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The Psychological in the Neighborhood of Thought and Poetry:  The Uncanny Logos of the Psyche

Michael P. Sipiora
Duquesne University . . .we are everywhere under way within the neighborhood of the modes of Saying.
Yet we often talk about 'poets and thinkers.'
--Martin Heidegger,
"The Nature of Language"

Existential-Phenomenological psychology usually conceives of itself as a Geisteswissenschaften--a human as opposed to natural science--whose ontic analysis of human beings is informed by an existential anthropology which in turn issues from a phenomenological ontology. This view is common to the first generation European existential-phenomenological analysts such as Ludwig Bingswanger, as well as next generation American practioners such as Rollo May. Indeed, the conscious appeal to an adequate philosophical foundation is often claimed as one of the greatest virtues of this kind of psychology.1

Daseinsanalysis, the psychology developed by Medard Boss--the Swiss psychiatrist who underwent analysis with Freud, studied with Jung, and was tutored in phenomenology by Heidegger--certainly belongs among the philosophically based human science (Existential-Phenomenological) approaches just mentioned. Yet there is also a strain in Boss' work which invites the possibility of an alternative, although not conflicting approach to psychology. Instead of grounding psychology in philosophy, the notion of the discipline which I shall move toward in what follows comes of the attempt to imagine psychology as not founded on but neighbor to thinking and also poetry. I will begin by laying out Boss' understanding of the psyche in terms of its inherent relation to Heidegger's conception of Ereignis. Psychotherapy will then be identified as a site in which the logos of the psyche, a logos which responds to the appropriative Saying of Ereignis, is spoken. Second, the site of psychotherapy will be located in the neighborhood of thought and poetry. The uncanny logos of the psyche will be articulated as belonging with but different from that of both poetry and thinking.


In one of his last publications, "Recent Considerations in Daseinsanalysis," Boss (1988b) discussed the significance of Heidegger's conception of Ereignis for psychology and an understanding of psychotherapy. Ereignis, the Event of Appropriation, is the coming together, the belonging together of being's presencing and human revealing. It is the ongoing happening of Dasein as the realm of the presencing of being. In Ereignis, being and human beings are mutually appropriated in that the "there" of Dasein's disclosive engagement is granted by the presencing of being, just as Dasein's disclosive engagement preserves the "there" of being among beings. In Medard Boss' words: "Ereignis is the invisible unity of the appeal of being and of Dasein's response to this appeal" (1988b, p. 61).

Lest we misconstrue Ereignis as a factual occurrence set in linear time, we need appreciate the character of Heidegger's formulation. Ereignis is a relational and dynamic understanding as opposed to a reified and static concept. It is an imaging of the origin of Dasein as continuously occurring, concurring with the advent of the world. It is not a primal origin, set once upon a time, but the perpetual happening of Dasein's being called into its existing, its being called upon to be. Being, as understood in Ereignis, is no-thing--not a thing whose presence Dasein is set upon revealing. Instead it is the dynamic coming-into-presence which sets forth any and all things as present before us, the coming-into-presence which prevails upon us to preserve what has been presented. Joseph Kockelmans observes that "[i]n each concrete case, the appropriating event binds together Being and beings; it weaves Being, man, things, and world together into an articulated and textured whole" (1984, p. 62). The Event gives us not a metaphysics of presence, but a mystery whose unfolding is the heart of our worldly existing.2

"Heidegger," writes Boss,

considered Ereignis his deepest insight and, when you think about it, you begin to see this relationship between Being and Da-sein not only makes psychotherapy possible in the first place, but also gives its most fundamental purpose, that is, for the therapist to respond to the appeal of the patient to be. (1988b, p. 61) What calls for the analyst's response is the patient's own being called forth to be, her or his own being as called on by being. "The healing response," as Boss (1979) explains elsewhere, "of the analyst to the appealing address of the patient is to enable him to appropriate as his own the innate potentials which up until treatment had been hidden, disturbed, or distorted" (p. 273). The concern of the therapy is the patient's potentiality-for-being, which whether taken up explicitly or tacitly always remains at issue for them.

