Heidegger's Antigones

Clare Pearson Geiman

Heidegger's interpretation of the choral ode from Sophocles' Antigone is one of the best known, or perhaps most notorious, passages in the Introduction to Metaphysics. His reading has been frequently critiqued not only for doing violence to Sophocles but also, and more important, for the way in which it appears to glorify actual violence in its heroic-tragic assessment of the nature of human knowing and in the consequent role of "violent" creators (priests, poets, thinkers, statesmen) in founding historical communities. The lecture course was given in 1935, relatively soon after Heidegger resigned his post as the first National Socialist rector of the University of Freiburg, a position for which he assumed party membership and during which he was involved in the restructuring of the university (at least in name) along party lines. The date of Introduction to Metaphysics and its occasional but striking political remarks have drawn attention to the course and to its interpretation of Sophocles in particular as a key articulation of Heidegger s political thought and its possible relation to National Socialism.

As most commentators have recognized, however, this interpretation must be read from within its context in the long-term development of his thought. Recently, more attention has been given to comparing it with Heidegger's second interpretation of Antigone in the 1942 lecture course Hölderlin's Hymn "The Ister." A number of interpreters have noted the striking differences in tone and emphasis in Heidegger's second reading, though most argue that these changes do not amount to a revision or retraction of the core of the IM account, which concerns the violence inherent to human knowing as τέχνη, or of the understanding of history and politics that derives from this account.1 In what follows I argue that, read against the backdrop of Heidegger's long-term engagement with the concept of τέχνη in the history of metaphysics, his later reading of Sophocles reveals a decisive shift in his thinking and in his approach to praxis and politics, making it evident that he abandons the earlier model of knowing and its violence when in the second interpretation he moves to reconceive poetry and poetic thinking as offering a possibility of knowing outside of and opposed to all τέχνη.

This shift in Heideggers thought sheds light on the philosophical basis of his adherence to National Socialism in the thirties. It suggests that those of Heideggers defenders who would like to exonerate him based on the distinction he draws between the inherent potential that he saw in National Socialism and its actual historical development are misguided; the potential for violence and totalitarian politics belongs inextricably to the attempt to conceive human knowing through the working of τέχνη. At the same time, it indicates that the approach to Being and knowing that Heidegger developed in the poetic thinking of the later writings succeeds where τέχνη failed, attains the nonsubjectivist stance that had been the aim of his work from the beginning, and articulates a philosophical understanding that is no longer compatible with any kind of totalitarian politics. The path to this later perspective is itself of interest; Heidegger insisted that his later thinking developed out of the earlier and did not in any simple way invalidate it. What poetic thinking is and what is at stake in the move to such a thinking become clear only when the full consequences of the approach to Being in terms of τέχνη have been brought to light.


Heideggers first extended discussion of τέχνη occurs in the reading of Book 6 of the Nicomachean Ethics that occupies the first half of the 1925 lecture course on Plato's Sophist. Aristotle, in distinguishing τέχνη, the understanding that guides the skill of the craftsman or artist, from φρόνησις, the understanding that guides appropriate human action or praxis, insists that action is essentially different from making and that φρόνησις is not reducible to τέχνη.2 In his critical appropriation of Aristotle, Heidegger does not directly challenge Aristotle's distinction between τέχνη and φρόνησις or his privileging of φρόνησις over τέχνη.3 In fact, although he does blur the distinction later by referring to φρόνησις as a kind of making, a ποίησις specifically concerned with disclosing the acting human being, the stress of his reading falls on the essential difference between the two, in a way that parallels Aristotle's own distinctions and clearly privileges φρόνησις. Even if both τέχνη and φρόνησις are concerned with bringing something into existence in time and space, Dasein exists in a fundamentally different way than do things in the world, and so requires a different kind of understanding. Heidegger points out that though τέχνη is a mode of knowing or revealing (ἀληθεύειν) concerned with the production of present-at-hand beings, φρόνησις is a mode of knowing in which the object or aim of knowing, the deed, is not present-at-hand but "has the same character of being as the ἀληθεύειν itself";4 that is, it is a discovering of Dasein, not of things, and so relates to Being in a fundamentally different way. This distinction, and the priority of φρόνησις, are brought home when Heidegger comments that "Aristotle has here hit upon the phenomenon of conscience. Φρόνησις is nothing else than conscience set into that motion which makes an action clear" (GA 19, 56).5 Just as, for Aristotle, one of the critical points of distinction between τέχνη and φρόνησις is that τέχνη is open-ended or morally neutral, whereas φρόνησις first of all grasps the natural goal or fulfillment of human nature and only then also shows how to achieve this fixed goal, Heidegger similarly stresses that whereas τέχνη is a knowing that can lose its essential measure or orientation by losing its essential relation to Being, this is not possible for φρόνησις: "one cannot forget conscience" (ibid.). The relation between τέχνη and φρόνησις as Heidegger interprets it here underlies the later distinction between everydayness and authenticity in Being and Time. At the same time, in this early analysis, we already find the argument that τέχνη (which here is still clearly identified with craftsmanship or production) is the basis for the Platonic concept of the tides, the form or idea. In the ideas (and in a related way in Aristotelian metaphysics), τέχνη, here conceived as a secondary form of knowledge whose scope is limited to nonhuman ways of being, becomes the dominant model for conceiving human Being and human knowing.6

This dominance of τέχνη and the distortion of the conception of human Being and action that arises from it become an important focus for Heidegger's work in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In the work on Kant that dominates the years 1927-1930, and similarly in the work on Aristotle and Plato in 1931-1932, Heidegger is engaged in a concerted attack on what he sees as Western metaphysics' consistent reliance on models that grasp thinking and being by analogy with making, and specifically, with craftsmanship. This model results, on one hand, in the very real development of all forms of thought aimed at calculating with and manipulating existent beings, and so in the rise of logic and mathematics as well as mathematically based natural science and technology, on the other. But it is unjustifiably carried over to the human being, whose action can then only be made sense of in terms of producing, whose knowing is only validated so long as it is a calculating with representations, and whose embodied existence becomes, with the rest of material nature, an object for manipulation. When handicraft as one limited and derivative form of human action is taken to be paradigmatic of all acting and knowing, then that form of knowing that is proper to the knowledge of human beings and human action and that, as something like conscience, orients human action to its proper essence and measure, is lost.

Heidegger attempts to address this issue by looking for a unified account of human knowing that is appropriate to the specifically human way of being in time and that does not reduce the difference between human beings and things to that between makers and made objects. In the late twenties and early thirties, Heidegger attacks the productionist model by thoroughly inverting the traditional relation of activity and passivity and then reconceiving both as a unified capacity for responsiveness that is always dependent on a prior reception of something that comes from "outside" and that cannot itself be understood in terms of some purely "active" power.7 The intent of this is to undercut the subjectivist and technological stance of contemporary human beings by depriving it of its metaphysical foundation, and to provide an ontological foundation that brings human finitude and dependence to the fore. This new model of knowing would not invalidate natural science and technology but would encompass them, first genuinely establishing them by setting them, as one limited and derivative relation to beings as present at hand in the world, into their proper relation to a fuller and more original account of appropriate human action, one that is itself grounded in a relation to Being and not just beings. Heidegger's work in the decade preceding Introduction to Metaphysics was thus shaped in important ways by a consistent search that might reasonably be described as an attempt to uncover an original unity to human knowing that overturns the dominance of τέχνη and grounds it essentially in a phronetic knowing, one that rests in an understanding of human Being in its difference from beings and relation to Being.


