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Philosophy and poetry: the meaning of history in Heidegger’s thought

Kelly, Dominic Peter (2014) Philosophy and poetry: the meaning of history in Heidegger’s thought. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the turning that occurs in the work of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). It seeks to reveal it as a turning that takes place within the notion of history as it is elaborated by Heidegger in the difference between Nietzsche and Hölderlin, that is, in the difference between philosophy and poetizing. To this end, the thesis attempts to unify two themes within the interpretation of Heidegger‟s work which have, in the face of the vast corpus of secondary literature, found but little attention: the first concerns the move from Nietzsche to Hölderlin and thus from a purely philosophical discourse towards an investigation of thought as otherwise than metaphysical; the second concerns the Nietzschean heritage in this move – namely, the explication of a properly historical dimension of thought. The first chapter examines Heidegger‟s retrieval of the question of being, as it is this task that motivates the whole of Heidegger‟s work and therefore serves to elucidate the trajectory of this thesis. The second and third chapters are concerned with Heidegger‟s engagement with the problem of nihilism as it is expressed in the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, as it is due to the necessity to distance his thought from Nietzsche‟s that can be located Heidegger‟s turn to poetry as a way of opening up a properly historical dimension to thought that lies beyond metaphysics. In the fourth chapter I examine Heidegger‟s turn to art insofar as he sees in it the redemptive possibility of challenging nihilism in its modern, technological manifestation. Art will be seen in its essence as revelatory of truth and thereby as able to originate history anew. The fifth chapter deals with poetry as both the most fundamental mode of art and the essence of language; a privileged position that marks it out as the most likely source of Western humanity once more living with a properly historical sense of itself. The sixth chapter deals with the poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin as the location for a decision about whether poetry is able to open up a new historical time or whether it is simply harmless and ineffectual. The conclusion addresses the Nietzschean heritage in the movement of Heidegger‟s thought as it is outlined here.

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