In the same essay to which we have been referring, Boss offers specific reflections on the nature of the "fundament of human existence which has been referred to as the "'psyche' or 'soul' or 'mind'" (1988b, p. 62). One of the tasks in these reflections was to avoid "falling prey to the kind of metaphysical concoctions which have so plagued philosophers and psychologists including such a great thinker as Freud" (p. 63). Accordingly, Boss refuses any identification of the psyche with consciousness, as well as all conceptions of it as some sort of encapsulated mental mechanism, or subjective inner sphere of ideas, motivations, and emotions.

Instead, Boss defines the psyche as a realm of "openness" and provides (pp. 62-65) four interrelated characterizations of this realm, each of which highlights a specific dimension of its essence. First, the psyche is "a realm of world-openness" -- the "there" in which beings come to presence. Far from being an internal container or box-like thing, a thing, even if immaterial, among other kinds of things, the psyche is a clearing, "a ruminating realm" in which things can be. Next the psyche is considered as "a realm of apprehension" -- the grasping of beings as meaningful. The psyche is the openness in which things can appear and be immediately perceived, received in their inherent intelligibility. "You don't, for instance," as Boss says,

perceive a great assembly of molecules arranged in such and such a fashion and then abstract from this to a conception of table. On the contrary, as soon as you see the table you receive it into your existence and grasp your immediate relationship to it. (p. 64) This brings us to the next characterization of the psyche, that it is "a realm of responsiveness" -- the harkening-relating to the call of particular beings. Things, in their meaningfulness, address us. Again quoting Boss, "We understand these meanings and respond or answer, first, by understanding in itself and, second, by our behaving or relating in an appropriate fashion" (p.65). Finally, the psyche is "a realm of ek-sistence" -- the standing out into the whole of beings. The psyche is the human's being called to take itself up as a meaningful relatedness to the referential context which is the world. For Boss, then, the psyche is the dynamic world-spanning openness in which things can appear, be immediately perceived, grasped in their inherent meaningfulness, and responded to as the very phenomena which call us to be.

It could appear that what Boss has in fact done is simply replace previous conceptions of the psyche with Heidegger's depiction of Dasein, human existence. And so it does seem in the following quotation from Boss' magnum opus The Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology:

In an existential perspective, all the phenomena that have until now been inexplicably misinterpreted as the possessions, faculties, or functions of a hypothesized psyche become visible as the highly various, concrete modes of existing as the world-spanning openness that is human Dasein. (1979, p. 132)
This fits the usual scheme of Existential-Phenomenological psychology with which we began. The existential perspective on Dasein, that is, a philosophical position regarding the human kind of being, provides the basis for psychology. From this perspective, meaning is taken as the basic "stuff" of our psychological lives. How things matter, their meaningfulness, is the materiality of the psychological. The science of psychology consists of the descriptive analysis, at the ontic level, of the various concrete modes of Dasein's meaningful existing (v. Boss, 1979, p. 132).3

What if, and this is on what the proposed alternative understanding of psychology hinges, while agreeing with Boss' contention that the reification of the psyche is a misinterpretation of the phenomena, we re-cognize the logos of the psyche in psychotherapy as the site of the discipline of psychology? What if we sight the logos -- the gathering and presenting -- of the psyche in the therapeutic situation?

Therapy is primarily comprised of what Boss calls "anticipatory care" which is his term for Heidegger's form of positive solicitude known as "leaping ahead." Solicitude refers to the various modalities in which Dasein is a being-with-Others. In "leaping-ahead," Heidegger (1962) says that resolute Dasein "can become the  'conscience' of Others" (p. 345). Conscience is the call of Dasein's own most self to its "they"-self (its being as everybody is). Dasein, as a "they"-self is appealed to in its lostness in average everydayness. Dasein, as its own most self, is called back to itself, recalled to its own most potentiality-for-being. Boss (1963) describes this dynamic within the therapeutic relationship as "[the therapist] is ahead of the client in his existential unfolding. He does not take over for the client but tries to hand back to him what has to be cared for so that it becomes an actual concern" (p. 73). The therapist is not so much concerned with the client's functional affairs, as with the client herself in the disposition of her being. Boss asserts that this Heideggerian conception of anticipatory care is descriptive of Freud's ideal relationship between analyst and analysand.

