Heidegger's Speech at Husserl's Seventieth Birthday Celebration

For your students, celebrating this day is a source of rare and pure joy. The only way we can be adequate to this occasion is to let the gratitude that we owe you become the fundamental mood suffusing everything from beginning to end. In keeping with a beautiful tradition, today on this celebratory occasion we offer you as our gift this slender volume of a few short essays. In no way could this ever be an adequate return for all that you, our teacher, have lavished upon us, and awakened and nourished in us. In the coming days many will try to survey your work in philosophy and to evaluate its impact and effect on various scales. In so doing, they will bring to mind many things that we should not forget. However, that way of parceling out a person's intellectual impact and of calculating the influence of his writings fails to grasp the essential matter for which we owe you our thanks. That essential element will not be found by considering how fruitful your teaching career has been. Surely such effectiveness will continue to be the prerogative and good fortune of every professor as long as German university escapes the doom of getting turned into a mind-numbing trade school. No, the essence of your leadership consists in something else, namely that the content and style of your questioning immediately forces each of us into an intense, critical dialogue, and it demands that we always be ready to reverse or even abandon our position. There is no guarantee, of course, that any of us will find our way to the one thing that, so unpretentously, your work sought to lead us to: that releasement in which one is seasoned and ready for the problems.2 So too the works we present to you are mere witnesses to the fact that we wanted to follow your guidance, not proof that we succeeded in becoming your disciples.3 But there is one thing we will retain as a lasting possession: Each of us who had the privilege of following in your footsteps was confronted by you, our esteemed teacher, with the option either of becoming the steward of essential matters or of working against them. On this celebratory occasion, as we view your philosophical existence in this light, we also acquire secure points of reference for giving a true assessment of the value of your work in philosophy. Does it consist in the fact that some decades ago a new movement emerged in philosophy and gained influence among the then-dominant trends? Or that a new method was added to the list of previous ones? Or that long-forgotten problem-areas got reworked..
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