Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Plato and Heidegger: A Question of Dialogue Hardcover – November 1, 2009
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Francisco Gonzalez's book is the most thorough study yet of Heidegger's encounter with the work of Plato throughout his career. Gonzalez traces the development of Heidegger's attitude toward Plato from his early lecture courses to the very end of his career in exhaustive detail. Despite the relentless critique of Heidegger's Plato interpretations within its pages, the book presses for a positive conclusion, that it is up to us to engage the genuine dialogue between these two thinkers that Heidegger himself could never adequately accomplish. --Drew A. Hyland, Trinity College
Gonzalez presents a critical study of Heidegger's reading of Plato and argues that Heidegger although he closely analyzed Plato's philosophy did not enter a real dialogue with Plato. Gonzalez's aim is to imagine the dialogue that Heidegger failed to have with Plato and show us the way Heidegger's own thought was influenced by the refusal of this dialogue. This is a very original work that will be of interest to many philosophers. --Catalin Partenie, University of Quebec at Montreal
About the Author
Francisco J. Gonzalez is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book has 7 chapters in 3 parts. Part I covers Heidegger's writings of the 20s, part II covers the 30s and 40s, and part III what Gonzalez considers the missed opportunities for dialogue in later works by Heidegger. In the process we learn all the contradictions, errors, retractions, retractions of retractions in Heidegger. Despite the chronological titles, things aren't as organized as they may seem. Chapter 1 starts with Heidegger's well-known assertion that dialectic is an embarrassment. However, Gonzalez has to admit that we don't even know what dialectic Heidegger is referring to and there's a good chance he means the dialectic of German idealism. Gonzalez accuses Heidegger of not caring for ethics, politics, or dialogue in general. The correct reason that Gonzalez gives for this is that Heidegger as a young and prominent figure within phenomenology is trying to distinguish it from competing methods of philosophizing. Also, Heidegger's concern with ontology and nothing but ontology precludes an interest in ethics and politics. Gonzalez, however, like many others for some reason finds this reprehensible. I wonder if people similarly complain that ethicists aren't doing logic or that logicians aren't doing aesthetics. He returns to dialectic and dialogue once again in chapter 6 as he covers the dialogues written by Heidegger.
Chapter 2 deals with the relationship between Logos and Being and how Heidegger sees it. It's a transitional chapter between 1 and 3. Influenced by Aristotle, he has no patience for the Platonic logos and sees it as a deficient way to access Being. In the process we start getting indications of how he reads Platonic ontology.
Chapter 3 is the longest chapter. It traces Heidegger's view that in Plato truth begins its transformation from unconcealment into correspondence and finally into correctness via the Eidos and thus opens up the path for Platonism and metaphysics. To destroy Heidegger's argument, Gonzalez tries to attack what he considers the foundation of it--Heidegger's idea that the Greeks considered vision the primordial sense. However, that might be the strongest aspect of Heidegger's case. It's a well-known, accepted, and rather uncontroversial notion that the Greeks placed a special emphasis on vision. Yet this somehow escapes Gonzalez even when he's discussing the very visual Platonic myths, or when he quotes Socrates specifically discussing images. When Heidegger is way past discussing correctness, Gonzalez continues to harp on it. Chapter 4 focuses on Heidegger's understanding of Doxa, while chapter 5 centers on the concept of Lethe, which could have been one of those places where Heidegger should have found an affinity with Plato, had he read him "correctly."
The first part of chapter 7 has nothing to do with Plato, but introduces later Heidegger and his notion of Ereignis. In the second part, Gonzalez returns to his criticisms of Heidegger's readings of Plato and holds that he could have found an ally in Plato had he recognized the times when Plato clearly describes the Ideas as more than just "the look" of beings and had he been more open to dialogue/dialectic.
I remain unconvinced by the views espoused by Gonzalez and everyone else that Heidegger doesn't understand Plato, that he misreads, distorts him and just makes stuff up. Gonzalez even likes to claim that Heidegger "suppresses" things in Plato that would presumably cause difficulties for his interpretation. By "suppress" Gonzalez simply means that Heidegger doesn't cover this or that item. Why he takes ignoring or avoiding or simply failure to address something as suppression, I'm not sure. No doubt it was terrible a mistake for Heidegger to approach Plato from the perspective of Aristotle and even worse, Nietzsche, yet Heidegger remains a most productive approach to reading the Greeks, including Plato. But if one approaches Heidegger with the mission of finding differences with Plato, as Gonzalez does, one is bound to miss a lot. Gonzalez acknowledges that is his goal and only begrudgingly admits the occasional affinity between the two without going deeper.
