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The Genesis of Ontology in Early Heidegger


Recently various studies about the way to Heidegger's Being and Time (1927), especially the interpretation from an aristotelian point of view, have appeared for the reason that 1) almost all his early Freiburg lecture courses and Marburg lecture courses are already published and that 2) American scholars like as Th. Kisiel focused their efforts on the early Heidegger's thought (pre-Being and Time period). It seems to me that studies about early Heidegger is flourishing mainly in America. Off course, various ways to approach the early Heidegger's thought are possible. In spite of various ways, an aristotelian point of view is a determining factor for correct understanding.
Here I will consider the result of some recent studies from an aristotelian point of view (representatives are J. Taminiaux, F. Volpi, Th. Kisiel)(1), and that I will make brief critical comment on them. Mainly, they focused on ontologizing of human life in terms of interpretation of Nicomachean Ethics Z. I bet they are right in a sense. But I think their interpretations are beside the critical point and they missed the core idea. That is the genesis of his ownontology based on a science of being as being. (ontology in general) And I will show my position that the early Heidegger's thought was formed in terms of introduction of Aristotle's Metaphysics.

1 Letter-Preface to Richardson's Book

It is evident that most of scholars fundamentally interpreted central scheme of early Heidegger from Letter-Preface to Richardson's Book, that is,
"A renewed study of Aristotelian treatise (especially Book IX of the Metaphysics and Book VI of Nicomachean Ethics) resulted in the insight into aletheuein as a process of revealment, and in the characterisation of truth as non-concealment, to which all self-manifestation of being pertains."(2)
They interpreted the early Heidegger's thought from this phrase and they laid stress on the framework Nicomachean Ethics. Off course, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics are related to conception of the early Heidegger's thought as well as Metaphysics IX. Namely , of major problem such as relationship between truth and Dasein, it shows us many important things. For instance, Heidegger asserted, "Dasein, as constituted by disclosedness, is essentially in the truth." (SZ, 226) We could not understand this prase without relationship beteween truth as non-concealment and Being that Heidegger spelled out in terms of interpretation of Nicomachean Ethics. The diversity of concepts of Being corresponds with modes of aletheuein. Nobody doubts the truth of Heidegger's acceptance of Aristotle.(3) But Nicomachean Ethics-centrism takes a leading part. This means that they are staying in the level of ontology of human. (ontology in specific) In fact, Th. Kisiel said about way to Being and Time, "deconstructing Aristotle's ousiological ontology by way of his antholopology(1921-24)".(4) Is Heidegger's own ontology retrieve of Nicomachean Ethics? To begin with, I will check several studies out.

2-1 Poiesis and Praxis(Taminiaux)

