Who is Heidegger’s Hölderlin?

In: Research in Phenomenology
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  • 1 University of Texas-Dallas

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The question of Hölderlin’s influence on Heidegger’s thinking has long preoccupied philosophers. In this essay I attempt to situate the Hölderlin-reception in Germany during the 1930s and show how (despite all the strong political currents running through Heidegger’s Hölderlin lectures) he comes to offer his own reflections on poetic dwelling that open an ethical relation within his work. There are deeply ethical moments that emerge in Heidegger’s reading of Hölderlin, moments marked by polarities between an assertion of the German Volk’s exceptionalist singularity and an awareness of the need to authentically encounter the “other,” the “alien,” the “foreign,” and the “stranger.” The Hölderlin lectures take place in this space of contention, strife, and upheaval. In and through his conversation with Hölderlin, Heidegger begins to think an originary ethics of dwelling attuned to the poietic power of beyng. It is in this ethos of poetic dwelling, one that comes to language in Hölderlin’s late hymns, that Heidegger rethinks Dasein as Aufenthalt, abode, and ἦθος.

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