SCIENCE, THINKING, AND THE NOTHING AS SUCH: ON THE NEWLY DISCOVERED ORIGINAL VERSION OF HEIDEGGER'S "WHAT IS METAPHYSICS?".
"What Is Metaphysics?" no doubt provoked anxiety, to say nothing of outrage, in the hundreds of students, professors, and community members in attendance. Yet it also provoked profound admiration, not just for the man, but for the world and our place within it. Heinrich Wiegand Petzet, who was studying in Freiburg at the time, has this to say about the effect of Heidegger's lecture:
It was as if a tremendous streak of lightning split apart the dark sky that had hung over the allegory of the cave. The things of the world lay open and manifest in an almost aching brilliance. The way that was offered was not well trodden and not without danger; it was neither well marked nor certain of its goal. Rather it was a path full of dangers all the way to its last consequence, a path that was inconvenient and that contradicted everything familiar. We were dealing not with an object of scholarly research, but with something thought, and there was no getting away from its demands. We were dealing not with a 'system,' but with existence! Blinders fell away from my eyes; what had been offered by education and easily believed now disappeared.... For a brief moment I felt as if I had had a glimpse into the ground and foundation of the world. In my inner being something was touched that had been asleep for a long time. Heidegger awakened it with his question, "Why are there beings at all and not rather nothing [nichts]?" (2)
Petzet's report conveys something of the sweep and grandeur of Heidegger's lecture. However, when one reads the published version of "What Is Metaphysics?" some of Petzet's claims might come across as hyperbolic. For example, while it is true that Heidegger's lecture concerns existence, there is a larger systematic aim that seems to animate it, namely, to provide a unifying foundation for the sciences so that they may again play their proper part in the disclosure of beings. Heidegger was, after all, lecturing to the entire university, and perhaps he already had an eye on a future administrative role.
Such, at any rate, is what the published version of "What Is Metaphysics?" might suggest. But the published version is no longer the only one available. In 2017 a typescript was discovered inside an inscribed and specially bound copy of the first published edition of Heidegger's inaugural lecture. Dieter Thoma, who recently edited this typescript in Gentian, provides sound philological evidence for its authenticity as the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" (3) This original version not only better accords with Petzet's description than the published version; it also differs from the published version in both form and content. Indeed, the considerably shorter and more direct original version casts a different light on the intention and significance of Heidegger's lecture, and therefore of his philosophy, as a whole. Rather than trying to ground the sciences, the original sets itself in stark opposition to them. Rather than critiquing logic alone, the original calls thinking as such into question. Rather than seeing anxiety as imbued with a calm theoretical element, the original prioritizes a violent, noncognitive side of this fundamental attunement.
I contend that the differences between these two versions lie in how they understand the Nothing (das Nichts). Whereas the published version conflates the Nothing with Being (das Seiri) as no thing, or simply sees the Nothing as a characteristic of Being's finitude, the original version examines the Nothing on its own terms. Being, even if finite, still maintains continuity with beings (das Seiende) as the Being of those beings. The Nothing itself, in contrast, marks a break with beings and their Being. The way in which it is interrogated must therefore also differ from the approach of the sciences (which treat only beings) and from ontology (which examines only the Being of beings). If ontology, as a scientific account of Being, still bears a resemblance to the sciences generally, Heidegger's study of the Nothing as such in the original version leads him beyond not just the notion of philosophy as a rigorous science, but even the possibility of rational argumentation. Anxiety accordingly comes to play a greater role in this version.
My essay will be divided as follows. I will begin with a discussion of the genesis and context of Heidegger's lecture (I). Then, in order to set up a comparison, I will provide a summary of the better known published version (II). After this I will explain how the two versions differ with regard to the themes of science and the university (III), logic and thinking (IV), anxiety (V), and ultimately the Nothing (VI).
Genesis and Context. In his foreword to the third edition of "On the Essence of Ground," Heidegger explains that "What Is Metaphysics?" was composed around the same time as the former text, that is, in 1928. (4) However, while Heidegger may well have been thinking about the theme or even the content of his lecture while he was composing "On the Essence of Ground" in the summer and fall of that year,' he by no means had a draft ready at this time. Even on May 22, 1929, a little over one month before he was to deliver his inaugural lecture on metaphysics, Heidegger was able to write from Freiburg:
beyond what I had expected, the call here has brought me a lot of external work and, amid the growing pressure, unusual obligations, so much so that I have not even been able to get to my most pressing task, the public academic inaugural address. That must take place this summer. (6)
Heidegger was indeed under great pressure to prepare his lecture. He had arrived in Freiburg in October 1928, had already completed an entire semester, and would be over halfway done with the second one when he finally inaugurated his new (and by this time not so new) tenure as a full professor at the University of Freiburg on July 24, 1929. What took him so long? On a superficial level, Heidegger had overcommitted himself. Alongside his normal teaching duties of weekly lectures, seminars, and student advising, Heidegger's administrative responsibilities increased significantly, and his scholarly projects abounded. (7) But this explanation will not suffice. Heidegger's output during his first year in Freiburg was tremendous, and he had ample material to draw on or even to excerpt from for a short inaugural lecture.
Perhaps, then, he was nervous about how to present himself to the world after assuming the celebrated chair of his mentor, the founder of phenomenology Edmund Husserl? On one level this won't do either. Students of the highest caliber had been flocking to Freiburg to study with the newly appointed professor, whom some were already calling "the greatest philosopher in the world." (8) This meant that the lecture hall would fill up so quickly that it became necessary to arrive seven hours early (at the latest!) in order to find a seat to hear his regular lecture courses. (9) Indeed, by May 1929, at least 600 people were attending regularly. (10) Thus Heidegger's way of thinking was already on display for countless individuals in Freiburg. And, as he writes in a letter to Karl Jaspers from November 10, 1928, shortly after beginning to teach in Freiburg again, "I am no longer hiding in my philosophizing." (11)
However, on another level, figures such as Husserl would not have attended Heidegger's courses. In fact, it was only after Husserl had heard "What Is Metaphysics?" that he undertook to seriously study the writings of his putative protege. (12) The inaugural lecture was therefore Heidegger's genuinely public proving ground. "The moment came," recalls Heinrich Petzet, "when I, like so many others who followed [Heidegger] without being professional philosophers, was allowed to see the true significance of the man, the master who determined my whole life, far beyond any academic discipline." (13) Here lines would be drawn in the sand: Husserl or Heidegger, "phenomenology or fundamental ontology," (14) consciousness or world. Or as the original version--and only the original version--trenchantly suggests: science or metaphysics, thinking or attunement, Being or Nothing.
More importantly, though, Heidegger's own thought was undergoing a revolution. On many occasions in the late 1920s and early 1930s, we find him announcing yet another new beginning or casting everything that had come before into doubt. Heidegger was genuinely unsure of where to go after the failed project of Being and Time. It is above all for this reason, I believe, that he struggled so much with his inaugural lecture. As we will see, it also helps to explain how the original and published versions of the lecture could differ so fundamentally as regards the primary topic of the Nothing.
The frequent shifts in Heidegger's thinking after Being and Time no doubt played a part in his reluctance to publish his inaugural lecture, too, although in a letter from September 12, 1929, he restricts his uncertainty to the fleeting moment of the occasion: "I have the feeling that what I said [in the lecture] was suited only to the situation and moment and that it is best left within these confines." (15) The moment must not have been too fleeting, however. For Heidegger went on to repeat his lecture in Frankfurt sometime between October 8 and October 14, (16) this time "before a small circle." Suddenly Heidegger was "pressed on all sides to publish it." (17) This pressure, surely along with the importance of his lecture for his own development and the impact it was having on different audiences, led to Heidegger's decision to make "What Is Metaphysics?" publicly available.
We can be certain that Heidegger reached this decision, and must have already arranged for the lecture's publication, before November 23. For on that date he wrote the following to Julius Stenzel: "I have decided [in favor of publication]. In a few weeks you will receive a copy. It incorporates the original draft, and includes what was not able to be presented due to lack of time." (18)
Heidegger's comment to Stenzel is of interest for the way he understood the genesis of "What Is Metaphysics?" To Heidegger, what would become the published version was the original; the shorter lecture he must have delivered in Freiburg and Frankfurt would then be a truncated or alternate version. However, if Dieter Thoma is correct, and I believe he is, we should instead see the shorter typescript version as the original, and the published version as a subsequent reworking of it. Heidegger did, after all, have several months between his initial delivery of the lecture and when he would have had to send it to Friedrich Cohen Verlag to be published. And as Thoma notes, the phrasing in the typescript version does not suggest that it was an abbreviation of an already extant, longer version. Perhaps, then, Heidegger was referring to "the original draft" of the Frankfurt version, and not to the very first version he delivered in Freiburg to inaugurate his professorship. At any rate, there is no way Heidegger would have been able to read all of the published version, given how slowly and clearly he delivered important public lectures.19 An inaugural lecture of two-plus hours would have simply been inappropriate.
