From the Introduction of “Discourse on Thinking” (Martin Heidegger)
Thank you Allen ❤️
“… The traditional and usual view of thinking sees it as the representing of what is typical of things; that is, as a kind of human activity leading to an understanding of objects. In this sense it is a kind of willing, and so to be seen as something specifically and merely human. At one extreme this is what Heidegger calls calculative thinking, which is characterized by human methods of approaching things, and by the fact that in calculative thinking we deal with things in our terms for our advantage. Yet there is a second sense of thinking, in which thought refers beyond the human, transcends reference to human affairs: this is meditative thinking.
Thinking of this second sort does exist. It is to be found, for one example, throughout the whole Conversation. And such thinking has a content, it is about something. To begin to comprehend what is involved in this kind of thinking, we may observe, somewhat negatively, that it does not represent, it does not construct a world of objects. By contrast to representative thinking, it is thinking which allows content to emerge within awareness, thinking which is open to content. Now thinking which constructs a world of objects understands these objects; but meditative thinking begins with an awareness of the field within which these objects are, an awareness of the horizon rather than of the objects of ordinary understanding. Meditative thinking begins with an awareness of this kind, and so it begins with content which is given to it, the field of awareness itself.
When viewed from within, as by a practitioner, for example, certain properties of meditative thinking may be discerned. Indeed, one of these properties has just been pointed out. Meditative thinking is thinking which is open to its content, open to what is given. A man engaged in meditative thinking might well characterize what he was doing as being open; that is, he might comprehend meditative thinking as a fundamental property of human nature, the property of openness. Yet such thinking does not involve what is ordinarily called an act of will; for one does not will to be open. Quite the contrary, meditative thinking involves an annulling of the will. Yet, such thinking is not a passive affair either; clearly, man does not come to be open through indifference or neglect. To be open is difficult for man. Since openness involves meditative thinking, it is suggestive to speak of this thinking as a higher kind of activity than willing. But perhaps the real point is that this kind of thinking lies, as Heidegger says, “… beyond the distinction between activity and passivity….”
Let us regard meditative thinking, then, as a higher kind of activity than is involved in the exercise of any subjective human power. We might think of it, metaphorically, as the activity of walking along a path which leads to Being. Certainly metaphorically, the conversation along the path referred to in the Conversation symbolizes such an activity and such a direction. In any case, this higher activity of thinking in relation to the openness involved in it is so important that it needs a special name. Heidegger calls it ‘releasement.’ Releasement is a defining characteristic of man’s true nature involving openness and, through it, direct and immediate reference beyond man to Being.
Releasement involves openness, but it would be misleading to suppose that that involvement is adequately sketched by the relatively simple account of the preceding paragraphs. One goal of the Conversation is to provide a developing comprehension of releasement as it involves and is involved in Being. …