On Books and ‘Altars Consecrated to an Unknown God’: Reading Heidegger’s Beiträge

Babette Babich


Fordham University, NYC / University of Winchester, UK


1. Wirkungsgeschichte

A. Three Decades and Counting

Heidegger famously argued in his Nietzsche lecture courses that Nietzsche’s published works ought to be regarded as mere Vorhalle, vestibule or preliminary to the major work of Nietzsche’s Nachlaß, a Nachlaß including Nietzsche’s The Will to Power, compiled by his editors.1 In the interim, the claim has acquired an inverse precision. If Heidegger’s reflections do not correspond to current readings of Nietzsche’s Will to Power — a non‑book regarded by Nietzsche scholars as an unsavoury carcass, freighted with the interventions of his Nazi‑sympathising and anti‑Semitic sister, Elisabeth Förster Nietzsche2 — Heidegger’s observations do describe the fortunes of his own posthumous work. These works include unpublished material from the so‑called Black Notebooks, which themselves were the occasion for scandal, revisiting Heidegger as anti‑Semite, but also the Beiträge itself, another scandal, among other posthumous texts and including texts of lecture courses. These recast Heidegger, both the man and the philosopher, in a new light, quite as Heidegger argued that the publication of posthumous works changed the reception of Hegel, Hölderlin, and Nietzsche. All this Gadamerian Wirkungsgeschichte is a melding of interpretive ‘horizons,’3 at times reinforcing, at times altering, even reversing scholarly understanding of a given author/interpretive tradition.4 Writing on the challenges — as Schleiermacher flagged these — of bridging any temporal divide (from antiquity or indeed, crossing the thirty years since the first publication and eighty years since the writing of the Beiträge), as counterpoise and tension “between familiarity and strangeness,”5 Gadamer emphasizes that


Understanding is not, in fact, understanding better, either in the sense of superior knowledge of the subject because of clearer ideas or in the sense of fundamental superiority of conscious over unconscious production. It is enough to say that we understand in a different way, if we understand at all.6


Here, Gadamer is articulating the condition of understanding achieved as such. Saying that “we understand in a different way,” Gadamer reviews Heidegger’s reflection on the component dimension of questioning, showing contra a naïve historicism that rather than constituting a divide, time itself is the affordance of “the supportive ground of the course of events in which the present is rooted.”7 Thus Gadamer reflects on our effort to understand what speaks to or “addresses us” in some significant way. Response as such requires a suspension of judgment, ergo openness, which is what Heidegger analyses as questioning:


all suspension of judgments and hence, a fortiori, of prejudices, has the logical structure of a question. The essence of the question is to open up possibilities and keep them open… Understanding is, essentially, a historically effected event.8


If Gadamer’s Heideggerian reflex is correct — and I think it is — especially qua foregrounded as the question structure constitutive for understanding,9 what matters in every case, as Gadamer continues, will be finding our way to the right questions to ask.

How does this bear on the Beiträge?


B. Reading the Beiträge


Following the initial publication of Heidegger’s Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), edited by Friedrich Wilhelm von Hermann three decades ago,10 there was, as aftershock, an explosion of responses as scholars trained on the language of the Heidegger of Being and Time as well as scholars keen to read the more evocative Heidegger who wrote on language as the “house of Being,” the fourfold, etc., found themselves more baffled than bemused. William J. Richardson, S.J., inspiring some imitations, opted for the language of a ‘symphony’ (not for Richardson, the happiest of terms)11 while other authors sought, according to various tactical schemata, to construct decoder rings for the text.12 At the same time, and because the first English translation of the Beiträge13 almost immediately became the object of contestation in the maelstrom of the then analytic‑continental divide (now defunct by cooptation),14 so‑called ‘analytic,’ i.e., ‘mainstream’ philosophers like Simon Blackburn in the Anglophone tradition, who, for his part, attacked the text/translation, with more jeering than argument per se.15 Many of the first responses to the Beiträge were not ‘interpretations’ or readings so much as reactions in which, like Blackburn, scholars expressed their own feelings, tacking their way through unfamiliar terrain which however became increasingly indispensable through the force of fashion: conferences were held on the Beiträge, book collections were assembled on the Beiträge, monographs meaning to be canonic were composed,16 etc., and so on. And almost all of this, in a different parsing of Rilke’s Duino Elegies, would be Auftrag: not because the Beiträge spoke to readers but consequent to scholarly fondness for the timely. This ‘timeliness’ is the point of Nietzsche’s Untimely Meditations, and Heidegger himself repeatedly emphasizes it. For scholars, no matter whether in Nietzsche’s day, or Heidegger’s day — one imagines this goes back to antiquity, given Lucian’s amusing jibes at the philosophers in his ‘Philosophers for Sale’17 — are given to exemplifying current enthusiasms, a ‘fashionable’ predisposition extending to historians of philosophy. And fashion is a thing of the moment. Thus researchers on citation networks note that humanities scholars largely limit citations to texts published well within the last decade.18 In particular, university philosophy so suffers from an allergy to citation that authors can reinvent the wheel with every publication, windowless monads of happy ignorance of others authors writing on the same related themes: I’ll return to this below.

Revisiting the Beiträge after its publication three decades ago already invites us to sidestep our fondness for the most recent. And part of what I take as point of departure is that the Beiträge, in its public form — and indeed to use Heidegger’s own titular distinction, its “proper” form, for the critical difference this makes to rendering his subtitle, essential as he tells us that it is ‘Vom Ereignis’ (GS 65, 3), from appropriation, enownment: making a thing properly one’s own — dates back to 1959, underlining that it belongs within material appearing within the decade following the publication in 1927 of Sein und Zeit. Inasmuch as, following the recently published Black Notebooks, we know Heidegger’s discontent with readerly responses to Being and Time, such that (like Nietzsche, complaining that he had no readers and that he would have no readers, non legor, non legar), Heidegger decried the absence of the right readers, a similar concern with reading may be tracked, though I will not do this here, throughout the Beiträge.


C. The Working Effects of Translation and Editing


In its Anglophone reception (it is significant that a French translation would not appear until six years ago), translators have loomed disproportionately large in responses to Heidegger’s Beiträge.19 In part this follows from the now completely dominant analytic tradition in philosophy and its conviction that anything can be said in language requiring no readerly preparation or stylistic sensitivity or historical awareness. That this cuts out a great deal of what is proper to another language, another culture, another era — this is one of the reasons I have noted the periodicity of dating intervals as the dating of the Beiträge covering some eighty years — is no obstacle. We believe with the analysts, often with Strunk and White ferocity, that anything that can be said, can be said clearly: meaning simply, meaning unambiguously. This makes translating Heidegger next to impossible no matter how much latitude the translator grants him- or herself.20 Still the basic response to the difficulty in reading Heidegger has been a call for new translations which, in their turn, replicate some of the same troubles that led to their commissioning. Thus the Beiträge may be read today in two translatorly versions.21 Given that Anglophone philosophy lacks a complete translation, just for one example, of Nietzsche’s works (though retranslations of the same works are increasingly available in abundance) and given, which is a problem for international dialogue, that, in the case of Heidegger scholarship, we lack renderings of the many commentators on Heidegger in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, etc., our dedication to re‑translating extant translations (also famously including Sein und Zeit, to poor effect, given the readerly response to the project such that that retranslation had to be revised, to fairly unhappy responses to the same revision) might seem questionable.

