Sunday, October 02, 2005

Redoing Heidegger's Thing (1)

The dogmatic critic, who lays down a rule, who affirms a value, has left his labour incomplete. Such statements may often be justifiable as a saving of time; but in matters of great importance the critic must not coerce, and he must not make judgments of worse and better. He must simply elucidate: the reader will form the correct judgment for himself.

T. S. Eliot
"The Perfect Critic"

Though I wonder if I'm not doing the thing to death, I want to go through my paraphrases of the last paragraph of Marting Heidegger's "The Turning" (cf. this post and this one) again and in some detail. It is not controversial to suggest that this short passage of prose is, as it were, "pivotal" for Heidegger's thinking, i.e., it is that around which the thing turns.

I will be devoting a post to each step of the paraphrasing operation, underlining the part that I'm working on and explaining the word or phrase replacement undertaken. (I am, in part, practicing in order to meet Tim Peterson's challenge to get around to doing some acts of reading.)

First, then, here is William Lovitt's translation:

May world in its worlding be the nearest of all nearing that nears, as it brings the truth of Being near to man’s essence, and so gives man to belong to the disclosing bringing-to-pass that is a bringing into its own.
We now replace "world in its worlding" with "things". My argument for this is that what the world does when it is being itself is "to world", but the phenomenological evidence for the world's worlding is constituted by what this doing "brings forth", and this can be nothing other than things. Thus, we catch the world "in its worlding" (in the act of worlding, i.e., in the act of being itself) whenever we encounter a thing. If this passage constitutes a kind of prayer then Heidegger is here clearly praying for things.
May things be the nearest of all nearing that nears, as they bring the truth of Being near to man’s essence, and so give man to belong to the disclosing bringing-to-pass that is a bringing into its own.
That's the first step.


Jay said...

The world in its worlding . . . it seems to me that there's an acknowledgement here of time, of process, of action here that the word "things" doesn't capture. "Things in their thing-ing?" But I'm also thinking of that passage in Being and Time (don't have a copy handy so I'll have to paraphrase from my memory of the passage) in which the thing is discussed with regard to its utility -- we use a hammer to nail down a roof which is necessary to shield us from the elements and so on -- such that consideration of the thing points us toward the world as such. Replacing "world in its worlding" with "things" seems to leave behind the notion that the world in its worlding is an "interrelatedness" of things . . .

So to summarize, I guess the use of "things" doesn't, for me, quite capture the notion that things are both temporal and interrelated -- unless those things are already presupposed in the definition of "thing" . . .

Thomas Basbøll said...

Heidegger's (ontological) point, in B&T, as I read it, is that things are essentially interrelated, and I think you are right to point out that they are interrelated by their use (or what I want to call usage, grammar).

IN Basic Problems, Heidgger corrects Fichte's "constructive violation of the facts" by pointing out that there is no such thing as, say, a wall, taken in isolation, but only in the "equipmental contexture" of a room (walls, doors, floor, ceiling, seats, boredom).

Like you, the word "thing" didn't quite do it for Heidegger. But my point here is only that one who does understand what a thing, properly (i.e., phenemenologically speaking), IS will see each thing as a moment of the world's worlding. Each thing as a temporal process.

I suppose I'm translating Heidegger's prayer into terms that someone who didn't need Heidegger's services (any longer) would understand without the confusion you, rightly, suggest sticks to a word like "thing" under ordinary circumstances.