Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Limits...

One line that especially caught my attention in the dialogue was “I: No, that is not it; for all great thinkers always understands itself best of all, that is to say, itself within the limits set for it.”(39) We are given the gift of language but with language come limits, as Heidegger has pointed out. Great thinkers, at least some of them, have recognized these limits, which is one reason why they are considered great thinkers. They have respected language and its limits, they have not tried to go beyond what language has to offer, but rather they acknowledge that they themselves are not so great, that they feel they could go beyond language itself. Perhaps, they have undergone this experience with language on a number of occasions and have realized the limits this way. But he says, “within the limits set for It.” the limits set by whom? Whom else but Dasein. I get a picture in my head when I think of this, it’s of these great thinkers who are with each other standing at the edge of like a dark cliff, staring off into the abyss, not saying a word, but are fully aware that they have reached their limits. And to go any further would result in going over the cliff, into the abyss, which would be grave.

I think one of the moments when they experience language is when the Inquirer asks the Japanese man what word language would translate into for Japanese. He finally gives the word “Koto ba”(45) the meaning of the phrase is broken down to, ba meaning leaves and koto meaning the “I: happening holding sway. J: Holding sway over that which needs the shelter of all that flourishes and flowers.”(47) The Japanese man says that koto ba says “J: Language, heard through this word, is: the petals that stem from koto.”(47) Not the typical translation of language, this is a moment with language itself. Notice how they he didn’t translate language into what was spoken as like their native tongue, or what there alphabet was, but rather the petals that stem from koto. I’m not sure I completely understand what koto is exactly, but ba I take to be saying and koto is speaking (as saying)? Through their conversation they were able to come to a conclusion of the word “Iki” and this helped them to come to the translation of language. They did this together, each of them learning from the other, at times saying too much, but none-the-less focusing on and working their way through this, to undergo an experience with language.

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