Heidegger next gave his lecture in Heidelberg on December 5. (20) Upon receiving the invitation back in October by the Deutsche Fachschaft (German Association), he had asked Karl Jaspers, who was a professor at the university there, whether he could stay with him while in Heidelberg, and told him that he would "deal with the theme of my inaugural lecture: 'What is Metaphysics?"' (21) Here too his lecture must have been a success. That evening, Jaspers left a letter for his friend before going to bed:
Dear Heidegger!/I cannot think of a time when I listened to anyone as I did to you today. I felt as if I were free in the pure air of this incessant transcending. I heard in you words, at times strange to me, but as identical, what is so completely self-understood between us. There is still philosophizing! / Good night! (22)
"What Is Metaphysics?" would be published around Christmastime in 1929, with second and third editions appearing, respectively, in 1930 and 1931. In subsequent years, Heidegger would, uncharacteristically, go on to write several prefaces, an introduction, and an afterword to be published alongside his lecture. (23) He also returned to "What Is Metaphysics?" dozens of times throughout his corpus, rereading and annotating his personal copies of the lecture, referring correspondents to it, and reinterpreting its significance in later publications. This shows, on a merely biographical and historical level, how important this text was for Heidegger. Its importance for the development of Heidegger's own thought remains to be seen. Before taking this up, it should prove helpful to summarize the better known version that Heidegger published during his lifetime.
Summary of the Published Version. When we ask the question "What is metaphysics?" we might naturally expect an answer in the form of a definition. Metaphysics is, for example, a study of unchanging essences. Heidegger, however, proceeds differently. And he must proceed differently, based on his initial, conjectural understanding of metaphysics. For Heidegger, metaphysics concerns the whole of beings. As beings, we are necessarily a part of that whole. Thus we cannot start by addressing the question of metaphysics as though it were something outside of us. We must instead be implicated in the question.
Conversely, we must also examine how the question emerges out of, and relates back to, our basic situation. At the time Heidegger delivered his lecture in 1929--and even more so for us today--this means that we cannot ask about metaphysics without considering the current scientific worldview. Heidegger is, admittedly, speaking to an institution of higher education. But, as is well known, the hegemony of science extends beyond academia. It determines, at least initially and for the most part, our mode of access to knowledge and truth. Just as we cannot stand outside of the whole, so, Heidegger seems to believe, we cannot initially stand outside of our modern scientific situation.
To what extent, then, does the scientific world-picture dictate our modes of inquiry? On this view, all inquiry must relate to beings or to a particular domain of beings. For example, biology examines beings within the domain of the living, physics examines beings within the domain of matter and energy, history examines beings within the domain of past events. Scientific inquiry must, Heidegger says, break into the whole of beings in order that a particular part may break out and fall under the scientific gaze. In all cases, scientific inquiry treats only beings. Nothing else falls within its purview.
Is this all there is, though? What of this "nothing" in the phrase "nothing else"? Is it just a way of speaking? Or might it point us to something beyond the scope of science, even if science, and perhaps many of us when we first hear it, will scoff at all talk of the Nothing? Whatever the case will turn out to be, Heidegger has found his guiding metaphysical question: "What about this Nothing, then?"
From the perspective of scientific logic, the Nothing emerges when we assume the totality of beings as a whole, and then negate that totality. The Nothing is thus a logical construct, negation taken to the extreme. It has no share in being. It is unreal. Heidegger, however, bluntly asserts the opposite: the Nothing does not arise from maximal negation; rather, negation is possible only on the basis of an actual, primordial nothingness. How does Heidegger justify this claim, and how might we verify it for ourselves? Is the Nothing simply a given for him?
The Nothing is not a given, but it is given. It is given implicitly in every negative action we take, whether this be denial, prohibition, or outright antagonism. And it is given explicitly, Heidegger contends, in the fundamental attunement of anxiety.
In contrast to subjective feelings or internal states, Heidegger understands fundamental attunements as constitutive of our way of being. They open up the world to us and key us in to its harmonies. Think of how the world is when you are bored, overjoyed, or in love. The world itself shows up differently.
Yet Heidegger is interested not just in the world. He wants to encounter the Nothing. What is unique about anxiety, he says, is that it discloses both the entirety of what is and the Nothing along with it. On Heidegger's phenomenological account, anxiety is not jittery nervousness. It is not discomfort in a social situation or fear about this or that. Anxiety takes no object. It is free-floating. For in anxiety everything slips away into indifference. Nothing grips us. Nothing is there to hold onto. Nothing matters.
But this is not all. Anxiety does not merely make us hover above the world like tranquil birds on the wing. It also oppresses us. Not being at home in the world (un-heim-lich) makes us feel uncanny (unheimlich). We go from nothing mattering to the Nothing that matters, to the matter of the Nothing. Heidegger takes an example from ordinary language, and then distorts it: When you are no longer anxious, someone might ask you, "What was the matter before?" You might reply, "It was nothing, really." But what you really mean is that it was the Nothing.
It is important to recognize that genuine anxiety does not disclose the Nothing as one being among others, or even as some sort of superbeing outside the world of beings. It is nothing, no thing at all, and yet it shows up in union with beings as a whole. Anxiety does not therefore annihilate beings, leaving the Nothing left over as a remainder. Nor, as already said, does it negate them logically. Ontic annihilation and epistemological negation are possible only on the basis of the more primordial, ontological register of the Nothing.
When we are truly anxious, we experience this ontological register as essentially active. It does three things. First, the Nothing points away from itself, as our attempts to describe it clearly show. Second, it also points toward beings as a whole. This can itself be understood in two senses. On one level, we become aware of beings as a whole only on the basis of the Nothing. But the Nothing is not just a matter of awareness. On a more fundamental level, the Nothing also provides access to any and all relation to beings. The Nothing is active as the objectively transcendental condition for the possibility of thinking and acting in the world. Third, and most provocatively, anxiety does not merely reveal beings as not Nothing. This "not" is also active. It is the nihilating or "naughting" on the part of the Nothing itself. In Heidegger's scandalous (and scandalously misunderstood) phrase, "das Nichts selbst nichtet," "the Nothing itself nihilates." (24)
We now have an answer to the first part of the question, "What is metaphysics?"
Heidegger began with the supposition that metaphysics addresses the whole of beings. We now see that it can do so only to the extent that it goes out beyond them. The question about the Nothing is therefore a metaphysical question in the literal sense of the word: only in transcending (meta-) the physical realm can metaphysics turn back toward beings as a whole and say what they are. Ever since Andronicus of Rhodes coined the term to designate the fourteen books he catalogued after (meta-) Aristotle's Physics, "metaphysics" has dealt with the question of Being as such. In his inaugural lecture, Heidegger endeavors to show that Being is inextricably bound up with the Nothing. Metaphysics deals with Being and nothingness.
But what of the second part of the question about metaphysics? Have we ourselves been implicated in the question? Indeed. Anxiety makes beings within the world slip away from us. Inasmuch as we are beings within the world, anxiety therefore makes us slip away from ourselves. We lose our identities, all distinguishing features. But we are not entirely lost. Rather, we discover that there is something deeper, something more abyssal about us than our worldly existence. We are not fundamentally in the world. Rather, we are fundamentally "held out into the Nothing." (25) Insofar as we exist, we transcend the physical realm. We therefore do not just pursue metaphysical questions. We are metaphysical. And, like Being, we are, at bottom, nothing, no thing.
Metaphysics in the emphatic sense (which Heidegger also simply calls "philosophy") is therefore the attempt to explain our implicit metaphysical essence and the matters associated with it, Being and the Nothing above all else. The published version of Heidegger's lecture contends that the sciences and the university must realize this if their work is to be properly grounded. Metaphysics is presented as the potential savior of higher education. The original version, however, is much more skeptical.
