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The Origin of the Work of Art

Let's embark upon a Heideggerian journey on the question of whether art exists? how so? where does it exist? "To enter upon this path is the strength of thought, to continue on it is the feast of thought, assuming that thinking is a craft. Not only is the main step from work to art a circle like the step from art to work, but every separate step that we attempt circles in this circle." (1)


that which dwells near the origin departs.

-Holderlin, "The Journey," verses 18-19

1. Heidegger, Martin. "The Origin of the Work of Art." Poetry, Language, Thought. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.

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  • Scott - as discussed at dinner.

    Give it ten minutes. No really, give it ten minutes.

    1 · November 28, 2012

  • Nico C.

    "A... sort of argument, less common today than in the heyday of a certain form of extreme Wittgensteinianism, urges that the concepts that make up the stuff of most definitions of art (expressiveness, form) are embedded in general philosophical theories which incorporate traditional metaphysics and epistemology. But since traditional metaphysics and epistemology are prime instances of language gone on conceptually confused holiday, definitions of art share in the conceptual confusions of traditional philosophy (Tilghman)."

    – from:

    1 · November 27, 2012

    • Erik C.

      Hoping we can address this tonight. It should be problematic when we ask about defining not just art, but anything.

      For art, we already employ the word and so we have a way of getting a hold of the subject matter in a preliminary way, but what is the 'definition' if it isn't just this preliminary grasp that is contained in the simple use of the word? Well, Heidegger interest isn't exhausted in the every day use of the word, rather the origin of that subject matter which we have a preliminary grasp of is in question. How does this subject matter first show itself and stand apart as its own kind of subject?

      This may be too far ranging already. May be interesting to just consider how Heidegger gets into a 'circle' in the very start, and the importance of such a circle for philosophy.

      November 27, 2012

  • Sonja

    We will most likely extend OWA through a couple of more meetups, so focusing on the first half or third of it might be sufficient for Tuesday.

    November 25, 2012

  • Erik C.

    Here is another translation of the essay that I just found. It's only a draft, but may be handy for comparison.

    1 · November 5, 2012

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