Martin Heidegger


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the “question of Being”.

His best known book, Sein und Zeit’ – (Being and Time), is considered one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century.
In it and later works, Heidegger maintained that our way of questioning defines our nature.
It is argued that philosophy, Western Civilization’s chief way of questioning, had lost sight of the being it sought, in the process of philosophising.
Finding ourselves “always already” fallen in a world of presuppositions, we lose touch with what being was before its truth became “muddled“.
As a solution to this condition, Heidegger advocated a return to the practical being in the world, allowing it to reveal, or “unconceal” itself as concealment.
Writing extensively on Nietzsche in his later career, and offering a “phenomenological critique of Kant” in his ‘Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik’ – (Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics), Heidegger is known for his post-Kantian philosophy.
Heidegger’s influence has been far reaching, from philosophy to theology, deconstructionism, cultural anthropology, literary theory, architecture, and artificial intelligence.
Heidegger is a controversial figure, largely for his affiliation with the NSDAP, for which he neither apologized nor expressed regret.
The controversy raises general questions about the relation between Heidegger’s thought and his connection to National Socialism.


Heidegger claimed that Western philosophy since Plato has misunderstood what it means for something “to be“, tending to approach this question in terms of a being, rather than asking about Being itself.
In other words, Heidegger believed all investigations of being have historically focused on particular entities and their properties, or have treated Being itself as an entity, or substance, with properties.
A more authentic analysis of Being would, for Heidegger, investigate “that on the basis of which beings are already understood,” or that which underlies all particular entities and allows them to show up as entities in the first place (see world disclosure).
But since philosophers and scientists have overlooked the more basic, pre-theoretical ways of being from which their theories derive, and since they have incorrectly applied those theories universally, they have confused our understanding of being and human existence.
To avoid these deep-rooted misconceptions, Heidegger believed philosophical inquiry must be conducted in a new way, through a process of retracing the steps of the history of philosophy.
Heidegger argued that this misunderstanding, beginning with Plato, has left its traces in every stage of Western thought.
All that we understand, from the way we speak to our notions of “common sense“, is susceptible to error, to fundamental mistakes about the nature of being.
These mistakes filter into the terms through which being is articulated in the history of philosophy—such as reality, logic, God, consciousness, and presence.
In his later philosophy, Heidegger argues that this profoundly affects the way in which human beings relate to modern technology.
His writing is ‘notoriously difficult’, possibly because his thinking was ‘original‘ and clearly on obscure and innovative topics.
Heidegger accepted this charge, stating ‘Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy’, and suggesting that intelligibility is what he is critically trying to examine.
Heidegger’s work has strongly influenced philosophy, aesthetics of literature, and the humanities.
Within philosophy it played a crucial role in the development of existentialism, hermeneutics, deconstruction, postmodernism, and continental philosophy in general. 
Heidegger and National Socialism

Heidegger joined the NSDAP on May 1, 1933, ten days after being elected Rector of the University of Freiburg. 
His involvement with National Socialism and the relation between his philosophy and National Socialism are still highly controversial, especially because he never apologized nor expressed regret.
Heidegger’s inaugural address as rector of Freiburg, the “Rektoratsrede“, was entitled “The Self-Assertion of the German University“.
This speech displayed the visible endorsement of National Socialism by Heidegger, giving the blessing of his philosophy to the new political party.
In this speech Heidegger linked the concept of “science” with a historical struggle of the German people:
The will to the essence of the German university is the will to science as will to the historical spiritual mission of the German people as a people [Volk] that knows itself in its state [Staat].
‘Together, science and German destiny must come to power in the will to essence.
And they will do so and only will do so, if we – teachers and students – on the one hand, expose science to its innermost necessity and, on the other hand, are able to stand our ground while German destiny is in its most extreme distress.’
Heidegger also linked the concept of a people with ‘Blut und Boden’ – (blood and soil).

