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ON HEIDEGGER AND THE RECOURSE TO POETIC LANGUAGE XONG THE CONCERNS which link the earlier work of Martin Heidegger (the lectures, articles, and books culminating in the publication of Sein und Zeit in 1927) and the later works (beginning, roughly, with the Wom Wesen der Wahrheit of 1933-34, and the Einfuhrung in die Metaphysik, lectures given in 1935) , none has proved more important or controversial than tl;ie question of " poetic " language : its nature, and its place in Heidegger's idiosyncratically original later philosophy. Partisans of either of Heidegger's " styles " of philosophizing may justifiably defend their preferences ; but too frequently we are left with the impression of a philosopher who broke with earlier concerns only to embark on a "poetic" career unrelated to philosophy. In the paragraphs that follow, my concern is to sketch certain continuing preoccupations in Heidegger's career which brought him to seek a " poetic " language. The conception of language as inherently "poetic," which informs the later work thematically and stylistically, can be seen as a development of questions already posed in Sein und Zeit. There, Heidegger is already convinced of the non-analytical nature of human language. In the later work, the notion of a poetic language, which he places in its stead, is entwined with his re-reading of the pre-Socratic philosophers; it is central to his own "poetic " style of thinking. It is this conception of philosophy as poetry which has, however , proved so controversial among his critics. Only the most trenchant among them (e.g. Theodor Adorno) have seen that a rejection of the " later " Heidegger must perforce entail substantial disagreement with the problematic raised in Sein und Zeit. In that book, Heidegger speaks of the need for " re-establish- . 99 100 A. J. CASCARDI ing the science of language on foundations which are ontologically more primordial " than those which dominate Western thought.1 He is referring specifically to the " basic stock of 'categories of signification'" (ibid.) which have been central to philosophy since the ancient.logos became synonymous with assertion (Aussage). This "basic stock," these "categories of signification," are fundamental to modern analytic philosophy, which takes language as a symbolic form, a " representation " of the world to the mind. If philosophical inquiry was to meet the challenges of which the phenomenologists were already aware, if it was to inquire into "'the things themselves' and attain the status of a problematic which has been cleared up conceptually " (SZ, 166) , then it ought to alter its notion of language in some radical ways. "Attempts to grasp the ' essence of language,'" Heidegger says in Sein und Zeit, "have always taken their orientation from one or another of these items ... the ideas of ' expression,' of ' symbolic form,' of communication as ' assertion,' of the ' patterning ' of life. Even if one were to put these various fragmentary definitions together in syncretist fashion, nothing would be achieved in the way of a fully adequate definition of ' language.' We would still have to do what is decisive here-to work out in advance the ontological -existential whole of the structure of discourse on the basis of the analytic of Dasein " (SZ, 163) . The above reference is crucial becau&e it points up the connection between the ontological-analytical project of Sein unil Zeit and the linguistic question it raises: that a definition of language "from the outside" is not possible, and that even if it were, ·we would not be unburdened of the need to inquire into Dasein. This is the primary task outlined in the book, an inquiry into the nature of Dasein. But that project would perforce be inhibited, Heidegger's work bears out, by a conception i I cite Sein' und Zeit (hereafter, SZ) from the standard English translation by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, Being and Time (New York: Har·per and Row, 1962), by reference to the original (German) pagination, ma~ginally noted in that edition; here: SZ, 195. ·· .. oflanguage as a logical-analytical instrument of representation;:: "meaning," as conceived in analysis, is in fact antith'etica'l f' the nature of meaning which attaches to Dasein. " Meaning is an existentiale of Dasein," Heidegger says, " not a property attached to entities, lying ' behind ' them, or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 99-115
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-15
Open Access
No
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