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Postscript to the Preface



Preview of Gelassenheit as a Possible Guiding Attunement to Beings as a Whole, as a Philosophical Access to Being, and as a Name for the Being of Beings



I have left an earlier standpoint, not to exchange it for another one, but because even the former standpoint was merely a way-station along a way. The lasting element in thinking is the way.

—Heidegger, On the Way to Language[1]

The age of phenomenological philosophy seems to be over. It is already taken as something past which is only recorded historically along with other schools of philosophy. But in what is most its own phenomenology is not a school. It is the possibility of thinking, at times changing and only thus persisting, of corresponding to the claim of what is to be thought. If phenomenology is thus experienced and retained, it can disappear as a designation in favor of the matter of thinking whose manifestations remains a mystery.

—Heidegger, “My Way to Phenomenology”[2]

The transition from willing into releasement is what seems difficult to me.

—Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking[3]


The question, finally, would then be: What is Gelassenheit?

In the spirit of Heidegger’s hesitant sketches during his Kehre, the following would likewise be our own intimations of Gelassenheit—what it may mean, its potential importance to Heidegger’s later thought, or even, perhaps, its possible place in the “other beginning” the thinker envisions after the end of philosophy.

Nevertheless, it must be said from the onset that the thinking that is to come can never settle anything—how could it?—and must be interpreted as tentative attempts to think anew the question of Being under a different and thus obscure light. And like us, Heidegger, notwithstanding the breakthrough of thinking accomplished in Being and Time, already knew by then that it was necessary for him to disclose from the beginning that since “our powers are essentially inferior,”[4] any essential thinking must always remain preparatory and thus only on the way to Being. To guide us on our own future attempts which we prepare for here, we pay heed to the words Heidegger wrote after he outlined the planned destruction of the history of ontology in Being and Time:

In this field where “the matter is deeply veiled,” any investigation will avoid overestimating its results. For such inquiry is constantly forced to face the possibility of disclosing a still more original and more universal horizon from which it could draw the answer to the question “What does ‘being’ mean?”[5]

Thus any future thinking of Gelassenheit will also have to be what the word essentially means: a thinking which begins and remains open—to the last. And perhaps this is what Heidegger means when he would later say that “We do not come to thoughts. They come to us.”[6]

*


If the earlier section ended by saying that Gelassenheit is defined negatively as non-willing, and if the later Heidegger will attempt to leave the metaphysics of the will behind, what would Gelassenheit then positively mean, and, in turn, what would be its philosophical status? Would it remain in metaphysics or instead become a metaphilosophy? Or would it finally lead to mysticism as others have held? In other words, it has to be asked here in line with the foregoing project how Gelassenheit may possibly go beyond the metaphysics of the will.

Thus, to preliminary answer such questions, and to serve as both the end of the present work and the beginning of further reflection, we here attempt to give a preview of the possible place and meaning Gelassenheit may attain and gain in Heidegger’s later thought. To give us some guidelines for future research, we here propose that in the “other beginning,” Heidegger thinks Gelassenheit to be the following: first, as the new mood (Stimmung) which attunes man in a non-willing way to beings as a whole; second, that Gelassenheit can offer the possibility of still thinking Being philosophically without regard to metaphysics; and, third, that Gelassenheit itself presents a new manner of understanding the meaning of Being. These three hypotheses on Gelassenheit will be worked out accordingly in what follows.

