Monday, August 14, 2006
Mindfulness (GA 66) is the latest work by Heidegger to be translated and published in English. Here, the translators explain their translation of Besinnung as mindfulness. Note that "be-ing" is these translators' rendition of Seyn, or beyng.
Right from its onset, be-ing historical thinking unfolds itself as Besinnung and not as reflection since the latter belongs to the domain of a thinking that is not being-historical. Accordingly, it is of paramount importance in translating the word Besinnung to hone in on the foundational difference between reflection and Besinnung. In this context it would server well to note the intimate hermeneutic-phenomeological connection between Sinn and Besinnung to which Heidegger pays especial attention both in Being and Time and Contributions to Philosophy. To obtain a rendition of the word Besinnung that approximates in English to what Heidegger regards as the very unfolding of being-historical thinking, we have to bear in mind that Besinnung is nothing but an inquiry into the self-disclosure of being -- self-disclosure that in Being and Time Heidegger calls the meaning of 'der Sinn' of being and that in Contributions to Philosophy he calls the truth of being. What is of utmost significance here is that philosophy as Besinnung unfolds this inquiry. This inquiry is not merely a human enterprise of reflecting on the data of consciousness, on the peculiarities of perception or on the states of mind. It differs from reflection in that, as Besinnung, this inquiry is not entirely and exhaustively in human discretion. What distinguishes this inquiry as Besinnung is that it is basically determined and shaped by the truth of being. Thus there is an intimate interconnection between this inquiry, as Besinnung, and being. As Besinnung, this inquiry is already enowned by being. As enowned, it stands at the service of being by projecting-opening being's enowning sway or conferments -- its 'enowning throw'. This 'being mindful of being's enowning throw' cannot even be classified as a particular kind of reflection, or even as a mode of conscious awareness. Two factors are important here: on the one hand there is "the inexhaustibility of being's enowning throw" and on the other hand "the inconclusiveness of its projecting-opening". As a result, 'being mindful of being's enowning throw' is not an addendum to this inquiry but "originates from within the inexhaustibility of being's enowning throw..."

One way of grasping the distinction that Heidegger draws between Besinnung and reflection is to consider their bearings upong the issue called 'self.' Reflection of the 'self', which sustains all psychology and psychiatry, attends to the empirical states of the 'self' in order to render those states accessible to objectification. By contrast, in Besinnung on the 'self' these states are bracketed out and what is at stake is the grounding of the 'self' via 'temporality', 'linguisticality', 'historicality', ' mortality', and so forth. Heidegger alludes to the distinction between Besinnung on the 'self', as its grounding, and reflection on the 'self' by first questioning whether the 'self' is accessible to reflection at all and then by alluding to the necessity of grounding the 'self'. He says:
[Besinnung] is ... so originary that it above all asks how the self is to be grounded ... Thus it is questionable whether through reflection on 'ourselves' we ever find our self ... [xxxii]
Here we see that while Heidegger endorses a grounding of the 'self' via mindfulness of the 'self' he questions the very possibility of accessibility of the 'self' to reflection.

In order to obtain in English an approximate rendition of the word Besinnung, we took our bearing from the distinction that Heidegger draws between reflection on the 'self', and being mindful of the 'self', and rendered the word Besinnung with mindfulness. The unique advantage of this rendition consists in the fact that the word mindefulness has a pliability that is denied to reflection -- a pliability that does not let mindfulness become rigid and unyielding and end up in doctrines, systems, and so forth. In section 11 of Mindfulness, which comes right after the "Introduction", Heidegger brings to mind this pliability of minfulness when he says:
Coming from the overcoming of "metaphysics", mindfulness must nevertheless touch upon the hitherto and cannot become inflexible as the finished product of a usable presentation either in a "doctrine" or ina "system", or as "exhortation" or "edification".[17]
P. xxiii-xxv
I am a complete newbie to this material, but I am a professional translator living in Heidegger country and I disagree with the translation of "Besinnung" as "Mindfulness." My first reason for this is that the term "mindfulness" grows out of a very specific context involving Buddhist meditation practices that do not necessarily involve the withdrawal implied in "Besinnung." My second reason is that this German noun also has a verb form that is reflexive ("sich besinnen") and used often in everyday speech, which is not the case with mindfulness, and this fact must have philosophical immplications as far as the issue of "self" is concerned. As far as I can tell, the simplest course would be to translate "Besinnung" with "meditation," which comes with verbal, adjectival and adverbial forms.
Some folks use meditation. I've also seen reflection used. And some leave the term in German.

