Martin Heidegger, “Language,” 1950
Heidegger, like Hopkins, was influenced by Duns Scotus, a philosopher of “thisness.” He wrote a habilitation thesis on Duns Scotus’ Theories of Categories and Meaning in 1915 and lectured on Aristotle, St. Paul and St. Augustine, among other topcs. In 1927 he published Sein und Zeit and in the 1930’s moved toward Nazism, beoming the rector of Freiburg University and a member of the Nazi NSGWP in 1933.
- What does it mean to say that “language is the house of Being”?
(1119) Why is poetry an especially important component of this house?
- What is language’s function, according to Heidegger? (enables things
- Heidegger claims to believe in a “theology of the word.” Why
might this emphasis have appealed to other twentieth-century thinkers?
- What are some of his claims about word play? What is its purpose?
- What are some methods inherent in his explication of a poem by Georg Trakl?
Does the poem’s content matter? (a meditation on the communion table/crucifixion) What
elements or interpretations are necessary to its understanding?
- Was this poem especially appropriate for Heidegger's type of reading?
- Would Heidegger’s method apply equally to all poems?
- Does his writing suggest a sermon?
- In what way may Heidegger’s views or practice have influenced modern
- Which elements of literature are ignored in Heidegger’s
interpretation? (e. g., historical context)
- Can you see why some have claimed a relationship between his politics and
the tenets of his criticism?
- Why does Heidegger consider the defining human trait? (Man speaks, 1121)
How does he distinguish man from plants and animals, and is this distinction
entirely valid? (1121)
- What does it mean to say that language speaks? (1122)
- Do you see any relationship between Heidegger's view of "language" and the God of theology? (the Word, the Word who calls things into being and holds them together; "language creates in its speaking" suggests Biblical story of creation)
- What is the difference between "calling world" and "calling things into world"?
- Which views of language does he find limited? (1122, that speaking is expression,
that it is an activity of man, that it represents the real and the unreal)
- Can you see a relationship between his view of language and speech act theory?
- Are some aspects of his discussion poetic? (e. g. 1127)
- What is meant by dif-ference, and what importance does Heidegger ascribe
to it? (1129)
- What sequence does he find in the poem? What are some important concepts
which he finds recurrent? (1129-34)
- What is meant by the concept of a "threshold"? (1130) What is meant by a middle which holds the world and thing? (1129)
- What does Heidegger mean by "difference"? What does it hold in itself?
- What are the importance of stillness and response in his interpretation? How is "stilling" related to deferral?
- What does he have to say on the topic of pain? Why is this not a sensation? (1131)
- What do you make of his final summary epigrams? (1134)
- Can you see parallels between Heidegger's ideas/methods and those of other authors you have read? (Hopkins's "instress" seems very like Heidegger's "difference," and such concepts as "inscape" suggest the indwelling of world and thing)
- How would you describe Heidegger's style? What may be the purpose of repetition?
- Can you compare his mode of speech and delivery to that of a sermon, for example, in his final closing? (1134)
- In what ways is Heidegger indebted to the preoccupations of earlier philosophers such as Fichte and Hegel?
- What kinds of literature might be most susceptible to a Heideggerian reading? (e. g., imagistic poetry)
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