Some scholars indicated the core idea of the early Heidegger's thought as relationship between greek concept poiesis and praxis. Namely central question is "what about poiesis and praxis in Heidegger's fundamental ontology?"(5)
Jacques Taminiaux who is representative of such a scholar said as follows:
"Fundamental ontology is regulated by the basic distinction between Uneigentlichkeit and Eigentlichkeit, the former characterizing everyday preoccupation and concern (Besorgnis), the latter care (Sorge). Such a distinction contains a hierarchy in that both preoccupation and concern are forms of fallen care. This distinction reappropriates the Aristotelian distinction between poiesis and praxis."(6)
He thinks that problem of fundamental ontology is the ontological constitution of human life (Dasein). So two modes of Dasein was assigned to greek concepts. Does on earth the analysis of Dasein (Uneigentlichkeit and Eigentlichkeit) compose fundamental ontology in Being and Time? Anyway he found in 1926SS lecture course the reason why he interpreted so.
"The phenomenon of the world gets approached [namely in Greek philosophy] ontically and gets diverted into an extant(vorhandene) realm of ideas accessible to a mere looking. Among other reasons, this is because transcendence, from early on, was taken primarily in the sense of theorein, which means that transcendence was not sought in its primordial rootedness in the real being of Dasein. Nevertheless, Dasein was known to antiquity also as authentic (eigentliche) action, as praxis." (GA26, 236)
Taminiaux's interest is very mode of being of Dasein, especially Eigentlichkeit. For Taminiaux the Marburg lecture courses mentioned that the new ontology of Dasein is attempted in a transformation of the ontology of Dasein which Heidegger had detected in the Nicomachean Ethics. Taminiaux's interpretation is that Heidegger sought to reappropriate poiesis and praxis.
"The use of eigentlich to characterize Greek praxis is in itself extremely significant. It amounts to acknowledging that Heidegger's own concept of Eigentlichkeit owes something important to a meditation on the Greek concept of praxis. In other words, in spite of the priviledge bestowed upon poiesis and Vorhandenheit by their ontology, the Greeks were aware of the proper mode of being of Dasein, i.e., transcendens."(7)
Certainly, fundamental ontology is the title for Heidegger's own project of a science of Being. As is well known, "therefore fundamental ontology, from which alone all other ontologies can take their rise, must be sought in the existential analytic Dasein." (SZ,13) But Heidegger didn't use Aristotle's basic concept only for the sake of structural analysis of Dasein. Though I acknowledge the role of poiesis and praxis in the early Heidegger's thought, it is not enough to refer to poiesis and praxis for interpretation of fundamental ontology. There is nothing about the question of being as being in his interpretation.

2-2 The Nicomachean Ethics as an Ontology of Human Life Focusing and Ontologizing of Praxis(Volpi)

F. Volpi focused on Heidegger's access to basic concepts of Aristotle's practical philosophy also. His main idea is "Dasein as praxis" after all. He pursues retrieve of aristotelian practical philosophy into Being and Time by Heidegger's ontologizing of praxis into the basic way of being of human. I will quote his opinion little long.
"Heidegger believes he can with some justification draw from Aristotle, especially from the 6th Book of the Nicomachean Ethics, a complete phenomenology of the uncovering comportments, of being-in-the-truth, belonging to human life. These comportments can be detaild as follows. The human psyche, Dasein, can in the first place be uncovering through its specific capacity of combining that belongs to logos; this occurs in the five ways of being-in-truth, of the aletheuein of psyche that are named in Nicomachean Ethics Z: techne, technique; episteme, science; phronesis, prudens; sophia, wisdom; nous, reason."(8)
Really, early Heidegger reffered to five ways of aletheuein of psyche. (cf. IA255, GA19) Volpi attached much importance to them and he divided into three.
"The first and in itself fairly conspicuous correspondence is that between the three ways of being of beings differentiated in Being and Time(namely, readiness-to-hand, presence-at-hand, and Dasein) and the Aristotelian determinations of poiesis, theoria, and praxis.1)Theoria, theory, is the comportment of an observing and describing knowing, which sets itself the goal of apprehending the truth of being, and whose specific knowing sophia, wisdom. When Dasein holds itself in this disposition, it encounters beings in the manner of being that is presence-at-hand (a term with which Heidegger recovers in an ontologized translation the Aristotelian determination of ta procheia, what is close at hand; see Metaphysics Alpha 2, 982b12-13:"for it was astonishment that now and at first led human beings to philosophized; at the start they were astonished at strange things close at hand." 2)poiesis, production, is the comportment of productive, manupilative activity, whose goal is the production of things made, artifacts. The corresponding disposition is techne, technique, whereby we encounter being in the manner of being that is readiness-to-hand. 3)Finally, praxis is action that occurs for its own sake and whose goal is a unique type of success, namely, euprattein, acting well. Phronesis, prudentia, prudence, is the knowing that belongs to and orients it. With Heidegger, the uncovering comportment of praxis is enlisted, according to my thesis, to serve as the distinguishing mark of the manner of being belonging to Dasein."(9)
He interpreted also Arisototle's basic determination according to Nicomachean Ethics in order to get existentials. He compared three fundamental Being's modes of being (Dasein, Zuhandenheit, Vorhandenheit) with aristotelian determination (praxis, poiesis, theoria). I will illustrate as follows:

aretheuein----determination-----modes of being

episteme - theoria - presence-at-hand (Vorhandenheit)
techne - poiesis - readiness-to-hand (Zuhandenheit)
phronesis - praxis - Dasein