Sorting out English terminology is going to take decades. It seems each new translation introduces new subtleties to the vocabulary, which require reexamining previous word choices, for which there was never a concensus anyway.
'MIndfulness' is good, for the reasons that Emad indicates. Given that thinking, in Heidegger's sense, is beyond re-presentation, it's integral—and obvious—that he is extensively re-appropriating given terms within the way of thinking that a keynote comes to emblemize, in-and-of his way of working with it. For the English reader, it's vital to think with-and-through 'mindfulness' newly—gaining mindfulness itself originarily— which Heidegger intended for his German readers. The "proper" translation of 'Besinnung' might be '[H]mindfulness', which the English reader is to grow to understand in Heidegger's way of thinking through the emblem.
I'm surprised to find my own comment here. I'd forgotten.

As I was reading Parvis Emad's wonderful explication again, I thought: Better than 'mindfulness' would be 'mindfulling'.

This neologism has, to proximal English, a confusing sense, which is good. It's brought into reading—into thinking—to gain itself originarily, just as Heidegger intended with Besinnung. So, the aim of avoiding the lexical "noise" of given sense (which motivates the first comment here, associating 'mindfulness' to Buddhism) is better avoided by inviting that—it is the case that—'mindfulling' "has" (is to gain) its ownmost meaning by way of working with the text—working with thinking through the "Heidegger"-in-translation's text.

In any event, Besinnung is emblematic of a way of thinking (Heidegger's) that the reader in thinking with the text is to enown. This is not to represent Heidegger's thinking, but to think—at best (unlikely, yet...)—originarily.
I wish Blogger had thought more originarily and included year, with blog comment dates. They considered blog posts to be ephemeral, soon over, but the mindfulling ones will go on forever.

Making-sense of 'Besinnung', taking-sense as sense takes place.

In trying to keep thinking saying in play my current wrestling with this term is revolving around sense and sense being done or taken, performed or happening. There is perhaps an advent of sense as each day I open a window uncovering a picture showing what is to come and taking and inwardly digesting the wrapped chocolate.

Dave Verrill 13rd September 2016
First let me say I lean towards leaving many word untranslated (e.g., YHWH, ehyeh asher ehyeh, aletheia, pneuma, agape, karma, dharma, etc.) for obvious reasons.
To the point at hand I have already considered that aletheia when translated should be translated as mindfulness.
A synopsis of my reasoning, for which I am indebted to Heidegger, follows entitled
"Aletheia is truth is Mindfulness."
Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality.
Aletheia is truth or disclosure in philosophy.
It is a Greek word variously translated as "unclosedness", "unconcealedness", "disclosure" or "truth".
The literal meaning of the word ἀ–λήθεια is "the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident."
It also means factuality or reality.
It is the opposite of lethe, which literally means "oblivion", "forgetfulness", or "concealment".
In Greek mythology, Lethe
was one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades.
Also known as the Ameles potamos (river of un-mindfulness),
the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos (sleep) and through the Underworld,
where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness.
Lethe was also the name of the Greek consciousness of forgetfulness and oblivion, with whom the river was often identified.
In Classical Greek, the word lethe literally means "oblivion", "forgetfulness", or "concealment".
It is related to the Greek word for "truth", aletheia (ἀλήθεια),
which literally means "un-forgetfulness" or "un-concealment".
Some ancient Greeks believed that souls were made to drink from the river before being reincarnated,
so they would not remember their past lives.
The Myth of Er at the end of Plato's Republic tells of the dead arriving at the "plain of Lethe", through which the river Ameles ("careless") runs.
A few mystery religions taught the existence of another river, the Mnemosyne;
those who drank from the Mnemosyne would remember everything and attain omniscience.
Initiates were taught that they would receive a choice of rivers to drink from after death, and to drink from Mnemosyne instead of Lethe.
Lethe being known as the Ameles potamos (river of un-mindfulness),
if there was a river Alethe, it would be the river of mindfulness.
Aletheia is mindfulness. QED
John 8:32 And you will know Mindfulness, and Mindfulness shall make you free (from bondage to un-consciousness, from bondage to un-Being).
According to Tom Sheehan, Heidegger generally uses ἀλήθεια in one of three ways.

