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The Writing of Aletheia

Martin Heidegger: In Language

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Martin Travers

Martin Heidegger was engaged in a continual struggle to find words – new words, both descriptive and analytical – for his radical form of philosophy. This tendency can be traced from Being and Time, where he elaborated an entirely new vocabulary for his ontological enquiry; to Contributions to Philosophy, which saw him committed to a transformation of language; to later essays on poets such as Rilke and Trakl in On the Way to Language.

The Writing of Aletheia is the first study to appear in either English or German that provides a full account of Heidegger’s language and writing style. Focusing not only on his major philsophical works but also on his lectures, public talks and poetry, this book explores the complex textuality of Heidegger’s writing: the elaborate chains of wordplay and neologistic formations; the often oblique, circuitous and regressive exposition of his ideas; the infamous tautologies; the startling modification of grammatical rules and syntax; the idiosyncratic typography of his texts; the rhetorical devices, imagery and symbolism; and the tone and voice of his writing. All of these aspects betray not only his will to structure and his assertiveness but also his ongoing self-questioning and reflectiveness about the ultimate goal of his philosophical quest.

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Chapter 1 The Language of Ontology: Being and Time

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Chapter 1

The Language of Ontology: Being and Time

Wording the World: In a Phenomenology of Deskription

Heidegger’s first major work was Being and Time (Sein und Zeit). It appeared in 1927 as Volume 8 of the Annual for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Research (Jahrbuch für Phänomenologie und phänomenologische Forschung), a journal edited by Edmund Husserl (Heidegger’s professor at the University of Freiburg, to whom the work was dedicated), before being published in book from the same year with the Niemeyer Verlag in Halle. Being and Time brought to fruition a project that had long been in the making.1 Heidegger had intended his work to be in two parts, each with three sections. The first part was to be an interpretation of Dasein in terms of temporality as the transcendental horizon for the question of Being.2 The second part was to provide the basis for a critical←11 | 12→ re-evaluation of the history of ontology, focusing on Aristotle, Descartes and Kant. This part was never completed, and the book bore the description “First Part” until its 1960 edition, after which that description was dropped because, as Heidegger explained in its preface, “after a quarter of a century, a second part could no longer be added without a revision of the first part”. Nevertheless, as he added “the direction that the first part took can still even today be seen as a necessary one, if our Dasein is to be moved by the...

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