I mention the rarity of citation in philosophy, a scarcity matched to publication cartels, insular, sometimes incestuous and limited groups that mutually promote and replicate one another’s work, flourish for a bit, only to perish when a faction splinters or fades with the death of the driving spirit of the group, usually but not always a teacher. Certain Heideggerians cite certain Heideggerians and nothing besides: which is the meaning of a citation cartel. Other philosophers refuse Heidegger altogether along with all his works, all his readers — this is the politics of the academy. Thomas Kuhn researched the phenomenon more broadly in his The Structure of Scientific Revolution as what he named normal science.22 Normal Heidegger scholarship engenders a normativized/contested Heidegger,23 all to be forgotten with the next generation as Kuhn argues that death and dying are the most influential factors when it comes to changing a world view — or a paradigm, i.e., thoughtstyle.24

The question of translation is important for Heidegger’s reception and interpretation as Robert Bernasconi remarks on Heidegger’s reflections on translation in general in his 1942 lecture course on Hölderlin’s Der Ister.25 In a series of elliptically brief sentences, Bernasconi underscores the presumption behind what appears as a “promise” or as Bernasconi intimates, a “threat,” in response to whatever one thinks of translation, comes Heidegger’s parallel remonstration, “I will tell you who you are,” cited in Bernasconi’s essay on “Heidegger on Greco‑German Destiny and Amerikanismus.”26 If the reference to Americanism is timely today in an age of Trump and its coordinate alliance with Brexit, in the Beiträge, unlike the Black Notebooks, Heidegger’s focus foregrounds the complex question of national science, then important in Nazi Germany, emphasizing that rather than taking Husserl’s crisis reflections any further27 — the date of the original manuscript is here significant — where all parties appear to be organized against considering much less thinking this notion of crisis but opting for unreflected, uncritical science at every level, in every case. Here Heidegger indicates his reserves:


The “folk” [“völkische”] “organization” of “science” proceeds along the same track as the “American,” the question is only which of the sides has set up the greater means and capacities for quicker and consummate disposal in order to hunt the unaltered and out of itself unalterable essence of modern science into its most extreme final condition.28


Traditional or mainstream readings of Heidegger inasmuch as these overlook Heidegger’s concerns with science and technology or otherwise reducing or assimilating the same to Jünger and National Socialism, work to incline readers to overlook key connections with Heidegger and the later Husserl. But Heidegger’s point, borrowed a bit from Nietzsche’s own reflections on modern scientism or scientificity, is that the “task” in question cannot but be protracted over “several centuries” all the while excluding “ever more decisively every possibility of a ‘crisis’ of science, i.e., of an essential transformation of knowing and of truth.”29

In his lecture course on Hölderlin’s The Ister, Heidegger thematizes the question with respect to antiquity and the challenge of reading Hölderlin who also translated Sophocles.30 In Anglophone philosophy, translation is the continuation of academic politics in the most effective because invisible fashion. Thus, the Cambridge translations of Nietzsche, like the Cambridge translations of Kant and Hegel, are exercises in analytic cooptation, transforming the language of the canonic text itself. One changes the canon by changing the way it is rendered. Why read the Phenomenology of Spirit when one can read the Phenomenology of Mind? That this is more than a happy coincidence for fans of M(etaphysics) & E(pistemology) is perhaps better attested — others may drag out the problems that only begin with this rendering of Hegel’s Phenomenologie des Geistes if they like — by the fact that the analytic appropriation of Nietzsche is also underway in the Cambridge edition(s) and not less in the current Stanford editions published to date and the editors’ edict that all words in Nietzsche’s text are (‘ideally’) to be rendered using the same English term. That this will be even less felicitous in Nietzsche’s case than in Hegel’s is obvious.

If the style of the Beiträge is arguably off‑putting for both Heideggerians and non‑Heideggerians, there is the more significant issue of its text‑generative editing for publication. I have argued that by means of the Beiträge together with his Nietzsche lectures dating from the same epoch, Heidegger sought to counter the role of editors and their influence on the reception of a thinker and thus on the history of thought. In this way, Heidegger attempted to minimize the latitude editors would have to manipulate his texts by means of his plan for a final edition of his works.31 Almost predictably, Heidegger would not succeed in this pre‑emptive project — and how could he have? — but tracing it can advance our understanding of his contribution to hermeneutics, evident in the instance, materially so, of the Beiträge qua book, which may be described, without attributing nefarious intent to the editor himself, as one of the most radically manipulated of Heidegger’s posthumous works.

Like translatorly option, editorial interventions, not only but particularly in the case of posthumous texts, as Heidegger himself had claimed with respect to Nietzsche’s Nachlaß in his own Nietzsche lectures, a reflection influential for his own concerns for his own posthumous texts,32 are (this would be the Wirkungsgeschichte of the same) effectively, i.e., efficaciously, invisible. This remains the case even though scholars have had both the manuscript, set as a typescript to make matters more not less unambiguous, circulated to different students, including Otto Pöggeler, who promoted the Beiträge as Heidegger’s ‘second major work,’ redeploying the Heidegger used to refer to Nietzsche’s Nachlass. Thus Pöggeler shared an early version of the Beiträge for Heidegger’s 70th Birthday in 1959, “Sein als Ereignis,”33 translated into English as “Being as Appropriation” in 1975, one year before Heidegger’s death.34 In terms of time, however that also yields sixty years of the Beiträge’s public reception. The Beiträge thus seems to be Heidegger’s reflection on his own project, setting on, as he tells us throughout, another, path, another beginning.

Friedrich von Hermann, a prolific editor of Heidegger’s works, if by no means as monumentally, i.e., famously so, as others including his successor Peter Trawny, edited Heidegger’s Beiträge, switching out the second chapter, Seyn, to set it as conclusion to the Beiträge and in the process displacing Heidegger’s envisioned final chapter, specified in the first section of the preview [Vorblick] as this explicates the official title, Beiträge zur Philosophie, featuring a full list of the component sections, concluding with “The Last God” [der letzte Gott] (GA 65, 6), whereby — note that Das Seyn does not appear in the listing of six sections — we read: “der Anklang | das Zuspiel | der Sprung | die Grundung | die Zukünftigen | der letzte Gott,” (ibid.), a listing which recurs under the title 3. Vom Ereignis, now set off with a line between each title, again concluding with “der letzte Gott” (GA 65, 9).

I note Heidegger’s section titles as these do not match the chapter range of the Beiträge in the typescript or the 933 written pages of the manuscript, as both include “Das Seyn” as the second chapter, beginning as section 50 and to this extent the numbered sections of the typescript differ numerically from the printed version. The differences are significant. As von Hermann points out in his afterword, his editorial decision to displace the second chapter to the end of the text reflected Heidegger’s own dated note “8. 5. 1939” added to the bottom of the typewritten table of contents, directed to a future editor, i.e. von Hermann, or else, perhaps for Heidegger’s own reference:


›Das Seyn‹ als Abschnitt II [Teil II] ist nicht richtig eingereiht; als Versuch das Ganze noch einmal zu fassen, gehört er nicht an diese Stelle. 35


It is unclear that this remark belongs in the category of what Heidegger would call, speaking of sentences, those belonging to “essential thinking.” Hence it would be hard to argue that this is a sentence to be included among those “thoughts and sentences” which are “to be hewn anew, like ore, from the ground‑attunement [Grundstimmung].”36 Certainly the note added to the table of contents was factively taken to have been sufficiently conclusive for the editor that, by editorial fiat and printed (material) necessity, it set the articulation of the Beiträge. Thus von Hermann took Heidegger’s ‘das Ganze’ — as well he might do — to refer to the Beiträge as a whole much rather than, as its marginal position at the end of the typed “Table of Contents” might suggest, with reference to the Vorblick per se, just given the list noted above. What is at stake here is not an argued interpretation of the author’s referent one way or the other but an editorial decision, quite absent any further comment on Heidegger’s part in all the years intervening between the date of the note in 1939 and his death in 1976, that is, absent an indication as to where the section might then ‘belong.’ What is at stake is nothing more nor less than an alteration of the arrangement of the numbered manuscript and typescript. In this fashion, slicing out the section included in the typescript as section II in order to set it as conclusion, renumbering all the sections following section 49 accordingly, von Hermann rather than appending (as a less intrepid editor might have done) an asterisk, say, to the table of contents, featuring the text of Heidegger’s note there, thus replicating the original typescript qua footnote, von Hermann cut the note completely and opted to recast the entire book.