Five ways of aletheuein of psyche correspond to fundamental modes of human being. And the diversity of concept of Being correspond to aristotelian classification. That truth is closely connected with Being is worthy of our notice. Because from this interpretation I understand first the meaning of passage as follows: "If, however, 'there is', Being only in so far as truth 'is', and if the understanding of Being varies according to the kind of truth, then truth which is primordial and authentic must guarantee the understanding of the Being of Dasein and of Being in general."(SZ, 316)
Furthermore, Gewissen, Entschlossenheit, Sorge are assimilated to phronesis, prohairesis, orexis.(10)
He got the existential analysis of Being and Time as translation of Nicomachean Ethics. This is engaging interpretation such as existentialized aletheuein. Nevertheless, he dosn't reach central problem of early Heidegger, so far as he speaks the structure of Being and Time from Nicomachean Ethics alone.

2-3 What did Heidegger find in Aristotle?(Kisiel)

Th. Kisiel inquired the philosophical development of the early Heidegger's thought in his respectable book the genesis of Heidegger's Being and Time. He took Heidegger's acceptance of Aristoteles seriously as major steps toward Being and Time. For all that, he received certainly Nicomachean Ethics framework.
He said, "The project of BT[Being and Time] thus takes shape in 1921-24 against backdrop of unrelenting exegesis of Aristotle's text, especially Nicomachean Ethics Z, from which the manifestly pretheoretical models for the two Division of BT, the techne of poiesis for the First and the phronesis of praxis for the Second, are derived."(11) He therefore found that Being and Time's extent Divisions draw their manifestly pretheoretical paradigms of human disclosure from Nicomachean Ethics Z, the art of making things and using tools in the First and prudential insight into selfreferential human action in Second. This is nothing but poiesis-praxis scheme.
Indeed Kisiel emphasize that in1921 ontologisation of facticity in terms of categories of life. That is right. But he is blindly adhere to a matter of little importance such as term "existenziell" and "existenzial".
Further he said on Phenomenological Interpretation with Respect to Aristotle: Indication of the Hermeneutical Situation(1922) that it is double task familiar to us in BT of 1) fundamental ontology and 2) a destruction of the history of ontology. It is evident that he thinks that philosophy concerning being of factic life is fundamental ontology. (12) Because content of the first half of this manuscript is analysis of factic life. However important philosophy of factic life is, I could not put both of them in a class.
And Kisiel wrote a radical change in the early Heidegger thought as follows:
"The course of WS 1921-22, as the first transition from life philosophy to phenomenological ontology."(13) That is absolutely right. But he didn't explain solid what the transition is. He equates also fundamental ontology with analysis of Dasein (factic life), so that there is no distinction for him. What Heidegger find in Aristotle is for Kisiel ontologisation of factic life, that is he still stay in the framework Nicomachean Ethics. Nicomachean Ethics-centrism could not explain the transition from factic life to Dasein or the relationship between factic life and ontology in general. Why not? Then I will show my position.

