Friday, 19 February 2016

Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings

Sensitive and Otherwordly, A Review of Basic Writings, an anthology of German philosopher Martin Heidegger

This is a strong collection, benefiting from an excellent and up to date critical apparatus and providing a decent, if not exhaustive, overview of the thinking of German philosopher Martin Heidegger through a well judged collection of essays by that author. These include the introduction to Being and Time, The Letter on Humanism, The Question Concerning Technology, The Way to Language and more. 

It is indeed the collection's main strength to show the development, spanning several decades, of Heidegger's thought albeit with a larger emphasis on later pieces, as Heidegger's shorter writings tend to belong to the post World War Two period. 

I read, or should I say re-read, this collection after having taken a year long break from my forays into the captivating world of Heideggeriana, looking into other ways of interpreting history, the world, morality and so forth. Over this period I have become more sensitive to the role of conspiracy in human affairs, including the occult, Natural Law, the monetary system and methods of mind control and mass manipulation. 

With this in mind, Heidegger's writings as contained in this book, for all their poetic beauty, sensitivity to the nuances of language, awareness of the predicaments of our time and attempts at providing new foundations for thinking the now, lack gravely in worldly knowledge and street wisdom when it comes to assessing actual as opposed to fictitious motors in human history. 

While I am not prepared to discount the role of the metaphysical tradition in the shaping of today's world, including modern technology and this very web page, that is far from being the whole story, if one samples one's reading widely, and that is not something Heidegger will tell you.

Thus I would characterise this collection and Heidegger's writings generally as otherwordly, not quite of this world, but as nonetheless shedding light on basic phenomena such as the difference between beings and Being (the ontological difference), the origins of modern science, what technology actually entails on a planetary scale for the human species, the meaning of freedom, the relationship between thought and language, etc.

Thus with a bit of recule, as the French say, I would heartily recommend this compendium of Heidegger's but with the proviso that however seductive and totalising a narrative Heidegger provides, it is far from being the whole story and any genuine quest for truth will require study in many more areas - including political history, the occult, the works of independent researchers worldwide - than that provided by a single philosopher, however genial. 

For as Heidegger himself says in his essay on technology, the destining of revealing that sends into enframing also contains within it the seeds for a more primal and dignified existence which is to observe all essential unfolding on this planet. And that includes the step of reading authors besides Heidegger who look(ed) deeply into the fabric of the world but with different, less philosophical, lenses on. 

All that being said, this is philosophy of the first rank and deserves nothing less than five stars.