What is significant here is that the therapeutic encounter is primarily a linguistic relationship.4 The "talking cure" is a relating which transpires in and through language. What the therapist hands back is the client's own discourse. However, in the therapist's re-presentation of the client's speaking, "what has to be cared for" is freed to be a matter of actual concern. The matter of concern in the client's existential unfolding is, according to Boss, her being called forth to be. The therapist's discourse re-presents the client's speaking in such a way as to release the client to a previously concealed "appropriation and unfolding of world disclosing possibilities of behavior" (Boss, 1963, p. 244). Heidegger (1962) is adamant that "leaping ahead" does not occur by way of "talkative fraternizing in the 'they' and in what 'they' want to undertake" (pp. 344-345).

Instead when they [the two persons] devoted themselves to the same thing [Sache] in common, their doing so is determined by the manner in which their Dasein, each in its own way, has been taken hold of. They thus become authentically bound together, and this makes possible the appropriate relation to the thing [die rechte Sachlichkeit] which frees the Other in his freedom for himself. (pp. 158-159) [Translation altered] The thing, the phenomenon to which both therapist and client must be devoted is the client's discourse, not its conversational or functionally informative dimension but its hidden or latent quality. What has to be cared for is Dasein's own most self, its uncanny being-in-the-world which is covered-up in its everydayness.

In Being and Time, Heidegger (1962) asserts the fundamental uncanniness of being-in-the-world. This uncanniness, this not being at home in the world, is Dasein's state of being thrown into the uncertainties of a finite existence. As finite, Dasein's very being is at issue both in terms of "who" it will be and even that it will be at all (its impending death). In the face of this profound uncanniness, Dasein flees into the superficialities of daily life, loses itself in the busy activities of the "they" (being as everybody). "Uncanniness," writes Heidegger (1962), "is the basic kind of Being-in-the-world, even though in an everyday way it has been covered up" (p. 322). The strangeness of human existing, its uncanniness, is what makes us, as Sophocles' chorus in Antigone says, "the strangest of the strange" (in Heidegger 1959, p. 125). Heidegger (1962) described the movement of the call of conscience as a calling back which calls forth (p. 342). In being called back to its uncanniness, Dasein is called forth to exist as the very being which it is: mortal. Uncanniness cites our mortality. In its disruption of everyday life, the eruption of this latent uncanniness refers us to the radical finitude of existence that is covered over in our preoccupation with practical affairs.

Pausing for a moment, we can compare Heidegger's understanding of the unheimlich with that of Freud in his 1919 essay "The Uncanny." From the perspective of psychoanalysis, uncanniness is the quality of morbid anxiety which results from the revivification or confirmation of a psychological reality that has been previously experienced as familiar but is now repressed because it conflicts with objective reality. The "unheimlich," as Freud writes, "is what was once heimisch, homelike, familiar; the prefix 'un' is the token of repression" (1959, p. 399).

Freud here differs with Heidegger's contention that uncanniness precedes familiarity. Leaving aside the important distinction that Heidegger is asserting the existential-ontological (structural) priority of uncanniness while Freud's analysis occurs at the ontic-existentielle (experiential) level, Freud himself in his New Introductory Lectures (written 14 years after "The Uncanny") provides a basis on which to clarify the relationship. There Freud writes that "anxiety makes repression and not, as we used to think, the other way around" (1965, p. 89). This would seem to mean that the anxiety of the uncanny is what is experienced first and it is because it is anxiety producing that the uncanny is repressed. The uncanny is not simply a subspecies of the familiar -- something once familiar which has been repressed but resurfaces. The familiar carries the uncanny within it; the uncanny is the secret concealed within the canny (Das Unheimliche ist die Geheimnis des Heimlichen ).

Such an interpretation is consistent with Freud's description of what we can call the "they's" experience of uncanniness: "The ordinary person sees in . . . [the occurrences of the uncanny] the workings of forces hithererto unsuspected in his fellow-man but which at the same time he is dimly aware of in a remote corner of his being." He goes on to note: "Indeed, I should not be surprised to hear that psychoanalysis, which is concerned with laying bare these hidden forces, has itself become uncanny to many people for that reason" (1959, p. 397).

Freud is referring not to the theory but to the clinical practice of psychoanalysis as uncanny. Psychoanalysis lays bare this hiddenness or latency of our being in a twofold manner. The discourse of analysis is first revocatory in disallowing everyday conversation and second, provocative in its annunciation of unconscious significations. The directive of "free association" for example, requires that the analysand refrain from usual sense-making and instead, allow seemingly senseless connections to appear and take the lead in the discourse. The analyst, on her side, is to forego curious, conversational inquiries in favor of interpretative interjections which seek to access a configuration of meanings of which the analysand is not conscious. What the analyst bears witness to is the configuring of the shifts and slides of meaning virtually unknown to the analysand. What is made known, in the discourse which follows the aforementioned dicta, is the hidden, uncanny forces which dwell in the remote corners of our being.

