The Transitional Breakdown of the Word: Heidegger and Stefan George's Encounter with Language


Authors
Jussi M. Backman
University of Jyväskylä
Abstract
The paper studies Heidegger's reading of the poet Stefan George (1868-1933), particularly of his poem "Das Wort" (1928), in the context of Heidegger's narrative of the history of metaphysics. Heidegger reads George's poem as expressing certain experiences with language: first, the constitutive role of language, of naming and discursive determination, in granting things stable identities; second, the unnameable and indeterminable character of language itself as a constitutive process and the concomitant insight into the human being's dependency on language and her incapacity to master in subjectively. Heidegger characterizes this experience as "transitional" (übergänglich). It is shown that in Heidegger's historical narrative, this places George's poem in the ongoing transition (Übergang) from the Hegelian and Nietzschean end of metaphysics to a forthcoming "other beginning" of thinking.
Keywords George, Stefan  poetry  end of metaphysics  transition
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