Academic journal article Review of Contemporary Philosophy

The Enowning of Thought and Whakapapa: Heidegger's Fourfold

Academic journal article Review of Contemporary Philosophy

The Enowning of Thought and Whakapapa: Heidegger's Fourfold

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. Throughout colonization, Maori have been constantly urged to think of their terminology, and the objects it relates to, along constrained lines. In this practice, the self and other things are arguably restricted and impoverished. However, certain frequently used Maori terms - such as "whakapapa" and "whakaaro" - may be read alongside Heidegger's "Ereignis," revealing a completely other sense to them than their orthodox, respective translations of "genealogy" and "to think" allow. This kind of thinking in concert with an existential philosophy is an active process that allows for the "freeing up" of entities and a colonized group. With Heidegger's assistance, the terms, and the original sources they refer to, reflect a kind of "Geviert"/Fourfold that ensures a continual strife and interplay between things in the world and self.

Keywords: Maori; Heidegger; enowning; Fourfold, metaphysics; Being

1. Introduction

In "Building Dwelling Thinking," Heidegger (1971) lamented humanity's dominant way of thinking as having "long been accustomed to understate the nature of the thing" (p. 153), in which the thing is diminished so that, described as a particular entity through terminology, it must possess "perceptible properties." This impoverishment in a basic relationship with the thing relates not only to thinking but also to the verb "to think" itself. Of course, here Heidegger was discussing the decline in thought in relation to humanity's tendency to represent a bridge as a self-evident, solid construction, rather than as an entity that gathers to it what he calls the "Fourfold" of sky, earth, divinities and mortals. Of vital importance is that we do not limit Heidegger's critique solely to a focus on humanity's representation of things but that we additionally undertake an inquiry into the concealment of Being as those things are revealed.

The focus on things to the detriment of such an ontological inquiry is, I argue, an insidious aspect of colonization. In an era where Maori, for instance, are set upon by a bewildering array of arguments to do with water rights, language revitalization, and proper political representation, the chance for an inquiry into Being is not only absent but probably also discouraged. Crucially, the ontological sense of Maori terms, which are meant to represent things in the world so that they are inherently related, is endangered. Two terms that I discuss in this chapter are "whakaaro" and "whakapapa." Not only are they solidified individually as entities possessing a specific meaning, though; they are additionally segregated off as intrinsically ««related to other terms, including each other. Against this human centered agency, Delamere had identified in traditional Maori philosophy that humans had much less control over "reo" (language):

In the grander scheme of things, traditional Te Reo are the voices of nature; the jolt of an earthquake, the song of a bird, the rustling of leaves, the rumbling of thunder before a storm, the piercing bolt of lightning in the night sky, the rushing waves of a tsunami, the cry of a whale, the fresh smell of rain on the earth" (Milton 201 l,p. 10).

To this list of Delamere's might be added the following: "..., the concern that thinking itself expresses as one is moved towards the draw of the world." My addition assumes that language much more opens up aspects of the world, including thought, than it merely comprises soundwaves. If that addition is indeed permissible, then one may see a marked conviviality between Delamere's proposal and that of Heidegger's Fourfold, in which thinking is an active consideration of Being within the interplay of entities, in the sense that thinking is a responsive movement towards, and assuredly within, the world.

Heidegger provides an antidote to the colonizing straightforward view of "whakapapa" and "whakaaro" as separate entities by providing certain ontological signposts, especially in his suggestion that humanity is "enowned" or "appropriated" by Being. …

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