To unscrew, to turn out, to twist free of, to extricate oneself from, turning forth, turning-out-of.
A Heideggerian term that David Krell renders in his translation of Heidegger’s Nietzsche as “twisting free.”
“Einen Füller aus seiner Hülle herausdrehen” – “To screw a fountain pen out of its cap.”
Related to Verwindung and deconstruction (see below).
Heidegger intends to overcome Platonism not by means of its simple “overturning” (which would be “herumdrehen”), but by what he calls a “twisting out” (herausdrehen) of philosophy from a movement that he saw as an endless chain of overturnings of Platonism. In his first volume on Nietzsche he writes:
What happens when the true world is expunged? Does the apparent world still remain? No. For the apparent world can be what it is only as a counterpart of the true: if the true world collapses, so must the world of appearances. Only then is Platonism overcome, which is to say, inverted in such a way that philosophical thinking twists free of it. (Heidegger 1979: 201)
Was geschieht, wenn die wahre Welt abgeschafft wird? Bleibt dann noch die scheinbare Welt? Nein. Denn die scheinbare Welt kann das, was es ist, nur sein als Gegenstück zur wahren. Wenn diese fällt, muß auch die scheinbare fallen. Erst dann ist der Platonismus überwunden, d.h. so umgedreht, daß das philosophische Denken aus ihm herausgedreht wird. (Heidegger 1961: 233)
Platonic realism produces a purely general view of the world dealing only with “essences” and abstractions, which Nietzsche wants to “overturn” by calling the sensible the real and the non-sensible unreal.
See also Heidegger’s essay "Overcoming Metaphysics” where he writes:
“The reversal of Platonism, according to which for Nietzsche the sensuous becomes the true world and the suprasensuous becomes the untrue world, is thoroughly caught in metaphysics” (Heidegger 1973: 92).
German (“Die Überwindung der Metaphysik”): “Die Umkehrung des Platonismus, dergemäß dann für Nietzsche das Sinnliche zur wahren Welt und das Übersinnliche zur unwahren wird, verharrt durchaus innerhalb der Metaphysik” (p. 75).
According to Heidegger, the entire history of philosophy is the history of such “overturnings.” Hegel’s metaphysics of certitude, for example, is generally said to have collapsed in the nineteenth century, but in reality the movements opposing Hegelianism are continuations of Hegel’s philosophy (Heidegger 1985: 72). Heidegger wants to abolish Platonism, but not in order to go for the other extreme, which would be scientific anthropology or (in the view of Nietzsche) “positivism,” both of which remain restricted to the analysis of the concrete and individual. Instead, Heidegger’s Herausdrehen of philosophy out of two extremes is supposed to result in a philosophical hermeneutics. The main characteristic of this approach is that it adheres neither to a generalist (Platonic) nor to an individualist (empirical) view, but strives for the simultaneous manipulation of the “individual” and the “general.”
The hermeneutic approach is directly related to the paradox of the hermeneutic circle, which Heidegger understands as a methodological means of constantly holding back any final decision in favor of either a generalist or an individualist approach. Heidegger views the hermeneutic circle as a “positive possibility of understanding:”
But if interpretation must in any case already operate in that which is under-stood, and if it must draw its nurture from this, how is it to bring any scientific results to maturity without moving in a circle, especially if, moreover, the understanding which is presupposed still operates within our common information about man and the world? (Heidegger, Being and Time, 1980: 195)
Wenn aber Auslegung sich je schon im Verstandenen bewegen und aus ihm her sich nähren muß, wie soll sie dann wissenschaftliche Resultaten zeitigen, ohne sich in einem Zirkel zu bewegen, zumal wenn das vorausgesetzte Verständnis überdies noch in der gemeinen Menschen und Weltkenntnis sich bewegt? (Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 1986: 152).
Heidegger’s affirmation of the circle does not signify a resignation in the sense of an intellectual fatalism, which would be the belief that knowledge as such is impossible. The hermeneutic circle does not condemn us to eternally stay in the sphere of “common knowledge of man and the world.” It is the scientist who sees the circle as a vitiosum that needs to be avoided. The person who simply “tolerates” (duldet) the circle has resigned from any possibility of positive understanding and develops an equally indifferent attitude toward everyday life. Opposed to this, Heidegger asks for an active affirmation of the circle because it negates everyday life. It helps us to verwinden the conventional character of Being (the “man” or the “durchschnittliche Seinsverständnis”).
