Thinking about Thinking: Revisiting the Heideggerian Calling to Thinking

Devasia M. Antony
Hindu College, University of Delhi          

The discipline of philosophy is often defined as the art of thinking about thinking, that is, the human activity of thinking becoming self-conscious and critiquing its own presuppositions. What I aim to do in this paper is to revisit, within the broad contours of the phenomenological tradition, the Heideggerian paradigm encapsulated in his celebrated piece What is Called Thinking? (Was Heisst Denken?) and to lay bare its theoretical depository. Heidegger delineates the fourfold character of the question ‘What is called thinking?’ in this way: firstly, that which is designated by ‘thinking’; secondly, the prevailing theory of thought that is taken to stand for thinking?; thirdly, the prerequisites one needs to perform the act of thinking; and fourthly, that which commands one to think. For Heidegger the fourth question is of paramount importance for it reveals the symbolic structure that holds together the other three questions.

The calling to think is of fundamental nature for Heidegger and this call is to be distinguished from mere sound and noise. Further thinking is not having an opinion or notion, neither it is representing or entertaining an idea. Nor is it ratiocination or presenting a cluster of premises from which one can infer a valid conclusion. Neither this thinking is conceptual and systematic in the sense of Begriff (concept) which for Hegel is thinking par excellence. For Heidegger thinking is a response on the human being’s part to a call that emanates from the nature of things which Heidegger calls Being itself. This act of thinking is reciprocal in the sense that thinking is determined by that which is to be thought as well as by the thinker who thinks. The Heideggerian challenge comes to the fore when he says that ‘what is most thought-provoking in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.’ I end the paper by spelling out what does it mean to think  after Heidegger in our contemporary human predicament.