Heidegger as Sacred Text

Dear Babette, David . . .,
First, Babette, your assertion about Heidegger’s thinking remaining “untouched” by all this delightful hermeneutical wrangling reminds me of one of my own “hobby horses” ( I hate the expression, have no hobbies, and love horses, but putting that all aside. .) We read Heidegger as a “sacred text” much like the Old Testament, where crucial passages are not at all clear, nor do they clearly and unmistakably direct interpretation in one way rather than another. Furthermore, as a sacred text, we assume it could not have said what it had to say in any other way. So the text is necessarily needful of interpretation, but, of course, given the rightness of the words, some interpretations are necessarily better than others. En fin, Heidegger’s thinking is inevitably “touched” by what we say, depending on how persuasively we say it, because the text itself is not “self interpreting.”

As to the “popularity contest,” persuasion always involves a bit of what you imply and that’s okay. Personally I would prefer that the discussion continue in “open forum,” and let the audience participate and judge as it will.
Babette, I am sure you will say I missed your point, as I’m saying you missed mine and perhaps we’re both right. But the point I was trying to make about Heidegger taken, especially by some scholars here, as “sacred text,” you didn’t really address. The words are not only read as “perfect” expressions of a meaning which perhaps Heidegger himself didn’t recognize, but also that different passages (true of biblical interpretation perhaps even more so, but still true of Heidegger interpretation as well) can be be read and understood in light of other passages. An interpretation of a given passage can also be “corrected” in light of another passage, even if they might have been written at different times in different moods. The hermeneutical principle that is operative here in biblical interpretation, in some Heidegger interpretation and also in Heidegger’s interpretation of certain Greek texts (see Scult, “Being Jewish/Reading Heidegger. . .”) is that what drives the words of the text and determines the interpreter’s relation to the text is the “truth” possibly contained in the words of the text as we find it. This is romantic hermeneutics with a vengeance, but I think this interpretive stance taken towards the text as “sacred” is not true of Nietzsche’s texts for Heidegger, nor of Plato the way Heidegger reads him(though I think his reading of Aristotle often takes the words of the text as sacred in the same way as he does the preSocratics). It’s also not true of Old Testament books beyond the first five, nor is true of the new Testament as it has been read and interpreted. Is there something about the words of certain texts that lend themselves to this “Hingabe”? I think there is. And this has nothing to do with Plato’s aversion to written texts, Nietzsche’s provocation, or Bill’s remark to graduate students…

Babette, I am sure you will say I missed your point, as I’m saying you missed mine and perhaps we’re both right. But the point I was trying to make about Heidegger taken, especially by some scholars here, as “sacred text,” you didn’t really address. The words are not only read as “perfect” expressions of a meaning which perhaps Heidegger himself didn’t recognize, but also that different passages (true of biblical interpretation perhaps even more so, but still true of Heidegger interpretation as well) can be be read and understood in light of other passages. An interpretation of a given passage can also be “corrected” in light of another passage, even if they might have been written at different times in different moods. The hermeneutical principle that is operative here in biblical interpretation, in some Heidegger interpretation and also in Heidegger’s interpretation of certain Greek texts (see Scult, “Being Jewish/Reading Heidegger. . .”) is that what drives the words of the text and determines the interpreter’s relation to the text is the “truth” possibly contained in the words of the text as we find it. This is romantic hermeneutics with a vengeance, but I think this interpretive stance taken towards the text as “sacred” is not true of Nietzsche’s texts for Heidegger, nor of Plato the way Heidegger reads him(though I think his reading of Aristotle often takes the words of the text as sacred in the same way as he does the preSocratics). It’s also not true of Old Testament books beyond the first five, nor is true of the new Testament as it has been read and interpreted. Is there something about the words of certain texts that lend themselves to this “Hingabe”? I think there is. And this has nothing to do with Plato’s aversion to written texts, Nietzsche’s provocation, or Bill’s r.