Basic Questions of Philosophy. Selected "Problems" of "Logic." [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 49 (2):411-413 (1995)
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This is the ninth volume of translations of major works by Martin Heidegger to be published by Indiana University Press. It is the second translation of one of his lecture courses by the late Andre Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz. No other thinker who wrote in German brings to the fore more seriously the problems of the translation of his texts into English than Martin Heidegger. In a certain sense, one of the major themes of his work is translation. In a lecture series given a few years after Basic Questions of Philosophy, he said: "Tell me what you think about translating and I will tell you who you are." Though we do not hear anything about the basis of their translation decisions, in the translators' foreword we learn something about the Gesamtausgabe [Collected Works] edition of Heidegger's texts as they are currently being brought out by Vittorio Klostermann Verlag: "The words of Heidegger are reconstructed with as much faithfulness as the editor can bring to the task, and they are then simply left to speak for themselves". All translation is, however, transformation and interpretation, and the bridging of two linguistic worlds. There is no choice but to read Heidegger's text with the original German nearby. The present translation of the course Heidegger gave during the Winter Semester of 1937 at the University of Freiburg retains the tempo of Heidegger's delivery in class, even though the German editor, Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, who worked with several revised and emended versions of the lectures, "deleted epithets and interjections, characteristic of the lecture style but disturbing in a printed text, to the extent that they were not already stricken by Heidegger himself'. A good many of Heidegger's emphases have not been carried over by the translators. There are frequent repetitions, reviews and recapitulations, which were part of Heidegger's pedagogic style in his steady pursuit of a topic. In addition to the text of the lectures themselves, there is an appendix which includes an outline of the course as Heidegger initially envisioned it. His original plan was abandoned, but a fairly substantial and thoroughly worked out portion of the first two sections and part of the third section of the course as originally outlined are also contained in the appendix. Finally, supplements to the last two sections of the lecture course as it was given are included. The editor notes that this course, first published in 1984, is of particular importance for understanding Heidegger's 1936-38 Beiträge zur Philosophie [Contributions About Philosophy ], which will also appear in translation in the near future from Indiana University Press. The theme of the course is the essence of truth. Heidegger had first given a public lecture with that title in 1930. Much of what is implied in the lecture, which was published only in 1943, is made explicit in these lectures. Therefore, they supplement and clarify that key text. In the course, Heidegger explores the characterization of truth as correctness, which obscures the early Greek experience of ἀλήθεια, understood as unconcealedness. Heidegger's phenomenological studies of wonder, admiration, astonishment, marvelling, and awe in §37 are masterly. The event about which there has been so much speculation is quite simply the possibility of a fresh start for thinking. This would emphatically not be a repetition of the Greek experience from which Western metaphysics originated, but requires a broad jump, an existential Quantensprung, à la Lessing and Kierkegaard, for which there must be a great deal of preparation of a certain kind since there is nothing leading up to it, neither introduction nor transition. Heidegger looks forward to an unprecedented event comparable to the emergence of philosophy out of early Greek life. At long last, Schuwer and Rojcewicz are prepared to render "Dasein" as "existence," which is correct. It has always been possible to dispense with the original German term, providing we bear in mind the place of another key term in Heidegger's vocabulary with which "Dasein" is easily confused, "Existenz". Heidegger's lecture courses, which he left behind fully written out and in most cases continued to annotate and revise through the years, provide the reader with a feel for what this remarkable teacher of thinking must have been like.--Miles Groth, Wagner College.



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