How could anyone whose essence belongs to the clearing ever withdraw
from receiving and protecting [Hüten] the clearing?…Everyday opinion
… does not see the quiet gleam (the gold) of the mystery that everlastingly
shines in the simplicity of the clearing. Heraclitus says
“Asses choose hay rather than gold.”
Heidegger, “Alētheia” (GA 7: 288/EGT 122, tm)
A number of enigmatic statements relating attention to the way to being appear in Heidegger’s corpus, such as:
Underway, then – we must give particularly close attention [achten] to that stretch of way [Wegstelle] on which we are putting our feet. We meant to be attentive [acht zu haben] to it from the first lecture on (GA 8: 50/46)
When thinking is addressed by an issue and then goes after this, it can happen that it changes along the way. Thus it is advisable in what follows to attend [achten] more to the path and less to the content. To duly linger upon the content would already block the progress of the lecture for us. (GA 79: 115/108)
These statements illustrate the importance of attention (Achtsamkeit, Aufmerksamkeit) and its movement in Heidegger’s later thought; indeed, it is the essence of human presencing, and as such is intimately related to being as presencing. He says as much in translating Parmenides: “For the same: taking-heed-of [In-die-Acht-nehmen] is also the presencing of what is present [Anwesen des Anwesenden]” (GA 8: 245/241, tm). As essentially related to being, attention is the abyssal ground for all modes of human engagement, be they walking, talking, reflecting, etc. Its movement is the very movement of our being, which is how we participate in the being of all that is.
Awareness of this movement is how we move toward the showing of being itself, by way of an effort of acute and sustained attention. Such an effort must be aware of its own movement, for the effort comes out of the movement of attention itself, and one must stay with that movement in order to sustain it. One must thus stay with the very act of attending, the ground of worldly engagement, in order to approach being; but paradoxically (as discussed in Section IV below), the very self that would stay with its own movement is itself made manifest in that movement. Such a paradox at the heart of attention corresponds to the paradox of being itself.2
It can be verified phenomenologically that when we are acutely attentive in this manner we become more present, we “come together” – we are more gathered, more integrated. In fact, such an effort is itself the essence of phenomenological verification, given that a gathered presence is required for any inquiry into how things present themselves.3 Such a gathering (Sammlung) is not a “mental” phenomenon, but is rather an event in the world; for it is how we participate in being, which can also be conceived as a collecting or gathering. By way of this effort we are on the way to being, moving beyond the superficial meanings that typically govern this ontological movement.
The paper proceeds as follows: After a discussion of the nature of attention, I show that Husserl’s treatment of the notion provides support for the claim that attention is how we are made manifest in the course of engagement. I then argue that the movement of attention can be understood in terms of the hermeneutical circle, which I extend to incorporate the temporal care structure. Attention can be conceived here as the futural ecstasis,4 which means that it brings factical being to bear on existential possibilities that arise in the course of engagement.
In the second part of the paper textual support is provided for the claim that attention is the way to being, first considering (in Section IV) the role of ontological effort in the form of steadfastness (Inständigkeit) in Contributions to Philosophy (GA 65), which is associated with attention in The Event (GA 71). We then turn to What is Called Thinking? (GA 8), which together with essays from Vorträge und Aufsätze (GA 7) is the work in Heidegger’s corpus where attention is most prominently featured. We shall see that thinking for Heidegger is the conjunction of the gathering of being (λέγειν) and attention (νοεῖν). I show how staying with the event of presencing can enable us to participate in and speak from the manifestation of being itself, and conclude with a defense of the assumption made throughout the paper that being is first and foremost the (self-concealing, gathering, etc.) presencing (Anwesen) of beings.
There are two interrelated dimensions of attention which correspond to the beings-being relation in Heidegger: 1) Attention is how manifesting entities are encountered in the course of worldly activity, where we ourselves come into presence in a manner that corresponds to the attuned understanding of the situation. That presencing occurs with or without the exertion of ontological effort.5
2) The ontological effort that Heidegger calls for is an extraordinary effort of attentiveness that must be aware of its own movement, as argued above. It is important to note that such an attention does not mean that one turns away from the beings with which one engages. Rather, instead of being immersed in the entities, there is a grounding that enables one to stay with the very unfolding of their presencing. In this manner we participate in the work of being itself.
The two dimensions of attention appear in cognitive science as selection (highlighting, foregrounding) and effort (vigilance, mindfulness). Those entities to which we attend are considered to be in the foreground, or in the “spotlight” of attention, in contrast to those that are in the background. In Heideggerian terms Aufmerksamkeit is associated with the emergence of entities, while Achtsamkeit is associated with acute and sustained staying-with the manifestation of the same emerging entities. They are related in that the effort of staying-with affects how emerging entities are made manifest. Achtsamkeit is generally more important in Heidegger’s thought, and that (together with the cognate listening [hören]) will be the focus of the present essay.6
We are all familiar with the effort of attention, with the necessity of staying with a particular activity in order to complete it successfully. It typically appears in the form of concentration (Ansammlung), or keeping one’s mind on a particular intellectual task, but it is by no means limited to such activities.7 The notion employed here is that of staying-with any one of a variety of modes of engagement, of maintaining one’s presence in the course of an encounter with an entity. The act of staying-with, of holding one’s ground in the face of competing influences, which can also be seen as a standing, stilling, enduring, sustaining, or watching, enables the opening and gathering that is essentially related to Heidegger’s notion of being.
We can understand being in this context as the self-withdrawing presencing and gathering of beings.8 What is key is that for Heidegger, we may participate more or less fully in this gathering; for it is not a collection of objects, or a highest genus, but rather essentially involves a force that is characterized in terms of the standing and holding (stehen und halten) that holds beings in readiness, a stillness in which things are held in a tension.9 Attention involves exactly this sort of effort. The implication is that in order to better understand the meaning of being, we can look to attention and see what the associated effort is: It is a staying-with, a with-standing, a holding in readiness, a tarrying. We can gain insight into being, and participate in it directly, by performing this sort of ontological effort.
It should be noted that the theme of attention (in the form of Achtsamkeit and Aufmerksamkeit) does not appear in Heidegger’s work until 1939, after the development of being-historical thinking in Contributions to Philosophy.10 He avoids the thematic use of these terms prior to this time because they are related to Husserlian intuition and its associated ontology.11 In 1939, however, he begins to develop a rehabilitated notion which I refer to as being-historical intuition. In general he provides little explanation of the nature of attention, limiting himself to pronouncements which employ the notion in important contexts. For this reason, I turn to Husserl’s use of the term in Ideas I for insight into the background that Heidegger brings to the question.12
In Ideas I Husserl associates attention with the apprehension of intuitions at the foreground, or center of attention, relative to a background of intuitions that have the potential to come to the fore at any time.13 The movement of attention actualizes potential intuitions at the foreground, the central focus that serves to orient the entire intentional structure for further action. In this manner Husserl sees attention as essential for agency, for egoic acts in general, as discussed below.
The movement of attention is quite prominent in this text. Its pages are filled with references such as “mental focus [geistigen Blick],” “shift of focus [Blickwendung],” and “radiating focus [Blickstrahl]” which Husserl explicitly identifies with “the kind of remarkable changes in consciousness” which are designated as modes of attention.14 For Husserl, one is free to direct attention in any manner whatsoever: “I am able to direct the illuminating focus of my attention [Blickes der Aufmerksamkeit] on it with varying success…. In the free activity of experiencing that brings what is on hand into what I intuit, I can pursue these connections of the actuality immediately surrounding me.”15
Attention is a free act that enables us to be oriented in any manner whatever within the field of intuition. We can be directed to any aspect of the stream of consciousness, to intentional and nonintentional features of the stream, or to reflection on egoic activities themselves. In other contexts16 he focuses on the affective determinants of such movement, which suggests an interesting tension between affect and the free movement of attention. This is important in the later Heidegger, as we shall see below.
Husserl notes that the focus of attention is what it is because of the background, which is the context for its intelligibility. Intuitions are “lifted” out of the background, thereby enabling their apprehension. Husserl sees this as a modification of consciousness from potential to actual, or from implicit to explicit. It enables clarity of apprehension of entities from out of the “halo” of background intuitions:
I can let my attention [Aufmerksamkeit] wander out … to all the objects which I directly ‘know’ as being here …a knowing that has nothing of conceptual thinking in it and only changes into a clear intuiting when attention is turned toward [it].17
This bringing into clarity is similar to the role of attention in the Heideggerian clearing, although under altered ontological assumptions, as we shall see in what follows.18
For Husserl the ego is oriented according to the focus of attention. Other implicit intentional relations are similarly oriented as primed for shifts in focus which may bring them to the fore. Thus the intentional complex as a whole is oriented by way of that center of egoic activity, which means that attention is the site of my engagement. In addition, the “ray of attention” is considered to be part of the transcendental structure of the pure ego. It is “inherent in the cogito itself,” the basis for its acts which is not an act itself: “In every act a mode of attentiveness holds sway.”19 That is, attention as the engaged presence of the ego is the basis for any acts that may be associated with it, such as willing, valuing, judging, etc. Thus, in Heideggerian terms, Husserl sees attention as human presencing, which is the manifestation of ourselves in relation to the entities with which we engage.20 We now turn to Heidegger’s employment of the notion, which focuses on the effort of attention (Achtsamkeit, mindfulness) and associated changes in the presencing of self and related entities.
