Two new Martin Heidegger translations from Polity
The two treatises The Overcoming of Metaphysics (1938/39) and The Essence of Nihilism (1946–1948) do not belong together temporally or formally, but they are brought together in this volume because they both treat a common thesis from the standpoint of different questions – namely, that nihilism is the essence of metaphysics in relation to the history of being.
The overcoming of metaphysics is, for Heidegger, the decisive historical moment in which metaphysics is experienced as the history of the abandonment by being and overcome at the same time. The abandonment of beings by being reveals itself in the final and most extreme intensification of metaphysics as the “unconditioned predominance of manipulation.” Manipulation means here the all-dominating producibility of beings.
The Essence of Nihilism is linked to the idea of overcoming. This text deals with the attempt to elucidate the essence of nihilism through Nietzsche’s words “God is dead.” The killing of God springs from the will to power as the most extreme form of manipulation. The being of beings is grasped here as the positing of values emanating from the will to power. In this positing of being as value, it becomes clear that being itself remained unthought in metaphysics. Therefore, metaphysics as such is nihilism proper.
These key works by Heidegger, now available in English for the first time, will be of great interest to students and scholars of philosophy and to anyone interested in Heidegger’s thought.
On the Essence of Language and the Question of Art, trans. Adam Knowles
The texts and notes collected in this volume offer unique insight into the development of Heidegger’s thinking on language and art from the late 1930s to the early 1950s – a tumultuous period both for Heidegger personally and for Germany as a whole. Following Germany’s defeat in World War II, Heidegger was banned from teaching at Freiburg University, where he had been a professor since 1928, and his thinking underwent significant changes as he began to cultivate different modes of silence and non-saying in his philosophy of language. This volume illuminates these shifts and charts the evolution of key terms in Heidegger’s philosophy of language during this key period in the development of his thought.
The central theme of Heidegger’s reflections on language in this volume is his repeated engagement with the character of the word, silence and the unsaid, and his rejection of the instrumental conception of language, where he instead prioritized conversation as the “homeland of language.” Alongside references to Hölderlin and von Hofmannsthal and shrewd scrutiny of aural phenomena such as silent thought and speechlessness, speech is demonstrated to be intimately connected to the human essence. In a later section, Heidegger examines the place of art, in particular the plastic arts, and the role of the artist in conjunction with the new industrial landscape and architecture of his time, and in juxtaposition with ancient Greek attitudes to space and the polis.
This key work by Heidegger, now available in English for the first time, will be of great interest to students and scholars of philosophy and to anyone interested in Heidegger’s thought.