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Heidegger: Learning

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This is the final draft of my entry on Heidegger for the Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory, edited by Michael Peters.
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  Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory, edited by Michael A. Peters.  Heidegger: Learning Eduardo Duarte,Hofstra University“What is lacking, then, is action, not thought….We must be ready andwilling to listen. !artin Heidegger, What is Called Thinking?  1 “"he hardest a##renticeshi# is that by which $#eo#le% learn how tohear and heed no im#erative other than that relation…&setting thehuman logos  in its #ro#er relation to the  Logos’ . 'einer (ch)rmann,  Heidegger On Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarch!  "  !artin Heidegger returned to the University of *reiburg in thewinter semester of +-+, and in the following summer of +- hedelivered his /nal lectures before his formal retirement from theuniversity. "hose lecture courses were organi0ed under the title Washeisst #enken?  , or the 1uestion $hat is called thinking? or what calls thinking2 3  4s 5. 6lenn 6ray reminds us in his introduction to the /rstEnglish edition of Heidegger7s lectures, these courses in +-+8+-“were also the /rst lectures he was #ermitted to give $in *reiburg% since +99, when he was drafted by the :a0is into the #eo#le7smilitia ; %olksst&rm < and was afterwards forbidden to teach by the*rench occu#ying #owers. 6ray adds that the interru#tion in histeaching must have been costly for Heidegger because “Heidegger isabove all else a teacher. 9  =t7s #roductive to listen to 6ray7s#ronouncement and allow it to guide us towards an understanding of what Heidegger tells us about learning in that last year of teaching at*reiburg.“Heidegger is  above all else a teacher 88 this is veri/ed by oneof his most renowned and devoted students, Hannah 4rendt, who,when asked by the  'e$ (ork )e*ie$ o+ Books  to write an essay tocommemorate Heidegger7s eightieth birthday, audaciously dated hisnativity as “ neither the date of his birth ;(e#tember >, +??, at!esskirch< nor the #ublication of his /rst book, but the /rst lecturecourses and seminars which he held as a mere  Pri*atdo,ent ;instructor< and assistant to Husserl at the University of *reiburg in++. -  4rendt continued@*or Heidegger7s “fame #redates by about eight years the#ublication of -ein &nd .eit ;  Being and Time < in +AB indeed it  is o#en to 1uestion whether the unusual success of this bookCnot ust the immediate im#act it had inside and outside theacademic world but also its etraordinarily lasting inFuence,with which few of the century7s #ublications can com#areCwould have been #ossible if it had not been #receded by theteacher7s re#utation among the students, in whose o#inion, atany rate, the book7s success merely con/rmed what they hadknown for many years."here was something strange about this early fame,stranger #erha#s than the fame of Gafka in the early "wentiesor of ra1ue and Iicasso in the #receding decade, who werealso unknown to what is commonly understood as the #ublic andnevertheless eerted an etraordinary inFuence. *or inHeidegger7s case there was nothing tangible on which his famecould have been based, nothing written, save for notes taken athis lectures which circulated among students everywhere. "heselectures dealt with tets that were generally familiarB theycontained no doctrine that could have been learned,re#roduced, and handed on. "here was hardly more than aname, but the name traveled all over 6ermany like the rumor of the hidden king.=t is indeed 1uite tem#ting in the s#ace of an encyclo#edia entryto take u# the #hiloso#hical history of Heidegger 1ua teacher, andthereby engage his thinking in relation to 4rendt and his other famousstudents whom (heldon Wolin called “Heidegger7s children. >  =f Heidegger is  above all else a teacher then it is 1uite reasonable totrace the educational force of his thinking in the out#ut of his #roli/cand inFuential students who, like 4rendt, Herbert !arcuse, and Hans 5onas, were among those who attended his lectures and seminars,es#ecially the earliest ones that #roduced the notes that circulatedlike bootlegged live #erformances. "oday, however, it is im#ossible to imagine the notes from theearly lecture courses retain the aura they once emanated when theywere circulated in 6ermany thirty8nine years before the hidden Gingwas dethroned from his #rofessor7s chair in *reiburg. =ndeed,im#ossible, because l’a/aire Heidegger    continues to