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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 Two The Anaximander Fragment


Chapter TwoThe Anaximander Fragment

In every word the saying [of Anaximander] speaks of being and only of being; it does that even, where it specifically refers to beings.146

In his lecture course on Parmenides, Heidegger calls Anaximander, Parmenides and Heraclitus primordial thinkers (anfängliche Denker). He makes a distinction between early thinkers and primordial thinkers. Not every early Greek thinker is a primordial thinker for him. The primordial thinker is one who thinks the beginning (Anfang), and for Heidegger the beginning is being (Sein). Anaximander, Parmenides and Heraclitus are the only primordial thinkers, Heidegger says, not just because they initiate Western thought (there were also other thinkers at that time), but because they think the beginning.147

The reason why Heidegger pays so much attention to Anaximander, Parmenides and Heraclitus in his works is thus clear. They stir his interest because they are the only Presocratic thinkers whom he considers primordial, who think the beginning which is being. But what does it mean to think the beginning? We know already the reasons why Heidegger wishes to undertake his study of the Presocratics. This is consistent with his view of history and philosophy. However, what does he mean by saying that the Presocratic thinkers think the beginning? Why is beginning being? What can we learn from the Heideggerian interpretation of the Presocratics?

In this and the next two chapters, I will attempt to answer these questions. I shall start by examining Heidegger’s reading of...

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