Heidegger’s black notebooks, titled by him Überlegungen (Considerations) were, to his mind, supplements to his main work—“ways, not works,” he famously said of his estate of publications, lecture courses, etc. This pertained to the notebooks as well: They’re workbooks directly motivated by what was happening during those years, therefore “secreted” to the end of his publication schedule for his Gesamtausgabe (“Total Output” or Collected Works) because they are mere workbooks.
A definitive account of what Heidegger intended with his notebooks is provided by “the ‘senior advisor’ of the Gesamtausgabe, as Martin Heidegger referred to me,” writes F.-W. von Herrmann in his contribution to an anthology in English about the first decade of notebooks, 1931-1941 (notebooks which continued until the early 1970s). English translation of the notebooks from 1931-1938, titled Ponderings II-VI, is now available. (The English version of 1938-1939 notebooks is due March 2017.)
Von Herrmann's account coincidently supports my earlier-discussed views, which I’m delighted to see.
Heidegger’s notebooks “are companions on [his] main path, and they supplement it,” von Herrmann notes. “Since 1931, Heidegger would jot down in his notebooks occasional thoughts that did not belong in a manuscript in progress.... Heidegger kept pencil and notepad on his bedside table,... which he would carefully write up...the next day.”
I’ve read that MH also carried little notebooks in his coat pocket on walks, then wrote up final versions later. The archival notebooks are elaborations—for himself, working notes, not presentations that try to anticipate misreading (which lecture presentations would have occasion to do).
Von Herrmann asserts that Heidegger intended the notebooks to be supplementary to the “ontohistorical thinking” which is Heidegger’s main work of that period (i.e., Contributions to Philosophy and other monographic work of the late 1930s).
‘Ontohistorical’ is a translation of a German term now standardly translated as “being-historical,” which is an active term (as in: having lasting influence, which philosophy always hopes to achieve). That isn't primarily about historiography or genealogical reconstruction (which is MH’s concern for “history of beyng” as part of his process of emancipatory and originary thinking that Contributions prospects). Heidegger, in his main work, is prospecting ways to express a multi-stage conception of being-historical thinking.
During von Herrmann’s present discussion, Heidegger is quoted: “What is recorded in these notebooks,... reveals...at least in part... my indications of the most advanced horizons of my endeavors in thought.”
But horizons are not constitutive conceptions. Horizons reflect the range of pertinence that a conception can have. These horizons are characterized by Heidegger, according to von Herrmann, as “the spirit of the newest new age and thus the present age,...” to Heidegger (emphasis by MH). The world after 1945 was inconceivable, of course.
A detailed discussion of some notebooks entries follows (or will soon).