Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931–1938

Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931–1938

Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931–1938

Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931–1938


Ponderings II-VI begins the much-anticipated English translation of Martin Heidegger's "Black Notebooks." In a series of small notebooks with black covers, Heidegger confided sundry personal observations and ideas over the course of 40 years. The five notebooks in this volume were written between 1931 and 1938 and thus chronicle Heidegger's year as Rector of the University of Freiburg during the Nazi era. Published in German as volume 94 of the Complete Works, these challenging and fascinating journal entries shed light on Heidegger's philosophical development regarding his central question of what it means to be, but also on his relation to National Socialism and the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1930s in Germany. Readers previously familiar only with excerpts taken out of context may now determine for themselves whether the controversy and censure the "Black Notebooks" have received are deserved or not. This faithful translation by Richard Rojcewicz opens the texts in a way that captures their philosophical and political content while disentangling Heidegger's notoriously difficult language.


This is a translation of volume 94 of Martin Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe (“Complete Works”). the German original appeared posthumously in 2014.

The volume inaugurated the publication of Heidegger’s “Black Notebooks.” These are small (ca. 5 × 7 in.) notebooks with black covers to which the philosopher confided sundry ideas and observations over the course of more than forty years, from the early 1930s to the early 1970s. the notebooks are being published in chronological order, and the five herein correspond to the years 1931–1938. in all, thirty-three of the thirty-four Black Notebooks are extant and will fill up nine volumes of the Gesamtausgabe.

Heidegger gave a title to each of the notebooks (these first five to be published are “Ponderings”) and referred to them collectively as the “black notebooks.” the published series begins with “Ponderings II”; “Ponderings I” is the lost notebook.

As can be imagined regarding any notes to self, these journal entries often lack polished diction and at times are even cryptic. Nevertheless, the style and vocabulary are mostly formal, not to say stilted, and are seldom colloquial. This translation is meant to convey to an English-speaking audience the same effect the original would have on a German one, with the degree of formality varying pari passu with Heidegger’s own. a prominent stylistic peculiarity I was unable to render in full, however, is the extensive use of dashes. Heidegger often employs dashes not merely for parenthetical remarks but for any change in the direction of thought. Sometimes dashes separate subjects and predicates, and some dashes even occur at the end of paragraphs. Due to differences in English and German syntax, I could not include all the dashes without making for needless confusion and could not place them all at the exact points that would correspond to the original text. This admission is of course not meant to imply I did capture the varied styles of the notebooks in all other respects.

The pagination of the notebooks themselves is reproduced here in the outer margins. All of Heidegger’s cross-references are to these marginal numbers. the running heads indicate the pagination of the Gesamtausgabe edition. I have inserted myself into the text only to alert the reader to the original German where I thought it might be helpful (for example, as indicating a play on words I could not carry over into English) and to translate any Latin or Greek expressions Heidegger . . .

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