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by Wanda Torres Gregory,Yvonne Unna,Martin Heidegger
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    Wanda Torres Gregory,Yvonne Unna,Martin Heidegger
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    SUNY Press (August 6, 2009)
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    177 pages
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Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy

Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy.

Martin Heidegger, Wanda Torres Gregory (Translator). Yvonne Unna (Translator). Given shortly after Heidegger's resignation to the rectorship of the University of Freiburg, the course also opens up fresh perspectives on his controversial involvement with the Nazi regime.

Robert Simonič - 2006 - Phainomena 55:157-172.

Alessandro Torza - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly:754-771. Karsten Harries - 1968 - Journal of Value Inquiry 2 (4):281-291. Klaas Willems - unknown. The Question of the Essence in Heidegger’s On the Essence of Truth. Robert Simonič - 2006 - Phainomena 55:157-172.

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Heidegger and Practical Philosophy (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy). Heidegger And Rhetoric (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy). The Gathering Of Reason (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy). Heidegger and Practical Philosophy (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy).

Question of the origin and question of the essence

Martin Heidegger, Yvonne Unna. Question of the origin and question of the essence

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Aims to transform logic into a reflection on the nature of language.

If you are interested in learning about the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, then there are a few things you need to know (like Heidegger reminds us, Plato had a sign over the entrance to his academy, "Let no one who has not grasped the mathematical enter here"), before setting off on such a venture.

Other than "Being and Time" (his really never-completed first volume), Martin Heidegger did not "write books." He would say what he meant to say in the form of a lecture and his "books," as well as this book, are compilations of his lectures. To prepare for one of his lectures, if Heidegger had hung a sign over his door it might have advised, "Let no one who has not grasped Aristotle enter here."

The work of Wanda Torres Gregory and Yvonne Unna, too, may require a little preparation to properly digest. The translators, in their Forward, allude to the technical challenge of rendering Heidegger's concepts and abundant neologisms into readable English. In the "Zollikon Seminars," another book covering a series of perhaps the now retired Heidegger's last lectures, given over the span of a decade for his friend (and the book's editor) Dr. Medard Boss, Heidegger was asked why he spoke using the terms he used. "Because that is the way I think," he responded.

One key to Heidegger's thinking is his liberal usage of Greek terms. Barely into the first sentence of the Introduction on page one, the reader will slam head-first, literally, into Greek, or rather Heidegger talking about and explaining a Greek expression that is written in Greek. If I had one criticism to make, it would be a lack of either footnotes or a glossary explaining these Greek terms, which are peppered throughout the book. Hopefully a future, updated edition will privilege the reader with this luxury. There are pages of a simple English-German "Lexicon," in the back, but that, too, might have been better rendered in German-to-English.