In 1934 and 1935, Heidegger, having developed the critique of the role of τέχνη as model for metaphysics, moves away from his earlier attempt to address this issue through fundamental ontology (the ontology of Dasein) and, in a way that remains nonetheless resonant with fundamental ontology and the constructs of Being and Time, instead articulates a positive alternative to the productionist model through a deconstruction of τέχνη.8 The interpretation of Sophocles in Introduction to Metaphysics articulates a critical stage in the development of this project. Prior to 1934, Heidegger consistently interprets τέχνη as the know-how that pertains to handicraft; after 1934, Heidegger turns to τέχνη itself, and to his original blurring of τέχνη with φρόνησις, to find the possibility of a higher knowing that unifies them in a reconceived τέχνη. Based on this, he explicitly attempts to disentangle the concept of τέχνη from that of handicraft, arguing that this "technical" concept is only one of many derivative applications of the original sense of thoroughgoing practical uncovering. Heidegger now turns his attention increasingly to thinkers who, in blurring the line between philosophy and poetry, break with the prevailing mathematical model of reason and the idea of philosophy as science and open a possible connection to a thinking that orients itself on human Being rather than on things. Beginning with the first course on Hölderlin in 1934 and continuing through the 1935 Introduction to Metaphysics and "The Origin of the Work of Art" and the 1936 lecture course on Nietzsche (The Will to Power as Art), he now looks for the solutions to the problems of the productionist model in the sense of τέχνη that led it also to be applied to poetry and high art. Unlike the making of use-objects, the making of artworks might come together with φρόνησις as the "making" of authentic Dasein and appropriate human actions, since artworks do not exist in the same way as tools or as objects of natural science but are meant to reveal and sustain human Being amidst beings in the world. Heidegger now suggests that human knowing in general is grounded in the kind of knowing that guides the "work" in this sense, in particular, the works of great artists and poets but also of thinkers, of priests (here in the sense of mythological, theological, and liturgical founders), and of political founders.

The critical role of the interpretation of Sophocles in this project is highlighted by its placement and set-up in the Introduction to Metaphysics.9 Heidegger introduces the ode from Antigone in the context of his reflections on "Being and thinking," the third of the four oppositional polarities under which the reflection on Being has been historically subsumed in the West. This polarity between Being and thinking, he argues, sums up "the entire Western tradition and conception of Being, and accordingly the fundamental relation to Being that is still dominant today" (156), and he emphasizes that it is "the real target of our attack. It can be overcome only originally, that is, in such a way that its inceptive truth is shown its own limits and thereby founded anew" (129). As he makes abundantly clear, what is under attack here is one specific consequence of the productionist model for metaphysics: the Western reduction of thinking to representation and of λόγος to logic and ratio (calculation and reason on a mathematical model), a development whose clearest (though not first) origin he finds in the Platonic ideas and whose "inceptive end" he finds in Hegel (210). Also under attack is thus the corresponding dominance of reason and representation as "court of justice" over Being (198), a development that makes not only possible but also necessary the definition of the human being as rational subject. The outcome of this way of conceiving human knowing is, for Heidegger, the contemporary crisis of "global technology" (222);10 in order to overcome this, he must return to the pre-Platonic roots of the polarity between Being and thinking in Heraclitus and Parmenides, whose "still poetic" thought of λόγος and of "the belonging-together of apprehension and Being" reveals an essentially different relation, one that comes together in the understanding of the human being that Heidegger finds at the root of Greek poetry and philosophy (160, 177). This more original definition of human Being, determined "on the basis of the essence of Being itself" (160), is in turn "authentically founded" in the poetry that corresponds to the poetic thinking of Heraclitus and Parmenides, that is, in tragedy, and specifically in the tragedy of Sophocles (160).11 Heidegger's reading of the Sophoclean ode is presented as an explicit attempt to "win back" the truth of this understanding of being human in its vision of the original unity of thinking and Being, and in winning it back to "unfold [it] in a still more originary way" (162), so that it can then become the means for overcoming metaphysics and for responding to the modern crisis in a new historical grounding.

In Heidegger's reading of the ode, the relation between Being and thinking is encapsulated in the key word δεινόν and in the manifold tensions expressed in this word. Δεινόν, a Greek word that connotes "strange" and "terrible," expresses for Heidegger at once the essential character of (1) the totality of beings that confronts the human being, challenging and enveloping and sustaining him, (2) the Being of this totality, and (3) the human beings essential relation both to beings as a whole and to Being; hence it also expresses the characteristically human way of knowing and acting, the definition of human Being itself. In his interpretation of δεινόν, Heidegger foregrounds the meaning of power or force, and in essential connection with this, the use of force or violence in the expression or actualization of power and in the confrontation of powers. It is only in terms of power that we can understand Being, since Being in its difference from beings can never be grasped through any given actuality (whether an actual being or a given totality of beings) but only as the source of potentiality that is prior to and exceeds all actuality. It is, similarly, only in terms of power that we can understand human Being, since human Being in its temporality is given only in and through possibilities or potentialities. For Heidegger, δεινόν expresses a power-manifold, dynamically driven by essential inner tensions and conflicts that characterize the relations between the human being, beings as a whole, and Being. He tries to capture this interplay of power in an extensive wordplay that involves variations on the stem walt-, whose root meaning is "force" and whose German compounds include common words for government and authority, for being mighty or powerful or forceful, and for violence and violation. The tension that comes to light in the δεινόν is a complex struggle between governance and violence, a struggle that defines the specifically human way of being and the human embeddedness in the difference between Being and beings.

The first sense of the δεινόν, and the fundamental force or power here, is the power of beings as a whole (later ascribed also to Being); it is das Walten, the "sway" or the sovereign force, the activity of power in its most naked and direct sense. Its essential character is that it is das Gewaltige, das Überwältigende, ultimately forceful and overpowering. The ge- prefix on Gewaltige indicates a gathering of elemental forces, and the über indicates not only the relation to the human being, for whom the might of Being is overpowering, but also the "excess" that belongs to Being (in that it "exceeds" any given actual being or totality) and drives its temporal expression. This sense of the δεινόν is summed up for Heidegger in the Greek δίκη, whose meanings include customary practice, right or proper order, and legal judgment. Heidegger interprets δίκη as Fug, or "fittingness," not in a juridical or moral sense, he emphasizes, but in the sense of the "originary gatheredness." By this he means the structure or articulation of the forces that confront the human being in their might, as well as the direction or orientation that this arrangement of forces gives to the movement of power within the whole, and the way in which this arrangement "compels fitting-in and compliance" (178).12 Δεινόν as δίκη is a dynamic ordering of original forces as the λόγος of nature or φύσις, where we have moved away from a static systemization of nature in a set of mathematical laws to a dynamic concept of nature as emergent force whose ordering (λόγος) is thus also necessarily a temporal structuring.