The spiritual world of a people is not the superstructure of a culture any more than it is an armory filled with useful information and values; it is the power that most deeply preserves the people’s earth- and blood-bound strengths as the power that most deeply arouses and most profoundly shakes the people’s existence.
The rectorate speech ended with a call for the German people to “will itself” and “fulfill its historical mission“:
‘But no one will even ask us whether we do or do not will, when the spiritual strength of the West fails and its joints crack, when this moribund semblance of a culture caves in and drags all forces into confusion and lets them suffocate in madness.
Whether this will or will not happen depends solely on whether we, as a historical-spiritual people, still and once again will ourselves – or whether we no longer will ourselves. Each individual participates in this decision even when, and especially when, he evades it.
But we do will that our people fulfill its historical mission.’

Speech to Heidelberg Student Association – June 1933

‘We have the new Reich and the university that is to receive its tasks from the Reich’s will to existence.
A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the National Socialist spirit, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by humanizing, Christian ideas that suppress its un-conditionality.
Danger comes not from work for the State.
It comes only from indifference and resistance.
For that reason, only true strength should have access to the right path, but not halfheartedness.
The new teaching which is at issue here does not mean conveying knowledge, but allowing students to learn and inducing them to learn.
This means allowing oneself to be beset by the unknown and then becoming master of it in comprehending knowing; it means becoming secure in one’s sense of what is essential.
It is from such teaching that true research emerges, interlocked with the whole through its rootedness in the people (Volk) and its bond to the state. 
The student is forced out into the uncertainty of all things, in which the necessity of engagement is grounded.
University study must again become a risk, not a refuge for the cowardly.
Whoever does not survive the battle, lies where he falls.
The new courage must accustom itself to steadfastness, for the battle for the institutions where our leaders are educated will continue for a long time.
It will be fought out of the strengths of the new Reich that Chancellor Hitler will bring to reality.
A hard race with no thought of self must fight this battle, a race that lives from constant testing and that remains directed toward the goal to which it has committed itself. It is a battle to determine who shall be the teachers and leaders at the university.’

Heidegger supported the “necessity of a Führer” for Germany as early as 1918.
In a number of speeches in November 1933 Heidegger endorses the Führerprinzip (“leader principle”), i.e. the principle that the Führer is the embodiment of the people.
For example, in one speech Heidegger stated :
Let not propositions and ‘ideas’ be the rules of your being (Sein). The Führer alone is the present and future German reality and its law. Learn to know ever more deeply: that from now on every single thing demands decision, and every action responsibility.’
In another speech a few days later Heidegger said:

There is only one will to the full existence (Dasein) of the State. The Führer has awakened this will in the entire people and has welded it into a single resolve.

In late November Heidegger gave a conference at the University of Tübingen, organized by the students of the university and the ‘Kampfbund’, an NSDAP organisation.
In this address he argued for a revolution in knowledge.

We have witnessed a revolution. The state has transformed itself.
This revolution was not the advent of a power pre-existing in the bosom of the state or of a political party. The national-socialist revolution means rather the radical transformation of German existence.
However, in the university, not only has the revolution not yet achieved its aims, it has not even started.


Early Years

Geburtshaus – Martin Heidegger
Stadtwappen Meßkirch

Heidegger was born in rural Meßkirch, Germany.
Raised a Roman Catholic, he was the son of the sexton of the village church, Friedrich Heidegger, and his wife Johanna, née Kempf.
In their faith, his parents adhered to the First Vatican Council of 1870, which was observed mainly by the poorer class of Meßkirch.
The religious controversy between the wealthy Altkatholiken (Old Catholics) and the working class led to the temporary use of a converted barn for the Roman Catholics.
At the festive reunion of the congregation in 1895, the Old Catholic sexton handed the key to six-year-old Martin.

Meßkirch – Deutschland

Heidegger’s family could not afford to send him to university, so he entered a Jesuit seminary, though he was turned away within weeks because of the health requirement and what the director and doctor of the seminary described as a psychosomatic heart condition.
As a young man Heidegger became involved in an extreme right wing occult group (superficially Catholic) led by Richard Kralik Ritter von Meyrswalden, and called der Gral Bund.

