[lit-ideas] Re: Reading Heidegger

  • From: Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2015 18:29:34 +0000

Can anyone in german, in Vietnamese, in Russian, in Arabic tell us why there is 
something instead of nothing?
This is not a question asked by anybody by the Ueberasshole himself, in the 
first two pages of the 1935 Einfuehrung in die Mtaphysik. And the  answer is?
The reply is kindly asked not to unload another basket of nazi sperm and lots 
of quotations.
One answer

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Sent: 16 February 2015 19:33
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Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Reading Heidegger

One of the best things that I have read about Heidegger's 'obscurity' is the 

"Then again, there is the matter of Heidegger's famous 'obscurity', which would 
seem to require that special comment be made upon him.  A great deal of this 
'obscurity' is a matter of translation, and disappears when Heidegger is read 
in German.  To be sure, his German is at times a very highly individualized 
vehicle of expression: Heidegger does coin his own terms when he has to, and 
usually these are coinings that stick very close to the etymological roots of 
German.  Heidegger thinks very much within the matrix of the German language, 
and his expressions hugs the particularity of this language to its bosom.  All 
of this makes for difficulty in translation . . . .  [I]f we compare Heidegger 
with two classical German philosophers, like Kant or Hegel, his sentences are 
remarkably compact and incisive, his expression notably terse.  Very often, in 
reading Hegel, we get the feeling . . . that the philosopher is deliberately 
willing to be obscure.  One never gets this impression from Heidegger: he is 
struggling to communicate, and his command of his own means of communication is 
powerful and impressive.  The difficulty comes, rather, from the obscurity of 
the matter with which Heidegger is grappling.

"That there are obscure matters at all in our experience is a contention that 
rubs against the prejudice of some positivistic philosophers that whatever 
cannot be said clearly and distinctly cannot be said at all and the effort to 
say it can only result in 'meaningless' verbalism.  Every philosopher, in this 
view, ought to be able to express himself with the simple-minded clarity of, 
say, Bertrand Russell.  and if the philosopher does not do this, it is a clear 
sign of intellectual incompetence.  All this, of course, is oversimplified 
psychologizing.  A philosopher may be quite capable of mastering one or the 
other of the clear and distinct dialects of philosophy and bouncing the ball of 
dialectic deftly back and forth across the net; but he may be drawn by other 
subject matters into following a quite different path in philosophy.  From the 
point of view of a philosopher like Heidegger there are parts of our experience 
that ordinary language finds itself hard put to express, if it can express 
these matters at all; indeed, this ordinary language seems to have been formed 
out a kind of conspiracy to cover over or forget these parts of experience 

- William Barrett in his introduction to the 'Phenomenology and Existentialism' 
section of William Barrett and Henry D. Aiken, eds., _Philosophy in the 
Twentieth Century: An Anthology_, (New York: Random House, 1962); Vol. 3, pp. 

I can attest to Barrett's claims about reading Heidegger 'in the original', and 
indeed would go farther than he does. I do not claim that one cannot come to 
some understanding of Heidegger's thought, or critique his views in interesting 
and insightful ways, without reading him in German.  But I will say 
categorically and unequivocally: if you have not read Heidegger in German, you 
have not read Heidegger.

- Chris Bruce
Kiel, Germany

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