We have noted that Boss takes the psyche to be Dasein as an open realm of perceptive and responsive relatedness. If psychotherapy is understood in terms of Ereignis and the call of conscience is the dynamic of the therapeutic engagement, then conscience becomes the psychological phenomena par excellence. The psyche is the human being called or claimed by its own innate (in the existential sense in which Boss uses the term) potentialities of relatedness. This "being called or claimed" is covered over in our functional everydayness. And so the logos of the psyche, the "gathering letting-lie before of what is present in its presencing" (which is how Heidegger speaks of Heraclitus' logos), is always a recovery of what has been concealed, hidden in mundane affairs. Psychology has to do with the re-collection of that latent "being called or claimed" which calls us forth as a radically finite, perceptive-responsive world-spanning openness. Recognizing the "psychological" in this way ("I don't like to call it philosophy," says Boss) is what constitutes the "daseinsanalytical way of seeing" (1988a, p.44). And this, he avows, is the heart of what he learned from Heidegger.


Boss' understanding of the psychological places us quite near both thought and poetry. Heidegger tells us that it is the Event of Appropriation which is the "Saying" that draws poetry and thought into the neighborhood of their essential being. "Saying" (with a capital "S") names the grant of language logos, as spoken by Heraclitus: "Listen not to me but to the Logos." "Language," according to Heidegger (1971d), "is the house of Being because language, as Saying, is the mode of appropriation" (p. 135). All human "saying" is in answer to this "Saying" of being. All human words, all verbal or gestural or otherwise human articulations of meaning and sense, are understood as responses to being's granting of beings as inherently intelligible. Yet, Heidegger warns us not to conceive too simply of the relationship between human speaking and language. No mere "nexus" exists between the two for language, as "the relation of all relations," "holds itself--Saying--in reserve" (1971c, p. 107). While human speaking articulates the weave of relations which is the world, Saying itself, the relation of relations, speaks through but remains unspoken in mortal speech.

Poetry and thinking belong together in their devotion to the relation which is silent in all our speech. They belong together as primordial responses to the same appeal of Being, responses which issue from a listening to the Saying appropriating of being. Poetry and thinking do not themselves, by virtue of their respective characteristics, generate a similarity between them. The nearness of the two human sayings, poetry and thought, is the gift of the neighborhood from which they hail. This neighborhood, which comes of the grant of being's appropriative Saying, draws thought and poetry into essential relation and simultaneously shelters their difference. Indeed only within their nearness does the distinctiveness of thinking and poetry announce itself. Heidegger writes: "In the song, wonder appears in a fulfilled, singing saying; in our reflection something memorable appears in a scarcely definable -- but certainly not a singing-saying" (1971c, p. 89).

The singing saying of the poet lets things be. In its listening-speaking of Saying, the poetic word brings things into their being, gathers their world, and places us within it. It is the wonder of a world, its shining in unconcealment, that the poetic word speaks. The wondrous saying of the poetic takes the measure for the dwelling of mortals on the earth, beneath the sky, in the (absent) presence of the divinities. So it is with the singer in Wallace Steven's "The Idea of Order at Key West" (In Allison, Barows, Blake and Carr, 1975, pp. 479-480).

It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the sole artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker.
Stevens knows that there is no world other than that of which we are the makers, and that in singing, the human voice opens the world: "there never was a world for her / Except the one she sang and, singing, made." "Even if what she sang is what she heard," her words -- "Since what she sang was uttered word by word" -- made a difference. Without them there would neither be the "tragic-gestured sea," nor, "The meaningless plungings of water and wind." With the human word, things can be meaningful or meaningless. With the singer's song, the world can be. And with this arises the wonder that something "is" rather than "not" . . . the wonder in which thinking has its beginning.

