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The Presocratics in the Thought of Martin Heidegger

W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz

The book focuses on Heidegger’s thoughtful repetition of early Greek thinking, and his receptive attention to the fragments of the Presocratics from our contemporary age. Their thought has a special value for him as the heritage which must be repeated anew in order to bring us back to the question of being and to open before us new avenues for existence. The author raises questions which help us to understand Heidegger as a thinker. He presents a deep analysis of Heidegger’s interpretations of the Presocratics and contributes to a new, insightful understanding of Heideggerian philosophy.

«The book deserves a wide reception among scholars who are interested in the Presocratics, Heidegger and contemporary philosophy.»

Dr. Katherine Morris (University of Oxford)

«Prof. Korab-Karpowicz (…) develops a consistent reading of Heidegger’s historical studies, thereby significantly contributing to a new approach for the study of Heideggerian philosophy.»

Dr. Michal Bizoń (Jagiellonian University, Kraków)

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Chapter One Philosophy, History and the Presocratics


Chapter OnePhilosophy, History and the Presocratics

It is one thing to determine and describe the opinions of philosophers. It is an entirely different thing to discuss with them what they are saying, and that about which they are speaking.17

Throughout his philosophical work Heidegger was concerned with the history of philosophy. In contrast to the other two most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, Wittgenstein and Husserl, his treatment of philosophy was largely historical. In the years preceding the publication of Being and Time in 1927, Heidegger’s lectures and seminars were, in large part, devoted to a discussion of the classical texts of Plato and Aristotle.18 Hannah Arendt, who was a student of Heidegger at that time, recalls his teaching as follows:

It was technically decisive that, for instance, Plato was not talked about and his theory of Ideas expounded; rather for an entire semester a single dialogue was pursued and subjected to question step by step, until the time-honored doctrine had disappeared to make room for a←23 | 24→ set of problems of immediate and urgent relevance. Today this sounds quite familiar, because nowadays so many proceed in this way; but no one did so before Heidegger.19

Being and Time, the fundamental and unfinished work of Heidegger, itself contains many references to historical thinkers. Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel and Husserl are frequently mentioned there. The original design of this treatise contained a Part Two entitled ‘Basic Features of a...

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