Volume 10, Issue 1, Fall 2005
Heidegger’s Turn Toward Home
On Dasein’s Primordial Relation to Being
Is Dasein primordially—that is, at the very core of its being—“at home” or “not at home” in Being? One of the more overlooked or understated issues in Heidegger
studies is how Heidegger, over the course of a lifetime of thinking, transformed his answer to such a question about Dasein’s fundamental relation to Being. In several important texts of the 1920s and 1930s, The History of the Concept of Time, Being andTime, and Introduction to Metaphysics, Heidegger maintained the position that Dasein is primordially unheimlich, “unsettled,” and thus also unheimisch, “unhomely,” at the core of its being. Yet, we discover a significant turning in his thinking toward home, especially in the early 1940s. The 1942 commentary on Hölderlin’s poem “The Ister” stands out as a bridge text between the early and later Heidegger on this issue; in particular, we find a striking and significant difference in his reading of Sophocles’ Antigone compared with the more well-known reading in the 1935 Introduction to Metaphysics. In the “Ister” commentary, Heidegger engaged both Sophocles and Hölderlin to work out the motif—so prominent in his later work—that human beings are primordially “at home” in Being, the sheltering source and origin of all beings. We also find a further development in his thinking in the 1950s and 1960s. In all, I propose that the “middle” Heidegger of the early 1940s offers the most satisfying phenomenological account of being human.