The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides

The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides

The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides

The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides

Synopsis

Volume 35 of Heidegger’s Complete Works comprises a lecture course given at the University of Freiburg in 1932, five years after the publication of Being and Time. During this period, Heidegger was at the height of his creative powers, which are on full display in this clear and imaginative text. In it, Heidegger leads his students in a close reading of two of the earliest philosophical source documents, fragments by Greek thinkers Anaximander and Parmenides. Heidegger develops their common theme of Being and non-being and shows that the question of Being is indeed the origin of Western philosophy. His engagement with these Greek texts is as much of a return to beginnings as it is a potential reawakening of philosophical wonder and inquiry in the present.

Excerpt

This is a translation of a lecture course Martin Heidegger offered in the summer semester of 1932 at the University of Freiburg. the German original appeared posthumously in 2012 as volume 35 of the philosopher’s Gesamtausgabe (“Complete Works”).

The editor, in his afterword, identifies the sources he drew on to compose the text. These sources are varied, and the book at times does consequently display unevenness. Not everything is expressed in full sentences, and some few passages are quite cryptic. I did not attempt to alter the diction, for example by supplying tacitly understood verbs. the translation is meant to read to an English ear the way the original does to a German one.

This is the first of the Gesamtausgabe volumes to provide the pagination of Heidegger’s manuscript. These numbers are placed in the outer margin, with a vertical line to mark the page break. All crossreferences in the book are to the manuscript page numbers. the running heads correspond to the Gesamtausgabe pagination.

I used square brackets ([]) throughout the book for my insertions into the text, and the few footnotes I introduced are marked “Trans.” Braces ({ }) are reserved for the editor’s interpolations. German-English and English-German glossaries can be found in the back matter and invite the reader to pursue linguistic connections I was unable to capture. Heidegger himself translates here all the extant fragments of Anaximander and Parmenides, obviating the need for a Greek-English lexicon. Even someone without facility in ancient Greek should have little trouble following the thread of Heidegger’s inimitable interpretation of these two so-called pre-Socratics.

Richard Rojcewicz . . .

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