Arising out of δεινόν as δίκη and opposing it is the second sense of the δεινόν, captured in the definition of human Being as gewalt-tätig as at once using or actualizing the collected force of beings as a whole (and of Being) and as doing violence in this use or actualization. This violent actualizing of force, the essential activity of human Being, is τέχνη, here understood as it is applied to high art, as a knowing that "[puts] Being to work [er-wirkt] in a being," or "brings Being to stand and to manifestation in the work as a being" (178). Τέχνη in this sense is not about the production of particular beings but about "opening up" Being itself in works that establish a particular ordering of and perspective on beings as a whole. This makes it possible to understand and relate to beings "as" a particular being and in a particular way (178), and so opens up and establishes a particular definite structure of human possibilities. Being can only be revealed in the human relation to particular beings, to the extent that, in using them, exploiting them, forming them, the human being looks beyond the particular being to a set of particular relational possibilities that are offered by the actual being and that transcend its actuality. In the act of damming the river, the river is at once made into a source of electric power and revealed as having always harbored this; this act changes the human understanding of the river and ways of relating to it and to nature in general. In seeing and actualizing new possibilities of relating to beings, the human being actualizes and manifests different potential articulations of the totality of beings and so "works out" the manifestation of Being in history. In the language of "The Origin of the Work of Art," which was written immediately after Introduction to Metaphysics and develops its conception of τέχνη, the work reveals Being in setting up a "world."13 This world rests on and is in tension with the powers of "earth," with the δεινόν in the sense of δίκη, which on one hand (as das Zubewältigende [164]) must be mastered, brought under human ordinance and governance, if the human being is to have a "home," and on the other (as das Überwältigende [164]) exceeds and resists all attempts to master it in a definite and stable form.

Heidegger's interpretation of the ode is broken into three phases, which, in a circling movement, build to and gradually unfold the full and many-sided violence of human knowing as τέχνη in a characterization of the human being as das Unheimlichste, the most unsettling,14 who is denied any essential home, any ultimate reliance on a constant and familiar order of things, because τέχνη itself requires constant and violent unsettlement and reworking. At the same time, the movement of interpretation traces a movement from an everyday or inauthentic homelessness, which is an entanglement in τέχνη in a derivative sense and a loss of essential relationship to Being, to an authentic homelessness, which is a knowing embrace of the dynamism and temporality of Being and of the role of τέχνη as creative knowing in the face of this temporality, or, in other words, an embrace of τέχνη as historical knowing and as the working out of Being in and as history. The first phase of the interpretation sketches the violent actualization of force that defines human Being in relation to the overpowering might of beings as a whole. It also indicates the "extent" and "destiny" (170) of this essential human activity by extending the interpretation of the δεινόν into the two paradoxical pairings παντοπόρος-ἄπορος ("all-resourceful"— "without a way") and ὑψίπολις-ἄπολις ("high-citied"—"citiless"), which point to the two possible ways in which human Being, in its characteristic violence, is unsettling and homeless. The second phase is the central one here, since it unfolds these pairings into their inherent movement, and in doing so opens out the full meaning of each aspect. The third phase is meant, by its own violent interpretative disclosure, to accomplish the renewed grounding of a definition of being human that regains the connection to Being, and so to achieve the movement from an inauthentic τέχνη to an authentic one on a historical scale.

The interpretation moves first of all from τέχνη as the violent conquest and appropriation of a place for human habitation to τέχνη as the disclosure and mastery of inherent human potentiality as the ground for the disclosure and mastery of a world. The ode begins with the violent incursions into sea and earth, which Heidegger describes in terms of the human activity of forcibly making a place by heading out into the "placeless" sea and by breaking into and controlling the seasonal cycles of the earths growth, and in terms of forcibly domesticating this place by subjugating living things and fitting them into the human order. This concerns τέχνη in its most immediate and direct sense, as the know-how that governs the basic mastery of nature through the power of making. The force that τέχνη confronts and actualizes is identified at this point as belonging to beings as a whole; τέχνη in this sense concerns itself with beings and their totality and does not yet fully reveal the Being of this totality. The key movement comes in the second strophe, which Heidegger has broken into two in order to emphasize the turning that he finds here. The first half of the strophe moves us, as Heidegger indicates, from violent mastery of the forces that envelop the human being to violent mastery of the forces of understanding ("language, understanding, mood, passion, and building" [173]), the forces that pervade and define the human being and so lead us to a more essential understanding of τέχνη. Heidegger stresses that the human being is not, or does not possess, a separate power that she brings to bear against the collective force of beings as a whole but actualizes and comes to master forces that belong to beings as a whole and to the Being of beings. It is the relation to Being and to beings that defines human Being, rather than existence as some separate faculty, and it is a sign of the difficulty of fully understanding and mastering the characteristically human way of being that the human being misinterprets herself as the possessor and inventor of language and understanding, building and poetry. Correspondingly, the power of τέχνη that is involved in the mastery of nature in the first sense belongs to the emergence of Being, and is essentially a power of understanding, of disclosing of nature and Being through human Being in "disciplining" and "disposing" of the forces that belong to beings themselves (175). Heidegger's choice of words emphasizes that human understanding and engagement with the disclosure or truth of beings involves forcibly imposing a structure or order on the forces that confront the human being and bringing them under his governance in a way that makes them at once accessible and serviceable to human ends: the violence of τέχνη as disclosure is a "Bändigen" and a "Fügen" bringing under control by binding together in a particular articulation or structure; at the same time, it is a "Bahnen" forcibly laying out paths, making habitable by making accessible and familiar (175-176). Human knowing as τέχνη imposes an interpretive structure on nature that is necessarily at the same time a "construction" and "co-creation" of a humanly habitable world. Disclosure, rather than mastery or creation, is primary, but this disclosure is itself possible only as forcible mastery and co-creation.

This inherent tension between disclosure and creation, necessary to the actualization of Being in works, means that the activity of making a human habitation, whether it succeeds or fails, is pervaded by respective possibilities of "disaster," of loss of self or loss of home in the very attempt to master and win self and home. At this point in his interpretation, Heidegger raises the "unsettling" character of human activity in its first, inauthentic sense. The characteristic human activity of forcible world-creation and disclosure in τέχνη carries with it essentially the possibility of becoming lost in the very success of this activity, such that in making beings accessible and familiar and serviceable, this ordering of the world comes to seem ultimate, and it and beings within it become too familiar and unquestionable. As a result, the human being loses access to the Being that this world discloses and loses access to the very forces that pervade and envelop and sustain him, mistaking these forces for his own possession or creation. The fundamental activity of human Being, τέχνη as violent disclosure in world-creation, is no longer possible, and the human being is lost in the inessential, without orientation. The turning point in the strophe for Heidegger is the mention of death as the sole thing that the human being cannot master by τέχνη; Heidegger translates the strophe in a way that highlights this differently from the Greek and emphasizes death as that which shatters all mastery and ultimacy.15 In doing so, death reconnects human Being to the essential forces of Being and so to the essential human activity of violent disclosive creation, though now in a new sense, in a sense that is mindful of the excessive power of Being (no longer just of beings). The mention of death makes it possible for the unsettling character of τέχνη to be grounded and to come into its own proper essence and limits.

It now becomes possible for Heidegger to bring out the authentic homelessness and unsettling character of human Being. In this sense, the human being is homeless because he is, first of all, the creator of order and governance for human beings, and as such unable to be bound by his own created order. In the first phase, Heidegger tells us that such creators "rising high in the site of history, ... also become ἄπολις, without city and site, lone-some, unsettling, with no way out amidst beings as a whole, and at the same time without ordinance and limit, without structure and fittingness, because they as creators must first ground all this in each case" (170). In the second phase, he expands this idea to emphasize the relation of the creators to the creative-disclosive process and so to time and history in this creation. Precisely to the extent to which the human being is authentically and appropriately engaged in τέχνη as violent creative disclosure, he is also homeless and unsettling, because in holding to Being (beyond all particular beings), he despises all "seeming fulfillment," all ultimacy, and affirms the "shattering of the wrought work" as necessary to the process (182). Being is held open by a continual questioning that actualizes definite potentialities of, or responses to, Being in the continual recreation and restructuring of the human historical world. Human activity as τέχνη, then, is caught in a paradoxical necessity. On one hand, it must order and stabilize the forces of nature and of human life itself into a world, creating the possibility and standards of justice and governance on a human level. On the other, it must respond to a higher ordinance that compels the continual destruction and reforming of such orders. Tragically caught in this paradox and defined by it, the human being is sacrificed to the temporal disclosure of Being in history; human Being is the "site of openness" (181), the "in-cident [Zwischen-fall] in which the forces of the released excessive power of Being arise and go to work as history" (182, translation modified), and "the breach into which the excessive power of Being breaks in its appearing, so that this breach itself shatters against Being" (181, translation modified).

