﻿ The Fourfold 5 5

INTRODUCTION

finite thing is. This means that a thinking of finitude is impossible without a concomitant consideration of this beyond (the finite is nothing other than this connection or relation). For finite existence to be ecstatic, then, entails in turn that the “beyond” of the thing be no empty void, but be itself essentially capable of transmitting these radiant relations. That is to say, to be finite is to exist beyond oneself and this manner of existing requires a medium capable of supporting it. This notion of “medium,” which I endeavor to unfold in what follows, is endemic to a Heideggerian thought of finitude, and for Heidegger this beyond, this medium, is the world. Simply put, to think the finitude of things is to think the mediacy of the world.

Such a thought requires putting aside a few misconceptions that all too readily assert themselves, most prominently that in speaking of a “medium” we are speaking of something that would lie in between two fixed poles. To begin with, the things in question are nothing so fixed or self-contained. What appears in this world does so in conjunction with everything around it. There is nothing that does not exist in this relational way. To appear is to be exposed and to be exposed is to be opened to a beyond, even to welcome that beyond (to invite it). This is what we might term the “hospitality” of things. From this perspective, then, the things are already beyond themselves and do not stand outside the relation as poles isolated from each other. Second, this likewise means that the medium itself is no present-at-hand third party intervening between two otherwise independent ones, equally present-at-hand. The medium is not simply “between” the things; rather, in some abstract geometrical sense, it surrounds them. The things are immersed in it. It is the field of their interaction, that through which streams the relations that they maintain. The pages that follow will develop this thought in greater detail and follow the various formulations of it across Heidegger’s texts of the period. For now it is worth noting that a “medium” is nothing between two otherwise present objects, but is instead the essential attendant of any finite mode of existence whatsoever. To be finite is to implicate such a beyond. Hence the increasing importance and proliferation of names that Heidegger grants to media in his thinking, each of which will be discussed in what follows: the “between” (das Zwischen), the “joyous” (das Heitere), the “holy” (das Heilige), the “aether” (der Äther), the “middle” (die Mitte), the “dimension” (die Dimension), the “element” (das Element), the “clearing” (die Lichtung), and ultimately even “death” (der Tod). It is my contention in what follows that the fourfold names the structural minima for the mediated, finite existence of things. As such, the fourfold grants us insight into what I take to be the the center of Heidegger’s later thinking, a thinking of mediation and relationality.

# Andrew J. Mitchell - The Fourfold

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