Thursday, 16 February 2017

In the open region

Aristotle reports a story about Heraclitus, which Heidegger recounts in his 'Letter on Humanism'.
The story is told of something Heraclitus said to some strangers who wanted to come visit him. Having arrived, they saw him warming himself at a stove.  Surprised, they stood there in consternation - above all because he encouraged them, the astounded ones, and called for them to come in, with the words, "For here too the gods are present" (Heidegger, 1992, pp. 256).
Heidegger highlights a few aspects of this story saying how the strangers are shocked at the mundane and disappointing spectacle they witness at Heraclitus' place. Thinking him to be a thinker of repute they expect something noble and great of him. But here he is warming himself by the stove... something any one could be found doing.
... "even here," at the stove, in that ordinary place where every thing and every condition, each deed and thought is intimate and commonplace, that is familiar [geheuer], "even there" in the sphere of the familiar, einai theous, it is the case that "the gods come to presence." 
Heraclitus himself says, ... "The (familiar) abode of man is the open region for the presencing of god (the unfamiliar one)" (Heidegger, 1992, pp. 258).
[Heidegger, M. (1992) 'Letter on humanism', in Krell, D.F. (ed.) Martin Heidegger: Basic writings. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, pp. 213-266.]

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