generateincreasing infamy, most recently with the the J+- #ublications of Heidegger7s -ch$ar,e He+te , or “black notebooks, where, from +3+8 +AJs, Heidegger ke#t his own #rivate notes. :ot the early tradednotes, but, rather, the black notebooks is where it is claimed, today,that one encounters the lingering rumor of the hidden Ging, a rumorthat has now mor#hed into the rumor of what the Ging has hiddenbehind the closed doors of his study. Grell insists that Heidegger7s black notebooks can only be readas eem#lars of &nthinking  because there is almost nothing that is  genuinely thought8#rovoking in the thousands of #ages. A  What oneencounters in -ch$ar,e He+te  is generated from the mood of theegomaniacal, written by a fugitive from thinking. Ket it remains a1uestion how far removed these &#rivate7 words stand in contrast toHeidegger7s &#ublic7 teaching. 4nd this 1uestion is relevant to thosewho remain students of Heidegger7s #ublished writing that nowincludes the notorious black notebooks alongside the reveredmonogra#hs, lectures, dialogues, essays and #oems. =ndeed,engaging in a conversation with him, which is to say learning withhim, demands that we acknowledge the co8eistence of both thefamous and infamous /gures, the two “Heideggers@ the one /gurea##earing in the seminar room, who moves with his students into theclearing of thinking, and the other, remaining behind closed doors,working s&0 rosa . With the one we encounter the &Irivatdo0ent7 or&teacher,7 and with the other hand we encounter &Herr 'ektor7 or&administrator.7 "oday students of Heidegger who are moved by his thought8#rovoking writing are also familiar with the s&0 rosa  Heidegger, andwith the details that 6ray did not include in his +>? introduction to What is Called Thinking?   Heidegger was elected rector of *reiburgUniversity on 4#ril +, +33 ;three months after Hitler becamechancellor<. He became a member of the :a0i #arty on !ay +st, andremained one until +9-. 4nd during that twelve8year s#anHeidegger gave at least one well known lecture course titled“=ntroduction to !eta#hysics, where he notoriously #rofessed “theinner truth and greatness of :ational (ocialism. "his line remainedin the tet when it was #ublished in +-3, eactly one year after heoLered his /nal courses in #hiloso#hy at *reiburg. “Heidegger is  above all else a teacher. *rom the historicaldistance of time and #lace what we learn from l’a/aire Heidegger   canbe summoned u# in the title of a book by :iet0sche, who was thesubect of lecture course Heidegger oLered at *reiburg between+3>8+9J. ?  "he title of :iet0sche7s book is  H&man All too H&man . Ilaced within eistential force generated by this title, the twoHeideggers are, together, absolved by the higher truth revealed in thetragedy that constitutes a human life@ to be human, all too human, isto co8eist as sinner and saint. "he com#lete title of :iet0sche7s book bears a coincidentalrelation to the name of the city ;*reiburg aka *ree8city< whereHeidegger lived and taught@  H&man All too H&man: A Book +or Free-pirits . "he etended title suggests /rst and foremost the form of :iet0sche7s writing@ the a#horism. 4nd with that in mind the title,along with the form it evokes, we /nd an im#ortant fragment inHeidegger@ “the essence of truth is freedom. "he fragment, from theessay, “Mn the Essence of "ruth,   yields a word 1uestion thatstudents of Heidegger are re#eatedly confronted with@ “  +reedom?    =n +?A, the same year that Nictor *arias #ublished  Heidegger et le 'a,isme , the English edition of 'einer (ch)rmann7s  Heidegger:On Being and Acting  was #ublished. (ch)rmann7s thesis is thatHeidegger must be read from the end to the beginning ;i.e., studiedfrom his last dee#ly musical and #oetic writings and from there back to  Being and Time <. +J  4 fragment from (ch)rmann7s book directs us toe#and the title of Heidegger the &teacher7 as &teacherOlearner7. "hise#anded title enables us to gras# the #riority of learning toHeidegger7s later #roect, which, in eLect, will enable us to trace this#riority 0ack  to the beginning of his earliest work as a  Pri*atdo,ent .(ch)rmann writes@ “"he hardest a##renticeshi# is that by which$#eo#le% learn how to hear and heed no other im#erative than therelation…of human logos  in its #ro#er relation to the  Logos .  4n a##rentice is a novice, a beginner, but also a beginning. 