3 My position

Almost all respected scholars of Heidegger acknowledge that he inquired Being problem in his whole life, but it seems to me that nobody calls the establishment of ontology as philosophy in Heidegger's earliest thought in question because of misunderstanding of fundamental ontology. I can appreciate their position, but I cannot accept the interpretation of fundamental ontology as ontologizing of praxis. Analysis of factic life (or Dasein) is out of the question or a small matter at present. Because since 1919 lecture course until Being and Time, factic life is a main theme in early Heidegger. Off course, I could not disregard factic life. Indeed, Heidegger said that start and ends of philosophy is factic life experience.(1920/21)(14) But if ontology of human life equates with fundamental ontology, then I would miss the period when Heidegger's thought ontologized. So I would like to inquire the meaning of the genesis of his own ontology. Fortunately, 1921/22 lecture course shows us concept of philosophy as ontology. This is the declaration of his own ontology.
First of all, I will show that Aristotle's Metaphysics attracts Heidegger's attention in 1921. According to O. Becker's report Heidegger said in 1920, "Aristotelian Metaphysics is probably far ahead of that of today."(1920/21 lecture course)(15) And Heidegger wrote to Jaspers, "this winter I will hold lectures on Aristotle's Metaphysics. '(1921.6.28)(16) Further Kisiel reports that in De anima seminar (1921) most of semester deals with ousia in Book 7 of Metaphysics.(17) Judging by externals, Aristotle's Metaphysics came up to Heidegger thought. But how did Metaphysics-framework come into play in early Heidegger?
The most important thing in early Heidegger is that a formula of philosophy (1921/22)is related to aristotelian formula of ontology. It plays central role of the early Heidegger's thought. In 1921 the early Heidegger's thought has changed by introduction of Aristotelian Metaphysics, namely ontology as philosophy was formed. The year 1921 is extremly valuable year for him. Not only introduction of Aristotle but also his establishment of ontology. So I would like to interpret the early Heidegger 's thought, as ontology based on a science of being as being (Metaphysics), not as ontology of human life (Nicomachean Ethics). This is distinction ontology in general and ontology in specific.
That is, "Philosophy is an behavior recognizing in the level of principle, toward being as Being (meaning of Being). "(GA61,60) In "An behavior recognizing in the level of principle, toward being as Being" , "toward being as Being" means determination being as Being, that is in respect of Being. This idea coincide with Aristotle's on he on (being as being). Heidegger said of on he on afterwards, "to on he on must be investigate ,,, only in respect of Being being must be investigate."(GA26, 12) And "in the level of principle" means that all being is oriented to meaning of Being . Because Being (meaning of Being) is philosophically in the level of principle for all beings. (cf. GA61,58) The object of philosophy is Being of all beings. And "An behavior recognizing" means "grasp object object", that is functon of logos. (cf. GA61,54)
I call well-known fomula to mind that is "being is used in various senses, but with reference to one principle''(to on legetai men pollachos, alla pros mian archen)(Met.1003b5) This is general consideration of being as being. This is the very question that determined the way of the Heidegger's thought. "What is the pervasive, simple, unified determination of Being permeates all of its multiple meaning?" (18) Heidegger's formula is precisely retrieve of aristotelian fomula. The definition "Philosophy is an behavior recognizing in the level of principle, toward being as Being (meaning of Being)" is parallel with definition "interpretation of being toward Being.'(GA20, 423)
And in the same way this point corresponds with Interpretation-scheme of Aristotle in 1921/22 lecture course. i.e.(GA61, 112)

1. The problem of "principle", the fundamental (arche-aition)
2. The problem of defining by apprehending, of conceptual articulation (logos)
3. The problem of any being, its sense of being (on-ousia-kinesis-phusis)

