File spoon-archives/heidegger.archive/heidegger_2001/heidegger.0107, message 7


Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2001 13:18:42 +0200
Subject: Re: LanguageIsTheHouseOfBeing


Cologne 03-Jul-2001

Bob Guevara schrieb Mon, 2 Jul 2001 18:42:45 -0700:

> very interesting commentary by Richard Polt.
> (not proofread .. sorry ---bob}

Bob,
Interesting indeed.

Two consequences:
i) There are no facts.
ii) There are no metaphors.

Re i) Facts are only facts in a world.

Re ii) And yet, when people talk about Heidegger's thinking (which has nothing
to do with them thinking themselves), they slip thoughtlessly into talking about
this 'metaphor' and that 'metaphor' without even the ghost of a question: What
is a metaphor? How is language understood for there to be such things as
metaphors? What the hell am I saying when I ask about Heidegger's 'metaphor' of
language as the house of being?

Plato is the thinker who discovered that every 'saying' is a 'saying something'.
Husserl re-discovered this over two millennia later. The great danger for
thinking today and every day is forgetfulness. Today's modern (natural and
social) scientific thinking has forgotten where it comes from and thus also that
it is still held in the firm hold of this origin, this point of outset. It
deludes itself that it has made progress.

Perhaps the 'as'-phenomenon is the scaffolding for world-building.

