Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Philosophical speculations from reading Heidegger's 1934 lectures on logic:
why is it always a tree? Are trees hard wired into us as symbols of nature? Would that be true of people who live in a mostly treeless region? And what tree? I usually imagine a maple with broad limbs and green fluttering leaves, but sometimes I imagine a pine with blue clusters of needles. Would someone in the tropics imagine a palm tree or a mahogany? --
All part of the point, really. A tree, any tree, does not exist for our purposes. It is not there to provide us shade (though it may do so on an August day). It is not there to scrub carbon dioxide from the air, though we may be grateful that it does. It is not there to provide us lumber for our patios, though, sadly, only then do we value it by assigning it a price.
Its only purpose is to be itself, a tree, separate from any of our purposes. That is the root--pun intended-- of what Heidegger means by Alethe, the Greek word for truth which means "unhidden" or "not forgotten." Truth is the unconcealed. When we allow the tree, the broad flat leaves of the maple filtering sunlight, to present itself as itself, to stand, as it were, in the clearing, only then do we see the truth of it, the mystery. Only then do we encounter it in its "uncanny" otherness. Only then do we experience the sacred.