It is in this conception of τέχνη as the working out of Being in history that Heidegger means to find a new phronetically grounded model for human knowing that can overcome the modern inauthentic lostness in a totalizing technological mastery by replacing it with full human self-realization and self-appropriation. This interpretation does violence to the Greek understanding of the human being in that it brings to the fore for the first time the temporality of Being and the historical nature of human knowing and acting, which the Greeks, despite a "deep intimation" of the nature of human Being, were never able to fully bring to light (182, 160). But though Heidegger here emphasizes the human dependence on Being and the forces of beings as a whole and the necessity of responsiveness to these forces, the concept of history as the temporal expression of Being in works that are the violent co-creations of human beings leaves the line between responsiveness and willful self-assertion dangerously thin, and it also leaves unclear the extent to which this responsiveness to Being could ever resemble anything like responsible acceptance of limitation. The disclosure of Being is at the same time a decision that engages human will in an ultimate act of self-making, whereas the responsiveness to Being is in fact a struggle against Being in the self-consciously tragic attempt to wrest form from formlessness, measure from measurelessness, and stability from flux. The disclosure of Being remains decisively in human hands, and the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate violence rests entirely on the degree to which the historical character of setting into work is appropriated. As result, the sole measure of essentiality in a given work is the depth and success of its engagement with the past and its discovery of new possibilities in the historical tradition. In addition, the authenticity of the creators is visibly marked only by their willingness to sacrifice themselves to the destructive forces of history in refusing all rest and ultimacy. In an explicit echo of Nietzsche's Zarathustra, Heidegger remarks that for the authentic creator, "disaster [der Untergang] is the deepest and broadest Yes" to the dynamism of Being (182).16 At the same time, only authentic creators can distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate violence, and though their violence is primarily a restructuring of the human understanding of the world, human community is itself one of its works, so that political violence is left to be legitimated or not according to the judgment of the founders and the radicalness of its historical founding.


There are some indications that Heidegger himself may have seen fundamental problems in this formulation of human knowing as history as early as the fall of 1936, and in the years 1936-1942 was engaged in a radical reworking of various aspects of the relation of human knowing to τέχνη and to history. Jacques Taminiaux has argued that the lecture "The Origin of the Work of Art," originally given in 1935 and revised for a second lecture in 1936 and subsequent publication, shows a process of revision that moves toward downplaying the role of historical peoples and the role of decision in human co-creation of the work and hints at a move away from the violence of knowing.17 The direction of these revisions is telling, although the final version of lecture remains entirely in agreement with the conception of τέχνη and of setting-into-work developed in IM. Heidegger's 1956 addendum to the final version highlights this τέχνη-based understanding of human knowing as an ongoing ground for dissatisfaction with his own formulations: he comments that "in the heading 'the setting-into-work of truth/ in which it remains undecided but decidable who does the setting or in what way it occurs, there is concealed the relation of Being and the human being, a relation that is unsuitably conceived even in this version—a distressing difficulty, which has been clear to me since Being and Time, and has since been expressed in a variety of versions."18 The 1934-1936 retrieval of τέχνη as setting Being into the work proves incapable of providing a genuinely nonsubjectivist orientation for human action and a nontechnological conception of historical human community, and its failure requires a radically new approach.

By 1942, when Heidegger revisits Antigone, he confronts this failure in an interpretation of the ode that stands in stark contrast to the 1935 version and at times reads like explicit self-criticism of both this and his related earlier reading of Hölderlin.19 The scope of this revision is such that it can only be broadly outlined here; despite a sometimes deceptive similarity of language and a core focus on the human being as δεινότατον, "most unsettling," almost every key term bears an essentially different meaning. The core of the revision concerns the ontological difference (the difference between Being and beings) itself. Although human beings are still defined by their situatedness in this difference as the site of the historical disclosure of Being, Heidegger has in the meantime reconceived the exclusive centrality of time in this disclosure, such that space can no longer be seen as derived from original temporality but must give way to a concept of place or locality that is co-originary with temporality. This move is central to the shift from Heidegger's early approach to history as the historicity of Dasein to his later approach to history as the destining (Geschick) of Being, and it is made possible by his development of the concept of Ereignis (appropriation) in 1936-1942.20 Reflecting back on this move, Heidegger comments that "Since time as well as Being can only be thought from Appropriation as the gifts of Appropriation, the relation of space to Appropriation must also be considered in an analogous way. We can admittedly succeed in this only when we have previously gained insight into the origin of space in the properties peculiar to site and have thought them through adequately.... The attempt in Being and Time, section 70, to derive human spatiality from temporality is untenable."21 In defining human Being as the site of the historical disclosure of Being through the working of τέχνη, as he does in both IM and "The Origin of the Work of Art," Heidegger is still deriving this site solely from human historicality, with the result that place and history are seen as won in the violent attempt to compel Being into disclosedness in the structure of the work, and ultimately authentically won when temporality itself is embraced as the source of historical dwelling and working. When Heidegger returns to Antigone in 1942, he embeds the discussion of the ode in an interpretation of Hölderlin that centers around the attempt to "poem" (dichten) the original unity of place and temporality (Ortschaft and Wanderschaft) in a way that simultaneously reconceives poetry and gives a new "law of history."22 Redefining the place-character of human historical situatedness as co-originary with temporality has serious ramifications for the entire attempt to conceive human knowing as τέχνη. If this place is given, then it can no longer be conceived as something that must be or can be violently wrought and won. In addition, because, alongside time, place belongs equally to Being, the purely temporal difference between power and actuality (as "workliness" or Wirklichkeit), even given Heidegger's attempts to rethink the concepts of power and the work, cannot adequately grasp the difference between Being and beings. Consequently, the disclosure of Being in history can no longer be conceived as setting Being into the work. The knowing that discloses Being, and so gives proper measure and orientation to human action, must then be essentially different from all τέχνη. Heidegger finds this knowing in Hölderlin's "new founding" of the essence of poetry (no longer thought of as a form of "art" or ποίησις) and in the way in which this poetry "takes measure" in the mindfulness of Being.23 This measure is to be found in poetry's appropriate orientation on the "not" and "nothing" that, beyond temporality, indicate the concealed source that "gives" place and time for human dwelling.

