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

[Extract from §25. Original and derived experience of being and of time. Temporality and within-timeness.]-We have tried to make time visible as fundamental power of our Dasein. With this, it  is  already indicated that time is characteristic of the human being and belongs to him alone, that, therefore, time-belonging to the human subject-is, accordingly, something subjec-tive. According to the current determination, which we experience as our own happening, the occurrences on the earth, in plants or animals are certainly flows and processes in the framework of time, but stones, animals, plants are themselves not temporal in the original sense as we ourselves. They take over no mandate, [they] do not submit themselves to a mission so that precisely this submitting oneself, the undertaking, is to constitute their way of being. To be sure, animal and plant do not labor, not because they are carefree, but because they cannot labor. Even the horse that pulls the wagon does not labor; it is only hitched up to an event-of-labor of the human being. The machine does not labor either. That it labors is a misinterpretation of the nineteenth century. This misinterpretation of labor goes so far that physics has taken up the concept "labor" as a concept of physics. Because labor was granted to the machine, then conversely the human being as laborer was degraded into a machine-a conception that is most deeply connected with a  position toward history and toward time in the sense of the unessence of historical being. Stone, plant, animal are reckonable in time, but are not temporal in the sense that their own being shows itself in that. We want to discuss in the following to what extent there is an essential distinction between the historical temporality of the human being and the mere occurrence of animal and plant in time. We want to ask, then, what can it mean that time is something merely subjective, insofar as it  is  appointed as the sustaining. power of being to the human being alone. (p.110)


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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