Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The silence of the thing, from Robert Platt's "Ontological Excess and the Being of Language".
In Heidegger’s thought that the word gives being to the thing, the work of language ― strikingly conceived in saying ― is to cast an enlivening luminescence on ordinary things, so that they appear in their explicitness and in their fullness. The task of language here is to avoid a naming which would be fully satisfied by making the thing disposable, or by designating it as a mode of equipment for human use. Because the word cannot say the thing in its specificity, the being of the thing is given as a gift through the word’s power of showing and, since this is silent, human being is free to let be the thing in its own mode of being. The showing constitutes the thing’s appearance both as its semblance, outward aspect or ‘look’, and as its coming into being.

The interpretation of language that Heidegger develops in thinking about the relationship between saying and silent showing belongs in a broader understanding in which thinking, language, human being (Dasein) and being as such belong-together. Humans are the beings for whom thinking makes being an issue, and this thinking is accomplished through the saying and silent showing of language. The belonging-together which occurs here is an event of mutual appropriation (Ereignis). Of course, Heidegger’s injunction to listen cannot guarantee the authenticity of what will be heard since what is shown will be unsayable: showing is not a concrete or empirical matter which can be made accountable in terms of what is shown.
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