thing, that worlds in the world, just the same as the earth and its cast of waters, stones, plants, and animals. No one has privileged access to world here. The prior privilege of Dasein atop a hierarchy is undone by this thought. World is no longer restricted to Dasein, nor is it the antagonist of earth. World is the property or possession of no one. What we witness with the fourfold, then, in this simple listing of stones, waters, plants, and animals in considering the earth, is nothing less than a reconfiguration of Heidegger’s conception of world, moving beyond his earlier treatments found in the period of fundamental ontology as well as in his middle works. The consequences of this should not be underestimated.

Second, it is worth noting that Heidegger’s German identifies each of these groups—stones, waters, plants, and animals—in words that begin with a “Ge-” prefix: “Gewässer und Gestein, Gewächs und Getier” (GA 79: 17/16, cf. GA 7: 151). This is noteworthy because it is in the very same lecture cycle in which these are named, Insight Into That Which Is, that Heidegger first discusses both the fourfold (das Geviert) and positionality ( das Ge-Stell ) and explicitly reflects on the import of this “Ge-” prefix. The force of the Ge- is that of a gathering together between singular beings: “We name the collection of mountains that are already gathered together, united of themselves and never belatedly, the mountain range [ das Gebirge ]. We name the collection of ways we are inclined to such and such and can feel ourselves so, the disposition [das Gemüt]” (GA 79: 32/30–31). The prefix then indicates what belongs together originally, i.e., that which exists “with others,” we might say. The “range” of the mountains is not something added after the fact to them. They do not need to be joined together afterwards into a range, they exist from the outset as together with others and do so “of themselves” by their singular nature. This very relational existence is what the “Ge-” prefix tries to indicate in Heidegger’s thinking.14 The fourfold (das Geviert) is gathered together in this way, to be sure, but so is positionality (das Ge-Stell). Stones, waters, plants, and animals are all assigned this relational manner of existence through their designation as Gestein, Gewässer, Gewächs, and Getier, respectively. Thus, from the simple description of the earth within the fourfold, we gather that waters, stones, plants, and animals are all relationally existing and thereby participating in the worlding of the world.

a. Stones (Gestein)

In the Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics course, “material” nature is considered under the rubric of the stone. From this perspective, the stone is ontologically the same as a river. Heidegger’s thesis is that “the stone (material object) is worldless” (GA 29/30: 263/177). The worldlessness

14 And let us note that Heidegger’s use of Getier (animals) here rather than the Tierheit considered throughout the 1929–30 Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics lecture course surely complicates one of Derrida’s criticisms of Heidegger’s treatment of animality. Of this course, Derrida writes that “one will not be able to speak of the essence of animality in general unless—and although as his discussion progresses Heidegger cites many examples of animals—the categorization of all animals within a ‘general essence of animality,’ in spite of their differences (differences between lizard and chimpanzee, for example), remain beyond question” (Derrida, Animal, 154). For Heidegger, the non-homogenizing collection of singular animals named by Getier (as proposed within the fourfold) is surely distinct from the Tierheit (animality) of the 1929–30 course.

Andrew J. Mitchell - The Fourfold

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