Heidegger's Philosophy of Science

By Trish Glazebrook | Go to book overview

4
Ancient Science

HEIDEGGER'S ACCOUNT of ancient science is a crucial moment in his philosophy of science, for it is in Parmenides' and Heraclitus's understanding of nature that Heidegger sees another possibility to the metaphysics of modernity. He interprets the preSocratics to hold that being is φύσις. Accordingly, the representational thinking of modern science stands in marked contrast to its origin in Greek thought. Heidegger's analysis of science is thus clarified as a critique of modern science: it is only over and against ancient science that representation in exact science is the hallmark of modern science for Heidegger. Differences between ancient—particularly Aristotelian—and modern thinking have always figured in Heidegger's work, but it is his analysis of ancient science from 1935 to 1940 that consolidates those insights into a reading of the history of the West, and hence into a basis for critiquing modern science and technology.

On the basis of his vision of the ancient interpretation of φύσις in Parmenides and Heraclitus, with its last echo in Aristotle, Heidegger envisions alternative possibilities for being and thinking. These possibilities underwrite his later call to thinking. That insight into ancient φύσις is a ground upon which an environmentalist philosophy of nature can be erected that goes well beyond Heidegger's project itself. For Heidegger's reading of the Greeks on nature is a two-sided vision: on the one hand, the exposition of an incipient logic of domination; on the other hand, the possibility of another relation to nature. It could be argued that no environmental phenomenology is free of Heidegger's influence, but certainly Robert Corrington's ecstatic naturalism has a basis in Heidegger's early works, Val Plumwood's feminist ecology draws on Heidegger's analysis of technology, and John Llewellyn's environmentalist insights have Heideggerian roots. Yet a full-fledged Heideggerian eco-logic has still to be written, and can only be sketched here in broad strokes. His interpretation of

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