Saturday, April 07, 2012
Wendell Kisner on the importance of things.
Although much has been made of this releasement (Gelassenheit) and even of the freedom implied in it, not as much attention has been paid to the integral part played by things with respect to this releasement. Indeed, without things, there would be no freedom and no releasement. Likewise, much has been made of Ereignis as the “appropriative event” that opens up a world horizon, but without Austrag—the carrying out of this opening up by the things that bear it—there is no Ereignis. And so the theme I want to invoke here and keep in view is Heidegger’s assertion about the relation of mortal human beings to things.
We are—in the strict sense of the German word—the ones “be-thinged” or conditioned [die Be-dingten]. We have left the presumption of all unconditionedness behind us. [P. 181]
Heidegger hyphenates the German word for “conditioned” here as Be-Dingten in order to highlight its literal sense of “be-thinged.” This does not, in a manner to be discussed below, indicate a mere passivity on our part. On the other hand, it obviously precludes the notion that we simply exercise an active power over things, determining them in advance as objects as in representational thinking.

“Being” is an opening of unconcealment that makes beings manifest in certain ways, but now that opening is re-understood and rearticulated in terms of things. The ontological framework of “Being” that casts its net over the whole of beings will henceforth be relegated to that Western metaphysical oblivion which culminates in the essence of technology as a way of revealing the whole of beings as objects constantly on hand and available for inspection and calculation. In his phenomenological analyses of mortal dwelling and things, Heidegger attempts to release both of the latter from this metaphysical enclosure.
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