being and Time is concerned, it remains an open question whether
Heidegger is providing an explanation or a reinterpretation when he adds the marginal note, ‘Al theia—Openness—clearing, light, shining’.95j This remark may indicate that he later uses the word ‘clearing’ in a distinctive sense, in the sense of unconcealedness, openness, the Open. By comparison with Being and Time, the point is made more clearly in the essay on the work of art, where Heidegger offers the following formulation that is significant [wegweisend] for his many subsequent elaborations: ‘In the midst of beings as a whole there is [west] an open place. There is a clearing. This clearing is, thought from the side of beings, more ‘being’ [seiender] than beings…. The luminous [lich-tend] middle itself encircles like Nothing…all that is [alles Seiende]’ (PLT 53/41).k).k
Later in the essay Heidegger writes: ‘Self-concealing Being [is] illuminated [gelichtet]’ (PLT 56/44). Turned around, this amounts to saying that unconcealed Nothing is nihilated. In a later text, from 1943, we find the
expression, now easier to understand, ‘The shining of the clearing [that is: of Nothing] is in itself simultaneously a self-veiling—and is in this sense what is darkest’.96
It is surprising perhaps, and yet for us still understandable and consonant with his other remarks, that Heidegger eventually says in one of his last texts (1964):
‘But philosophy knows nothing of the clearing. Philosophy certainly speaks of the light [Licht] of reason, but does not pay attention to the clearing [Lichtung] of
How does Heidegger arrive at this apparent identification of the clearing with Nothing, which is not to be found in the Western philosophical tradition? One might certainly think of the medieval metaphysics of light, and yet sufficient points of contact are hardly to be found there. But things look different in the realm of Chinese language. There we find, in the interpretation of the Chinese graph [written character] for ‘nothing’, namely wu, a rich starting-point for the identification of the clearing and Nothing: wu refers to a place that was originally covered in luxuriant vegetation, as in a thicket in a wood, but where trees have been felled so that there is now an open space, a clearing. Wu thus means ‘there, where there is nothing’, a place where formerly there were trees.98 A consonant interpretation is given by León Wieger in his book Chinese Characters, which has gone through many editions since 1915:
A multitude…of men, acting upon a forest, felling the trees, clearing of
wood a tract of land. In the old form [the graph] stated that the wood had vanished. Hence…the general abstract notions of vanishing, defect, want,
A passage of Heidegger’s from the 1960s reads correspondingly as follows:
To clear [lichten] something means: to make something light, free and
open; for example, to make a place in the woods free of trees. The open
space that results is the clearing [Lichtung].100
Corresponding to the assimilation described above, this means that Heidegger can again use instead of ‘Nothing’ the word ‘clearing’ in its extended sense and insert it into the appropriate place in his text. But in ‘The End of Philosophy’ he uses another word, though with a corresponding meaning and in consonance with the passage cited above from the essay on the work of art (PLT 53/41): The clearing is the Open [Nothing] for all presencing and being absent’ (BW 384/SD72). The elaborations that follow underscore through paraphrase the presented
topic. The ‘clearing of Being’ is thus the same as the ‘Nothing of Being [Seyn]’.101
The similarity between the cited passages from Heidegger and Wieger is difficult to overlook.102 Nevertheless, there remains in this case a doubt as to whether Heidegger actually drew on Wieger’s text in elaborating his concept for the assimilation of Nothing and clearing. It is by no means improbable that Wieger’s book (like those of Martin Buber and Richard Wilhelm—both theologians as were many other scholars of that era and earlier to whom we are indebted for mediating East Asian thought) was available since 1915 in the libraries of theological seminaries (more so than of philosophy departments) and that Heidegger could thus have come across a copy. Even so, one must bear in mind that he could have assimilated and elaborated ‘Nothing’ and ‘clearing’ and
worked with it simply 7 on the basis of his acquaintance with East Asian thought (and explanations on the part of his East Asian interlocutors) in conjunction with all the possible ways of understanding the German word Lichtung (one thinks, for example, of the word Waldblösse [a gap in the forest through which light can enter]). In this case, then, one would have to regard the similarity to the passage from Wieger as merely fortuitous.
