Heidegger Lecture 2 and 3 of What Is Called Thinking

1 January 2017

Sarah Oliver Presentation Heidegger April 19, 2012 In Lecture I of Part II, Heidegger points out that asking the question of “What is called thinking” can be incredibly diverse and complicated because there is not just one explanation for the question, although at a glance it seems pretty simple to explain. He stresses four ways in which the question can be posed. The first way asks what is designated by the word “thinking,” the second asks what logic has to do with thought, the third asks what the prerequisites are for thinking, and the final question is what actually commands and provokes us to think?

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It seems that thinking is like baking a cake for Heidegger, no ingredient is more important than the other, just like no question of thinking should be taken more seriously than the other. These four propositions of thinking are all interrelated and connected in some way because they all have one central common theme. The best way that I can think of to describe this common theme that they share is to say that the fourth question of “What is it that calls on us to think? ” is basically the flour of this cake that Heidegger is making.

It is a precursor to the other three questions surrounding logic and prerequisites and designations of thinking, but it should not be considered above the others. It is the decisive question and the other three are connected by the fact that they belong together within the question of, “What calls us to think. ” The multiple meanings of the question “What is called thinking? ” and “What calls on us to think? ” is this problem we have with the verb “to call. ” Calling directs us toward an action or a non-action and does not fade away like a cry or a sound. A call can make a demand whereas a cry and a sound cannot.

We must move away from looking at the verb to call in its more commonly used setting with the definition of “that is to say. ” In phrase, “That building is called Payson Smith” or, “That town is called Portland” the verb call is meant with the identification of an object or a place. Heidegger notes a less common and more powerful usage of “to call” which means to set in motion or to get underway. When the question: “What is called thinking? ” is reconsidered in Heidegger terms, it might better be read as asking, “What is it that invites or instructs or directs us into thinking? or in Heidegger’s own words, “What is it that appeals to us to think? ” By asking this question, the thinker becomes the object of the action, the one who is invited into thinking and the action is less about defining what thinking is than in discovering how it is that the pathway into thinking is opened for us. In Lecture II, Heidegger focuses his attention on the word thinking and what is considered thought provoking. Thinking is a telling and speaking of language. Literature is often used as a medium for both science and poetry and for that reason there is some confusion between what is actually thought provoking.

The three should be separated. There is science, there is thought, and there is poetry and the difference between poetry and science is that poetic work is a work of our language much like thinking is, although thinking does not make poetry. Thought and poesy are related because they never just use language as a means of expression, they are the actual makers of language and the final speech. We view science as thinking because we are immersed in it throughout our everyday lives. Car companies are trying to make cars more efficient and doctors are trying to figure out how to cure cancer.

We are trying to save our world without actually being in our world. Modern science itself is grounded in the nature of technology and how we use the world around us instead of how to be in the world around us. Science is a precursor to having the more efficient car, to having the newest and greatest cell phone, to breakthroughs in medical science but it uses language as a product instead of an original expression. We hardly look at a tree and think, “Wow, I wonder what it would be like to be a tree. ” As humans we have that power to ask the question, instead, we resort to thinking of the quickest way to cut it down and turn it into paper.

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