Richard Kralik

Richard Kralik attended the elementary and high school of the University of Linz.
In addition to studying law, he devoted himself to philosophy and ancient oriental languages.
In addition, he pursued the study of art and music, and literature.
After studying in Vienna, he also studied at several universities in Germany.
Around 1905 he established the Gral Bund – a neo-romantic, occult group.
Heidegger was inspired by Kralik and this occult romanticism continued to affect his philosophy for the remainder of his life.
After studying theology at the University of Freiburg from 1909 to 1911, he switched to philosophy, in part again because of his heart condition.
Heidegger completed his doctoral thesis on psychologism in 1914 influenced by Neo-Thomism and Neo-Kantianism, and in 1916 finished his venia legendi with a thesis on Duns Scotus influenced by Heinrich Rickert and Edmund Husserl.
In the two years following, he worked first as an unsalaried Privatdozent, then served as a soldier during the final year of World War I, working behind a desk and never leaving Germany.
After the war, he served as a salaried senior assistant to Edmund Husserl at the University of Freiburg in the Black Forest from 1919 until 1923.


In 1923, Heidegger was elected to an extraordinary Professorship in Philosophy at the University of Marburg.
His colleagues there included Rudolf Bultmann, Nicolai Hartmann, and Paul Natorp. Heidegger’s students at Marburg included Hans-Georg Gadamer, Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Gerhard Krüger, Leo Strauss, Jacob Klein, Gunther (Stern) Anders, and Hans Jonas. Through a confrontation with Aristotle he began to develop in his lectures the main theme of his philosophy: the question of the sense of being.
He extended the concept of subject to the dimension of history and concrete existence, which he found prefigured in such Christian thinkers as Saint Paul, Augustine of Hippo, Luther, and Kierkegaard.
He also read the works of Dilthey, Husserl, and Max Scheler.


In 1927, Heidegger published his main work ‘Sein und Zeit’ (Being and Time).
When Husserl retired as Professor of Philosophy in 1928, Heidegger accepted Freiburg’s election to be his successor, in spite of a counter-offer by Marburg.
Heidegger remained at Freiburg im Breisgau for the rest of his life, declining a number of later offers, including one from Humboldt University of Berlin.
His students at Freiburg included Hannah Arendt, Günther Anders, Hans Jonas, Karl Löwith, Charles Malik, Herbert Marcuse, and Ernst Nolte.
Heidegger was elected rector of the University on April 21, 1933, and joined the National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Party on May 1 (see above).
In his inaugural address as rector on May 27 he expressed his support to a German revolution, and in an article and a speech to the students from the same year he supported Adolf Hitler.
Heidegger resigned the rectorate in April 1934, but remained a member of the NSDAP until 1945.
Heidegger died on May 26, 1976, and was buried in the Meßkirch cemetery, beside his parents and brother.


