Contributions to Philosophy

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Contributions to Philosophy (of the Event). (GA 65). Translated by Richard Rojcewicz and Daniela Vallega-Neu, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2012.
Table of Contents

This is the vernacular translation of Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis). While the earlier translation invented English neologisms to try to capture the nuances from Heidegger's coercion of ordinary German words for ontological purposes, this translation uses the common translations of German words, resulting in a more readable style.

Reviews: Richard Polt
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Contributions to Philosophy : (From Enowning). (GA 65). Translated by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1999.

Table of Contents

Also known as the Beiträge.

Titled in German Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), this is the first translation of what at one time considered to be Heidegger's second major work. Written in 1936-38, ten years after Being and Time and two years after Heidegger had resigned from the rectorship of Freiburg University.

The book consists of 281 sections, grouped thematically. Some of the section titles are repeated in the book, so they usually are referred to by number rather than title.

Here's some of what the translators have to saying about the word Ereignis and its rendition in English:

We considered the possibility of leaving the word Ereignis untranslated, since we were aware of Heidegger's own view, corroborated by our understanding of Contributions, that Ereignis is "as little translatable as the guiding-Greek word logos and the Chinese Tao...and is...a singulare tantum." And yet we opted for translating Ereignis rather than leaving it untranslated, for three reasons: (1) Leaving the word Ereignis untranslated in the text requires an explanation, which involves an interpretation of this word, which in turn constitutes translating it. That is, leaving Ereignis "untranslated" is itself a translation. Thus translating this word becomes unavoidable. (2) Leaving the word Ereignis untranslated would make it practically impossible to translate the family of words that are closely related to Ereignis, such as Ereignung, Eignung, Zueignung, Übereignung, Eigentum, ereignen, zueignen, übereignen, eignen. (3) Actually translating this word does not resolve the problem of the untranslatability of Ereignis. Thus, what is called for is an English rendition of Ereignis that approximates the richness of the German word without pretending to replace it. (Heidegger shows that such approximation is possible, e.g., with his own rendition of the Greek λόγος.) In the case of Ereignis, feasibility of an approximation is foreshadowed by the way in which the er- in Ereignis has the function of stressing and putting forth the movement of eignen in -eignis.

We found a good approximation Ereignis in the word enowning. Above it is the prefix en- in this word that opens the possibility for approximating Ereignis, in so far as this prefix conveys the sense of "enabling," "bringing into condition of," or "welling up of." Thus, in conjunction with owning, this prefix is capable of getting across a sense of an "owning" that is not an "owning of something." We can think this owning as an un-possessive owning, because the prefix en- has this unique capability. In this sense owning does not have an appropriate content.

In section 2 of the Preview, Saying from Enowning as the First Response to the Question of Being, Heidegger states his basic question, its relationship to the ontological difference, how it allows dasein, and that Ereignis is the answer:

Whenever a being is, be-ing must sway. But how does be-ing sway? But is a being? From where else does thinking decide here if not according to the truth of be-ing? Thus be-ing can no longer be thought of in the perspective of beings; it must be enthought from with be-ing itself.

At times those founders of the abground must be consumed by the fire of what is deeply sheltered, so that Da-sein becomes possible for humans and thus steadfastness in the midst of beings is rescued--so that in the open of the strife between earth and world beings themselves undergo a restoration.

Accordingly, beings move into their steadfastness when the founders of the truth of be-ing go under. Be-ing itself requires this. It need those who go under; and, where ever beings appear, it has already en-owned these founders who go under and allotted them to be-ing. That is the essential swaying of be-ing itself. We call it enowning.

P. 5-6

In section 10, From Enowning, Heidegger asserts about Ereignis and Beyng:

Be-ing holds sway as enowning.

P. 22

That's the sentence that Polt uses to explain Ereignis.

In section 133, The Essential Sway of Be-ing, Heidegger describes enowning like this:

This counter-resonance of needing and belonging makes up be-ing as enowning; and the first thing that is incumbent upon thinking is to raise the resonance of this counter-resonance into the onefoldness of knowing awareness and to ground the counter-resonance in its truth.

P. 177

In section 140, The Essential Swaying of Be-ing, Heidegger refers to the turning in enowning.

