Monday, October 03, 2011
Michael E. Zimmerman on explaining Ereignis.
In trying to explain Ereignis, Heidegger attempts the impossible. Since Ereignis "is not," we cannot talk about it propositionally. Heidegger himself says that "Everything--statements, questions, and answers--presupposes the experience of the matter itself." (ZS, 25-26) Yet in discussing Ereignis, he maintains that man is called on to bring it to language. Mortal legein is supposed to gather and shelter the the cosmic Logos. In his 1936 essay, "Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry," he described language as a gift. For Hölderlin, man becomes himself when he affirms that he belongs to the things that are. We belong to everything because we can understand them. We can be universal because language allows us to transcend the immediate environment. Hölderlin suggests that language is rooted in "innerness" (Innigkeit) which--much like the Logos of Heraclitus--means the setting-apart which binds together the beings of the cosmos. We become most human when we affirm that we belong to this innerness. "This attesting to belonging to the whole of being happens as history. But so that history is possible, language is given to man. It is the 'good' of man." (EHD, 275) Western history has been conditioned by the various ways in which Western man has "attested" to belonging to the whole of being. In the modern age, man has concluded that the whole of being belongs to him! We have forgotten that "Language is not a tool at [man's] disposal, rather it is that Ereignis which disposes of the highest possibility of humanity." (EHD, 276) Man becomes attuned to cosmic necessity when he responds to the silent appeal of Logos or "Saying" (Sagen). (US, 52-53) We can speak only because Logos endows us with that power. "Authentically language speaks, not man. Man only speaks insofar as he cor-responds to language." (HH) Since the essence of language lies in unconcealing, and since language is distinctive to man, then genuine human existence means disclosing things through language. "Man is that being [Wesen], who--by speaking--lets what is present lie forth in its presence, and perceives that lying forth." (WGM)

P. 72
ZS: Zur Sache des Denkens, On Time and Being
EHD: Erläuterungen zu Hölderlin Dichtung, Rememberance of the Poet
US: Unterwegs zur Sprache, On The Way to Language
HH: Hebel: der Hausfreund
WGM: Wegmarken, Pathmarks
[Page numbers with the references in the text are for the English translations, where known.]
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