First, Gelassenheit easily lends itself to be interpreted as the grounding-attunement to beings as a whole which Heidegger will develop in his later thought. As early as in his lectures before Being and Time, Heidegger showed that moods (Stimmung) when thought fundamentally, are able to disclose beings as a whole. As that however momentary and positive (or negative) access to beings as a whole, such moods place the particular existence of Dasein in question—and, as a being made questionable, Dasein is then able to question its own being and being in general. The early Heidegger gave many examples of these privileged moods which may expose man’s attunement to Being. In Being and Time, as is well known already, Heidegger deftly developed the following Stimmung: Angst in the recognition that Dasein is a being-towards-death; resolve or decisiveness (Entschlossenheit) in rescuing one’s Dasein from “the They” on the way to a more authentic existence; and, as the guiding mood which gathers the others, Care (Sorge) as a fundamental disposition of being-in-the-world of things and other Dasein. Elsewhere, he would also develop other moods such as boredom and joy in “What is Metaphysics?” (1929),[7] startled dismay (Erschrecken), reservedness (Verhaltenheit), and reticence (Verschweigung) in Contributions to Philosophy) (1936–1938).[8] But in Gelassenheit (1959), translated into the English as Discourse on Thinking, Heidegger would reveal a new tonality which could provide Dasein another access to Being and beings as a whole in a markedly different fashion. And this new mood is none other than Gelassenheit or “releasement.”

In its modern German usage, the word Gelassenheit means “composure” or “calmness.” Such a sense of the word, however, derives only from the original meaning of the Middle High German verb lâzen which, in turn, means “to let” or “to let be.” As mentioned earlier, it was Meister Eckhart who first coined the word gelâzenheit to describe that tranquil comportment which could only be gained when the soul (sêle) is able to let things be. But to be sure, the mystic used the word in a very particular sense, that is, in a moral and religious sense as for Eckhart, gelâzenheit was respectively a way of relating to both creation and to God.[9] The mystic thus taught that man must first learn how to let God and creation be in order to be united with the ineffable Godhead in a unio mystica. Eckhart’s gelâzenheit, therefore, can only be understood positively as the other side of a “letting go” of the things one desired in the world. In sum, “to let be” also secondarily means “to let go” or “to abandon” or “to renounce.”

It is important to note here meanwhile that for Heidegger, such a mystical union between God and the released man implied that one gives up his will in favor of the “will of God.” Thus for Heidegger, Eckhart’s gelâzenheit nevertheless remains in the domain of the metaphysics of the will because such a transfer of the will can be considered as covert willing. In “Conversation Upon a Country Path About Thinking” (compiled from his notes from 1944–1945 and published in Discourse on Thinking), Heidegger explicitly mentions Meister Eckhart and gives the following passing but critical remarks through the interlocutors:

Scientist: The transition from willing into releasement [Gelassenheit] is what seems difficult for me.

Teacher: And all the more, since the nature of releasement is still hidden.

Scholar: Especially so because even releasement can still be thought of as within the domain of the will, as is the case with old masters of thinking such as Meister Eckhart.

Teacher: From whom, all the same, much can be learned.

Scholar: Certainly; but what we have called releasement evidently does not mean casting off sinful selfishness and letting self-will go in favor of the divine will.

Teacher: No, not that.[10]

Heidegger would nonetheless borrow Eckhart’s “letting be” and consider Gelassenheit as that new tonality which relates man with beings as a whole. But for the thinker, in contrast to the preacher’s original meaning of it, Gelassenheit would mean thus: a letting go of beings and a letting be of Being. That is to say, unlike technological will to will which holds back Being and frames beings as standing-reserve through calculative thought, Gelassenheit for Heidegger would be, first, another possible way of relating to beings where we would “no longer view things only in a technical way,”[11] and, second, Gelassenheit would also be that “comportment which enables us to keep open to the meaning hidden in technology” which today leads to the forgetfulness of Being.[12] Correspondingly, Gelassenheit for Heidegger would then essentially be what he calls releasement toward things (beings) and openness to the mystery (of Being). In his “Memorial Address” (1955) (also in Discourse on Thinking), which he delivered in his hometown of Messkirch in honor of the German composer Conradin Creutzer, Heidegger gives the following enigmatic lines which suggest the profound weight he places on Gelassenheit as the new comportment before beings as a whole:

Releasement toward things and openness to the mystery belong together. They grant us the possibility of dwelling in the world in a totally different way. They promise us a new ground and foundation upon which we can stand and endure in the world of technology without being imperiled by it.