4s 4rendt citing (t. 4ugustine once insisted, we can begin because weare a beginning@ “$the human #erson% is free because $they are% abeginning….ecause $they are % a beginning, $the human #erson% canbeginB to be human and to be free are one and the same. 6od created$humanity% in order to introduce into the world the faculty of beginning@ freedom. ++  =n this sense an a##rentice in theHeideggerian sense is not only a beginner in being a novice, but alsobeginning in being the a##earance of freedom in the world. Pearninghow to hear and heed  Logos  entails 0ecoming  a beginning. "helearner is the reali0ation of freedom in the world. Pearning undertaken by the a##rentice of  Logos  involves a techne  ; τεκνε < that is no mere technical techni1ue ;&how to7< but a poein ; ποειν < that res#onds to the fundamental 1uestion 2+reedom?     Poein ; ποειν < hears the 1uestion of freedom as the 1uestion of eing,and res#onds by making meaning. =n turn, the hardest a##renticeshi#is learning how to listen to human logos in relation to  Logos , andthereby receiving the call ;ins#iration< to make or com#ose ameaningful contribution to the world, which is to say, a work of art thegathers others into the clearing, or region of #eace. Pearning to listenis thus the #rocess of learning the techne  that most #ro#erly attains tohuman being@ dwelling. ““"he word for #eace,  Friede , means the free, das Fre …."o dwell, to be set at #eace, means to remain at #eacewithin the free. +  =n sum, res#onding to the call of  Logos , to the1uestion of freedom, entails undertaking the work that brings about#eace. “Heidegger is  above all else a teacher 88 and as one who#ursued the evasive dynamic of thinking he remains 0e+ore and 0eond  all others a learner. With regard to Heidegger in the contetof learning, what should interest us is what remains 0e+ore  and 0eond the personas  ;the masks #laced u#on him by himself and byothers, including his students #ast, #resent, and those who will comelater<. "o hear Heidegger the teacher is to listen8with Heidegger the  learner, which is to listen not  to Heidegger per se  but to  Logos . Whenwe do this the student recogni0es what remains 0e+ore  the /gures of &Heidegger,7 behind these masks, is the shared breath, the humans#irit, the (oul, which is ultimately ehaled through and moves 0eond  those masks. "hus what remains always before and  beyond isthe ins#iration ;the breath in8s#ired, s#irit< from  Logos , receivedthrough the fundamental 1uestion “  +reedom?3  and carried out inres#onse to the instruction to “make something meaningful, “make aworld of meaning, “make a meaningful world@ make, build,something lasting, something beautiful, something that will sublimatemortality, something worthy of remembering, of re#airing andrenewing. =n order to receive  Logos , and thus to be in8s#ired by the Word,the mask of &Heidegger7 must give way to the call that #recedes fromthe (#irit that is heard as the antepersona  of  Herr )ecktor  . Pearning#roceeds via listening, because human logos ;saying< is #receded by  Logos  ;universal calling<. +3  *or the later Heidegger, the one a studentmust begin with, removing the mask of #ower #roved to be the mostdiLicult challenge within “the hardest a##renticeshi#. 4s Grell #utsit, the fundamental 1uestions #ursued by Heidegger “What calls on usto think2...give &s #ause. Here we must assert less, listen more. +9 *or his #art, Heidegger recogni0ed the struggle with the mask of #ower in his /nal lectures, announcing from the onset that thefundamental task of the teacher is to be a learner, and within thecontet of a learning community, the  4rst  learner@"he teacher is ahead of his a##rentices in this alone, that he hasstill far more to learn than they 88 he has to learn to let themlearn. "he teacher must be ca#able of being more teachablethan the a##rentices. "he teacher is far less assured of hisground than those who learn are of theirs. =f the relationbetween teacher and taught is genuine, therefore, there is nevera #lace in it for the authority of the know8it8all or theauthoritative sway of the oLicial. =t is still an ealted matter,then, to become a teacher 88 which is something else entirelythan becoming a famous #rofessor.; WCT +-< "he move from assertion to listening involves a resolution torelin1uish willing, or to will non8willing, what Heidegger, following themedieval mystic theologian !eister Eckhart calls 5elassenheit ;releasement<. 'eleasement of the will is a sus#ension of the will8to8#ower, that desire to im#ose or #lace u#on oneself, others and theworld a sing&lare tant&m , a single world8view or system of belief ;dogma<. 5elassenheit , the releasement of the will, #laces one intolearning via unlearning, into the uncertainty that is confronted beyonddogma and the will8to8#ower@ “when we learn to think...we must allow
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