Volume 22, Issue 2, Spring 2018
Heidegger and the Ambivalent Status of Human Interpretation
Art, History, Modernity
Drawing on Heidegger’s essay “The Origin on the Work of Art,” I argue that works of art reveal human experience to be simultaneously finite and ecstatic and that art is part of the way our experience unfolds. Secondly, I argue that the dynamic of experience that art enables and in which it is implicated is precisely what historical experience is; this historical character of our experience is also always intersubjective and relational. Next, I turn to “Why Poets?” to analyse Heidegger’s critique of Rilke’s work in terms of the idea that works of art are involved in our self-constitution as historical and relational beings. Reading these two essays together, finally, allows me to conclude by characterising the demands of a distinctly modern experience of interpretation and by identifying the need to question what it means to be a “we” as the defining question of modernity.