[That is] a turning or rather the turning, which points out precisely the essential sway of being itself as the counter-resonating enowning.

And again in section 141, The Essential Sway of Be-ing.

En-ownment of Da-sein by be-ing and grounding the truth of being in Da-sein--the turning in enowning--is contained neither solely in the call (staying-away) nor solely in belongingness (abandonment of being), or in both together. For this "together" and both of them deeply resonate first in enowning. In enowning, enowning itself resonates in counter-resonance.

P. 184

In an interview published after his death he said that "Only a god can save us". In section 256, The Last God, Heidegger identifies what he means by that term, an ontological change.

The Last god is not the end but the other beginning of immeasurable possibilities for our history. For its sake history up to now should not terminate but rather must be brought to its end. We must bring about the transfiguration of its essential and basic positions in crossing and in preparedness.

Preparation for the appearing of the last god is the utmost venture of the truth of be-ing, by virtue of which alone man succeeds in restoring beings.

P. 289

There are a couple excerpts on the Da here and here, and on transcendence.

Reviews: Clayton Crockett Simon Blackburn
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Books about Contributions to Philosophy

Companion to Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy. Edited by Charles E. Scott, Susan Schoenbohm, Daniela Vallega-Neu, and Alejandro Vallega, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2001.

Introduction: Approaching Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy and Its Companion, Charles E. Scott
Part 1. Approaches
1. Reading Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy: An Orientation, Susan M. Schoenbohm
2. Strategies for a Possible Reading, Dennis J. Schmidt
3. "Beyng-Historical Thinking" in Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy, Alejandro Vallega
4. Poietic Saying, Daniela Vallega-Neu. Here's an excerpt on the difficulties of the text.
5. The Event of Enthinking the Event, Richard Polt
6. Contributions to Philosophy and Enowning-Historical Thinking, Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann
Part 2. Readings
7. The Time of Contributions to Philosophy, William McNeill
8. Turnings in Essential Swaying and the Leap, Kenneth Maly
9. Da-sein and the Leap of Being, Walter A. Brogan
10. Grounders of the Abyss, John Sallis
11. Forgetfulness of God: Concerning the Center of Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy, Günter Figal
12. The Last God, David Crownfield
13. On "Be-ing": The Last Part of Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning), Parvis Emad

In his essay, David Crownfield writes the following about Ereignis:

Heidegger's perennial theme is the meaning of Sein (being, to be). "Being" can mean something, anything, everything, or what "holds up" everything out of nothing; it can mean "is-ness"; it can be capitalized as Being, what is basic, first, highest, ultimate, God; it can indicate the problem Hamlet faces, "To be or not to be?" Being and Time and related work establishes that all these senses are involved with human temporality, but the work of that period does not succeed in founding all senses of "being" in that temporality. Retaining the results of the earlier work, Contributions shifts the focus from Dasein's ecstatic self-transcendence to the co-occurrence of being-there and what there is there, in its time-space specificity, and including its whole context in world, community, history, language, memory and anticipation, textures of practice, etc. Heidegger had ended "What is Metaphysics?" with Liebniz's question, "why is there anything at all rather than nothing?" Heidegger now replies, das Ereignis, meaning the singular occurrence together, in their full configurations and spatiotemporal, sociohistorical context, of a "my being in the world" and of what there is there and then, and before and after and round about. Be-ing happens. (Sometimes Ereignis is hyphenated to emphasize its occurring ["er-"] and its coordination ["-eignis"] of "being-there" and "what is"; sometimes it is used in a verb form [er-eignen].)

Parvis Emad, in On "Be-ing", warns against interpreting Heidegger's words and the turn in Ereignis metaphysically:

Only insofar as these words emerge from within that onefold are they word "of" thinking and not ours to manipulate as we please. The notion of a more familiar, more intelligible, more traditional language is a notion with which metaphysics attempts to obfuscate Ereignis by interpreting it according to metaphysical criteria of "comprehensibility and incomprehensibility of things." Such a notion is based on the total lack of grasping what is ownmost to Heidegger's language and its unfolding within the swaying that is called be-ing.

P. 243

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The Emergency of Being: On Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy. Richard Polt, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2006.

A short excerpt on the withdrawal of being.

Reviews: Stuart Elden
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Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy Life and the Last God. Jason Powell, London, Continuum, 2007.

Here's an bit on the duality in die Kehre im Ereignis, facing nothing and beings.

Reviews: NDPR
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Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy: An Introduction. Daniela Vallega-Neu, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003.

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Heidegger's Possibility Language, Emergence--Saying Be-ing. Kenneth Maly, University of Toronto Press, 2008.

This is a close look at some of the openings in Contributions in Philosophy by one of its translators. There's an excerpt from a fore-word here, and bits on presence.

An appendix has two short manuscripts by Heidegger: "Own to Philosophy" and "Own to Humans (Mind in Enowning)". A second appendix is a twenty five page respose to some of the criticisms of the English translation of Contributions in Philosophy, including in depth discussions of key terms. Here's the section on the word Ereignis.

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On the Way to Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy. Parvis Emad, Madison, Wisconsin University Press, 2007.

Parvis Emad is the co-translator of Contributions to Philosophy and Mindfulness. In the nine essays here he covers various matters about those books and themes from the texts themselves. Many of have appeared in earlier collections and journals, but they have been revised for this book. In the introduction he quickly differentiates his work from that of others by arguing that much scholarship is about Heidegger rather than about thinking along with Heidegger, where there is much to be done. Along those lines, he singles out "returnership" (Rückkehrerschaft) as an under explored aspect of Heidegger's way of thinking.

The first essay is on translating Contributions, and the next four essays are about parts of that text itself. The discussion of translation is not merely about replacing German with English neologisms, but about the critical importance of interpretation to Heidegger, and its development from his first lectures, through the Marburg years and Being and Time, to Contributions. The translation of the singulare tantum Ereignis as enowning is discussed at some length. The other four essays address the structure of Contributions, the place of the pre-Socratics, especially Heraclitus Fragment 16, "Echo", "Playing-Forth", "De-cision", and the turning in be-ing and projecting.

The essays in the second section are broader in scope, but all touch on the differences between the Heidegger of Being and Time and the later Heidegger, here labeled as the transcendental-horizonal and being-historical paths respectively. One essay investigates the difference between the two paths by examing the significance of the ontological difference to each. A bit on the ontological difference in light of the later Heidegger is excerpted here. The final essay on Richardson and his distinction between Heidegger I and II will be of special interest to those following the debate on the "turn" between the early and later Heidegger.

Reviews: Laura Boileau Thomas O. Haakenson
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Only a God Can Save Us Heidegger, Poetic Imagination and the Modern Malaise. Henk J. van Leeuwen, Melbourne, The Humanities, 2009.

This text takes us through the Beiträge, so that we might "be the wanderers and take the modest yet essential pathway at this moment in history." [Pp. 81-2] It prepares us to "wander a threshold to another way of being." The threshold beyond calculative thought and the pervasive machination of our epoch. We can only only do this ourselves.

Ereignis is the event of consequence where thinking becomes transformed by the truth of Being itself. This event cannot be examined like an object presents itself to the scrutiny of science. Although there has been much academic discussion about Heidegger's Ereignis, ultimately it can only be enacted, and therefore its experience will be different for each wanderer of the pathway. [P. 55]
The Beiträge's fugal forms, the begingings and their interplays are described so as to "illuminate those aspects that enable a pathway of homecoming that is a thoughtful movement of disruption and displacement in thinking from the "already known'". [P. 60] The pathway to a homecoming is across the threshold, to an in-between, towards an "abyssal ground out of which the event of conseqence (as Ereignis) and indeed all materialisation arises" [P. 89], the Abgrund.

A path across the ontological difference, the separation between things and Being there is a gap, a "noumenal nothing" through and beyond which the joining of truth and Being occurs. It is where 'Being happens', so to speak. [P. 91]
There "Being and human being move towards one another". There the event of consequence erects "the bridge between Being and beings". [P. 92]


Transformations Thinking after Heidegger. Gail Stenstad, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

An engaging account of Heidegger's way of thinking after Contributions, interspersed with personal concerns and a perfect tomato sandwich. The account of enowning is here.

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Created 2003/4/11
Last updated 2023/10/23