Martin Heidegger On Johann Hebel – ‘Friend Of The House’

In a 1957 essay, “Hebel – Friend of the House,” (“Hebel der Hausfreund”) Heidegger underscores his great concern with the impoverishment of poetic language via commonplace ‘calculative, instrumental’ use. He discusses the importance of German poet/writer Johann Peter Hebel (1760-1826) who, he feels, embodied an authentic poetic relationship with language as personified in fellow-poet Friedrich Hölderlin’s dictum “poetically… (we) dwell upon the earth.”

In the clip Heidegger says:

“Today the notion of language as an instrument of information is driven to extremes.

… The relation of man to language is in the midst of a transformation the consequences of which we have not yet weighed. Nor can the course of this transformation be directly halted. Moreover, it proceeds in the most profound silence.

It must certainly be granted that in everyday living language appears as a means of communication, and it is as such a means that is employed in the commonplace relationships of life. There are, however, relationships other than the commonplace. Goethe calls these other relationships the “deeper” ones, and says of language:

‘In ordinary life, we make do with impoverished language because we only signify superficial relationships. As soon as the talk is of deeper relations, another language at once enters in – the poetic.‘ “

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