Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language

By Martin Heidegger
Translated by Wanda Torres Gregory & Yvonne Unna

Subjects: Heidegger, Continental Philosophy, Language, Phenomenology
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438426747, 177 pages, August 2009
Hardcover : 9781438426730, 177 pages, August 2009

Table of contents

Translators’ Foreword
Introduction: Structure, Origin, Meaning and Necessary Shaking Up of Logic
1. The inner structure of logic
a) Analysis
b) Assembly
c) Regulation
   α) The self-sameness of what is represented
   β) Non-contradiction
   γ) The ordering of reason and consequence
d) Form consideration
2. Logic as preparatory school for all thinking. Grammar and logic. Logic history
3. The three common standpoints of the judgment about meaning, usefulness, and value of logic
4. The necessary task of a shaking up of logic
First Part: The Question Concerning the Essence of Language as Fundamental and Guiding Question of All Logic
5. Objections against the procedure of taking the question concerning the essence of language as directive and guiding principle for the question concerning logic
a) Language as object of the philosophy of language
c) The secondary ranking of language: Language as means
d) The grasping of language—preformed through logic
6. The two manners of questioning. The character of the question of the essence as fore-question and the three respects of the question of the essence    Recapitulation
First Chapter: The Question Concerning the Essence of Language
7. Language—preserved in the dictionary
8. Language as event in the dialogue
9. Language—determined from the kind of being of the human being. The answer of metaphysics
Second Chapter: The Question Concerning the Essence of the Human Being
10. The right launching of the fore-question. What- and who-question
11. The human being as a self
a) The I—determined through the self, not conversely
b) The [plural] You and We—determined through the self, not through the mere plurality
c) Is the self the species of the I, You, We, [plural] You?
12. The self and self-forlornness
a) The mis-questioning—conditioned by the self-forlornness of the human being
b) Does a preeminence of the We lie in the question “Who are we ourselves?”
c) Outer and inner identification of the We
13. “‘We’ are the Volk” by virtue of decision
14. Reply to the first interposed question: What is that, a Volk?
a) Volk as body
b) Volk as soul
c) Volk as spirit
15. Reply to the second interposed question: What does decision mean?
a) Decision and decisiveness
b) Resoluteness as engagedness of the human being in the happening that is forthcoming
Third Chapter: The Question Concerning the Essence of History
16. The determination of the essence of history is grounded in the character of history of the respective era.
   The essence of truth—determined by the historical Dasein
17. The ambiguity of the word “history”
a) “History” as entering into the past. Natural history
b) “History” as entering into the future
18. Human happening as carrying itself out and remaining in knowing and willing: lore
19. The relationship of history, lore of history (historiography) and science of history
20. History in its relationship with time
a) History as that which is bygone and as that which has been
b) The preeminence of the characterization of history as past
   α) Christian world-conception and Aristotelian time-analysis
   β) That which is bygone as that which is completed, ascertainable, causally explicable
c) The objectification of history by the science of history.
   Time as present-at-hand framework
21. The being of the human being as historical
a) “Are” we historical?
b) The worthiness of question of the being of the human being. Becoming and being
c) Being-historical as a deciding that is continually renewing
d) That which has been is as future of our own being
Second Part: The Original Time as the Ground of All Questions Hitherto and the Resumption of the Question-Sequence in Reversed Direction
22. The transformation of our being in its relation to the power of time. Responsibility
23. Rejection of two misunderstandings
a) No politics of the day position, but awakening of an original knowing
b) That which is to be found out by questioning does not let itself be settled immediately
First Chapter: The Historicity of the Human Being is Experienced from a Transformed Relationship with Time

24. The experience of time through the experience of our determination
a) Mandate and mission
b) Labor
c) The being-attuned-through by the mood
25. Original and derived experience of being and of time.
    Temporality and within-timeness.
26. Discussion of the concern that time becomes something subjective through the newly won determination
a) Do animals have a sense of time?
b) The question concerning the subject-character of the human being
    α) The modern change of meaning of “subject” and “object.”
       The threefold detachment of the human being
    β) The new metaphysical fundamental position of the human being in Descartes’ prima philosophia
c) The modern determination of the human being as being-thing in the sense of the mere being-present-at-hand
Second Chapter: The experience of the essence of the human being from his determination
27. The in-one-another of mood, labor, mission, and mandate
a) Mood. The relationship of mood and body
b) Labor
c) Mission and mandate
28. The blasting of the being-subject through the determination of the Volk
a) Original manifestness of beings and scientific objectification. Contrasting of the animal life with the historical Dasein
b) The happening of history is in itself lore of the disclosedness of beings. Historiographical knowledge as degradation of the great moments that are disclosive
c) The historical Dasein of the human being as the resoluteness toward the moment
d) Human being as care: Exposedness in beings and delivery over to being. Rejection of the misinterpretation of care: Care as freedom of the historical self-being
e) The State as the historical being of a Volk
Third Chapter: Being-human and language
29. Language as the ruling of the world-forming and preserving center of the historical Dasein of the Volk
30. Logic as still not comprehended mandate of the human-historical Dasein: care about the ruling of the world in the event of language
31. Poetry as original language
Editor’s Epilogue

Aims to transform logic into a reflection on the nature of language.


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.

Wanda Torres Gregory is Professor of Philosophy at Simmons College and the coeditor (with Donna Giancola) of World Ethics. Yvonne Unna is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Seton Hall University. Together, they translated Heidegger's On the Essence of Language: The Metaphysics of Language and the Essencing of the Word Concerning Herder's Treatise On the Origin of Language, also published by SUNY Press.


"This translation is crafted with careful attention to nuance and detail. One of its principal strengths is the propinquity of the English to the original German. " — Theodore D. George, author of Tragedies of Spirit: Tracing Finitude in Hegel's Phenomenology