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|Subject: Re: Heidegger's Hidden Sources Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:20 pm|| |
- Reinhard, May wrote:
41 Let us now pursue the question of the influence on Heidegger of Daoist ideas with respect to another key term of his, namely ‘Saying’ [Sage].m Two texts in particular suggest themselves in this connection, ‘The Nature [Wesen] of Language’ (1957, 1958) and The Way to Language’ (1959), both of which belong to Heidegger’s so-called late philosophy.103 In the text of the earlier lecture (see GA 12:260) Heidegger mentions the word dao five times and concludes a most informative paragraph with the words ‘All is way’ [Alles ist
Dao: way and saying
Weg] (WL 92/US 198). The second text, which was delivered and published a little later, can be understood as a valuable amplification of the first. Moreover, it will strike the careful reader that these two texts are indirectly related and mutually illuminate one another, and thereby become more comprehensible.
As in the previous chapter, we shall try to interpret the contours of Heidegger’s thinking by remaining within his text itself, so as to contribute to the solution of the enigma presented by these two later essays. We must here again expect Heidegger’s subtle paraphrasing technique to come to expression, and also that we shall have to deal with a number of concealed allusions to internal textual contexts. Having already become aware of such factors (see Chapters 2 and 3), we shall be able to follow the course of his thinking more easily and complement it with respect to its meaning where necessary by referring to other texts.
Ultimately, a deeper understanding can be attained, and the insights gained here elaborated, only by way of a comprehensive and detailed exegesis of both texts, which cannot be attempted here. Our investigation concentrates primarily on answering the question of influence posed at the beginning, and will thus have to tolerate gaps in the interpretation.
As mentioned earlier, Heidegger ponders in the texts under discussion the topos ‘Saying’, which becomes a key term for him on the way to language. The nature of language, the ‘essential totality of language’ [das Sprachwesen im Ganzen], he calls ‘Saying’ (WL 123/US 253). ‘The distinctive feature of language [Sprachwesen]’, however, ‘is concealed [verbirgt sich] in the Way’ (126/257). The converse of this formulation follows a few pages later: ‘Within this Way, which belongs to the essence of language, is concealed the distinctive feature of language’ (129/260–1).
A remark in the earlier text (‘On the Nature of Language’) that is striking simply on account of its content comes to play a key role here. One should note in particular the phrase ‘is concealed’, which Heidegger employs again in these three passages, and surely not fortuitously: ‘Perhaps there is concealed in the word “Way”, dao, the mystery of all mysteries of thinking Saying, if we let these names revert to that which is unspoken in them and are capable of this letting’ (92/198; emphasis added).n Heidegger speaks then, to emphasize once again, of
‘the mystery of all mysteries of thinking Saying’. This sentence is surely clear enough. He then ends the paragraph with the words ‘All is way [dao]’.
In this context another very important topos, that of ‘Appropriation’ [Ereignis], plays an important role, to which we shall return later.o It is sufficient for now to say that these formulations of Heidegger’s are obviously intended to assimilate ‘Way’ and ‘Saying’—something that can be easily shown in a series of formulations. For example: ‘In language as Saying there holds sway something like a Way’ (126/256). Or: ‘The Way …as Saying is language as Saying’ (126/257). To abbreviate, this means simply, in consonance with ‘All is Way’: Way is Saying, and vice versa, Saying is Way (dao). We will come across similar assimilations later.