Editorial alteration and intervention is a temptation with an unpublished work: the problem with the editions of Nietzsche’s Will to Power (and there are several, of differing dimensions, including differing articulations in different languages) is accordingly a matter of the consequences of such intervention: the editors assembled the constitutive sections as they saw fit. By the very same token, it makes a difference that Nietzsche himself never did anything with the notes variously cobbled together as ‘his’ Will to Power. By contrast, Heidegger’s concern was to effect an ‘authorized’ edition, contra the editors, as I formulate this ambition.37 If it is important to recall that the debates concerning such interventions with respect to The Will to Power remain complex, complicated by Heidegger himself, it is at the same time essential to note, by contrast, that the concept of an ‘Ausgabe letzter Hand’ is hardly Heidegger’s coinage but stems from Goethe and belongs to a tradition of editorial constation which is arguably best illustrated via the example of Hölderlin.38 It is an influential tradition of publication and republication, i.e., an author's new edition, and I have argued, in agreement with Sarah Kofman, that Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo was similarly composed, reflecting his hope to publish a new edition of his collected works.39

Moving an entire section is no minor editorial intervention although some might count it as nugatory to the extent that the text was never composed by the author for publication, harmless too as the text was not merely an unpublished manuscript but prepared in order to remain unpublished, if we take Heidegger at his word on this, whereby such shifts are less intrusive than bowdlerizing interventions to the word or sentence: editors who rephrase or editors who add their own language and themes to an author’s work.40

And perhaps other factors were at work, if one enters the realm of speculation, maybe a manuscript ending with “The Last God” could strike editors and publishers as dissonant? What is certain is that a Beiträge that ended with “Der Letze Gott” is other than a Beiträge that concludes with Beyng/Seyn, as the currently printed version does do. Thus Heidegger’s notion of the Last God is philosophically, i.e., pace Heidegger, metaphysically, one of his more daunting concepts, quite apart from the ongoing efflorescence of what my friend, the late Dominique Janicaud, could lament for his own part as the ‘Theological Turn’ in phenomenology, in France (it is now everywhere).41 In this respect, even for those concerned with Heidegger and technology, the Spiegel interview would have to be disquieting on the level of logic: “Only a God,” offers even less indication of future recourse than the notion of Gelassenheit,42 which Heidegger also hints at in this text. Perhaps the notion of a final or last god can read as being too pagan or too “Greek” or, indeed, too Nordic. In any case, and on the basis of a note added at the end of the typed of contents indicating that Seyn doesn’t belong as the second section (part), and absent any indication concerning where it might belong, the editor set it as conclusion in the printed collected works where it stands to this day in all subsequent editions and translations.43


2. For the Few, the Seldom, the Futural Reading Nietzsche in the Beiträge

Heidegger underlines some of the same points he makes with respect to reading the later poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin, via the efforts of the editor, Norbert von Hellingrath, in this very different case, suffused to an important extent with the pain — and vainglory — of World War I.44 In the Beiträge, setting Kierkegaard between Hölderlin and Nietzsche, a name decisive even for Adorno for critical, reflexive thinking in the 1930 s, Heidegger argues that


No one today would be so presumptuous as to take it as sheer accident that these three, who, each in their own way, ultimately suffered most deeply via the uprooting to which Western history is being driven and who simultaneously intimated their divinities most intimately, would have had to depart prematurely from the brilliance of their days.45


Hölderlin, is for Heidegger the most crucial in this locus, referring as he does here to the Black Notebooks:


Hölderlin, the earliest of these three, at the same time became the one who poetized ahead the most broadly, in an age when once again thinking aspired to know all history up till then absolutely?”46


The question Heidegger raises is the question of the history of Being/ Seyn quite as such, gnomically expressed in terms of the crisis of history as Heidegger had inherited this:


What hidden history of the much invoked 19th century happened here? What motivating law of the ones to come [des Künftigen] is here being prepared?47


Here, to the complexity of reading Heidegger on Hölderlin, barely indicated, there’s Nietzsche, as noted above as a name that echoes throughout the Beiträge, an example rendered more complex given Heidegger’s Nietzsche interpretation, which remains controversial and not less through a range of scholarly interpretations of Nietzsche in each case, most falling short of Heidegger’s remonstration that one read Nietzsche quite as one reads the classics of philosophy, i.e., philologically, hermeneutically. Heidegger thus sets Nietzsche together with Plato in contestation to be sure, along with Anaximander in a section of Das Seyn entitled Die Philosophie.48

To Heidegger’s enduring credit per contra, it remains the case that Nietzsche is not an author one reads with any kind of exigence. And to the same extent, Heidegger’s Nietzsche tends to be understood even less than Heidegger’s Hölderlin. And Heidegger adds to the difficulty inasmuch as he reads his Nietzsche on and with the ancients (Anaximander, Plato, Aristotle) contra Nietzsche’s ancients. This is a question which requires its own and different reflections.

In the Beiträge, Heidegger sets Nietzsche into the constellation of the text itself (as a whole one might say), developed from or out of Being and Time. Thus we read: 42 From “Being and Time” to “Enowning.” Glossing the scope of what Heidegger works out in different ways in his Nietzsche lectures, Heidegger describes what can be read as a certain reception of Nietzsche’s writing (particularly but not only Karl Jaspers as well as Alfred Baeumler but also Karl Löwith and even Oskar Becker)49 in a complicated reflection on the ‘system’ as system (about which Nietzsche himself articulates a manifesto of suspicion, expressed no less for Nietzsche in Hölderlin’s language: the time of systems, Nietzsche writes, is past)


For the first time this transpires as Nietzsche’s thinking; and what confronts us as “psychology” and as self‑vivisection and disintegration and “Ecce homo,” with all the contemporaries of that desolate time, that has its real truth as the history of thinking, that which with Nietzsche still first seeks that which is to be thought and yet finds it in the sphere of the metaphysical disposition of the question (Will to Power and eternal recurrence of the same).50


The notion here is signal, this is the transition, the Übergang, and we will come back to this as we reflect on Heidegger’s thinking on the ‘last god.’ At stake is recognition and belonging, or owning, or guardianship and need, in this case not human indigence but the needfulness of Seyn as such in an extraordinary section that highlights the maintenance of the abyss and the leap into what Emad and Maly render as the “essential swaying of being.” This “unfolds its essential‑power as the en‑owning, as the between for the needfullness of god and the guardianship of humanity.”51

In Anklang, Echo, the section which, perhaps more than any other might seem to have be directed to or as if pre‑pared by Nietzsche himself, we read a subsection entitled Seinsverlassenheit, glossing both Heidegger’s Nietzsche and the nihilism that remains a watchword for all latest thinking on nihilism (these are popularly minded current references to nihilism that however rarely discuss or engage other commentaries on or even show a minimum sense of the history of the language, as Heidegger for own his part surely does):


What Nietzsche for the first time and indeed as orientated towards Platonism recognized as nihilism, is in truth, and regarded with respect to the grounding‑question alien to him, only the foregrounding of the much deeper occurrence of the forgetting of being, which emerges more and more directly in consequence to finding‑the‑answer to the guiding‑question. But even the forgetting of being (in each case following the designation) is not the most original destining of the first beginning; rather, it is the abandonment of being that perhaps was most obscured and denied by Christianity and its worldly descendants.52


Heidegger emphasizes the needfulness of this abandonment, resonant with what Hölderlin calls destitute times, here deploying Nietzsche as a compass to trace this abandonment and its dissolution (the reference to the secular above), quite the same needfulness or destitute abandonment that Nietzsche calls forth, asking in the passage entitled The Madman/Der tolle Mensch in The Gay Science, how shall we conjure festivals of atonement for this most unfathomable of deeds, confessing an unspeakable agency of oblivion and mockery, a reflection elevated to the height of cosmic negativity and cold at the conclusion of his On the Genealogy of Morals. For Heidegger, this compass works as he uses it to trace his own outline in the Beiträge:


The singularizing explication of the abandonment of being as the collapse of the West; the flight of gods; the death of the moralising, Christian God; its reinterpretation (cf. Nietzsche’s references). The masking of this uprooting by the groundless but supposedly newly beginning coming‑to‑itself of humanity (modernity); this masking eclipsed and intensified through progress: discoveries, inventions, industry, the machine; simultaneously the massification, abandonment, impoverishment, all as detachment from the ground and from orderings, uprooting yet as the deepest masking of distress, incapacity for mindfulness, impotence of truth; the pro‑gress into non‑beings as the growing abandonment of Seyn.53


Many of these elemental loci recur in The Black Notebooks,54 and indeed, if differently, in the Bremen and Freiburg lectures on technology as well as in What is Called Thinking?

