Faculty Spotlight

Heidegger's Problems with Ordinary Grammar

Tracing German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s career-long concern over the inadequacy of grammar.

Professor Wanda Torres Gregory recalls her interest in the philosopher Martin Heidegger being sparked when, as an undergraduate student, she encountered his idea that language “speaks.” That moment, along with her enduring interest in language, has inspired her academic career and research. While much scholarly attention has been paid to Heidegger and his consideration of language, Torres Gregory has noticed a gap that her current research is working to fill. In her paper “Heidegger’s Problems with Ordinary Grammar,” she traces Heidegger’s persistent belief that grammar is philosophically problematic. This belief relates to his perception of everyday grammar as inadequate for deeper human expression, as it is charged with preconceptions. 

Torres Gregory’s scholarship puts forth the notion that Heidegger concerned himself with language and grammar throughout his career, in temporal periods that she divides into “Young,” “Middle,” and “Later.” She argues that, in his later years, Heidegger was being inconsistent because, while claiming that human expression cannot move beyond the limits of language, he placed himself beyond those limits in his criticism of ordinary grammar. She further claims that, by using this grammar itself, Heidegger fails to make a consistent case for its inadequacy. 

“Heidegger’s Problems with Ordinary Grammar” is derived from Torres Gregory’s new book, Heidegger’s Path to Language, which is forthcoming from Rowman and Littlefield. The Simmons Faculty Development Fund enabled Torres Gregory’s presentation at the North Texas Heidegger Symposium, an annual event to which she is regularly invited. Torres Gregory is also a translator of Heidegger’s works. 

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Faculty Spotlight