The Origin of the Work of Art: Historicality, Temporality, and Destiny in Heidegger’s Philosophy of the 1930s

James Magrini, College of DuPage


It is the aim of this paper to explicate the temporal phenomenon of “historicality” as related specifically to the work of art by reading Heidegger’s philosophy of the 1930s, as presented in “The Origin of the Work of Art,” in relation to Being and Time (1927). There exists a critical link between the two works, which manifests in the relationship between the work of art, temporality, and the notion of authentic, historical Dasein as Being-in-the-world. This notion includes the understanding and reinterpretation of such concepts as “fate,” “heritage,” and “destiny,” as integral modes of Dasein’s “historicality.” The work of art for Heidegger, during the period after Being and Time, serves as a newfound source of truth (aletheia). As a powerful and legitimate mode of aletheuein, or movement into the open region of the “there,” art is the disclosure in which Being happens and is given to Dasein as historical. According to Heidegger, in its most profound manifestation, “great art” represents a cultural founding force, a temporal phenomenon, which facilitates Dasein’s movement into the work’s revelation of truth, serving as “the origin of a people’s authentic historical existence.”