File spoon-archives/heidegger.archive/heidegger_1998/heidegger.9804, message 111

Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 18:05:08 +0200
Subject: Thea, theoria, looking

Cologne, 29 April 1998

Mike Staples schrieb:
> When you say something like "What theory...Heidegger doesn't have
> a theory" I guess I blow two ways. On the one hand, I take this as an
> indication that, first, I need to be aware of the meaning of the word
> "theory", and not get too loose with my use of it. And of course, with
> Heidegger, this word has a particular significance.

Michael, I’m taking a quick break from overwork to write something philosophical 
to you (for my own sanity). 

As you point out, Heidegger has indeed a lot to say about “theory”. Such as the 
following from his _Parmenides_ lectures in WS 1942/43: 

“‘To look’ in Greek is _theao_. This word is familiar, remarkably enough (or 
should we rather say: miraculously enough?) only in the medial form _theaomai_, 
which is rendered as “look at” or “look on”; for this reason, we talk of 
_theatron_, the looking-place, the “theatre”. _Theaomai_, thought in a Greek 
way, however, means: to bring into one’s gaze, the gaze, namely _thea_, in the 
sense of the view which something offers and gives of itself. _Theao_, “to 
look”, therefore does not mean at all seeing in the sense of a representing 
looking at and looking on through which humans direct themselves towards beings 
as ‘objects’ and apprehend them. _Theao_ is rather the looking in which the 
looker shows itself, proffers (_daio_) itself in the view of its essence, i.e. 
emerges into unhiddenness and comes to stand as something unhidden. Looking, 
especially the looking of humans, experienced in its origins, is not an 
apprehending of something, but rather a self-showing only with regard to which 
an apprehending gaze becomes possible. If humans experience looking already and 
only from themselves and even conceive of looking ‘from themselves’ as egos and 
subjects, then looking is a ‘subjective’ activity directed at objects. If, 
however, humans experience their own looking, i.e. in this context the look of 
humans, not as a ‘reflection’ onto themselves as the ones who make 
representations in looking, if humans experience rather the look as the 
looking-at of other humans they encounter in a reflectionless 
allowing-to-encounter, then it is disclosed that the look/gaze of the 
encountering humans shows itself to be that in which humans themselves wait 
vis-à-vis others, i.e. appear and are. The looking that waits vis-à-vis and the 
look experienced in this way decrypt (unshelter) humans who are themselves 
encountered in their essential grounding.” (GA54:152f)

“The ‘faces’ which things make, their ‘look’, is called _eidos_ or _idea_. Being 
-- idea -- is what shows itself in every being and looks forth out of every 
being, for which reason beings can be comprehended at all as beings by humans. 
That which looks into everything usual, that which is un-usual and eerie as that 
which shows itself from the beginning, is that which looks originarily par 
excellence: _to theaon_, i.e. _to theion_: this is rendered, without thinking in 
a Greek way, but ‘correctly’, as ‘the divine’. _Hoi theoi_, the so-called gods, 
the ones who look into the usual and commonplace and who look everywhere in the 
commonplace are _hoi daimones_, the pointing and hinting ones.” (GA54:154)

“_Thea_ (accent on the e), the look, as the essence of emergent standing-there, 
and _thea_ (accent on the a), the goddess, are one and the same word...” 

This is all very rough, and without any interpretation, but pabalum perchance.
The gods are those who look in on human affairs, commonplace and otherwise. When 
it’s overcast I often muse that we are being protected from the gods’ gaze. 

We are uncanny because our looking encounters the look of being encountering us 
out of every being. The look of the other is uncanny because they, too, are 
possessed by the look of being.

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ 
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-_

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