In Speaking of Silence in Heidegger, Wanda Torres Gregory critically analyzes Heidegger’s thoughts on silence. Arguing that silence about silence is a guiding principle in his sparse and often reticent words, Torres Gregory sets out to decipher their elusive meanings. Charting the trajectory of Heidegger’s reflections, from Being and Time to On the Way to Language, she shows that he develops his ideas of silence in increasingly closer relations to his also evolving ideas of truth as the unconcealedness of being/beyng and language as disclosive sonorous saying. Torres Gregory distinguishes between human, primordial, and primeval forms of silence, and the linguistic, pre-linguistic, and proto-linguistic levels at which silence can occur in relation to sonorous speech. While the book focuses on these inner conceptual dynamics, the author remains mindful of Heidegger’s ties to National Socialism and clarifies how his theoretical assumptions allow for oppressive silencing. The book concludes with critical reflections on the later Heidegger’s thinking of silence and proposes alternatives to his claims concerning the sound beyond sounds, the metaphysics of mystical silence, the uniquely linguistic essence of the mortals, and the loud idle talk in the age of modern technology.
Wanda Torres Gregory is professor of philosophy at Simmons University.
Introduction: On the Way to Silence
Chapter 1: From the Silent Call of Conscience and Reticent Discourse to the Silencing in Dread and Profound Boredom in Da-sein
Chapter 2: Toward the Essence of Silence
Chapter 3: The Poetics of Silence in a Dialogue with Hölderlin
Chapter 4: Sigetics and the Silence of the Other Beginning in the Appropriating-event
Chapter 5: The Silent Origin of Language in the Confrontation with Herder
Chapter 6: Toward the Originary Logic of Silence in a Translation of Heraclitus
Chapter 7: Quiet Musings in the Project Toward the Stillness
Chapter 8: The Soundless Peal of the Stillness
Chapter 9: Sounding Out the Later Meanings of Silence
About the Author
"With her acute differentiation of human, primordial, and primeval forms of silence, Torres Gregory succeeds in demonstrating Heidegger’s conceptions, early and late, of the dynamic and essential interplay of silence with language and truth. Her splendid study, at once appreciative and critical of Heidegger, is an enormous contribution that fills a considerable lacuna in contemporary examination of this enigmatic thinker."
"Wanda Torres Gregory’s compact and rich study places silence at the core of Heidegger’s philosophy of language. With concise and original interpretations of both lesser-known and well-worn texts from Heidegger’s corpus, she deftly traces the manifold registers of silence, reticence, resonance and sonority which enliven Heidegger’s philosophy of language—if not his entire philosophical project."
Torres Gregory’s Speaking of Silence in Heidegger makes a profound and timely contribution to thinking about silence and its essential relationship to language. It guides us through complex registers of silence including forms of hearkening and reticence as a listening that is deeply attentive to the unsaid and the unsayable. It gives timely warning vis-à-vis the idle talk of the world and our own internal idle talk, reiterating that saying must be attuned to restraint or our ability to quietly listen. Furthermore, a deeper silence is a ‘calling back’ and lies within Da-sein as ‘the stillness of itself’. Moreover, our capacity for ‘the dialogue that we are’ to emerge in community depends on our capacity for attentive stillness within the dangerous noise of the ‘language-machine’.