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Chapter Title: Editor’s Afterword Chapter Author(s): Peter Trawny

Book Title: The Beginning of Western Philosophy Book Subtitle: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides Book Author(s): Martin Heidegger Published by: Indiana University Press . (2015) Stable URL:

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Editor’s Afterword

This is the edited text of a lecture course Martin Heidegger offered in the summer semester of 1932 at the University of Freiburg. The course was announced as “The beginning of Western philosophy, Tue-Fri, 5–6 p.m.” [Der Anfang der abendländischen Philosophie, Di Fr 17–18]. The first session took place on April 26, the last on July 26. The manuscript—as is usual for the lecture courses—consists of folio-size [ca. 8½-by-13-inch] sheets in landscape orientation. The left half of the page contains the running text, and the right is reserved for interpolations, emendations, amplifications, and supplementary remarks. The pagination, with some subordinate numbers, extends to 56; the total number of pages is 64. 1 The literary remains also in- clude a sizeable quantity of unnumbered slips “On Anaximandros” and “On Parmenides,” intended to prepare for or to accompany this lecture course. In addition, there exists a complete transcript produced by Fritz Heidegger, whose brother then inserted occasional remarks in the margins of the Parmenides portion. There are two copies of this transcript, and earlier and latter comments can be distinguished ac- cordingly. Marginalia that seemed important to me I placed in foot- notes, marked as “Trscpt 1 ” or “Trscpt 2 .” Finally, two sets of attendees’ notes survive. One set, in the form of a typescript, stems from Eugen Fink (41 pages). It covers only the Anaximander portion. The other, in handwriting, covers the entire course and is owing to Helene Weiß (165 pages). Her notebook also contains the “mimeo” of the fragments of Parmenides mentioned by Heidegger at the start of the respective portion of the lectures. In addition to preparing the text, the editorial task consisted pri- marily in establishing the tripartite structure (with many subdivi- sions) of the lecture course and thereby articulating a table of con- tents. Footnotes enclosed entirely within braces are mine. The other footnotes reproduce annotations (always on the right side of the manu- script page) that could not easily be incorporated into the flow of thoughts of the text. The current edition is the first to provide Hei- degger’s own pagination of his manuscript. The appendix consists of a selection from the slips; the selected passages display a common ori- entation to the respective issue. Mere lists of keywords and very un-

1. [Total: 56, plus 7 pages with subordinate numbers (12a, etc.), plus a last unnumbered page containing the conclusion, §24.—Trans.]

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Editor’s Afterword

clear remarks were omitted. In general, the guiding aim was to fur- nish a text that reads smoothly. With that in mind, I silently expanded Heidegger’s punctuation in various passages. I must here mention a peculiarity of the materials obviously used to prepare the lectures. In various notes, the acronym “Αλδο” or “Aldo” occurs. A marginal remark in one of the copies of Fritz Heidegger’s transcript allowed this to be deciphered as “Ἀλήθεια:δόξα.” By draw- ing the two parts so closely together, Heidegger is manifestly stress- ing their unity—presumably also the unity of the usually separated sections of Parmenides’s didactic poem. The capitalization of Ἀλήθεια suggests some priority.

* The lecture course on the “beginning of Western philosophy” is a piv- otal one. It stands out from the previous courses (on Plato and Aristotle) and prepares for the succeeding ones. It illuminates above all a lecture course such as the “Introduction to Metaphysics” from the summer semester of 1935. Heidegger himself indicated that “since the spring of 1932,” “the basic features” were settled of the plan which acquired “its first configuration in the projection ‘Of the event.’” 2 This “projection” is essentially related to the distinction between a “first beginning” and an “other beginning.” And that distinction quite unmistakably forms the ground of the interpretations of Anaximander and Parmenides. Each of the three parts of the lecture course has a distinctive char- acter. Whereas Heidegger already occupied himself with Parmenides in the lecture course from the summer semester of 1922, 3 he here in- terprets the dictum of Anaximander for the first time. Heidegger sub- sequently indicated that with respect to the interpretation of certain words of the dictum “a misunderstanding made itself felt.” 4 Other- wise, the later treatise as well as the still later essay on the “Dictum of Anaximander” 5 bear no relation to this lecture course. The “in- terposed considerations,” as Heidegger called them, stand out in re- lief from the interpretations of the Greek fragments in a special way. These considerations construct a framework of philosophical mean- ing, and in that framework the interpretations first receive their sense. The interpretation of Parmenides, introduced by a verse from Hölder- lin, moves very closely within the available text as handed down, and thus it pursues a claim to completeness. The interpretation includes



2. Martin Heidegger, Besinnung, GA66, 424.

3. Martin Heidegger, Phänomenologische Interpretationen ausgewählter Abhand-

lungen des Aristoteles zur Ontologie und Logik, GA62, 209–31.

4. Martin Heidegger, Der Spruch des Anaximander, GA78, 158.

5. Martin Heidegger, “Der Spruch des Anaximander.” In Holzwege, GA5, 321–73.

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Editor’s Afterword


fragments, in particular those about δόξα, which Heidegger omitted in later treatments. 6 A marginal remark at the beginning of the inter- pretation of Parmenides is self-critical: “The interpretation is insuffi- cient, even if much is grasped essentially.” Heidegger himself alluded to the direct effect of his thinking on an interpretation of Parmenides. The notes to his “Lecture courses and seminars since the appearance of Being and Time7 refer to the 1934 study on Parmenides by Kurt Riezler. At the very outset, Riezler ac- knowledges he is “gratefully beholden to Martin Heidegger’s break- through into the question of Being.” 8 It is improbable that Riezler knew the full particulars of Heidegger’s interpretations of Anaximander and Parmenides.

* Prof. Heinrich Hüni was initially assigned to edit this lecture course. His preparatory work included a handwritten transcription of the manuscript up to page 24 (in the pagination of the manuscript itself), a handwritten transcription of the first three pages of the interpreta- tion of Parmenides, as well as research into the historical data con- cerning the course. I thank him for placing this material at my dis- posal. I thank Dr. Hermann Heidegger for his untiring work (carried out with his wife, Jutta) in cross-checking and proofreading, and I am also grateful to him for entrusting me with the editing of this volume. To Prof. Friedrich-Wilhelm v. Herrmann I am obliged for assistance with all sorts of editorial issues and for deciphering difficult passages. As regards the further labor of copyholding and proofreading, I thank my friend Martin Berke as well as the following students: Christian Biehl, Philip Flock, Martin Seidensticker, and Barbara Kowalewski. Finally, I express appreciation to Dr. Alfred Dunshirn for communi- cating with me in regard to classical philology.



Peter Trawny

Düsseldorf, 2011

6.Martin Heidegger, Parmenides, GA54. Also, Martin Heidegger, “Moira (Par- menides, Fragment VIII, 34–41),” in Vorträge und Aufsätze, GA7, 235–62. Also,

Martin Heidegger, “Ἀληθείης εὐκυκλέος ἀτρεμὲς ἦτορ,” in Seminare, GA15, 403–407.

7. Martin Heidegger, Seminare Hegel—Schelling, GA 86, 890.

8. Kurt Riezler, Parmenides. Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1934 (Frankfurter Studien

zur Religion und Kultur der Antike, vol. 5), 7.

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