Related to the above reflections on herausdrehen is thus the Heideggerian distinction between Überwindung and Verwindung. Verwindung is a sort of improper, twisted and distorted kind of “overcoming.” But herausdrehen and verwinden make metaphorical use of a twisting and turning movement. For Gianni Vattimo Verwindung represents the “declination of difference into weak thought” (Vattimo 2012: 45). It “marks the attitude which characterizes post-metaphysical thought in relation to the tradition handed down by metaphysics” (p. 46).
Heidegger uses the word Verwindung rather sparingly. It appears in a passage in “Der Spruch des Anaximander” (in Holzwege), in “Die Überwindung der Metaphysik” (in Vorträge und Aufsätze), and in Identität und Differenz.
Herausdrehen is also related to the term deconstruction. Heidegger suggests, in Being and Time, the deconstruction (Destruktion) of the concept of being through time. The German term “Destruktion,” which has been translated into English by Stambaugh as “destructuring” and by Macquarrie and Robinson as “destroying,” inspired Derrida’s deconstruction. Heidegger announces in Chapter 2, §6 that he wants to “destructure the history of ontology.” More specifically, he wants to destructure the understanding of being as it exists since Antiquity as well as in Descartes’ cogito. The latter perceives being from the point of view of a subject (‘I’, reason, spirit, or person) and never questions being in terms of temporality, that is, in terms of what transcends the static point of view of the ‘I’. Heidegger also shows that Kant uncritically adopted these Cartesian positions and never undertook an analysis of subjectivity in terms of time. In 1987, in Psyché, Derrida suggests the term ‘deconstruction’ for the German words Destruktion to avoid the idea of simple annihilation or demolition. Again, the deconstruction is not a destruction in the sense of an Überwindung but rather a Verwindung of the existing condition.
See also John Sallis, Echoes after Heidegger (1990): “The ontological question of the Being of the Being of the self must be twisted free of the fore-having that is constantly suggested by the prevalent I-saying, the fore-having of a persistently present-at-hand self-thing” (p. 323).
Derrida, Jacques. 1987. Psyché: Inventions de l'autre I. Paris: Gallilée.
Heidegger, Martin. 1961. Nietzsche (Vol. 1). Pfullingen: Neske. Engl. trans. by D. Krell: Nietzsche: The Will to Power as Art. New York: Harper and Row, 1979.
Heidegger, Martin. 1986 . Sein und Zeit. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
Heidegger, Martin. 1980. Being and Time trans. by J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell.
Heidegger, Martin. 1996. Being and Time trans. by Joan Stambaugh. New York: SUNY Press.
Heidegger, Martin. 1985. “Die Überwindung der Metaphysik” in Vorträge und Aufsätze. Pfullingen: Neske. Engl.: “Overcoming Metaphysics” in The End of Philosophy (trans J. Stambaugh.) New York: Harper and Row, 1973.
Heidegger, Martin. 1980. “Der Spruch des Anaximander” in Holzwege. Frankfurt: Klostermann. Engl.: “Anaximander’s Saying” (trans. J. Young and K. Haynes) in Off the Beaten Track. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Heidegger, Martin. 2006. Identität und Differenz (Gesamtausgabe I, Vol. 11). Frankfurt: Klostermann. Engl.: Identity and Difference (trans. J. Stambaugh). Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1969.
Sallis, John. 1990. Echoes after Heidegger. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Vattimo, Gianni. 2012. “Dialectics, Difference, Weak Thought” in P. A. Rovatti and G. Vattimo (eds.), Weak Thought. Albany: SUNY Press.
Author Citation Information
Botz-Bornstein, Thorsten, “Herausdrehen,” ODIP: The Online Dictionary of Intercultural Philosophy (2020), Thorsten Botz-Bornstein (ed.), URL = <Odiphilosophy.com/herausdrehen>.