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Heidegger Through Phenomenology to Thought

Richardson (2003:583-584) – bauen

Chapter XVII - Working, Dwelling, Thinking

quarta-feira 21 de junho de 2023, por Cardoso de Castro

“Working” admits both a broad and a strict sense. [1] In the broad sense, it is the equivalent of the word “dwelling,” for, according to Heidegger, the stem of bauen   (buanf bhuf beo) bears affinity to the German form of the verb “to be” (ich   bin, du bist, etc.), hence suggests the manner in which There-being is or [585] dwells. In the stricter sense, it signifies a manner in which There-being comports itself in accordance with the structure of the dwelling process. It is this sense which we wish to suggest by “working.” For this word admits the very general sense of “accomplishing by toil,” sc. “doing something” by labor. Of the manifold nuances that the word thus understood may have, Heidegger underlines two: working in the sense of cultivating (colere), as a farmer “works” his fields; working in the sense of building (aedificare), v.g. laboring to construct something. [2] The author concentrates on the second sense in the essay, hence in using the word “work” here, we understand “doing something,” where the “doing” has the sense of building, constructing, and the “something” has the sense of some “thing,” v.g. a bridge. The question: what is the nature of the “thing” that is done? what is the nature of the “doing“?

As to the nature of a “thing” as such, we have already some idea   from “The Thing“: it is the gathering together of polyvalent Being in and as any given being. In the present case, this conception is applied to a bridge. “The bridge gathers together unto itself in its own way [the polyvalence of Being].” [3] There is, however, a further precision. We are told that the bridge gathers Being into a certain “location” that we may call a “place.” This “place,” however, as Heidegger uses the term, did not   exist as an entity before the bridge (although there were always many “sites” along the river bank where it could arise), but comes-to-presence with and as the bridge. Furthermore, this place ipso facto occupies “space,” which Heidegger understands as a certain “free” area enclosed by those limits within which the thing begins to come-to-presence. [4]

Once the thing in question is thus understood, then the “doing” of the thing consists not merely in the human activity which fashions steel and concrete into the structure we call a bridge, but it is the process of bringing (-bringen  ) forth (her-) polyvalent Being into the limits of the thing and thereby [586] bringing the thing itself (-vor-) into presence as what it is (Hervorbringen). In this sense it rejoins the Greek conception of τέχνη  , sc. to let something appear as what it is, as itself. [5]

Now it is precisely by this process of bringing-forth things as things that There-being goes about tending Being in beings, and “… dwelling, to the extent that it conserves [Being] in things, is, as this conserving-process, [what is meant by] working. … ” [6] We infer, then, that to tend to Being in beings and to work beings by bringing them forth as what they are — both of these are one. The reason why There-being can “do” things thus lies in the bi-dimensional character of the dwelling. That is to say, it can let things shine forth in their own “place,” occupying their own “space,” because from the very beginning its open-ness to Being is an open-ness to all possible “space,” sc. its ontological dimension is a constitutional near-ness to things. But only when this ontological dimension is articulated on the ontic level in the things among which There-being sojourns, does There-being find itself genuinely “at home” in its near-ness to things. [7]

For all of There-being’s bi-dimensional structure, however, this condition may not be taken for granted. On the contrary, it comes-to-pass only insofar as the dwelling-process of There-bring reaches the full achievement. This implies a complete docility to Being, which always holds the primacy. In bringing forth things, There-being must accept whatever intimations Being imparts, assuming them in its own name as the measure of its own activity, and thereby respond to the particular manner in which any given thing comes-to-presence. It is this that There-being brings to fullness, its “at home”-ness with things. Hence by letting these things shine forth as what they are, There-being effectively lets itself be as dwelling in their near-ness. This is There-being’s response to Being’s appeal. It is the moment when There-being overcomes its homelessness and [587] all the nihilism that this implies. It is the moment of achieved authenticity. The author concludes with an appeal to learn what this means. [8]

Ver online : William J. Richardson

[1For the purists, “working” will seem an unhappy translation of bauen, which usually warrants “building,” “constructing,” or “cultivating,” whereas “working” usually translates arbeiten. We find “working,” however, more flexible, and at the moment this flexibility is necessary.

[2VA, pp. 147 (colere, aedificare), 152 (hegen, pflegen).

[3“Die Brücke versammelt auf ihre Weise Erde und Himmel, die Göttlichen und die Sterblichen bei sich.” (VA, p. 153). Heidegger’s italics.

[4VA, p. 155 (Stätte, Ort, Raum). We must forego the further analyses by which Heidegger explains the origin of distance (Abstand, Zwischenraum), extension and “absolute” space (“der” Raum). See VA, pp. 155-156. Cf. SZ, pp. 104-113.

[5VA, p. 160 (τέχνη).

[6“… Das Wohnen ist, insofern es das Geviert in die Dinge verwahrt, als dieses Verwahren ein Bauen….” (VA, p. 152). Heidegger’s italics.

[7By reason of this ontological nearness to things, There-being can be far closer to things that are ontically distant (v.g. the old bridge at Heidelberg) than those who daily travel it, if they remain in in authenticity, unaware of their ontological prerogative (VA, pp. 157-158).

[8VA, pp. 159-160 (Zuspruch entsprochen), 162 (wohnen erst lernen). We take all of Heidegger’s references to the “ordinary” way of doing or understanding things as a continual repudiation of everydayness, therefore of inauthenticity. V.g. VA, pp. 145-146, 147-148, 160, 192, 198, etc.