Heidegger’s Earth/World Rift Through Art

Van Gough's 'A Pair of Shoes', 1887.  Heidegger used this painting to describe artwork and truth.

Van Gough's 'A Pair of Shoes', 1887. Heidegger used this painting to describe artwork and truth.

Heidegger, being greatly influenced by the pre-Socratics, talked about two realms of being (kinda like how Sartre talked about two realms of being: being-for-itself and being-in-itself).  Earth and World.  The World is the realm of all human relations, activity, consciousness, action, culture, etc.  The Earth is the realm of nature, animals, rock, oceans, etc.

Earth extends beyond human historical time…and is not mastered by human decisions and choices.  (Collins and Selina, 129)

These two realms are related in taking two opposing sides of αληθεια (truth) and artwork is that which creates a rift (Riss in German) through the partially unconcealed Earth and the partial concealed World.

Truth comes, in a way, from nothing.  (Inwood, 122)

All art, then, is essentially Dichtung…mean[ing] something like ‘invention’ or ‘projection’…All great art involves a ‘change…of the unconcealment of beings’ (Heidegger, 72); it illuminates the ordinary, it rips us for a time out of the ordinary into another world, or it changes our whole view of the world. (Inwood, 123)

All art is dichterisch, inventive or projective…the essence of Dichtung, Heidegger continues, is the founding of truth.  ‘Founding’, Stiftung, has three senses, and art involves founding in all three senses.  First, ‘bestowing’…truth cannot derive from what went before.  It comes as a gift…

Second, founding is ‘grounding’…It comes from nothing, but is addressed to a people…

Thirdly, founding is ‘beginning’…A genuine beginning is not simple or primitive; it contains the end latent within itself; it is a leap forward (Vorsprung), that leaps over everything to come…The history of art is not a steady cumulative process, but is punctuated by massive explosions of creative energy that leave future generations to do what they can with the pieces. (124-5)

Sources

Collins, Jeff and Howard Selina.  Introducing Heidegger.  Lanham, Maryland: Totem Books, 2006.

Heidegger, Martin.  “The Origin of the Work of Art,” in Poetry, Language, Thought.  Translated by A. Hofstadter.  New York: Woodpaths, 1975.  Quoted in Inwood, Heidegger, 2000.

Inwood, Michael.  Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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