Chapter 7

the presencing of all phenomena? It seems that the later Heidegger was ambivalent in this regard. A year before this lecture, “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” in the autobiographical essay “My Way to Phenomenology” (1963), Heidegger had, we recall, suggested that “phenomenology can disappear as a title, in favor of the matter of thinking.” Yet it appears that Heidegger himself was not quite prepared to follow his own suggestion. Some 10 years later, in his Zähringen seminar of 1973, Heidegger seeks to reclaim or rehabilitate the term phenomenology, along the lines of what he calls “a phenomenology of the inapparent” (eine Phänomenologie des Unscheinbaren). Yet what exactly is meant by a phenomenology of the inapparent? This term, though sometimes invoked in recent literature, has yet to be adequately explored.7 If Being and Time is itself in a certain sense already a phenomenology of the inapparent, as a phenomenology of Being as that which conceals itself at first and for the most part, then presumably the invocation of a phenomenology of the inapparent in 1973 means something rather different—not least on account of both the successes and the shortcomings of the earlier phenomenology noted previously. An adequate understanding of a phenomenology of the inapparent entails, as we shall see, an appreciation of what Heidegger, in recently published notes from near the end of his career, calls “phenomenophasis.” Phenomenophasis, it turns out, is the last word of phenomenology.

Certainly, one must approach and gain access to the dimension of a phenomenology of the inapparent by way of Heidegger’s early phenomenology— and indeed, before that, through an appreciation of the significance of categorial intuition in Husserl’s sixth Logical Investigation. The Zähringen seminar indeed began with an account of sensuous and categorial intuition in Husserl, and, as Heidegger explicitly states in a letter to Roger Munier of April 16, 1973, the point of the exercise is “to actively accomplish an introduction into a phenomenology of the inapparent; no one ever arrives at phenomenological ‘seeing’ by the reading of books” (GA 15, 417). It will once more be a matter of experiencing, of undergoing a certain experience for oneself. Yet the seminar concludes with an interpretation of Parmenides, in whose fragments we find what Heidegger calls a “tautological thinking.” And it is this, tautological thinking, and neither Husserl’s nor the early Heidegger’s conceptual and scientific phenomenology, that constitutes “the original sense of phenomenology”: “the thinking that we are inquiring after here is what I call tautological thinking. This is the original sense of phenomenology. [ . . . ] This phenomenology is a phenomenology of the inapparent” (GA 15, 399). An adequate appreciation of a phenomenology of the inapparent, in other words, will entail an understanding of what is meant by tautological thinking.

The Fate of Phenomenology: Heidegger's Legacy by William McNeill