Tag Archives: language

Heidegger and no thing.

We venture the paraphrase; No thing is where the word is lacking. “Thing” is here understood in the traditional sense , as meaning anything that in any way is. In this sense, even a god is a thing. Only where the word for the thing has been found is a thing a thing. Only thus is it. Accordingly, we must stress as follows: no thing is where the word, that is the name, lacking.

—M. Heidegger, The Nature of Language

No thing is lacking. Heidegger has placed the emphasis on is, making it the affirmative, making it the positive. No thing is where the word, that is the name, is lacking. If we remove then (if we can remove then) the word, the name, than that is where no thing is, that is where no thing blossoms, enriches, belongs, becomes. What is no thing? Heidegger writes just before this that “thing is anything that in any way is.” And just after this selection he writes that the “world alone gives being to the thing.” But what happens if there is no word? What happens if there is no naming of the thing?

We can name—and do name—that which we know. We equate knowledge with knowing the name of something. A brick is a brick, a hammer is a hammer, the universe is the universe. By naming a thing, we create, and draw its parameters, the parameters of the thing. In the four dimensions relatively available to us, we observe (and name) that the brick takes up possibly six by four by two inches and is, in the sense that it currently occupies this time slot. It fulfills its destiny, its being, its brickness. But what happens if we remove the name for this brick, if we no longer know what to call it, in fact the it (this brick) is no longer a thing in the sense that by not naming—by removing the name—it still occupies the same dimension but is indiscernible from the world. It simply is, un-reliant, un-needed by me. By removing the subject (me) from it (the brick) do I not then also remove the object—or at least the objectifying—of it.

Why is this important? Why does this matter? I have not really removed anything. I have not changed anything, per se. The brick still occupies the same space in geographic and temporal dimensions. I have literally not even touched the brick sitting on my desk. But what I have done is removed the name, removed the word (according to Heidegger) and in this, there is something vertiginously liberating, not only for me (and my way of thinking) but also for the brick itself. By removing the name, I allow ( or rather one allows, or no one allows) the brick to be all things, to manifest its manifold being, to incorporate all things into its being. It becomes, quite literally, everything. Because, in its infinite manifestness, it incorporates everything.; the mud that gave it its current being, the water that formed the mud, the sun, the stars, the universe and it also allows it to become mud again, to become landfill, to become again, water and sun and stars and universe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Heidegger