Heidegger's reading of Stefan George's poem "The Word"(1971c) traces the same path into the neighborhood of appropriative Saying. The poem's last line runs: "Where word breaks off no thing may be." Only with the word, the saying of Saying, do things appear and remain in presence. Without a word, that which belongs to the thing--the world gathered by the thing -- may not come forth into unconcealment. Only in say/Saying does world, the referential context of meanings, exist as the dimension which houses the humanity of human beings. Saying/saying cites the site, the neighborhood which is home to the soul. Heidegger ventures that "The word makes the thing into a thing--it 'bethings' the thing . . . [this is the] mystery of the word" (1971f, p. 151). In bethinging the thing, the word does not provide reasons for the thing, does not ground the existence of the thing in something else. What it does do is bring the thing to appearance as the meaning-full/less thing that it is; it shows forth the world which comes of the thing. In his interpretation of another poem, albeit from a different poet (Georg Trakl's "A Winter Evening"), Heidegger writes: "Things be-thing -- i.e., condition -- mortals...things, each in its time, literally visit mortals with a world" (1971b, p. 200). The correspondence, the co-responding of say/Saying, which is the essence of the poetic word, is the granting of a world in which mortals and things are disclosed in the mysterious Event of Appropriation.5

The intimacy, the belonging together of poetry and thinking in the same neighborhood, appears in their dif-ference. As has been noted, it is in their dif-ference that they bear witness to their belonging together. And it is to this intimacy that they pay deference when they necessarily refer each to the other. The "scarcely definable" memorial character of thinking comes of the re-collecting of essences, grantings which endure from the earliest beginnings. "This primal corresponding, "the wondrous grant, the originary claim which issues forth in the essence of the poetic word, "expressly carried out is thinking" (Heidegger, 1977c, p. 41). Thinking, for Heidegger, is always a giving thought to what calls to be thought about. The poetic word lets being be in the meaning granting corresponding of saying/Saying. It is this "letting be" which is thought provoking, carried out in thinking.

What Heidegger (1971b) notes of the dif-ference elsewhere, can be seen in that between poetry and thought: "The intimacy of the dif-ference is the unifying element of the diaphora, the carrying out that carries through" (p. 202). Thinking's carrying out of the primal correspondence of saying/Say is a carrying through the poetic word. Saying claims the poetic word's saying "is," thus releasing the "is" "into lightened freedom and herewith into the security of its thinkability" (Heidegger 1971c, p.108). Poetry frees the "is" of world/word; it lets it be as that which calls to be thought. The poet's saying occasions the thinker's remembrance just as the thinker's recollection stirs in the saying of the poetic word. Thinking is no less poetic than song, nor is the poetic less than thoughtful.

In his "The Thinker as Poet," Heidegger (1971e) muses:

The oldest of the old follows behind
us in our thinking and yet it
comes to meet us.
That is why thinking holds to the
coming of what has been, and
is remembrance. (p. 10)
Thinking's recollection of heritage, the remembrance of the oldest of the old, is carried out through the destiny which calls us to be in the wonder of the poetic word (/world). Both the memorial saying of thinking and the wondrous saying of poetry attends to the Saying which appropriates humans to the there of their being. Thoughtful saying recalls the Saying of being as heritage. Poetic saying heralds that same Saying as destiny. Heritage and destiny, thought and poetry, stand near to each other in the neighborhood of the Event. Where in this neighborhood do we locate the logos of the psyche?

The title of Stevens' poem is not about song but an idea -- the idea of order, the thoughtful apprehension of our "Blessed rage for order." The idea of order adheres in the poetic word's saying "is," the granting of meaning in word/world.

The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.
Are these "keener sounds" the Saying of Language, held in reserve in the very words in which the singer sings what she has heard? These keener sounds are the elusive demarcations that haunt the singer's articulation of meaning. They intimate our origin, the originary claim to which our speaking responds. They are the opening to this origin that recedes like the distant stars, gone before we even glimpse their light. The rage to order belongs together with the "fragrant" intensity of song which blesses the world with meaning. A rage, an intensity that comes of the awareness that the words we speak are ultimately "not ours although we understand. Inhuman." Here we are indeed brought before the "workings of forces" of which we are but "dimly aware of in a remote corner of [our] being."6

The logos of the psyche belongs with thought and poetry as different but equally primordial human hearings of the same appeal of being. This logos is close to thinking in that like the releasement toward things, which comprises Heidegger's recollective thinking, psychological discourse is structured by a releasement from an everyday functional orientation and releasement to a latent appeal.7 The saying of the psyche is an essential re-collection of the appeal to be, a recollecting of the calls and claims which grant us our reasons to be. Psychology is close to poetry in that like the poetic saying of human dwelling, the logos of the psyche narrates a being sent, Dasein's being "present" into its primordial place "in language and light" (Boss, 1988b, p. 61). Dasein is being sent into being as a perceptive-responsive openness.