I find that many of the accusations that Gonzalez launches against Heidegger can be applied to the way he himself reads Heidegger. There's a general lack of context, of missing frameworks when he discusses Heidegger; he tends to flatten Heidegger's readings, ignores lines by Plato that would help Heidegger's case. When Heidegger gives two readings or interpretations, Gonzalez fixates on one of them and attacks Heidegger for not doing the same. He wants all disjunctions to be exclusive while Heidegger likes to keep his options open. For all the importance he gives to the performative character of the Platonic dialogue he fails to see (suppresses?) the active, poietic character of a Heideggerian lecture that invites the reader's mind to engage in a challenging performance of its own, for reading Heidegger isn't like passively reading some other philosopher. To his credit, Gonzalez does recognize late in the book this characteristic but only in of some of Heidegger's late works. More importantly, what matters in Heidegger is not the bottom line, but the journey to get there. That is why critiques by Gonzalez, and all those before him, and all those to come don't go anywhere. Reading Heidegger's "erroneous" "made-up" interpretions of the Greeks is so much more productive than reading all the accepted, superficial, and "correct" interpretations. Even Gonzalez has to admit later on that some Heidegger's interpretations are "insightful."
Parts of this book were published and presented previously which makes it seem less like a unified book and more like an anthology despite the additions of introductions and conclusions here and there. In some early chapters Gonzalez goes completely footnote-and-research crazy, so much so that on several pages the footnotes take up more space than the actual text--a sure indication that something is wrong with one's composition. In others chapters we find few footnotes and little mention of works by other scholars.
My main problem with this work is how undidactic it is. There is little attempt by Gonzalez to explain some of the more difficult issues he discusses. For instance, out of the blue he starts talking about being and motion. Suddenly you realize that we're talking about the "Five Kinds," not that he ever calls them by that name. The Five Kinds is not an easy topic and yet it appears with no introduction, with no attempt to lead the reader into it. All it would have required is an additional paragraph. The same happens several times for other complicated matters where the reader finds himself wondering what is being discussed. Furthermore, Gonzalez will translate key words from English to German and ancient Greek for some reason, but not from ancient Greek or German to English. Even worse, often footnotes will include long texts in foreign languages left untranslated or Gonzalez will translate a portion of it and then leave the punchline in the foreign language.
Unfortunately you can't get away with being undidicatic when discussing Heidegger and Plato. It raises very fundamental questions and causes unnecessary problems. While Gonzalez clarifies Platonic ontology in part, he doesn't Heidegger's. Then he just overlaps the two, leading the reader to believe that when Plato says "being" and Heidegger says "being" they are talking about the same every time. He is also very sloppy in treating the challenging word "Anwesen" and its vatiations (Anwesung, Anwesenheit, Wesen) at times translating them all as "presence" at other times as "presencing." From there he takes "presence" to mean "the present" and yet in the final pages he correctly admits that such a move isn't justified.
Gonzalez himself fails to see some basic commonalities between Plato and Heidegger. By rejecting Heidegger's notion of the glance and by rejecting the common understanding that the Greeks prioritized seeing, he cannot see this basic kinship between Heidegger and the Greeks. Heidegger, much to Gonzalez's annoyance, favors an instantaneous seeing/recognition/insight. This is not something Plato, Aristotle, or perhaps even Socrates would have rejected, I suspect. Gonzalez's insistence on defending Platonic dialectic, as he interprets it, is a little odd. For what other work has it done in philosophy? Not even Gonzalez wrote this book is dialogue form. At the very least he should have admitted some limitations to Platonic dialectic.
Gonzalez is as his best when he interprets Plato; interpretations which by the way benefit greatly from Heidegger. He's also an excellent scholar of Heidegger who can apparently find a single occurrence of a word in some Heidegger book. But those skills put together result in a fairly underwhelming work despite the overwhelming detailed discussions. It could very well be, at present, the definitive resource on Plato and Heidegger unfortunately it doesn't dare to go beyond just that. Nevertheless, if you are interested in Heidegger and Plato, this is a fun book to work your way through. It's not all that original, it's not particularly inspiring, but its deficiencies invite further thought.