Releasement toward things and openness to the mystery give us a vision of a new autochthony [rootedness] which someday even might be fit to recapture the old and now rapidly disappearing autochthony in a changed form.[13]

Thus, it was in releasement toward things that Heidegger envisioned a new kind of being in the world. Such releasement calls on man to let go of beings (as objects to be reckoned with through calculation) and at the same let them be (as things that they are).[14] Although such releasement points to a seemingly ambivalent relation to things, Heidegger nevertheless claims that by learning how to let things be as they are, we may perhaps find a new autochthony on the earth—or a new rootedness which allows us to once again dwell under a bright sky, rebuild a world proper for mortal men, and learn how to finally think faithfully as we await the return of the gods.

In addition, the words openness to the mystery may indicate for the later Heidegger man’s attunement to Being itself. If Being and Time showed the need for Dasein to in the end be resolute and decisive, Heidegger would later describe man as composed, patient and even relaxed. In the “Conversation,” Heidegger would illustrate such a comportment through a phenomenology of steadfast waiting [Warent]. Again, in the words of the teacher, the scholar, and the scientist, a relaxed posture of waiting is portrayed as follows:

Teacher: In waiting we leave open what we are waiting for.

Scholar: Why?

Teacher: Because waiting releases itself into openness . . .

Scholar: . . . into the expanse of distance . . .

Teacher: . . . in whose nearness it finds the abiding in which it remains.

Scientist: But remaining is a returning.

Scholar: Openness itself would be that for which we could do nothing but wait.[15]

Thus, following Heidegger, the guiding mood of Gelassenheit is here preliminarily designated as an openness to Being—like the openness which waiting essentially is. Openness then may positively indicate what Gelassenheit as a tonality to Being can mean. But in line with the foregoing concern of this work, it is important to say here again that Heidegger claims that Gelassenheit as openness lies “beyond the distinction between activity and passivity.”[16] Or in other words, “releasement does not belong to the domain of the will.”[17] Thus in Gelassenheit as openness we have a possible though as yet undetermined comportment toward Being which hypothetically lies beyond the metaphysics of the will. Yet again, it would be necessary elsewhere to imagine and reflect upon how openness—or any other kind of comportment, mood, and way of being in the world—can truly be beyond the domain of the will without falling into what Heidegger already warned against Eckhart—simple mysticism.

To wind up what has been said on this first point, it is here nevertheless suggested that Eckhart already answered such a problem of determining a possible comportment which could be likened to openness and could be in turn be beyond willing. Because with Eckhart’s gelâzenheit, detachment and letting be do not merely end in blissful mysticism; after these two movements of the soul, a third stage, as it were, accordingly follows. To be precise, Eckhart claimed that the released man also experiences what he called the breakthrough (durchbruch) of the Godhead. It is through this breakthrough that all distinctions are broken, thus leading the soul to an equanimity or impassibility (gelîcheit or Gleichmut) which, in turn, enables man to remain open to all beings in the world equally—perhaps like how God may relate to beings. This is why Eckhart also said that in gelâzenheit, man in the end attains serenity—even joy—before beings and with God. And such peace, it is here imagined, may come only from giving up one’s will: by first confronting it in order to break it (“will to not will”), then by leaving it behind (“willing nothing”) and, instead of merely transferring it covertly to God, by sacrificing it (non-willing?).

The question then of future reflection on the matter is this: can such a sacrifice of the will, as already hinted upon in our confrontation with Schopenhauer, also be interpreted as going beyond the domain of the will? Can sacrifice be likened to the releasement which Heidegger in the “Conversation” described as a “higher acting [which] is yet no activity.”[18] Or, as Heidegger already pointed out, it can be asked if a sacrifice of the will is merely the transfer of self-will to the divine will, which, clearly is a will nonetheless? At bottom, is Heidegger’s criticism of the original thinker of “letting be” then valid, or does the possibility of a composed attunement to beings as a whole that does not fall either into passivity or activity, into indifference or ambivalence, already exist in Meister Eckhart’s thought? Thus, an inquiry into Meister Eckhart is also called for to shed more light on Heidegger’s interpretation of Gelassenheit as the new tonality which enables man to relate freely and equably to beings as a whole in the new beginning.