In sighting the psychological in the neighborhood of thinking and poetry we have come very close to the place Heidegger arrives in the thoughtful experience of the poetic word he pursues in "The Nature of Language."

Mortals are they who can experience death as death. Animals cannot do so. But animals cannot speak either. The essential relation between death and language flashes before us but remains unthought. It can, however, beckon us toward the way in which the nature of language draws us into its concern and so relates us to itself, in case death belongs together with what reaches out for us, touches us. (1971c, pp. 107-8) The psychological, as we have come to understand it, has to do with the recollection of how in our being claimed by what touches us, we are called to be as a radically finite, perceptive-responsive world-spanning openness. The distinctive quality of the logos of the psyche is uncanniness, the uncanniness which issues from the mortal being called upon "to be" as an open but finite being, the uncanniness which is covered-over in average everydayness. The uncanny logos of the psyche is situated near the memorial saying of thinking and the wonderous say of poetry, for it recalls mortal Dasein to take-up its heritage, its hitherto hidden (latent) innate human potentialities as its destiny, as its being called forth to be as the realm of world-spanning openness.

Yet Heidegger moves closer still toward what beckons us in the relation between death and language. He ventures a "true step back on the way of thinking." Having heard the poet say: "Where the word breaks off no thing may be," Heidegger offers the "supposition": "An 'is' arises where the word breaks up" (1971c, p. 108). He tells us that breaking up means a return to what is unspoken, a return to the unspoken relation of the relations spoken in the word. Like the silence of the analyst in hearkening to the client's latent being called to be, the step back moves into the stillness of what is unspoken in the cor-responding of Saying/saying. Is not such a step back necessary if thinking is to release itself to what "follows behind" so that it can "come to meet us?"

An "is" arises in the break up of the word/world. Is this what reaches out for us in our being called by language and death? The breaking up of the word/world is the break-down of meaning, the disclosure of the null ground of meaning itself. Depth psychology has long held that the psychological appears in just this breaking down of sense and sensibility. Could it be that in this "step back," the poet and the thinker encounter the psychological?8 Heritage, the origins from which we are thrown into meaning, and destiny which calls us into word/world as harkening/saying mortals, cannot be said to either have or not have meaning. They are neither meaningful nor meaningless for they themselves are nothing more nor anything less than the very configuring of meaning. The configuring of meaning, the cor-respondence of say/Saying precedes any meaningful(less)ness it grants. This is the granting latent -- kept secret -- in the taken for granted familiarity of words and world, the granting of world as the place of the human. It is the inhuman, uncanny secret concealed within the canny. The uncanniness of the psychological appears in the step back on the way of thinking through to the originary stillness kept secret in the wonder of word/world. About such stillness -- the null ground of all meaning -- nothing meaningful can be said. What can be said Speaks in the uncanny logos of the psyche.


What I have moved toward is psychology understood first in terms of the logos of the psyche and second as a philosophically grounded, human science. This alternative understanding of the psychological provides a fundamental orientation for the science of psychology for it speaks of the essence of what the science seeks to illuminate. It is an approach to the psychological situated in the neighborhood of poetry and thought. Thus it issues from another place than science, that other "side in every science which that science as such can never reach: the essential nature and origin of its sphere, the essence and essential origin of the manner of knowing which it cultivates, and other things besides" (Heidegger, 1968, p. 33). Citing the origin of the logos of the psyche in the Ereignis allows us to catch sight of its sphere within the neighborhood of appropriative Saying. It allows us to identify the psychological manner of knowing in the step back on the path of thinking. It allows us to recognize the nature of the psychological in the breakdown of meaning. But what orientation does this give to the science of psychology, particularly if meaning is taken as the primary matter of our psychological lives? This is the strain in Daseinsanalysis which provided the opportunity for our alternative approach: the tension between identifying the soul with the claim of our being or its identification with our meaningful engagement with things. Boss' annuciation of the "most fundamental purpose" of psychotherapy can now be taken as orienting the science as a whole: "to respond to the appeal of the patient to be." While the science of psychology is appropriately engaged with the meaningfulness of our world-spanning openness, its essential concern in that engagement is the appeal (itself neither meaningful nor meaningless) that configures meaning. Psychology, when it issues from the other side of meaning, is ultimately concerned with the inhuman, uncanny appeal which grants us the meaning of our existence.