At the beginning of the second lecture [‘The Nature of Language’] Heidegger proposes giving thought to the ‘Way’ (74/178). He then makes a transition from the verbs ‘think’ [denken] and ‘poetize’ [dichten],p which always play an important role for him, to the word ‘Saying’ (83f/188f). Thus: ‘Saying is the same element for composing and for thinking’ (84/189); it is related to the very being of language (76/180). And through the multiply resonant and, for Heidegger, determinative closeness of poetizing and thinking, he arrives at another important topos—namely ‘Nearness’ [Nähe]. He connects this with the topos ‘Saying’ in the following formulation: ‘But the nearness that brings poetizing and thinking close to one another we call Saying’ (93/199–200). He then simply identifies, having prepared the ground in this way, ‘Nearness’ and ‘Saying’ (95/202). Finally, by way of clarification: ‘Quiet consideration lets one see to what extent Nearness and Saying as the essential element [das Wesende] of language are the same’ (107/214). In this way, Heidegger step by step approaches the formula: ‘Way equals Saying equals Nearness’. With this last term he clearly
links (his own) poetizing and thinking to the nearness of dao.
By means of a further formulation already mentioned, Heidegger arrives at yet another identification of ‘Way’ and ‘Saying’. He achieves this by adducing the key word ‘Appropriation’, and by emphasizing in turn what is (according to him) an ancient word: ‘The motive force in the showing of Saying is ‘propriating’ [Eignen]’ (127/258).q This means: propriating moves itself in the showing of Saying; and this then becomes, through two further moves of thought, ‘Appropriating’ [Ereignen].
We shall go more fully into the meaning of the word ‘Appropriation’ in an interpretation of the longer passage at the centre of which this key word stands.
For now, these two statements—‘The Way is appropriating [ereignend]’ (129/261) and ‘Appropriation is saying [sagend]’ (131/263)—will suffice to show again how Heidegger identifies ‘Way’ and ‘Saying’. Walter Uhsadel remarked this identification as early as 1961.104
2 While the identification of ‘Way’ and ‘Saying’, or the relating of ‘Saying’ to ‘Way’, is admittedly not an everyday affair from the East Asian perspective, nor something immediately comprehensible to everyone, it is by no means merely arbitrary. The Chinese word dao, which Heidegger mentions several times in this
context (92/198), can be lexically grasped also by the verb ‘say’, which is in certain contexts the appropriate translation.105r The first chapter of the Laozi provides a good example of this, especially since Heidegger was surely acquainted with this chapter and the interpretation of it in the Richard Wilhelm
translation (1911), which discusses these connections [between dao and saying].106s
Heidegger’s way of writing the name Laozi, which he always transcribes as ‘Laotse’, clearly derives from Wilhelm or from Hsiao, who seems to have followed Wilhelm’s romanization.107 All the other translations of the Laozi then extant use a different romanization. And Hsiao must surely have elaborated on Wilhelm with clarifying explanations in the course of the collaboration with Heidegger on the Laozi translation in 1946.
Finally, there is the obvious consideration that Heidegger learaed from Buber’s edition of the Zhuangzi. The semantic correspondences and resonances of various kinds are all too clear, quite apart from the indication (here too) of the relations of dao to Way and speech (Saying).108 To demonstrate these correspondences we shall adduce verbatim three passages from Buber’s afterword and two from the translation.
The word dao means way, path: but since it also has the meaning of speech [Rede], it has sometimes been rendered by ‘Logos’. In Laozi and his disciples, where it has always been developed metaphorically, it is
associated with the first of these meanings. And yet its linguistic atmosphere is actually related to that of the Heraclitean Logos (100). Dao does not mean any kind of world-explanation, but rather that the entire meaning of Being [Sinn des Seins!] rests in the unity of true life, is experienced only in that unity, and that it is precisely this unity taken as the Absolute. If one wants to look away from the unity of true life and contemplate what ‘underlies’ it, there is nothing left but the unknowable, of which no more can be said than that it is unknowable (101).
Dao appears…as the primordial indivisibility…as the ‘spirit of the valley’ that supports everything’ (105–6).
Does Heidegger not revert to this, with a corresponding meaning, when he offers the following formulation?
Dao could thus be the Way that moves everything [der alles be-wëgende
Weg], that from which we might first be able to think what reason, spirit,
meaning, Logos authentically—from their own being—want to say.
Perhaps there is concealed in the word ‘Way’, dao, the mystery of all
mysteries of thinking Saying, if we let these names return to that which is
unspoken in them and are capable of this letting…. [M]ethods …are
simply the effluents of an enormous underground river, of the Way that
moves everything and rushes everything onto its way. All is Way (92/198).