Being, Time, and Dasein

Heidegger’s philosophy is founded on the attempt to conjoin what he considers two fundamental insights: the first is his observation that, in the course of over 2,000 years of history, philosophy has attended to all the beings that can be found in the world (including the “world” itself), but has forgotten to ask what “Being” itself is.
This is Heidegger’s “question of Being,” and it is Heidegger’s fundamental concern throughout his work.
One crucial source of this insight was Heidegger’s reading of Franz Brentano’s treatise on Aristotle’s manifold uses of the word “being,” a work which provoked Heidegger to ask what kind of unity underlies this multiplicity of uses.
Heidegger opens his magnum opus, ‘Being and Time’, with a citation from Plato’s Sophist indicating that Western philosophy has neglected “Being” because it was considered obvious, rather than as worthy of question.
Heidegger’s intuition about the question of Being is thus a historical argument, which in his later work becomes his concern with the “history of Being,” that is, the history of the forgetting of Being, which according to Heidegger requires that philosophy retrace its footsteps through a productive “destruction” of the history of philosophy.
The second intuition animating Heidegger’s philosophy derives from the influence of Edmund Husserl, a philosopher largely uninterested in questions of philosophical history. Rather, Husserl argued that all that philosophy could and should be is a description of experience (hence the phenomenological slogan, “to the things themselves“).
But for Heidegger, this meant understanding that experience is always already situated in a world and in ways of being.
Thus Husserl’s understanding that all consciousness is “intentional” (in the sense that it is always intended toward something, and is always “about” something) is transformed in Heidegger’s philosophy, becoming the thought that all experience is grounded in “care.”
This is the basis of Heidegger’s “existential analytic“, as he develops it in ‘Being and Time’. Heidegger argues that to describe experience properly entails finding the being for whom such a description might matter.
Heidegger thus conducts his description of experience with reference to “Dasein,” the being for whom being is a question.
In ‘Being and Time’, Heidegger criticized the abstract and metaphysical character of traditional ways of grasping human existence as rational animal, person, man, soul, spirit, or subject.
Dasein‘ – (existence), then, is not intended as a way of conducting a philosophical anthropology, but is rather understood by Heidegger to be the condition of possibility for anything like a philosophical anthropology.
Dasein‘, according to Heidegger, is care. In the course of his existential analytic, Heidegger argues that ‘Dasein‘, who finds itself thrown into the world (Geworfenheit – thrownness) amidst things and with others, is thrown into its possibilities, including the possibility and inevitability of one’s own mortality.
The need for ‘Dasein‘ to assume these possibilities, that is, the need to be responsible for one’s own existence, is the basis of Heidegger’s notions of authenticity and resoluteness—that is, of those specific possibilities for Dasein which depend on escaping the “vulgar” temporality of calculation and of public life.
The marriage of these two observations depends on the fact that each of them is essentially concerned with time.
That Dasein s thrown into an already existing world and thus into its mortal possibilities does not only mean that Dasein is an essentially temporal being; it also implies that the description of Dasein can only be carried out in terms inherited from the Western tradition itself.
For Heidegger, unlike for Husserl, philosophical terminology could not be divorced from the history of the use of that terminology, and thus genuine philosophy could not avoid confronting questions of language and meaning.
The existential analytic of ‘Being and Time’ was thus always only a first step in Heidegger’s philosophy, to be followed by the “dismantling” (Destruktion) of the history of philosophy, that is, a transformation of its language and meaning, that would have made of the existential analytic only a kind of “limit case” (in the sense in which special relativity is a limit case of general relativity).

That Heidegger did not write this second part of ‘Being and Time’, and that the existential analytic was left behind in the course of Heidegger’s subsequent writings on the history of being, might be interpreted as a failure to conjugate his account of individual experience with his account of the vicissitudes of the collective human adventure that he understands the Western philosophical tradition to be.
And this would in turn raise the question of whether this failure is due to a flaw in Heidegger’s account of temporality, that is, of whether Heidegger was correct to oppose vulgar and authentic time.
There are also recent critiques in this regard that were directed at Heidegger’s focus on time instead of primarily thinking about being in relation to place and space.

Hölderlin and Nietzsche

Friedrich Hölderlin and Friedrich Nietzsche were both important influences on Heidegger, and many of his lecture courses were devoted to one or the other, especially in the 1930s and 1940s.

Friedrich Nietzsche

The lectures on Nietzsche focused on fragments posthumously published under the title ‘Der Wille zur Macht’ – (The Will to Power), rather than on Nietzsche’s published works.
Heidegger read ‘Der Wille zur Macht’ as the culminating expression of Western metaphysics, and the lectures are a kind of dialogue between the two thinkers.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and aphorism.

Nietzsche’s key ideas include the “death of God,” the ‘Übermensch‘, the ‘eternal recurrence‘, the ‘Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy’, and the ‘will to power‘. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation“, which involves questioning of all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be. His influence remains substantial within philosophy, notably in existentialism, post-modernism, and post-structuralism, as well as outside it. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, especially in the continental tradition.

Friedrich Hölderlin

This is also the case for the lecture courses devoted to the poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin, which became an increasingly central focus of Heidegger’s work and thought.
Heidegger grants to Hölderlin a singular place within the history of being and the history of Germany, as a herald whose thought is yet to be “heard” in Germany or the West.
Many of Heidegger’s works from the 1930s onwards include meditations on lines from Hölderlin’s poetry, and several of the lecture courses are devoted to the reading of a single poem (see, for example, Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister“).

Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (20 March 1770 – 7 June 1843) was a major German lyric poet, commonly associated with the artistic movement known as Romanticism. Hölderlin was also an important thinker in the development of German Idealism, particularly his early association with and philosophical influence on his seminary roommates and fellow Swabians Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling.
Hölderlin was a poet-thinker who wrote, fragmentarily, on poetic theory and philosophical matters. His theoretical works, such as the essays “Das Werden im Vergehen” (“Becoming in Dissolution”) and “Urteil und Sein” (“Judgement and Being”) are insightful and important if somewhat tortuous and difficult to parse. They raise many of the key problems also addressed by his Tübingen roommates Hegel and Schelling. And, though his poetry was never “theory-driven”, the interpretation and exegesis of some of his more difficult poems has given rise to profound philosophical speculation by thinkers as divergent as Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Neil Paul Cummins, Michel Foucault and Theodor Adorno.


Deutsch Gedichte – Great German Poetry



Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock

Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803) was a German poet.
His best known work is his epic poem Der Messias (“The Messiah”).
His service to German literature was to open it up to exploration outside of French models.
In his odes Klopstock had scope for his peculiar talent.
Among the best are ‘Der Zürchersee’; ‘Die tote Klarissa’; ‘An Cidli’; ‘Die beiden Musen’; ‘Der Rheinwein’; ‘Die frühen Gräber’, ‘Mein Vaterland’.
His religious odes mostly take the form of hymns, of which the most beautiful is ‘Die Frühlingsfeier’.
His dramas, in some of which, notably ‘Hermanns Schlacht’ (1769) and ‘Hermann und die Fürsten’ (1784), he celebrated the deeds of the ancient German hero Arminius, and in others, ‘Der Tod Adams’ (1757) and ‘Salomo’ (1764), took his materials from the Old Testament; are essentially lyrical in character.
He immortalized his 1750’s visit at the Swiss Au peninsula in his ‘Ode an den Zürichsee’.

‘Die Auferstehung’

Auferstehn, ja, auferstehn wirst du,
Mein Staub, nach kurzer Ruh’.
Unsterblichs Leben
Wird, der dich schuf, dir geben.

    Wieder aufzublühn, werd ich gesät.
Der Herr der Ernte geht
Und sammelt Garben
Uns ein, uns ein, die starben.

Friedrich Klopstock (1724–1803)

‘Der Herr der Ernte’


Friedrich Hölderlin

Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (20 March 1770 – 7 June 1843) was a major German lyric poet, commonly associated with the artistic movement known as Romanticism.
Hölderlin was also an important thinker in the development of German Idealism, particularly his early association with and philosophical influence on his seminary roommates and fellow Swabians Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling.
‘Hyperions Schicksalslied’

Ihr wandelt droben im Licht
Auf weichem Boden selige Genieen!
Glӓnzende Gӧtterlüfte
Rühren Euch leicht,
Wie die Finger der Künstlerin
Heilige Saiten.
Schicksallos, wie der Schlafende
Sӓugling, atmen die Himmlischen;
Keusch bewahrt,
In bescheidener Knospe
Blühet ewig
Ihnen der Geist,
Und die seligen Augen
Blicken in stiller
Ewiger Klarheit
Doch uns ist gegeben
Auf keener Stӓtte zu ruh’n;
Es schwinden, es fallen
Die leidenden Menschen
Blindlings von einer
Stunde zur andern,
Wie Wasser von Klippe
Zu Klippe geworfen
Jahrlang in’s Ungewisse hinab.
Friedrich Hӧlderlin – (1770 – 1843)

‘The Immortal Gods’

One of the most significant citizens of  was Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
Anna Elizabeth von Droste-Hülshoff, known Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (January 10, 1797 – May 25, 1848), was a 19th century German author, and one of the most important German poets.
She was born at the family castle called Burg Hülshoff (now a part of Havixbeck) inside the Prince-Bishopric of Münster into an aristocratic, Catholic family of Westphalia.
She was educated by private tutors and began to write as a child.
Her earliest poems are derivative and conventional but in 1820 her work began to show marked originality when she embarked on a cycle of religious poems, ‘Das geistliche Jahr’ (The Spiritual Year).
In the history of German poetry she is an isolated and independent figure.
She shares with the Romantic writers an awareness of the power of man’s imagination and a keen sense of his exposed and precarious position in a world of danger and mystery, but her poetry has none of the vagueness of emotional mood and the sweetness of sound that characterize theirs.
Nor did she intend that it should.
Indifferent to contemporary taste, she pursued her own ideals in her own way.
‘Ich mag und will jetzt nicht berühmt werden,’ she once wrote, ‘aber nach hundert Jahre möcht ich gelesen werden.’ (I do not want to be famous, but after one hundred years I would like to be read.)
And indeed she was ahead of her time.
Her keen sensory perception and her precise recording of phenomena make her appear as a herald of the new realistic literature of the latter part of the century.
With her unusual combination of imaginative vision with close accurate observation and depiction of reality, she thus stands at the point of transition between Romanticism and Realism and does not belong wholly to either.

