Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Truth

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Truth

Article excerpt

HEIDEGGER, Martin. Being and Truth. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015. 236 pp. Paperback, $23.76.--The oracular air surrounding Martin Heidegger--not to mention the political controversy--lends interest to any new translation of his work. This is especially so for Gregory Fried and Richard Polt's excellent rendering of Sein und Wahrheit (Being and Truth), comprising two lecture courses from 193334, since it reflects an important moment in two narratives central to Heidegger scholarship. The book also fills one of the remaining holes in the English inventory of Heidegger's collected works (Gesamtausgabe).

First, the lectures reveal some of the connecting tissue linking Heidegger's 1927 Being and Time to his postwar embrace of fundamental ontology. In particular, they allow us to see two facets of Heidegger's emerging preoccupation with the Western forgetfulness of being. The Summer 1933 course traces the rise of a "mathematical" conception of Western metaphysics that was introduced in ancient Greece, consolidated under Christianity, and found its modern apotheosis in Hegel. According to Heidegger, mathematization severed metaphysics from worldly experience, creating a philosophical ideality that derived solely from intuition and deduction--a pure mathesis, or "theo-logic"-without reference to the messy human lifeworld. This ideal, according to philosophers, was more real than t he world we inhabit.

Heidegger's Winter 1933-34 lecture course uses Plato's allegory of the cave to recount a similar eclipse of ancient insight. According to Heidegger, the Hellenes had two conceptions of truth: truth as unconcealment and truth as correctness. While the latter came to dominate Western philosophy, the former had both historical and philosophical priority; "correctness" derived from a prior notion of "unconcealment." An encaved humanity could weigh truth claims only against shadows; in order to reveal truth in its full light, men had to move into the open. Truth, in other words, was a process of revelation (or unconcealment) that required the disruption of human ignorance and inertia.

There is some inconsistency in the sympathies of the two lecture courses: if humanity lives mostly in a cave, then surely a philosopher's escape to (and even return from) the light, which Heidegger admires, exhibits the same rejection of common experience as does "mathematized" metaphysics, whose aloofness Heidegger condemns. But this awkwardness is a general danger of any side-by-side pairing of separate courses.

The second important narrative which this book extends is obvious from the dates: these are the first courses Heidegger gave after his April 1933 selection as the National Socialist rector of Freiburg University, and they were delivered during a year when Heidegger made numerous public statements celebrating Hitler's regime. …

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