Science and the University. In several of his numerous retrospective accounts of "What Is Metaphysics?" Heidegger indicates that his inaugural lecture was motivated by a strongly felt need." (26) The sciences had become fragmented. They had lost sight of their true foundation. The only thing holding them together was an artificially imposed technical organization, which granted them little more than practical utility. The university had, in short, become a pluriversity. As Heidegger puts it in the published version of his lecture:
The scientific fields are quite diverse. The ways they treat their objects of inquiry differ fundamentally. Today only the technical organization of universities and faculties consolidates this multiplicity of dispersed disciplines; the practical establishment of goals by each discipline provides the only meaningful source of unity. Nonetheless, the rootedness of the sciences in their essential ground has atrophied. (27)
In other words, and to extend the metaphor, if the sciences had become uprooted, it was because they had been standing on dry and barren ground. The rich soil of metaphysics had long since eroded. But Heidegger, our administrative gardener, knew what to do. He would transplant them to a place where they could again take root. Here they would be nourished by the earth of first philosophy.
This, in effect, was how Heidegger saw things looking back in 1945, at the end of the Second World War. In April 1933, Heidegger was elected to be the rector of the University of Freiburg and joined the Nazi Party. He relates that, at the time,
it was uncertain whether those at the center of political power would listen to me and to what seemed to me [to be a] necessity and task. But just as uncertain was the extent to which the university would actively join me to discover and to shape its own essence in a more primordial manner. Already in my Inaugural Address, delivered in the summer of 1929,1 had presented this task to the public. (28)
Elsewhere, Heidegger even suggests that his academic and administrative ambitions of 1933 were merely an extension of "What Is Metaphysics?" (29) This can be seen, for example, in the opening paragraph of his rectoral address on the "Self-Assertion of the German University" from May 1933. Like the published version of "What Is Metaphysics?", this address also appeals to rootedness: "The following of teachers and students [under the rector's, that is, Heidegger's leadership] awakens and grows strong only from a true and joint rootedness in the essence of the German university." (30) Thus we need not see a break in Heidegger's root and branch effort to reform the university. Indeed, Heidegger's view of higher education remained relatively consistent throughout his career, and "What Is Metaphysics?" provides "perhaps his most direct answer to this question." (31)
The comparison between "What Is Metaphysics?" from 1929 and "The Self-Assertion of the German University" from 1933 becomes harder to sustain, however, once we turn to the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" Three points are especially noteworthy. First, the original version lacks the published version's diagnosis of fragmentation. Rather than speaking of the uprootedness and disarray of the sciences, Heidegger simply notes that "[t]he individual fields of science are quite remote from one another; their respective approaches are distinct." (32) By itself, this claim is hardly offensive or disconcerting. It's obvious that physics shouldn't use the same methods as art history. Without alerting his audience to their ailments, Heidegger does not come across as promoting a cure.
Instead, and this is the second point I would like to discuss, the original version sets up a starker contrast between science and metaphysics. Both versions note that science examines nothing other than beings, and therefore wants to know nothing of the Nothing. But the original appears astonished by this. "The Nothing is given up on! In science!" it exclaims, and then continues with a question: "Doesn't science thereby give credence to 'Nothing' as a being?" (33) Contrast this with the published version: "The nothing is rejected precisely by science, given up as a nullity. But when we [--and here Heidegger uses the more inclusive first person plural--] give up the nothing in such a way do we not concede it?" (34) The original version is also more critical of logic and the understanding. It goes so far as to suggest that the understanding is not just obstinate, but absurd, whereas the published version speaks only of the apparent absurdity of the question about the Nothing from the logical point of view. (35) Inasmuch as the sciences cannot proceed without the understanding, the original version represents a greater threat to their existence. This can be seen toward the end of the lecture, when the original version declares science "absolutely laughable": "The sobriety of science, which gives up on the Nothing, thus becomes absolutely laughable, speaking metaphysically." (36) In contrast, the published version drops the adverb and tones down the rhetoric: "The presumed soberness of mind and superiority of science become laughable when it does not take the nothing seriously." (37)
Third, unlike in the published version, Heidegger offered little hope for unification when he first lectured on "What Is Metaphysics?" in Freiburg. The only alternative to absolute laughability, it seems, is to heed Leibniz's famous question, or at least Heidegger's version of it: "Only if science gives in and stops giving up on [the Nothing]"--only if it begins to ask, "Why are there beings at all and not rather the Nothing [das Mete]?'--"can science make beings a problem and grasp itself from the basis of its existence." (38) Why, though, should science make beings a problem? Doesn't it have enough problems to deal with? It may well be the case that why-questions are ultimately rooted in the Nothing, as Heidegger goes on to claim, (39) but surely it isn't necessary to know this overtly in order to pose them. Why, moreover, should science be beholden to the Delphic imperative? Of what use is its self-knowledge? The original version leaves us guessing.
The published version, on the other hand, assigns a powerful philosophical role to the sciences: "Only if science exists on the basis of metaphysics can it fulfill in ever-renewed ways its essential task, which is not to amass and classify bits of knowledge, but to disclose in ever-renewed fashion the entire expanse of truth in nature and history." (40) For readers of Being and Time, this development should come as a surprise. Recall that, already in [section]3 of that book, Heidegger explains that the particular sciences precisely cannot open up domains such as nature and history. Instead they must rely on philosophy to do so. Hence it is as though, in the published version of "What Is Metaphysics?", Heidegger were encouraging scientists to become philosophers, or rather declaring any science worthy of the name to already be philosophical. Whatever the case may be, the published version is clearly more tactful and inclusive than the original, which at times anticipates Heidegger's late, notoriously divisive claim that "Science does not think." (41) Yet the original version goes even further than what we see in Heidegger's late work. For it questions the status not just of logic and the understanding but also of thinking as such.
Logic and Thinking. Both versions of "What Is Metaphysics?" challenge the hegemony of logic in philosophy. From the standpoint of the understanding, the Nothing is merely a nominalized logical constant or quantifier. Take the statement "The world-relation orients itself to beings--and to nothing else." (42) We can easily convert this into the statement "The world-relation orients itself only to beings." In this usage, "nothing" is an acceptable word. For, "to nothing else" is identical to "only." There is not some thing in addition ("nothing" as the Nothing) to which the world-relation orients itself as well ("else"). The problem arises when nothing becomes a something. To say "nothing is something" is a patent contradiction. But this is what "the Nothing" means. Thus "the Nothing" is inherently contradictory. (43)
Heidegger is aware of these logical constraints. But he sees them rather as a disavowal than a description of reality. (44) In fact, Heidegger believes that the sciences do orient themselves to the Nothing when they orient themselves to beings, only they do so unthematically, full of disdain and disregard. Yet this Nothing is neither a being nor a something; we cannot say that it "is" this or that or even that it "is" simply. For the Nothing first opens the possibility for apophantic discourse and existential statements. Heidegger inverts the logical point of view. We do not arrive at the Nothing by making a noun out of a negative quantifier (whether licitly or not); rather, we can make use of negative quantifiers only because we already have an implicit familiarity with the Nothing. Indeed, what it means to be the kind of beings we are is to be suspended in a primordial nothingness. Yet the understanding will have nothing of this.
But if Heidegger is right, and logic cannot provide access to this original nothingness, then there must be some way it becomes accessible in our lives. Otherwise we would have to agree with Rudolf Carnap, who famously charged Heidegger with either just making "pseudo-statements" or simply using metaphorical language to hint at "a certain emotional constitution." Heidegger responds in advance to such objections with an appeal to attunements, in particular the fundamental attunement of anxiety. I will delve more deeply into his treatment of anxiety in the next section. For now, let us recall that fundamental attunements are not mere emotions or even states of mind. They are "the basic way of disclosing ... the world" or of disclosing "beings as a whole." (45) Anxiety is unique insofar as it also discloses the Nothing that "is"--in some sense--really there, even if it cannot be spoken of without logical contradiction. Moreover, anxiety makes this disclosure in an intelligible (if not logically deducible) way. As Heidegger puts it in Being and Time, just as understanding is always "attuned," attunement always brings along with it a certain understanding. (46)
However, as mentioned above, the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" declares the understanding "absurd." On top of this, it does so without qualification, whereas this does not occur in the published version. Even more troubling about the original version is a similar lack of qualification when it comes to the impotence of thought. After introducing the concept of attunement, Heidegger sharply distinguishes it from thinking: "beings as a whole cannot be comprehended by thinking, just as little as the Nothing can be. If the Nothing is given, it can become manifest only in attunement." (47) One might have expected Heidegger to say that attunements come prior to thinking, or that proper thinking should be guided by attunements. Instead, thinking just seems to get in the way: "Primordial anxiety happens only in rare moments; the Nothing is for the most part disguised, and indeed it is disguised by thinking." (48)
In contrast, the published version of "What Is Metaphysics?" leaves room for a broader conception of thinking. It does, admittedly, question the status of logical thought and the latter's foundational principle of noncontradiction. (49) It also critiques the attempt to think up an idea of the totality of beings and then to think of its negation, since this only yields a "formal concept" of the Nothing that, as mentioned earlier, is derivative of a more fundamental nothingness. (50) However, unlike in the original, Heidegger does not assert the inability of thought to comprehend beings as a whole in his discussion of attunements in the published version. (51) Nor does he claim that thinking is what conceals the Nothing. (52) Even if a scientist qua scientist cannot think of the Nothing, the scientist qua thinker should be able to. For all its provocations, the published version should therefore be more palatable to philosophers and even to scientists than the original.
