[lit-ideas] Re: Reading Heidegger

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 09:07:32 +0100

See you soon.


On Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 6:33 PM, <cblists@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

> One of the best things that I have read about Heidegger's 'obscurity' is
> the following:
> "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
> altogether."
> - 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. 152-3.
> 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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