In virtue of its ability to instigate a ‘strife’ between ‘earth’ and ‘world’, Heidegger argues in his Origin of the Work of Art (1935) that the work of art should be understood as a truth event. In 1927’s Being and Time however, Heidegger’s understanding of truth was confined to discussion of the world, understood as the totality of the meaningful relations between things sustained by the kind of being that the human being is, Dasein. Beyond this horizon of meaning there is a ‘fundamental limit’ that his question of the meaning of being necessarily cannot ask about. In context of these limitations, the meaning and significance of his concept of earth is unclear. By exploring the confines of the discourse of Being and Time, this paper examines some of the developments that occurs between that text (1927) and his thinking as it stood in 1935, two years after the seizure of power by the National Socialist party. In doing so the significance of the concept of earth for the development of Heidegger’s thinking is uncovered. However, in following this development it is discovered that this concept initially holds an explicitly political significance, and the consequences of this are traced through Heidegger’s eventually naming of earth as (the ambiguous) ‘holy’ and ‘homeland’. It is argued that this move, secured through his reading of the poet Hölderlin, gives Heidegger cause to reconcile his philosophy with his politics in a way that he could not in Being and Time. By being both philosophically profound and at the same time politically reckless, this concept has an ambivalent role in Heidegger’s thinking, one that perhaps suggests an inherent danger for the enterprise of philosophical discourse itself. By engaging with the Heidegger controversy in this light, this paper instigates a dialogue surrounding the role and responsibility of the thinker in society.
Gregory Jackson is a Ph.D candidate in the Philosophy Department in Maynooth University. He graduated with a first class honours undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Philosophy, and was awarded a John Hume Scholarship to continue with his Ph.D in Philosophy under supervision of Dr Susan Gottlöber. His thesis is tentatively titled ‘Return to the Earth: The Role of Art in the Development in Heidegger’s Thinking of Truth in Nazi Germany, 1930-36.’