*


Second, it is here proposed that Gelassenheit can also be interpreted as the essence of a new philosophical “method,” as it were, which Heidegger will develop after the Kehre or what was described in the work as his turn from willing to non-willing. Because the attempt to overcome metaphysics and leave it behind meant that Heidegger will also have to search for a new “method” if he was to begin again in his quest for Being. The question of a proper philosophical access to Being must then be raised—not only to save Heidegger from mysticism or poeticism, but, more importantly, to also secure his later thought and possibly show its continuity with his earlier positions. Or, to be more precise, if Heidegger “abandons” the early project of fundamental ontology which was to transcendentally prepare for any understanding of the meaning of Being, what then would be the new philosophical point of departure, access and passage which Heidegger would use to continue his one true task? To answer: Heidegger will describe his later philosophy simply as “thinking” (Denken); that is to say, it would be in thinking Being alone without regard to beings—even to the being of Dasein—that Heidegger saw the possibility of once again being claimed by Being. But as “thinking” just as easily lends itself to ambiguity, we heuristically suggest that “thinking” might be another name Heidegger uses to describe the methodological access to Being which he received and developed from the very beginning of his Denkweg. In a word, the later Heidegger could have left fundamental ontology behind for a radicalized phenomenology.

To be sure, Heidegger in Being and Time already said that “as far as content goes, phenomenology is the science of the being of beings—ontology.”[19] Not only was the existential analytic of Dasein obviously done phenomenologically, but the unfinished destruction of the history of ontology under the problem of temporality itself was also supposed to have been accomplished using the same phenomenological method.[20] However, given this explicit association between phenomenology and ontology, it is here asked if Heidegger also leaves phenomenology behind along with metaphysics? Or if he nevertheless maintains phenomenology—by name or by essence—in his later thought? And, perhaps more interestingly, it can also be asked if Heidegger does indeed develop his own phenomenology apart from its original determination by Edmund Husserl whom, along with others, Heidegger would later criticize as nevertheless falling into Cartesian subjectivity.[21] If Heidegger’s Kehre has been described as a turn from phenomenology to thought, then such a turning must be grasped concretely not only to set the differences between the two “methods” apart and in doing so to establish their limits, but more importantly, to show any possible continuity between them.

The working hypothesis here is that in and through Gelassenheit, the early Heidegger’s phenomenology would be reduced to its essence which, in turn, allows for another way of thinking Being without metaphysics. How so? Because it is here thought that phenomenology itself can be interpreted essentially as “letting be”: as phenomenology in its originary Greek interpretation is that science (logos) which lets (legein) what shows itself (phainesthai) show itself in its own manner of showness. Furthermore, phenomenology as the study of essences can also be interpreted as an openness to the very essence of beings and Being; and as a sustained openness that “merely” describes phenomena by gathering (legein) them into a saying (legein) which nonetheless does not do violence to them and leaves them as they are, phenomenology may then possibly lie beyond the domain of the will. In sum, phenomenology is here imagined to be Gelassenheit itself thought “methodologically,” that is, as a viable access to Being which is no longer conditioned by Dasein and its will but already by Sein itself—in that what shows itself receives priority over the openness of phenomenology. And the seeds for the possibility that phenomenology can essentially be Gelassenheit can already be found in Being and Time, most especially in the section “The Phenomenological Method of the Investigation” located toward the end of the introduction. And a study of the said section reveals that Heidegger’s however originary (Greek) interpretation of phenomenology nevertheless goes back to its original determination given by Edmund Husserl:

The expression “phenomenology” can be formulated in Greek as legein ta phainomena. But legein means apophainesthai. Hence phenomenology means: apophainesthai ta phainomena—to let what shows itself be seen from itself, just as it shows itself. That is the formal meaning of the type of research that calls itself “phenomenology.” But this expresses nothing other than the maxim formulated above: “To the things themselves!”[22]

For us, it is interesting to note that in his originary “repetition” of phenomenology in Being and Time, Heidegger does not as yet give much importance to the word legein (“to let” or “to say”) and relegates it to the background. That is to say, even if he would often use the word legein in explaining the integral concepts of “phenomenon,” “logos,” and “phenomenology,” the essence and status of “letting” remains ambiguous; there, legein is either substituted for another word or defined tangentially in different ways.

A glance at Heidegger’s later writings, in contrast, will show him reflecting upon the hitherto unnoticed word “to let” and what it may mean. And it is here claimed with much hesitation that Heidegger will discover in the word another possible access to Being; or, in simpler terms, in the word “lassen” Heidegger as it were finds a new way of—precisely—letting Being and beings show themselves. Provisionally, we cite below one such example where Heidegger interprets “letting” as “letting-presence” or, for us, this means that Gelassenheit may be that which lets Being be. In the “Summary of a Seminar on the Lecture on ‘Time and Being’” (1962), Heidegger reflects upon “letting-presence” and, in turn, offers an important indication of what Gelassenheit or “letting be” may mean. As he says there:

1. Letting-presence: Letting-presence: what is present.

2. Letting-presence: Letting presence (that is, thought in terms of Appropriation).

In the first case, presence as letting-presence is related to beings, to what is present. What we mean is the difference underlying all metaphysics between Being and beings and the relation between the two. Taking the original sense of the word as our point of departure, letting means: to let go, let go away, let depart, that is, to set free into the open. What is present, which has been “freed” by letting-presence, is only thus admitted as something present for itself to the openness of co-present beings. Whence and how “the open” is given remains unsaid and worthy of question here.[23]

Thought essentially as that which sets beings “free into the open,” Gelassenheit as “letting-presence” would then be what lets presencing presence, or what allows what is to be, or, what comes to the same, Gelassenheit lets what shows itself manifest itself in its essence. But gathered together, this is still phenomenology.

What Heidegger called “thinking,” meanwhile, can be thought of as the pure reception of what shows itself in the phenomenon—and what shows itself without condition is nothing other than—again—the “things themselves.” Coincidentally in Being and Time, particularly in his study of the concept of phenomenology referred to above, Heidegger already understood that what openly receives things in themselves in a pure apprehension is nothing other than noein itself—or again, Denken. As Heidegger says: “What is in the purest and most original sense “true”—that is, what only discovers in such a way that it can never cover up anything—is pure noein, straightforwardly observant apprehension of the simplest determinations of the being of beings as such.”[24]

Therefore, what Heidegger will call his later philosophy— “thinking”—may only be possible because of both Gelassenheit and phenomenology, or, as developed above, because of Gelassenheit thought methodologically as phenomenology. But grasped essentially, and to tie these remarks with the earlier point, thinking can only think thoughtfully if such a thinking remains open to what bids it to think, if it lets what shows itself show itself on its own accord, that is, if such thinking in the end knows how to wait.

To summarize this point, it is here foreseen that an investigation on Heidegger’s philosophy or “method” under the three titles Gelassenheit, phenomenology and Denken can contribute to understanding his usually neglected later thought. To reiterate, the hypothesis would be that Gelassenheit essentially characterizes Heidegger’s understanding of both phenomenology and Denken. (Hence, Heidegger’s German work Gelassenheit was translated with the title Discourse on Thinking.) But to set into relief what is here provisionally called the later Heidegger’s originary “phenomenological-thinking” under the guideline of Gelassenheit, such an inquiry into phenomenology also entails going back to Husserl’s original determination of it.

*


And third, Gelassenheit may not only be a new grounding attunement to beings as a whole (as openness), or an essential philosophical access to Being (“phenomenological-thinking”), but, it is here imagined that Gelassenheit can also be the name Heidegger will use for Being itself.

