For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language

by Heidegger, Martin (2009)


This first English translation of Logik als die Frage nach dem Wesen der Sprache, volume 38 of Martin Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe, contains novel ideas on logic and language that are important for anyone wishing to think beyond traditional views of these topics. Based on student transcripts of Heidegger’s lectures and manuscripts for a 1934 summer course, the work contains his first public reflection on the nature of language itself. Given shortly after Heidegger’s resignation to the rectorship of the University of Freiburg, the course also opens up fresh perspectives on his controversial involvement with the Nazi regime. Heidegger’s critical probing of logic involves metaphysics and poetry and intertwines essential questions concerning language as a world-forming power, the human being, history, and time. This work marks a milestone in Heidegger’s path of thinking as his first meditation on language as a primal event of being.

Key Passage

§ 24. b) Labor-The second sense, which we ground on the first sense, preserves the determination as we take it over in such a  manner that we create it. Determinateness in this sense means [a] forming and fitting-together of our entire comportment and our bearing from that which is mission and mandate for us. To effect our determination, to set to work and to bring to work, in each case, according to the sphere of the creating-that means to labor. Labor is not any occupation that we attend to out of calculation, need, pastime, boredom, but labor is here the determination that has become the determinateness of our essence, the form, and the jointure of the execution of our mission and the effecting of our mandate in the respective historical moment. Labor is the present of the historical human being, in such a manner that in labor and through it the work comes to presence and to actuality for us. It follows from this that the historical present determines itself as the historical moment. Historical present arises as labor out of mission and mandate, and thus the present arises out of future and beenness. This shows that the historical present is  to be understood as com-pletely different from the current conception, in which the present alone is that which is  actual, and past and future arc not actual, are that which is  not, that which shatters at each now. The present as determinateness of the determination is only as crossing from beenness into the future. As crossing, it  shows itself in the execution, that is, in the moment. That becomes clearer, insofar as we experience time out of our determination in an original sense: as determination in mandate and mission, as determinateness in the labor that leaps into the mandate and mission. The mandate determined as labor of a Volk in its mission, the determination in this twofold sense, is determination in still a third sense. (p.107)


Heidegger, Germany, National Socialism, Nazi, Twentieth Century, National Socialist Education, Academia, Duty, Work Creation, Service


Logic as the Question [1934], Heidegger Citations

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