Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics
2013-10-12 Mark Walker
22nd January – Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics- Overview:
Dr Mark Walker (Post-doc/CFAR Research Fellow) presenting on the question of metaphysics and beyond.
Reading: Heidegger, Martin. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude, Translated by William H. McNeil and Nicholas Walker (up to page 56).1
See also the introduction added to the fifth printing of the lecture, What is Metaphysics?
For those unable to attend also the interested and disinterested, a quick overview:
Aristotle died about 322, 321 BC leaving behind a vast body of unpublished material. Some time in the first century BC the Greek schools became concerned with gathering and ordering and thereby making available Aristotle's entire corpus. When it came to categorising the treatises they did so along lines which took as their point of departure what seemed natural, familiar and unquestioned: the three disciplines of logic, physics, and ethics. Embarrassingly what Aristotle designated as 'philosophy proper' didn't quite fit this framework so, based on some resemblances to physics [more natural sciences than modern physics] 'philosophizing proper' was accommodated alongside or beyond writings on nature but before those on ethics and politics: hence 'meta-physics', beyond physics. Over time metaphysics a technical term indicating position came to be seen in terms of content. It becomes the title for knowledge of that which lies beyond the sensuous, for the science and knowledge of the suprasensuous and unsensuous. Post-scholasticism and the Cartesian 'new science' the word and tradition of metaphysics as it has come down to us today conveys the impression of something mysterious, profound, not directly accessible, a realm beyond everyday things, pertaining to ultimate reality and divine being. Modern metaphysics in the guise of mathematical natural science follows on from this problematic. In light of this Heidegger argues that the concept of metaphysics is trivialized, intrinsically confused and unconcerned about the real problem it attempts to designate. What Heidegger seeks is a more originary understanding of 'philosophizing proper' and by this he means overcoming metaphysics, not abandoning it but recalling its ground and fundamental involvement in Being. The tradition of forgetting the roots or ground of philosophy is to be overcome by recalling Being. Ground and root before the turn. Metaphysics in the tradition inquires after the being of beings it does not recall Being itself or rather it confuses Being with beings. Philosophy does not concentrate on its ground in Being it abandons it, misappropriates it by means of metaphysics. What is required, then, is the recalling of Being. Being in its difference from beings. That is the challenge. But why travel this path? Heidegger thinks that if our thinking should succeed in its efforts to go back into the ground of metaphysics, it might help to bring about a change in human nature, accompanied by a transformation of metaphysics.2