‘Im Grase’

Süße Ruh’, süßer Taumel im Gras,
Von des Krautes Arome umhaucht,
Tiefe Flut, tief tief trunkne Flut,
Wenn die Wolk’ am Azure verraucht,
Wenn aufs müde, schwimmende Haupt
Süßes Lachen gaukelt herab,
Liebe Stimme säuselt und träuft
Wie die Lindenblüt’ auf ein Grab.

Wenn im Busen die Toten dann,
Jede Leiche sich streckt und regt,
Leise, leise den Odem zieht,
Die geschloßne Wimper bewegt,
Tote Lieb’, tote Lust, tote Zeit,
All die Schätze, im Schutt verwühlt,
Sich berühren mit schüchternem Klang
Gleich den Glöckchen, vom Winde umspielt.

Stunden, flüchtger ihr als der Kuß
Eines Strahls auf den trauernden See,
Als des ziehenden Vogels Lied,
Das mir nieder perlt aus der Höh,
Als des schillernden Käfers Blitz,
Wenn den Sonnenpfad er durcheilt,
Als der heiße Druck einer Hand,
Die zum letzten Male verweilt.

Dennoch, Himmel, immer mir nur
Dieses Eine mir: für das Lied
Jedes freien Vogels im Blau
Eine Seele, die mit ihm zieht,
Nur für jeden kärglichen Strahl
Meinen farbig schillernden Saum,
Jeder warmen Hand meinen Druck,
Und für jedes Glück meinen Traum.

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff

‘Im Grase’
Hülshoff  Wasserschloß
First mentioned in a document of 1349 the Hülshoff  Wasserschloß has been in the possession of the Droste zu Huelshoff family since 1417.
Some rebuilding measures in 1540-1545 made it a beautiful renaissance castle.
Hülshoff castle is the birthplace of the poetess Annette von Droste Huelshoff.
It has developed from the former Oberhof “to Hülshof” by the then owners, the Lords of Schonebeck, and a mansion was added.
As the site currently presents itself, it is a beautiful Renaissance building which was modified of Henry I von Droste-Hulshoff.
The surrounding park offers an attractive destination in the summer.
It is situated in Havixbeck, near Münster
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer, artist, and politician.
His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour; and four novels.
In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, and over 10,000 letters written by him are extant, as are nearly 3,000 drawings.

‘Faust Part II’

 Alles Vergängliche
 Ist nur ein Gleichnis;
 Das Unzulängliche,
 Hier wird’s Ereignis;
 Das Unbeschreibliche,
 Hier ist’s getan;
 Das Ewig-Weibliche
 Zieht uns hinan.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  (1749 –1832)

 ‘Das Ewig-Weibliche’


Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (10 November 1759 – 9 May 1805) was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright.
During the last seventeen years of his life (1788–1805), Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
They frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics, and Schiller encouraged Goethe to finish works he left as sketches.
This relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism.
“Ode an die Freude” is an ode written in 1785 enthusiastically celebrating the brotherhood and unity of all mankind.
The poem was originally ‘Ode an die Freiheit’ and the word ‘Freude’ instead of ‘Freiheit’ came as a substitute for the more overtly political theme.

Weimar Classicism
“Ode an die Freude”

Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küße gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt’gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Seid umschlungen,
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759 – 1805)


Richard Wagner

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist and conductor primarily known for his operas (or “music dramas”, as they are sometimes called).
Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the music and libretto for all of his stage works – the libretti forming long, complex poems.
Wagner’s influence on literature and philosophy is significant.
Wagner’s protean abundance meant that he could inspire the use of literary motif in many a novel employing interior monologue; … the Symbolists saw him as a mystic hierophant; the Decadents found many a frisson in his work.