Michael
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>
> -----------------
>
> Poetry and language
>
> Now I am tempted to say that the right expression in language for the
> miracle of the existence of the world, though it is not any proposition in
> language, is the existence of language itself. Wittgenstein's 136
>
> What abides is established by the poets. -- Holderlin, "Remembrance"
>
> 136. Wittgenstein, "A Lecture on Ethics", in Philosophical Occasions, pp.
> 434.
>
> 174
>
> We have not yet discussed one of Heidegger's best-known lines from the I
> "Letter on Humanism": "Language is the house of Being. "137 It is a
> memorable but enigmatic dictum. Obviously Heidegger wants to link language
> and Being closely together. But what does he mean by "house"? Why - we
> automatically ask - does he resort to speaking so poetically, so
> metaphorically?
>
> Our question betrays certain assumptions about language itself that are
> ingrained in common sense.
>
> (a) We assume that language is essentially a tool used by human beings to
> communicate information. Heidegger must have in mind some fact he wants to
> point out, and he is using words in order to do so. In a more ordinary
> example, if my head aches and I want to tell the doctor about it, I say, "I
> have a headache". If I were in a Spanish-speaking country I'd say, "Me duele
> la cabeza". The same fact can be expressed in many different languages. A
> competent speaker is in control of the language, and can use it to convey
> data efficiently to his or her audience. In their quest for greater
> efficiency in communication, people have devised artificial languages that
> give them more control, such as Esperanto, symbolic logic, computer
> programming languages, and the technical languages of the sciences. The goal
> is to set up a system in which each sign can be interpreted only one way -
> each sign points so unambiguously at what it represents that the sign itself
> becomes completely unobtrusive. The perfect language is a technique for
> perfect representation.
>
> (b) We also assume that everyday, prosaic language is the norm, and poetic
> language is derivative. "My house is on Vine Street" is a normal, everyday
> statement; it efficiently communicates a fact. "Language is the house of
> Being" is a metaphorical statement, since of course, language is not
> literally a house built with bricks and timber. Heidegger could have made.
> his point more prosaically, but for some reason he wants to speak
> poetically. Poetry - we assume - takes everyday language and applies certain
> techniques to it (rhyme, meter, alliteration, metaphor, and so on) in order
> to create an artwork. The resulting poem makes us notice the words
> themselves, the means of communication, in addition to the information that
> is being communicated. The result can be a pleasant aesthetic experience.
>
> Heidegger's concern with language is especially obvious in his later essays,
> but it was always a part of his thought.' Let's return for a moment to a
> lecture course of 1925 in order to challenge the two common-sense
> assumptions we listed.
>
> (a) Using the example of Latin in Catholicism, Heidegger discusses the
> phenomenon of "dead languages":
>
> ...as "dead" this language is no longer subject to changes in meaning
> ...whereas in any "living" language contexts of meaning change with
>
> 137. "Letter on Humanism", in Basic Writings, p. 217.
> 138. For Heidegger's own reflections on the developing role of language in
> his thought, see "A Dialogue on Language between a Japanese and an
> Inquirer", in On the Way to Language.
>
> changes in the interpretation of historical Dasein at the time . . . A
> language has its genuine Being only as long as new correlations of meaning
> and so - although not necessarily - new words and phrases accrue to it from
> understanding . . .139
>
> This passage suggests that it is misguided to try to fixate language and
> turn it into an unambiguous tool for communicating information and
> representing beings. Representation -or in more Heideggerian terms, the
> unconcealment of beings - always occurs historically, in the context of some
> communal understanding that is in a process of development. Even an ordinary
> headache presents itself to me thanks to my historical Being-in-the-world:
> because I am modern and not medieval, I experience the headache as something
> that interferes with my work and should be fixed, rather than as a sign of
> the fallen condition of the flesh, which should be endured piously and
> patiently. This is not to suggest that there is no truth, but that truth is
> always linked to historically evolving interpretations. These "correlations
> of meaning", as Heidegger calls them, tend to become language.
>
> If Heidegger is right, the same fact cannot be expressed in many different
> languages, because beings and "information" present themselves differently
> according to different cultural contexts. The quest for a universal,
> unambiguous language can only succeed in creating stillborn languages -
> languages that are locked into a particular interpretation and are incapable
> of responding creatively to new experience. Artificial languages are not
> more objective than natural ones - they are just narrower and more rigid.
>
> Language can never be just a tool that we control, because in a sense, we
> owe our own Being to language. Language plays a part in the fundamental
> revelation of the world; it is part of what enables us to be someone and
> notice things in the first place. Even before I choose the right words in
> which to express the fact that I have a headache, the headache has been
> revealed to me within a context that is partly linguistic.
>
> When Bertrand Russell complains of Heidegger, "language is here running
> riot"," Russell's own language may be revealing more than he knows about
> how he thinks of language. Do we speak well by policing our words, which are
> always on the verge of breaking into mob violence? Or do we learn to speak
> well by learning to respect the mysterious powers of language?
>
> (b) On everyday language and poetic language, Heidegger remarks:
>
> . . . even relatively original and creative meanings and the words coined
> from them are, when articulated, relegated to idle talk. Once articulated,
> the word belongs to everyone, without a guarantee that its repetition will
> include original understanding. This possibility of genuinely entering into
> the discourse nevertheless exists . . . discourse, especially
>
> 139. History of the Concept of Time, p. 271 140. Russell, Wisdom of the
> rest, p. 303.
>
> 176
>
> poetry, can even bring aabout the release of new possibilities of the Being
> of Dasein. 141
>
> Here, Heidegger thinks of poetry not as a source of some special aesthetic
> pleasure, but as a force that can reveal our world and transform our
> existence. Poetry is certainly much less common than ordinary prose, but
> that does not mean that it is less fundamental. Poetic language is
> fundamental because it is "the elementary emergence into words, the
> becoming-uncovered, of existence as Being-in-the-world".'42 Everyday "idle
> talk" is a pale, dull reflection of "creative meanings" such as those
> achieved in poetry.
>
> This view of poetry fits perfectly with Heidegger's understanding of
> authenticity and history. Both in an individual life and in the history of a
