Heidegger and Ereignis


> However I would like to more from you on difference between 'concept' of
event in Foucault and Heidegger. Still my instinctive feeling is that
Heideggerian conception of event still carries lot of load of Metaphysics or
something like it (do not know what:)

Some of these responses are cut from a piece I've been working on on
Heidegger's Beitraege, which only receives brief treatment in my book. The
notion of Ereignis is explained in detail in the Beitraege zur Philosophie
(Vom Ereignis) - Contributions to Philosophy: Of Enowning in the recent
English translation.

I think that the notion of Ereignis is an attempt to 'overcome' metaphysics,
but that it is ultimately unsuccessful. However, it does seem to have some
benefits over other ways of thinking. In the recently translated Towards a
Definition of Philosophy (GA56/57), a lecture course from 1919 there's a
discussion of Ereignis with Erlebnis (lived experience) and the attempt to
escape Descartes. This lecture course alone, as Kisiel recognised, is enough
to scuper any simplistically chronological sense of a Kehre or turn in
Heidegger's thought.

My preferred translation of Heidegger's term Ereignis would be
'propriation'. The term links to Eigentlichkeit and Uneigenlichkeit as used
in _Being and Time_. These are usually translated as 'authenticity' and
'inauthenticity', due to the existentialist interpretation - i.e. that of
Sartre. But the word eignen has the sense of 'to own', in terms of property,
but also 'to be proper', 'to be suitable'; eigen is 'own'. The most
felicitous translations of Eigentlichkeit and Uneigenlichkeit, suggested by
David Krell in _The Purest of Bastards_ almost as an aside, may be 'proper'
and 'inappropriate'. The prefix er- has the sense of a bringing forth, a
bringing about. Ereignis, usually translated as 'event', therefore has the
sense of a propriation, or an appropriation. [The 'true' root of Ereignis is
not actually eigen but Augen, 'eye'. It therefore has important links with
the discussion of the Augenblick, 'the blink of an eye', or 'moment',
throughout Heidegger's work, but especially in _Being and Time_ and the
_Nietzsche_ lectures. Heidegger seems to be making simultaneous use of its
'true' and apparent etymologies]. Heidegger is therefore playing with a
number of meanings at once, which are well preserved in the English
'propriation' and related words, with the senses of proper, property,
peculiarity, suitability, own, owning, ownership, belonging, appropriation.
Derrida notes in _Donner le temps_ that Ereignis is a "word which is
difficult to translate", and he suggests "event [evenement] or propriation
inseparable from a movement of depropriation, Enteignen". In many ways from
the mid 30s these words are the core of Heidegger's thinking, and occur in
most of his later texts, not always explicitly, and generally obscured in
translation. The earlier key terms of 'being' [Sein] and 'time' [Zeit] are
brought into their own (propriated) by propriation. The _Beitraege_ is
therefore a piece that speaks of propriation, but from propriation - Vom
Ereignis. The thought is propriation, the thought is propriated.

In the late lecture 'Time and Being', Heidegger tries to provide some
clarification of this notion of Ereignis. He is concerned that it will
simply be thought of as a definition of being: 'Being as propriation'. He
suggests that "formerly, philosophy thought being in terms of beings as
idea, as energeia, as actualitas, as will - and now, one might think, as
propriation. Understood in this way, propriation means a transformed
interpretation of being which, if it is correct, represents a continuation
of metaphysics" (Zur Sache des Denkens S. 22; Time and Being p. 21). To see
it the other way round, that is, as 'propriation as being', is closer, but
still cheap. Rather, "being proves to be destiny's [Geschickes] gift of
presence, the gift granted by the giving of time. The gift of presence is
the property of propriation [Die Gabe von Anwesen ist Eigentum des
Ereignens]. Being vanishes in propriation" (ZSD 22-3; TB 22). In the seminar
discussion of this text he clarifies still further: "propriation is to be
thought in such a way that it can neither be retained as being nor as time.
Is, so to speak, a 'neutrale tantum', the neutral 'and' in the title 'Time
and Being' (ZSD 46-7, TB 43). "In the phrase 'being as propriation', the
word 'as' now means: being, letting-presence sent [geschickt] in
propriating, time brought about [gereicht] in propriating. Time and being
appropriated in propriation. And propriation itself? Can we say anything
more about it?" (ZSD 22-3; TB 22).

So, Heidegger gets into problems with this notion, and tries to think it
through throughout his later work, without ever really fully explicating the
notion. But it seems to me to be early days in terms of critical work on the
Beitraege, and it's a punishingly difficult text as Heidegger seemed to
recognise himself. That's apparently why he didn't publish it in his
lifetime, but left instructions that it be published when all his lecture
courses had been - i.e. that 'we' needed to understand his view of the whole
tradition before we could get at what he called 'his things', i.e. his own

The executors of his estate didn't quite follow this to the letter, but it
didn't come out in German until 1989. The reason for this date was the
political furore, but that's another question.

My sense it has little direct impact on Foucault, partly at least because
apart from odd hints and the Time and Being lecture it doesn't make an
obvious impact on Heidegger's work in the essays that were published in his
lifetime - or that Foucault may have read. I try to assess what Foucault may
have read, and when, when thinking about Heidegger's impact on him. However,
Foucault was taught briefly by Jean Beaufret, who of course would have known
about far more than was published. What I do think is important for Foucault
is the notion of Augenblick, which has links to Foucault's notion of a
history of the present. That's a really long argument.

> On minor points, recently i remeber reading in more than one places in
Foucualt's interviews in which he says that he does not know Being and Time
much, what you think of these comments?

I think what Foucault means is that he doesn't seem himself as a Heidegger
scholar, in the way he was of Kant say for the secondary thesis (see below),
or even Nietzsche for the 'Genealogy' essay. (This is debatable of course,
but I hope you see what you mean) But I think this is in the same interview
he says he still has the notes he took when reading Heidegger, and there
were loads of them. So my sense is that he knew it in a sense of how it
changed his thought, but not in a way that he could write about it in
academic way. Not sure that's adequate or correct, but I guess it's one way
to read it.

> I do not remeber you mentioning influence of Kant book on Foucualt. When I
was at Warwick I had tried to read Heidegger's Kant book along with The
Order of Things and I remeber having feeling of amazment at how much of
Kant's book (at least its spirit) I could see running benath The Order of
Things. Unfortunately I did not take any notes at that time. I just thought
that it was a crazy idea. I had just read before that an article by
Christopher Norris in which he had dubbed Focault as an arch enemy of Kant
or something to that effect. Just few boring thoughts from the past:)

If you mean the 'Kantbuch', i.e. Heidegger's Kant and the Problem of
Metaphysics, then sure, that's what I mean when I say Heidegger's reading of
Kant against the neo-Kantians is important. It stems from Foucault's
introduction to Kant's _Anthropologie_, which was Foucault's secondary
thesis to accompany _Folie et deraison_. Jean Hyppolite (at least, I think
it was Hyppolite - I'm away from my notes and books) was on the Doctorate
jury and said that the introduction owed more to Nietzsche than to Kant, but
James Miller says that Daniel Defert told him that Foucault was reading the
Kantbuch regularly at that time. I mention this in the book. I don't think
it's difficult to see some of the impact in _The Order of Things_, which
develops insights from the _Anthropology_ introduction.

But I've not developed this line at length. I don't remember Norris being
that explicit about Foucault's antipathy to Kant, but I think that it's a
particular kind of Kant that Foucault appropriates, as I tried to outline in
other posts.

Enough - this is getting too long



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