Nietzsche is the most important name in this series of reflections in Heidegger’s work and can be read as having presaged a certain accounting of what Heidegger calls the history of being in Nietzsche’s own Twilight of the Idols, “A Short History of an Illusion,” i.e., how the ‘true world’ became a ‘fable,’ moving importantly between the idea of the idea, the real, and the phenomenal world. Heidegger, who sets a course through or between Plato and Nietzsche, follows Nietzsche in this respect, while denying his influence. This accord/denial makes Heidegger’s reading of Nietzsche difficult to follow, precisely in connection with Heidegger’s reference to Western metaphysics in which he inscribes Nietzsche as ‘inextricably entangled,’55 quite apart from the complex distinction Heidegger maintains between historiological [historisch] / historical [geschichtlich], whereby regarding “Nietzsche as the end of Western metaphysics” features as part of what Heidegger names the “Transition [Übergang] to Another Beginning.”56

Re‑writing Nietzsche’s history of an illusion seems no difficult task for the Heidegger who inscribes the entirety of the history of philosophy within his own program from the start. Operative for Heidegger in every case is the question of Being, the question Heidegger continues to thematize further as thinking. Beginning by noting the counter‑intuitive shift as this usage comes to predominate with Hegel, such that Plato’s original reflections on the idea would render him not, as Heidegger claims here, an idealist but rather as teaching the “ἰδέα as the essence of the ὄν,” and that is to say, now in Latin as this schematism rules the history of modern Western philosophy, the “realitas of the res.”57 Thereby, both Kant and Hegel can be read as Heidegger reads them within this same Platonic legacy which means, in turn that, Heidegger has little difficulty inscribing Nietzsche within the same schema. For Heidegger, what is at stake is the Being as question as such:


what determines the standard for the whole history of Western philosophy, including Nietzsche, is being and thinking. Although Nietzsche experiences beings [das Seiende] as becoming [Werden], he remains with this interpretation as opponent within the traditional framework: beings are merely differently interpreted, but the being‑question is as such never raised.58


So articulated, no other thinker, apart from Heidegger, is able to be counted as having raised quite this question, quite as such. In this way and in spite of Nietzsche’s famous experimenting with truth, his asking after the question of truth — granted, Nietzsche writes that we want truth, why not, however untruth, why not the lie? — Heidegger revalues, recoins Nietzsche internal to his aletheic schema of adequation, whereby Nietzsche poses, as Heidegger reads him (it’s a misreading, but Heidegger’s argument requires it), nothing like the preceding constellation of the contest between truth/lie as the early Nietzsche has it much less, as the later Nietzsche has it, truth and convention/habitus, but, now for Heidegger, raising little more than “the question of the value of truth, a genuinely Platonizing (!) question.”59 The exclamation point is an honest one: the hermeneutic move more than a little striking given Nietzsche’s antipathy to Plato, again recalling Nietzsche’s history of an illusion “I, Plato, am the truth” but thereby Heidegger can set Nietzsche as the incarnation of Heidegger’s conception of his own thought as the “inversion [Umkehrung]”60 of Platonism, which nonetheless as Heidegger reads Nietzsche, falls of itself back into Platonism ‘by the back door.’ This reading allows Heidegger to grant Nietzsche a key position in the history of philosophy quite as Nietzsche will be his own Zarathustra, his own prophet, having seen the importance of Plato in this way, including Nietzsche’s diagnosis of “Christianity as ‘Platonism for the people.’”61

Following this positioning of Nietzsche within and as culmination of the history of philosophy, i.e., Western metaphysics, it is from here that Heidegger tracks the key to the question of Being as a matter of reticence, waiting, echo, leaping, all strange notions that fit into an attempt to think the guiding question as the question concerning the increasing absence of ground, that is abandonment and thus, articulated in terms of gods — their flight and their arrival — an uncannily disquieting question. Here: language is strained and even the Heidegger who raises the question of the “who” of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra already points to the limitations of declarations, teachings, prophecy, thus he reflects


It is not the proclamation [Verkündigung] of new teachings to a becalmed human enterprise but shifting [Verrückung] humanity from the absence of need [Notlosigkeit] into the emergency of needlessness [Not der Notlosigkeit] as most extreme.62


The claims Heidegger makes, deploying the language of what the poet Hölderlin called the needfulness of needful times, and the patent fact that the language seems to be that of a negative eschaton, should not obscure a radical re‑reading of the history of philosophy, indebted as it is, quite despite Heidegger’s own assertions, to Nietzsche’s reading, which by including Nietzsche within this same re‑reading allows one of the most important accounts of the history of philosophy to date. Thereby what is crucial is that Heidegger can articulate his claim on the terms of then‑current neo-Kantianism, read this into his own reflection on the ‘relation’ of the there [Da], i.e., the there of Dasein, the there of Being: Da‑sein. For Heidegger, now, “ Da‑sein is as the thrown‑projecting‑open grounding, the highest actuality [Wirklichkeit] in the region of imagination. 63

In the section of the “Grounding” on “The Essence of Truth” in the Beiträge on the Open that we perhaps may have learned to read better owing to Agamben’s reading of Rilke,64 we recall Heidegger’s enduring debt to Rilke, like all his debts expressed under the sign of refusal and occasional denigration, think only of Heidegger’s castigation of Nietzsche for his lack of originality in the Beiträge. This same notion of the Open remained for Heidegger a considerable source of anxiety. Thus we read of “correctness” [Richtigkeit] qua indicative condition, the theme is the essence of truth, of the “Open” delimited


as the Free [das Freie] of the keenness of creating
as the unprotected [ungeschützte] of the expression of thrownness; both in themselves belonging one to another as the clearing of self‑concealing The there as en‑owned [er‑eignet] in enowning.65


On my reading of (at least some of) the impetus for the Beiträge’s style and expression, along with the fact of Heidegger’s planned (calculated) edition of his works, as modelled on Nietzsche’s vaunted Will to Power, with its own lists and tables, disjoint and lapidary, the above passage exemplifies many of the requisite elements. Heidegger does not undertake a reading of Plato or Nietzsche or Rilke but returns to the schema of his own thinking, the kind of thinking that has been regarded as the thinking of the so‑called later Heidegger, Heidegger II, to speak with Richardson in terms Heidegger himself echoed back to the questions Richardson had initially posed to him in a letter, an answer that Heidegger permitted Richardson to set as preface to his own book.66

In the Beiträge, just before the section to follow “From Aletheia to Da‑sein” with a footnoted reference to Heidegger’s 1938 course on the founding question of philosophy, selected ‘problems’ of ‘logic,’


This free [Freie] against beings [Seiende]. The unprotected through beings. The time‑play‑space of confusion and hints. The belonging to Seyn.67


This will take Heidegger beyond the heretofore ‘metaphysical’ (and not less theo‑logical) definitions of the human to reflect on a tremulous positionality, asking the question of the who beyond, as he had earlier traced it, any question of a people or a nationality or historical legacy — the whole tradition of the West is put in question — to ask about Dasein as the there of being as such, held out in this attunement.


