Article excerpt

The aim of this essay is twofold. First, it attempts to elucidate the manner in which for Heidegger the work of art functions as a superlative event of "truth-happening" (alëtheia), which facilitates the movement of Dasein into the truth of Being as a legitimate member of a community, serving as the origin of culture's appropriation of its own unique historical destiny. Second, it explains why this notion of art as the historical manifestation of Being is crucial to understanding the shift, or "turn" (Kehre) in Heidegger's philosophy of the 1930s and 1940s, i.e., it examines the philosophical problems Heidegger rectified when moving from Being and Time, and the conceptual-linguistic constraints of metaphysics and the subject-centered model of Dasein, to the later works on art and poetry. This analysis of the work of art and the Hölderlin lectures focuses on writings that Heidegger produced during the 1930s, a period known as the "turn." Thus, a brief explanation of this "turning" in Heidegger's thought will enhance the reader's understanding of the importance this had on Heidegger's philosophy during this historical moment.

In Heidegger scholarship the "turn" refers to a specific historical period marking an event in the development of Heidegger's thought. As James Risser states, "[The turn] designates a period in his life that begins immediately after the publication of Being and Time in 1927 and can be said to end with the work on Nietzsche that consumes Heidegger around the outbreak of World War U."1 To refer to the turn as an event, or drastic change in Heidegger's philosophy of the 1930s, not only suggests that there is a change in the way Heidegger approaches, formulates, and presents his thought, but further suggests that there is a drastic shift in focus during this time, which amounts to the radical change in his fundamental philosophical topic. Thus conceived, the turn represents Heidegger's leap from Man to Being, a move from seeking the meaning of Being by way of the human Dasein to the search for the truth of Being given Dasein's exclusion. This suggests that Heidegger during the 1930s, with the exclusion of Dasein, embarks (for the first time) on a full-blown ontological enquiry into Being as such.

This is not the case, however, as is evident from Heidegger's remarks in the essay, "Letter on Humanism" ( 1 947). When reflecting on the turning in his philosophy from Being and Time to Time and Being, he claims that the central topic and subject-matter of his enquiry from Being and Time does not change. "This turning is not a change of standpoint from Being and Time, but in it the thinking that was sought first arrives at the location of that dimension out of which Being and Time is examined, that is to say, experienced from the fundamental experience of the oblivion of Being."2 Heidegger's philosophy from Being and Time onwards, in other words, is marked by a reorientation to the problem of how the Being-event occurs, which includes the consideration of a variety of new and unique paradigms. "This reorientation," states Thomas Sheehan, "is not due to Heidegger alteration, much less abandoning or surrendering the philosophical task he set forth in Being and Time."3 Rather, he is expanding the question of Being through a renewed approach and presentation of the fundamental topic.

There are several significant aspects of the "turn" and the renewed approach to his project which will be detailed in this essay. First, Heidegger comes to realize that the event of Being cannot be adequately understood from the limited, individuated perspective of Dasein (as solus ipse [alone itself]), and he identifies the problem that his model of Dasein in Being and Time poses of the transcendental-temporal locus for understanding the meaning of Being. For it is indeed possible to associate Heidegger's model with the subject-centered understanding of the human being found in both Kant's transcendental thought and the traditional metaphysics of Descartes, i. …


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