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 § 14. Reply to the first interposed question: What is that, a Volk?]- The first question can be set in motion in different ways. We intentionally take an external point of departure, namely, with the word ''Volk." We are briefly pursuing the fact that the word "Volk" diverges into a manifold of meanings; for this, we give examples of the most common word usage. In the review of the word "Volk," however, we remain conscious of the fact that, through the gathering together of the word meanings and the extraction of an average meaning, we are not able to grasp the essence of the Volk. We listen to Volk songs and see Volk dances, visit a Volk festival. We take part in delivering the lists to the households with the purpose of the census [Volksziihlung]. Measures are taken for increasing and securing public health [ Volksgesundheit]. The racial movement [volkische Bewegung] wants to bring the Volk back to the purity of their racial breed. Frederick the Great calls the Volk an animal with many tongues and few eyes. On November 12, 1933, the Volk was polled. A police chief commands: "Disperse the Volk with clubs!" On August I, I914, The· Volk stood in arms. Of the German Volk, 18 million dwell outside of the State's borders. Karl Marx calls "Volk" the totality or Workers as distinguished from the loafers and exploiters. The spirit of the Volk is [word missing in translation] romanticism the ground root for faith, poetry, and philosophy. Religion is opium for the Volk. (p.53)


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


Logic as the Question [1934], Heidegger Citations

Links to Reference



How to contribute.