A Blog for Everyone and No One
While working on negation — the topic of my dissertation — I jump eagerly at any mention of the words: negation, negativity, dissemination, denial, no and others. I trace them in books and through word origins biographies and greek etymology dictionaries. All this while trying to construct a method for my research. I work mainly on Heidegger and as most people know there is a very intimate relationship between Heidegger and the Greeks. At the same time he is very critical of books that think Greek philosophy in modern scholastic terms claiming such thought is alien to the Greeks. For example while discussing Jaeger’s Entstehungsgeschichte der Metaphysik des Artistotles in On the Essence and Concept of phusis in Aristotle Physics B, 1 he states:
[T]his book has the single fault of thinking through Aristotle’s philosophy in the modern Scholastic neo-Kantian manner that is entirely foreign to Greek thought.
Two matters spring to mind. First it’s somewhat clear that Heidegger is avoiding the Christian interpretation of Greek thought. This is a prominent reaction against the German philosophy of the time contaminated by theologians and adhering to forms of transcendence and holy present ideas. It is something we also see in Nietzsche of course. God is dead and this means theological interpretations as well. The second point is more of a question. Do we really have any claim to purity in the Greek texts before us? Isn’t our thinking apparatus tainted to the point that whatever we make of the Greek fragments is made through theological structures?
Of course there is no such purity and Heidegger is definitely not a philosopher of purity no matter how much he cherishes Ancient Greece. Being after all is constantly withdrawing so we can’t get a hold of its purity. Truth for him is aletheia with its emphatic lethe, the concealment of Being. So why go back? Why go all the way back? This is so strange coming from a philosopher who when discussing Aristotle’s concept of dunamis states that an origin is not that from which something proceeds but rather “being an origin for something other is in itself a proceeding to the other” meaning the origin is never a point of departure but a destination so why depart from the Greeks? We can also see this in Being and Time Dasein doesn’t start its existence from a particular point it starts from thrownness suggesting again that there is no point of departure, no point from which Dasein is thrown.
In fact philosophy for Heidegger does start in thrownness. In his Leibniz lectures he makes it clear that the task of philosophy is to reiterate the same seemingly simple questions from our facticity — thrownness. So again why the Greeks? Why not Scholasticism and Monasticism? Agamben seems to have returned there in his latest book for example. Is he claiming that in the age after destruction and deconstruction we are now ready to face the theologians again? I’ll leave all these questions open for now. More to come..