April 19, 2012
In Lecture I of Part II, Heidegger points out that asking the question of “What is called thinking” can be incredibly diverse and complicated because there is not just one explanation for the question, although at a glance it seems pretty simple to explain. He stresses four ways in which the question can be posed. The first way asks what is designated by the word “thinking,” the second asks what logic has to do with thought, the third asks what the prerequisites are for thinking, and the final question is what actually commands and provokes us to think? It seems that thinking is like baking a cake for Heidegger, no ingredient is more important than the other, just like no question of thinking should be taken more seriously than the other. These four propositions of thinking are all interrelated and connected in some way because they all have one central common theme. The best way that I can think of to describe this common theme that they share is to say that the fourth question of “What is it that calls on us to think?” is basically the flour of this cake that Heidegger is making. It is a precursor to the other three questions surrounding logic and prerequisites and designations of thinking, but it should not be considered above the others. It is the decisive question and the other three are connected by the fact that they belong together within the question of, “What calls us to think.” The multiple meanings of the question “What is called thinking?” and “What calls on us to think?” is this problem we have with the verb “to call.” Calling directs us toward an action or a non-action and does not fade away like a cry or a sound. A call can make a demand whereas a cry and a sound cannot. We must move away from looking at the verb to call in its more commonly used setting with the definition of “that is to say.” In phrase, “That building is called Payson Smith” or, “That town is called Portland” the...