Let us now consolidate by adducing the two passages of translation from the Buber edition of the Zhuangzi. First: ‘The being [Wesen] of perfect dao is deeply hidden; its reaches lose themselves in the dark’ (43). Second: ‘Thus is perfect dao. And thus is also the archetypal Word [thus also Saying]’ (76). Compare the note Heidegger appended near the end of ‘The Way to Language’ in the Gesamtausgabe [‘Word—Saying that announces].t
The attentive reader will presumably be able to ascertain a whole series of further similarities without much difficulty, especially if one juxtaposes these passages and many others in the Buber edition with Heidegger’s eloquent [wortgewandten] and ‘word-changing’ [Worte wandelnden] elucidations.109
Heidegger’s identification of ‘Way’ and ‘Saying’ therefore most likely has its source in texts concerning doctrines of dao in German translations and commentaries. On this premise, together with a consideration of what was presented in Chapter 3 above, his further elucidations of the ‘nature of language’ and the ‘way to language’, in conjunction, of course, with his own explanatory interpretations, become more easily comprehensible and reconstructable. In this way, their enigmatic nature may be to a great extent resolved110—or at least brought closer to resolution by appropriate transpositions, without thereby losing the ‘message’ intended by the author or ‘messenger’ (‘Conversation’ 54/155).
We might thereby discover what Heidegger means when, a few years before his texts on language, he makes the anticipatory remark: ‘The polysemous nature [Mehrdeutigkeit] of Saying by no means consists in a mere accumulation of arbitrary meanings. It lies in a play that, the more richly it unfolds, the more rigorously it remains within a hidden rule’.111
3.1 In dealing with the two main topics of Daoist thought, wu (Nothing) and dao, and with the latter term’s ambiguity between ‘Way’ and ‘Saying’ that inspires Heidegger’s thinking, his programme of textual appropriation employing encoded phrases becomes apparent at a significant level.
Heidegger connects Saying, which has ‘no Being’, with an ‘illuminingconcealing freeing’ of world, or with an illumining-veiling extending of world.112 He thus implicitly associates (in the spirit of Daoist doctrine) ‘Way’ (dao) with region [Gegend] as the freeing ‘clearing [Nothing], in which what is illumined reaches the Open [das Freie, Nothing] together with what conceals itself [Being]’ (91/197). With respect to the identifications discussed in Chapter 3—especially the formulation ‘Being: Nothing: Same’ along with all the subsequent characteristic identifications such as those of ‘clearing’, ‘the Open’ [das Offene], ‘Openness’ [das Freie] with Nothing, and ‘hiddenness’, ‘beingveiled’, and ‘forgottenness’ with Being—all further possible identifications (including their appropriate combinations) are understandable on the model of dao (Way/Saying), wu (Nothing), and yu (Being), quite in Heidegger’s sense, who must have elaborated them according to such formulas. Saying or Sage (dao), then, naturally has no Being.
We can see now that we must constantly be prepared for an encoding employment of words similar in meaning in the context of Heideggerian assimilations if we are not to lose the significant thread that runs throughout his
texts. For, as Heidegger himself says, ‘All is Way’ (WL 92/US 198)—an idea he takes up in numerous variations in both his essays on language. For example:
‘[that which] moves everything [alles Bewëgende]’ or ‘The all-moving moves [be-wëgt] in that it speaks’.113
3.2 Let us now consider, word for word, a longer passage that most likely
represents a well-encoded paraphrase of the concluding four lines of Laozi 25, and of the last line in particular. In von Strauss’ translation they read: ‘The measure [Richtmass] of the human is the earth, /the measure of the earth is heaven, / the measure of heaven is dao, /the measure of dao is itself’.114 Wilhelm translates the last line as follows: ‘Meaning [der SINN, dao] conforms [richtet sich] to itself.115 In the following paraphrase by Heidegger it helps to pay special attention to the word ‘Appropriation’ [Ereignis], which turns out to be an
extremely important key-word, here presumably in a special sense with respect to dao, and more precisely for dao fa zi ran [‘the measure of dao is itself] in the Heideggerian paraphrase: ‘Way, the appropriating-using way-making [die ereignend- brauchende Be-wëgung]’,116 Paraphrasing the aforementioned lines from the Laozi, Heidegger emphasizes the word ‘Appropriation’:
The productive propriation [Eignen] that arouses Saying as show in its
showing may be called ‘appropriating’ [Ereignen]. This produces [er-gibt]
the Open of the clearing, in which what is present persists and from which
what is absent withdraws and can maintain its persistence in withdrawal.
