François Raffoul on the earth and history, from "Heidegger and the Aporia of History
The earth, Heidegger explains, can neither enter into history, nor step out of it, because the earth “has nothing to do with history.”. And yet, “the southern Balkan peninsula entered into history more than two thousand years ago. A mountain chain, a river can become [a] site for world-historical decisive battles. We speak of ‘historical soil,’ [we] say that an entire region is, as it were, laden with history”. The earth is the soil [Der Erdboden] of history, a soil which then “also enters into history”. No substantial separation between earth and history (the world is earthy, the earth is worldly), but a singular intertwining, indeed a strife (Streit). As Heidegger explains in “On the Essence of Truth,” “Beings as a whole reveal themselves as φύσις, ‘nature,’” and history “begins only when beings themselves are expressly drawn up into their unconcealement and conserved in it”. In that sense, the earth cannot constitute a separate, substantial nonhistorical ground. This is what Heidegger shows in “The Origin of the Work of Art”. The earth represents a self-secluding element and world the open region, and yet they are essentially intertwined: the earth cannot subsist on its own without the openness of the world and the world cannot float away from earth; the world is grounded on the earth, the earth juts into the open region. Heidegger explains that “World and earth are essentially different from one another and yet are never separated. The world grounds itself on the earth, and earth juts through world”.
Earth and world belong together as the co-belonging – and original strife, Urstreit – of clearing and concealing. That relation is one of tension and resistance. The world, resting on the earth, attempts to overcome it; the earth, as sheltering and concealment, draws the world toward it. In the creation of the world, the strife “must be set back into the earth,” and the earth itself “must be set firth and put to use as self-secluding”. Such strife is not destructive but constitutive of both earth and world, for in “essential strife, rather, the opponents raise each other into their self-assertion of their essential natures”. The world “lets the earth be earth”. In the end, history itself is rethought as the strife between earth and world, as the between of earth and world, as Heidegger makes clear in The Contributions to Philosophy when he describes history [Geschichte] as “the strifing of the strife [Bestreitung des Streites] of earth and world.” History happens in, and as, this original strife of earth and world.