Wednesday, April 03, 2019
A history of forking ontologies.
Nietzsche was the first to declare that the true grandeur of ancient philosophy predated Socrates, and Heidegger offers his own ambitious version of that revisionist thesis of Nietzsche’s. The fact that Aristotle’s philosophy can be divided into “logic” and “ethics” and “physics” already shows that authentically ontological thinking has been reduced to a lower level, a merely “ontic” level (investigation of X or Y or Z, whatever X, Y, or Z happen to be). That “lowering” or corruption from the ontological level to the ontic level is ultimately the doing of Plato, the thinker who committed the “original sin” of Western thought. Put otherwise, thinking in its heroic phase becomes merely prosaic and commonplace. Heidegger is following Nietzsche’s lead in adopting this kind of rhetoric. Thinkers come in two basic varieties: the heroic thinkers who “think Being”; and the banal thinkers who merely think beings (X or Y or Z). Our whole civilization is banal because it has taken its bearings from thinkers of the second variety rather than those of the first. But thanks to Heidegger, it is not too late to reverse course. We can resume where Heraclitus and Parmenides left off and bypass the long detour from Plato to the nineteenth century. Nietzsche, unknowingly (on Heidegger’s account), was part of or an expression of the long, failed metaphysical detour taken by Western thinking, but Heidegger can restore it to the true path.
Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right, Ronald Beiner.
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