What, then, should we say of the original version's dismissal of thinking? Is it mere hyperbole? It is one thing to challenge the basic principles of thinking, but to challenge thinking tout court is another matter. How can we understand what Heidegger is saying if thinking as such gets in the way? Don't we need thought, as Heidegger, the thinker of Being, acknowledges elsewhere throughout his career? To begin to answer these questions we need to compare how the original and published versions conceive of anxiety.
Anxiety. There are several important differences between the two versions as regards anxiety. First, in the original version, anxiety comes across as more violent than in the published version. While both versions see it as a sort of predator, ready to pounce at any moment, it comes across as more of a raider and plunderer in the original. (53) Second, it is so violent in the original that, in media res, it cannot be thought. Thinking comes only after the fact and itself needs to be rethought if we are to truly understand anxiety and the Nothing that it reveals. Third, in contrast to the published version, anxiety is not accompanied by a "peculiar calm [eigentumliche Ruhe]" in the original. (54) The original version accordingly places more stock in the noncognitive side of anxiety, whereas the published version sees anxiety as already imbued with a degree of theory (at least in the radical sense of "beholding" the world). Fourth, when we are anxious, nothing is really there. While the published version goes on to interpret this nothingness as no-thing-ness, that is, as Being, the original version leaves us with nothing to go on. I posit that this is truer to the experience of deep anxiety. It also leads to the question of whether Heidegger intended a difference between the Nothing and Being in the original version, and if so, what this might mean.
Being and Nothing. We saw earlier that Heidegger, the thinker of Being, seems to abandon thinking in the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" Yet perhaps the most remarkable feature of the original version is that our thinker also seems to abandon Being. The noun Sein ("Being") does not show up once in this version, whereas in the published version (and in Heidegger's later accounts and marginalia), the Nothing "is" Being as seen from the "not" of beings, that is, Being as no thing. Rather than as the other of Being or of beings, Heidegger's published account interprets the Nothing as "belonging to the Being of beings." (55) The Nothing is therefore nothing in itself. The word simply marks Being's finitude.
Is this what Heidegger means in the original version? If so, then is his failure to mention Being an oversight? Or might it be a rhetorical strategy, deployed to get us thinking? (Or perhaps to stop thinking?) Is Heidegger trying to awaken the philosophy that lies dormant in each and every one of us, to call us to become the philosophers that we basically are, as he was fond of saying around this time? (56)
Heidegger no doubt wants to provoke us. Indeed, the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" numbers among Heidegger's most provocative texts. But I believe we would be moving too quickly if we were to take the Nothing as yet another way in which Being is said. Instead I would like to take seriously the possibility that Heidegger was attempting to understand the Nothing on its own terms. This was, to be sure, a path Heidegger did not follow for long. But one of its forks leads to a destination that Heidegger would arrive at only in the mid-1980s, albeit by way of a different route. This destination is Heidegger's unique threefold distinction between:
1. beings (das Seiende),
2. the beingness of those beings (die Seiendheit),
3. Being as that which makes the beingness of beings possible (das Sein or Seyn). (57)
An example of the first would be all the beings in my office. The second would be essence of those beings and how I understand this essence, for example, as substance, as createdness, or as objectivity. Third would be the ground of the first and the second, as well as the condition for the possibility and intelligibility of how they relate. It would explain how it is possible that the same set of beings can be understood as essentially different across time and space.
In the original and published versions of his inaugural lecture, Heidegger notes that, in anxiety, both the Nothing and beings as a whole and as such are revealed together. Although the Nothing is not another being alongside beings, Heidegger does not simply equate the Nothing and beings as a whole and as such. Rather, "[t]he Nothing is the enabling of the manifestness of beings [as a whole and] as such for human Dasein." (58) Thus, to the extent that beings as a whole and as such can be understood as Being (or beingness), a distinction between the Nothing and Being is preserved. We therefore have:
1. beings individually or not as a whole and as such,
2. beings as a whole and as such (that is, Being/beingness),
3. the Nothing.
In other words, we have something like the threefold distinction mentioned earlier (except that the Nothing here stands for what I previously identified as Being). However, when the published version equates the Nothing and Being, our three terms are reduced to two. To put this as a proposition, using Euclid's first axiom that two things equal to the same thing are equal to one another, we can say:
The Nothing = Being;
beings as a whole and as such = Being;
therefore the Nothing = beings as a whole and as such.
In other words, we are left with no more than what Heidegger calls the ontological difference between beings and Being. Heidegger's main interest, however, is in the difference itself, or in what makes this difference possible (that is, in the third layer in the diagrams above). Starting in the mid-1930s, this becomes Being/Beyng as distinct from beings and from their beingness; in the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" it is, I am arguing, the Nothing. It should therefore come as no surprise when, later on in his career, Heidegger criticizes his lecture along these lines. (59)
On the other hand, Heidegger will later praise "What Is Metaphysics?" for having reached a point beyond metaphysics (a sort of meta-metaphysics, if you will). As he puts it in the Contributions to Philosophy, his inaugural lecture "already inquires out of the other beginning. What it makes visible in its determination of 'metaphysics' is already no longer metaphysics but, rather, is the overcoming of metaphysics." (60) That is, Heidegger's lecture, especially its original version, transcends the mere distinction between beings, on the one hand, and beings taken as a whole and as such, on the other. It opens up a new beginning for philosophy. The original version's focus on the Nothing itself allows us to better grasp the difference, not just between beings and beings taken as a whole and as such, but also between the meaning of the wholeness of beings and what makes this meaning possible.
This interpretation finds support in a letter Heidegger wrote to his friend Elisabeth Blochmann in September 1929 (translated here as an appendix following this article). In his letter, Heidegger interprets an affecting experience the two had during a short sojourn at the Benedictine Archabbey St. Martin in Beuron, Germany around the time Heidegger delivered his inaugural lecture. (61) Whereas, writes Heidegger, "contemporary Catholicism and everything like it, Protestantism no less, must remain anathema to us," Heidegger saw something special in what Beuron represented: "'Beuron,' if I may give this an abbreviated name, will unfold as a seed of something essential." (62) Blochmann, for her part, was especially struck by the Compline service. In this final office of the canonical hours, the monks complete their day and prepare for the night by chanting Psalms 4, 90, and 133 from the Vulgate. Then, after a hymn, a reading, a versicle, and a blessing, they dismiss in silence, not to speak until morning (when Jesus's resurrection is symbolically reenacted). (63) Heidegger notes that his contemporaries, in contrast, make little ado about their daily entrance into the night. For night and day hardly differ any longer. Everything, every moment, is frenzied hustle and bustle. Yet it need not be this way. The Beuron monks, some of whom Heidegger was personally acquainted with since childhood (for Beuron is within hiking distance of his hometown of Messkirch), have something to teach us. Like them, "we must constantly break through" "the mythical and metaphysical primal force of the night in order to exist truly." But this also means that the night can never be overcome (not in this state of the world, at least). We must acknowledge and daily prepare for the fact that our "existence" is essentially "held out into the night [Hineingehaltenseins der Existenz in die Nacht]." (Note the parallel with Dasein as "holding oneself out into the Nothing" from "What Is Metaphysics?" [Dasein heisst sich hineinhalten in das Nichts]. (64)) We must "live ... in view of the night and evil." But this requires that we "place nothing [nichts]' in the path of the depths of Dasein." Only then can we let "what is essential" grow. Only then can we see that "the good is only the good of evil." "[O]nly in this way will we compel a turning of our age from out of the depths." (66)
Much could be said of Heidegger's letter. Here I would like to note only two things. First, as in the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?", the word Sein ("Being") does not appear. Instead, Heidegger understands the deepest layer of existence as nothingness. This too resembles the original version, only now nothingness is joined to evil and the night. If Heidegger's language in "What Is Metaphysics?" had a rhetorical edge, it now takes on mythological dimensions reminiscent of Bohme or Schelling. (67)
Second, if there is an ontological layer in this letter, it is not on the same plane as the Nothing. We might instead see it as tied up with what, in medieval thought, are called the transcendentals. The good is Being insofar as it is desired. It belongs to the day, to the manifestness of beings to our intellect. This is Being as true. Yet there is a deeper sense of truth for Heidegger. The truth of the intellect is only possible on the basis of an insuperable play of concealment and unconcealment. Likewise, as Heidegger's letter teaches, Being as good is possible only on the basis of an insuperable evil at the heart of things, and day is only possible on the basis of a primordial night. Thus, as in the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" and in his later thought, here too we have three basic layers of reality:
2. Being as the day, the good, truth as Veritas,
3. the Nothing as night, as evil, as the lethe ("concealment") of truth qua a-letheia ("un-concealment").
