Speaking Being
Werner Erhard, Martin Heidegger, and a New Possibility of Being Human

Bruce Hyde, PhD and Drew Kopp, PhD; Wiley (2019)

James R. Doty, M.D.Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University:

"The profound impact that Werner Erhard has had, and continues to have, on culture and society is a manifestation of an incredible insight that Erhard has been making available to the public for decades: the experience of being. This book presents that experience for the first time--both through a transcript of an actual course led by Erhard, along with a study of his methodology for delivering that experience. On display are spectacular moments where Erhard exercises what he has sometimes described as ruthless compassion, and like all forms of compassion, at work is a fundamental motivating desire to alleviate the suffering of others."

The acclaimed new book, Speaking Being: Werner Erhard, Martin Heidegger, and a New Possibility of Being Human, provides an unprecedented study of the ideas and methodology developed by Werner Erhard. Already acknowledged by dozens of academics for its power, brilliance, and unique contribution, the book includes a transcript of an actual Forum led by Erhard in San Francisco in 1989. The book uses this text to create a comparative analysis that demonstrates how Erhard’s work and the philosophical ideas of Martin Heidegger–considered one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th Century–each illuminate the other.


What People Say:


Jeronima (Jeri) Echeverria, Professor of History and Provost Emerita, California State University at Fresno:
"In Speaking Being the reader discovers two original thinkers – Werner Erhard and Martin Heidegger – two intellects who independently reached similar linguistic, ontological, and phenomenological philosophies that illuminate each other. Authors Hyde and Kopp accomplish this formidable task by masterfully presenting Erhard and Heidegger side by side in a readable, lively, and illuminating text. There is nothing quite like it!"


Jonathan D. Moreno, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Ethics:
"This book is powerful, imaginative, frustrating, amusing, threatening, and enlightening——all at the same time. It also has the power to transform your life.”


Michael J. Hyde, University Distinguished Professor of Communication Ethics, Wake Forest University:
"Theory and Practice: Ways of seeing what one claims to be the truth of some intended object of consciousness and ways of applying this truth to one’s everyday existence in order to cultivate wisdom, goodness, self-realization, and justice. The dialogical teachings of Werner Erhard speak to the importance of this relationship and its ontological significance. Professors Hyde and Kopp, scholars of rhetoric and communication who had observed and participated in programs designed by Erhard, provide comprehensive and detailed conversations--what they term “ontological rhetoric”--that took place in Erhard’s 1989 Forum, and they demonstrate how Erhard and Heidegger can be read together for the benefit of both. This book is a major achievement in the scholarship of Erhard and Heidegger studies. A much needed moment of enlightenment."


Dr. Trystan T. Cotten, Associate Professor, Gender Studies, University of California, Stanislaus, founder and managing editor of Transgress Press:
Many academics in cultural studies accept postmodernity and content pedagogy as unquestionable facts of the world, but with a paltry understanding of how these ideas undermine our intention to produce morally conscious, action-oriented citizens. In their lucid exposition of Werner Erhard’s methodology, Hyde and Kopp offer a cogent roadmap out of such a paralyzing paradigm of knowledge and subjectivity. Brilliantly, the authors use Martin Heidegger’s writing to illuminate Erhard’s work and The Forum’s compelling impact on participants. Readers will discover for themselves, based on the contexts they bring, a powerful pedagogy of transformation grounded in an ontological inquiry into human being that leads students to discover their own paths of social agency and initiative. Highly recommended!


David Storey, Associate Professor, Boston College, author of Naturalizing Heidegger:
"While some readers of Speaking Being may be familiar with The Landmark Forum, most don’t know its connections to the philosophical tradition. Hyde and Kopp have woven together concise explanations of Heidegger’s notoriously difficult thinking with an actual transcript of Erhard’s Forum—by turns moving, funny, and shocking. This juxtaposition draws the reader into the experience and powerfully illuminates the teachings of these two thinkers."

Cynthia Haynes, Professor, Rhetoric and Composition, Clemson University:
"Speaking Being
is not a book. It is a multimodal tour de force of ontological rhetoric that hails its reader into an event and in so doing performs as an event, rather than what is commonly rendered as a book between two covers. Its status as an event is performed on every page wherein the “showing” of Being is enacted via its remarkable design. Kaleidoscopically, Bruce Hyde and Drew Kopp have drawn their readers into a dazzling display, where the participants in dialogue with Werner Erhard in a specific Forum in 1989 are put into dialogue with Martin Heidegger. The result is arguably one of the most astounding academic interventions into both Erhard’s methodology and Heideggerian thought. Citing David Farrell Krell, Hyde and Kopp remind us that “‘to be on a woodpath’ means to be in a cul-de-sac, a path that leads nowhere and has no exit.” Speaking Being puts its readers in a dizzying cul-de-sac within which they may never leave, but rather transform into one of the glittering particles of this rhetorical kaleidoscope.

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review:
"Speaking Being provides a unique and unparalleled opportunity to delve into not just philosophical perceptions and concepts, but their integral relationships in the real world via the communication process Erhard practices."


Richard Dubé, Professor at the Department of Criminology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa.

"In Speaking Being, the reader is keenly drawn into a powerful and transformative ontological investigation around two fundamental questions: what is the Being of human beings and what is the possibility of Being for human beings. In Heidegger’s Being and Time the first question was rigorously explored. In Speaking Being, through the transcript of Werner Erhard’s Forum, Hyde and Kopp give us the opportunity to step into and toward the second question to authentically look at what is possible for the Being of human beings in its access to vitality, self-expression, love and contribution. The inquiry is at times moving, at times funny, at times even ruthless, but in one way or the other, it is always intended to get to the heart of the matter about these critical questions. A highly recommended read for anyone interested in discovering what it looks like to be a stand for the possibilities of the Being of human beings, and perhaps even a stand for what could be understood as its “authentic nature” and true ontological needs."



Werner Erhard, Martin Heidegger and The Politics of Being, by Michael Zimmerman:

"Reading Bruce Hyde and Drew Kopp’s insightful book, Speaking Being, has been a remarkable journey, one that brings me back to the transformation I experienced when I took The est Training in December 1981. During the Training, I discovered a profound and wholly unanticipated connection between the work of Werner Erhard and that of Martin Heidegger... Erhard developed the key elements of what would become The Forum (and later, The Landmark Forum) long before he knew anything about Heidegger. The point of Speaking Being is not to show that Erhard’s ideas derive from Heidegger’s, but rather that there is a remarkable afinity between ideas that the two thinkers arrived at independently The first question I will explore at length is this: Do the remarkable parallels between the work of Erhard and Heidegger confirm the validity of their respective findings?"




“I regard Speaking Being as an enormously important contribution to understanding Heidegger and Erhard. The latter has received far too little serious academic attention, and this book begins to make up for that lack. Moreover, the book’s analysis of Heidegger’s thought is among the best that I have ever read. I commend this book to all readers without reservation.”


Michael E. Zimmerman, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado, Boulder




Afterword to "Speaking Being: Werner Erhard, Martin Heidegger, and the Possibility of Being Human," by Bruce Hyde and Drew Kopp.






Book Review: Jason Tham, Rhetoric Review, Volume 39, 2020 - Issue 2, Pages: 250-253


"Speaking Being is an innovative and daring attempt at apprehending the complex phenomena of human existence through a rhetorical framing."


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