1. The human sciences attempt to understand meanings by way of qualitative description and analysis as distinguished from the natural scientific project of explanation by way of the experimental demonstration of causal relationships between quantifiable facts.

2.Ereignis, as the destining of being, is its self-presencing in unconcealment, a presencing which gives itself to be disclosed by human beings. The manner of being's presencing calls for the mode of its disclosure by human beings, and in so doing sends humans upon a course of revealing. "Man does not decide whether and how things appear, whether and how God and the gods or history and nature come forward into the clearing of being, come to presence and depart. The advent of beings lies in the destiny of Being" (1977a, p. 210). Destiny, in this sense, is the essence of history. "We call the sending that gathers [versammelnde Schicken], that first starts man upon a way of revealing, destining [Geschick]" (1977b, pp. 306-307). Destining sends humanity into the gathered presence of an open world which Dasein preserves as the realm of its possibilities. The presencing of being as a destining always has an epochal character. The prevalence of this presencing, in its revelation by human beings, founds specific historical eras. In the turning of being, the changing of its presencing, destiny turns. Human revealing is called forth in a new mode; a different reality, a new historical age comes into being. The world and the being-in of it, changes. So it is that Heidegger can speak of, for example, Greek Dasein as a particular historical kind of existence. The occurrences which transpire in the world of such Dasein are the visibility of being's presencing and human revealing. See my "Obligations beyond competency: metabletics as a conscientious psychology" in Metabletics: J.H. van den Berg's historical phenomenology, 1999. Pittsburgh: The Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, pp. 29-46.

3. In line with the human science model, we can add that such observation and description is appropriately performed by way of qualitative research methodologies.

4. Regarding the role of language in a Heideggerian oriented therapy, see my "Solicitude, discourse, and the unconscious: Toward a Heideggerian theory of therapy," in Review of existential psychology and psychiatry, 21, Nos. 1,2,3, 1993, pp. 35-49.

5. The author wishes to thank Rex Olson for the many hours of conversation concerning Heidegger and Derrida which have inspired and informed this essay. His writing "wor[l]d" bears witness to the correspondence of Saying in the very saying of word/world.

6. The poet asks:

Ramon Fernandez, tell me if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why, the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.
Who is Ramon Fernandez to answer this question? In his correspondence, Stevens tells us "Ramon Fernandez was not intended to be anyone at all" (Cited in Allison, Barows, Blake and Carr, 1975. p. 480). He is not the singer. He is the everybody who is no one in particular. He is who we all are in our taken for granted familiarity with the round of daily affairs. The sight to which the poet directs Ramon is the site of human dwelling. Like the bridge, in Heidegger's well known example (1971a, p. 152 ff.), which in joining its banks lets the river be a river, the lights of the fishing boats order the darkness. They let it be the darkness that comes at the end of a working day. These lights bear bright witnesses to the success of functional activities in ordering the affairs of the day upon the sea. Indeed, the success of the functional ordering of the world is obvious, for it is the mundane.

The question is "Why, when the singing ended," the world still worlds? Is it not because "we are everywhere under way within the neighborhood of the modes of Saying" (Heidegger 1971c, p.101). Though "we often talk about 'poets and thinkers'" (Heidegger 1971c, p. 81), we make our way in the neighborhood whether we sing or fish. Whether weaving songs or nets, we weave the world/words of the place of our dwelling. Yet Ramon, the everybody who is no one in particular, is "pale" when addressed by the poet ("Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon"). Ramon is the "ordinary person" who is but dimly aware of, even unsuspecting of the forces at work in world/word.

7. For a discussion of the "releasement toward things" and "openness to the mystery" which comprise meditative thinking, see my "Heidegger and epideictic discourse: The rhetorical performance of meditative thinking," in Philosophy today, Fall 1991, pp. 239-253.

8. After all, Holderlin (the poet's poet) and Nietzsche (the thinker's thinker) were both "touched," claimed by madness.


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