Truth as assertion, correctness, about entities.

Truth as meaningfulness, Da-sein taking entities as things.

Truth as the conditions for the possibility of taking things as things.

Graph, you appear to be saying that mindfulness is a synonym to meaningfulness?
Truth is a process of unconcealing "what is."
Essential to this process is mindfulness.
Unconcealed truth, i.e., awareness of "what is," in contrast to unawareness of what is not (delusion),
is indeed meaningfulness, and is how we become authentic being.
Being is a process, not a thing.
I have been asking myself "why do we feel obligated to one-to-one translations" when to impart the original author's intent a phrase may be more appropriate?
The English translation I am currently entertaining for aletheia is "mindfulness-truth uncovering 'what is.' "
"What is" is truth, for if it was "what is not," it would not be truth. QED
"What is" is also "reality."
Therefore aletheia can also be phrased "mindfulness-truth uncovering reality."
Aletheia practice results in increased Being.
This is not a hypothesis, but a history of evidence-based observations recorded in a plethora of psychology textbooks on the subject of psychotherapy centered on mindfulness and acceptance.
So far we have aletheia and being as the the two main term considerations.
I came to aletheia by reading Mounce Reverse Interlinear Greek New Testament, where I found in a reply to Pilate, Jesus states, with explicit redundancy, he was born, and came into the world, to teach aletheia. (John 18:37)
Now how was that never mentioned in all the catechism classes, and bible study groups, I have attended these past 50 years?
Well, it appears aletheia has disappeared for millennia, only to be recently revived by Heidegger (according to the Wikipedia page on aletheia).
The English translation I am currently entertaining for God's response to Moses concerning God's identity (Exodus 3:14) "ehyeh asher ehyeh," is "is what is." Quibbling aside, this phrase, and the Tetragrammaton refer to forms of the verb "to be." The most salient observation is the god of the early Semitic peoples, and Hebrews in particular, was a verb, not a noun like the pagans.
At this point we can begin to consider the importance of "process philosophy," to which I understand Heidegger was a subscriber (see Alfred North Whitehead).
There are examples that when translated into English, rabbinical scholars have chosen Being instead of the generic noun god.
To summarize thus far, the Old Testament godhead is the process of Being, and the process to achieve communion with the godhead described in the New Testament is "mindfulness-truth uncovering 'what is.' "
This is fully encoded in the teacher's Hebrew name Yahuah-Shua (Being is Salvation).
Furthermore, the direct unequivocal instruction on worship by the teacher, rendering pneuma as "consciousness" is
"Being is consciousness, and we must worship Being in consciousness and mindfulness-truth uncovering "what is." (John 4:24)
We now are using contemporary terms consciousness (), mindfulness-truth uncovering "what is" (aletheia),
and Being (YHWH).
We are bulwarked in our choice of using consciousness as the rendering for pneuma by the interpretation of quantum mechanics known a "consciousness causes the wave function collapse" which I feel is valid even though at this time we prefer to use the term "decohere" instead of "collapse."
Two further terms complete the Gospel picture: Oneness/heis (John 17), and agape (John 13:35); which are results of the practice of mindfulness-truth uncovering "what is" (aletheia).
I find it remarkable that Heidegger also sees agape (love, compassion, caring) as a means of increasing Being.
I have yet to find his thoughts on Oneness, any help is most appreciated :)

hmm...pneuma typo correction (I don't see edit button above)....We now are using contemporary terms consciousness (pneuma), mindfulness-truth uncovering "what is" (aletheia), and Being (YHWH).
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