chapter  3
20 Pages

‘The Origin of the Work of Art’

This chapter devotes itself entirely to a reading of Heidegger’s lecture, ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’, described as simply ‘the most radical transmutation of aesthetics’, or the philosophy of art, ‘since the Greeks’ (Haar 1993: 95). The text published in Holzwege (1950) (PLT: 17-87) is based on three lectures given in November and December 1936 (see Taminiaux 1993). The text explicitly rejects the terms that usually dominate discussion of this kind. It refuses to speak of art in terms of ‘form’ and ‘content’, ‘individual creativity’, ‘meaning’, ‘artist’s intention’, ‘aesthetic experience’ or ‘aesthetic judgement’ or ‘taste’. The essay is a rejection of the Western tradition of aesthetics and a retrieval of its forgotten sources. Instead of the familiar terms of aesthetic or critical debate, Heidegger’s essay presents a seemingly obscure set of neologisms, ‘world’, ‘earth’, ‘strife’, ‘Saying’. The reader must resist being too hasty to translate these into terms already familiar. Heidegger’s fundamental criticism of received modes of thinking demands a new and radical start.