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Meister Eckhartand the Later Heidegger: The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought Part One JOHN D. CAPUTO I. HEIDEGGERANDMEDIEVALMYSTICISM In the "Introduction" to his habilitation dissertation at Freiburg, The Doctrine 01 Categories and of Meaning in Duns Scotus (1916), the young Heidegger praised the "objective" orientation of medieval philosophy: "Scholastic psychology, precisely inasmuch as it is not focussed upon the dynamic and flowing reality of the psychical remains in its fundamental problems oriented towards the objective and noematic, a circumstance which greatly favors setting one's sight on the phenomenon of intenfionality" (DS, 15).1 While modern philosophy is characterized by a keen sense of subjective experience, the Scholastic thinker is concerned primarily with the object of knowledge, with "being." The Scholastic, he says, is typified by an "absolute surrender" to the "content" of knowledge (DS, 7). In a sentence which is prophetic in the light of what he would later call the "subject matter of thinking" (die Sache des Denkens) Heidegger observes: "The value of the subject matter [Sache] (object) dominates over the value of the self (subject)" (DS, 7). Because thinking "tends into" (intendere ) being, the medievals spoke of the "intentional" character of knowledge. Thus the Scholastics' neglect of subjective experience at least kept them free of the "unphilosx We refer to the works of Heidegger with the following abbreviations: DS: Die Kategorienund Bedeutungslehre des Duns Scotus (Tiibingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1916). EM: Einfiihrung in die Metaphysik, 2. Auflage (Tiibingan: Max Niemeyer, 1958). FND: Die Frage nach dem Ding (Tiibingen: Max Niemeyer, 1962). FW: Der Feldweg, 3. Auflage (Frankfurt: V. KIostermann, 1962). G: Gelassenheit, 2. Auflage (PfuIlingen: Verlag G. Neske, 1960). HB: "Brief fiber den 'Humanismus'" in Platons Lehre yon der Wahrheit Mit einen Brie! iiber den "Humanismus," 2. Auflage (Bern: A. Francke Verlag, 1954). HW: Holzwege, 4. Auflage (Frankfurt: V. KIostermann , 1963). ID: ldentitiit und Differenz, 3. Auflage (Pfullingen: Verlag G. Neske, 1957). K: Die Technik und die Kehre (Pfullingen: Verlag G. Neske, 1962). KPM: Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik, 3. Auflage (Frankfurt: V. Klostermann, 1956). N I, N II: Nietzsche, 2 Biinde (Pfullingen: Verlag G. Neske, 1962).PT: Phiinomenologie und Theologia (Frankfurt: V. Klostermann , 1970).SD: Zur Sache des Denkens (Tiibingen: Max Niemeyer, 1969). SG: Der Satz yore Grund, 3. Auflage (Pfullingen: Verlag G. Neske, 1965).SZ: Sein und Zeit, 10. Auflage(Tiibingen: Max Niemeyer, 1963). US: Unterwegs zur Sprache, 3. Auflage (Pfullingen: Verlag G. Neske, 1965). VA: Vortri~ge und Au/siitze, 2. Auflage (Pfullingen: Verlag G. Neske, 1959). WD: Was Heisst Denken?, 2. Auflage (Tiibingen: Max Niemeyer, 1961).WG: Vom Wesen des Grundes, 5. Auflage (Frankfurt: V. Klostermann, 1965). WM: Was ist Metaphysik?, 9. Auflage (Frankfurt: V. Klostermann, 1965).WW: Vom Wesen der Wahrheit, 4. Auflage (Frankfurt: V. Klostermann, 1961). All translations are our own. When we consult the following translations, we refer to them by "e.t." after citing the original text: G: Discourse on Thinking, trans. John Anderson and E. Hans Freund (New York: Harper, 1966). WD: What ix Called Thinking?, trans. F. D. Wieck and J. Glenn Gray (New York: Harper, 1968). [479] 480 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY ophy of psychologism" (DS, 14). Heidegger found in the medievals an anticipation of the work of Husserl, who would come to Freiburg this same year (1916) and whose Logical Investigations he had been studying for some time (SD, 82). Both Husserl and the author of De modis significandf2 reject the reduction of the laws of logic to the empirical constitution of the human mind; both seek a "pure" grammar which delineates unchanging relationships between the parts of speech and which holds true a priori of every possible empirical language (DS, 149-150). The simple but challenging task for thinking in the medieval world was to subordinate the "individuality of the individual" (DS, 7) to the demands of the subject matter, to its unchanging structures and "objective meanings." That is why one can read through the great Summae of the thirteenth century without once catching a glimpse of the personalities of their authors. But it would be a mistake, Heidegger contends, to think that behind the objectivity and formalism of the Scholastic there is nothing "riving." On the contrary, "the theoretical posture of...


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