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Heidegger among dryads: on the origin of the female work of art

Tim Scott (University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 18 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to examine a lacuna in Heidegger's “The Origin of the Work of Art”, that is, that it does not consider that such “origin” might be gendered. Originally published in a collection entitled Holzwege, which in the Cambridge (2002) edition is translated as Off the Beaten Track, Heidegger explains, “Wood” is an old name for the forest. In the wood there are paths, mostly overgrown, that come to an abrupt stop where the wood is untrodden. They are “Holzwege”.


The paper is written within a philosophical tradition and seeks to examine Derrida's lengthy deconstruction of Heidegger's essay and Irigaray's elegant gender critique, which are among works attesting to the importance and controversy The Origin has provoked among post‐structuralist thinkers.


The paper considers The Origin as an auto‐deconstructive text, through which other voices (one, or more, not Heidegger's) are heard; voices calling him, through him, as him; which he cannot identify or silence. They disrupt and confound his thinking and writing; he tries (unsuccessfully) to mend the discrepancies, assuage the violence, but ultimately leaves the essay in limbo, intuiting something even he cannot comprehend, an alien writing, that its internal contradictions be reserved for others to puzzle over.


The paper offers a reading of The Origin against the Classical male hegemony excluding women from their proper participation in architecture, art in general, aesthetic hermeneutics and philosophy of art. These circuits of exclusion being integral to the phallocentric orthodoxy inherited from the Ancient Greeks.



Scott, T. (2011), "Heidegger among dryads: on the origin of the female work of art", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 24 No. 6, pp. 789-805.



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