The differences in the two interpretations of the ode are immediately striking, especially with respect to the core pairing δεινόν-δεινότατον, which expressed the human situatedness in the ontological difference in the IM interpretation and was interpreted primarily as violent actualization of force. Here, Heidegger gives only the barest nod in the direction of his previous interpretation when he lays out the range of meanings captured in the δεινόν as "the terrible, the powerful, and the unaccustomed," and again when he concedes that Hölderlin's early translation of δεινόν by gewaltig "indeed brings one essential trait of the δεινόν to appear" before rejecting it in favor of the "riper" and "more poetic" ungeheuer (GA 53, 85). But far from foregrounding power as the core meaning, the later interpretation is striking for the extent to which all discussion of power and violence has vanished; indeed, the words themselves scarcely appear, and then largely in the context of the reflection on the fall into an inauthentic conception of human Being. Neither Being nor human Being is defined here as power or in terms of the interplay of power. Τέχνη and δίκη have similarly disappeared, at least in the positive characterizations given them in IM; τέχνη is consistently referred to metaphysical thinking and to the loss of self in the forgetfulness of Being, whereas δίκη is mentioned only once, when Heidegger stresses that Antigone's fate is not ascribable to δίκη but comes from "beyond" δίκη (GA 53, 147). The discussion of setting into work has been replaced by a series of remarks aimed at critiquing the reduction of reality to Wirklichkeit (continuing a theme of the previous semesters course on "Andenken"). In addition, the interpretation of the final antistrophe is critically different, both in its assessment of the antithetical pairing ὑψίπολις-ἄπολις and the relation to politics that it implies, and in its assessment of the critical closing words of the chorus, which here occupies the largest part of the interpretation and requires that Heidegger go beyond the choral ode to take up Antigone in her difference from Creon.

In the new interpretation of the juxtaposition δεινόν-δεινότατον, the previously defining violent confrontation between beings and human Being has dropped away. The juxtaposition is here read purely comparatively and indicates that human Being differs from the Being of beings in the way in which, for human Being, the "un" belongs essentially to Being. Not the interplay of power and actuality but the interplay of concealment and unconcealment—and, relatedly, of "Wesen" and "Unwesen" of essential presencing and of confusion, disorder, and loss of essentiality—comes to define the inherent tension and movement that belong to the human being as the essentially most unsettling being, who is "un-at-home" amidst what is "homely." Heidegger sets up this interpretation of the ode by citing the call to the rising sun in the opening words of the choral entrance song, in which "the rising light gives space to the unconcealed and is at the same time a recognition of the darkness, of twilight and of shadows. All this is not in simple opposition to the bright and transparent, but rather that which is penetrated by counterpresencing [Gegenwesen]" (GA 53, 64). This interplay of light and dark, of disclosure and concealment, can define the human being in two essentially different ways, revealed in the figures of Creon and Antigone. It is also captured for Heidegger in the structure of the poetry itself, which speaks directly only about the inauthentic expression of this tension embodied in Creon while it expresses the authentic possibility that belongs to Antigone only in what it keeps silent and does not say, but whose silent force pervades the entire ode and gives it its dramatic impact and meaning. The ode thus gives expression to a human relation to Being that is rooted in the interpretation of Being captured for Heidegger in the word πέλειν, a pre-Socratic word for "to be" that Heidegger relates to the neighbor (πέλας), whose dwelling near is marked by a constant coming and going, and to the sea (πέλαγος), that "does not flow away, but remains and rests in its waves"; πέλειν indicates "the concealed presence of stillness and rest in the unconcealed constant presencing and absencing, and that means, in the appearing of change [It] does not mean the empty presence of what merely exists, but remaining, which is precisely what it is in journeying and flowing" (GA 53, 88). Being has its defining and orienting force precisely in what is present only as absence and concealment. The human ways of being unsettling, then, will be determined according to the relation to this absence, according to whether one mistakes it for mere negativity and thus forgets Being and loses the historical situatedness and orientation that it grants or whether one maintains a relation to this absence and takes it up as essentially defining.

This interpretive reorientation requires a corresponding shift in the interpretation of the movement of the ode and in the way it locates the difference between authenticity and inauthenticity. Heidegger begins with an assessment of inauthentic homelessness that on the surface echoes that developed in IM: the fundamental danger for human Being, that which bars access to reflection on Being and so to proper limitation and measure in human activity, is the very success of technical versatility as it comes to light in the oppositional characterization παντοπόρος-ἄπορος. In this technical versatility, however, what is now stressed is that the human beings search for a "home" does not aim at stable and familiar access to things and mastery of a world but at essential self-understanding. The human being who is essentially un-at-home in an inauthentic sense mistakes the place of this understanding, "seeks herself but does not find herself, because she seeks herself by way of a distancing and alienation from herself" (GA 53, 103). This takes the form of the "violent passage through the inhabitual" (GA 53, 89), in which human beings become lost in the total management of beings and are driven out of Being, "however much beings as real [Wirkliches] in their operation [Wirksamkeit] may be influential [einwirkend] and Effective' [wirkungsvoll]" (GA 53, 93). Echoing the Hölderlin verse "Poetically man dwells," Heidegger comments that the human being thereby seeks himself in seeking to "amount to something" and to earn a "means" ["Vermogen" poros], but precisely in this focus on earning and effecting, "comes to Nothing" (kommt zum Nichts) (GA 53, 92-93). Whereas Heidegger earlier used the mention of death in "coming to Nothing" to provide a transition to the knowledge of temporality and so to authenticity, here he focuses on the human relation to the concept of the nothing (das Nichts) as the decisive factor. In getting lost in the technical mastery of beings, human activity and the human way of Being are essentially defined and driven by the "un" in "unsettling" and "un-at-home"; "deprivation," Heidegger tells us, "is the way in which the homely possesses the unhomely one" (GA 53, 92), constantly driving human beings from one activity and accomplishment to the next, without offering any possibility of rest or meaning. They are possessed and governed by the "not" without being able to orient themselves to this source of their being, so that even the indication given by death is not necessarily saving; rather, "the 'nothing* to which they come is that which, turning counter to Being, immediately excludes human beings from Being as such [schlechthin]" (GA 53, 93). Thus "the human being in his own essence is a katastrophe—a reversal that turns him away from his own essence" (GA 53, 94). Heidegger concludes his discussion of these lines with a warning that our metaphysical understanding of negativity and our tendency to devalue every negative into "that which ought not to be" (GA 53, 95) prevents us from properly grasping the meaning of the δεινόν expressed in the opposition παντοπόρος-ἄπορος. This is meant not only to warn us not to read "catastrophe" as an ethical judgment but also, and more important, to indicate that it is the very reduction of the "not" and inability to think it that underlies the errancy of technical versatility.

When Heidegger moves to the next paradoxical pairing, ὑψίπολις-ἄπολις, it is no longer to show the positive appropriation of self in the tragically contradictory work of world-creation and disclosure; instead, he now reads this as revealing the essential ground of the catastrophic turn away from essentiality expressed in the previous verse. This ground is the way in which human beings are situated in and by a grounding relation to the "not." The explication of the paradoxical character of the human relation to the πόλις, by sketching the possibilities and parameters of this relation, will thus reveal the full range of human possibility, from the most complete fall into delusion to the turn into an appropriate self-understanding and historical belonging, from a fundamentally different perspective. Gone is the reference to violent creators and violent acts of historical founding that defined human historical situatedness in the earlier interpretation. In its place, Heidegger stresses the way in which the πόλις as the space of history is given or self-emerging, and as given, itself gives place and ordering and orientation to human beings, is "destining." It is "the open site of dispensation [Schickung] out of which all relations of human beings to beings, and that always first of all means the relations of beings as such to human beings, determine themselves" (GA 53, 102). The πόλις is neither the structure of human community nor a particular interpretive articulation of beings in a world that grounds such community but is the original disclosure of Being itself in its difference from beings: "the character of the human abode [amidst beings] has its ground in that Being has generally opened itself to human Being and is this open, as which open it takes human Being into itself and so determines it to be in a site" (GA 53, 113). What is distinctive about human dwelling is that human beings are placed or situated negatively, located in an "open" space, in a dis-closure, which on one hand binds them uniquely to errancy, to the loss of order and home in confusing and mistaking beings, and on the other does offer a measure and a genuine "rest" and "home," but only as absent and in the human relation to what is absent. Thus the foils is the "pole," the "vortex," the invisible center of gravity that draws all things about it and determines their movement and relations; it is the essence of the "question-worthy," which "must be acknowledged and guarded in this worth" (GA 53, 100).