Now, in both the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" and in Heidegger's letter to Blochmann, we could, of course, understand Being as distinct from beings as a whole and as such (or from their transcendental correlates). What Heidegger says of the Nothing would accordingly just as well apply to this deeper sense of Being. I do not wish to deny the evidence in support of such a reading. However, Heidegger himself vacillates on status of Being. Sometimes it seems as though he just means the non-substance-based, non-present-at-hand, time-ridden Being of beings; or, as he puts it in Being and Time, that which "determines beings as beings," that which "is always the Being of a being," and that which is addressed in "the ontology of the totality of beings as a whole." (68) The Nothing, in this case, serves simply to describe the temporally finite character of Being. Heidegger's intention in his magnum opus is fairly clear: "when we ask about the meaning of Being, our inquiry does not ... brood on anything which stands behind Being, but questions Being itself in so far as it stands within the intelligibility of Dasein." (69)
In contrast, Heidegger does seem set on a dimension deeper than Being (or at least a dimension deeper than the Being of beings) in the Blochmann letter and in the inaugural lecture, especially its original version. In these texts, Heidegger's perspective on Being has not only widened out beyond its relation to the human being. Heidegger's fundamental ontological perspective has also been cast into "the turbulence of a more originary questioning." (70)
What is the status of this questioning and what does it mean for Heidegger's trajectory? Was, albeit for a brief time, Heidegger's Seinsfrage becoming a Nichtsfrage? Was Heidegger's move away from ontology, which would become explicit less than one year later, (71) a move not toward a different way of thinking Being but toward a meontology, toward a study of what is not? Yet here too Being creeps back in under the guise of existential negation. Instead we might ask whether Heidegger's ontology had become, for a few short months, an oudenology, a study of the Nothing as such.
If so, then it becomes easier to explain the other differences between the two versions. On the classical view, ontology or general metaphysics examines Being, and the particular sciences examine various domains of being within that ontological framework. Both approaches, along with natural theology or special metaphysics, constitute the philosophical enterprise. On this account, ontology provides a universal ground for scientific inquiry. But can the same be said of oudenology? Perhaps, at least if the Nothing marks but one aspect of the Being of beings, as we find in the published version of "What Is Metaphysics?" However, once the Nothing is separated from Being, as we find in the original version, the Nothing's continuity with Being and beings becomes harder to establish. The Nothing looks more like an abyss than a ground, despite the quasi-transcendental characteristics Heidegger ascribes to it. Thus an oudenology can hardly serve as a foundation for ontology and the particular sciences. This helps clarify why the original version is less invested in an architectonic model for philosophy than is the published version. (En passant, it also opens the possibility for an immanent critique of Heidegger's administrative engagement in the Third Reich. Had he stayed true to this oudenological, an-archic opening, rather than closing it back within a seemingly archie ontology, would he have opted for the Nazi rectorate? Would he have even been elected?)
Moreover, if the Nothing is wholly other than Being and beings, then our mode of access to it, and the way we articulate it, must differ radically from the traditional approaches to Being and beings (including some of Heidegger's own approaches in and around Being and Time). Heidegger had not fully developed a new approach when he lectured on metaphysics in July 1929. But he knew that logic and thinking, as they had hitherto been conceived in Western philosophy, would not suffice. He accordingly placed greater emphasis on a purely affective conception of anxiety, whereas he would eventually rehabilitate thinking as the way to the deepest dimensions of reality.
Heidegger's oudenology in the original version of "What Is Metaphysics?" was, admittedly, an instance of what he later liked to call Holzwege. Although this particular timber track led nowhere, it nevertheless cleared a space on which beams of light would shine from the same sun that illuminated Heidegger's other paths of thought. Plato's good was, after all, also beyond Being.
St. John's College, Santa Fe
A LETTER FROM MARTIN HEIDEGGER TO ELISABETH BLOCHMANN
Translated by Ian Alexander Moore (72)
Todtnauberg, 12 September 1929
Your (73) letter is the late summer of our shared summer days, to which I had been looking forward repeatedly and for a long time. And I wish to let this echo continue to resound completely in my innermost. And this inner has its outer in the beginning days of autumn, whose atmosphere [Stimmung] enveloped us when I was allowed to take you back to Bureten in the evening. Thus the vibration of your heart remains interwoven with the landscape and close to me.
I was grateful for the good fortune of letting you take part in my work, for the days of friendship up here and in Beuron. Yes, dear Elisabeth, I too knew that everything could have had a "more cheerful tone." I felt that often something was moving you, something that did not let you genuinely be there [eigentlich da sein].
But I took this and the painful harshness of the final hour in such a way that I took it on myself as the--should I say--set limit of our friendship; by bearing this I preserve for myself the happiness of your disposition. Joy grows to the heights only in the knowledge that coming toward another human being in such a way is always unmerited.
It is precisely because I am certain of the "inner substratum" that I remained unsure in the "outer," or better, that I was not yet in a position to transform the inner into its true outer--once I had lost the way. And because you helped me back, I took even the remoteness of the "more cheerful tone" and of the "fading sound" as an aid and guide in the struggle for the shape of our friendship. I did not believe for one moment that such remoteness could affect you. In your heart this friendship has already "outlasted" other things that were harder for you.
And allow me the silent service of waiting and accompanying the attunement [Stimmung] and tone in which you yourself in each case "attune" our friendship, its certainty notwithstanding. This service is the explanation for the lack of freedom that, for my part, impeded the "fading sound."
Thus from the outset I for my part rejected as unworthy of you the idea of arranging your "concerns" psychologically: as stemming from necessity and a hasty and shortsighted truthfulness. I fought this back until the last minutes of our being together, in which I surveyed the whole and had to tell myself initially that I had caused a great disappointment for you and forced you to face something that must have been averse to you. What supported me in this pain was the confidence that you would in some way transform what was experienced.
For the truth of our Dasein is no simple thing. Commensurate with this truth is an inner truthfulness that has its own depths and manifoldness. It does not merely consist of concocted rational reflections. It requires its day and the hour in which we have Dasein as a whole. This is when we experience that our heart must hold itself open to grace in everything that is essential to it. God--or however you name it--calls to each with a different voice [Stimme]. We need not hold ourselves to the brittle construct that our contemporaries invent for themselves, but rather must honor the power and lasting dignity of what is great in history. The past of human Dasein in what is great is not nothing, but rather that to which we always turn back again when we have grown into the depths. Yet this return is not a taking over of what has been, but rather its transformation.
Thus contemporary Catholicism and everything like it, Protestantism no less, must remain anathema to us--and yet "Beuron," if I may give this an abbreviated name, will unfold as a seed of something essential. This can be seen already in your attitude toward the Compline, which had to give you more than the High Mass did. That the human being steps out daily into the night is, at best, a banality for the contemporary individual. For he generally turns night into day, just as he understands the day as the continuation of a frenzied hustle and bustle. In the Compline the mythical and metaphysical primal force of the night is still there, which we must constantly break through in order to exist truly. For the good is only the good of evil.
Our contemporaries are hyper-skilled at organizing each and every thing, yet they are no longer up to the task of gathering themselves for the night.
We seem to be something and to accomplish something in "movement"--but when rest and leisure come around, we no longer know what to do with ourselves.
Thus the Compline has become a symbol for you of existence's being-held-out into the night and of the inner necessity of preparing daily for It. (74)
We have been fundamentally misled in our seeking by the prevailing hustle and bustle and its successes and results--, we suppose that we must produce what is essential and we forget that it can only grow when we live wholly--according to our heart--and that means in view of the night and of evil. This primal-forceful negative is what is decisive: to place nothing in the path of the depths of Dasein.
