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Exegesis of Casey on Heidegger on Place - Step 3

Mark Douglas

Step 3 begins by highlighting the importance of Heidegger's "turning" towards a greater focus on being and language. In this turning place takes a central role. The turning first appears conceptually in 1928 lectures when Heidegger describes his new focus on "metontology" which is meant to be even more holistic conceptually than his previous thinking. In the deeper and broader holism there is a greater role for the multiplicity inherent to beings, Dasein, and being itself. 

Heidegger discusses embodiment in the 1928 Marburg lectures. The theme is the dispersion of Dasein which to my thinking is a rich description of the concept of extended mind. Heidegger has a three aspects of this dissemination: body, gender, and space. Body is said to be the most important. Embodiment is THE organizing factor ALL of somebody's multiplicative dispersion. Being thrown into bodies and somebody's embodiment founds the development and exhibition of the moods that somebody finds themselves in from moment to moment. Mood (its capacity in Befindlichheit) is embodied.

Casey next skips ahead to 1935 for Heidegger's lectures "An Introduction to Metaphysics." Heidegger emphasizes the distinct emplacement of Dasein as being-there. The there of being-there means that somebody is always already emplaced. From somebody's there we move to the quintessential there of the polis. The polis is the place for somebody to actualize whatever stand it is they wish to take on their own being. The polis is where things come together to create history "by the action of poets and statesmen, warriors and priests, activists and thinkers" (Casey, p. 262). 

We now move from the polis to the work of art. The "Origin of the Work of Art" was given as an invited lecture in Freiburg in the fall of 1935. Art articulates. It traces the outlines for what a culture is up to and it exemplifies the foundation on which things matter to the people of a culture. The work of art grants clearance to the unveiling of truth by displaying the essential struggle between earth and world. In doing so, the work of art does for a people what somebody does for themselves. Dasein is the somebody that recognizes what he stands for and then takes the stand he takes on the basis of that self understanding. The work of art is something that a culture and a people recognize as that which stands for them. "The There now at issue is no longer that of Dasein alone as being-there; it belongs primarily to the work of art as something that stands there--that takes its stand somewhere, in a particular place" (Casey, p. 265).

The notion of room reappears. "In a world's worlding is gathered that spaciousness (Geraumigkeit) out of which the protective grace of the gods is granted or withheld....A work, by being a work, makes room for that spaciousness. 'To make room for' (einraumen) means here especially to liberate the Open and to establish it in its structure....The work as work sets up a world. The work holds open the Open of the world" (OWA, p. 45). This means that the background implicit understanding of a culture is granted leeway in the articulating work that is performed by art is what is characteristic of world. The work of art sets the stage for essential cultural characters (the gods or whatever it is that matters most to a people) to come about in shared resonance so that the people of the culture can understand and share in the knowledge that they together share this understanding. "It is as if the world of the work clears the way for the more particular activities instigated by individual human beings" (Casey, p. 266). 

What about earth? Earth is the UL quadrant of the fourfold. Earth is the most withdrawn and most subsistent. Earth is the always already understood foundation. Earth is self-secluding in its withdrawal but that doesn't mean that it doesn't stand forth. Earth comes into the open as self-secluded. Earth is disclosed in its strife with world. I'm tempted to claim that earth and world are structurally coupled to use the language of systems thinking. World is the environment that allows for earth to be in itself for itself (along with sky, mortals, and divinities). 

We then get a new place word, realm . "This 'realm' (Bereich) is a complex place. It is composed of earth and world--taken in their conflict and in their repose" (Casey, p. 268). The realm is the joint dimension of earth and world. The earth founds the world and gives it a place to take root. The work of art grants clearance to truth as aletheia. The work of art reveals the essential character of readiness-to-hand. The work of art discloses the equipmentality of equipment. The work of art defines what it means for somebody to dwell in their own time and in their own place. Art articulates the essence of a culture by opening up and granting clearance a place for somebody to understand what it can mean to be a somebody in that age and in that place. Of course, this all depends on what holds the most sway in that culture in terms of the ethos of a society and culture.

We're still waiting for the land ethic to hold sway...