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Poetry Language Thought [Paperback]

Martin Heidegger
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Book Description

Oct. 25 2001 Perennial Classics
Essential reading for students and anyone interested in the great philosophers, this book opened up appreciation of Martin Heidegger beyond the confines of philosophy to the reaches of poetry. In Heidegger's thinking, poetry is not a mere amusement or form of culture but a force that opens up the realm of truth and brings man to the measure of his being and his world.


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About the Author

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is one of the twentieth century's most important, controversial, and influential philosophers. He is the author of the monumental Being and Time as well as other works translated and published in English as Basic Writings, Poetry, Language, Thought, On Time and Being, and On the Way to Language.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Probably Heidegger's most profound work Feb. 21 2003
Format:Paperback
"To many, the mystic borders on psychotic... he
cannot get solace from others because they no
longer speak a language that has any meaning for him." (Marsha Sinetar)
"When I undertake to tell the best, I find I cannot.
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots, my breath
will not be obedient to its organs, I become a dumb man." (Walt Whitman).
Heidegger has been accused of being many of the above things, including mystic, psychotic, and poet, and sometimes even a philosopher. Some of us like to think of him as all of the above. But there is a pervasive trend in particularly modern philosophy that would like to bracket out such things proper subjects for philosophy. For example, many Anglo-American analytic philosophers tend to think Heidegger is simply sloppy, perhaps a charlatan, but certainly not a philosopher in any traditional sense, and perhaps they have a point. Heidegger would have been the first to admit he was no philosopher in the regular sense, as a matter of fact he often disdained that sort of thinking. One could say that the divide between continental and analytic thought comes down to what one does with Heidegger (and it's for this reason that a thinker like Richard Rorty is so vexing for nearly everyone, since he is made of equal parts Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Dewey).
Another way to examine this divide is to think about whether you take your philosophy as poetry, or as science (not to speak about poetic science or scientific poetry). Admittedly, this is an arbitrary and even false dualism, but as a heuristic device is can be helpful for getting one's mind around the later Heidegger, and for me, "Poetry, Language, Thought" is the best collection of the finest work of his "post-turn" period.
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_Poetry, Language, Thought_ is a collection of seven of Heidegger's essays collected from other works originally written or delivered as lectures between 1935 and 1951. These essays all revolve around "art" in the broadest sense possible -- Heidegger meditates upon the poetry of Rilke and Holderlin and the paintings of Van Gogh.
These purposes shouldn't be understood, however, as art or literary criticism. These essays serve as examples of Heidegger's broader project of the investigation of Being in a totalizing sense. He sought to understand Being in the sense that it is common to rock, trees, animals, and people by an examination of the human mode of being, Dasein, being that questions the nature of its own being.
Heidegger believed we have so completely forgotten about being that we have even forgotten that we have forgotten -- and as a result, we need to pay special attention to the times when Being, via our Dasein, calls attention to the fact of its own hiddenness. In everyday human experience this can happen through the experience of anxiety or boredom or, in the case of _Poetry, Language, Thought_, it can happen through art.
Heidegger examines art in this collection of essays as it unveils the hiddenness of Being.
As you can see from my brief description, a bit of a background in Heidegger would be helpful before reading this book. If you're really interested, read his _Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics_ first (Indiana University Press). Then read _Being and Time_. If you still want to read Heidegger after that, then turn to _Poetry, Language, Thought_ as an application of his philosophy to the understanding of art, to how we are to understand art and what we should allow it to reveal to us.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The ontology of Art and Truth Feb. 8 2001
By TheIrrationalMan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Heidegger does not address the issue of poetry and truth from the vantage point of a traditional or academic art historian; nor does he employ conventional terms and classifications. Instead, he arrives at his subjects experimentally and tangentially and firmly grounds them on the approach of "ontological knowledge" which has made him famous. His highly idiosyncratic style, however, often playing with the cognate forms of the words of the original German, and which eludes translation, may make his arguments seem imprecise and willfully obscure. Though "Poetry, Language, Thought" is a collection of essays collected from Heidegger's miscellaneous later writings, it is no less formidable than "Being and Time", his masterpiece of ontological enquiry, published in 1927. The most beautiful formulation in the book is that truth is, by its very nature, poetic and this for Heidegger, does not imply a polarity between verse and prose, but actually includes prose as well. In "The Origin of the Work of Art", he defines the truth of the art work as being the setting-up of the art work in relation to the undisclosedness of Being, a conclusion which he argues up to at great length and with much skill and profundity. Like Wittgenstein and Derrida, Heidegger is not a philosopher in the traditional sense who aims to provide an all-embracing theory that would explain ultimate reality. He does not pretend to a First Philosophy which is based on some abstraction such as Reason, the Proletariat or the World Spirit. Rather, he is something of an exegete and experimentalist, probing the assumptions behind people's habits of speech and thought in a way of clarifying central misconceptions and errors. The volume also includes essays titled "What are Poets For?", "Building Dwelling Thinking" and a discourse on "The Thing", "thingness", or "thinghood". Heidegger's own poems, which are prefixed to the edition, may be flawed as art, but they serve, at least, to adumbrate the problems that occupy him in the following chapters.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable May 29 2008
By Steiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Hofstader's capable translation of these extraordinary Heidegger essays makes this one of the indispensable books of 20th century philosophy. This collection is especially indicative of Heidegger's 'turn' to art and poetry, particularly in his amazingly complex 'Origin of the Work of Art' and 'Poetically, Man Dwells.' 'The Thing' is also a remarkable essay in Heidegger's descriptions of the closing of distances in modernity, as well as his phenomenological observations of the relation between things and world. This is an excellent representation of Heidegger's philosophy of Language, and Hofstader has translated them quite well, even if the translations of Holderlin are a bit too cautious.
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A must read for students of Heidegger, but not a good intro. Aug. 24 2002
By James Rovira - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
_Poetry, Language, Thought_ is a collection of seven of Heidegger's essays collected from other works originally written or delivered as lectures between 1935 and 1951. These essays all revolve around "art" in the broadest sense possible -- Heidegger meditates upon the poetry of Rilke and Holderlin and the paintings of Van Gogh.
These purposes shouldn't be understood, however, as art or literary criticism. These essays serve as examples of Heidegger's broader project of the investigation of Being in a totalizing sense. He sought to understand Being in the sense that it is common to rock, trees, animals, and people by an examination of the human mode of being, Dasein, being that questions the nature of its own being.
Heidegger believed we have so completely forgotten about being that we have even forgotten that we have forgotten -- and as a result, we need to pay special attention to the times when Being, via our Dasein, calls attention to the fact of its own hiddenness. In everyday human experience this can happen through the experience of anxiety or boredom or, in the case of _Poetry, Language, Thought_, it can happen through art.
Heidegger examines art in this collection of essays as it unveils the hiddenness of Being.
As you can see from my brief description, a bit of a background in Heidegger would be helpful before reading this book. If you're really interested, read his _Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics_ first (Indiana University Press). Then read _Being and Time_. If you still want to read Heidegger after that, then turn to _Poetry, Language, Thought_ as an application of his philosophy to the understanding of art, to how we are to understand art and what we should allow it to reveal to us.
Heidegger is difficult most times (FCOM is his least difficult), and impossible at others, and _Poetry, Language, Thought_ is no exception. In one essay he seems to especially talk in circles. But don't let that discourage you from reading this book if you're serious about understanding Heidegger -- it will add nuance to the development of his ideas about language and the uncovering of Dasein in our everyday experience.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Questions Dec 30 2008
By S. Lundy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Heidegger's writings are difficult, though this is a good introduction to some of his ideas. While many of the terms he seems to use casually are not defined, a thorough read will help the reader get a greater grasp on Heidegger's thoughts. The poems he cites are central, and the poems at the beginning of the work are virtually incomprehensible without a full knowledge of what Heidegger means by this. Some important words, such as the "turning" are left undefined in this book.

While this is a good introduction, The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays is helpful for anyone looking for the relationship between technology and art (techne) and also the subject-object relationship and the relationship of the world to the so-called "worldview." Anyone serious about Heidegger will have to reread and cross-reference between his works, so when advised to read this book first, it doesn't mean there is any fast track to understanding Heidegger. At best, it is slightly less difficult.

Being and Time might wisely be saved until later. The book being reviewed here is the most accessible of his writings.

Heidegger's discussion of the "void" inside a jug being what does the holding parallels Taoist discussions on emptiness. While there are many translations, Red Pine's bilingual version (now out of print) is the best I have found yet: Lao-tzu's Taoteching: with Selected Commentaries of the Past 2000 Years. In section 4 & 11 of the Tao Te Ching, the references mentioned above can be found.

Derivative writers such as Erazim Kohak continues many Heideggerian themes and writes about "rediscovering the gifts of darkness, isolation, and pain": The Embers and the Stars. A more rigorously Heideggerian interface with religion is seen in Louis-Marie Chauvet, who claims that Heidegger's approach to being is homologous to the approach to God: Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence.

For a related work on "world" and the work of the artist, Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition (2nd Edition) is highly recommended. Many of its concepts help provide doorways into Heidegger's concepts. Hannah Arendt, once Heidegger's lover, was consulted for Albert Hofstadter's translation of Poetry, Language, Thought. Richard Sennett's The Craftsman is also useful for the exploration of craft, work, and art.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection of Heidegger's later writings March 10 2012
By jafrank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a really good survey of Heidegger's later work. I found these to be a lot more eliptical than his earlier, more strictly metaphysicsal stuff, and while that makes them tougher to parse in a certain sense, it gives them a slower, more medatative quality which I really found engaging. The poetic exegisis he provides are some of the best, most dizzying close readings I've come across. If nothing else, they made me actually care about whatever it was that was happening in 19th century romantic german poetry. As with most of Heidegger's stuff, even when it's enjoyable, it's an uphill battle with the language. The essay on the origin of art is REALLY dense and took me a long time to parse out. But on the same token he somtimes drops the notorious style and throws out a string of super smart observations for a paragraph or two that just leaves your head spinning. After reading the first essay, which is actually a 'poem' he wrote, I think I see why he decided to stick to the dense prose instead
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