This is what we must learn and teach concretely; only in this way will we compel a turning of the age from out of the depths. This is exactly what I meant during our conversation as we were on the way home from the Herzogenhorn while going up from the Hebelhof. And there we came to an understanding--not accidentally did you begin, a bit later, your wonderful story about your grandfather, in which I was allowed to witness another piece of your childhood. I fondly see in my memory the little girl and her fear of the dog.
Even if destiny should deny us the "fading sound," all the less will we wish to overhear the metaphysical consonance of our Dasein in its depths.
True joy needs pain and occurs always as a gift of the moment. Whoever is capable of holding out for this grants his Dasein the proper dignity.
And because the last hour of our being together--not through your fault alone--was so hard, only because of this, dear Elisabeth, was your magnificent letter able to emerge, in which I experience for the first time entirely what your heart has opened up.--
The days on Lake Starnberg were very beautiful and rejuvenating for everyone. Elfride was thus finally freed from her "household" concerns; we all enjoyed that very much. Jorg learned to swim; I lay a lot in the sailboat and again experienced what is exciting and invigorating about this sport. Then we had two magnificent days on the Bodensee and then in Messkirch. Thus we all came back to Freiburg entirely rejuvenated and cheerful; from there we left for the cabin on August 22.
Since then, every day up here has been more beautiful than the previous. I have only just begun to organize my work. Meanwhile, we have done a lot of hiking. To conclude, we hiked up the Belchen on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Elfride went down with the boys to the valley, since school began the next day. I now live in my room and make a visit to the cabin daily. I would like to remain until the beginning of October.
The strain of the semester is not only overcome; I feel unusually fresh--i.e., inwardly ready for work and correspondingly excited. With my metaphysics lecture course in the winter I should succeed in achieving a completely new beginning.--
Riezler was in Berlin at the end of July and wrote me at the beginning of August to tell me that the ministry is being pressed on all possible sides for a professor of pedagogy in Frankfurt. The prospects for his wish are very slim. I will be happy if this matter passes me by.
I cannot decide about whether to publish my inaugural address; I have the feeling that what I said was suited only to the situation and moment and that it is best left within these confines.--
Elfride will come up here on Sundays with the boys if the weather stays nice. I will then have to ask more directly about the stove again. When I broached the topic in a general way, E. showed little inclination.--
I wish for you that your exam turns out to be something from which you learn something essential. Regarding your difficult question at the end, some other time. (75)
Will something come of the trip to Florence? I received the invitation to Pontigny way too late, so unfortunately I again had to decline. For a general orientation to what the French want I am sending you the program, which you can send back to me in due course.
I cordially thank you, dear Elisabeth, for being there this summer, and I send you my regards in loyal friendship.
Correspondence to: 1160 Camino de Cruz Blanca, Santa Fe, NM 87505.
(1) In what follows, I will refer to Martin Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1975-) with the cipher GA, followed by volume and page number. The original version of Heidegger's "What Is Metaphysics?" recently appeared as "Was ist Metaphysik? Urfassung," ed. Dieter Thoma, Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Philosophic 66, no. 1 (2018): 87-97; translated by Ian Alexander Moore and Gregory Fried as "Was ist Metaphysik? Urfassung / What Is Metaphysics? Original Version," ed. Dieter Thoma, Philosophy Today 62, no. 3 (Summer 2018): 733-51.1 will refer to this original version with the cipher OV, and to 5th edition of the version Heidegger published in his lifetime with the cipher PV. The latter is available in GA 9:10322, and has been translated by David Farrell Krell and William McNeill as "What Is Metaphysics?" in Martin Heidegger, Pathmarks, ed. William McNeill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 82-96. After the cipher, I will first provide the pagination of the German and then, following a slash, that of the specified English translations, when relevant.
(2) Heinrich Wiegand Petzet, Auf einen Stern zugehen. Begegnungen und Gesprache mit Martin Heidegger 1929-1976 (Frankfurt: Societats-Verlag, 1983), 18-19; translated by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly as Encounters and Dialogues with Martin Heidegger 1929-1976 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993), 12-13 (trans, mod.).
(3) See OV, 94-97/745-750, as well as Dieter Thoma's commentary on the original version: "Aufbruch an den Rand der Philosophie. Kommentar zur Urfassung von Heideggers Was ist Metaphysik?" Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Philosophie 66, no. 1 (2018): 98-111; translated by Ian Alexander Moore and Gregory Fried as "Venturing to the Brink of Philosophy: Commentary on the Original Version of Heidegger's 'What is Metaphysics?'" Philosophy Today 62, no. 3 (Summer 2018): 753-64. Thoma's commentary has served as a point of departure for my own reflections in what follows.
(4) GA 9:123.
(5) In a letter to Rudolf Bultmann from October 23, 1928, Heidegger speaks of how much labor and energy "On the Essence of Ground" has cost him and says that he is looking forward to turning to his work for the semester once he has sent the essay off to the publisher. See Rudolf Bultmann and Martin Heidegger, Briefwechsel 1925-1975, ed. Andreas GrolSmann and Christof Landmesser (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2009), 65. "On the Essence of Ground" first appeared in a Festschrift for Husserl, which Heidegger had himself edited, and which he gave to Husserl at a celebration for Husserl's birthday on April 8, 1929 (GA 14:100; GA 16:56). See Martin Heidegger, "Vom Wesen des Grundes," in Jahrbuch fur Philosophie und phanomenologische Forschung. Erganzungsband. Festschrift, Edmund Husserl zum 70. Geburtstag gewidmet (Halle: Niemeyer, 1929), 71-110.
(6) "die Berufung hierher hat mir uber Erwarten viel aussere Arbeit u. bei dem wachsenden Zudrang ungewohnliche Verpflichtungen gebracht, so sehr, dass ich bis jetzt noch nicht einmal meiner dringendsten Aufgabe, der offentlichen Akademischen Antrittsrede, nachkommen konnte. Das muss in diesem Semester geschehen." Typescript of an unpublished letter to Lev Shestov available in the unprocessed collection of the Martin-Heidegger-Archiv der Stadt Mefikirch. Compare Heidegger's letter to Bultmann from April 9,1929: "My inaugural address still sits heavy in my stomach." Bultmann and Heidegger, Briefwechsel, 111.
(7) Between October 1928 and July 1929, Heidegger lectured on philosophical anthropology and the metaphysics of Dasein in Frankfurt, held his famous debate with Cassirer in Davos, and finished up the Kantbuch and a Festschrift in honor Husserl's seventieth birthday. As he writes in a letter from April 14, 1929, "the manuscript of my Kant interpretation must be ready by the end of the month. I have lectured on this interpretation several times and would, therefore, rather publish it myself than have it circulate in uncontrolled transcripts. That is why I am really exerting myself--and without any proper preparation for the next semester." Martin Heidegger/Karl Jaspers: Briefwechsel 1920-1963, ed. Walter Biemel and Hans Saner (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1990), 82; The Heidegger--Jaspers Correspondence (1920-1963), trans. Gary E. Aylesworth (Amherst, N.Y.: Humanity Books, 2003), 117.
(8) Levinas reports that a student he met on the train to Freiburg said this to him. Emmanuel Levinas, "Fribourg, Husserl, et la phenomenologie," Revue d'Allemagne 5, no. 43 (May 1931): 414; "Freiburg, Husserl, and Phenomenology," in Emmanuel Levinas, Discovering Existence with Husserl, trans. Richard A. Cohen and Michael B. Smith (Evanston, 111.: Northwestern University Press, 1988), 38.
(9) Levinas, "Fribourg, Husserl, et la phenomenologie," 414; "Freiburg, Husserl, and Phenomenology," 38.
(10) Herbert Marcuse, "Lettre de Herbert et Sophie Marcuse a leurs amis Beck," in L'Herne, ed. Michael Haar (Paris: Editions de l'Herne, 1983), 163 (letter from May 9, 1929).
(11) Martin Heidegger/Karl Jaspers: Briefwechsel 1920-1963, 110; The Heidecjger--Jaspers Correspondence (1920-1963), 108.
(12) Richard E. Palmer, "Husserl's Debate with Heidegger in the Margins of Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics," Man and World 30 (1997): 30 n. 14. Palmer, drawing on work by Karl Schuhmann, notes that even the topic of Heidegger's inaugural lecture "had absolutely nothing to do with Husserl's phenomenology. Indeed, Heidegger's choice of subject was a glaring insult to Husserl" (7). See Karl Schuhmann, "Zu Heideggers Spiegel-Gesprach uber Husserl," Zeitschrift fur philosophische Forschung 32 (1978): 602 and n. 48. Heidegger at any rate gave Husserl an inscribed copy of Was ist Metaphysik? dated "Christmas 1929." The inscription reads: "Edmund Husserl in aller Verehrung und Freundschaft uberreicht I Martin Heidegger," "Presented to Edmund Husserl in all respect and friendship I Martin Heidegger." Information found in Thomas Sheehan's "General Introduction" to Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (1927-1931), trans. Thomas Sheehan and Richard E. Palmer (Dordrecht: Springer, 1997), 29.
