Letter on “Humanism”


  • Martin Heidegger Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976) – a German existentialist philosopher, one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. Created the doctrine of Genesis, researched phenomenology and hermeneutics.




activity, being, human, thought, thinking, metaphysics


The proposed translation of a small work-essay of one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, M. Heidegger (1889 – 1976), is an existential self-presentation of the unique philosophical thought in substantiating the meaning of being, the active presence of a human in the world in two mutually transitional dimensions of here-being: in the implementation of activity that reveals its essence, and in the action of the thought that thinks, allows the being to capture itself and gives it a  w o r d, organizing itself as a  l a n g u a g e. The being as an element of thought, unfortunately, “is brought to the altar of technical interpretation of thinking.” The accuracy of thought is reduced to operating with words, when a single word does not leave the pure element of being and expands its various semantic dimensions. And vice versa, “a thought comes to an end when it evades its element”, becoming, however, a tool of education, training and further – a matter of culture. That is why the thought “is the thinking of being”, where language is a home of its truth, “the tool of our domination over existence”. Therefore, “language is a home of being”, its enlightening-concealing presence. At the same time, “standing in the light of being... is the e x i s t e n t i a  of a human” as a way of being inherent only to him and as an attributive property of namely human creation. There is the essence of here-being only in existentia, or in another way: the being of a light (= conscious) “here” is marked by the most important sign-trait of existentia. In this sense, a person is a substantially singled out being of “here”, its existing  g a p, and at the same time “an ecstatic exit into the truth of being.” Metaphorically, Heidegger’s maxim is formulated as follows: “Man is the shepherd of the being”, where the last is the closest thing, which for him “remains the furthest, because he works with thought only existing, essential and is not able to think out the being as such.” It logically follows from this that intimacy exists as  l a n g u a g e  itself, that is, as “the home of being, living in which a person exists, since, protecting his truth, he belongs to it.” The humanity of a person is revealed in being as here-existentia which exists in reality as a destination, “becomes the defining event of history”, because, being present at this moment, it gives itself and at the same time refuses in itself. In this sense, being is a “gap event”, transcendence. And further, “the well-known “homelessness of the new European man” can be understood only in the light of being history and in the context of the homeland as closeness to being, because it is a sign of his obliviousness; and this means that “a person always considers and processes only essential”, i.e., what exists for him and not for the being as a secreted, although hiddenly filled with truth, e v e n t. On this reflexive amplitude of thoughts, Heidegger is more categorical: “homelessness is caused by the fate of being in the image of metaphysics, which is strengthened and at the same time hidden by it as homelessness”; and “man exists in abandonment”, essentially “there is an essentia whose entity, being existentia, is in living near” him. Highlighting the limitations of the human mind, the thinker criticizes humanism precisely because of its metaphysical understanding. Indeed, metaphysics does not ask questions about the  t r u t h  of being, but on the contrary, insists on forgetting it. Therefore, the word “humanism” must be returned to its essentially-historical meaning, its meaning must be revealed anew, first of all, by understanding the                    e s s e n c e  of man, his eventfulness, existential feasibility. Furthermore, the concern for a return of humanity (humanitas) to man (homo) is justified. In this dimension, the essence of existentia as an ecstaticness is the “openness of being in the world.” “Being is a covering that covers a person, his existential essence, in its truth, building a  l a n g u a g e  as a home of existentia. That is why language is simultaneously the home of being and the home of a person.” The being thought goes beyond any theorizing, because it cares about  l i g h t (=consciousness). This thought, listening to the gap of being, is an  a c t i o n  which goes beyond the format of any practice. “Thought breaks through action and deed...thanks to the pettiness of its inconclusive implementation.” The existential thought all-in-all “gives in its speech a  w o r d  to the ineffable meaning of being”, which breaks into the light, organizing itself as a linguistic way of manifesting being itself. In this constructive section, “the first  l a w  of thought is the appropriateness of speech about being as about event of truth,” in which “strictness of comprehension, thoroughness of language, and stinginess of words” rule. Therefore, Heidegger concludes, in the current world crisis, less philosophy is needed, and more attention to the  t h o u g h t, which in future maturity is no longer philosophy, but existentia, which “thinks closer to the sources” and “paves with its narrative imperceptible furrows in language”.






How to Cite

Heidegger, Martin. “Letter on ‘Humanism’”. Psyhology & Society, no. 2, Dec. 2023, pp. 51-74, https://doi.org/10.35774/pis2023.02.051.