Martin Heidegger's Memorial Address Essay

Martin Heidegger's Memorial Address Essay

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Martin Heidegger’s memorial address, delivered in Germany in 1955, is both a call for action – not only to the people of Germany, but to the population of man across each continent – as well as a notion concerning the future of mankind. When described using elements of rhetoric, or styles rather, these very specific directions Heidegger chose to take his speech fall into two distinct but concomitant classifications: deliberative and epideictic. Concomitant in the sense that both arguments, throughout the address, are woven together masterfully and rely on one another to explain Heidegger’s assertions.
Rhetoric that is said to be deliberative attempts to persuade the audience to take action. The action that needs to be taken varies by example, however in the case of Martin Heidegger, he clearly advocates for mankind to retain their “essential nature”. Throughout the speech, it can be concluded that Heidegger has two main claims: that man’s autochtany (state of indigenity or belonging to a native region) is threatened by the emergence and superiority of technological advancements. He warns that man must distance himself from the bondage of technology as well as become open to the mystery of its existence. Heidegger calls this theory of his, “releasement toward things and openness to the mystery of belonging together” (Heidegger). The other claim he makes states that man must hold on to his “essential nature” – in that man is a meditative being; capable of thinking and questioning beyond what is obvious or reasonable. The evidence Heidegger uses to support these claims is riddled throughout his address as he details man’s ability to think both meditatively and calculatively. Because man has both these characteristics, it is a God-g...


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...ate a musician, not elaborate on a perhaps dark future – are one of the reasons historians and literarians have been analyzing this memorial address for the past 60 years. The rhetorical situation is very unique and Martin Heidegger was very brave to give this speech at such a time. As to whether or not this speech was effective is all in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I found this speech to be eye opening and extremely important even today 60 years since he delivered the original address. But for those people listening in Germany that day in 1955, I cannot say whether or not they would have found Heidegger’s approach repulsive or applauded his courage to stand up for something he believed was in the world’s best interests. What can be said, however, is 60 years later the words of this speech still impact mankind – and they likely will for generations to come.

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