3. ‘The Stillness of the Passing of the Last God’68

If Heidegger begins what was originally the concluding section of the Beiträge in its initial sketch by noting that allusion to the “last god” has to be even more elusive than talk of the end — this was also the theme of Sein und Zeit — that is to say, what the Germans call ‘last things,’ that is “death at the extreme,”69 this last corresponds to the outermost of possibilities as we remember from Heidegger’s 1927 book. We can barely grasp what most affects us, most intimately, defining us as human or mortal. But by contrast with our mortality, Heidegger’s question is not the divine as such but in this section, entitled, ‘The Last,’ what is at stake is a certain god, the passing, the last god.

The passing in question is overdetermined. All gods, we are told in a Nordic modality, must die. It is because we no longer believe in gods that the formula could be as momentous as it was, borrowed for and imprinted on the popular mind via HBO’s Game of Thrones, what should have been a triviality, but thereby a confirmed truth, for mortals. All men must die. Valar morghulis. It is Nietzsche who tells us, God is dead. And the section, The Last God would have been ultimate following Heidegger’s penultimate “Die Zukünftigen,” also a very Nietzschean motif, those to come: the future ones. The section, fitting its original provenance as concluding section to the book as a whole, also features an epigraph: The totally other over against gods who have been, especially over against the Christian god .

The ground motif, the ground tuning of the work as a whole, seems to be the matter of reticence: here expressed as refusal, one of the prime characteristics of deity. Here Heidegger tells us “We move into the time‑space of decision of the flight and arrival of gods.” The Nordic reference might seem to matter, but Heidegger asks: what if “the flight and arrival of gods, were itself the end?” Here the language we have learned to understand better with the publication of the Black Notebooks turns out to be crucial, we are distant from any intimation of ending just to the degree that everything seems subject to a plan, B or C or Z, however many it shall turn out that we need, but in any event some kind of orderability, fixability, corrigibility — we can change climate change if only we acknowledge it and set our scientists to act, geo‑engineering now not covertly,70 but with a good conscience, as if, in a California‑stylization of Vaihinger’s The Philosophy of As If.71 The likely success or failure of contemporary planetary politics (and manipulation) quite to one side, the language of calculability is key to Heidegger as it overrides any other kind of thinking:


Machination takes non‑beings into the appearance of beings under its protection: and the thereby unavoidably enforced desolation of the human being is compensated for by ‘lived experience.’72


Today “lived experience” no longer resonates with us, no more than the earlier term Heidegger first introduces in his Preview, speaking as he does there of what he names in this case along with a silent reference to Karl Jaspers, as what the “remarkable appearance of the dominance of ‘worldviews’ attempted to bring into its service — and not accidentally — even the last great philosophy, that of Nietzsche.” No more than does its replacement term, ushered in after World War II in France, existentialism, — a humanism as Sartre hastened to assure readers of a term rendered more complicated by the Heideggerian Günther Stern, we know him as Günther Anders, who wrote not only of being and having (Gabriel Marcel would pick up on this along with Gilles Deleuze) but also the problematics of ‘situation’ and a certain condemnation to freedom.73

Today, beyond any of this, we live on the terms of the virtual, our machination is that of social media, the digital, our connected, constantly agitated life lived here and elsewhere at all times. We need a new language for today’s time‑space. It is not that Heidegger is rendered irrelevant by something so quotidian and immediate as a cell‑phone, Twitter, Facebook, You‑Tube. These may be read, but that is another essay, as contemporary expressions of what Heidegger all‑too‑presciently predicts as the possibility that has been in the interim uncomfortably closely, all too closely realized without being able to point to a rescue or remedy, apart from the growing and calculated human capacity, the data-fication, that is “machination,” which can “pillage and desert‑ify the planet,” and which can, given “the gigantic nature of this driving,”74 turn into a regulation of the same desolation, and here we recognize elements of the current discourse, with all its intrinsic impotence, on ‘global warming.’75

For Heidegger, what is problematic is less the solidification of desolation, awful as that is, but rather that for us, and this remains to this day, “The sole thing that still counts is the reckoning of the successes and failures of machination.”76 And we do indeed know the drill, we read, as expected that “The last god is no end but the other beginning of immeasurable possibilities for our history.”77 Caught here “in the sharpest maelstrom of the turning,” we do indeed, we cannot but descry the motifs or ‘movements’ of the book as a whole. But it is not a good ending, how could it be? The prelude, arguably to what will in the mid‑fifties become Gelassenheit is here a setting‑letting‑into:


Here no re‑demption occurs, i.e., in essence a subjugation of humanity, but the setting in [Einsetzung] of the more original essence (grounding Da‑sein) in Seyn itself: the recognition of the belongingness of the human in Seyn through the god, the admission without relinquishing the god or its greatness, that it needs Seyn.78


Conclusion: Heidegger’s Last God and Nietzsche’s Unknown God

If the last god gives no more than a hint, a sign, the problem must always be the abandonment of that deity to human indigence. There is only a hint, only a sign, if it is taken. The last god, like the first, needs the human. But increasingly, the human is not there, owing to impiety, ignorance, obliviousness, scattered distraction available to or for any such cor‑respondence. The Nietzsche Heidegger refuses already reflects on this abandonment, not speaking of the last god to come, Nietzsche is neither so far advanced nor indeed, so presumptuous as to know this god to come — but much rather of another last god. This is the god after whom no gods are in fact introduced, “2000 years and not a single new god!” — as Nietzsche will complain in The Antichrist. Elsewhere, I discuss this in a context that may be of interest given the reference I made above to Husserl on the crisis of the sciences for Heidegger.79

In his Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche, writing with respect to the gospels, reflects on what a certain god of love would have to know about love. If Nietzsche ever had a prayer, it would have been this beautiful description of the forsaken god, “one of the most painful cases of the martyrdom about love.”80 It is to be given over to desire love from, of all things, the human heart, that makes this as abject a case of martyrdom as it is:


the martyrdom of the most innocent and desiring heart, that could not get enough from any human love, that demanded love, to be loved and nothing else, with hardness, with madness, with terrible outbursts against those who denied him love.81


If Nietzsche here also emphasizes that this god is a “poor man” who would have to “invent hell in order to have a place to send those who did not want to love him —,” his reflection is telling for any meditation on suffering, love, and death even for, Nietzsche’s reference is precisely for, a deity. Thus he ends his reflection with a question: asking why, if there is no compulsion, “we have to dwell on such painful things?” The Nietzsche who, as I point out above and contra Heidegger’s insinuation, remained a scholar of antiquity from beginning to end, turns in the succeeding section to Epicurus, who tells us that whatever may be the case with deity, we can be sure, according to Epicurus, that the gods, if they exist, are not concerned with us. But for Nietzsche this too is an illusion, calculated, a mask: “There are free impudent spirits who like to conceal that they are shattered, proud and incurable hearts.”82 The rest of the section on nobility — a word that only works with reference to antiquity for Nietzsche — adds a certain speculative reflection, suited perhaps for philosophising about last gods. Nietzsche writes with a sublimely Lucianic reference to laughter


And supposing that gods, too, philosophize, something to which many a conclusion has driven me to believe — then I do not doubt that they also know how to laugh in a superhuman and innovative way — and at the expense of all serious things! Gods are fond of ridicule: it appears they can not refrain from laughing even during sacred rites.83