To continue what was cited above from the “Summary of a Seminar,” Heidegger reveals that “letting-presence” is not only possible because of a thinking which lets beings be present on this side of a thinking which is receptive to it; in addition, he also says that the openness of thinking can only be possible because of the openness of Being itself which sustains it by letting itself—its own presencing—be present. As Heidegger goes on to say:

But when letting-presence is thought explicitly, then what is affected by this letting is no longer what is present, but presencing itself. Accordingly, in what follows the word is also written as: letting-presence. Letting then means: to admit, give, extend, send, to let-belong. In and through this letting, presencing is admitted to that to which it belongs.

The determining double meaning thus lies in letting, accordingly in presencing, too. . . . Speaking formally, a determining relation exists between both members of the opposition: Only because there is letting presence, is the letting-presence of what is present possible.[25]

That is to say, “letting-presence,” as seen earlier, is on the one hand the thinking that lets what presences presence; and on the other, “letting presence” is here though to be that which admits, gives, extends, sends and lets itself belong to presencing. In a word: “letting-presence”—Denken; “Letting presence”—Sein; or: DenkenGelassenheit—Sein. Because for Heidegger, thinking can only let beings be because Being itself lets beings be. Or Being itself is “Letting-Be” or—Seinlassen.

That is to say, if thinking is openness to the presencing of Being, then this is only made possible because Being in turn is the disclosure of such presencing. Or, what comes to the same, Gelassenheit as openness and “letting-presence” clears an opening wherein Being and beings in turn may let themselves show themselves in their own proper presencing. As such a clearing-opening, Gelassenheit is the Lichtung which allows and lets the light of Being shine luminously from its hiding. And this mutual clearing for and letting and showing of presencing between man and Being: what the Greeks already thought with the silent word alētheia. Thus a reflection on the thought of the later Heidegger on the truth of Being as letting, disclosing and presencing in turn requires a retrieval of Early Greek Thinking.[26]

Gathered together, the preliminary remarks above hinted upon the meaning of Gelassenheit and its possible place in the other beginning which Heidegger envisions after the end of philosophy. Gelassenheit is hereby imagined to be a thinking which openly waits upon the event when Being may finally disclose its most primal truth, that is, upon that event which the philosopher Martin Heidegger in Being and Time marginally noted as Ereignis.



[1]Martin Heidegger, On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (New York: HarperCollins, 1982), 12.

[2]Heidegger, “My Way to Phenomenology,” in On Time and Being, 82.

[3]Martin Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking: a Translation of Gelassenheit, trans. John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966), 62.

[4]Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. Joan Stambaugh (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 34.

[5]Ibid., 23.

[6]Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet,” in Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Perennial, 2001), 6.

[7]Martin Heidegger, “What is Metaphysic?” trans. David Farrell Krell, in Pathmarks, ed. William McNeill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 82-96.

[8]Martin Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning), trans. Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999). See especially pp. 11-12, 15-17, and 24-26.

[9]And this bidirectional movement of gelâzenheit mirrors Heidegger’s interpretation of Gelassenheit as a proper comportment to both beings and Being. This is John D. Caputo’s main thesis in his The Mystical Element in Heidegger’s Thought (New York: Fordham University Press, 1986).

[10]See Heidegger, “Conversation Upon a Country Path About Thinking,” in Discourse on Thinking, 61. Heidegger’s passing remark on Eckhart as remaining in the metaphysics of the will needs to be further inquired into.

[11]Martin Heidegger, “Memorial Address,” in Discourse on Thinking, 54.

[12]Ibid., 55.

[13]Ibid.

[14]Or as Heidegger says of this “yes” and “no” to beings which have been framed as technological devices: “We can use technical devices, and yet with proper use also keep ourselves so free of them, that we may let go of them at any time. We can use technical devices as they ought to be used, and also let them alone as something which does not affect our inner and real core. We can affirm the unavoidable use of technical devices, and also deny them the right to dominate us, and so to warp, confuse, and lay waste our nature.” Ibid., 54.

