Monday, May 07, 2012
Marjolein Oele on Heidegger’s reading of Aristotle’s concept of pathos.
In Heidegger’s view, by obtaining greater clarity about the fundamental role that the pathē play with regard to our being positioned and directed towards the world, we also acquire more clarity about the “soil” or ground (Boden) for logos. More specifically, Heidegger argues that the pathē are the fundamental possibilities according to which Dasein primarily orients itself about itself, since the pathē “are the ground (Boden) out of which speaking grows (erwächst) and into which what has been spoken or expressed (das Ausgesprochene) grows back (wieder wächst)”. As an example of the fundamental role that the pathē play in the formation of speaking (logos), Heidegger cites Rhet. II.5, 1383a6 where Aristotle argues that people who become anxious approach others to deliberate and to obtain advice. He concludes that fear is the kind of disposition (Befindlichkeit) that brings one to speak; especially when we are not simply fearful, but when we experience dread (Angst) and a sense of uncanniness (Unheimlichkeit) we begin to speak, according to Heidegger.

The important insight that can be drawn from Heidegger’s reading is that pathos is not a particular isolated phenomenon occurring in one’s mind, but one that grounds us in a far deeper and more fundamental way, as the foundation of our own speaking – both the beginning of speaking, and the speaking with each other. This also implies that speaking or logos does not occur in isolation, but is grounded in a far-wider orientation originating with our affectedness. In addition, logos gains broader appeal than that of just “thinking,” as Heidegger associates it with a general “attitude” or stance towards the world.
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