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Category Archives: On Thought & Thinking

Scientist: …I hardly know anymore who and where I am.
Teacher: None of us knows that, as soon as we stop fooling ourselves.
Scholar: And yet we still have our path?
Teacher: To be sure. But by forgetting it too quickly we give up thinking.


– Heidegger (Discourse on Thinking, pg. 62)


50. Perhaps there is a thinking which is more sober-minded than the incessant frenzy of rationalization and the intoxicating quality of cybernetics. One might aver that it is precisely this intoxication that is extremely irrational. Perhaps there is a thinking outside of the distinction of rational and irrational, more sober-minded still than scientific technology, more sober-minded and hence removed, without effect, yet having its own necessity. When we ask about the task of this thinking, then not only this thinking but also the question concerning it is first made questionable. In view of the whole philosophical tradition this means:  

51. We all still need an education in thinking, and first of all, before that, knowledge of what being educated and uneducated in thinking means. In this respect Aristotle gives us a hint in Book IV of his Metaphysics (1006a if.): . . – “For it is uneducated not to have an eye for when it is necessary to look for a proof and when this is not necessary.”This sentence demands careful reflection. For it is not yet decided in what way that which needs no proof in order to become accessible to thinking is to be experienced. Is it dialectical mediation or originarily giving intuition or neither of the two? Only the peculiar quality of what demands of us above all else to be admitted can decide about that. But how is this to make the decision possible for us when we have not yet admitted it? In what circle are we moving here, indeed, inevitably?

52. Is it the eukukleos Aletheia, well-rounded unconcealment itself, thought as the opening?
Does the title for the task of thinking then read instead of Being and Time: Opening and Presence?
But where does the opening come from and how is it given? What speaks in the “There is / It gives”?
The task of thinking would then be the surrender of previous thinking to the determination of the matter for thinking.

– Heidegger (The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking)

Of all people you are the nearest to my soul, and the nearest to my heart, and our souls and hearts have never quarreled. Only our thoughts have quarreled, and thought is acquired, it is derived from the environment, from what we see in front of us, from what each day brings to us; but soul and heart formed a sublime essence in us long before our thoughts. The function of thought is to organize and arrange, and this is a good function and necessary for our social lives, but it has no place in the life of the heart and soul. ‘If we should quarrel here after we must not go our separate ways.’ Thought can say this despite being the cause of all quarreling, but it cannot utter one word about love, nor is it able to measure the soul in terms of words, nor to weigh the heart in the scales of its logic.

– Gibran (Letter to May Ziadeh)

The question sounds definite. It seems unequivocal. But even a slight reflection shows it to have more than one meaning. No sooner do we ask the question than we begin to vacillate. Indeed, the ambiguity of the question foils every attempt to push toward the answer without some further preparation.

We must, then, clarify the ambiguity. The ambiguousness of the question “What is called thinking?” conceals several possible ways of dealing with it. Looking ahead, we may stress four ways in which the question can be posed.

“What is called thinking?” says for one thing, and in the first place: what is it we call “thought” and “thinking,” what do these words signify? What is it to which we give the name “thinking”?

“What is called thinking?” says also, in the second place: how does traditional doctrine conceive and define what we have named thinking? What is it that for two and a half thousand years has been regarded as the basic characteristic of thinking? Why does the traditional doctrine of thinking bear the curious title “logic”?

“What is called thinking?” says further, and in the third place: what are the prerequisites we need so that we may be able to think with essential rightness? What is called for on our part in order that we may each time achieve good thinking?

“What is called thinking?”says finally, in the fourth place: what is it that calls us, as it were, commands us to think? What is it that calls us to thinking?

– Heidegger