Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Heidegger’s Memorial Address

904 words - 4 pages

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-given privilege to be able to exercise both types of thought. He pushes for his audience to accept the idea of not taking things at face value, but rather encourages his audience to explore and ponder for themselves.
The connection between his claims and the evidence to support such claims, while toward the beginning of the address was not brought to the forefront of his argument, can be simply stated: the dependence on technology that the world is coming to realize will inadvertently cause man to drown out the idea of meditative thinking – paving the way for a world that values only calculative thinking and innovation. Heidegger even begins his speech by declaring, “Man today is in flight from thinking…commemoration and thoughtlessness are found side by side. (Heidegger)” To back this assertion, he references the many dramatic goals of science and research – the value the world places on innovation and how even Nobel Prize winners declared, “Science is a road to a happier human...

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