A Companion to Heidegger's "Introduction to Metaphysics"

A Companion to Heidegger's "Introduction to Metaphysics"

RICHARD POLT
GREGORY FRIED
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bnp1
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  • Book Info
    A Companion to Heidegger's "Introduction to Metaphysics"
    Book Description:

    Martin Heidegger'sIntroduction toMetaphysics, first published in 1953, is a highly significant work by a towering figure in twentieth-century philosophy. The volume is known for its incisive analysis of the Western understanding of Being, its original interpretations of Greek philosophy and poetry, and its vehement political statements. This new companion to theIntroduction to Metaphysicspresents an overview of Heidegger's text and a variety of perspectives on its interpretation from more than a dozen highly respected contributors.In the editors' introduction to the book, Richard Polt and Gregory Fried alert readers to the important themes and problems ofIntroduction to Metaphysics. The contributors then offer original essays on three broad topics: the question of Being, Heidegger and the Greeks, and politics and ethics. Both for readers who are approaching Heidegger for the first time and for those who are studying Heidegger on an advanced level, thisCompanionoffers a clear guide to one of the philosopher's most difficult yet most influential writings.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14557-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION
    (pp. vii-xiii)

    Martin Heidegger’sIntroduction to Metaphysics,delivered as a lecture course in 1935 and first published, with revisions, in 1953, has long stood as a familiar landmark for students of Heidegger’s thought. It is known for its incisive analysis of the Western understanding of Being, its original interpretations of Greek philosophy and poetry, and its vehement political statements.

    Our new translation ofIntroduction to Metaphysics(Yale University Press, 2000) provided an occasion to invite a group of scholars to reconsider this classic text. But aside from this occasion, the text itself invites renewed attention. Its perhaps familiar phrases contain unfamiliar possibilities...

  4. BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
    (pp. xiv-xviii)
  5. Part I THE QUESTION OF BEING
    • Chapter 1 KEHRE AND EREIGNIS: A PROLEGOMENON TO INTRODUCTION TO METAPHYSICS
      (pp. 3-16)
      THOMAS SHEEHAN

      Interpretations of Heidegger often fail to distinguish between two very different matters—on one hand “the turn”(die Kehre)and on the other “the change in Heidegger’s thinking”(die Wendung im Denken),that is, the shift in the way Heidegger formulated and presented his philosophy beginning in the 1930s. Failure to make this distinction can be disastrous for understanding Heidegger, and the danger becomes more acute the closer one gets to texts likeIntroduction to Metaphysics,where both the “turn” and the “change” begin to come into their own.¹

      The first issue, theKehre,is emphatically not an alteration in...

    • Chapter 2 THE APPEARANCE OF METAPHYSICS
      (pp. 17-33)
      CHARLES E. SCOTT

      Heidegger gives his students and us a considerable challenge as he leads them and us into metaphysical thought. One problem that we must face arises out of a tradition that has not shown clearly the differences among representational knowledge, evaluative considerations, and thinking. He says in the early pages of his introductory lectures that thinking must not be confused with knowledge, that the priority of knowledge over thought has, in fact, turned what is often recognized as professional philosophy into a miscontrual of philosophy (6–7). More specifically, he directs us to think of metaphysics without the misconstruals that have...

    • Chapter 3 BEING AS APPEARING: RETRIEVING THE GREEK EXPERIENCE OF PHUSIS
      (pp. 34-56)
      CHARLES GUIGNON

      Heidegger begins the lecture courseIntroduction to Metaphysicswith what he calls the fundamental and guiding question of metaphysics: Why is there something rather than nothing? The course, it seems, will introduce students to the subject of metaphysics—the study of the Being of beings—and it will begin with the famous question posed by Leibniz. But Heidegger quickly seems to shift ground when he says that before we can ask this fundamental question of metaphysics, we should first ask a “prior question,” the question of how it stands with Being (25). With this prior question, the lecture course seems...

    • Chapter 4 THE QUESTION OF NOTHING
      (pp. 57-82)
      RICHARD POLT

      Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?

      This striking question opensIntroduction to Metaphysicsas it had closed “What is Metaphysics?” in 1929.¹ It expresses the wonder that generates the Western metaphysical tradition. But instead of accounting for beings in the traditional way by categorizing them and identifying their first cause, Heidegger uses this “why-question” to indicate what he calls the “prior question”: “How does it stand with Being?” (25).

      What is this vague prior question inquiring into? First, it is an attempt to understandwhat it means for beings to be;it is a search for what...

    • Chapter 5 THE SCATTERED LOGOS: METAPHYSICS AND THE LOGICAL PREJUDICE
      (pp. 83-102)
      DANIEL DAHLSTROM

      What kind of introduction is theIntroduction to Metaphysics?How is the term “introduction” being used in the title? Should it be conceived as an orientation into a well-defined but limited domain (such as an entry-level study of Newtonian mechanics)? Or is it more like a beginner’s guide to a disease, therapy, or inevitable stage of development (think of “introductions” to cancer, psychoanalysis, or adolescence)? Or is it best construed as a preliminary sketch of some epoch-making historical event (like “An Introduction to the Cold War”)? An element of each of these (and still other) kinds of introduction can be...

