For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Overcoming Metaphysics

by Heidegger, Martin (2003)


"The End of Philosophy" is one in a series of Heidegger's books newly reissued, following "Identity and Difference" and "Time and Being". This collection, says the translator, "contains Heidegger's attempt to show the history of Being as metaphysics". Three of the chapters - "Metaphysics as History of Being", "Sketches for a History of Being as Metaphysics" and "Recollection in Metaphysics" -are taken from the end of volume 2 of Heidegger's "Nietzsche"; the last, "Overcoming Metaphysics" is taken from "Vortrage und Aufsatze".

Key Passage

The fact that man as animal rationale, here meant in the sense of the working being, must wander through the desert of the earth's desolation could be a sign that metaphysics occurs in virtue of Being, and the overcoming of metaphysics occurs as the incorporation of Being. For labor (cf. Ernst Junger, Der Arbeiter, 1932) is nowreaching the metaphysical rank of the unconditional objectification of everything present which is active in the will to will. If this is so, we may not presume to stand outside of metaphysics. Collapse and desolation find their adequate occurrence in the fact that metaphysical man, the animal rationale, gets fixed as the laboring animal. This rigidification confirms the most extreme blindness to the oblivion of Being. But man wills himself as the volunteer of the will to will, for which all truth becomes that error which it needs in order to be able to guarantee for itself the illusion that the will to will can will nothing other than empty nothingness, in the face of which it asserts itself without being able to know its own completed nullity.Before Being can occur in its primal truth, Being as the will must be broken, the world must be forced to collapse and the earth must be driven to desolation, and man to mere labor. Only after this decline does the abrupt dwelling of the Origin take place for a long span of time. In the decline, everything, that is, beings in the whole of the truth of metaphysics, approaches its end. The decline has already taken place. The consequences of this occurrence are the events of world history in this century. They are merely the course of what has already ended. Its course is ordered historico-technologically in the sense of the last stage of metaphysics. This order is the last arrangement of what has ended in the illusion of a reality whose effects work in an irresistible way, because they claim to be able to get along without an unconcealment of the essence of Being. They do this so decisively that they needsuspect nothing of such an unconcealment. The still hidden truth of Being is withheld from metaphysical humanity. The laboring animal is left to the giddy whirl of its products so that it may tear itself to pieces and annihilate itself in empty nothingness. (p.86)


Heidegger, Metaphysics, Nietzsche


Overcoming Metaphysics [1936-1946], Heidegger Citations


Stambaugh, J.



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