The mother of the Muses
Lost our tongue in foreign lands. It is telling that the question Heidegger chooses to address is not what calls for thought nor what caused thinking. He does not ask the reader to consider an external object, the thought as an atomic whole, singularity, nor does he phrase the question in the past tense. The question is not even what calls us to think, for perhaps we will not arrive in that foreign land. Clearly upon embarking on this journey, we must be well provisioned, mark our path well. This is a journey from which we may not return.
What calls for thinking, what beckons, seeks, names. 1 Quickly thinking becomes the coquette. ” . . . This most thought-provoking thing turns away from us, in fact has long since turned away from man. “2 It is not that we must learn how to think, it is instead that “we must be ready to learn thinking. “3 First and foremost we are asked to prepare ourselves for an active commitment. It is something which we must go out and find, and we are unsure of what it is that we will find. Next we are asked to acknowledge that our ambition may outstrip our abilities.
We have not yet learned thinking, as though we have not yet learned a new language, a foreign tongue. How to think, that is what we must unlearn, separate ourselves from what has been told to us. Stop confusing Science, which is what stems from thought, dead thoughts no longer active, with thinking, the seeking out, the natality and activity. Running alongside, the pebbles which shape the stream, we are reminded of cogito ergo sum. If it is that I am (first person singular of to be) because I think, my being predicated upon my thinking, what allows and calls this act must be sought, pursued.
I am engaged in the search for thinking, am I then in the process of becoming? “Man is called the being who can think,”4 what would Man be without thinking? What does it mean to be a being who can think, and yet who still is not thinking? Immediately, Heidegger has proven the philosophical interest of this question. Thinking can first be found in memory, literally “thinking back. “5 An action which is a re-examination of past beings, previous thinkings, what would be worthy of re-collecting, “thought-provoking”?
“Only when we are so inclined toward what in itself is to be thought about, only then are we capable of thinking,”6 but to be inclined toward is to be outside of, we must be at a distance from what is thought about. Reaching toward, acting as “the pointer,” we must chase what is thought-provoking. Thinking withdraws from us, or perhaps leads us on. We feel no pain, we almost have/ Lost our tongue in foreign lands. Heidegger quotes frequently lines from a poem by Hi?? lderin, Mnemosyne (memory). We are a sign that is not read.
This line is drawn out, our drawing toward the withdrawing thought; this is how man becomes the pointer. What does it mean to be a pointer; a laying down of direction, a yearning without arriving. “But since this sign points toward what draws away, it points not so much at what draws away as into the withdrawal. “7 Again we are pointed toward an understanding not of the thought, the object, but instead toward the thinking, the ongoing action. Thinking, as something to be learned, places the import not on the individual thoughts, or later, on the individual thinker.