This scheme stands for Aristotle's formula obviously. This is the problem of an original retrieve of Greek conceptuality rooted Aristotle's Metaphysics. In fact, this scheme expresses that a being (3) becomes manifest in many ways (2) with regard its principle (1). 1 and 3 indicate ontological difference besides logos problem 2. This is a subject of onto-logy. And this is not a problem of ontology in specific, but ontology in general. Ontology of human life is a regional ontology. In such a case, ontology as philosophy was ommited. I cannot rule out it in considering this matter.
Now I have to explain the relationship between ontology of factic life and ontology of being as being. Why analysis of factic life could be ontology in general? 1921/22 lecture course seems to be analysis of categories of factic life apparently. Is it ontology in specific after all? Not at all. The reason why ontology in general becomes analysis of factic life is that factic life is concerned in the world. "World is to which life is concerned."(GA61, 86) Life can speak about its world and life itself, that is, life "is being that has his world in the way of spokenness"(GA63, 21) This is characteristic of zoon logon echon. In Phenomenological Interpretation with Respect to Aristotle(1922) , Heidegger said, "being is spoken toward its eidos."(IA, 253) Or, on he on "appears in logos and is encountered in the way of as something (als was)."(GA22, 155) Animal which has logos, such a way of being indicates "an behavior" (Verhalten) which speaks about Being of being. This is just the same as structure of Being and Time. The understanding of Being belongs to Dasein (factic life), i. e. "discovers all beings,,, in their Being. (SZ, 14) That fundamental ontology becomes analytic of Dasein is structually on a level of that philosophy as ontology contains analysis of factic life.
Philosophy as ontology has brought about "new explication of life" (19)in terms of introduction of Aristotle's Metaphysics and so that Heidegger obtains the idea of fundamental ontology. Relationship between analysis of factic life and philosophy of ontology is equivalent to relationship between analysis of Dasein and fundamental ontology in Being and Time. From early on ontology in general took a leading point in the Heidegger's thought. Certainly, analysis of factic life had changed as a whole because of introduction of Aristotle. But ontology of Dasein itself is by no means fundamental ontology itself .
Anyway we have to escape from illusion which we regard ontologisation of human life (Desein) as fundamental ontology.

(1)main treatises are
J. Taminiaux, Poiesis and Praxis in Fundamental Ontology : in, Journal of the British Society of Phenomenology 17(1987)
J. Taminiaux, Heidegger and the project of fundamental ontology (1991)
F. Volpi, Being and Time: A "Translation" of Nicomachean Ethics?: in, Reading Heidegger from the start (1994)
F. Volpi, Heidegger in Marburg: Die Auseinandersetzung mit Aristoteles: in, Philosophischer Literaturanzeiger Bd.37 (1984)
(GA means volume of Heidegger's complete works)
Th. Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger's Being and Time(1993)
(2)W. J. Richardson, Heidegger through phenomenology to thought (1962)X-XII
(3)M. Heidegger, My way to phenomenology ; in Zur Sache de Denkens p.87sqq.
(4)Th. Kisiel(1993) p.9
(5)J. Taminiaux(1987) p. 139
(6)J. Taminiaux(1991) p. 124
(7)J. Taminiaux(1991) p. 126
(8)F. Volpi (1994) p. 199
(9)F. Volpi (1994) p. 201
(10)Cf. F. Volpi, Heidegger in Marburg: Die Auseinandersetzung mit Aristoteles: in, Philosophischer Literaturanzeiger Bd.37 (1984) p.177
F. Volpi, Dasein comme praxis: L'assimilation et la radicalisation heideggerienne de la philosophie pratique d'Aristote: in, Heidegger et l'idee de la phenomenoligie(1988) p. 17 sqq.
(11)Th. Kisiel(1993) p.9
(12)Cf. T. Kisiel(1993) p. 249 & 259
(13)Th. Kisiel, The missing link in the early Heidegger: in, Hermeneutic phenomenology(1988) p. 21
(14)E. Tugendhat, Wahrheitsbegriff bei Husserl und Heidegger (1970) p. 265
(15)M. Kusch, Langage as calculus vs langage as universal medium (1989) p. 167
(16)Martin Heidegger/Karl Jaspers Briefwechsel (1990) p. 21
(17)Th. Kisiel(1993) p.230
(18)W. J. Richardson, Heidegger through phenomenology to thought (1962)X
(19)Cf. Th. Kisiel(1993) p. 232

(asistant at Kyushu University)

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