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A Poetics of Homecoming

Heidegger, Homelessness and the Homecoming Venture

Author(s): Brendan O’Donoghue

Book Description

This investigation addresses a pressing anxiety of our time – that of homelessness. Tersely stated, the philosophical significance of homelessness in its more modern context can be understood to emerge with Nietzsche and his discourse on nihilism, which signals the loss of the highest values hitherto. Diverging from Nietzsche, Heidegger interprets homelessness as a symptom of the oblivion of being. The purpose of the present enquiry is to rigorously confront humanity’s state of homelessness, and at the same time illumine the extent to which Heidegger’s thought engages with this pervasive phenomenon. In questioning the nature of homelessness, Heidegger’s preoccupations with nihilism and modern technology prove crucial. Moreover, his attempts to overcome or prepare for the overcoming of this state of homelessness are also of great import to the current investigation. Adorno and Lévinas offer scathing critiques of Heidegger’s thought as it relates to the motifs of homelessness, homecoming (Heimkunft) and the German Heimat, for they associate it with provincialism, paganism, and a pernicious form of politics. In providing these critiques they bring to light the risks involved in undertaking a homecoming venture, and they also show how a great thinker can err greatly. While acknowledging the importance of these criticisms, the present study reveals how Heidegger’s various discourses on homelessness and homecoming bear fruitful insights that can contribute not just to a Germanic sense of homecoming but to a sense of homecoming that humanity at large can relate to and be enriched by.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-2994-6
ISBN-10: 1-4438-2994-3
Date of Publication: 01/08/2011
Pages / Size: 350 / A5
Price: £44.99


Brendan O’ Donoghue received a BA in Philosophy and Economics from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth in 2000, and received an MA in Philosophy from University College Dublin in 2001. He completed his doctoral research on Martin Heidegger under the supervision of Dr Brian Elliott at University College Dublin in 2007. He taught philosophy at University College Dublin in 2007, at University College Cork between 2008 and 2010, and he is currently a visiting academic at the University of Edinburgh. At present he is editing a Reader on the Irish philosopher and poet John Moriarty for the Lilliput Press.