In The Gay Science, Nietzsche reflects on the notion of the ultimate “noblemindedness,” observing here in the penultimate section of the first book, § 55, and thus echoing in a parallel that would have enthused Heidegger’s student Leo Strauss, the second section of the first part, The Intellectual conscience, § 2, that nobility, the title of the section is Der letzte Edelsinn, is inherently misunderstood as such:


involves the use of a seldom and singular standard [Maasstabes] and almost an insanity: the feeling of heat in things that to others feel cold; an intimation of values for which the scales have not yet been invented; an offering of sacrifices on altars consecrated to an unknown god; a bravery without the will to glory; a self‑sufficiency that has abundance and communicates this to humanity and to things…84


The poetic allusion of consecration — to an unknown god — recurs here from a poem Nietzsche writes, Hölderlin — struck as he was,85 in his school years and it recurs in a context directly related to The Gay Science text cited above, with reference Ariadne’s lament, who better?, and the sovereign, beautiful cruelty of Dionysus in the Dionysian Dithyrambs.86

The unknown god in question tends to be read in the tradition through the tradition,87 and that can mean given the theologically numinous, whereby all gods, especially the Judeo‑Christian god of the Bible, are unknown, unknowable, per definitionem. But Nietzsche’s unknown god is yet more unknowable, if this is possible, as we can only approximate his cult if we have any ambition to do so, and Nietzsche did, with utter nescience. This is Prometheus and Apollo, Zeus, the world-child and all the deities. But perhaps above all this is a god who is himself stranger to the Greek tradition, Dionysus, a god twice-born. The reference recurs in the final section on the “genius of the heart,” Nietzsche’s fanfare for everyman, as I name it elsewhere. To this god Dionysus, Nietzsche says, he sacrificed his ‘first born,’ Nietzsche is thinking of his tragedy book, sacrificed ‘in all secrecy and reverence’ to this same deity, “that great ambiguous one and tempter‑god.”

Heidegger, for his part, tells us that


The last god is no end but the swinging‑into‑itself [Insicheinschwingen] of the beginning and therewith the highest form of refusal, as the inceptual withdraws from determination and only essences in overarching all that which is already caught within what is to come.88


For Heidegger what remains crucial to grasp, and we hear this as this essay also reaches its conclusion:


The end never sees itself; but holds itself as the consummation [die Vollendung] and will therefore be the least ready and the least prepared to either await the last or to experience it.89


To this extent Heidegger is not the vanguard of a kind of theological turning. To this extent he means the language of lastness, reminding his readers, key here if we recall that these were meant as words to close what would have been the penultimate paragraph of his Contributions to Philosophy,


All previous ‘cults’ and ‘churches’ and suchlike above all cannot become the essential preparation for the collision [Zuzammenstoßes] of the god and of humanity in the midpoint of Beyng.90


For this of course, we will need what Heidegger names “another beginning.” And this elliptical promise turns upon what only the rare and the seldom seem to know “that the god waits upon the grounding of the truth of Beyng and therewith upon the leaping of humanity into Da‑sein.”91



1 I have written on this in general as well as specifically with respect to Heidegger’s Nietzsche interpretation as well as with respect to Heidegger’s reading of Hölderlin. See Babich, “Habermas, Nietzsche, and the Future of Critique: Irrationality, The Will to Power, and War,” in: Nietzsche, Habermas, and Critical Theory (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2004), 13–46 and Babich, “Heidegger’s Will to Power,” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. 38, No. 1 (January 2007): 37–60.

2 To be sure, the so‑called Will to Power is little cited by today’s analytically minded Nietzsche scholars currently rediscovering the works of Nietzsche’s so‑called middle period. See Babich, “Nietzsche’s Will to Power: Politics and Destiny” in: Tracy B. Strong, ed., Friedrich Nietzsche (London: Ashgate, 2009), 282–296, developing a lecture first presented in 2003 at the United States Military Academy, West Point.

3 The term should not be translated as is commonly done as ‘effective history’ as that can be misleading. As Gadamer explains, this includes not only “the historical phenomenon and the working of traditions but also, secondarily, their effect in history (which also includes the history of research).” Hans‑Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G, Marshall, revising Garrett Barden’s 1975 trans. (London: Continuum, 2004 [1975]) 299, translation modified.

4 See for a representative discussion, the various contributions to Jeff Malpas and Santiago Zabala, eds., Consequences of Hermeneutics: Fifty Years After Gadamer’s Truth and Method (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2010).

5 Gadamer, Truth and Method, 295.

6 Gadamer, Truth and Method, 296.

7 Gadamer, Truth and Method, 297.

8 Gadamer, Truth and Method, 298–299.

9 See further, Babich, “On Heidegger on Education and Questioning,” in: Michael A. Peters, ed., Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory (Singapore: Springer, 2017), 1641–1652. I also refer the reader to a creative and insightful account of my reading of Heidegger on questions in Andrea Hurst’s guest editorial, “Identities in Question,” South African Journal of Philosophy, 37:4 (2018): 379–392.

10 Martin Heidegger, Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), GA 65, Friedrich Wilhelm von Hermann, ed. (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 2017 [1989]).

11 William J. Richardson, “Dasein and the Ground of Negativity: A Note on the Fourth Movement in the Beiträge‑Symphony,” Heidegger Studies, 9 (1993): 35–52.

12 George J. Seidel, “A Key to Heidegger’s ‘Beiträge’,” Gregorianum, Vol. 76, No. 2 (1995): 363–372.

13 Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning), Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly, trans. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).

14 Today almost all academic philosophers regarded as ‘continental’ have been trained in the analytic tradition and as a result it is misleading to speak of the continental ‘tradition’ as I speak of it as a person, one of few such surviving, not trained in the analytic tradition. I did doctoral studies at Boston College expressly to study with Gadamer, which I did (this was a piece of luck as, more often than not, study plans fail to be realized). Rather than learning analytic philosophy, apart from bits essential to reading (analytic) aesthetics and (analytic) philosophy of science, I read ancient and medieval philosophy before finally writing on Nietzsche. See, for a discussion of the difference, an online dialogue initiated by the philosopher and gaming designer, Chris Bateman: “The Last of the Continental Philosophers,” Only a Game: first of an initial series of four. Online. 29 November 2016 and Babich, “Good for Nothing: On Philosophy and Its Discontents” in: Diego Bubbio and Jeff Malpas, eds., Why Philosophy? (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2019) 123–150.

15 Simon Blackburn, “Enquivering,” The New Republic (30 October 2000): 43–48.

16 Thus, taking the themes of the Beiträge as point of departure, see Parvis Emad, Translation and Interpretation. Learning from Beiträge (Bucharest: Zeta Books, 2012); Jesús Adrián Escudero, Heidegger and the Emergence of the Question of Being (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), George Kovacs, Thinking and Be‑ing in Heidegger’s Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis) (Bucharest: Zeta Books, 2015); Richard Polt, The Emergency of Being: On Heidegger’s “Contributions to Philosophy” (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013). In German, see the contributions to Marcus Happel, ed., Heidegger neu gelesen, and for a (selective) overview of the French reception, significantly in English, see David Pettigrew and François Raffoul, eds. French Interpretations of Heidegger: An Exceptional Reception (Albany: SUNY Press, 02. 10. 2008). The French, given their own different stylistic sensibilities, swimming upstream in a series of repeated accusations (Nazi, and, again, Nazi, and Anti‑Semitic) tended to be a bit underwhelmed by the Beiträge, with Philippe Lacoue‑Labarthe famously dubbing it Heidegger’s “second Dummheit.” As indicated in the text, and this would be unusual in things Heideggerian in France, there would be no French translation of the Beiträge until François Fédier’s Apports à la philosophie: de l’avenance (Paris: Gallimard, 2013).

17 Lucian, Volume II, William Harmon, trans. (Cambridge: Loeb, 1915), 449. I discuss this, with further references, in Babich, « Le Zarathoustra de Nietzsche et le style parodique. A propos de l’hyperanthropos de Lucien et du surhomme de Nietzsche. » Diogène. Revue internationale des sciences humaines, 232 (October 2010): 70–93 as well as “Nietzsche (as) Educator,” Educational Philosophy and Theory, Vol 51, No. 9 (2018): 871–885. 25 Nov 2018. Online. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00131857.2018.1544455.

