the beginning of the “was heisst denken?” lectures
“We come to know what it means to think when we ourselves try to think. If the attempt is to be successful, we must be ready to learn thinking.”
In this humblest of beginnings, Heidegger puts something so simply that we could pass it over without a thought.
He has not said something like
“we come to know what it means to walk when we think about walking. If the attempt to walk is to be successful we must learn to walk by thinking about walking.” (And silly as this sounds, isn’t it in fact how thinking is often imagined? as something higher that will provide the abstract pattern for all other activities?)
He has said something like
“we come to know what it means to walk when we ourselves try to walk. If the attempt is to be successful, we must be ready to learn on our feet.”
Heidegger wants to learn thinking, not as an activity that looks down on walking from some higher plane, but to learn thinking as we learn walking, talking, as the hand learns reaching and extending, receiving and welcoming, signing and designing, and pointing.
“But we are pointing then at something which has not, not yet, been transposed into the language of our speech. We are a sign that is not read. In his draft for the hymn “Mnemosyne” (Memory), Hoelderlin says:
We are a sign that is not read.
We feel no pain, we almost have
Lost our tongue in foreign lands.”