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The Writing of Aletheia

Martin Heidegger: In Language


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 3 Re-calling the Originary: Parmenides


Chapter 3

Re-calling the Originary: Parmenides

To (Re)think the Beginning: In the Revealing of “Aletheia”

In his Contributions to Philosophy, Heidegger attempted to provide a framework for “inceptual thinking” (anfängliches Denken), thinking that allowed for the disclosure of Being, where thought was “full-appropriation and collection” (Ver-nehmung und Sammlung), a “bringing together of the concealment of that which seeks to rise to appearance and is constantly present” (GA 65: 198). For Heidegger, inceptual thinking belonged, above all, to the early Greeks, the Pre-Socratics, and it was to them that he now turned after that work. Out of their writing, he drew a cluster of concepts that came to form the basis for a new direction in his philosophy: “logos” (λόγος), the meaning of Being that has become possible through language, “phusis” (φύσις), nature as the primal coming into presence of Being, and “aletheia” (ἀλήθεια), the uncovering of the play between the hidden and hiddenness of truth. It was upon this modest conceptual foundation that Heidegger sought to affect a thinking-recall (Andenken) of the grounds of Being.1

It was to the figure of the Eleatic philosopher, Parmenides, that Heidegger initially looked for a grounding of this foundation. Heidegger had briefly discussed Parmenides in Being and Time, invoking him as the author of the line “for one and the same thing are knowing and being”, which Heidegger had interpreted as “Being is what shows itself in pure perceiving understanding, and←105 | 106→ only this seeing reveals...

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