18 See https://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2013/06/18/a‑co‑citation‑network‑for‑philosophy/. Healy draws on the code — this is largely an extractive project, using Google as database — developed by Neil Carren who himself draws on a related research project on canonic texts in economics authored by Stanford’s Dan Wang, “Is There a Canon in Economic Sociology,” ASA Economic Sociology Newsletter, Vol. 11, Issue 2 (2012): 1–8. For his part, Healy, is per force limiting himself to mainstream philosophy, i.e., received scholars and received references in what is conventionally called ‘analytic’ philosophy. Cf. Marcus Arvan’s 2015 guest contribution to Daily Nous, “Philosophers Don’t Read and Cite Enough,” http://dailynous.com/2015/03/02/philosophers‑dont‑read‑and‑cite‑enough/. I discuss the implications of this with reference to academic philosophy in the European context (instructively, one cannot say non‑Anglophone) in Babich, “Tübingen to Berlin: The Rise of Analytic Philosophy and the Case of Manfred Frank” in “Are They Good, Are They Bad?” in Paula Angelova, et al., Das Interpretive Universum (Würzburg: Köngishausen & Neumann, 2017), 239–271: 245–250.

19 Above, in addition to Richard Polt’s interesting The Emergency of Being: On Heidegger’s “Contributions to Philosophy” (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), I again note Emad’s study of the Beiträge in addition to Ken Maly’s own study as well as Daniela Vallega‑Neu, Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy: An Introduction (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003).

20 As Alexander Nehamas reflected on the fluidity of his translation with Paul Woodruff, contra critics who pointed to some of the differences between Plato’s original text and their rendering, Plato is suffused with some of the hoariness of the ancient (as he was indeed) but this gets in the way of seeing Plato’s irony and not less his jokes, which for Nehamas are best rendered by taking him out of the tradition of Cantabridgean (this is my gloss, to be sure) pomposity to make him as contemporary as possible. Personal conversation: Princeton, New Jersey, 5 September 2019. If Plato scholars might be imagined to object a bit, I submit that this has nothing on the objections to Heidegger both from Heideggerians who will seek a certain purity based on their fealty to one or another canonic translation and from anti‑Heideggerians who are hoping to have as little of Heidegger as possible.

21 Thus in addition to Emad and Maly’s translation of the Beiträge in 1999, there is Daniela Vallega‑Neu’s translation and, arguably, Rüdiger Hermann Grimm’s earlier excerpt (citation below) as well.

22 Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970).

23 Thus the US Heidegger Circle for a tiny while featured online (and unpleasantly aggressive) disputes between Heidegger on being and Heidegger on meaning, not utterly unrelated to the differences between those who read Heidegger by way of Dreyfus and his followers and those who looked to other ways, various and non‑canonic as these are, to access Heidegger. But for the most part, the canonic is settled and instituted quite as noted above by non‑mention, as if the scholars in question did not exist or by editorial flatlining of difference.

24 I explore this in philosophy of science to differentiate analytic and continental approaches, Babich, “Towards a Critical Philosophy of Science: Continental Beginnings and Bugbears, Whigs and Waterbears,” International Journal of the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 24, No. 4 (December 2010): 343–391.

25 Heidegger, Hölderlins Hymne »Der Ister«, GA 53 (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1993), 56.

26 Robert Bernasconi, “‘I will tell you who you are.’ Heidegger on Greco‑German Destiny and Amerikanismus.” In: Babich, ed., From Phenomenology to Thought, Errancy, and Desire: Essays in Honor of William J. Richardson, S.J. (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1996), 301–313.

27 See here, Edmund Husserl, Die Krisis der europäischen Wissenschaften und die transcendentale Phänomenologie. Eine Einleitung in die phänomenologische Philosophie, Walter Biemel, ed. (Nijhoff: The Hague, 1954) and in English as The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology , David Carr, trans. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970). Most readings of Husserl, with the exception of Joseph Kockelmans and Patrick Heelan to be sure, turn this into a crisis of meaning rather than science. Significantly, in his series of “Propositions about ‘Science’,” in Anklange, which would, originally, have been the section following Seyn, Heidegger begins by setting ‘science,’ in scare quotes, emphasizing that “‘Science’ must always be understood in its modern (neuzeitlichen) sense,” (GA 65, 145), Heidegger goes on to read this ‘crisis’ critically as Husserl also reflects on it with respect to science, indeed and this is the legacy of the Hilbert program, with respect to the question of science as such.

28 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 148.

29 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 149.

30 See Walter Benjamin’s “The Task of the Translator,” as well as Heidegger on Hölderlin. Unfortunately to judge Hölderlin as translator one needs not only German but Greek as well — and one needs, this is Nietzsche’s sensitivity to the alien character of antiquity in his phrase “These Greeks,” a sense of the past as a ‘foreign country,’ not ours as such but alien to us. The best approach to this question, if explicitly philologically minded rather than philosophical, is Charlie Louth’s Hölderlin and the Dynamics of Translation (Oxford: European Humanities Research Centre, University of Oxford, 1998). Some sense of this with respect to Hölderlin himself may be found in Theodore Ziolkowski’s review of the the 2004 edition of Michael Hamburger’s translation of Hölderlin’s poetry, “Breathing in Verse,” London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 18 (23 September 2004): 21–22.

31 I do this in several places, most obviously perhaps, because there it is in the title: “Heidegger Against the Editors: Nietzsche, Science, and the Beiträge as Will to Power,” Philosophy Today. 47 (Winter 2003): 327–359.

32 See Babich, “Heideggers Wille zur Macht: Die Beiträge lesen im Ruckblick auf Nietzsche, Wissenschaft und Technik” in Babich, Holger Zaborowsky, and Alfred Denker, eds, Heidegger & Nietzsche (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2012), 283–321.

33 Otto Pöggeler “Sein als Ereignis — Martin Heidegger zum 70. Geburtstag,” Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung, 13 (1959): 597.

34 Pöggeler, “Being as Appropriation,” Rüdiger Hermann Grimm, trans. Philosophy Today, 19 (2) (1975): 152–178.

35 Von Hermann, “Nachwort des Herausgebers,” GA 65, 514. The sentence as translated by Parvis Emad and Ken Maly, gives us: “‘Be‑ing as Section II [Part II] is not correctly arranged: as an attempt to grasp the whole once again, it does not belong at this juncture.’”

36 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 21.

37 To wit, as cited above: Babich, “Heidegger Against the Editors.”

38 See Goethe’s Werke vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand (Stuttgart und Tübingen: Cotta’sche Buchhandlung, 1830). I cannot begin to trace this here but note, with gratitude the extraordinary study that may begin, should scholars take it as invitation, to serve further exploration precisely re the autograph, Christian Benne, Die Erfindung des Manuskripts. Zur Theorie und Geschichte literarischer Gegenständlichkeit (Berlin: Suhrkamp 2015). The importance for scholarship of Benne’s reflections cannot be overstated even as such an overview will likely prove daunting for readers not because of any deficiency on Benne’s part but simply the sheer complexity of what he undertakes to explore, an object of media archaeology that our age of digital scholarship tempts us to occlude but which is already occluded by nothing more than the printed book itself as this is never the autograph unless the author him or herself approves the book. And often, as any author might attest, not even then.

