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Heraclitus Seminar (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) Paperback – 31 Dec 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; Reprint edition (31 Dec. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810110679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810110670
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,268,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Martin Heidegger was born in Messkirch, Baden, Germany on September 22, 1889. He studied Roman Catholic theology and philosophy at the University of Frieburg before joining the faculty at Frieburg as a teacher in 1915. Eight years later Heidegger took a teaching position at Marburg. He taught there until 1928 and then went back to Frieburg as a professor of philosophy. As a philosopher, Heidegger developed existential phenomenology. He is still widely regarded as one of the most original philosophers of the 20th century. Influenced by other philosophers of his time, Heidegger wrote the book, Being in Time, in 1927. In this work, which is considered one of the most important philosophical works of our time, Heidegger asks and answers the question "What is it, to be?" Other books written by Heidegger include Basic Writings, a collection of Heidegger's most popular writings; Nietzsche, an inquiry into the central issues of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy; On the Way to Language, Heidegger's central ideas on the origin, nature and significance of language; and What is Called Thinking, a systematic presentation of Heidegger's later philosophy. Since the 1960s, Heidegger's influence has spread beyond continental Europe and into a number of English-speaking countries. Heidegger died in Messkirch on May 26, 1976.

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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sanyata on 3 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
What we have here are two intelligent people talking loosely about Heraclitus. While Heidegger is closer to the original meaning of Heraclitus than he is to the original meaning of Parmenides, Heidegger (and Fink) are still so far off the mark that it simply isn't worth reading this book. I read it, and I tried hard to find a point or two I could qoute in my upcomming book, but this "seminar" simply didn't deliver.
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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A Great Intro. to Difficult Thinking 9 Jan. 2002
By T. Beers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Martin Heidegger's special intellectual relationship with the Presocratics is often discussed as if the German philosopher was some sort of romantic originalist or nostalgist. But Heidegger always insisted that the point about going back to Heraclitus, Parmenides and rest was not to recover the specific contents of their thought (or, worse, to wallow in their supposed primitive "purity"), but to recapture the spirit of their efforts to "think the question of Being." You won't find a better presentation of this - or a more candid glimpse of Heidegger as a working philosopher - than in this text. It presents the record of a seminar on Heraclitus conducted by Heidegger and the German scholar Eugen Fink in the late 1960s. Heidegger's discussion of specific Heraclitian texts makes for difficult reading but is, generally speaking, quite lucid. And the dialog with Fink and student participants is eye-opening. (Heidegger's pronouncements are by no means always taken as Gospel!) Most important, in spite of their rather recondite subject matter, these seminar records wonderfully illuminate Heidegger's own philosophical development in the last two decades of his life. Although this book does require familiarity with Heidegger's work and somewhat unique philosophical terminology, as well as familiarity with the history of philosophy generally, I wouldn't call it a text "for specialists only." Unless, of course, all readers of philosophy are specialists! And it does provide a welcome corrective to current "New Age" tendencies to view Heraclitus and the other Presocratics as authors of quasi-religious wisdom manuals. No dumbing-down here; just a tough confrontation with difficult material!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Several Interpretations 8 Mar. 2013
By Barry N. Bishop - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This actually is an interesting if somewhat inconclusive volume. It is something like a transcript of a seminar on the pre-Socratic thinker, the seminar being conducted in the 1966-67 academic year by Eugen Fink and Martin Heidegger. The seminar actually seems to be led by Professor Fink, and there are occasional comments and questions from other participants besides those from Heidegger.

The theme of the seminar is an attempted interpretation of some of the Heraclitus fragments available--about forty fragments are quoted in Greek, translated, and compared in unpacking certain themes. Fink's hermeneutic starting point is in the concepts of the "one" (hen) and the "many" (panta). Heidegger's focus, characteristically, is more on "truth" (aletheia) or, as he would interpret the Greek word, the "clearing" and on logos, which crudely and misleadingly could be translated as the "word". The two professors seem to know one another well and respectfully, and in fact Fink was a follower of Heidegger. But their points of view seem to differ considerably, and there is a certain inconclusiveness in the exchanges as a result. Also it apparently is the case that the seminar was expected to continue, which did not occur after the semester in which it first was offered.

Since I was interested primarily in what Heidegger was thinking about Heraclitus, I found Fink's leading and dominating the discussion somewhat disappointing. At the same time, there are some good exchanges and some powerful hints at Heidegger's perspective. The one below is a highly characteristic Heideggerian comment just at the end of the book.

"The dark is, to be sure, without light, but cleared. Our concern is to experience unconcealment as clearing. That is what is unthought in what is thought in the whole history of thought. In Hegel, the need consisted in the satisfaction of thought. For us, on the contrary, the plight of what is unthought in what is thought reigns." (p. 162)

Not to be facetious, his concern with "the dark" that opens up or clears, making room for the light, actually sheds considerable light on Heidegger's vision of the truth ("unconcealment") as it relates to himself and Heraclitus. One must work through numerous pieces of Heidegger's opus to glean insights into his core thinking, and this volume provides some useful and perhaps more spontaneous hints that add to more focused work elsewhere.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I disagree 6 Dec. 2009
By WB, Zeno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
with T. Beers' otherwise excellent review: this book IS for specialists, and for specialists particularly interested in Heidegger, at that.

For others it's mildly interesting, as might be a reality show (without the vulgarity and banality, of course). But you have to know at least how to read Greek, as citations are not invariably translated (although the majority is), and only the first time they appear. Since the book has several misspellings in Greek (i.e., "Hesisdos" for "Hesiodos" in p. 43; unfortunately, as I didn't plan to write a review, I didn't take note of the pages where the others are located when I was reading the book, so I can't correct them here), this is a forbidding difficulty for nonspecialists.