(13) Petzet, Auf einen Stern zugehen, 18; Encounters and Dialogues with Martin Heidegger 1929-1976, 12 (trans, mod.).
(14) Quote from Heidegger's letter to Julius Stenzel (dated December 31, 1929), in "Briefe Martin Heideggers an Julius Stenzel (1928-1932)," Heidegger Studies 16 (2000): 19. Compare Otto Poggeler, Der Denkweg Martin Heideggers, 3rd ed. (Pfullingen: Neske, 1990), 79. While this quote may sound surprising, as Heidegger did after all have a robust conception of phenomenology (see [section]7 of Being and Time, for example), it points to the growing distance between Heidegger's and Husserl's schools of phenomenology. It also compels us to ask whether topics such as Being, Dasein, and the Nothing are, as such, phenomena. Or is there something essentially inapparent about them? Is this perhaps one reason why Heidegger would himself largely stop using the term "phenomenology" in the coming years?
(15) Heidegger's letter to Elisabeth Blochmann (dated September 12, 1929), in Martin Heidegger/Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel, 1918-1969, 2nd ed., ed. Joachim W. Storck (Marbach am Neckar: Deutsche Schillergesellschaft, 1990), 33.
(16) Martin Heidegger/Karl Jaspers: Briefwechsel 1920-1963, 125; The Heidegger-Jaspers Correspondence (1920-1963), 122 (letter from October 8, 1929). Compare Martin Heidegger/Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel, 19181969, 34 (letter from December 18, 1929), where Heidegger says it was delivered "at the beginning of October."
(17) Martin Heidegger/Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel, 1918-1969, 34 (letter from December 18, 1929). Compare "Briefe Martin Heideggers an Julius Stenzel (1928-1932)," 16 (letter from November 23, 1929).
(18) "Briefe Martin Heideggers an Julius Stenzel (1928-1932)," 16.
(19) Consult the recordings of several lectures and speeches by Heidegger on the CD Von der Sache des Denkens: Vortrage, Reden und Gesprache aus den Jahren 1952-1969 (der Horverlag, 1999).
(20) In The Genesis of Heidegger's Being and Time (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1995), Theodore Kisiel writes that Heidegger "repeated his inaugural lecture" on the "4. Dezember in der Kant-Gesellschaft Karlsruhe." The latter quote appears to come from Heidegger's correspondence with Elisabeth Blochmann, as Kisiel adds: "to Blochmann, December 18" (561 n. 34). This information is repeated in Becoming Heidegger: On the Trail of His Early Occasional Writings, 1910-1927, 2nd ed., ed. Theodore Kisiel and Thomas Sheehan, The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy IX (Seattle: Noesis, 2009), lxx n. 43. However, Heidegger does not provide a date in his 1929 letter, but rather only the information that "Diese zwei Monate waren etwas unruhig, dazwischen noch zwei Vortrage in Karlsruh[e] und Heidelberg, wo ich den Metaphysikvortrag hielt." Heidegger and Blochmann, Briefwechsel, 34. "These two months were somewhat restless, during which there were two more lectures in Karlsruh[e] and Heidelberg, where I held the metaphysics-lecture." The "wo/where" pertains only to Heidelberg; for the lecture Heidegger gave before the Kant-Society in Karlsruhe on December 4, 1929 was not "What Is Metaphysics?" but instead "Die heutige Problemlage der Philosophie" (GA 80.1:253-79). Thus Heidegger appears to have given his metaphysics lecture only in Freiburg, Frankfurt, and Heidelberg.
(21) Martin Heidegger/Karl Jaspers: Briefwechsel 1920-1963, 127; The Heidegger-Jaspers Correspondence (1920-1963), 123 (letter from October 18, 1929).
(22) Martin Heidegger/Karl Jaspers: Briefwechsel 1920-1963, 129; The Heidegger-Jaspers Correspondence (1920-1963), 125 (letter from December 5, 1929).
(23) Heidegger supplemented the 1943 fourth edition with an afterword. This and subsequent editions have been published by Vittorio Klostermann Verlag (Frankfurt am Main). The fifth edition, from 1949, opened with an introduction by Heidegger (which first appeared in part in a French translation by Joseph Rovan in 1947; see Martin Heidegger, "La remontee au fondement de la metaphysique," Fontaine 10, no. 58 : 888-98). Then, in 1967, Heidegger included all three texts (the published version of the lecture, the afterword, and the introduction) in his collection Wegmarken (Klostermann), which would become volume 9 of his Gesamtausgabe. For the sake of completeness, I should mention six additional texts that Heidegger wrote in view of his inaugural lecture: First is a blurb that Heidegger wrote in a copy of the first edition of his lecture owned by Vittorio Klostermann (now in GA 14:139), which Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann interprets as intended for a publisher's brochure (GA 14:152). Second, already in June 1930, Heidegger wrote a preface for Yuasa Seinosuke's Japanese translation of his lecture (Keijijogaku towa Nan zoya [Tokyo: Risosha Shuppanbu, 1930]; Heidegger's preface can be found, only in Japanese translation, on pp. v-vi. The German first appeared in Japan und Heidegger: Gedenkschrift der Stadt Messkirch zum hundertsten Geburtstag Martin Heideggers, ed. Hartmut Buchner [Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke, 1989], 209-10; now available in GA 16:66. Compare GA 16:712). Third, Heidegger composed a prologue in 1937 for the second version of Henry Corbin's French translation (Qu'est-ce que la metaphysique? [Paris: Gallimard, 1938], 7-8; the German is available in GA 14:141-42; see also "Martin Heidegger--Henry Corbin: Lettres et documents (1930-1941)," ed. and trans. Sylvain Camilleri and Daniel Proulx, Bulletin heideggerien 4 : 25-26). Fourth, another preface was written for the fifth edition of his lecture, which was never published alongside the lecture, but only posthumously (GA 14:143). Fifth is a letter Heidegger wrote to Roger Munier, which was published as a preface to Munier's 1969 translation of "What Is Metaphysics?" ("Qu'est-ce que la metaphysique?" Le Nouveau Commerce 14 [Summer-Autumn 1969]; Heidegger's letter can be found in German in GA 15:414-16). Last is a series of late notes Heidegger took on his inaugural lecture, which were recently published under the title "Hinweise zu 'Was ist Metaphysik'" (GA 82:407-62).
(24) PV, 117/90.
(25) PV, 115/91.
(26) GA 16:372-73, 568; GA 40:52; GA 76:242; GA 98:153-54; and "Wirklichkeit, Illusion und Moglichkeit der Universitat. Bin Vortrag Martin Heideggers," which is an unpublished transcript of an extemporaneous lecture Heidegger gave in Summer Semester 1950, available in Max Muller's papers at the Universitatsarchiv Freiburg under call number E3/ 172.
(27) PV, 104/82-83.
(28) GA 16:372; "The Rectorate 1933/34: Facts and Thoughts," trans. Karsten Harries, The Review of Metaphysics 38, no. 3 (March 1985): 481.
(29) GA 16:654. See also Bernd Martin's comment in "Ein Gesprach mit Max Muller," in Martin Heidegger, Briefe an Max Mutter und andere Dokumente, ed. Holger Zaborowski and Anton Bosel (Freiburg: Karl Alber, 2003), 118.
(30) GA 16:107; "The Self-Assertion of the German University," trans. Karsten Harries, The Review of Metaphysics 38, no. 3 (March 1985): 470.
(31) Iain Thomson, "Heidegger on Ontological Education, or: How We Become What We Are," Inquiry 44 (2001): 250. See also Iain Thomson, "Heidegger and the Politics of the University," Journal of the History of Philosophy 41, no. 4 (October 2003): 515-42.
(32) OV, 88/734.
(33) OV, 88/735.
(34) PV, 106/84.
(35) OV, 89/737; PV, 108/86.
(36) OV, 92/743.
(37) PV, 121/95.
