Speaking against Number: Heidegger, Language and the Politics of Calculation

By Stuart Elden | Go to book overview


One – Speaking: Rhetorical Politics

Logos, Logic and Speech

In its treatment of the question of being, Being and Time spends the first division of the first part on an analysis of Dasein, before moving in the second division to the relation of Dasein to temporality. As Heidegger makes clear in the introduction, the purpose of 'the analytic of Dasein remains wholly orientated towards the guiding task of working out the question of being'. It therefore does not provide 'a complete ontology of Dasein', and cannot be confused with anthropology, biology or psychology precisely because of this ontological focus (GA2, 17, see 45). This should doubtless be remembered when Heidegger is criticised for neglecting some key issues in Being and Time, such as the body, gender and so on. Nonetheless, given that he moved beyond the concentration on being itself, most explicitly in relation to politics, certain absences become both more marked and remarkable.

Language has a privileged place in Being and Time. Questions of speech and poetry undoubtedly play an important role throughout Heidegger's career, but even in this early period he tells us that speaking 'is what basically constitutes human Dasein' (GA19, 17–18). 'Speaking' here is his translation of the Greek legein, 'to speak', Sprechen. Speaking is a way of human expression, indeed the way of human expression, 'speaking about something, about the world' (GA19, 17–18; see GA2, 161). Because this was such a commonplace, everyday, indeed fundamental way of being, the human is defined by it, hence Aristotle's famous definition of the human as the zoon ekhon logon (Politics, 1253a9; see Nicomachean Ethics, 1098a3–5, 1139a5–6), the animal that has the logos. For Heidegger, logos is thus 'the fundamental determination [Bestimmung] of the being of humans as such (GA18, 18).

Heidegger suggests that 'logos gets translated (that is always

-17-

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Speaking against Number: Heidegger, Language and the Politics of Calculation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • One – Speaking: Rhetorical Politics 17
  • Two – Against: Polemical Politics 72
  • Three – Number: Calculative Politics 116
  • Taking the Measure of the Political 170
  • Subject Index 185
  • Index of Names 191
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