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

The Experience of the Essence of the Human Being from His Determination -§ 27. B) Labor -We characterized labor as the present. That shall not mean that labor is that which is respectively present at the time. Labor, according to its spirituality, is present, insofar as it transposes our being in the binding appropriate to work, in the liberation of beings themselves. (We remind ourselves that we have made the following assignment: Mandate-future; mission-beenness; labor-present, respectively, moment.) In labor and through it beings first become manifest to us in their determinate regions, and as laborer the human being is  transported into the manifestness of beings and their jointure. This transporting is nothing supplementary, grafted onto the I,  but this transporting belongs to the essence of our being. This transportedness into things belongs to our constitution. For that reason, one is correct in saying that unemployment is not only the privation of a merit, but it is  a mental shattering-not because the lack of labor thrusts the human being back to the individualized isolated I, but because the lack of labor leaves empty the being-transported into things. Because labor carries out the relation to beings, therefore unemployment is  an emptying of this relation to being. The relation remains, to be sure, but it is unfulfilled. This unfulfilled relation is the ground of the desolation of the one who is without labor. In this desolation, the relation of the human being to the whole of beings is as lively as ever, but as pain. Therefore, unemployment is impotent being-exposed. Labor is correspondingly a transporting into the jointures and forms of the beings that surround us. That is why the enjoyment of one's labor is so important. It is not a mood that only accompanies our labor; it is no addition to labor, but joy as fundamental mood is the ground of genuine labor, which in its execution first makes human beings capable of existence. In labor as the present [Gegenwart] in the sense of making-present [ Gegenwiirtigung], the making-presence [Anwesendmachen] of beings happens. Labor is  the present in the original sense, in that we attend toward [entgegenwarten] beings and thus let them come over us in their historicity, in that we submit ourselves to their superior strength and administer them in the great mood of the battle, of astonishment and of reverence, and increase it in its greatness. We can now unfold the essence of labor in its wholeness and full-ness just as little as the moods in their great eruptions. What matters here is only to make visible in a  first reference the exposedness of Dasein by virtue of the attuned transporting into labor, in order to give guidance for the experience of our Dasein with this.  (p.127)


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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