As noted above, Heidegger generally avoids the thematic use of Achtsamkeit and Aufmerksamkeit prior to 1939. In earlier work attention and intuition appear in a variety of forms. Theodore Kisiel argues in the essay “From Intuition to Understanding” that the early Heidegger transforms Husserl’s notion of categorial intuition into the understanding of being, seeking thereby to overcome connotations of intuition as limited to perception and cognition in a metaphysics of constant presence.21 Heidegger seeks an “intimate awareness of being,” a pre-reflective understanding that comes with the “habit of living.”22 He seeks a way of access along the lines of everyday preoccupation with worldly affairs rather than free-floating perception of objects,23 and therefore alternatives to Husserlian intuition and Aufmerksamkeit. We see this in the 1919–1920 Basic Problems of Phenomenology (GA 58) with the conception “taking-notice” (Kenntnisnehmen), where the presence of Kenntnis renders it more a mode of acquaintance than distanced cognition. Heidegger’s transformation of intuition terms can also be seen in the 1919 lectures Towards the Definition of Philosophy, where he emphasizes the embeddedness of lived experience in intelligible contexts which inform its movement: “The empowering experiencing of living experience that takes itself along is the understanding intuition, the hermeneutic intuition, the originary phenomenological back-and-forth formation of re-cepts and pre-cepts” (GA 56/57: 117/99). This is the nascent hermeneutical circle, which can be expressed as understanding guiding the movement of attention, the deliverances of which revise the understanding and thus the further movement of attention. Since attention is the actualization of intuition (in Husserlian terms), this is the most general form of the hermeneutical circle. Its movement is twofold as an intuition of particulars (beings) and an understanding of the whole (being). This in turn corresponds to the twofold nature of attention as expressed in the Aufmerksamkeit-Achtsamkeit distinction, in that Aufmerksamkeit refers to the intuition of beings while Achtsamkeit participates in holding open the whole, thereby enabling being itself to emerge.
Moreover, in Being and Time Heidegger notes that the hermeneutical circle is the existential fore-structure of Dasein: “This circle of understanding is … the expression of the existential fore-structure of Dasein itself…. An entity for which, as being-in-the-world, its being is itself an issue, has, ontologically, a circular structure” (GA 2: 203/SZ 153). In this text Heidegger posits temporality as the basis for the constant presence of intuited entities that Husserl takes for granted. I argue that attention can be conceived as the futural ecstasis, the leading edge of worldly engagement, as it is put forward in this text. For we can understand the circle as including the full temporal care structure of Dasein, as expressed in the formula “ahead-of-itself-being-already-in- (the world) as being-alongside (entities encountered within-the-world)” (GA 2: 255/SZ 192). Understanding projects itself (oriented toward the future) to being-possibilities which are ahead of itself in its (historical) factical being, where factical being is the thrown basis for attuned selfunderstanding and its possibilities.24 The hermeneutical circle can now be conceived as attention oriented to future possibilities as directed by our factical understanding of the situation, which interaction produces our presently engaged being-in-the-world with encountered entities. We thus encounter ourselves out of the future, in that factical being is made manifest in relation to encountered entities as we understandingly engage in light of being-possibilities.
Although attention in the form of Achtsamkeit and Aufmerksamkeit does not appear thematically in this work, William McNeill (translating Gewärtigen [awaiting] as “attending”) says that attention is how Dasein is futurally open for the presencing of beings.25 Indeed, there is support for a relation between attention and waiting in the later Heidegger, for instance in Country Path Conversations (GA 77: 226/147): “In waiting [warten], the human-being becomes gathered in attentiveness [Achtsamkeit] to that in which he belongs, yet without letting himself get carried away into and absorbed in it.”26 Since Heidegger identifies the futural ecstasis as most primordial in this text, this means that attention enjoys a primacy in the presencing of Dasein and associated entities. Moreover, McNeill argues that attention understood in the sense of tarrying and dwelling enables the authentic temporality that characterizes the moment of vision (Augenblick). Here the human being attends the presencing of beings in such a way as to accompany them in their presencing, to let them be, to let them come to presence. Such attending in the sense of tarrying is a slowing down, a stilling that is to be contrasted with the flitting about of curiosity.27 Thus McNeill argues that attention understood as “waiting-toward” is essential for authentic presencing itself, and we see how attending in this manner affects the temporality of manifesting entities.
McNeill’s interpretation can be elaborated as follows: The primacy of the futural ecstasis follows from the fact that attention is typically oriented to the future, which depends in turn on the understanding as offering being-possibilities to which we may respond – this is what it means to be on the way to being. Moreover, when we turn to attention thought in terms of tarrying and dwelling, we are now considering attention from the perspective of ontological effort. Here we see that the effort of attention is what holds the future and having-been in producing the constancy of the Augenblick, which is how Heidegger describes the ontological effort in Being and Time (e.g., GA 2: 447/SZ 338). That is, this effort is the same as the anticipatory resoluteness (vorlaufende Entschlossenheit) of Being and Time, which is a future-oriented holding that enables authentic temporality to emerge.
We can see how attention takes the lead in human presencing and engagement. Suppose, for instance, that I am comforting a friend who is in personal distress. I understand that I will be most supportive if I am simply able to listen; this is what he needs, the connection with a fully present human being to help lift the distress out into the open. What determines how attention is paid in this circumstance? What will stabilize my presence in order to enable the deepest, most profound listening to my friend? Powerful feelings are in place that hold the attention, given the affection I feel and how I understand myself as a friend and human being; but this is not enough, given our mortal finitude. For as he pours his heart out, attention can wander. Something comes up that reminds me of my failed marriage, and I am suddenly no longer present. I am back in my own distress, in a part of my life that has not healed. Then I notice (i.e., my attention is drawn to the fact) that my friend’s countenance has changed in light of my absence, which brings me back to him.
These passive movements arise from my factical bodily-attuned understanding, which would suggest that something else is called for if there is to be freedom in this most fundamental movement of myself. Such fleeting freedom that may come about is possible only when I hold on for the sake of presencing, for the sake of being. I hold on, staying with my embodied presencing regardless of any influences that may take attention away, resisting the impulses to be absorbed or immersed in whatever distracts from the task at hand and prevents me from being aware of the event of presencing itself; again, as Heidegger puts it in the above citation from Country Path Conversations GA 77), “gathered in attentiveness to that in which he belongs, yet without letting himself get carried away into and absorbed in it.” I see the human being in front of me who needs attention, and stay with him in his distress. The staying with for the sake of presence is what grounds me in the situation, and gives him the attention that he needs. I hold on and watch my whole being as it undergoes its movement, which may eventually slow down as a quiet stillness takes hold. Finitude means that I must eventually fall from this stance, but this is the sort of effort that is called for, to stay with the event of presencing itself rather than being absorbed in the entities that arise in the process. This may enable a moment of vision, that authentic temporality where one sees the situation more clearly with its associated finite possibilities instead of being taken by the fleeting distractions that may arise. I am gathered, collected, unified in the face of the movement of my factical being, and thus open to the possibility of freedom from the influences that typically predominate. Thus attention is how we participate in our own temporality, although the paradox at the heart of our being is that the “we” that participates comes about in the very staying with the event of presencing.
We now turn to the later Heidegger, where understanding (and hence the movement of attention) is thought in terms of correspondence to being. It should be noted that Achtsamkeit and Aufmerksamkeit are completely absent from Contributions to Philosophy, which was composed over the course of 1936–38. That is, at this point Heidegger continues to avoid the use of these terms except for variants which are deployed in peripheral usages. However, I will show that in the post-Contributions work The Event (GA 71, 1941–42) attention in the form of Achtsamkeit and Aufmerksamkeit is associated with the steadfastness (Inständigkeit) of Da-sein, and that Heidegger argues in Contributions that steadfastness is the being of Da-sein, which is called on to hold open the clearing and stay-with the truth of being that is thereby made manifest.28 I begin with a citation from Contributions which discusses the emergence of Da-sein and its task in response to the withdrawal of being:
In this withholding, the originary emptiness opens up and the originary clearing [Lichtung] occurs, but this clearing is such that, at the same time, hesitation is manifest in it…. The hesitant [zögernde] withholding is the intimation that beckons Da-sein, and this latter is precisely the constancy [Beständnis] of clearing concealment. (GA 65: 380/300)
Being is understood here as withholding, as essentially self-concealing, and Heidegger explains in a prior passage that such withholding leaves a lack of fulfillment and emptiness which is a “preeminent kind of opening up” but does not ground properly (eigentlich).29 Thus he indicates in the present passage that this originary clearing concealment is not sufficient in that it needs the constancy of Da-sein for the emergence of the event and associated appropriated entities in the clearing. From the point of view of Da-sein, this means that since we belong to being (as expressed in die Kehre, where we belong to being and being needs and uses us) we feel the lack of relation, and are thus disposed (attuned) to seek to unite, to move toward being in this manner. Heidegger expresses it as the manifestation of a hesitant withholding, which intimation beckons Da-sein (and human being) to the task of steadfast constancy in holding open the clearing of being. Thus the clearing arises from the self-concealing of being, which beckons Dasein to constancy and the appropriation of the clearing.
Heidegger conceives of Da-sein as the steadfast, grounding enduring of clearing concealment, where the sein is emphasized to highlight that this is the being of Da-sein. He discusses how humans are called to stand in the clearing of being, and refers to the leap that is required to participate in being in this manner, a leap out of the ordinary understanding, out of das Man and into the event. Only in this way do we move from the ordinary to Da-sein and the grounding of the clearing.
