Educational Implications for Heidegger's Views On Poetry And Thinking
ABSTRACT: I discuss some of the educational implications emerging from Heidegger's views on poetry, thinking, and language. Specifically, Heidegger's views on the neighborhood between poetry and thinking suggest that most accepted methods of teaching poetry are in error, because they ignore this neighboring relation. The importance of this relation is presented and clarified. I then discuss the implications of Heidegger's view for teaching poetry.
Heidegger's series of three lectures, later published as "The Nature of Language" has some very significant implications for education. (1) In this paper I focus on the second lecture. In opening his second lecture, Heidegger invites his listeners to think about the nature of language. Such thinking, he explains, has little to do with the quest for knowledge in the sciences. He cautions his listeners about the danger arising from the domination of method in scientific study and discourse. He cites Nietzsche who stated that what characterizes contemporary science is the victory of scientific method over science.
By contrast, thinking, including thinking about the nature of language, has to do with a quite unique region in which thought exists. It is not dominated by or based on a method. Thinking is not even governed by a specific theme. In today's science, Heidegger holds, even the theme of study is a part of the method. The field of Computer Sciences, with which Heidegger was not well versed, since it flourished -- exploded -- after his death, is a poignant example of a contemporary science whose theme is controlled by method. Heidegger's description of science has proved quite true in the four decades since he wrote the essay. Almost all contemporary methodological sciences are divorced from thinking. Thus, if we wish to inquire into the nature of language, if we wish to undergo a thinking experience with language, we must distance ourselves from scientific methods.
Thinking about language means entering a region where method does not reign. It means following a specific path in that region. But in thinking about the nature of language we encounter specific problems. When we speak of the nature of language, we are already using language to discuss its nature. Furthermore, we are already acquainted with the nature of language as people who use it, even if we cannot clearly articulate and define this nature. In short, we are entangled in a lagging behind the topic of our inquiry. There is a way out of our predicament. If we look around the region of thought, without taking the entanglement lightly, we will note that what Heidegger calls the "country" of thinking is open in all directions to the neighborhood of poetry. Thus, today, when scientific method tends to suffocate thinking, we can return to thinking through reading and listening to poetry.
To be specific, the fact that the country of thinking is open in...