The New Heidegger

to leave the word Dasein untranslated. In fact, it's a word--a decisive and pivotal philosophical term--that's even harder to translate than the term 'Dasein'. On one level, Heidegger retains the ordinary meaning of the word, that of event. Since the beginning of our enterprise, we've seen how insistent Heidegger is that we think of being, Sein, and of Dasein itself, not as a thing, or a substance, but as a movement, and a verb. The same, you recall, went for truth, which, as a result of his early texts on Aristotle, Heidegger understood as an activity, an aletheuein. So, it is perhaps not surprising that he is now explicitly interpreting being (or, as he now calls it, beyng) as an event. Naturally, the event in question is no ordinary event. It is not just an event, that is, the irruption of something new in time, the happening of something in historical time. It is not one event along this chain of events we ordinarily refer to as 'history'. Rather, it is the irruption, or the coming about of time and space as such, the advent of history as the open realm in which world-events take place. It points not to historical events and facts, but to the origin of history itself, to what we could call historicity, or the eventfulness of events. It is, if you will, the founding event--except that,as we shall see, it is itself without foundation. As the founding event, it musn't be mistaken for something like a creative act--whether that creation be the work of an omnipotent God or the result of physical forces that produced the laws of nature as we know them. The event in question is neither theological nor cosmological. It is not an event that took place once, and from which everything else unfolds, but the event that does not cease to take place, and in the taking place of which a world is opened up, and beings find their own place. It is the advent of presence, or the opening up of being. As such, Heidegger uses the term 'Ereignis' to designate the nature of the relation between being and beings, between being and the human and between being and time (as well as space). In each instance, what's at stake is what he began by calling the ontological difference, and to which philosophical thought was to turn as towards its primary subject-matter. In the thinking of Ereignis, there is a great continuity with respect to the early work. We should think of Ereignis--Heidegger's most significant philosophical term from the 1930s onwards--as a deepening and a reworking of the problematic of the ontological difference and the quest for the unifying sense of being with which he began.

In an effort to clarify the meaning of time and space, let me now return to the passage I began by quoting. When understood not just on the basis of world and nature, but on the basis of the full operation of truth as involving a twofold movement of clearing and concealing, time and space emerge as the 'where' and 'when', the 'site' and 'moment' of beyng in its historical unfolding. Needless to say, then time-space is not something of which we can say what it is independently of the way in which it is, and this means of its specific historical configuration. There is simply no 'essence' or 'identity' of time-space outside its concrete spatial-temporal inscription. Time-space, as an event, always refers to a site--the site of a specific and concrete strife (Streif) between world and earth and en-counter (Entgegnung) between men and gods,