This important early Heidegger text sheds new light on his later focus on language.
This English translation of Vom Wesen der Sprache, volume 85 of Martin Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe, contains fascinating discussions of language that are important both for those interested in Heidegger's thought and for those who wish to think through the nature of language. The guiding theme of these reflections on language is found in Heidegger's lecture notes for a 1939 seminar that focused on J. G. Herder's treatise On the Origin of Language. This course, given just after the completion of his Contributions to Philosophy, sheds new light on the force of language in Heidegger's thought and shows the first openings to his later, better-known works dedicated to the topic of language. The result of this project is to outline how it is that thinking the being of the word moves out of metaphysics into the poetic word and its relation to history. A crucial work, this course brings the reader close to a decisive moment in Heidegger's thought, letting us see how he struggled forward to new ways of thinking how it is that "language as language" can be thought.
Wanda Torres Gregory is Associate 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.
"This excellent translation of Heidegger's 1939 lectures on Herder's account of the origin of language offers the English speaker access to a hidden gem of the Gesamtausgabe. In these lectures, Heidegger traces a detour around the German Idealist approach to language as a medium for expressing conceptual thought, in order to arrive at a more primordial origin for evoking meaning through the emergence of speech from silence. As a result, Herder appears as a key historical figure, too easily forgotten in the wake of Schelling and Hegel, who points to a radical retrieval of the essence of language through the dynamics of its enactment." — Frank Schalow, author of Heidegger and the Quest for the Sacred: From Thought to the Sanctuary of Faith
"Provides a glimpse into the workings of a Heidegger seminar while also presenting one of the most significant historical encounters from which Heidegger's later reflections on language emerged." — John Sallis, author of Platonic Legacies