> people, the lucid and creative moments are few; the rest is inauthentic and
> derivative.
>
> This approach tends to undermine our usual distinction between literal and
> metaphorical uses of language. Consider the possibility that everyday
> statements such as "my house is on Vine Street" are idle talk derived from
> poetry. The word "house" in this sentence, then, does not really have a
> perfectly clear, unambiguous, "literal" meaning - its meaning is just
> well-worn, familiar, and seemingly obvious. What is a house, after all? It
> is a place to live in, a dwelling. But what is it to dwell? This is already
> getting puzzling. Maybe dwelling is something like abiding in an abode and
> resting in it. But what is abiding?   We find ourselves forced into more and
> more "poetic" language, not because we are abandoning reality but because we
> are looking at it more deeply (dwelling on it, we might say)." Perhaps when
> Heidegger says that language is the house of Being, he means it "literally":
> Being abides in language as its abode. There may be no prosaic way of saying
> this well, because ordinary prose is just poetry that has lost its
> disclosive force. What makes poetry poetry is not that it uses special
> poetic techniques, but that it recaptures the illuminating power that
> secretly resides in our ordinary words, letting us see the world as if for
> the first time. We cannot write poetry in symbolic logic, because artificial
> languages have been constructed precisely by restricting the revealing power
> of language. I quote the complaint of a scientifically minded student upon
> reading Keats in a class taught by my wife: "Poetry means too much!"
>
> If Heidegger is right, then our most authentic relation to language is
> poetic. Instead of using language as a tool for representation, we should
> respect it as a rich source of poetic revelation. Heidegger's own writings
> after Being and Time reflect this insight. Not only does his style become
> less technical and more poetic, but he writes about poets - Georg Trakl,
> Rainer Maria Rilke, Stefan George, and above all, Friedrich Holderlin. In
> the thirties and forties, Heidegger delivered three lecture courses on
> Holderlin's concentrated, challenging
>
> 141. History of the Concept of Time, p. 272.
> 142. The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, pp. 1712.
> 143. For Heidegger's exploration of dwelling, see "Building Dwelling
> Thinking", in Basic Writings.
>
> 177
>
> poetry.144 He also wrote a series of shorter essays on Holderlin between
> 1936 and 1968.'" For Heidegger, his early discovery of Holderlin was an
> "earthquake"." He comes to see Holderlin as the poet who opens up new paths
> for Germany and the West. Through Holderlin, Heidegger explores issues such
> as the mission of the West, the German encounter with other cultures, and
> the nature of poetry itself, in its intimate connection with the Being of
> Dasein -for it was Holderlin who wrote, "Poetically man dwells upon the
> earth".
>
> In the 1950s, Heidegger composed a series of essays that take poetry as the
> clue to the essential unfolding of language."' These are subtle, tentative
> pieces that are often focused on poems, and even sound like poems. They are
> difficult essays, but readers will have a good foothold on them if they are
> willing to question the two common-sense assumptions about language we
> discussed above. We thus find Heidegger claiming that "language speaks" (die
> Spracbe spricht):148 we human beings are not the primary speakers, but are
> participants in an event of meaningfulness. We do not fully control this
> process, and language is not a mere tool at our disposal. Heidegger thus
> thinks we can learn nothing about the essence of language by constructing
> formal languages and "metalanguages".'149 Language is not just a human
> construct or a human act, but a deeper "Saying" that should be understood as
> showing - an event of unconcealment.150 Heidegger always insists on the
> primacy of poetry: "Everyday language is a forgotten and therefore used-up
> poem, from which there hardly resounds a call any longer. "151
>
> Alert readers will also notice that Heidegger connects his explorations of
> language to his thoughts on Ereignis. Language is a medium in which Being
> takes hold of us, appropriates us, and allows us and all beings to come into
> our own. "Language is the house of Being because language, as Saying, is the
> mode of Appropriation.152
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-heidegger-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
> > [mailto:owner-heidegger-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu]On Behalf Of Tudor
> > Georgescu
> > Sent: Monday, July 02, 2001 9:52 AM
> > To: heidegger-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
> > Subject: RE:
> >
> >
> > QUOTE:
> > (i) Thinking accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of
> > man. (ii)
> > It does not make or cause the relation. (iii) Thinking brings
> > this relation
> > to Being solely has something handed over to it from Being. (iv) Such
> > offering consists in the fact that in thinking Being comes to
> > language. (v)
> > Language is the house of Being. (vi) In its home man dwells.
> > (vii) Those who
> > think and those who create with worlds are the guardians of this home.
> > (viii) Their guardianship accomplishes the manifestation of Being
> > insofar as
> > they bring the manifestation to language and maintain it in
> > language through
> > their speech. (ix) Thinking does not become action only because
> > some effect
> > issues from it or  because it is applied. (x) Thinking acts insofar as it
> > thinks.
> > END QUOTE
> >
> > To me, though granted, the passage is out of context, this could be the
> > ramblings of a deranged mind. The house metaphor is especially curious --
> > makes little sense. Any comments? Regards, Richard
> >
> > (i) By thinking we know that we are we that are. Thinking links us to God.
> > (ii) It is not the only way and not the essential way. Thinking
> > starts from
> > God, not God from thinking. (iii) Thinking is handed by the Holy Spirit to
> > thinker. (iv) Essence becomes manifest in thinking through
> > speech. His Name
> > may be blessed. (v) In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God,
> > and Word was God (John 1:1). This means that God is the potential Word and
> > the uttered Word became a separate entity, in which God dwells, i.e.
> > constructs reality as reality. (vi) Man is a servant of Logos. We exist by
> > dialogue in the Grand Dialogue. (vii) Poets are keepers of the flame of
> > revelation of the TO BE. They open ways to heavens and care to shut them
> > closed for the profanes. (viii) Man lives by God's Word, not with bread
> > alone. If we are to be a healthy humanity, we should make room for
> > Revelation. Christ has shown Himself to Saul, and Saul is not the only of
> > his kind. Saul saw light, other may think, other may be moved emotionally,
> > religious experiences are infinitely variant. (ix) Spirit has an existence
> > of its own, unlike matter. It has full capacity of engendering life and it
> > does so fully. Plato! (x) Das Kapital moved the masses because it was
> > printed on fine paper or thanks to its tremendous energy? If
> > Spirit is real,
> > then spirits are real.
> >
> >
> >
> > Become what you are!
> >
> > Jethro, Priest of On
> >




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