Being in this sense no longer must or can be kept open as the site of history by the process of reformation and the constant interchange of answers in works. Instead, it already opens itself, prior to all works and formation, in the very absence and inaccessibility of ground, stability, and transparency in the inconstant interchange of appearance and illusion that comes to light in the processes of nature and the shirting forms of the human world. This absence provides a structuring and orienting force in human life to the extent that it calls human beings into an attitude of essential questioning. With the displacement of human situatedness in the difference between Being and beings, the questioning that marks the human relation to the polls as the site of the history of Being is also displaced, so that though the emphasis on questioning is not new, this questioning can no longer be taken in the previous confrontational sense to be a "challenging forth." Questioning now must be understood as a self-opening or a stance of receptivity that relates to beings by looking beyond them, in an attitude of wonder or reverential expectation, to their source and ground in concealment and mystery. Force, and specifically the attempt to compel Being to disclosure in works, now becomes precisely what closes off the relation to Being and "turns counter" to the given place for historical dwelling (GA 53, 202). In a striking revision of his earlier reading of the Rhine hymn, a reading that laid the groundwork for the interpretation of creative founding in IM, Heidegger now marks his own earlier understanding as a "catastrophic" errancy. The Rhine abandons the vicinity of the source, abandons appropriate situatedness, and, like Oedipus with his "eye too many,"24 "means to plunge into the heart of the native mother" with force (GA 53, 201); the works of violent founding are driven by an excessive desire to know and amount to a violation of the concealment of Being. They are a Vermessenheit, a presumptuous mistaking of the standard or measure, in the attempt to "force a stead" amidst beings, a stance that "is only what it is from out of a forgetfulness of the hearth, that is, of Being" (GA 53, 202).

Given that the polls as the site of historical dwelling is the disclosure of Being, reconceiving the nature of this disclosure means simultaneously reconceiving the nature of human knowing. The shift in the way Heidegger understands human knowing in general and the particular knowing that holds open and preserves the relation to Being comes to light in his reconsideration of the final words of the chorus, which refuse the unsettling human being a place at the hearth and a belonging to the home. Whereas Heidegger previously dismissed this judgment of the chorus as revealing their inauthentic understanding and everydayness, he now disparages his own earlier interpretation and emphasizes that the chorus can only speak these words out of the highest and most essential knowledge, the knowledge of the "hearth," or the knowledge of Being itself and of the way in which human beings are granted a site and a home by the "not" in belonging to Being (GA 53, 121). The knowledge of the chorus is a φρονεῖν, a "sensing and reflecting which comes from the φρήν, that is, out of the 'heart,' out of the innermost center of human Being itself" (GA 53, 134). This knowledge is "of another essence" from the knowledge of the one who, forgetting or mistaking the difference between Being and beings, wants to secure the home by creating orders and statutes and whose form of knowledge is "madness" or "delusion" (GA 53, 132). It is "poetic," but though this echoes his earlier stress on poetry as the highest art form and the ultimate way of grounding truth in works, in the working of the word, here, in contrast to his earlier interpretations, he says that poetry is a form of knowing that is fundamentally different from all art and τέχνη and that has nothing to do with works and working. It is this displacement from inauthentic knowing as τέχνη into poetry as authentic knowing that guides the chorus's expulsion of the violent founder from the home or hearth. They understand that

in their working and in their works, human beings are capable of an abundance. It is almost impossible to survey what they accomplish, whereby they establish themselves on this earth, in that they use it, wear it out, and work it, in that they protect and secure it and further their "art," that is, in Greek, τέχνη. "Yet" all this does not reach into the essential ground of their dwelling on this earth. . . . This dwelling, authentic being at-home, is "poetic." The center and ground of dwelling, that is, the "hearth of the house," is nothing which could be grasped and determined within the real [Wirkliche] by making and producing. (GA 53, 171, emphasis added)

Hölderlin is now understood to be the poet who founds a new "destiny" and an "other beginning" of history precisely because he founds a new understanding of poetry that removes the knowing and saying of poetry from the relation to art and works and so achieves the step out of metaphysics.25 Poetry and poetic thinking are not some deeper level of τέχνη; the displacement to a more original understanding is only achieved in a fundamentally different kind of knowing, a knowing that in turn achieves a profound reorientation of human self-understanding and relation to beings. Poetry and poetic thinking "require

of us a conversion of the way of thinking and experiencing that concerns the whole of Being" (GA 53, 205). Specifically, poetry requires of us that we "perceive . . . that something can be without effecting [wirken] and being a thing worked, that something other is with [mit-ist], without being worked by another and exhausting Being in such being worked . . . that the authentic Being consists precisely in this no-longer-working, in whose truth our beingwith all beings rests and from which it arises" (GA 52, 100-101). Τέχνη, although it does disclose Being in beings, approaches Being in the effort to force what is hidden into the light. In doing so, it turns counter to Being, cannot achieve a knowing that appropriately orients itself on Being as it gives itself in its concealment, and so can offer no phrenetic measure to human life. Poetry, on the other hand, addresses itself to this very concealment, takes it up in a mode of saying that preserves it in its mystery, and orients human beings to this mystery as grounding source and as what is to come. In this, poetry comes to be understood not on the model of art but on the model of prophesy. Unlike τέχνη, poetry is conceived as a receptive knowing that is fundamentally nonviolent, as Heidegger once again stresses with his quotation of Hölderlin's "The Journey" at the close of the lecture course: "To a dream it turns, if one would / Ambush it and it punishes him, who / Would equal it with force. / Often it surprises him, / Who scarcely even thought it" (GA 53, 206).

With the move to poetic thinking, Heidegger s characterization of the "destiny" of the West thus turns decisively away from the violence of creative founding in the direction of the later Gelassenheit, the "releasement" toward beings that belongs to meditative thinking and "lets beings be."26 Although the implications of this move cannot be fully drawn out within the limits of the present discussion, a brief sketch may help ward off a few common misunderstandings. In his reinterpretation of the poetic, Heidegger means to overcome metaphysics, and specifically Hegel and Nietzsche, by thinking the relation between Being and the nothing in a way that does not reduce the nothing to some positivity. His reading of Taoism is likely to have been significant here, and the way in which poetic thinking and poetic dwelling take measure from the "nothing" has more in common with Asian philosophy and its concepts of emptiness and nonaction than with the practical philosophy of the West.27 As is the case in Taoist thought, poetic thinking displaces political action entirely from the realm of authentic knowing and authentic praxis, and this displacement itself is understood as transformative of the practical and political realm; it would be a mistake to read this as mere resignation or fatalism, as has often been done, and to argue that the rejection of normative standards in favor of a negative measure amounts to nihilism.28 Since political action must be concerned with works, with measurable effects and accomplishments, it remains within the parameters of a technological conception of reality; any attempt to counter the violence and totalizing tendencies of modern politics from within politics itself is correspondingly shaped and driven by its own counterviolence and its own forms of totalization. The only effective response to "global technology" would be found, then, in a thinking and action that removes itself resolutely from all attempts to control.

