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Heidegger +Off+the+Beaten+Track

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Off the Beaten Track

This collection of texts (originally published in German under the title Holzwege) is Heidegger's first post-war book and contains some of the major expositions of his later philosophy. Of particular note are "The Origin of the Work of Art," perhaps the most discussed of all of Heidegger's essays, and "Nietzsche's Word: 'God Is Dead,'" which sums up a decade of Nietzsche research. Although translations of the essays have appeared individually in a variety of places, this is the first English translation to bring them all together as Heidegger intended. T h e text is taken from the last edition of the work, which contains the author's final corrections together with important marginal annotations that provide considerable insight into the development of his thought. This fresh and accurate new translation will be an invaluable resource for all students of Heidegger, whether they work in philosophy, literary theory, religious studies, or intellectual history. Julian Young is Honorary Research Associate at the University of Auckland. His publications include Nietzsche's Philosophy o Art (1992), Heidegger, f Philosophy, Nazism (I 997), HeideggerSPhilosophy ofArt (zooI ), and Heidegger's Later Philosophy (2002). Kenneth Haynes is &sistant Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University, and writes on the classical tradition in modern European literature and philosophy. H e is the author of a translation of Hamann's philosophical writings (forthcoming).


O f t h e Beaten TrackE D I T E D AND T R A N S L A T E D BY




The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United KingdomCAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge cs2 ZRU, UK 40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia Ruiz de Alarc6n I 3, 28014 Madrid, Spain Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa

0Cambridge University Press zoo2The publication of this translation has benefited from the assistance of INTER NATIONES, Bonn. Originally published as Holzwege by Vittorio Klostermann GmbH, Frankfurt am Main. 01950. This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published zoo2 Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

"Wood" is an old name for forest. In the wood there are paths, mostly overgrown, that come to an abrupt stop where the wood is untrodden. They are called Holzwege. Each goes its separate way, though within the same forest. It often appears as if one is identical to another. But it only appears so. Woodcutters and forest keepers know these paths. They know what it means to be on a Holzweg.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Libra9Libra y of Congress cataloguing in publication dataHeidegger, Martin, 1889-1976. [Holzwege. English] Off the beaten track/Martin Heidegger; edited and translated by Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes. p. cm. ISBN o 521 801 14 I (hardback) ISBN o 521 80507 4 (paperback) I . Philosophy. I. Young, Julian. 11. Haynes, Kenneth. III . Title. B3279.H47 E 2 0 0 2 S 193--dczI 2002017387 CIPISBN ISBN

o 521 80114 I hardback o 52 I 80507 4 paperback


Translators' preface The Origin of the Work of Art (1935-36)The thing and the work The work and truth Truth and art Afterword Appendix

page ix

The Age of the World Picture (1938)Appendices

Hegel's Concept of Experience (1942-43) Nietzsche's Word: "God Is Dead" (1943) Why Poets? ( I 946) Anaximander's Saying ( I 946) Notes List of sources Editor's epilogue to the seventh edition of Holzwege Glossa y

Translators' preface

Holzwege - here translated as Ofthe Beaten Track - is the title Heidegger gave to this collection of six essays and lectures which was first published in 1950. The essays and lectures themselves span a little more than a decade, from 1935 to 1946. The text used for this translation is taken from the seventh edition of Holzwege, which is itself based on volume V of the Gesamtausgabe. The notes at the foot of the page are Heidegger's own, generally marginalia or other notes in his working copies of the texts (see the "Editor's epilogue," translated below, for further bibliographical information). VVhere these notes refer to works that have been translated into English, references to the original texts have been replaced by references to these translations. Where no such translations exist, references to the German texts remain. T h e notes at the end of the volume are the translators' and are limited to identifymg the sources of quotations and otherwise providing a minimum of information that seems helpful to readers of Heidegger in English. In entitling his work Holzwege, literally, "Timber Tracks," or "Forest Paths," Heidegger chose a term that carefully balances positive and negative implications. On the one hand, a Holzweg is a timber track that leads to a clearing in the forest where timber is cut. On the other, it is a track that used to lead to such a place but is now overgrown and leads nowhere. Hence, in a popular German idiom, to be "on a Holzweg" is to be on the wrong track or in a cul-de-sac. A translation of Heidegger's note on the title appears at the beginning of the book, where it is found in most German editions. It is in order to capture something of Heidegger's dual meaning that we have adopted the title "Off the Beaten Track." Each translator bears primary responsibility for three of the six essays: Julian Young translated "The Origin of the Work of Art," "The Age of the World Picture," and "Anaximander's Saying"; Kenneth Haynes translated and the others. Each read the other's work closely~ translated in awareness of the other; nonetheless, in our collaboration we did not aim to eliminate all differences in style.



to which nothing real any longer corresponds. It may serve as a collective notion under which we bring what alone of art is real: works and artists. Even if the word art is to signify more than a collective notion, what is meant by the word could only be based on the reality of works and artists. Or are matters the other way round? Do work and artist exist only insofara as art exists, exists, indeed, as their origin? Whatever we decide, the question of the origin of the artwork turns into the question of the nature of art. But since it must remain open whether and how there is art at all, we will attempt to discover the nature of art where there is no doubt that art genuinely prevails. Art presences in the art-work [Kunst-werk].But what and how is a work of art? What art is we should be able to gather from the work. What the work is we can only find out from the nature of art. It is easy to see that we are moving in a circle. The usual understanding demands that this circle be avoided as an offense against logic. It is said that what art is may be gathered from a comparative study of available artworks. But how can we be certain that such a study is really based on artworks unless we know beforehand what art is? Yet the nature of art can as little be derived from higher concepts as from a collection of characteristics of existing artworks. For such a derivation, too, already has in view just those determinations which are sufficient to ensure that what we are offering as works of art are what we already take to be such. The collecting of characteristics from what exists, however, and the derivation from fundamental principles are impossible in exactly the same way and, where practiced, are a self-delusion. So we must move in a circle. This is neither ad hoc nor deficient. To enter upon this path is the strength, and to remain on it the feast of thought assuming that thinking is a craft. Not only is the main step from work to art, like the step from art to work, a circle, but every individual step that we attempt circles within this circle. In order to discover the nature of art that really holds sway in the work let us approach the actual work and ask it what and how it is. Everyone is familiar with artworks. One finds works of architecture and sculpture erected in public places, in churches, and in private homes. Artworks from the most diverse ages and peoples are housed in collections and exhibitions. If we regard works in their pristine reality and do not deceive ourselves, the following becomes evident: works are as naturally present as things. The picture hangs on the wall like a hunting weapon ora

Reclam edition, 1960. It gives art [Esdie Kunst gibt


a hat. A painting - for example van Gogh's portrayal of a pair of peasant shoes - travels from one exhibition to another. Works are shipped like coal from the Ruhr or logs from the Black Forest. During the war Holderlin's hymns were packed in the soldier's knapsack along with cleaning equipment. Beethoven's quartets lie in the publisher's storeroom like potatoes in a cellar. Every work has this thingly character. What would they be without it? But perhaps we find this very crude and external approach to the work offensive. It may be the conception of the artwork with which the freighthandler or the museum charlady operates, but we are required to take the works as they are encountered by those who experience and enjoy them. Yet even this much-vaunted "aesthetic experience" cannot evade the thingliness of the artwork. The stony is in the work of architecture, the wooden in the woodcarving, the colored in the painting, the vocal in the linguistic

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