Sunday, April 12, 2009

“Undergoing an Experience with Language with Heidegger”

I think it’s always helpful to begin a philosophy paper with a working title, and so I offer this as one possibility. As a working title, it is meant to provide a beginning to your reflections on the aspect of Heidegger’s philosophy we’re working with now: his attempt “to bring us (including himself)face to face with the possibility of undergoing an experience with language” (58). Heidegger obviously likes the word “experience” and I think would approve of its application here to refer to your own experience of his approach, especially his language, to philosophizing about language and our life in it and with it. In doing what he takes on, Heidegger insists on taking account of the fact that he is in the midst of speaking, and through his speaking undergoing (and trying to bring himself and us to) the very experience he’s talking about. No wonder his speaking sometimes resembles a barely intelligible "stammering," as Gadamer put it (25). But as Gadamer, also says, in the midst of his speaking, he sometimes gets it so right that the truth of it shows itself in his saying(24). Or does it?

In this version of the paper, I’d like to hear about your experience of Heidegger’s language, what the language tries to do, and the interaction between the two. Included in this discussion of inter-related experiences might also be experiences of your own— with poetry, with conversation, with thinking— experiences which Heidegger’s writing might have evoked. But experiential though it may be, the paper should also reflect your struggle to engage the difficult texts we’ve dealt with, and, of course, must be ordered into a coherent whole (Please see “Guidelines for evaluation.”).

This is one possibility that comes to mind. I encourage you to communicate with me about this or others you might be interested in pursuing. Although technically not due for a while, I suggest you get to it soon while the readings and our discussion of them are fresh.

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