Heidegger goes on to discuss the being of Da-sein as a way to be which “is” the “there” (GA 65: 296/234), where the meaning of sein is not the metaphysical sense of constant presence: “‘To be’ [sein] does not simply mean ‘to turn up’; rather, it signifies steadfast [inständige] enduring [Ertragsamkeit] as grounding the ‘there’ [Da]….” (GA 65: 298/235). That is, the meaning of sein points to the very basis for the enduring appearance of entities within the clearing, which is by way of the effort that is called for, the force that is exerted by Da-sein. He takes “is” in an “active-transitive sense” (GA 65: 296/234) where the active sense corresponds to the need for steadfastness in holding open the clearing. Da-sein is called to enable the Da in its constancy, which is essential for appropriation. This in turn enables the manifestation of beings, which corresponds to the transitive sense of sein indicated above, as can be seen when Heidegger refers to the task as “carrying out (sheltering [Bergung]) of the steadfastly grounding truth in beings” (GA 65: 407/323), which means that Da-sein (as appropriated by being) enables the sheltering of truth in beings. Thus we see the two interrelated dimensions of attention appear in this definition of the being of the Da, holding open the clearing of being (active: Achtsamkeit, steadfastness) and a lifting out that enables particular beings to emerge, thereby preserving the truth of being in those beings (transitive: Aufmerksamkeit, and the Merkmale of emerging entities).
Moreover, we can see the ontological effort of Da-sein as intimately involved in the relation between being and beings that is detailed in Contributions. For the withdrawal of being affects beings themselves, including human beings who stand in the midst of beings but are immersed in them, thereby forgetting the being that has withdrawn. The very disclosure of that withdrawal, the resonance of the abandonment by being, calls on Da-sein to ground the Da, which would enable being to be brought back to full essential occurrence (Wesung). The key point is that beings must be placed back into being in order for being to be brought back to Ereignis (GA 65: 116/92). Da-sein is called on to be steadfast so as to transform the plight of the abandonment by being into the necessity of creating (e.g., works of art) and thus the restoration of beings. That is, there is a transformation in beings (and associated ethical and political realities) that comes about by way of Da-sein discharging its task of preservation. This is Heidegger’s version of world constitution, or re-constitution. Only then can beings “again be beings,” i.e., for the sake of the preservation of being (GA 65: 243/191).30
Da-sein’s task is to stay-with the intimation of the withdrawal of being that is made manifest in the clearing, no matter how difficult the plight, no matter how painful the lack that is felt. It is a waiting, a responsiveness by way of an acutely steadfast staying-with the beings in which we are immersed. The pain of that withdrawal must be withstood, for this is how being manifests itself, as withdrawn. The refusal of the self-concealing to reveal itself is the plight that we must bear, and it is essential to stay-with the plight as it presents itself so that a more robust participation in the manifestation can occur. Heidegger says that the plight must be preserved (GA 65: 240/189), that it “must be decisively against every attempt…to confuse and weaken the unrelenting urgency in the plight” (GA 65: 95/75). The plight must be sustained, it must not weaken. We must let it be, stay with it as it manifests itself to us.
Being disposes us by way of the call to effectuate the belonging to (or participation in) being by staying-with its manifestation as hesitant withholding. Responding to the call enables the transformation of the withholding to refusal, the gift that enables the way to the event, which in turn results in a transformed attunement – a corresponding that comes about by way of extraordinary attentiveness, by staying-with steadfastly. Our very being is attuned in this manner, as we see the world and are disposed to act according to the relation to being that always already holds, the circular relation that determines and yet calls for a stance of attention for the more profound showing of what is essentially concealed.
Thus we are assigned (zueignen) the appropriate, corresponding disposition given the withdrawal of being (and the abandonment of the divine). That is what calls Da-sein to its task, the being disposed out of the event of appropriation. Disposition thus comes out of the event that essentially relates humanity and being. It is the basis for the steadfastness of Da-sein, but there is always the historical contingency of the actual (free and indeterminate) response to the call. The question is whether we cor-respond, and “whether the call is still taken up, provided it does happen at all … therein is decided the future of humans” (GA 65: 408/324).
I now turn to The Event (GA 71) to examine the relation between attention and the steadfastness of Da-sein: “The plight and necessity of heedfulness [Aufmerksamkeit] constitute the steadfastness [Inständigkeit] of Da-sein; i.e., they constitute the experience of Da-sein itself out of the greeting of the beginning” (GA 71: 289/251). We have seen that Da-sein arises out of the call for constancy in the clearing of being, where being’s withdrawal is the plight that Da-sein must bear by staying-with the pain of that withdrawal. Another citation from The Event also relates attention to steadfastness: “Speechlessness, having been attained, most readily conceals the awaiting [Harren] of the word, i.e., the attentiveness [Achtsamkeit] to the event [Ereignis], and that is already the disposedness [Gestimmtheit] toward the courage of steadfastness [Inständigkeit]” (GA 71: 49/39).
This states again the relation between attending and awaiting, and we see that attention to Ereignis is already a disposition to steadfastness. That is, attention is a responsiveness to the being-event, or a disposition (or attunement, Stimmung) that corresponds to the truth of being that is made manifest in the event, and is thus our being-attuned for steadfastness. As discussed above, disposition for the sake of the required effort is essential for the being-efforts that are considered here, for in attunement our whole being is taken over by the associated directive for action.31
Now, Heidegger declares at the outset of the 1951–52 series of lectures What is Called Thinking? (GA 8) that we incline (in ontological movement) toward that which inclines to us (being), to what holds us in our essential nature, and which calls for our participation in the very same event of holding. We must hold on to what holds us (GA 8: 5/3). We belong to being, but something is called for from us. It can hold us only so long, for we have a part to play. We must hold on in our own way, which is by staying-with the things themselves, standing with them. This is the standing and holding (stehen und halten), the ontological effort that is called for. That is, being’s hold on us by way of attunement only goes so far, for we in turn must hold ourselves, we must make the leap.
The key question, however, is how such an initial attunement comes about and how a reciprocal holding relation occurs out of the freedom of Da-sein. That is, attention itself is required to attain the attunement for the initial effort, and we are faced with the paradox of ontological effort when it concerns one’s circular relation to being. What is called for is an effort of one’s whole being, but what can produce and sustain such an effort? The question is how such an effort is to come about within the context of the relation to being, whereby one is held and gathered into a whole in the first place. Of course, Heidegger is well aware of the paradox of ontological effort, of willing to transform oneself, and the innovation here is to move the site of willing from an inner sphere to the relation to being itself, where being attuned and responsive is the basis for further effort. Thus being attunes us to the required task, but the reciprocal holding comes about only if we are initially responsive to the call.
Being in its withdrawal makes itself manifest in the clearing of being in a particular manner, which Heidegger refers to as the truth of being. Our being-attuned corresponds to the exposure to the truth that is made manifest. This is what moves attention, what holds it. That is, we are held by the attunement that comes about by way of that showing of being, and our being, our standing, is always already in relation to being in this manner. But at the same time, we are called on by way of this being-attuned to hold in response, to withstand the pain of that withdrawal and stay with the truth of being that is made manifest in the beings themselves. As Heidegger puts it in What is Philosophy?
Although we do remain always and everywhere in correspondence to the being of beings, we nevertheless rarely pay attention [achten] to the appeal of being. The correspondence to the being of beings does, to be sure, always remain our abode. But only at times does it become an unfolding attitude specifically adopted by us. (GA 11: 20/WP 75)
The decision refers to whether the task is actually discharged, whether we hold in response, which affects the extent to which we participate in the history of being. If the task is not discharged, reciprocal relation means that being shows itself in a corresponding manner and attunement corresponds to that showing. If we do stay with it, however, being shows itself in a more profound manner and we correspond with an attunement that is appropriate to the more profound showing.
We now turn to the mature Heidegger, where we can see how the relation between attention and being that is put forward in Contributions and The Event appears in this later work. My focus is on What is Called Thinking?, which, as noted above, is the work in his corpus where attention is most prominently featured. What Heidegger calls for here is the intuiting (which I refer to as being-historical intuition) and thinking of being. The two are intimately related, in that thinking is seen as the conjunction of the gathering of being (λέγειν) and attention (νοεῖν).32
In Being and Time Heidegger contests the idea of Husserlian intuition as a mode of access to being, given that it “could never discover anything like that which is threatening” (GA 2: 183/SZ 138).33 This deficiency is remedied in being-historical intuition, where one’s attunement corresponds to the intuition, thereby enabling such discoveries.34 That is, one’s very attunement is determined in the correspondence that is achieved in being-historical intuition, which correspondence (Entsprechung) responds by way of attention to the essentials that address us (Wesenhaftem uns zuspricht; GA 8: 5–6/4, 17/14). Moreover, Heidegger notes that we participate thereby in the very manifestation of entities, bringing them to completion (vollbringen, vollziehen) by enabling them to appear in human life-worlds. Thus being-historical intuition enables an attunement that corresponds to and participates in the manifestation of intuited entities, which is very different than the Husserlian intuition that emanates out of a transcendental egoic structure.35
We saw in Contributions that staying-with being as it shows itself enables a more profound showing in the clearing, the Da, the truth of being. That is where being shows itself, but the depths can be more or less plunged. The deeper the fathoming, the deeper the essential occurrence of being, the deeper the showing of what is fundamentally self-concealed (GA 65: 335/266, 380/300). Such participation enables an approach to being that goes beyond the superficial meanings that typically capture attention.36 In What is Called Thinking? Heidegger discusses attention as enabling a more profound apprehension of what words say, rather than approaching matters by way of universals and abstractions. For instance, “we give specific attention [achten] to what the word says” (GA 8: 133/128), “When we hear directly [unmittelbar hören] what is spoken directly, we do not at first hear the words as terms, still less the terms as mere sound” (GA 8: 134/129), “we attend [beachten] to the word as word” (GA 8: 132/128), and “let us give close attention [achten] to what the words ‘thinking’, ‘thought’ have to tell” (GA 8: 138/133). Discussing how assertions speak, he says “we must even now pay attention [aufmerksam machen] to the question posed for us by the assertion when we consider the way in which it speaks, or how it speaks” (GA 8: 39/37).37 Thus by staying with the ways in which words and assertions speak, attention enables the unlocking of the treasures (Wort-schätze) that are preserved therein.
