Heidegger and Classical Thought – Reading Group 2023/24

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The Heidegger and Classical Thought research project resumes its weekly reading group in October, studying Martin Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics.

Heidegger and Classical Thought
Reading Group 2023/24
Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics (1935/1953)

The Heidegger and Classical Thought research project will resume its weekly reading group in October 2023, studying Martin Heidegger’s lecture course, Einführung in die Metaphysik (Introduction to Metaphysics) for this academic year. This is one of the first places where Heidegger brings Heraclitus and Parmenides into a direct relation with each other, and where a provisional understanding of what will become the thinking of das Ereignis is made clear.

The text contains lectures delivered at the University of Freiburg in the Summer Semester of 1935. The material was revised by Heidegger and published simultaneously alongside the seventh edition of Sein und Zeit (Being and Time) in 1953, not without lingering controversy. In the ‘Preface’ to the seventh edition Heidegger suggests that for an elucidation of the “question of being” posed in Sein und Zeit “the reader may refer to my Einführung in die Metaphysik”. The Gesamtausgabe (Collected Works) edition of the German text (edited by Petra Jaeger) appeared in 1983 (GA40). The 1953 text was translated by Ralph Manheim in 1959 (the first full-scale translation of a work of Heidegger’s into English) and then by Gregory Fried and Richard Polt in 2000, who revised and expanded their translation in 2014 to follow the Gesamtausgabe edition. Although the actual textual content is largely identical with the 1953 edition, there is an additional apparatus in the Gesamtausgabe version. Ordinarily we will work from the Gesamtausgabe edition and the 2014 translation, although keeping the earlier versions in view.

In 2021/22, the Heidegger and Classical Thought reading group worked through Heidegger’s 1932 lecture course on Anaximander and Parmenides (GA35). Last year (2022/23), we read through his 1943/44 lectures on Heraclitus (GA55). Introduction to Metaphysics represents a pivotal moment in Heidegger’s thinking, in which his interpretations of the early Greek thinkers has yet again a revolutionary impact on his interrogation of the question of being. This lecture course is something of a melting-pot— further manifesting Heidegger’s prolonged engagement with the classical philologists of his day (he was particularly close to Karl Reinhardt at this time). We find a radical new reading of Heraclitus and the Greek notion of logos, and much evidence of the engagement with Friedrich Hölderlin, as well as preparation for what will become his confrontation with Friedrich Nietzsche, and, ultimately, the ground of the possibility of a redescription the ontological difference (between das Sein and das Seiende) in das Ereignis (where Dasein and das Seyn are brought into an entirely new identity).

Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics is a hugely important text for the understanding of both the development of Heidegger’s engagement with Plato and the early Greek thinkers, and the evolution of his thinking about the question of being itself.

This reading group will be of interest not only to readers of Heidegger, but also classicists interested in the fundamental relation of ancient and modern philosophy. Some working knowledge of Greek is advised, as is a willingness to work with German terms. Fluency in either Greek or German is not required.

The first session will take place on Wednesday 18th October 2023, 16:00 – 17:30 (UK time), and sessions will proceed weekly from then on (every Wednesday at the same time). To indicate your interest in participating in the reading group, please email [email protected] for more details.

The website for the Heidegger and Classical Thought research project can be found here.

The Heidegger and Classical Thought Research Project is supported by the Knapp Foundation.