Poetic thinking achieves this as "remembrance" (Andenken), as a thoughtful engagement with the roots of ones own tradition and with what is different in that tradition, in order to reveal what properly belongs to one s historical situation and to open up new possibilities of response to that situation.29 Difference is specifically not appropriated or overcome but preserved in "guest-friendship" (GA 53, 171-181); poetic thinking is thus meant to lay the ground for a nonappropriative dialogue with otherness, by means of which it first becomes possible to come into ones own historical place. In this, poetry is a historical transition. At the same time, it is a transition in another sense: poetry can only situate historically, it can only be measure-taking, to the extent that in this opening of this historical place, it recovers the concealed ground and inherent negativity that appears in the past relation to divinity as wonder and as destiny and holds this ground open. Poetry awakens an attitude of reverential expectation and so is a kind of prophesy; it announces a destiny (GA 52, 101) and mediates between human beings and "gods" (GA 52, 69). It is crucial to understand, however, that these "gods" are not and cannot be existing divinities. They are accessible only in their withdrawal, and it is precisely in this withdrawal and concealment that they have power for human life; consequently, the "advent" of the gods cannot mark an actual historical event. The transition that poetic thinking marks is not a transition between two actualities but is the original disclosure of Being and of human Being in their relation, which first allows them to "be" (GA 52, 98). To subordinate this thinking to a future actuality would "destroy the coming in its coming and draw the possible into a presumptuous and accidental reality" (GA 52, 127).30 Poetic thinking is thus not the path to an "other beginning" of history but is itself that other beginning, that destiny, as a way of relating to beings that is rooted in mystery and in a questioning that refuses all closure. This destiny, Heidegger emphasizes, "does nothing and makes nothing of beings, but it ordains [fügt] in that it lets beings be" (GA 52, 101). Poetic thinking as remembrance aims to reclaim divinity in absence by reawakening the sense in which all human Being and acting is shaped by and bound to something essentially ungraspable and beyond it and to orient human life on the "un" in opening up what is unfamiliar and unusual at the core of all everyday familiarity.

What Heidegger is calling for here is a radical departure from politics as we have understood it up to now, that is, as the human agent's personal or collective attempt to systematically order and control both physical and human nature. Heidegger offers no principles of justice, no treatise on the proper organization of institutions, no way to guarantee a better future—in short, no systematic guidelines for action whatsoever. The utter indeterminacy of what Heidegger is calling for leads many to accuse him of a reckless and stubborn quietism in the face of pressing issues facing humankind. But it is precisely Heidegger's point that the conception of politics (and of thinking itself) as the violent and willful imposition of a "program" on Being is what we need to let go of. He calls us to consider that the factors that drive our modern politics, in all its plurality, in the direction of the consolidation of power and control and (sometimes subtly but often violently) in the direction of conformity and homogenization cannot in turn be effectively overcome by exerting a counter force, by attempting to control and secure the human drive to control, by demanding conformity to another universal norm. Gelassenheit, on the other hand, means, in part, letting politics as the polos come to us. Heidegger argues that the "being-with" and interaction that would make up a more vital and essential human community require that we risk "exposure" to the other (a word he ties to "care") and suggests that it is a mistake to think that we can properly engage and listen to others so long as we are simultaneously protecting and advancing our own separate spheres and identities. The openness that would appropriately situate human Being is only possible in the move away from all attempts to systematize and control, from all attempts to fix the historical appearance of Being in some manageable form. Heidegger is calling for a new kind of respons-ibility, one that has its measure and only safeguard in the willingness to risk openness and let be. This of course entails a very real political risk, yet it remains compelling that the best way to confront large-scale violence is to reshape our personal and political action in such a way that it is fundamentally nonviolent. Poetic thinking points to just such a move.31


1. Most readers of the 1942 interpretation miss the radicality of the revision that takes place here because they read the references to poetry in light of the concept of poetry developed in the 1934 reading of Hölderlin and consonant with the artwork as it comes to light in "The Origin of the Work of Art." Thus, for instance, the otherwise informative account of Michael Zimmerman (Heidegger's Confrontation with Modernity: Technology, Politics, Art [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990]), who briefly discusses the changes in the accounts and the movement from violent confrontation to acceptance of a Geschick (see pp. 118-121) but goes on to develop an account of the development of τέχνη m Heideggers thought that ends in an authentic τέχνη and poiêsis and does not note the move beyond this that the second reading articulates (see 222-247). Kathleen Wright addresses the difference in the two readings in two articles ("Heidegger's Hölderlin and the Mo(u)rning of History," Philosophy Today 37 [winter 1993]: 423-435, and "Heidegger on Hegels Antigone: The Memory of Gender and the Forgetfulness of the Ethical Difference," forthcoming), the second of which specifically notes the shift from τέχνη to poetry, but it is not the intention of her articles to analyze the meaning of this shift, and because she reads it as embedded in a sexual difference, she dismisses the later reading as not substantially revising or rejecting the earlier one. Miguel de Beistegui, in his Heidegger and the Political: Dystopias (London: Routledge, 1998), gives a careful and detailed account of the differences in the two readings but similarly misses the move to a radical distinction between poetry and τέχνη; as a result, he concludes that the displacement of the political accomplished in the second reading is not also a displacement of violence but instead a move to a more originary level of reading that casts the violent inauthenticity of technical mastery against the equally "strifely" authenticity of poetic knowing (143). Alexander Schwan, in Politische Philosophie im Denken Heideggers (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, exp. edition 1989), 247-252, presents a detailed account of some of the differences but reads the whole as a "feigned" distancing from politics and does not recognize that the second reading of the ode develops a new concept of human historical dwelling that is meant not only to step out of metaphysics and politics but also to counter and transform these in this move.

2. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1140a25-l I40b30.

3. For the importance of the Aristotelean distinction between τέχνη and phronësis, see Jacques Taminiaux, Heidegger and the Project of Fundamental Ontology, trans, and ed. Michael Gendre (Albany: SUNY Press, 1991), 111-137. Robert Bernasconi, in "The Fate of the Distinction between Praxis and Poiêsis," Heidegger Studies 2 (1986): 110-139, gives a careful and insightful account of the way in which Heideggers later concept of "dwelling" preserves a sense of praxis not reducible to poiêsis and τέχνη, though this dwelling is no longer thought in terms of an opposition between poiêsis and praxis, given that that opposition itself is seen as metaphysical.

4. Platon: Sophistes, GA 19, 49.

5. For Heidegger's understanding of conscience, see SZ, 270-300 = Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), 315-348.

6. For a detailed account of the development of the productionist model in Heideggers thought, see Zimmerman, Heidegger's Confrontation with Modernity.

7. I discuss this in detail in "From the Metaphysics of Production to Questioning Empowering: Heideggers Critical Interpretation of the Platonic and Aristotelean Accounts of the Good," Heidegger Studies 11: The New Onset of the Thinking of Being (1995): 95-121.

8. This move is already suggested, though not fully developed, in 1933 by Heideggers use of τέχνη in the Rectoral Address. See de Beistegui, Heidegger and the Political, 47-54.

9. All citations will be taken from Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), hereafter IM. Where the translation is modified, I relied on GA 40.

beyng.com: The references to earlier editions of Introduction to Metaphysics above have been updated to link to the corresponding page in Introduction to Metaphysics, 2nd, 2014.

10. "Global technology" is one way of expressing what Heidegger also refers to variously as the forgetfulness of Being, the flight of the gods, and nihilism; all these phrases highlight different aspects of the same situation and experience.