For Heidegger, the common meanings and prejudices that capture attention prevent us from going deeper toward being.38 The movement of attention depends on the understanding and its associated terms, so when all things are reduced to a common denominator (GA 8: 220/216) attention follows that path. Only the effort of acute and sustained attention enables us to break out of the circle and go deeper into the nature of the things themselves, to hear them speak: “Language likes to let our speech drift away into the more obvious meanings of words. It is as though man had to make an effort [Mühe] to live properly with language. It is as though such a dwelling is prone to succumb to the danger of commonness” (GA 8: 122/118–19, em). This means that attention (synonymous here with dwelling) is confined to the surface of things because it is captured by the superficial meanings which in turn reflect the shallowness of our dwelling.39 The only hope to be able to “reach what is” (GA 8: 70/66), to move toward the being of beings, lies in acute and sustained attention. It is listening to what is unspoken that enables us to go deeper than the common meanings.
Consider now the nature of the movement of attention in light of the revolution that Heidegger brings. Whereas Husserl notes that attention is free to move in any manner when he takes hold of it and directs its movement, for Heidegger this is an ontic analysis that misses the ontological dimension that he opens. In the leap to being-historical thinking, on the other hand, the movement of attention participates in the historicity of being itself. The movement that is called for is a holding open, a stilling that enables a primordial ordering to unfold. In the absence of such movement, when we are distracted and immersed in the things of this world, there is minimal opening as we merely float along on the surface. Although we have seen that Heidegger focuses on the role of fundamental attunement to enable the effort of holding the clearing open, given that attention is the indeterminate site of freedom what ultimately maintains one’s presence can only be one’s presence itself, a holding, enduring, an abyssal constancy that enables the leap to the decision regarding human destiny. This is the paradox that remains in spite of Heidegger’s placement of the problem in the larger context of the human relation to all that is.
In the next two sections I provide further textual support for the thesis that staying with the movement of attention is the way to being. I begin with a discussion of Heidegger’s treatment of thinking and its relation to being.
In What is Called Thinking? Heidegger argues that thinking is attention (νοεῖν) in conjunction with the gathering of being (λέγειν). We do not gather anything ourselves, but only hold open and thus let the presencing of entities occur in an appropriate (ereignet) manner. He begins by saying that in order to be capable of thinking, we first need to learn how to do it: “Man learns when he brings everything he does into correspondence [Entsprechung] with whatever essentials are addressed to him at any given moment. We learn to think by attending [achten] to what there is to think about” (GA 8: 5–6/4, tm). The effort of attention can thus be characterized as a staying-with that enables the gathering of “everything one does.” We must be ready, gathered in our whole being so we are oriented to the task at hand, which gathering is enabled by the staying-with of attention. Heidegger adds that in order for such learning to be possible, we must get underway (GA 8: 10/8), which calls for an attention that gathers us in correspondence and thus attunement to the gathering of being. Much of What is Called Thinking? is devoted to spelling out this relationship as the essence of thinking.
Heidegger’s focus in this text is on fragment 6 of Parmenides, which is typically translated: “One should both say (λέγειν) and think (νοεῖν) that being is” (GA 8: 171/168). His central claim is that the nature of thinking lies in the conjunction of λέγειν (laying and gathering) and νοεῖν (attention), which is in turn oriented to the being of beings.40 The being of beings calls for the effort; but whether the effort actually occurs, whether the call is heard, is indeterminate.This is why Heidegger calls for attention, for listening to what calls for thinking:
Hence our need and necessity first of all to hear [hören] the appeal of what is most thought-provoking [being]. But if we are to perceive what gives us thought, we must for our part get underway to learn thinking…. What we can do in our present case, or anyway can learn, is to listen closely [genau hinzuhören] (GA 8: 28/25, tm).
We must first learn to listen to the appeal of what calls for thinking in order to be able to get underway, which learning requires attention itself.
Heidegger first considers the nature of λέγειν, the gathering of being. For this purpose he directs the reader to the essay “Logos,” where he considers fragment B50 of Heraclitus, which is can be translated as “When you have listened not to me but to the Meaning [Sinn], it is wise within the same Meaning to say: One is All” (GA 7: 213/EGT 59). Heidegger discusses here the relation between laying and a gathering that is more than a mere amassing, but is rather a collecting, a bringing together (GA 7: 215/EGT 61).41 He is careful to distinguish between the gathering that first brings whatever lies before us (Vorliegen) and laying/λέγειν itself (Vorliegenlassen), which lets (lassen) what of itself lies before us (Vorliegen) into its protection. This enables the presencing (Anwesen) of that which lies before us into unconcealment (GA 7: 217/EGT 63). While letting is the essence of λέγειν, Heidegger further distinguishes between λέγειν in general and mortal λέγειν, which is called ὁμολογεῖν. The product of the primal gathering of being is collected and brought forward by human effort (GA 7: 225/EGT 70).42 Thus we see the foregrounding that is associated with attention appear here in the context of human participation in the gathering of being. There is a sense in which the presencing of beings is not complete unless there is proper hearing.
We belong to being by participating in the gathering and preserving of what comes into presence. In this way we are essentially related to the site of presencing, where entities come to the fore in their being. The extent to which we belong (gehören) depends on the extent to which we listen (hören) profoundly to the primal gathering, rather than being lost in the appearances themselves. We are called to listen and thus be gathered in a manner that is similar to the primal gathering itself, except that we do not assemble anything ourselves, for that is the action of being; rather we are to let lie and speak from whatever is presented to us by way of the primal gathering of Λόγος.43
Turning back to What is Called Thinking?, Heidegger now translates νοεῖν as In-die-Acht-nehmen, thereby completing the circuit from Husserl’s attention/intuition to his own being-historical intuition. He begins by thinking of νοεῖν in terms of vernehmen (perceive) and other variants with a root of nehmen, such as aufnehmen (receive), but says that it should not be thought of as passive acceptance (GA 8: 205/203).44 Rather he points to another lecture course he gave years earlier, almost certainly Introduction to Metaphysics, where he says that νοεῖν must include an active dimension, such as undertaking (vor-nehmen) something.45 But how is such an undertaking taken up? “We take heed of it [Wir nehmen es in Acht]. What is taken heed of, however, is left to be exactly as it is. This taking heed does not make over what it takes. Taking heed is: keeping at attention [in der Acht behalten]” (GA 8: 206/203, tm). Later in the text he continues:
In νοεῖν a perceiving presides, which is however not a mere acceptance in advance of something. Νοεῖν perceives beforehand [ver-nimmt im vorhinein] by taking heed. Attention [Acht] is the watching [Wacht] that takes in the truth [Wahr], though this itself requires a safekeeping that is consummated by λέγειν as gathering. (GA 8: 210/207, tm)
Heidegger concludes, “We translate νοεῖν with ‘taking heed of’ [in die Acht nehmen]” (GA 8: 211/207, tm). Thus he sees νοεῖν as attention, but an attention that looks ahead, that perceives beforehand. At the same time, it lets what lies before us, as it is presented to us, be present in our safekeeping by way of the associated λέγειν (gathering of being).
Heidegger says that the reason λέγειν is mentioned first in the fragment is because λέγειν provides νοεῖν with something to attend to (as lying before us), and that once something is heeded it is again gathered and safeguarded. He explains how each enters into the other, how they are reciprocally related: On the one hand, λέγειν, the letting lie before us, “unfolds of its own accord” into the νοεῖν (GA 8: 212/208). This means that νοεῖν participates in the letting of λέγειν, which is a letting lie before that is tacitly disposed to νοεῖν.46 It must be noted, however, that the letting is not limited to that which comes about due to mortal νοεῖν, for as in the essay “Logos” mortal λέγειν is understood to be ὁμολογεῖν relative to λέγειν in general. This is key for Heidegger’s assertion of the primacy of λέγειν relative to νοεῖν, as it provides a letting lie before us in advance of the taking heed.47 On the other hand, we can also see how attention enables a gathering itself:
When we take heed of [in die Acht nehmen] what lies before us, we attend [achten] to its lying. In attending we collect ourselves in relation to what lies before us, and gather what we have taken heed of. Where to? Where else but to itself, so that it may be made manifest, as it of itself lies here before us. (GA 8: 212/209, tm)
Thus attention enables a gathering of ourselves and what we have taken heed of; that is, it enables the manifestation of the self in relation to the entities with which we engage, as I argued above. Heidegger concludes that λέγειν and νοεῖν are in a conjunction that achieves “what later … is specifically called ἀλήθεια: to disclose and keep [halten] disclosed what is unconcealed” (GA 8: 213/209), and thus we see how attention enables participation in the presencing of entities. But this conjunction does not rest in itself, rather it is oriented toward what calls for thinking, which is the twofold of being and beings. “The twofold [eon ἔμμεναι] must first lie before us openly and be taken heed of [in die Acht genommen],” for this is what it calls for (GA 8: 227/223).48 This is the way to being, as we see in the concluding segment of What is Called Thinking?
After noting that Parmenides often speaks simply of νοεῖν instead of the conjunction of λέγειν and νοεῖν, Heidegger says that νοεῖν (In-die-Acht-nehmen) is thinking only to the extent that it is focused on eon, which is the twofold of being and beings. He says that the essential nature of νοεῖν consists in remaining focused on eon, the presencing of what is present, which in turn “keeps and guards νοεῖν within itself as what belongs to it” (GA 8: 245/241–42). Thus we see again a reciprocal relation between attention and being. But why does presencing/being need human attention? For this purpose we turn to the undelivered material that was later revised and published as “Moira.”
