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Presocratic thinkers ask the question concerning the being of beings, but in such a way that being itself is laid open. They experience the being of beings as the presencing Anwesen of what is present Anwesende. Being as presencing means enduring in unconcealment, disclosing. Throughout his later works Heidegger uses several words in order rightly to convey this Greek experience.

They experienced the phenomenality of what is present, its radiant self-showing. The departure of Western philosophical tradition from concern with what is present in presencing, from this unique experience that astonished the Greeks, has had profound theoretical and practical consequences. By means of phenomenological description Husserl attempted to arrive at pure phenomena and to describe beings just as they were given independently of any presuppositions.

For Heidegger, this attempt has, however, a serious drawback.

Like the tradition of modern philosophy preceding him, Husserl stood at the ground of subjectivity. By contrast, Heidegger argues, for the Presocratics, beings are grounded in being as presencing. Being, however, is not a ground. To the early Greeks, being, unlimited in its dis-closure, appears as an abyss, the source of thought and wonder. Being calls everything into question, casts the human being out of any habitual ground, and opens before him the mystery of existence. The departure of western philosophical tradition from what is present in presencing results in metaphysics.

It imposes its technological-scientific-industrial character on human beings, making it the sole criterion of the human sojourn on earth. As it ultimately degenerates into ideologies and worldviews, metaphysics provides an answer to the question of the being of beings for contemporary men and women, but skillfully removes from their lives the problem of their own existence. Moreover, because its sway over contemporary human beings is so powerful, metaphysics cannot be simply cast aside or rejected.

Any direct attempt to do so will only strengthen its hold. Metaphysics cannot be rejected, canceled or denied, but it can be overcome by demonstrating its nihilism. It refers to the forgetfulness of being. What remains unquestioned and forgotten in metaphysics is Being; hence, it is nihilistic. According to Heidegger, Western humankind in all its relations with beings is sustained by metaphysics. Every age, every human epoch, no matter however different they may be—. Greece after the Presocratics, Rome, the Middle Ages, modernity—has asserted a metaphysics and, therefore, is placed in a specific relationship to what-is as a whole.

Metaphysics inquires about the being of beings, but it reduces being to a being; it does not think of being as being.


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Insofar as being itself is obliterated in it, metaphysics is nihilism. The metaphysics of Plato is no less nihilistic than that of Nietzsche. His attempt to overcome metaphysics is not based on a common-sense positing of a different set of values or the setting out of an alternative worldview, but rather is related to his concept of history, the central theme of which is the repetition of the possibilities for existence.

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This repetition consists in thinking being back to the primordial beginning of the West—to the early Greek experience of being as presencing—and repeating this beginning, so that the Western world can begin anew. Many scholars perceive something unique in the Greek beginning of philosophy.

It is commonly acknowledged that Thales and his successors asked generalized questions concerning what is as a whole, and proposed general, rational answers which were no longer based on a theological ground. However, Heidegger does not associate the unique beginning with the alleged discovery of rationality and science. In fact, he claims that both rationality and science are later developments, so that they cannot apply to Presocratic thought.

They experience beings in their phenomenality: as what is present in presencing. But the later thought which begins with Plato and Aristotle is unable to keep up with the beginning. The aim which the later Heidegger sets before himself is precisely to return to the original experience of beings in being that stands at the beginning of Western thought.

This unmediated experience of beings in their phenomenality can be variously described: what is present in presencing , the unconcealment of what is present, the original disclosure of beings. To repeat the primordial beginning more originally in its originality means to bring us back to the Presocratic experiences, to dis-close them, and to let them be as they originally are. But the repetition is not for the sake of the Presocratics themselves. It happens as the listening that opens itself out to the words of the Presocratics from our contemporary age, from the age of the world picture and representation, the world which is marked by the domination of technology and the oblivion of being.

In the end, the task is to make questionable what at the end of a long tradition of philosophy-metaphysics has been forgotten. The new beginning begins thus with the question of being. Heidegger begins by asking about the multiple meanings of being and ends up conceding its multiplicity and acknowledging that there are multiple determinations or meanings of being in which being discloses itself in history. Nevertheless, in neither of these meanings does being give itself fully.

Therefore, the truth of being is none of its particular historical determinations— idea , substantia , actualitas , objectivity or the will to power. The truth of being can be defined as the openness, the free region which always out of sight provides the space of play for the different determinations of being and human epochs established in them.

It is that which is before actual things and grants them a possibility of manifestation as what is present, ens creatum , and objects. The truth of being, its openness, is for Heidegger not something which we can merely consider or think of.

It is not our own production. It is where we always come to stand. We find ourselves thrown in a historically conditioned environment, in an epoch in which the decision concerning the prevailing interpretation of the being of being is already made for us. Yet, by asking the question of being, we can at least attempt to free ourselves from our historical conditioning.


