Monday, August 02, 2010

Schürmann on seeing and hearing

For the Greeks to know is to see: “To know is to have seen, and to attain evidence is, as the word indicates, ‘to have seen well’. We only see well what is given to us, and we see best what remains immobile. Hearing, on the other hand, is the sense attuned to time: the ear perceives movements of approach and retreat better than the eye. A sound is not yet, then it approaches, it is there, and already it fades and is no more. For the gaze there is only the either-or of the present and the absent. To look is to strive to see what is the case. It is an act that requires distantiation. We are unable to read signs printed on a page with the eye ‘glued’ to it. Not so for hearing. The closer a sound is the better I perceive it. Hence ‘belonging’ has the connotation of ‘hearing’. The German gehören derives from hören. In the Greek, Latin, and Germanic languages, to be capable of hearing is to be capable of obeying; horchen meaning gehorchen. The eye is the organ of distance and the constantly present. The ear is the organ of involvement and of disclosure in time” (Reiner Schürmann Heidegger on Being and Acting pp.65-66)