If one proceeds in spite of the language barrier, then can proceed to the core question, "what is the essence of the human being?" In these lecture notes, like the lectures before, and those that will follow, Heidegger, in his own use of language, reiterates for us his answer.
Heidegger is best read in German. That said, translations can often be illuminating, especially where Heidegger is at his most elusive, grammatically and philosophically. The present English translation of Band 38 of Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe, however, is disappointing on a number of accounts. Problems both of translation and of overall readability beset the text, many of which, on the whole, could have been allayed by a process of critical and thoroughgoing editing.
While aware of the difficulties which assail any translation of Heidegger, the translators often compromise clarity of expression for the sake of a very suspect literality (the "propinquity of the English to the German" mentioned in the blurb on the back cover), which betrays the "nuances" of the original and the integrity of the English. Elision and at times unnatural German-like constructions and word ordering give rise to new complications of meaning, where the German text reads quite comfortably and unaffectedly. I will give a few examples below. First, however, let me briefly state why the stakes are so high for the translator of this text in particular. (Thus, I will not deal explicitly with the themes, concepts and arguments set forth by Heidegger.)
Because of the biographical intrigue which surrounds this text, the translator ideally has to equilibrate competing demands of conveying a conceptually more abstruse employment of language, and the more mundane, colloquial uses of which Heidegger often avails himself. The course is concerned with 'Sprache,' language (a seemingly simpler term to translate than 'Rede,' discourse, with which Being and Time was concerned), the nature of which is unfolded through a lengthy interrogation of logos. The text, however, based on student transcripts of lectures delivered in the summer course of 1934 at Freiburg, reveals the growing strategic importance of such concepts as 'das Volk,' 'der Fuehrer,' 'das Reich' (all left untranslated in the text)' and so forth, for the overall engagement in the attempt to attain a more originary experience of language, its constitutive role in the determination of the being that Dasein is, and in waging the 'battle' (Kampf) against the traditional elaboration of logic, wherein "our spiritual and historical destiny is decided," as Heidegger puts it.
These themes, while not unknown to 'fundamental ontology,' are nonetheless elaborated here at the height of Heidegger's own political/polemical engagement with National Socialism, after his resignation from the Rectorship, yet during the period in which politics and philosophy are said to become almost indiscernible, his alleged 'Nazism' supposed (according to some) to have assumed a fully legible identity in the guise of philosophical conceptuality. Even 'Arbeit' (labor) and 'Arbeitslosigkeit' (unemployment) figure prominently, which no longer merely refer to "tools" and the artisan's workshop, but take on a directly political significance. The contemporary, if somewhat earlier themes, of re-founding the organization of the university and the sciences on a new principle (decided by ontology) are present as well.
Even here, however, where the vocabulary seems most ordinary, the translators fail to balance the competing demands mentioned above. Does 'Arbeitslosigkeit,' for instance, designate 'unemployment,' entailing a promiscuous foray into the psychology and sociology of the economic hardship of early twentieth-century Germany (whose reality would have weighed so heavily at that time, even to Heidegger's students), as the English text renders it, or a new elaboration of the 'worklessness' of Dasein, whose precise status is undecidable within the economy of these few passages alone. Judging from Heidegger's elaboration of 'Arbeit,' its connection to 'Stimmung' and the 'transferring into the midst of beings' which 'Arbeit' puts into work, it would seem that Heidegger undoubtedly has in mind something that elide mere 'ontic' reification. The translators fail to do justice to the ontological implications of some of these key terms. An injustice which, unfortunately, does not help salve the wound which accusations levied against Heideggerian's of the left and the right, and those averring neutrality on this point, have inflicted, but rather has the adverse effect of adding to the charge of esotericism, and the so-called mysticism which was to abet manifestations of political monstrosity. It is the lack of critical readership, and laisser-aller adoption of Heideggerian terminology, more than anything, more perhaps than Heidegger himself, which has helped detractors lance this spear into the Heideggerian corpus.
Besides this, the text should serve as a solid counterpoint to temper some reductive readings of Heidegger, particularly those which see in the trajectory of his thinking a single straight line, issuing from the rather fragmentary sketches of 'Rede,' discourse, in Being and Time to the so-called mature 'linguistic idealism' of his On the Way to Language, which is said to reveal the truth of the earlier, as yet un- or underdeveloped analyses. We find here a sort of bridge between the Heidegger of 'fundamental ontology' and his later 'turning,' revealing an entirely rich and varied period of reflection whose themes can be detected in his later pronunciations on 'ontotheology,' his contemporary preoccupations with the poetic word, and the earlier seminars dealing with logic and categorial intuition.
