Sunday 1 January 2023

Heidegger’s Last Seminar (6-8 September 1973). A 50th-anniversary exploration. Inner Circle Seminar 285 (10 September 2023)

Heideggers Last Seminar

in his home in Zähringen, Freiburg

6-8 September 1973

A 50th-anniversary exploration

Anthony Stadlen

conducts by Zoom

Inner Circle Seminar No. 285

Sunday 10 September 2023

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Saint Nepomuk, Zähringen, June 2019
The bridge saint Heidegger mentions in his 1950 lecture
Bauen Wohnen Denken (Building Dwelling Thinking)
Photograph copyright Anthony Stadlen

Martin Heidegger
Le Thor, 1966
Photograph copyright estate of François Fédier

Barbara Cassin and Martin Heidegger
Le Thor, September 1969
Photograph copyright estate of François Fédier

Henri-Xavier Mongis and Martin Heidegger
Zähringen, 1972
Photograph copyright Henri-Xavier Mongis

Professor Dr. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann
in the porch of Heideggers home in Zähringen
Sunday 30 June 2019
Photograph copyright Anthony Stadlen

Inside Heideggers home in Zähringen
with glimpse of the old-age cottage in the garden
Sunday 30 June 2019
Photograph copyright Anthony Stadlen

Heideggers old-age cottage
(in the garden of his home in Zähringen)
where his last seminar took place 6-8 September 1973
Sunday 30 June 2019

