Being and Humans in Heidegger's Letter on Humanism and in his Contributions to Philosophy
ABSTRACT: Heidegger's main question, the question of Being concerning human facticity, struggles to uncover the original ground to which humans belong, a ground from which modern society tends to uproot itself through the dominance of calculative and representational thinking. What is most dangerous for Heidegger about this process is that the original ground of humans and beings in general might be covered and forgotten to the extent that humans lose completely the sense of what they truly need. The task of philosophy is to help bring back humans and beings in general to the place which they originally belong, i.e., to their most fulfilled way of being which is their proper or own [das Eigene, eigen]. The term "En-own-ment" or "Ap-propri-ation" [Er-eign-is] — the key word in Heidegger's thinking since the 1930's — marks his attempt to think more originally than metaphysics the relation between Being and humans in terms of the being "enowned" of humans through Being and in terms of the belonging of humans to Being. I will rethink the question of this relation in reference to two of Heidegger's writings, and will focus on his struggle for a proper language which would be able to say what essentially remains concealed in metaphysical language: the truth (or ground) or Being as Ereignis.
a) Preliminary remarks
In our age of close encounter between manifold ways of thinking, believing and behaving one fundamental question which arises is: How can one find a proper measure for human life in a world which essentially lacks a common ground? The last great philosopher who, at the brink of the era of pluralism, struggled for a common ground in which humanity might find a new beginning was, I think, Martin Heidegger. Yet for him this common ground differs essentially from a metaphysical ground in so far as it is thought in the face of the abysmal quality of being as it discloses in our facticity. Heidegger's question of Being, is a question which concerns human facticity, i.e. our actual being-in-the-world in its temporal and enigmatic character. As he stated in the 30s, for him this question arose out of the experience of the "forgetfulness of Being" [Seinsvergessenheit] and of the "abandonment of Being in beings" [Seinsverlassenheit des Seienden], that is, out of the possibility of not being at all. With the question of Being, Heidegger struggled to uncover the original historical ground to which humans belong, a ground from which modern society tends to uproot itself through the dominance of calculative and representational thinking. What is most dangerous for Heidegger in this process, is that the original ground of humans and beings in general might be covered and forgotten, to the extent that humans loose completely the sense of what they truly need. For Heidegger, the task of thinking (of philosophy) is to help to bring back humans and beings in...