The reality show (unfortunately deprived of its philological content, as we are informed in page 105, Note 1 to the text) consists of Fink, Heidegger and the seminar's participants reasoning aloud, as unselfconsciously as two teachers can before their pupils and viceversa (to top it, Fink had also been Heidegger's pupil a generation before), about the interpretation of "hen" (the one) and "ta panta" (all there is, the totality, the Universe, etc.), basing themselves on every surviving Heraclitean fragment where those words/concepts are explicitly or implicitly mentioned. The interpretations are, for me, sometimes too farfetched. They are tainted with Heidegger's very original and sometimes (to me) constrained views on the Greeks generally, and the Presocratics particularly (although during at least his early years H. admired Aristotle the most, see for example Brogan's "H. & Aristotle"), and also with his unsupported metaphysical belief that they had found another, more meaningful, way of looking at/understanding/intuiting reality. Always for me, the most interesting new thing I found is that H.'s "Unverborgenheit" is in the text rendered as "nonconcealment" instead of "unconcealment" as is customary. I don't think the Master would have approved.

A book for Heideggerians. One amongst very many indeed, as the totality of his written and spoken output is being slowly but surely published.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
After all these years, still a great guide to early Greek 16 Oct. 2007
By Bruce P. Barten - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I would like to suggest that the widest stance that I have encountered reading philosophy shows up in Greek on page 18 of HERACLITUS SEMINAR: Martin Heidegger and Eugen Fink, translated by Charles H. Seibert (Northwestern University Press, 1993). The English translation was copyright 1979 by The University of Alabama Press. First published in German as HERACLIT. I have the second paperbound printing, 1994. The hermeneutical circle is correlated to fragment 7, translated in Note 4 on page 163, but the discussion of the Greek terms involving a moving relatedness of things that actually exist which elucidates an indeterminate number of things of a quintessential kind. "In smoke, to be sure, things become elusive, but it does not eliminate those distinctions which become evident . . ." (Fink, p. 18). Heidegger becomes interested in the gnosis of "grasping humans" on page 19.

This book does not have an index. The page guide on page 171 shows that every ten pages in English is 16, 15, 14, or 17 pages in the German. Heraclitus wrote a book which was familiar to many thinkers in the ancient world, but all we can do now is "cast light on an inner coherence of the fragments' meaning, but without pretending to reconstruct the original form of Heraclitus' lost writing, [On Nature]. We shall attempt to trace a thread throughout the multiplicity of his sayings in the hope that a certain track can thereby show itself. Whether our arrangement of the fragments is better than that adopted by Diels is a question that should remain unsettled." (Fink, p. 4).

I believe the Fr. 1 mentioned by Heidegger on page 7 is the beginning of Heraclitus' book. In the discussion, we have the exchange of ideas:

Heidegger: Since when do we have concepts at all?
Participant: Only since Plato and Aristotle. We even have the first philosophical dictionary with Aristotle.
Heidegger: While Plato manages to deal with concepts only with difficulty, we see that Aristotle deals with them more easily. (p. 7).

One of the problems with concepts is how they are applied:

Heidegger: Thus, you mean the transformation of things with respect to one ground.
Fink: The ground meant here is not some substance or the absolute, but light and time. (p. 10).

Fink: . . . The transformations of fire then imply that everything goes over into everything; so that nothing retains the definiteness of its character but, following an indiscernable wisdom, moves itself throughout by opposites.
Heidegger: But why does Heraclitus then speak of steering?
Fink: The transformations of fire are in some measure a circular movement that gets steered by lightning, . . . The movement, in which everything moves throughout everything through opposites, gets guided.
Heidegger: But may we speak of opposites or of dialectic here at all? Heraclitus knows neither something of opposites nor of dialectic.
Fink: True, opposites are not thematic with Heraclitus. . . . (p. 11).

The set-up is basically a dialog, and considers topics like:

Fink: The problem of constitution in Husserl's phenomenology . . . (p. 84).

Heidegger: From this it follows once again that we may not interpret Heraclitus from a later time. (p. 85).
Fink: All the concepts that arise in the dispute over idealism and realism are insufficient to characterize the shining-forth, the coming-forth-to-appearance, of what is. It seems to me more propitious to speak of shining-forth than of shining-up. . . . (p. 85).

The poem "Hyperion" mentions Heraclitus and Heidegger discusses being as beauty in Hegel along with "The one that in itself distinguishes itself." (p. 113).

Participant: "There is no sentence of Heraclitus' that I have not taken up in my LOGIC."
Heidegger: What does this sentence mean? (p. 113).

Fr. 88 of Heraclitus, as Diels translates, "And it is always one and the same, what dwells (?) within us: living and dead and waking and sleeping and young and old. For this is changed over to that and that changed back over to this." (p. 118).

Heidegger then has to correct himself on Hegel by reading some lecture:

"The true deficiency of the Greek religion as opposed to the Christian is that in it appearance constitutes the highest form, in general, the whole of the divine, while in the Christian religion appearing obtains only as a moment of the divine." (p. 122).

But he can also complain about being translated into French:

Heidegger: In French, Dasein is translated by [being there], for example by Sartre. But with this, everything that was gained as a new position in BEING AND TIME is lost. Are humans there like a chair is there? (p. 126).

Heidegger is quite interested in how well he is understood in German, but he finally comes back to the plight of what is unthought in the end.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
how can they do this to heraclitus? 14 May 2013
By sanyata - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
though I cam not a marxist, marx once said: "Do not make Heraclitus pay for being the most succinct of philosophers by [burdening him] with prolix commentaries."

these people did not take his advice
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