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Track through trees with light coming in.

Woodland Path

Holz is an old name for wood. In such a wood are paths which suddenly stop in the untrodden. They are called Holzweg (wood paths).

Martin Heidegger (1950)

Holzweg stands for a path cut into the forest to enable loggers to bring out the trees they have cut...[so] it leads nowhere and suddenly stops..[in] a clearing [but clearing is also] one of the metaphors Heidegger uses to describe human being... a Holzweg thus leads us to our own essence...

Karsten Harries (2014)


A recurrent metaphor of Heidegger’s is a woodland path which has been used by foresters for access to fell trees, and so it ends in a clearing Light falling between pine trees in a forest. A clearing or glad in a wood offers an analogy with coming to understand. out of which there are no other paths. The path takes us nowhere, but to a point in which there is more light. This metaphor Row of girls smiling towards the left. Metaphors, words and images.
of illumination repeatedly intrigues Heidegger. Here it is given extra force: for it is we as humans who are led along this path into the light, Shafts of light through clouds hitting the sea.
A page on light.

and in that clearing we find ourselves. The middle voice Three women one with money in her hand. The interaction of grammar and thought.

has almost gone from English but as we say ‘we wash ourselves’ so here it is we who come into the light which we are. We are not understanding something other, or being understood by something else, it is we who come into our own light: we are both object and subject; at once emitting and bathing in the light.

The first quotation is Karsten Harries translation of the page that Heidegger prepended to his collection of essays published in German by Klostermann, Frankfurt, under the title Holzwege. This is now available as Off the Beaten Track translated by Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes. The second quotation is from page 15 of the excellent set of notes that are available on the internet at:

The woodland path in the picture is just north-east of Moffat in southern Scotland.

Above, hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 14th May 2022

Murphy on duty to this site