What appropriating produces through Saying [Way/dao] is never the effect
of a cause, nor the consequence of a ground. Productive propriation,
appropriating, is more granting than any effecting, making, and grounding.
The appropriating is Appropriation [das Ereignis] itself—and nothing
besides. Appropriation, seen in the showing of Saying [dao], can be understood neither as an occurrence nor as a happening but only
experienced in the showing of Saying as that which grants. There is
nothing else to which Appropriation leads back, from which it could be
explained. Appropriating is not a product (result) of something else, but the
Product [die (sic.) Ergebnis], from whose generous giving something like
an ‘It gives’ can grant, and which even ‘Being’ needs in order to come into
its own as presencing.
Appropriation gathers the design of Saying [dao] and develops it into
the structure [Gefüge] of manifold showing. Appropriation is the most
inconspicuous of the inconspicuous, the simplest of the simple, the nearest
of the near, and the farthest of the far, in which we mortals spend our
What holds sway in Saying [dao], Appropriation, can be named only by
saying: It—Appropriation [Ereignis]—propriates [eignet].117
Drawing on the doctrine of dao, especially as exemplified in the relevant chapters of the Laozi, Appropriation is naturally for Heidegger ‘not a law in the sense of a norm that hovers somewhere above us’.118 The passage just quoted speaks clearly enough in its detailed para-phrasing the language of the Dao de jing, and especially of the last line of Chapter 25.119
There turns out to be a series of unmistakable resonances with doctrines of dao in the course of the two essays on language, the documentation and interpretation of which will be reserved for a later, more detailed exegesis. In what is for us by now a typical paraphrase (to give another example), Heidegger employs this formulation oriented specially towards Laozi 25: ‘Language as world-moving [Welt-bewëgende] Saying [dao] is the relation [Verhältnis] of all relations’.120
And also: ‘Appropriation, propriating-holding-self-retaining, is the relation of all relations’.121 With this the circle is closed. Appropriation is It itself, so of itself (ziran), ‘and nothing besides’,122 just as dao is dao.123
In view of the topics that have been sketched here, it will now be easier to understand Heidegger’s at first surprising claim to the effect that ‘the nature [Wesen] of language can be nothing language-like’ (‘Conversation’, 24/114), which is quite comprehensible in the light of Daoist ideas and resembles the Heideggerian dicta to the effect that the Being of beings can be nothing existent and the nature [Wesen] of the thing nothing thingly (see above, 3.2.1).
3.3 The supposition that Heidegger has drawn from Daoist sources here again can be confirmed by a further remark in which he interprets his own thought. In the Le Thor seminar of 1969 he says unambiguously and in consonance with what has just been presented: ‘With Appropriation one is no longer thinking in a
Greek way at all’ (‘SLT’ 104). He is thus apparently resuming his interpretation of Being (see Chapter 3), and he remarks, moreover, unambiguously that Being is appropriated by Appropriation (‘SLT’ 103).
Nor do these late remarks of Heidegger’s stand alone.124 For with respect to the being of language he says as early as 1951, a few years after his collaboration with Hsiao, ‘Language would be Saying’, following this with the statement:
‘Even [the Greeks] themselves never thought this being [Wesen] of language, not even Heraclitus’.125 But if Heidegger with his idea of Appropriation is no longer thinking in a Greek way at all, and not only here in the case of Appropriation, is he then thinking in a purely Heideggerian way—or in a somewhat Chinese way?
3.4 In view of his engagement with a number of non-Western topoi (or keywords), it is not improbable that Heidegger, with his penchant for poetic expression, received early on, long before Being and Time, inspiring and significant [wegweisend] stimulation from reading the appealing and delightful Zhuangzi of Martin Buber (1910), along with other works, and from being aided by knowledgeable conversation partners. Such stimulation might well have encouraged him, for example, to turn a phrase such as this: ‘Being silent corresponds to the soundless chiming of the stillness of appropriating-showing Saying’.126 In other words, being silent corresponds to dao.
This locution and other topoi that will simply be listed here—such as ‘releasement’, ‘simplicity’, ‘renunciation’, ‘hiddenness’, the ‘fourfold’, and ‘nameless’ (see 15), as well as ‘boundless’, ‘useless’, and also ‘enframing’ [Gestell] in the context of the critique of technology127—can be traced more or less directly to the Martin Buber edition of the Zhuangzi (including Buber’s ‘Afterword’). They would thus not have escaped the notice of Martin Heidegger on his path [Way] of thinking.
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|Subject: Re: Heidegger's Hidden Sources Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:55 am|| |
Being & Nothingness are the Same.
Being is not being, but no-thing, i.e., be-coming.
Coming of being into a clearance - presence appearing.
The form of an organism is a clearing - of space/time - to come into being, to be-come present.
It appropriates by concealing.
Do we see into the being?
No, it is concealed, and in its concealing it is revealed.
An organism appropriates possibilities, withholding them from an-other - this is why Heraclitus says 'all is war' agon
, struggle...and I say that existing is experienced as need/suffering.
Need/Suffering, struggle, is the experiencing of existing.
- Quote :
late Middle English: from late Latin appropriatus, past participle of appropriare ‘make one's own’, from ad- ‘to’ + proprius ‘own, proper’.
To be present in your presence is to be present to your own struggle.
Self-awareness increases insecurity and vulnerability.
This is where nihilism begins as a defensiveness, rejecting that which exposes it to its own struggle.
Ergo, nihilism rejects reality and replaces it with ideology - idea/ideal - expressed semiotically, i.e., symbols/words.
Only here can it hope to distance itself from itself - detach mind from body.
I've offered my own positions on this mind/body dissonance in the thread [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
it is at the root of what we experience today as "identity crisis".
Individuals denying the body's appearance, and claiming to be "spirits" - souls, i.e., ideas/ideals - "trapped" in physicality, in corporeality, i.e., tangible, experienced, empirical (appearance) - the exoteric is substituted by the esoteric, and declared insubstantial - irony of ironies.
The mind flees from itself into whatever offers relief from its won presence - its own need/suffering.
Last edited by Satyr on Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:13 am; edited 4 times in total
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|Subject: Re: Heidegger's Hidden Sources Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:08 am|| |
Nothing is not nothingness, no more than chaos is complexity.
Being in nothing and nothing is being - same.
Chaos is order and order is chaos - same - energy, or interactivity, dynamism, movement/momentum...all words describing the same.
Energy = to be in the midst of work, creation, agitation.
Allusion to energy vibrations - see Super string Theory.
Space - possibility - when shifting in a predictable sequence of possible interactions - made probable - is called matter/energy, or thingness, i.e., order.
I've called it "pattern".
Space - possibility - when shifting in a random sequence of possible interactions , improbable -is called darkness, void, nothingness, i.e., chaos.
I've called it random or non-pattern.
Time is a measure of interactivity, i.e., change, using self as the standard - or some external device mimicking organic metabolic rhythms, i.e. clock, spring,tension, pendulum, quartz, hourglass etc.
The on/off of cellular systolic diastolic sequences is replaces with a more reliable consistent oscillation.
Linear time is the process of movement towards - increasing - randomness; movement towards chaos, expulsion of space/time towards infinity.
This movement towards is also a movement away from order, or the theoretical singularity of an immutable determined and determining past, i.e., causality.
Infinity is not a thing, but a process describing a movement towards....no more than universe is a whole - held as such by the human mind (abstraction).