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Heidegger and the Will

On the Way to Gelassenheit

Davis, Bret W.

Publication Year: 2007

The problem of the will has long been viewed as central to Heidegger's later thought. In the first book to focus on this problem, Bret W. Davis clarifies key issues from the philosopher's later period particularly his critique of the culmination of the history of metaphysics in the technological "will to will" and the possibility of Gelassenheit or "releasement" from this willful way of being in the world but also shows that the question of will is at the very heart of Heidegger's thinking, a pivotal issue in his path from Being and Time (1926) to "Time and Being" (1962).

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Series: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy


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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xvi

This book was written with the aim of filling what appeared to me to be nothing less than an astonishing lacuna in Heidegger scholarship. Despite the numerous books on Heidegger that appear each year, for decades now no study has thoroughly treated the multifaceted problem of the will in his thought-path from Being and Time (1926) through “Time and Being” (1962)...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xvii-xxii

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Introduction: On Gelassenheit and Heidegger’s Path of Thought

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pp. xxiii-xxxi

The topic of this study is the problem of the will and the possibility of non-willing in the thought of Martin Heidegger. I attempt to show that this problematic lies at the very heart of his path of thought, and that following its development through a close examination of his texts involves nothing less than explicating the very movement...

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1 The Will, Non-Willing, and the Domain of the Will: Preliminary Determinations

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pp. 3-23

Philosophy perhaps always involves the frustrated attempt to get back to where we have already begun, to get this foundation in full view, if not indeed to lay it ourselves. We then repeat this backward step with an introduction to what we have disclosed, trying to determine the very reading of the reading we have given. This backward stepping is both the virtue and the folly of philosophy; it is also not unrelated to the problem of the will...

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2 The Ambiguous Role of the Will in Being and Time

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pp. 24-59

In this chapter I shall demonstrate that this claim of the later Heidegger is particularly true of that central concept—Entschlossenheit (resoluteness or resolute openness)—of his own first major publication. My thesis in this chapter is that there is a fundamental ambiguity to the role of the will in Being and Time, and that in this ambiguity are foreshadowed...

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3 The Turn Through an Embrace of the Will

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pp. 60-99

In this chapter I consider the twistings and turnings of Heidegger’s thought-path during the transitional decade of the 1930s. In this decade Heidegger’s thought undergoes its much-remarked yet controversial “turn,” and our first task shall be to understand this turn in relation to the problem of the will. We shall find that it is necessary to speak of at least...

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4 A Radically Ambivalent Onto-Theodicy of Primal Willing:On Heidegger’s Interpretations of Schelling

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pp. 100-121

In his 1809 “Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom and Related Matters,” Schelling famously states: In the final and highest instance there is no being other than willing. Willing is primal being [Wollen ist Urseyn]. (“FS” 350/231) This first explicit assertion of a metaphysics of will comes to occupy a special place in Heidegger’s history of being...

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5 Releasement to and from God’s Will: Excursus on Meister EckhartAfter Heidegger

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pp. 122-145

According to Heidegger, Nietzsche’s purported “overcoming of metaphysics” succeeded merely in “overturning” metaphysical oppositions, leaving these categories as such essentially unaltered. In a parenthetical remark in an essay on Nietzsche from 1939, Heidegger also rejects “mysticism” as a “mere counter-image...

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6 The Mature Critique of the Will

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pp. 146-184

As we have seen, Heidegger’s path through the 1920s and 1930s can be read as a struggle to find and define the problem of the will. Despite the many foreshadowings that can be found in (or read back into) these texts, the will is first decisively and explicitly problematized beginning in the waning years of the 1930s. We have seen...

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7 Twisting Free of the Domain of the Will: On the Way to anOther Beginning of Non-Willing

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pp. 185-215

Having retraced the ambivalent and often stormy course of the problem of the will in Heidegger’s early and middle periods, and having mapped out the parameters of Heidegger’s mature critique of the will, let us once again take our bearings on the ship of Heidegger’s Denkweg. According to Nietzsche, as we have seen through the lens of Heidegger's...

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8 Intimations of Being in the Region of Non-Willing

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pp. 216-238

In the opening pages of Contributions to Philosophy Heidegger writes that “the time of ‘systems’ is over,” and yet “the time of building the essential formation of beings from the truth of beyng has not yet arrived” (GA 65:5). In the meantime, that is, during the “crossing over to the other beginning,” philosophy must confine itself to the patient task of thinking...

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9 Residues of Will in Heidegger’s Thought

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pp. 239-275

In dealing with the early and middle periods of Heidegger’s writings in chapters 2 and 3, I combined a sympathetic reading with a critical one, seeking not only to show that the problem of the will and the possibility of non-willing was often an underlying (“unthought”) problematic, but also to expose the points where Heidegger failed to problematize...

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10 The Persistence of Ur-Willing, the Dissonant Excess of Evil,and the Enigma of Human Freedom

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pp. 276-304

Heidegger’s Denkweg, which began by stepping back to the most fundamental questions of philosophy, moves forward as a thinking that keeps itself open to question(ing). As readers of Heidegger, we too are called into question(ing). His being-historical thinking demonstrates that a step back through the history of philosophy is a prerequisite for venturing...


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pp. 305-366


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pp. 367-380


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pp. 381-390

E-ISBN-13: 9780810162235
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810120341

Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1
Series Title: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy