From: Vernon Chadwick <vchad@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 11:37:07 -0500
Stuart Elden wrote:
> Put crudely, Sallis and Krell seem to be
> trying to retain Heidegger's own idiom in their work on him; Dreyfus is more
> interested in what he can do with him. Language is clearly central.
There seems to me several crucial issues being conveniently elided in this
exchange, not to mention the misleading dichotomies offered above and implicitly
1) Heidegger's linguistic ethnocentrism: his statement in Introduction to
Metaphysics and elsewhere that German and Greek are the "most spiritual"
languages; his privileging of the great Greek "Ursprung" and theory of
linguistic decline through a process of "translation" of originary insights and
experiences, which he offered as the original impetus for the project of
Destruktion in SZ.
2) Heidegger's own scorn of pedants and disciples who mistook his writings in
the professorial manner, that is, by turning them into objects of endless,
hairsplitting analysis "for the sake of" analysis, for the sake of schools,
careers, scholarship, the entire "Geschaeft" of academic philosophy that he
despised and which he resisted down to his last deathbed rejection of a
"critical edition" of his collected works.
3) Heidegger's linguistic ethnocentrism aside, the failure to heed his own
attunement to thinking by "listening to language," which means not only
listening to Heidegger's German (and let's face it, unless you have an intimate
relationship with the Mutter you will never be anything more than a dilettante
and, yes, pedant of Heidegger's German) but also, and more important, listening
to your own language, the language of your own discourse, your own Innigkeit. Or
to put it another way, there is always at least the two-way, two-sprachig
"translating" hermeneutics of the language of the text to the language of the
reading (regardless whether these are both "German" or not) and then this
two-way compounded by all the other listening relationships to other voices,
including one's "own." I don't believe that any of this can be reduced to the
terms of the earlier list discussion of "primary" or "essential" Heidegger
versus "secondary criticism."
(I'm curious that the all-important concept of "ground" is rarely mentioned in
the discussions on this list, at least from what I've seen.)
4) And finally, just to mention four, how Heidegger's linguistic ethnocentrism
sheds light on his misguided nationalism and disastrous politics. This is not
to reduce his philosophical writings to naked ideology but rather to suggest
that the one cannot be adequately understood or critiqued without the other.
Many who try to outdo Heidegger's "idiom," as it was so charmingly phrased, in
their scholarly exegesis unwittingly reproduce the ridiculous and often heinous
performances of the Nazi Sprachphilosophen so much a part of the text-milieu of
this fascinating and dangerous epoch.
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