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BUAN

IV. Building Dwelling Thinking

(...)

What, then, does Bauen, building, mean? The Old English and High German word for building, buan, means to dwell. This signifies: to remain, to stay in a place. The real meaning of the verb bauen, namely, to dwell, has been lost to us. But a covert trace of it has been preserved in the German word Nachbar, neighbor. The neighbor is in Old English the neahgehur; neah, near, and gebur, dweller. The Nachbar is the Nachgebur, the Nachgebauer, the near-dweller, he who dwells nearby. The verbs buri, b├╝ren, beuren, beuron, all signify dwelling, the abode, the place of dwelling. Now to be sure the old word buan not only tells us that bauen, to build, is really to dwell; it also gives us a clue as to how we have to think about the dwelling it signifies. (...)

Bauen originally means to dwell. Where the word bauen still speaks in its original sense it also says how far the nature of dwelling reaches. That is, bauen, buan. bhu, beo are our word bin in the versions: ich bin, I am, du bist, you are, the imperative form bis, be. What then does ich bin mean? The old word bauen, to which the bin belongs, answers: ich bin, du bist mean: I dwell, you dwell. The way in which you are and I am, the manner in which we humans are on the earth, is Buan, dwelling. To be a human being means to be on the earth as a mortal. it means to dwell. The old word bauen, which says that man is insofar as he dwells, this word barren however also means at the same time to cherish and protect, to preserve and care for, specifically to till the soil, to cultivate the vine. Such building only takes care-it tends the growth that ripens into its fruit of its own accord. Building in the sense of preserving and nurturing is not making anything. Shipbuilding and temple-building, on the other hand, do in a certain way make their own works. Here building, in contrast with cultivating, is a constructing. Both modes of building-building as cultivating, Latin colere, cultura, and building as the raising up of edifices, aedificare -are comprised within genuine building, that is, dwelling. Building as dwelling, that is, as being on the earth, however, remains for man's everyday experience that which is from the outset "habitual"-we inhabit it, as our language says so beautifully: it is the Gewohnte. For this reason it recedes behind the manifold ways in which dwelling is accomplished, the activities of cultivation and construction."

Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought

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