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  • It means turning oneself into being in its disclosing withdrawal. Heidegger never claimed that his philosophy was concerned with politics. Nevertheless, there are certainly some political implications of his thought. He perceives the metaphysical culture of the West as a continuity. It begins with Plato and ends with modernity, and the dominance of science and technology. He turns to the Presocratics in order to retrieve a pre-metaphysical mode of thought that would serve as a starting point for a new beginning.

    However, his grand vision of the essential history of the West and of western nihilism can be questioned. Modernity, whose development involves not only a technological but also a social revolution, which sets individuals loose from religious and ethnic communities, from parishes and family bonds, and which affirms materialistic values, can be regarded as a radical departure from earlier classical and Christian traditions. Christianity challenges the classical world, while assimilating some aspects of it, and is in turn challenged by modernity.

    Modernity overturns the ideas and values of the traditional Christian and classical culture of the West, and, once it becomes global, leads to the erosion of nonwestern traditional cultures. Under the cover of immense speculative depth and rich ontological vocabulary full of intricate wordplay both which make his writings extremely hard to follow Heidegger expresses a simple political vision. He wants to overturn the traditional culture of the West and build it anew on the basis of earlier traditions in the name of being. Like other thinkers of modernity, he adopts a Eurocentric perspective and sees the revival of German society as a condition for the revival of Europe or the West , and that of Europe as a condition for the revival of for the whole world; like them, while rejecting God as an end, he attempts to set up fabricated ends for human beings.

    The greatness of what is to be thought is too great. He invokes the concept of the ancient polis. The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, the poems of Hesiod, and the tragedies of Sophocles, as well as the other ancient Greek texts, including the monumental political work of Thucydides, the History of the Peloponnesian War , express concerns with ethical behavior at both the individual and community levels.

    Furthermore, the strength of Western civilization, insofar as its roots can be traced to ancient Greece, is that from its beginning it was based on rationality, understood as free debate, and the affirmation of fundamental moral values. Whenever it turned to irrationality and moral relativism, as in Nazism and Communism, that civilization was in decline.

    Therefore, Heidegger is likely to be mistaken in his diagnosis of the ills of the contemporary society, and his solution to those ills seems to be wrong. Asking the question of being and, drawing our attention to this question is certainly his significant contribution is an important addition to, but never a replacement for asking moral questions in the spirit of rationality and freedom. The human being is the unique being whose being has the character of openness toward Being. But men and women can also turn away from being, forget their true selves, and thus deprive themselves of their humanity.

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    At the beginning of the tradition of Western philosophy, the human being was defined as animal rationale , the animal endowed with reason. Since then, reason has become an absolute value which through education brings about a gradual transformation of all spheres of human life. It is not more reason in the modern sense of calculative thinking, Heidegger believes, that we need today, but more openness toward and more reflection on that which is nearest to us—being. The Gesamtausgabe , which is not yet complete and projected to fill about one hundred volumes, is published by Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main.

    Below there is a list of the collected works of Martin Heidegger. English translations and publishers are cited with each work translated into English. Martin Heidegger — Martin Heidegger is widely acknowledged to be one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20 th century, while remaining one of the most controversial. The Quest for the Meaning of Being Throughout his long academic career, Heidegger was preoccupied with the question of the meaning of being.

    Every age, every human epoch, no matter however different they may be— Greece after the Presocratics, Rome, the Middle Ages, modernity—has asserted a metaphysics and, therefore, is placed in a specific relationship to what-is as a whole. From the First Beginning to the New Beginning Many scholars perceive something unique in the Greek beginning of philosophy.

    Martin Heidegger - Wikipedia

    From Philosophy to Political Theory Heidegger never claimed that his philosophy was concerned with politics. Sein und Zeit Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik Holzwege Krell and Frank A. I, Nietzsche I II, Nietzsche II Poetically Man Dwells Capuzzi in Early Greek Thinking. Was heisst Denken? Translated as What Is Called Thinking? Wieck and J.

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    Wegmarken Translated as Pathmarks. Der Satz vom Grund Unterwegs zur Sprache Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens Zur Sache des Denkens Reden und andere Zeugnisse eines Lebensweges Lectures from Marburg and Freiburg, Der Beginn der neuzeitlichen Philosophie winter semester, Aristoteles: Rhetorik summer semester, Platon: Sophistes winter semester, Prolegomena zur Geschite des Zeitbegriffs summer semester, Logik: Die frage nach der Wahrheit winter semester Grundbegriffe der antiken Philosophie summer semester Geschichte der Philosophie von Thomas v.

    Aquin bis Kant winter semester Einleitung in die Philosophie winter semester Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit. Einleitung in die Philosophie summer semester, Aristoteles: Metaphysik IX summer semester, Vom Wesen der Wahrheit. Sein und Wahrheit winter semester, Logik als die Frage nach dem Wesen der Sprache summer semester, Die Frage nach dem Ding.

    Translated as What Is a Thing by W.