39 See Sarah Kofman, Explosion I: De l’ “Ecce Homo” de Nietzsche (Paris: galilée, 1992) and, cf., Explosion II: Les enfants de Nietzsche (Paris: galilée, 1993). Kofman argues that the book, quoting Nietzsche’s 20 December 1887 letter to Carl Gersdorff, was not intended by its author to be Nietzsche’s last, despite its seemingly apocalyptic title, but was meant to draw a certain line between his works, opening one door and closing another, and further and arguably, above all, quite as noted above, for the sake of commissioning a re‑issuing of his major work to date. For this reason I have characterised it as Nietzsche’s self‑referring, self‑authored (in the want of sufficient reviews/readers to do the same) catalogue raisonné of his works. Kofman’s own two‑volume work, with all the implications for the fact of the same for the reception of Kofman’s own work in English, has yet to be translated although a brief except, translated by Duncan Large, exists as: “Explosion I: Of Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo,” Diacritics 24/4 (1994): 50–70.

40 This is not uncommon: it is the publication history of the bible. More secularly, more colloquially, only traumatized authors can testify to such interventions. Thus there was nothing I could do as author when I discovered that a recent essay of mine on digital surveillance was altered by adding an opening paragraph I had not written by an editor whose own research runs to Foucault in addition to adding populist worries parents might be expected to feel for their children. But the book is printed and “there’s an end on’t.”

41 Dominique Janicaud, Le Tournant théologique de la phénoménologie française (Paris: Combas, Éditions de l’Éclat, 1991).

42 Babich, “Heidegger and Hölderlin on Aether and Life.” Études Phénoménologique, Phenomenological Studies. 2 (2018): 111–133. It should be noted that the analytically minded editors of the conference proceedings of a Heidegger conference on technology held at the University of Sussex in May 2016 insisted on revisions to suit those same analytic sensibilities. I demurred and my essay on the aethers of today’s technological, digital world was excluded from their collection.

43 It is perhaps significant, however, that von Hermann himself concludes his own 2019 commentary to the Beiträge with ‘The Last God,’ in capitals, no less: “DER LETZTE GOTT als der Gott in der Wahrheit des Seyns als Ereignis.” Von Hermann, Transzendenz und Ereignis. Heideggers “Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis)”. in Kommentar (Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2019). I am grateful to Aleš Novák for an email communication indicating this recent publication.

44 See, for one politically themed reading, William H. F. Altman, Martin Heidegger and the First World War: Being and Time as Funeral Oration (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2012).

45 Heidegger, Die Beiträge, GA 65, 204.

46 Heidegger, Die Beiträge, GA 65, 204. Heidegger’s reference cited at this locus is: “Überlegungen IV, 115ff.”

47 Heidegger, Die Beiträge, GA 65, 204.

48 Heidegger, Die Beiträge, GA 65, 424.

49 With Becker there is also a reference to Paul Mongré, the pseudonym for the topological mathematician, Felix Hausdorff, who also wrote on Zarathustra and, to be sure, landscape. Henri Poincaré would be among those, like Becker and of course, like Ernst Mach, interested in the schema of eternal recurrence.

50 Heidegger, The Beiträge, GA 65, 85.

51 Heidegger, The Beiträge, GA 65, 460.

52 Heidegger, The Beiträge, GA 65, 115. See further Heidegger’s reflections on the ‘gigantic’, 139f.

53 Heidegger, The Beiträge, GA 65, 119.

54 I note some of these loci in Babich, “Heidegger’s Black Night: The Nachlass and Its Wirkungsgeschichte,” in: Ingo Farin and Jeff Malpas, eds., Reading Heidegger’s Black Notebooks: 1931–1941 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016) 59–86.

55 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 181.

56 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 176.

57 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 215.

58 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 215.

59 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 215.

60 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 218.

61 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 219.

62 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 235.

63 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 312.

64 Agamben, The Open.

65 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 328.

66 Richardson thus gives the letter the title of “Vorwort,” but it was first written as Richardson himself has related in response to his original prospectus for his book: see William Richardson, S.J., “From Phenomenology through Thought to a Festschrift,” Heidegger Studies, Vol. 13 (1997): 17–28. Heidegger’s ‘Letter to Father Richardson,’ dated “Anfang April 1962,” appears in bilingual publication in Richardson, Heidegger Through Phenomenology to Thought (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974 [1963]), viii‑xxiii.

67 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 329.

68 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 331.

69 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 405.

70 I discuss some of this, ordinarily undiscussed, even in scholarly discourse on the planetary, in Babich, “Talking Weather from Ge‑Rede to Ge‑Stell” in: Róisín Lally, ed., Sustainability in the Anthropocene: Philosophical Essays on Renewable Technologies (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), 51–64.

71 Hans Vaihinger, Philosophie des Als‑Ob (Leipzig: Felix Meiner, 1922 [1911]).

72 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 406. Cf. 127ff.

73 Anders, a student of Heidegger and indeed of Husserl, although less known in the Anglophone world, has long been influential in a Francophone context precisely owing to the availability of several key texts precisely in translation: « Une interprétation de l’a posteriori », Emmanuel Levinas, trans., Recherches philosophiques (1934): 65–80; « Pathologie de la liberté. Essai sur la non‑identification », P. -A. Stéphanopoli, trans., Recherches philosophiques (1937): 22–54.

74 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 408–409.

75 See here, again, and including further references, particularly to Peter Sloterdijk and to Bruno Latour, Babich, “Talking Weather from Ge‑Rede to Ge‑Stell.”

76 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 409.

77 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 411.

78 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 413.

79 Babich, “Nietzsche’s Antichrist: The Birth of Modern Science out of the Spirit of Religion,” in: Markus Enders & Holger Zaborowski, eds., Jahrbuch für Religionsphilosophie (Freiburg i. Breisgau: Alber, 2014), 134–154.

80 Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, § 269, Adrian Del Caro trans. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014), p. 184. Hereafter: BGE.

81 Nietzsche, BGE § 269, Ibid. I cite this, including a reference to Tracy Strong’s reading of the same in his Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration in Babich, “Nietzsche and Eros Between the Devil and God’s Deep Blue Sea: The Problem of the Artist as Actor‑Jew‑Woman,” Continental Philosophy Review, 33/2 (2000): 159–188.

82 Nietzsche BGE, § 269, 184.

83 Nietzsche BGE § 294, 194.

84 Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, § 55 in: Kritische Studienausgabe, Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, eds. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1980), 418.

85 I trace this reference as it is also a reference to divinity in antiquity in Babich, “Between Hölderlin and Heidegger: Nietzsche’s Transfiguration of Philosophy,” Nietzsche‑Studien, 29 (2000): 267–301. An updated version appears as “Von Pindar und Hölderlin zu Nietzsche und Heidegger,” in: Eines Gottes Glück voller Macht und Liebe. Beiträge zu Nietzsche, Hölderlin, Heidegger (Weimar: Verlag der Bauhaus Universität, 2009), 108–145.

86 For a discussion see Wolfram Groddeck, Friedrich Nietzsche – ›Dionysos‑Dithyramben‹, Bd. 2: Die ›Dionysos‑Dithyrambern‹. Bedeutung und Entstehung von Nietzsches letztem Werk (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1991), 176–213. But see too, Rudolf Pannwitz, “Nietzsches Dionysos‑Dithyramben,” Antaios, IV (1963): 356–367 in addition to Adrian del Caro’s magisterial “Symbolizing Philosophy” in Daniel Conway and Peter Groff, eds., Nietzsche: Critical Assessments, Volume 1 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), 58–88.

87 See for an overview, itself inscribed within the Zarathustra/Bible tradition, Chiara Conterno, “Nietzsches ›Dem unbekannten Gott‹” in: Christian Benne and Claus Zittel, eds., Nietzsche und die Lyrik (Frankfurt: Metzler, 2018), 78–88. Cf., here: Hans Gerald Hödl, Der letzte Jünger des Dionysos. Studien zur systematischen Bedeutung von Nietzsches Selbstthematisierungen im Kontext seiner Religionskritik (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2009).

88 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 416.

89 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 416.

90 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 416.

91 Heidegger, Beiträge, GA 65, 417.



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