(38) OV, 92-93/743-44. In the published version, Heidegger leaves out the article: "Why are there beings at all and not rather Nothing [Nichts]" (PV, 122/96 [trans, mod.]). Here too Heidegger substantivizes the indefinite pronoun nichts, but by employing capitalization alone to do so, he makes the difference between the pronoun and the noun inaudible; it can only be seen. See GA 9:420 for a brief discussion. Leibniz, for his part, does not substantivize the French indefinite pronoun rien at all in his question (although he does do so in the sentence that follows it):"Pourquoy ily a plustot quelque chose que rien? Car le rien est plus simple et plus facile que quelque chose." "Principes de la Nature et de la Grace, fondes en raison," [section]7, in Die phitosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, vol. 6, ed. C. I. Gerhardt (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1961), 602.
(39) OV, 93/743.
(40) PV, 121/95.
(41) GA 8:9; What is Called Thinking? rev. ed., trans. J. Glenn Gray (New York: Perennial Library, 1976), 8.
(42) OV, 88/735.
(43) For more on this critique, which Heidegger himself anticipates and attempts to discredit in his inaugural lecture, see above all Rudolf Carnap, "Uberwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analyse der Sprache," Erkenntnis 2 (1931): 219-41, esp. [section]5; "The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language," trans. Arthur Pap, in Logical Positivism, ed. A. J. Ayer (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1959), 60-81, esp. [section]5. For Heidegger's later reply to Carnap, see GA 9:70, and esp. GA 40:227-28; Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt, 2nd ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2014), 244-45, where Heidegger responds directly to Carnap's essay with the claim that "[w]hat is going on here is the uttermost reduction and deracination of the traditional theory of judgment under the illusion of mathematical scientificity." See also Martin Heidegger/Kurt Bauch: Briefwechsel 1932-1975, ed. Almuth Heidegger (Freiburg: Karl Alber, 2010), 49.
(44) Later Heidegger will call the restriction of all thinking to logically permissible statements "one of the greatest prejudices of Western philosophy." GA 65:461; Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event), trans. Richard Rojcewicz and Daniela Vallega-Neu (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 363.
(45) OV, 90/738; PV, 110-111/87-88.
(46) Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (henceforth, SZ), 19th ed. (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 2006), 142-43; Being and Time, trans. John Stambaugh, rev. Dennis J. Schmidt (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010), 138-39.
(47) OV, 90/738.
(48) OV, 91/741.
(49) PV, 107/85.
(50) PV, 109/87.
(51) Compare PV, 109/86-87.
(52) Compare PV, 116/91.
(53) PV, 118/93; OV, 92/741-42.
(54) PV, 111/88.
(55) PV, 120/94 (trans, mod.).
(56) See, for example, GA 27:3, 214, 218-220, 223, 226; Martin Heidegger/Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel, 1918-1969, 25 (letter from August 8, 1928); OV, 93/743; and PV, 122/96.
(57) See, for example, [section]34 of GA 65.
(58) OV, 91/740; emphasis added. Compare OV, 90-93/738-44 for "beings as a whole."
(59) GA 11:62-64.
(60) GA 65:171-172/135.
(61) In a letter written from Freiburg on April 12, 1929, Heidegger expresses his delight about Blochmann's plan to visit the Heideggers in July. In a letter from September 12, he speaks of "their summer days together," which, as he relates in a letter from December 18, included time in Freiburg, in Todtnauberg, and in Beuron (Martin Heidegger/Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel 1918-1969, 30, 31, 34). Since Heidegger was lecturing on German idealism on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays that July (see the dates provided for Heidegger's lectures in the "Beilagen" of GA 28), we may assume that their trip to Beuron (which is over 100 kilometers from Todtnauberg and from Freiburg) took place on one of the weekends in July. Did it occur before or after Heidegger delivered his inaugural lecture? If before, was Heidegger's lecture already complete? Did it then shape how he and Blochmann experienced Beuron? Or might Heidegger still have been finalizing his lecture when he and his friend traveled to the archabbey? He does express his gratitude to Blochmann "for the good fortune of letting you take part in my work" during their time together (Martin Heidegger/Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel, 1918-1969, 31 [letter from September 12, 1929]). Could it then be that the Beuron excursion influenced "What is Metaphysics?"?
(62) Martin Heidegger/Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel, 1918-1969, 32 (letter from September 12, 1929); subsequent quotes in this paragraph can be found on the same page of their correspondence.
(63) Regula Sancti Benedicti 17.8, 18.19, 42.8. For more on the liturgical background and the significance of Heidegger's letter, see Bernd Irlenborn, Der Ingrimm des Aufruhrs: Heidegger und das Problem des Bosen (Vienna: Passagen, 2000), 99-132. A recording of a portion of the Eastertide compline service at Beuron is available on tracks 21-24 of the CD included in Notburg Geibel and Stephan Petzolt, Das Lied der Monche (Beuron: Beuroner Kunstverlag, 2006).
(64) OV, 91/740.
(65) Context and italics suggest that, although uncapitalized, nichts is best understood here as a substantive (and not as an indefinite pronoun).
(66) Heidegger later describes the opening toward a new beginning in his inaugural lecture as only partial or "half-successful." GA 71:219; The Event, trans. Richard Rojcewicz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), 188. For in neither the original nor the published version does the history of being come to the fore. The letter to Blochmann, in contrast, already appears to be pointing in this direction with its talk of "a turning of the age."
(67) Alongside Eckhart, Hegel, and Holderlin, these two figures should be considered prime interlocutors in Heidegger's reflections on the Nothing in the late 1920s. Although there is not much mention of Bohme in Heidegger's corpus, Heidegger later praises the Baroque theosophist (often together with these other figures). See GA 42:54, 204; GA 73.1:875; GA 98:238-39; and Martin Heidegger, "Europa und die deutsche Philosophie," in Europa und die Philosophie, ed. Hans-Helmuth Gander (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1993), 40. Additionally, one of the articles in the Festschrift for Husserl that Heidegger edited in 1928-1929 was on Bohme, in which the Nothing and negation play an important role. See Alexandre Koyre, "Die Gotteslehre Jacob Boehmes," trans. Hedwig Conrad-Martius, in Jahrbuch fur Philosophie und phdnomenologische Forschung. Erganzungsband. Festschrift, Edmund Husserl zum 70. Geburtstag gewidmet (Halle: Niemeyer, 1929), 225-81. As for Schelling, Heidegger taught a seminar on the Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom in Winter Semester 1927-1928 (Heideggers Schelling-Seminar (1927/28), ed. Lore Huhn and Jorg Jantzen with the collaboration of Philipp Schwab and Sebastian Schwenzfeuer, Schellingiana [Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 2010]), and he began lecturing on Schelling's natural philosophy on July 11, 1929 (GA 28:364) in the second part of his course on German idealism (GA 28:183-94), less than two weeks before the delivery of "What Is Metaphysics?" In Schelling's treatise one reads, for example, that the "Nothing" (as it appears in the problem of creatio ex nihilo) "has long been the cross of the understanding." Philosophische Untersuchungen uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit und die damit zusammenhangenden Gegenstande, ed. Thomas Buchheim, 2"'J ed. (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 2011), 45 n. 22. For the Nothing in Eckhart and Hegel, see Heidegger's comments from 1927 in GA 24:127-28. Regarding Holderlin, on the cover page of a copy of the first published edition of "What Is Metaphysics?" Heidegger inscribed a sort of epigraph from the Thalia-fragment of Holderlin's Hyperion-. "Wir sind nichts; was wir suchen, ist alles." "We are nothing; what we seek is everything." Photocopy of the cover page available in the uncatalogued collection of the Martin-Heidegger-Archiv der Stadt Mefikirch. Compare GA 73.1:761.
(68) SZ, 6/5, 9/8, 248/239 (trans, mod.).
(69) SZ, 152/147 (trans, mod.).
(70) PV, 117/92.
(71) GA 29/30:522.
(72) I thank Arnulf Heidegger for permission to translate and publish his grandfather's letter in English. The original German is available in Martin Heidegger/Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel 1918-1969, 2nd ed., ed. Joachim W. Storck (Marbach am Neckar: Deutsche Schillergesellschaft, 1990), 31-33.
(73) Throughout the letter, Heidegger addresses Blochmann by her given name but uses formal pronouns and possessives in German.
(74) The German is Sie, which, rather than a formal second-person pronoun referring to Blochmann ("you"), seems here to be a capitalized third-person feminine pronoun referring either to "existence" or, more likely, to "night."
(75) Blochmann's letters to Heidegger from this period have not been located and are therefore not included in their published correspondence.
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|Title Annotation:||Martin Heidegger|
|Author:||Moore, Ian Alexander|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2019|
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