In this essay Heidegger inquires into the relation between thinking and being, and we see that attention itself comes into presence because it is called for by the being of beings. That is, it is on the way to being: “Thinking comes to presence [anwest] because of the still unspoken duality. The presencing [An-wesen] of thinking is on the way to the duality of Being and beings. The duality presences [anwest] in taking-heed-of [In-die-Acht-Nehmen].” (GA 7: 248/EGT 88–89). Thus it is in the very presencing of attention as called for by the being of beings that attention belongs to being, which is itself a presencing. What is of interest here is that the twofold itself comes to presence in the taking-heed-of [In-die-Acht-nehmen]. That is, instead of our being absorbed in the beings which come into presence, the very presencing (the being) of beings itself comes into view when the call of the twofold is heeded. This is something that the twofold demands (GA 7: 248/EGT 89), but Heidegger says we are far from experiencing the twofold itself in an essential way, far from thinking.
Heidegger now notes that, for the Greeks, the essence of saying lies in λέγειν, in which νοεῖν is grounded (as we have seen above). This means that νοεῖν is essentially something said, where saying means to bring forward into view (GA 7: 248–49/EGT 89–90). This bringing forward into view completes (vollbringt) the gathering that is called for by eon, which is why eon needs efforts of human attention that are directed in the appropriate manner (GA 7: 250/EGT 91). He concludes: “We have to learn to think the essence of language from the saying, and to think saying as letting-lie-before (λόγος) and as bringing-forward-into-view (phasis)” (GA 7: 250/EGT 91).
Thus the question that Heidegger poses is: do we heed, do we stay with (remain present to) the event of presencing itself, or are we immersed (aufgehen) in the objects that arise in the process, thereby being absent to their very manifestation? This determines the extent to which we participate in being, for by attending to its presencing we take part in its work. For instance, discussing fragment B16 of Heraclitus, he says “we must heed [achten] something else: φύσις and κρύπτεσθαι , rising (self-revealing) and concealing…” (GA 7: 277/EGT 113). We are called on to let entities stand forth more appropriately in the clearing as they emerge from the primal unfolding of being. For this purpose attention must be paid to the primal presencing itself and not be taken by the entities that arise; this is how we participate in the work of being. It requires an extraordinary effort of attention, because, as Heidegger puts it, “the presencing of the near is too close for our customary mode of representational thought” (GA 7: 287/EGT 121).49
Being calls for the movement of attention, and we must stay with that movement in order to approach it – for that is how it shows itself. That is, Heidegger calls on us to stay with (attend to) the way, with the movement of attention itself, because being itself comes to presence in this taking-heed-of (GA 7: 247/EGT 88). Instead of being immersed in the beings that come into presence, the very presencing itself comes into view when we stay with that movement, which is how the call of being is explicitly heeded. Thus staying with the movement of attention is the way to being.
It has been assumed that being is first and foremost the (self-concealing, gathering, etc.) presencing of beings. I now turn to a justification of this assumption.
Being is said in many ways, but the key to saying being appropriately lies in speaking from (von) the event, not about it (GA 65: 3/5). I have argued that attention (human presencing) is how we participate in being as presencing (Anwesen), which is the key to speaking from it. It may be argued, however, that an important source for the claims put forward herein is Heidegger’s interpretation of the Greeks. For instance, I have pointed to his translation of Parmenides in What is Called Thinking?, “For the same: taking-heed-of [In-die-Acht-nehmen] is also the presencing of what is present [Anwesen des Anwesenden]” (GA 8: 245/241, tm), as arguing for the essential relation between attention and being. The problem is that Heidegger is elsewhere critical of the notion of Anwesen, preferring Wesen in what may be presumed to represent his own thoughts on the subject, rather than what may merely be a sympathetic retrieval of the Greeks. For instance, the very same What is Called Thinking? is cited in the 2019 Gatherings Symposium as indicating the limitations of thinking being in terms of Anwesen: “We would fall prey to an error if we wanted to believe that the being of beings signified only, and for all times, the presencing of what presences” (GA 8: 239/235, tm).50
In order to better understand what Heidegger is getting at in this citation, we must consider the immediate context in which it appears, which is the eleventh lecture in Part II of What is Called Thinking? Heidegger says here that in translating the saying of Parmenides, we must stay within the matter itself in order to speak from it:
Such translation [übersetzen] is possible only if we transpose ourselves [übersetzen] into what speaks from these words.51 And this transposition can succeed only by a leap, the leap of a single vision [einzigen Blickes] which sees [erblickt] what the words eon ἔμμεναι say, heard [gehört] with Greek ears. (GA 8: 236/232)
Staying within the matter means that we dwell therein by way of hearing, seeing (blicken), or attending in general.52 Heidegger says that any proposition coming out of such an effort requires an ongoing return to the matter itself, which in turn enables more speaking from. What is decisive is the looking (Hinblicken), for the mere repetition of the statement cannot compel such a seeing: “At best, it can offer a token of what a seeing look [Blicken], renewed again and again, would presumably show more clearly [deutlicher]” (GA 8: 237/233).53
Heidegger now puts forward the “questioning statement [ein fragendes Sagen]” that the expression eon ἔμμεναι (the twofold of being and beings) names the presencing of what presences (Anwesen des Anwesenden). The statement cannot be taken as a settled matter that holds for all epochs, for we must always stay with the matter itself, listening and speaking from that staying-with. But at the same time, he goes on to argue vigorously for how the statement applies to us, in our historical situation. For while the notion of being seems quite vague, “the word ‘present [anwesen]’ speaks at once more clearly: something present [Anwesendes], that is, present to us [uns Gegenwärtiges]. Present and presence [Anwesen und Anwesenheit] means: what is with us [Gegenwart]. And that means: to endure in the encounter [Entgegenweilen]” (GA 8: 237/233–34). Heidegger is highlighting the fact that we are talking about something presenting itself to us, being made manifest to us. He says that if the being-here of what is present did not prevail (walten) beings could not appear as objects, and Kant would not have been able to write The Critique of Pure Reason. Likewise, the functioning of modern technology also depends on that being (GA 8: 238/234), and he concludes that “It may thus be of some importance whether we hear [hören] what the decisive rubric of Western-European thinking, eon, says – or whether we fail to hear it” (GA 8: 238/234–35), since it determines our relation to the nature of technology. He continues:
The first service one can render is to give thought to the being of beings, and that is first of all to pay it heed [in die Acht nimmt]. A remote preparation therefore is the attempt to give heed [achten], in questioning, to what the word eon says. The word says: the presencing of what is present [Anwesen des Anwesenden]. What it says speaks in our speech long before thinking gives attention [beachtet] and a name of its own to it. (GA 8: 238–39/235, tm).
The Greek word for being, eon, says presencing, which continues to speak in our speech long before we think and name it.54 Such thinking takes long preparation, which in this case consists of disciplined attention to the essential matter that addresses us.55 When we do so it is brought to words in a historical context that consists of what has already been made manifest and expressed in the language.
It is at this point in the lecture that we come to the statement cited in the Gatherings Symposium, which begins with Heidegger saying that Greek thinking arises in a context where being already reigns as presencing, which is why the Greeks are called to attend (in die Acht nehmen) the Anwesen des Anwesenden.56 Even under these circumstances, however, there is no guarantee that the unspoken will be brought into words “with all possible clarity [Klarheit] and in every possible respect,” which points to the above stated requirement that such clarity requires the continued renewal of a seeing look (Blicken). Moreover, there is no guarantee that the expression of the thought will elicit “That [Jenes]” which constitutes it, and therefore that being means, for all time, the presencing of what is present. This again hearkens back to the thought that mere repetition of any such statement cannot compel the associated seeing – a seeing that is required to call forth the matter itself, from which all such statements ultimately speak. There is no guarantee that in all possible epochs the matter will address us in this manner, and that we will be able to speak from it in this way. But the fact is that being as presencing matters very much to us, in the flesh as it were, as Heidegger continues to argue, “of course, the essential nature of presence [das Wesen des Anwesen] alone gives us enough to think about. And even this – what the presencing of that which is present [Anwesen des Anwesenden] might mean in its Greek sense has not been adequately traced in our inquiry” (GA 8: 239/235–36). In order to trace that meaning Heidegger notes that the Old High German wesan means enduring staying [bleibendes Weilen], and he asks why we translate the Greek εἶναι and ἐόν as being present (an-wesen), where “the German preposition ‘an’ means originally ‘auf’ and ‘in’ at the same time” (GA 8: 240). This leads to a major theme, thinking the hyphenated an-wesen in the context of the reciprocal relation between thinking and being, where the latter comes toward us and concerns us (angehen) in its essential unfolding, and thus presences (an-wesen) in relation to us.57 Heidegger discusses this earlier, in the third lecture in Part II, when he considers the relation between memory, thanking, and thinking:
“Memory” … designates the whole disposition [Gemüt] in the sense of a steadfast intimate concentration [steten innigen Versammlung] upon the things that essentially speak to us [wesenhaft zuspricht] in every thoughtful meditation. Originally, “memory” means as much as devotion [An-dacht]: a constant concentrated staying with something [das unablässige, gesammelte Bleiben bei] – not just with something that has passed, but in the same way with what is present and with what may come. What is past, present, and to come appears in the oneness of its own essencing toward [An-wesen]. (GA 8: 144/140, tm)
We see a broader notion of presencing here that includes past, present, and future, together with a gathering of oneself in relation to that which addresses us in this manner, a devotion (An-dacht), a constant concentrated abiding. We are thus approached by what makes itself manifest, and memory here means gathering oneself in a way that suggests the steadfast presencing of In-die-Acht nehmen that is so important in this text.
Heidegger further discusses that which touches and concerns us, in a graphic depiction of the relation between mortals and being:
The thanc, the heart’s core, is the gathering of all that concerns [angeht] us, all that we care for [anlangt], all that touches [liegt] us insofar as we are, as human beings. What touches us in the sense that it defines and determines our nature, what we care for, we might call abutment [Anliegen]. Residents [Anlieger] are those whose properties [Anwesen] lie [liegt] on a road or on a river. We use “abutment [Anliegen]” in the sense of “presence [An-wesen]”…. The thing that touches us [anliegt] … is gathered toward us beforehand [im voraus auf uns zu versammelt]. In a certain manner, though not exclusively, we ourselves are that gathering. (GA 8: 149–50/144, tm, em)
The presencing of being is a matter of the utmost concern to us, in that it determines our very nature. Thus we see the intimate relation between the gathering and reaching out of being and our own coming into presence, which resonates with the discussion above in Section VI of the laying (Liegen) of λέγειν and its relation to νοεῖν as attention. The focus is on the heart of the relation between mortals and being. There is nothing closer, for this is the near (Nähe; GA 79: 77/73), where we always already dwell. It is simply a matter of gathering ourselves in that dwelling place, and letting being show itself there.
To argue further that this represents the mature thought of Heidegger, I now discuss the 1962 “Time and Being” (GA 14).58 The essay begins with a discussion of the necessity of listening, and provides a “hint [Wink]” on how to do so: “The point is not to listen to a series of propositions, but rather to follow the movement of showing [zeigen]” (GA 14: 5–6/2). Thus staying with the movement of what shows itself is essential, rather than being restricted to propositions that ultimately arise out of what is made manifest in this manner.
In this text Heidegger highlights the indeterminacy of the notion of being, which is consistent with Richard Capobianco’s position that the many names for being refer to different aspects or dimensions that show themselves.59 And Heidegger provides textual support here:
We can also note historically the abundance of transformations of presencing [Anwesen] by pointing out that presencing shows itself as the ἕν, the unifying unique One, as the λόγος, the gathering that preserves the All, as ἰδέα, οὐσία, ἐνέργεια, substantia, actualitas, perceptio, monad, as objectivity, as the being posited of self-positing in the sense of the will of reason, of love, of the spirit, of power, as the will to will in the eternal recurrence of the same. (GA 14: 117)
Notice that Heidegger discusses how presencing shows itself in an abundance of transformations, which means that it is common to all of them. And as noted above in the discussion of What is Called Thinking?, he says here that we cannot help but think being in terms of Anwesen:
An attempt to think upon the abundance of being’s transformations secures its first foothold – which also shows the way – when we think being in the sense of presencing [Anwesen]. (I mean think, not just parrot the words and act as if the interpretation of Being as presencing were a matter of course.) (GA 14: 10/6)
Thus presencing is the first foothold on the way to being, which must be returned to again and again. For being shows itself when it approaches by way of presencing, in which we come into presence ourselves, as Heidegger argues further:
What is present concerns us [geht uns an], the present means: what, lasting, comes toward us [entgegenweilen], as human beings…. man, who is concerned with and approached by presence [der von Anwesenheit Angegangene], who, through being thus approached, is himself present [Anwesende] in his own way for all present and absent beings [zu allem An-und Abwesenden]. (GA 14: 16/12, tm).60
Thus we see again that human beings are made manifest in their own way through being approached in this manner.61
Heidegger goes on to offer an enhanced notion of presencing that plays a large role in the relation between thinking and being, time and being, and being and appropriation. Presencing is considered to be a reaching (erreichend), an extending (reichend) that approaches humanity, and it is further assumed that being is presencing, time is the manifold presencing of past, present, and future (all of which concern and approach human beings), and that appropriation (Ereignis) determines both being and time in their belonging together (GA 14: 24/19). However, he cannot conclude that being is a species of appropriation or vice versa, because these would be metaphysical statements that quickly run into difficulties (GA 14: 26–27/21–22). The task is rather to stay with our own movement in correspondence with the sendings of being. Only then can we speak from what appeals to us as we follow this path, just as Heidegger claims to do, and only then can we verify the truth of which he speaks. We must stay within these thought paths in order to speak from them, for they are otherwise ungrounded, meaningless statements. This is why the Capobianco position seems quite reasonable, that various dimensions of the matter present themselves to be thought, dimensions that are made manifest when we are able to take heed of them.62
Heidegger speaks of other features of appropriation, such as withdrawal and, most importantly for our purposes, the relation between human being and appropriation/being. Thus the question of being does not end with appropriation, but rather circles back to the relation between the human being and being, where being shows itself to the human being who comes into presence by way of extraordinary attentiveness. We always come back to being as presencing, the first foothold, how we come into being ourselves, thereby enabling the speaking from being itself. All we have is what speaks when we are addressed by the An-wesen of being. We must listen deeply and speak from what emerges in that listening.
We always say too little of “being itself’ when, in saying “being,” we omit its essential presencing [An-wesen] in the direction of the human essence and thereby fail to see that this essence itself is part of “being”…. Presencing (“being”) is, as presencing, on each and every occasion a presencing directed toward the human essence, insofar as presencing is a call [Geheiß] that on each occasion calls upon the human essence. The human essence as such is a hearing [hörend], because the essence of human beings belongs [gehört] to the calling of this call, to the approach of presencing [ins An-wesen]. (GA 9: 407–8/308)
Attention is human presencing, the essencing of the human being, which is always already oriented to the presencing of being. But extraordinary attentiveness is called for in the present circumstances, for “the essence of technology cannot be led to a transformation (Wandel) of its destiny without the assistance of the human essence” (GA 79: 69/65), which in turn requires that the human essence become attentive (achtsam) to the essence of technology (GA 79: 70/66). The implication is that for all the focus on Heidegger’s failings as a human being, his philosophy provides one of the more uplifting visions of what it is to be human, in that the very attention that quietly operates at our core is the way to participate in the manifestation and transformation of being itself. Perhaps this is why Heidegger concludes “Moira” as follows:
The dialogue with Parmenides never comes to an end … because what is said there continually deserves more thought. This unending dialogue is no failing. It is a sign of the boundlessness which, in and for remembrance, nourishes the possibility of a transformation [Verwandlung] of destiny. (GA 7: 260–61/100–1)
1 See also: “The beginning of this lecture issued the directive: attend
[achten] to the path”
(GA 79: 126/118).
“At first we followed the signpost without attending [beachten] more closely to what was characteristic of the indicated path” (GA 79: 133/125).
“What can logic of any sort do if we never begin to pay heed [achten] to the λόγος and follow its initial unfolding?” (GA 7: 214/EGT 60). “Attention [Achtsamkeit] does not seek opportunities to [follow] evasive paths thanks to which a barely attempted thinking at once creeps away to another poetry by another poet….” (GA 75: 41).
2 Heidegger discusses the paradoxical nature of being in Basic Concepts (GA 51).
3 Attention enables distancing from immersion in the immediate and the production of phenomenological descriptions of experience. It is little wonder that it is quite prominent in discussions of the implementation of phenomenological method, which can be seen, for instance, in Anthony Steinbock’s discussion of “phenomenological reflective attentiveness”: “Affection and attention: On the phenomenology of becoming aware,” Continental Philosophy Review 37 (2004): 21–43. As Pierre Vermersch puts it, “attention is the primary instrument of the phenomenological exploration of lived experience”: “Attention between phenomenology and experimental psychology,” Continental Philosophy Review 37 (2004): 78n7. Natalie Depraz also says “Attentional activity is another name, far more concrete, of the real praxis of intentionality, the reduction, and genetic constitution.”: “Where is the phenomenology of attention that Husserl intended to perform? A transcendental pragmatic-oriented description of attention,” Continental Philosophy Review 37 (2004): 7.
4 This also sets the stage for the later Heidegger, where attention (Achtsamkeit) is sometimes conceived in terms of waiting (harren, warten).
5 William James calls this “active or voluntary attention,” and says: “We get it whenever we resist the attractions of more potent stimuli and keep our mind occupied with some object that is naturally unimpressive…. or resolutely hold fast to a thought so discordant with our impulses that, if left unaided, would quickly yield place to images of an exciting and impassioned kind”: William James, The Principles of Psychology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), 397. Recognizing the difficulty of such an effort, James says it cannot be sustained for more than a few seconds at a time, after which there is an inevitable turn to activities with more intrinsic interest. See also Sebastian Watzl, “Consciousness and No Self?” Ratio 31 (2018): 363–75.
6 Listening (hören) appears in linguistic contexts as early as the 1921 Phenomenology of Religious Life (GA 60) and the 1924 Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy (GA 18). See especially GA 2 (§34).
7 Concentration can be a deficient form of attention, to the extent that it is not a simple staying-with what is made manifest, not a holding open. In terms of the hermeneutical circle discussed below, it would rather be the result of a rigid understanding that is less susceptible to revision based on the deliverances of attention. Heidegger’s notion of Achtsamkeit, on the other hand, is a constant waiting (stete Warten) on a pure coming (GA 77: 225/146), a pure opening on what is to come.
8 I address the relation between being and presencing in the final section of the paper.
9 As Heidegger puts it in Introduction to Metaphysics, “Being means: standing [stehen] in the light, appearing, stepping into unconcealment” (GA 40: 147/154). He describes it as “what emerges from itself…the unfolding that opens itself up, the coming-into-appearance in such unfolding, and holding [Halten] itself and persisting [Verbleiben] in appearance – in short, the emerging-abiding sway” (GA 40: 16/15–16).
10 In the 1939 On the Essence of Language (GA 85) Heidegger begins to make attention (here only in the form of Aufmerksamkeit) thematic in a sustained fashion. In the course of a detailed analysis of the Herder text, Heidegger undertakes an extensive examination of Aufmerksamkeit and its relation to hearing, hearkening, and the distinguishing marks of language. In §12 Heidegger points to the “signs for this attention that holds firmly [Male für dieses fest-haltende Merken].” We see here the key relation between mark (Merk) and attention (merken, auf-merken) and that between halten and attention. Continuing in §13 entitled “Reflection and attention (differentiating), distinct, interpretable representing,” he sketches out more features of attention, relating noticing (merken) to perception (vernehmen), “attending to [aufmerken]” to “turning oneself toward” and “staying with [dabeibleiben],” memory (retaining, sich merken) with “to keep mark, to store, to register, to note down [Merkmal behalten, aufbewahren, verzeichnen, vermerken],” and noticing as letting presence, to make-present, retainable through “signs” (merken: als An-wesen lassen, Gegenwärtigen, durch »Male« Behaltbares). In these sketches we see the intimate relation between attention, language, memory, and presencing.
11 One exception is Being and Time (GA 2: 469/SZ 354), where, in apparent conversation with Husserl, Heidegger inquires into the ontological meaning of the fact that attention (Aufmerksamkeit) can be turned. Another instance is GA 18 (14/12), where Heidegger says “You have a genuine task to carry out: not of philosophizing but rather of becoming attentive (aufmerksam zu werden), from where you are situated….”
12 Edmund Husserl, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenological Philosophy and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology , trans. D. Dahlstrom (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2014).
13 For Husserl, intuition is bodily, “in person” actuality, which is given in an originary way. Intuitions can be particulars or essences (categorial intuition), and attention can shift from one to the other at any time.
14 Husserl, 182.
15 Husserl, 48. The exercise of this capacity is essential for the principle of all principles; for the Ego seizes upon an “originary presentive intuition” only when attention is directed accordingly. See Husserl, 43.
16 E.g., Edmund Husserl, Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis: Lectures on Transcendental Logic, trans. A. Steinbock (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001). See also Steinbock, “Affection and Attention,” 21–43.
17 Husserl, Analyses, 49.
18 Heidegger introduces the notion of the clearing in §28 of Being and Time by transforming the notion of lumen naturale, which is intimately related to attention in Descartes: “Intuition is the indubitable conception of a clear and attentive mind which proceeds solely from the light of reason” (CSMI, 14); “Rather, each of us, according to the light of his own mind, must attentively intuit only those things which are distinguished from all others” (CSMI, 49), “free from errors which may obscure our natural light and make us less capable of heeding reason” (CSMI, 116), and “If one concentrates carefully, all this is quite evident by the natural light” (CSMII, 32). R. Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, eds. J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, and D. Murdoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), Vols. i and ii.
19 Husserl, Analyses, 65.
20 If attention is “elsewhere,” we are otherwise engaged. This theme appears in Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics (GA 29/30: 95/63): “How often it happens, in a conversation among a group of people, that we are ‘not there’, how often we find that we were absent, albeit without having fallen asleep…. In such being absent we are precisely concerned with ourselves, or with something else. Yet this not-being-there is a being-away.” It also appears in Introduction to Metaphysics (GA 40: 138/143–44), where listening (in Heraclitus) is synonymous with attention: “They do hear words and discourse, yet they are closed off to what they should listen [hören] to. The proverb bears witness to what they are: those who are absently present [Anwesende abwesend]. They are in the midst of things, and yet they are away.”
21 Theodore Kisiel, “From Intuition to Understanding,” Heidegger’s Way of Thought: Critical and Interpretive Signposts (London: Continuum, 2002), 175.
22 Kisiel, “From Intuition to Understanding,” 175.
23 Kisiel, “From Intuition to Understanding,” 181.
24 The later Heidegger emphasizes thrownness rather than understanding, and thus highlights attunement and its associated world disclosure.
25 William McNeill, The Glance of the Eye: Heidegger Aristotle, and the Ends of Theory (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999), 121. As noted above, Aufmerksamkeit does appear once in Being and Time in a thematic manner.
26 See also “Yet if you consider that in Λόγος, as the gathering toward the originally all-unifying One, something like attentiveness [Achtsamkeit] prevails, and if you begin to ask yourself whether attentiveness is not in fact the same as the constant waiting [Warten] on that which we named the pure coming, then perhaps one day you will sense that … the essence of the human as the being that waits is experienced” (GA 77: 225/146).
27 McNeill, The Glance of the Eye, 190.
28 In this context Da-sein corresponds to Dasein’s ownmost potentiality- for-being as put forward in Being and Time. In Contributions Heidegger also notes the relation between human being and Dasein, for instance when he says that “Being needs humans in order to occur essentially, and humans belong to being so that they might fulfill their ultimate destiny as Da-sein” (GA 65: 251/198).
29 Heidegger notes the relation between Eigentlichkeit and Inständigkeit in a marginal note to §8 of Being and Time: “authentic: bringing about standing-within the there.”
30 I use the term “being” throughout the paper instead of “Being” or “beyng.”
31 We also have “To become heedful [Aufmerksam] of the claim of
the dictum of the beginning…. The disposition [Stimmung] of
the claim disposes [stimmt] the human being to the steadfastness
[Inständigkeit] of the preservation of the clearing of being”
(GA 71: 49/38).
In all of these citations Aufmerksamkeit and Achtsamkeit
are both associated with disposedness toward steadfastness.
They are treated synonymously in this text, as Heidegger begins
to work the notions into his being-historical thought (as noted
above, Achtsamkeit becomes more prominent in later work). We
also have “The appropriating event ‘is,’ ‘the fact that’ humans
‘are,’ which now means steadfast [inständig] in the clearing and
its stewardship [Wächterschaft]”
(GA 71: 197/168),
where wachen is
an important cognate of Achtsamkeit which refers to a steadfast
Another citation from the earlier On the Essence of Language (GA 85, 1939) also relates attention to steadfastness when Heidegger points to “the steadfastness [Inständigkeit] that hearkens and awaits in the clearing” (§7, tm), where hearkening is a cognate of Achtsamkeit. GA 85 is limited to the discussion of Aufmerksamkeit. Achtsamkeit begins to make its thematic appearance in the 1940 Zum Wesen der Sprache und Zur Frage nach der Kunst (GA 74) in remarks such as “Become attentive [achtsam] to Being (Ereignis) from care [Behutsamkeit] for the truth of Being” (§68).
32 As Heidegger puts it in Being and Time (GA 2: 129/SZ 96): “‘Thinking’ is just a more fully achieved form of νοεῖν [intuition] and is founded upon it.” Although the context here is a critique of metaphysics and the associated notion of intuition, the same sort of relation between thinking and intuition holds in his later work.
33 In Being and Time Heidegger is careful to distinguish between abstract, detached consciousness of the present-at-hand and engaged praxis with the ready-to-hand. He makes use of terms such as stare [starren, begaffen] and intuit [anschauen] to make similar statements throughout the text, for instance when referring to “a fixed staring [starres Begaffen] at something that is purely present-at-hand” (GA 2: 82/61).
34 Correspondence and attunement to being are intimately related for Heidegger. For instance, “All responding is attuned to this restraint that reserves itself [sich haltende Zurückhalten]…. But the restraint must take heed [achten] not just to hear the peal of stillness afterward, but to hear it even beforehand, and thus as it were to anticipate its command….” (GA 12: 29/PLT 207, tm).
35 The distinction is particularly evident in The Bremen Lectures entitled “Insight [Einblick] Into That Which Is,” where, as noted above, Blick is a prominent attention term in Ideas I: “At first and almost to the very end it appeared as though ‘insight into that which is’ signified only a glance [Blick] that we humans cast forth from ourselves to that which is…. But now everything has turned. Insight [Einblick] does not name our inspection [Einsicht] of the being, insight as flashing entry [Einblitz] is the appropriative event of the constellation of the turn in the essence of beyng itself in the epoch of positionality [Ge-Stell]…. When insight takes place then the humans are struck to their essence by the lightning flash [Blitz] of beyng. The humans are what is caught sight of in the insight [die im Einblick Erblickten]” (GA 79: 75–76/70–71).
36 “Essential knowing, heedfulness [Achtsamkeit], is a retreat in the face of being. In such retreating we see and we perceive essentially more…. Thoughtful heedfulness … is attention [Aufmerken] to a claim that does not arise from the separate facts and events of reality and does not concern man in the superficiality of his everyday occupations. Only when this claim of being … addresses us in the word of Parmenides will the knowledge of his ‘propositions’ have any justification” (GA 54: 5/4).
37 In “Logos” we see “By placing its enigmatic key word at the beginning as predicate, the saying calls on us to dwell on the word attentively [aufmerksam], returning to it again and again…. Therefore we are compelled to focus our gaze relentlessly upon the preferred position of to auto, the Same….” (GA 7: 251–52/EGT 92). Heidegger also discusses how a mother might deal with a wayward son. “It will be easier the more directly [unmittelbarer] she can get him to listen – not just condescend to listen, but listen in such a way that he can no longer stop wanting to do it. And why? Because his ears have been opened and he now can hear what is in accord with his nature” (GA 8: 52/48). The relation between attention and direct perception is also evident in the following thinking on the Parmenidean fragments: “But we prefer to give our attention [achten] directly [unmittelbar] to what is recounted here, and in and through it raise the question what it is that is addressed to him, rather than prove from the outside [von außen], and at length, and fundamentally in vain, that what speaks here is something like a calling” (GA 8: 179/175).
38 “What we encounter at first is never what is near, but always only what is common. It possesses the unearthly power to break us of the habit of abiding in what is essential, often so definitively that we never come to abide [Wohnen] anywhere” (GA 8: 134/129).
39 This theme appears several other times in the text. For instance, Heidegger says that ideas as commonly formed provide only “the appearances of surfaces and foreground facets” (GA 8: 87/82), that only a readiness to listen “allows us to surmount the boundaries in which all customary views are confined, and to reach a more open territory” (GA 8: 15/13), and that “the tendencies of the age always remain only in the foreground of what is” (GA 8: 59/55). Even the thought of Nietzsche himself “speaks only in the foreground, so long as we understand it exclusively in terms of the language of traditional thinking, instead of listening for what remains unspoken in it” (GA 8: 59/55). But we ordinarily do not wish to waste time tarrying (aufhalten) over the sense of individual words (GA 8: 132/127), and indeed it is very difficult for us to pay heed (achten) to what the words say (GA 8: 135/130).
40 See Daniel Dahlstrom, “Heidegger’s Initial Interpretation of Parmenides: An Excursus in the 1922 Lectures on Aristotelian Texts,” Review of Metaphysics 70 (2017): 518. Dahlstrom sees the related notion of Aufenthalt, rendered here as staying-with or taking hold (which also involves being taking hold of us), as quite prominent in Heidegger’s initial interpretation of Parmenides.
41 “Gathering is never just driving together and piling up. It maintains [behält] in a belonging-together that which contends and strives in confrontation. It does not allow it to decay into mere dispersion and what is simply cast down” (GA 40: 142/149).
43 “As such, the proper hearing of mortals is in a certain way the Same as the Λόγος. At the same time, however, precisely as ὁμολογεῖν [mortal gathering] it is not the Same at all …. [It] only lays or lets lie whatever is already … gathered together and lying before us; this lying never springs from the ὁμολογεῖν but rather rests in the Laying that gathers, i.e. in the Λόγος” (GA 7: 222/EGT 67).
44 Note also the early use of Kenntnisnehmen mentioned above in Section IV.
45 Νοεῖν is translated as Vernehmen in Introduction to Metaphysics, but Heidegger makes similar statements regarding its importance when discussing the same fragments, such as “Apprehending [Vernehmen] happens for the sake of being…. Apprehending … is precisely the basis for determining the essence of being-human” (GA 40 147–48/154–55). “Apprehending is a happening in which humanity itself happens, and in which humanity itself thus first enters history as a being, first appears, that is (in the literal sense) itself comes to being” (GA 40: 149/157). Intuition is related to Vernehmen in the following critique of intuition in Being and Time: “Being is that which shows itself in pure intuiting perception [reinen anschauenden Vernehmen], and only by such seeing does being get discovered. Primordial and genuine truth lies in pure intuition [Anschauung]. This thesis has remained the foundation of western philosophy ever since” (GA 2: 227/171, tm).
46 “For instance, when we let the sea lie before us as it lies, we, in λέγειν, are already engaged in holding in attention [in der Acht zu halten] what lies before us. We have already taken heed of [in die Acht genommen] what lies before us. Λέγειν is tacitly disposed to νοεῖν” (GA 8: 212/209, tm).
47 Thus providing support for Richard Capobianco’s thesis of the primacy of being in Heidegger’s Way of Being (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014).
48 “The attempt to hear what is expressed in the Greek words eon ἔμμεναι, is nothing less than the attempt to attend [achten] to That which calls on us to think. To the extent to which we make the effort to take heed of it [Achtsamkeit], we are asking … What is That which calls on us to think, by so disposing the conjunction of λέγειν and νοεῖν that it relates to It?” (GA 8: 234/231, tm)
49 Heidegger often describes being as that which is so near that we miss it, even though it is our essential dwelling place. As he puts it in “Letter on Humanism”: “He at first fails to recognize the nearest and attaches himself to the next nearest. He even thinks that this is the nearest. But nearer than the nearest, than beings, and at the same time for ordinary thinking farther than the farthest is nearness itself: the truth of being” (GA 9: 332/253).
50 Cited in Richard Polt, “Introduction,” in “Gatherings Symposium: Beyond Presence?” Gatherings 9 (2019), 147. Polt also cites Contributions to Philosophy (146): “presencing [Anwesung] … constitutes … one essencing [Wesung] of beyng” (GA 65: 31/26, tm). Heidegger seeks to go beyond the Greeks by inquiring into the ultimate source of the essencing of being, of which as noted in this citation, Anwesung is only one essencing. But this says that Anwesung does indeed come out of the essencing of being, and Heidegger is far from rejecting it, as we see in what follows. It is also important to note that in Contributions there is an ambiguity in das Anwesen des Seienden, in that it may represent being thought in terms of beings, or it may have a more profound meaning: “Yet the hesitant self-withholding is precisely the clearing for concealment and is thus the presencing [Anwesung] of truth. Certainly, ‘presencing,’ but not in the way something objectively present has come to presence; instead, the essential occurrence [Wesung] of what first founds the presence and absence [An- und Abwesenheit] of beings and not only this” (GA 65: 381/301). This understanding of Anwesen is important in later work, to which I turn below.
51 See also “What is still needed? That we ourselves, instead of merely transposing [herüberzubringen] the Greek terms into terms of our language, pass over [hinübergehen] into the Greek sphere….” (GA 8: 230/226).
52 As noted in Section II above, the attention term blicken is quite prominent in Ideas I, which Husserl explicitly identifies with Aufmerksamkeit in §92.
53 See also “Time and Being,” where Heidegger says parenthetically “I mean think, not just parrot the words and act as if the interpretation of being as presencing were a matter of course” (GA 14: 10/6).
54 See also: “But what gives us the right to characterize being as presencing? This question comes too late. For this character of being has long since been decided without our contribution, let alone our merit. Thus we are bound to the characterization of being as presencing. It derives its binding force from the beginning of the unconcealment of being as something that can be said, that is, can be thought. Ever since the beginning of Western thinking with the Greeks, all saying of ‘being’ and ‘is’ is held in remembrance of the determination of being as presencing which is binding for thinking” (GA 14: 10–11/6–7).
55 See also: “The attention [Achten] we have given to what those words tell us has in advance prepared us to receive from their speaking a directive which carries us closer to the substance expressed in those words” (GA 8: 145/142).
56 See also “When Plato represents being as idea and as the κοινωνία of the Ideas, when Aristotle represents it as ἐνέργεια, Kant as position, Hegel as the absolute concept, Nietzsche as the will to power, these are not doctrines advanced by chance, but rather words of being as answers to a claim which speaks in the sending concealing itself, in the ‘there is, it gives, being’” (GA 14: 13/9).
57 See also: “Withdrawal is an event [Ereignis]. In fact, what withdraws may even concern [angehen] and claim man more essentially than anything present [Anwesende] that strikes and touches him…. The event [Ereignis] of withdrawal could be what is most present [Gegenwärtigste] in all our present, and so infinitely exceed the actuality of everything actual” (GA 8: 10–11/9).
58 In addition to “Time and Being,” I provide similar citations from “The Thing” and “The Principle of Identity” (Bremen and Freiburg Lectures, GA 79). It is interesting that all of these essays contain methodological statements regarding the role of attention. “Time and Being” and “The Principle of Identity” begin with such statements, and “The Thing” concludes with two important statements regarding Wachsamkeit, one of which is associated with attention (achten, GA 7 version Epilogue, see also the citation from GA 8 (210/207) in Section VI above). This highlights the essential role that attention plays in thinking being, in that we must speak from the essential belongingness that comes to the fore by way of such an ontological effort.
59 “Being itself: the unifying one and only, temporal-spatial emerging or appropriating of beings into presence – but also the giving, granting, freeing, letting of beings – as long as we understand by ‘letting’ this ‘enabling’ (Ermöglichung) and ‘empowering’ (Ermächtigung) movement into (and out of) presence.”: Capobianco, Heidegger’s Way of Being, 25. See also Capobianco, Engaging Heidegger (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 4.
60 See “The Principle of Identity”: “And being? Let us think being according to its inceptual sense as presencing [An-wesen]. Being does not presence for the human incidentally or as an exception. Rather, being essences and endures only in that it concernfully approaches [an-geht] the human. For it is the human, open for being, who first lets this arrive [ankommen] as presencing” (GA 79: 121/114). We also see in “The Thing” that the thing concernfully approaches (angeht) the human being (GA 79: 13/12).
61 This also recalls the notion that we do not gather anything ourselves, but are rather more or less open for the letting of being. See also: “Man: standing within the approach of presence, but in such a way that he receives as a gift the presencing that It gives by perceiving what appears in letting presence. If man were not the constant receiver of the gift given by the ‘It gives presence,’ if that which is extended in the gift did not reach man, then not only would being remain excluded from the scope of it: It gives being. Man would not be man” (GA 14: 16/12).
62 More insight is provided in the accompanying “Summary of a Seminar,” where in comparing the statement “For the It which gives here is Being itself” (from “Letter on Humanism,” GA 9: 334/254–55) with “Being vanishes in appropriation” (cited above, GA 14: 27/22), Heidegger says that both statements “name the same matter with differing emphasis” (GA 14: 52/43). The various names for being are not ranked in order of originality, but are rather “stages on a way back” (GA 14: 55/45). Heidegger also refers to “the entry [Einkehr] of thinking into Appropriation” (GA 14: 50/41), and “preparing the entry into Appropriation” (GA 14: 51/42), both of which mean that we must inhabit and speak from appropriation to avoid falling into ungrounded metaphysical statements. See also “The awakening to appropriation must be experienced, it cannot be proven” (GA 14: 63/53).
Original version in Gatherings 10 (2020).