Sei heil – entsündigt und entsühnt!
Denn ich verwalte nun dein Amt.
Gesegnet sei dein Leiden,
das Mitleids höchste Kraft
und reinsten Wissens Macht
dem zagen Toren gab.
Den heil’gen Speer –
ich bring’ ihn euch zurück! –
Oh! Welchen Wunders höchstes Glück!
Der deine Wunde durfte schliessen,
ihm seh’ ich heil’ges Blut entfliessen
in Sehnsucht nach dem verwandten Quelle,
der dort fliesst in des Grales Welle. –
Nicht soll der mehr verschlossen sein:
Enthüllet den Gral! – Öffnet den Schrein!
Höchsten Heiles Wunder!
Erlösung dem Erlöser!

Erlösung dem Erlöser!

Isolde’s Liebestod

Mild und leise

wie er lächelt,
wie das Auge
hold er öffnet —
seht ihr’s Freunde?
Seht ihr’s nicht?
Immer lichter
wie er leuchtet,
hoch sich hebt?

Seht ihr’s nicht?
Wie das Herz ihm
mutig schwillt,
voll und hehr
im Busen ihm quillt?
Wie den Lippen,
wonnig mild,
süßer Atem
sanft entweht —
Freunde! Seht!
Fühlt und seht ihr’s nicht?
Hör ich nur
diese Weise,
die so wunder-
voll und leise,
Wonne klagend,
alles sagend,
mild versöhnend
aus ihm tönend,
in mich dringet,
auf sich schwinget,
hold erhallend
um mich klinget?
Heller schallend,
mich umwallend,
sind es Wellen
sanfter Lüfte?
Sind es Wogen
wonniger Düfte?
Wie sie schwellen,
mich umrauschen,
soll ich atmen,
soll ich lauschen?
Soll ich schlürfen,
Süß in Düften
mich verhauchen?
In dem wogenden Schwall,
in dem tönenden Schall,
in des Welt-Atems
wehendem All —
versinken —
unbewußt —
höchste Lust!

Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

Tristan und Isolde

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a German philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist.
He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and aphorism.
Prabably Nietzsche’s best known work is ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ (1883 – 1885.

‘Zarathustra’ also contains the famous dictum “God is dead”.
In his autobiographical work ‘Ecce Homo’, Nietzsche states that the book’s underlying concept is the ‘eternal recurrence’ of the same events.
Before ‘Zarathustra’, Nietzsche had mentioned the concept in the fourth book of ‘Die fröhliche Wissenschaft’ (e.g., sect. 341); this was the first public proclamation of the notion by him.
Apart from its salient presence in Zarathustra, it is also echoed throughout Nietzsche’s work. At any rate, it is by Zarathustra’s transfiguration that he embraces eternity, that he at last ascertains “the supreme will to power”.
This inspiration finds its expression with Zarathustra’s ‘reigen’, featured twice in the book, once near the book’s close:

Mitternacht Lied
O Mensch! Gib acht!
Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?
»Ich schlief, ich schlief –,
Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht: –
Die Welt ist tief,5
Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
Tief ist ihr Weh –,
Lust – tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
Weh spricht: Vergeh!
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit –,
– will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!«
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)
Herman Hesse
Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877 – August 9, 1962) was a German poet, novelist, and painter.
His best-known works include ‘Steppenwolf’ and ‘The Glass Bead Game’, each of which explores an individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality.
In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In his time, Hesse was a popular and influential author in the German-speaking world; world-wide fame would only come later.
In the 1960s, a space of just a few years, Hesse became the most widely read and translated European author of the 20th century.
Hesse was especially popular among young readers, a tendency which continues today.
‘Beim Schlafengehen’

Nun der Tag mich müd gemacht,
soll mein sehnliches Verlangen
freundlich die gestirnte Nacht
wie ein müdes Kind empfangen.
Hände, laßt von allem Tun
Stirn, vergiß du alles Denken,
Alle meine Sinne nun
wollen sich in Schlummer senken.
Und die Seele unbewacht
will in freien Flügen schweben,
um im Zauberkreis der Nacht
tief und tausendfach zu leben.

Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962)

‘Beim Schlafengehen’