[15]Heidegger, “Conversation,” Discourse on Thinking, 68.

[16]Ibid., 61

[17]Ibid.

[18]The line reads: “Perhaps a higher acting is concealed in releasement than is found in all the actions within the world and in the machinations of all mankind . . . which higher acting is yet no activity.” Ibid.

[19]Heidegger, BT, 33. And as Heidegger also says in same section (§7 “The Phenomenological Method of the Investigation”): “Phenomenology is the way of access to, and the demonstrative manner of determination of, what is to become the theme of ontology. Ontology is only possible only as phenomenology. The phenomenological concept of phenomenon, as self-showing, means the being of beings—its meaning, modifications, and derivatives.” See BT, 33. Or in a more explicit manner, Heidegger continues by saying: “Ontology and phenomenology are not two different disciplines which among others belong to philosophy. Both terms characterize philosophy itself, its object and procedure. Philosophy is universal phenomenological ontology, taking its departure from the hermeneutic of Dasein, which, as an analysis of existence, has fastened the end of the guideline of all philosophical inquiry at the point from which it arises and to which it returns.” See BT, 34.

[20]Immediately following §6 “The Task of a Destructuring of the History of Ontology,” Heidegger says the following lines to indicate the method he was to use in accomplishing the destruction: “With the guiding question of the meaning of being the investigation arrives at the fundamental question of philosophy in general. The treatment of this question is phenomenological. With this term the treatise dictates for itself neither ‘standpoint’ nor a ‘direction,’ because phenomenology is neither of these and can never be as long as it understands itself. The expression ‘phenomenology’ signifies primarily a concept of method.” See BT, 24.

[21]The “feud” between the master and successor of phenomenology has been well documented. While Heidegger dedicated Being and Time to Husserl “in friendship and admiration,” a rift between the two—at once personal and philosophical—occurred after the publication of the magnum opus. The debate on the matter mainly focuses on whether Husserl’s phenomenology ends up being “trapped” in the Cartesian ego (which for us means remaining in the metaphysics of the will) as others have held, and if so, if the “later” Husserl succeeds in going beyond it by developing what he called transcendental intersubjectivity. Heidegger’s early and later interpretations of phenomenology vis-à-vis Husserl’s must be considered as well in order to see how Heidegger is able to rescue his phenomenology from the problem he may have inherited from Husserl. For an account of some of these differences between Husserl and Heidegger, see Hans-Georg Gadamer’s “The Phenomenological Movement” in his Philosophical Hermeneutics, trans. and ed. David E. Linge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), 130-181.

[22]Heidegger, BT, 30.

[23]Martin Heidegger, “Summary of a Seminar on the Lecture ‘On Time and Being,’” in On Time and Being, 37.

[24]Heidegger, BT, 29.

[25]Heidegger, “Summary of a Seminar,” TB, 37.

[26]And to be sure, Heidegger does go back to the Greeks of the “first beginning”—to the Pre-Socratics—and their originary words such as logos, alētheia and moira in his later lectures. See especially Heidegger, Early Greek Thinking, trans. David Farrell Krell and Frank A. Capuzzi (New York: Harper & Row, 1984).




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Heraclitus, Fragment 52


The child at play never asks itself why it plays. The child just plays; and if it could, it will play as long as possible, it will play throughout its life. See its delight and witness its smile.

If it would never go hungry or if the sun would never set it too will never leave its playmates and playthings. Time flies at play because it stops or suspends time. Time -- as we grownups only know too well -- is the culprit for order, schedules and priorities; yet for the child, there is no time, there is only bottomless play. It is we who impose that this or that should be done at this or that time. We stop the absurd and supposedly endless play ("He does nothing but play") because we insist that discipline, order and priorities be instilled in the child at an early age ("He needs to learn other things beside playing"). So that the child will become like us one da…