Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

6 - The Philosophical Fugue


All essential thinking calls for its thoughts and sentences to be mined, like ore, every time anew.

Heidegger (CP 15/GA65 21)

After Chapter 3 explained Heidegger's postmodern view of ontological meaning as inexhaustibly plural or polysemic, Chapters 4 and 5 took this view as their philosophical point of departure for exploring two popular works of “postmodern” art. We will now return to the question of the nature and implications of Heidegger's own postmodernism by examining what is probably his most difficult and least well understood work, the much vaunted and vilified Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning).

My thesis is that this notoriously difficult text is best understood as an innovative philosophical application of the musical art of the fugue. Recognizing Heidegger's Contributions as a fugal composition allows us to understand this esoteric text's basic structure and goal, and so to avoid several influential misreadings of the work, which allege that Contributions is Heidegger's second magnum opus, that it is Heidegger's attempt to write aphoristically (à la Nietzsche), or that it or that it has no structure and so is nothing but a failed “heap.” Undermining those misreadings, I shall instead suggest that in the Contributions Heidegger is “fuguing,” exploring his underlying subject – Ereignis or “enowning” – through a series of linked meditations whereby he seeks to elaborate and develop the inner philosophical possibilities and implications of this polysemic term of art that is so important to his later work.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity
  • Online ISBN: 9780511976605
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *