Thursday, June 04, 2015
In NDPR, Richard Polt reviews Hölderlin's Hymns "Germania" and "The Rhine" translated by William McNeill and Julia Ireland.
[T]here is a fundamental question at stake in this lecture course that every philosopher should consider. Most philosophy, and all natural science, obeys the Cartesian method of analysis and synthesis (Discourse on Method, Part 2): a complex whole is to be broken down into easily intelligible elements, and then reconstructed in terms of them. This is what it means for us to explain a thing, to understand it. But Heidegger bluntly says, “I take understanding to be the opposite in essence to explanation . . . understanding precisely lets what is inexplicable stand as such”. A whole world cannot be “glued together” out of parts. The whole calls for a poetic saying and philosophical discourse that can, at best, draw our attention to the mystery through “tentative directives” and inquire into a “commencement” that is still more mysterious — inexhaustibly so.
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