Photograph copyright Anthony Stadlen

Martin Heidegger held his last seminar on Thursday 6, Friday 7, and Saturday 8 September 1973, from 3.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.each day, in the cottage he and his wife Elfride built for their old age in the garden of their house in Zähringen, Freiburg, with money raised by selling the manuscript of Being and Time. House and cottage, as well as Heideggers famous mountain hut, were all designed by Elfride, who advised the architect. Heidegger was nearly 84. He died in May 1976, aged 86. Elfride died in 1992, aged 99.
The other five participants were French philosophers or philosophy students: Jean Beaufret, François Fédier, Henri-Xavier Mongis, Jacques Taminiaux, and François Vezin.
Only one of the five, the youngest, is still alive: Professor Henri-Xavier Mongis, who was a 23-year-old philosophy student at the time. He cannot participate in todays seminar but has kindly provided much information for it.
Professor Barbara Cassin, present as a philosophy student of 22 at Heideggers previous seminar for his French colleagues in 1969 in Le Thor on the banks of the Sorgue in Provence, is now herself a world-famous philosopher and philologist. She also can not participate today, but sends her best wishes.   
This last seminar of Heidegger’s recapitulates, refines, and renews themes which he had explored from the time of his earliest lectures more than fifty years earlier. A number of these themes are relevant to the practice of psychotherapy.
For example, in many of his lectures over the decades, as well as in the Zollikon seminars, Heidegger had asked his listeners to make-present a familiar place, such as the Freiburg Cathedral or the Zürich main railway station, and then tried to draw from them an admission that what they made-present was not an image, not a representation, in their heads, but the place itself. (We have repeated this exercise in several Inner Circle Seminars.) On the second day of this last seminar Heidegger once again asks: 
When, in my memory, I think of [his friend, the poet] René Char at the Busclats [Char’s home in Provence, which Heidegger loved], who or what is thereby given to me? René Char himself! And not God knows what image through which I would be mediately related to him.
This is so simple, says Heidegger, that it is extremely difficult to explain philosophically.
Heidegger is here explaining, in response to a question from Beaufret, how his own thinking differs from Edmund Husserls. He points out that both started from the philosopher Franz Brentano, but from different books of his: Husserl from Psychology from the Empirical Standpoint and Heidegger from On the Manifold Meaning of Being in AristotleHeidegger’s single-minded quest, since being lent this book by a teacher when he was 18, had been to answer the question: What is the fundamental meaning of Being?
He does not discuss this question in the light of Ludwig Wittgensteins question at the start of Philosophical Investigationsis there, necessarily or contingently, a single essential meaning of, rather than family resemblances’ between, the manifold instances of, for example, the word game’? 
But in his previous seminar with his French colleagues, in le Thor, Provence, in 1969, he had cited (slightly misquoting, but essentially correctly) the first assertion of Wittgensteins TractatusThe world is all that is the case’, calling it ‘ein gespenstischer Satz (‘an eerie [or uncanny] sentence), presumably because it represents the world as a set of ‘atomic facts, each represented by an ‘atomic proposition. For Heidegger, this epitomised the radical falling-away of Western philosophy from the ancient pre-Socratic Greek experience: 
‘For the Greeks, things appear.
For Kant, things appear to me.
For Heidegger, the world was more a question of questioning than a proposing of propositions corresponding to facts. Truth was not the correspondence of proposition to fact, but what the Greeks called aletheia, unconcealedness. The seminar ends with Heidegger reading a text he has recently written on Parmenides. Again, he returns to a problem that has troubled and enthralled him for more than half a century: how to translate Parmenidess words on aletheia. He now tentatively suggests his latest, never final, effort:
the untrembling heart of well-circling unconcealedness’.
Heidegger alludes to what he now regards as a serious mistake in his lecture The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking, which was translated into French by Beaufret and Fédier and read by Beaufret at the UNESCO conference Kierkegaard Vivant in Paris in 1964. He had there asserted that Parmenides saw self-concealing, concealment, lethe, [...] as the heart of aletheia [unconcealment, truth]’; but now (a little over nine years later) Heidegger says: What is said here is not right. Parmenides says nothing of the sort.
Heidegger said he had also long been troubled that Parmenides’s words esti gar einai’ seemed to mean Being is’, which seemed nonsensical as only beings can be; but now he realised they meant Presence presences’, which was meaningful as fundamental tautological thinking.
Again, this means something fundamentally different from Wittgensteins definition of the entire logico-mathematical system of Alfred North Whitehead’s and Bertrand Russell’s Principia Mathematica as an exploration of tautology.
Heidegger also speaks in this seminar of a phenomenology of the inconspicuous or inapparent [unscheinbar]’, which he had previously mentioned in his 1942-3 lectures on Parmenides. We shall discuss what he may have meant by this. 
We have already discussed in recent Inner Circle Seminars (see e.g.
how, when Beaufret at the end of the seminar asks about the place of Heraclitus relative to Parmenides, Heidegger recalls having in Being and Time (1927) dismissed dialectic as a genuine philosophical embarrassment’, which would imply that Parmenides was ‘more profound and essential’ than Heraclitus. But now Heidegger suggests (the following is only an approximate translation): 
‘If one is able to read Heraclitus from out of the Parmenidean tautology, he himself then appears in closest proximity to the same tautology, he himself in the entrance to a single way which gives access to Being.
Does this grant not just to Heraclitus but also to dialectic a validity if ‘read’ in ‘proximity’ to Parmenides’s ‘tautological thinking’ and to the goddess Aletheia (truth, ‘unconcealedness’)? Is Heidegger at last, at the very end of his life-long quest, conceding that ‘dialectic’, if seen in the light of Aletheia, may not be such a total ‘embarrassment’ after all?
Are these considerations esoteric refinements, of no practical significance for Daseinsanalysts, let alone for psychotherapists of other schools? 
Or, as we have been asking in recent seminars, do these considerations not point to a possible quintessentially practical renewal of psychotherapy as Daseinsanalysis and of Daseinsanalysis itself as Diahermeneutics, the word that Heidegger had (according to the philosopher Oskar Becker’s transcription of an improvised unwritten addition to Heidegger’s lecture) coined in passing in 1919 more than half a century earlier at the start of his long journey but appears never to have mentioned again?
Specifically, this would mean being open to dialectic in three regions.
FirstDaseinsanalysis (or any other psychotherapy) would not be a procedure in which the analyst is presumed to have a ‘correct’ phenomenological or daseinsanalytic way of seeing or having access to the phenomena, and teaches the confused patient or client this ‘correct’ way. Rather, it would be a conjoint, shared endeavour, a dialogue or dialectic, in which both daseinsanalytic partners work together diahermeneutically to interpret, or make sense of, the phenomena.
Second: Dialectics and diahermeneutics do not only concern the relationship between the daseinsanalytic couple (therapist and client) but also the relationships, including family relationships and group relationships, in the client’s life, from early childhood to the most contemporary. It might be unrewarding to seek guidance from Heidegger on this. His preferred mode of approaching interpersonal problems in his own family seems to have been silence, as family members confirm. Daseinsanalysis here needs assistance from the Anglo-American tradition of investigation of research and therapy in families: the study of what people actually say to each other round the kitchen or dining table, that is the stuff of everyday life, but may in the less happy cses amount to something like a chronic, slow, existential poisoning. This was the field of study of Gregory Bateson, R. D. Laing, and Aaron Esterson, all of whom were Heidegger’s and his daseinsanalytic colleague Medard Boss’s contemporaries from the 1950s to the 1970s, including the time of Heidegger’s Zollikon seminars in Boss’s home. But these men and their work are conspicuously absent from daseinsanalytic writings except Anthony Stadlen’s. Yet it would have been very interesting to know Heidegger’s thinking on, for example, the double bind, defined by Bateson in his epoch-making paper written with Jay Haley, Don Jackson, and John Weakland, Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia (1956), in terms of Russell’s theory of logical types. Heidegger was mathematically quite sophisticated (sitting on committees discussing mathematics courses at Freiburg Uiniversity); he referred in his early writings to Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics and also to Principia Mathematica, which contains, in Chapter 2 of Volume 1, Russell’s account of his theory of logical types. Heidegger, however, as in his criticism of Wittgenstein, was clear that the world was not a collection of facts represented by propositions, ‘atomic’ or otherwise. He might have respected the philosopher J. L. Austin, the founder of speech-act theory, who pointed out that language entails not just propositions, but questions, injunctions, exclamations, promises, declarations of love, ...
Third: Diahermeneutic Daseinsanalysis would take account of the fundamental work of Thomas SzaszHeidegger’s and Boss’s other contemporary in the 1960s and 1970s. Szasz’s book The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) is a radical challenge to Boss’s bland presentation of Daseinsanalysis as a medical discipline and Heidegger’s collusion with this. It is surprising that Heidegger did not invoke the pre-Socratic thinker Democritus’s (ca. 420 BCE) clear distinction (in no way an early form of cartesian dualism’):
Medicine heals diseases of the body, wisdom frees the soul from passions.
Your presence, and comments, questions, or silence, will be warmly welcomed.
This will be an online seminar, using Zoom.

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £140, others £175 (reductions for combinations of seminars); some bursaries; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled

Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 7809 433250

For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.

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