    • Chapter 6 THE NAME ON THE EDGE OF LANGUAGE: A COMPLICATION IN HEIDEGGER’S THEORY OF LANGUAGE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
      (pp. 103-122)
      DIETER THOMÄ

      The question of how to read theIntroduction to Metaphysicsis intertwined with the question of the so-called turning(Kehre).Time and again, Heidegger depicted his philosophical development as a slowly proceeding unfolding of “one question”: the question of Being that is unfolded as a turning. Following this reading, theIntroduction to Metaphysicsis to be taken as an intermediary work that is to be located in a well-established framework, and only one problem must still be settled: in a turning executed in a well-rounded movement, theIntroduction to Metaphysicshas to be identified as a certain signpost offering links...

  6. Part II HEIDEGGER AND THE GREEKS
    • Chapter 7 WHAT’S IN A WORD?: HEIDEGGER’S GRAMMAR AND ETYMOLOGY OF “BEING”
      (pp. 125-142)
      GREGORY FRIED

      When Chapter 2 ofIntroduction to Metaphysicsopens, Heidegger reminds us that he has just concluded a long exposition of the fact that “for us Being is just an empty word and an evanescent meaning” (40). According to Heidegger, Being,Sein,has almost completely lost its force and meaning as a word, and more important, as aquestionthat arises in the form of a word within the context of a particular language. The lecture course began with the question, “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?” Heidegger quickly shows that this question about beings and nothing is...

    • Chapter 8 HEIDEGGER’S INTERPRETATION OF PHUSIS IN INTRODUCTION TO METAPHYSICS
      (pp. 143-160)
      SUSAN SCHOENBOHM

      The task of this chapter is not a simple one. Heidegger’s interpretation ofphusisinIntroduction to Metaphysicsis as complex as any of his interpretations in his work in the history of philosophy.¹ Following his thought is difficult in part because his German is often convoluted. This makes the rendering of his thought into English especially challenging. But the most difficult aspect of Heidegger’s thought is always the matter for thinking that he attempts to address in his writing. I will attempt to lay out his thought as straightforwardly as possible by following the structure of his text. The...

    • Chapter 9 HEIDEGGER’S ANTIGONES
      (pp. 161-182)
      CLARE PEARSON GEIMAN

      Heidegger’s interpretation of the choral ode from Sophocles’Antigoneis one of the best known, or perhaps most notorious, passages in theIntroduction to Metaphysics.His reading has been frequently critiqued not only for doing violence to Sophocles but also, and more important, for the way in which it appears to glorify actual violence in its heroic-tragic assessment of the nature of human knowing and in the consequent role of “violent” creators (priests, poets, thinkers, statesmen) in founding historical communities. The lecture course was given in 1935, relatively soon after Heidegger resigned his post as the first National Socialist rector...

  7. Part III POLITICS AND ETHICS
    • Chapter 10 THE ONTOLOGICAL DECLINE OF THE WEST
      (pp. 185-204)
      MICHAEL E. ZIMMERMAN

      In the following chapter I describe, contextually situate, and critically appraise Heidegger’s conception of history inIntroduction to Metaphysics.In section 1, I show that Heidegger rejected efforts to read Western history either in terms of the metaphor of progress or in terms of the collective events of peoples and nations. Instead, he tells a saga of the West’s eruption through the ancient Greek encounter with Being and of the West’s subsequent decline into technological nihilism, characterized by the darkening of the earth and the flight of the gods. This decline resulted from the gradual self-concealment of Being, a process...

    • Chapter 11 “CONFLICT IS THE FATHER OF ALL THINGS”: HEIDEGGER’S POLEMICAL CONCEPTION OF POLITICS
      (pp. 205-225)
      HANS SLUGA

      Nowhere does Martin Heidegger speak of politics in a more emphatically philosophical tone than in hisIntroduction to Metaphysicsof 1935. Though devoted, in name and substance, to the question of Being, the lecture course turns again and again to questions of politics. It cites political concerns as motivating the metaphysical investigations and claims that a genuine engagement with the question of Being has political bearing. The resulting fusion of metaphysical and political themes is hardly surprising when one considers that Heidegger delivered these lectures fresh from his hasty political engagement in 1933 and his equally hasty withdrawal a year...

    • Chapter 12 HEIDEGGER’S PHILOSOPHICAL GEOPOLITICS IN THE THIRD REICH
      (pp. 226-249)
      THEODORE KISIEL

      Heidegger’s lecture course of the summer semester of 1935,Introduction to Metaphysics,first appeared in a German edition in 1953. In its measured pace and expressive power, its telling examples and hermeneutic exegeses especially of ancient Greek texts, the 1935 lead-in(Ein-führung)to metaphysics is one of Heidegger’s finest and most crucial courses, the very first course that he published as such. Several late courses were soon to follow under Heidegger’s direct editorial control, along with other courses from the Nazi thirties. The ongoing publication of the virtually posthumous Collected Edition (starting in late 1975) promises to provide the full...

    • Chapter 13 AT THE CROSSROADS OF FREEDOM: ETHICS WITHOUT VALUES
      (pp. 250-262)
      FRANK SCHALOW

      We speak of “values” almost uncritically to designate either preferences that are culturally relative or norms that are grounded in the natural order of things. Yet the concept of value that to us is so innocuous was for Martin Heidegger particularly troublesome. If only because of this disparity, Heidegger’s treatment of values(Werte)inIntroduction to Metaphysicsis among the most puzzling and problematic of any of his writings. Toward the conclusion of this work, he criticizes Nietzsche for his philosophical approach to values and thereby reinforces a suspicion of value-thinking(Wertdenken)he demonstrated more than a decade earlier in...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 263-330)
  9. ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 331-332)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 333-342)