The Enigma of Art in the Thought of Martin Heidegger

Davies, Russell. 2011. The Enigma of Art in the Thought of Martin Heidegger. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
VC_thesis_Davies_2011.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

In crucial places in his path of thought, Martin Heidegger appeals to the notion of an insoluble enigma as a way of elucidating that thought, to such an extent that the enigma goes to the very heart of that thinking. All the words that are central to that thinking, the words that Heidegger uses to point towards the possibility of appearance and disclosure, are marked by this figure of the insoluble enigma. Whether writing about the opening of a world that art is, or the happening that is figured as Ereignis, Heidegger resorts to the enigma to illuminate his thinking. But what does it mean to inscribe an enigmatic insolubility into one’s very thinking and what kind of explanatory power can such a figure have? To answer these questions, this thesis traces the thought of the enigma through a series of readings of Heidegger’s ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’, his 1942 lectures on Hölderlin’s ‘The Ister’ and Sophocles’s Antigone, and his writings on the poem of Parmenides. Beginning with a consideration of the enigma of art, it moves on to the enigmatic activity of the river in Hölderlin’s poem and how this gives rise to the enigma of the here and now, before moving on to the enigma of the uncanny in Antigone and the law of becoming homely in being unhomely; the place of the law itself becomes critical here. Finally, via Parmenides’s saying that thinking and being are the same, the enigma is identified with Heidegger’s rethinking of the ancient Greek thought of aletheia and traced, from there, to the givenness of being as es gibt and Ereignis.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


heidegger, enigma, rätsel, art, ereignis, es gibt, being, time, uncanny, home, journeying, locality, unhomely, unheimlich, the same, hölderlin, antigone, parmenides, sophocles.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Nov 2012 15:32

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:34


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)