Erik Wallrup on listening for the original tone.
According to Heidegger, the act of listening is necessary for thinking as well as
learning. As a matter of fact, we do not just start to think; we must learn how to
think, and, in order to learn this, we need to listen. The teacher, to whom the students
listen, must learn to learn: ‘Lernen geht auf wissendes Aneignen und Eigentum des
Wissens, aber je auf ein Eigentum, das nicht uns gehört, sondern dem wir gehören’
(P. 190). In a conventional translation, this citation would read something
like this: ‘Learning rises from knowing appropriation and property of knowledge,
but always from a property which does not belong to us, instead to which we
belong.’ However, in this translation, almost all the meaning is lost. Gone is the
etymological relation to Ereignis —the event—in which we are related to Being.
Gone also is the bond to the verb hören, which here can be understood as ‘to belong
to’ (e.g. zugehören), but which also has to do with listening: we must listen to the
way in which Being speaks to us. Being speaks to us, Heidegger says, and Being
often speaks to us with a silent voice, a lautlose Stimme. Listening to the voice of
Being, we are attuned, gestimmt , to it. When Heidegger lectures on Heraclitus, trying
to show how logos is related to a German verb like lesen (here, not ‘read’ but
‘choose’), he concludes that, through his lecture, one can hear the sounding of the
basic words of the beginnings of thinking. They may be monotone, but they are the
‘tonic of this originating Greek thinking’(P. 298). Without this tone, it would
not be possible to listen to the beginning.