11. Although Heidegger refers to the original "poetic grounding," "poetry" here means as much as linguistic τέχνη, or the setting of truth into work in language, as he makes clear when he elaborates on it as something that "sets beings into limits and form, projects something new (not yet present)" (IM, 161); this is fundamentally different from his use of the phrase in 1942 and beyond.

12. Heidegger indicates that Fug first means "Fuge" and "Gefüge. "Although he does not directly bring out the musical sense of Fuge as "fugue," this should not be overlooked as a background connotation. A fugue is a temporally given arrangement or ordering of a (potentially inexhaustible) manifold of variations on a theme, whose unity (like Heideggers interpretation of the unity of the manifold meanings of Being in Aristotle) is analogical.

13. Martin Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art," in Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper & Row, 1971). See especially 49-57 ("The Work and Truth").

14. Though the usual translation is "uncanny," I have preferred "unsettling" because it seems more explicitly to indicate the movement out of the heimisch as it is developed in the 1942 reading of the ode in the lecture course on The Ister.

15. This is not to suggest that the Greek does not bear his interpretation but merely that his translation definitively stresses the aporetic character of death and leaves no room for a reading that downplays this in the face of the scope of the rest of human achievement (a reading that traditional translations leave open).

16. See Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin Books, 1985), esp. 9-25. Nietzsche develops an elaborate word play on untergehen and Untergang, "setting, decline, or destruction," and übergehen and Übermensch, "crossing over" and "overman," to express the idea that the human being who affirms will to power must embrace his own destruction because the expression of power always demands that the given actuality be sacrificed for the sake of creating something beyond itself.

17. See Jacques Taminiauxs discussion of the differences between the 1935 and 1936 versions of the lecture and their respective relation to Introduction to Metaphysics in Taminiaux, Heidegger and the Project of Fundamental Ontology, 213-226, and again in Poetics, Speculation, and Judgement: The Shadow of the Work of Art from Kant to Phenomenology (Albany: SUNY Press, 1993, 153-169). There are three versions of the lecture, the first draft (available in Heidegger Studies 5 [1989]: 5-22), the second draft of the 1935 lecture, available only in a privately circulated copy, and the final published version, revised between the 1935 and 1936 lectures. Taminiaux bases most of his argument on the private copy of the second draft. He sums up the difference between this version and the final version by saying, "from the outset, the difference in tone between the two is striking. The demand for a decision, the appeal to the will, the call to the German people, in short the previous tone of proclamation and Promethean style have all but faded away in the 1936 text." He then highlights this difference by calling attention to a passage in the later version that rejects the use of force as appropriate in coming to understand the thingly character of the thing (Heidegger and the Project of Fundamental Ontology, 225).

18. Heidegger, "Origin of the Work of Art," 87.

19. GA 53. See also Hölderlins Hymn "The Ister" trans. William McNeill and Julia Davis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996). The extent of this revision can be pardy indicated by the change in his interpretation of the relation between Hölderlin and Nietzsche. In his 1934 lecture course on Hölderlin (GA 39, see esp. 166, 191, 294), Heidegger identifies Hölderlins concept of the poet explicitly with Nietzsches Übermensch 2nd Hölderlins understanding of "the essence of historical Dasein" with Nietzsches conception of the Dionysian and Apollonian, giving Hölderlin credit only for having penetrated more deeply. When he returns to Hölderlin in the 1941-42 lecture course (GA 52), he attacks this comparison and argues instead that "Nietzsches distinction and role in his metaphysics of will to power is not Greek, but is rooted in modern metaphysics. Hölderlins distinction on the contrary we must learn to understand as the precursor of the overcoming of all metaphysics" (GA 52, 143). He sums this up by commenting: " 'Nietzsche and Hölderlin—an abyss separates both. Abyssally differently both determine the nearest and most distant future of the Germans and of the West" (GA 52, 78). This suggests that an "abyss" has likewise been crossed in the move from the earlier work on Hölderlin and poetry to the later.

20. Although Heideggers Beiträge zur Philosophie, which is begun in 1936 and broken off in 1938, initially develops the concept of Ereignis, Heidegger continues to work out this concept in other writings between 1938 and 1942.

21. Martin Heidegger, "Time and Being" (1962), in On Time and Being, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), 23. The essay "Building Dwelling Thinking" arguably reworks the concept of the "site" found in IM and in "The Origin of the Work of Art." In the later (1951) essay, Heidegger rejects the world-revealing role of the temple as work, indicating that architecture too must be understood with respect to the place-character of human dwelling, so that "the erecting of buildings would not be suitably defined even if we were to think of it in the sense of the original Greek τέχνη as solely a letting-appear, which brings something made, as present, among the things that are already present" ("Building Dwelling Thinking," in Poetry, Language, Thought, 159). Significantly, the earlier example of the temple (an image of religious founding) is replaced with the less presumptuous image of a bridge (the image of the transition that poetic thinking enacts).

22. See GA 53, especially the third section, 153-206.

23. This phrase is from the 1951 lecture "... Poetically Man Dwells," in Poetry, Language, Thought, 222. Heidegger announces Hölderlin as the poet who founds a new essence of poetry and of history in both GA 39 and in GA 53, though he interprets the meaning of this founding differently. See n. 19 above.

24. A phrase from Hölderlins poem "In lovely blueness." In his original (1934) interpretation of the Rhine hymn, Heidegger reads Oedipus as the model for authentic human Dasein and interprets this "eye too many" positively, as "a vision for the origin" (GA 39, 267). In the 1942 reading he rejects Oedipus, stressing both the sense of violation and the way in which the Rhine indicates a way of Being that abandons and turns away from the place of origin. In the 1951 "... Poetically Man Dwells" he revises his early reading even more explicitly, saying, "Hölderlin says (lines 75-76), 'King Oedipus has perhaps one eye too many.' Thus it might be that our unpoetic dwelling, its incapacity to take the measure, derives from a curious excess of frantic measuring and calculating" (Poetry, Language, Thought, 225).

25. See esp. GA 52, 63 and 178, where he stresses this difference.

26. Heidegger develops this concept in the "Memorial Address" in Discourse on Thinking, trans. John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), 43-57.

27. See Graham Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1967).

28. The political import of Heideggers conception of "action" as "letting be" and as poetic dwelling is widely rejected, often in a way that simply begs the essential questions. For instance, Stephen White, in Political Theory and Postmodernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 31-54, argues that Gelassenheit is an "empty category" that is inherently unable to address itself to the problem of intersubjective action because, in the absence of normative standards of legitimacy, such action cannot be conceived except as coercion. But in this he assumes that Gelassenheit cannot "act" because it cannot "will," and he does not engage Heidegger's argument that it has its own nonnormative measure of legitimacy. Zimmerman (Heideggers Confrontation with Modernity, 256-257) makes a similar move when he dismisses the claim that "it is precisely the disclosure of the lack of metaphysical foundations that opens up the possibility for freedom" by rhetorically asking, "How can we define 'freedom' in terms other than those associated with the 'selfhood' traditionally linked with the capacity for freely chosen action?" This is precisely the question, but he fails to elaborate on his grounds for rejecting the very possibility.

29. See especially GA 52, 64-103.

30. As Leslie Paul Thiele suggests in Timely Meditations: Martin Heidegger and Postmodern Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 206, "waiting for a god is an attendance upon the reawakening of our capacity for fundamental questioning, nothing more or less."

31. I owe thanks to Gregory Fried for some very helpful suggestions about the phrasing of these closing remarks.

Clare Pearson Geiman - Heidegger's Antigones
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