As for the more minute points concerning the translation, I aim neither at exhaustiveness nor comprehensiveness; I will limit myself to the more salient oddities of the first few pages, and will simply let the reader take my word that these are rather representative of the translation as a whole.
p.1: 'die Entdeckung des rechten Vollzugs derselben und ein Sichauskennen darin,' is translated 'the discovery of the right execution of the same and a being familiar within.' To translate 'derselben' with 'the same,' without the accompanying noun or noun phrase of which it is 'the same,' introduces an unnecessary ambiguity into the English which is not there for the German reader, who has the added clarity of gender and case. Also, 'darin' is not simply 'within,' but '(with)in it,' referring to the same 'it' to which 'derselben' refers. Where the German can economize by use of pronouns, the English, suffering from a deficit of gender and case, calls for elaboration: here, the tedium of repetition is a small price to pay for clarity.
p.2: 'Die Ordnung von Grund und Folge,' where 'Grund und Folge' are translated as 'Reason and Consequence.' Granted, 'Der Satz vom Grund' is known to English readers the world over as 'The Principle of Reason.' However, it presumes a more imaginative reader, where no further incitation is given, to realize what the relation between 'reason' and 'consequence' is, i.e. that every thing that is a consequence of something has a reason, i.e. a ground, for being (the consequence that it is). But here, the relation of determination is lost in such a formula as 'reason' and 'consequence.'
p.3: 'in seiner bzw. ihrer Selbigkeit,' reads the German, where the translators give: 'in its respective self-sameness.' The 'bzw.' (beziehungsweise), which simply means 'or,' or 'or, as the case may be,' etc., here refers to the differentiation of gender which the dual noun-subject of 'Selbigkeit,' mentioned just prior, calls for in German. No such distinction obtains in English, which does not differentiate between gender. Thus, 'bzw.' is made, in the English, to refer to the 'Selbigkeit' itself, rather than to the possibility that the subject of this 'Selbigkeit' may be either masculine or feminine.
p.3: 'd.h.,' (das heisst), is rendered 'that means,' a very un-English way of saying 'that is, i.e.' and which makes the sentence as a whole improbable to an English reader.
p.4: 'Das Aussagen begegnet uns...' is rendered: 'Asserting encounters us...' Literal, yes. But this is a very simple construction in German, which ought simply to be rendered: 'We encounter, come across... etc.'
p.6: 'und mit uns gehen' is translated: 'and [they] go with us.' Literal to a tee. The context, however, implies not that the 'adversaries' accompany 'us' somewhere, but that they are in agreement, i.e., are 'allies' in the argument on this particular point.
p.7: 'gegen etwas zu Felde ziehen' is again a rather colloquial way of saying 'to take up arms against something,' 'to crusade or wage battle against.' The translation, 'to take the field against,' wanting to preserve the 'propinquity' of English to German, would better be rendered: 'to take to the (battle) field against...' The literality misses the militaristic, and once more historically fateful rhetoric of H.'s 'mandate' and 'Kampf.'
p.7: 'und damit alle Auseinandersetzung' is translated: 'and with this all confrontation.' Although 'damit' can serve as a conjunction, meaning 'thereby,' and so forth, here it is undoubtedly the object of 'Auseinanderstzung,' which would be better translated as something like: 'and all attempts to come to terms with this,' i.e. to enter into a confrontational explication of it.
The reader may find some of the objections listed above excessively critical, but these very simple grammatical errors add up. 'Dann' is obsessively rendered 'then' on almost every occasion where it appears, which is often entirely expendable in the English. Of course, this text is not geared toward the Heideggerian scholarly community in particular, but for those readers looking for a greater acquaintance with Heidegger, and to do so through the facility of their native tongue. The English reader will, I suspect, find himself tripping over some of the more awkward constructions in this book, and will even be left wondering as to the very enigmatic meaning of some passages, even when H. seems to assert himself quite clearly and without obfuscation: where Heidegger simply asserts, the English sounds oracular.
Overall, a strong addition to the Heideggerian English corpus, but a less than savory treat for Anglophones. For those wishing to gain a greater grasp of Heidegger's treatment of language and logos, I would suggest consulting the German. To those looking for an introduction to Heidegger's views, start with 'The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic,' whose concerns are, it is true, different, but which will serve in the long run as a much better guide.