Scholarship on the German philosopher Martin Heidegger has traditionally focused on his magnum opus Being and Time and related earlier work, his later essays and lectures often relegated to an ambiguous later period that many consider philosophically insubstantial, or simply too esoteric and obscure to merit any serious engagement. Luckily, that is starting to change, especially with the publication of the Black Notebooks, as well as a number of manuscripts, essays and lectures from this period. These texts are starting to give us insight into Heidegger’s philosophical development, helping us understand old texts in new light, and trace the development of various themes from throughout his life with greater detail.
Joining me to discuss some of these developments is my guest today, Daniela Vellega-Neu, here with her recent book Heidegger’s Poietic Writings: From Contributions to Philosophy to the Event (Indiana University Press, 2018). Looking at Heidegger’s writing from 1936-1942, Vallega-Neu’s text is an excellent guide through this incredibly difficult period of Heidegger’s thinking. She works to unpack key terms, guiding us through difficult translations, and showing us how Heidegger was always trying to do something rather unique in attuning us to hidden philosophical and linguistic baggage. The book follows not only the explicit content of Heidegger’s texts, but also their underlying spirit, partaking in a sustained attempt to cultivate an attuned understanding to ourselves and our history, subtly shifting our attention (and what it even means to be attentive) in the hopes of pointing towards an elusive understanding of being that always remains just beyond our reach.
Daniela Vallega-Neu is a professor of philosophy at the University of Oregon. In addition to Heidegger’s Poietic Writings, she is also the author of The Bodily Dimension in Thinking and Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy. She is also one of the co-translators of Indiana University Press’s 2012 translation of Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy (of the Event).