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Existential physics as phenomenology

Heidegger’s comment on Aristotle’s Physics

Vasil Penchev*

*Bulgarian Academy of Sciences:

Institute for Philosophical Research (Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge)

“Aristotle in Phenomelogy”, Fort Wayne, IN, USA April 23-24, 2016

From Husserl to Heidegger

One can interpret the “phenomena” in Husserl’s sense as the existences (“existentia”) of the “things themselves” or by themselves

Husserl rejected that approach as “naturalization” of his phenomenology

Heidegger himself, though revising or developing far further Husserl’s phenomenology, refuted to be an “existentialist

Heidegger and Greeks

Heidegger tried to reinterpret Greek philosophy especially a few Pre-Socratics in that manner:

The phenomenon (as “meaning it in itself by itself”) might be identified as naïvely as wisely with the being (inseparable from the existence) of each certain thing

Φύσις” in Aristotle’s Physics

The same approach of Heidegger penetrates his extended comment on a single fragment (B, 1) from Aristotle’s Physics The part in question refers to the concept of “Φύσις” generally Heidegger’s reflection addresses the relation of that term in Greek philosophy and Aristotle’s particularly to the modern European understanding of nature as opposed to both human being and technics

Truth as ἀλήθεια

Heidegger’s way of interpretation merges the things and their Platonic “ideas” in the initial Φύσις thinkable as both χάος and ἀλήθεια

Heidegger means the latter as that truth relevant to both Greek and his philosophy: ἀλήθεια is -λήθεια, i.e. the appearance at all from hiddenness as un-hiddenness That concept of truth is not underlain by any opposition to anything:

it has not the form of the Latin adaequatio, the origin of which is often searched again in Aristotle

Nature as truth

Truth as -λήθεια is phenomenon as appearance where being and existence are both yet and initially inseparable from each other. Thus truth as -λήθεια is φύσις at the same time Nature is Truth before any opposition, particularly that of human being to nature

The Greek τέχνη

The Greek τέχνη is seen analogically as “going out of hiddenness into un-hiddennessIt is not thought in the modern manner as creating something artificial, technical, which has not existed in a natural way, and even it might not exist in nature in principle:

Thus τέχνη cannot be the modern technics at all

What τέχνη means

On the contrary, τέχνη means the hidden essence to be revealed, literally the veil to be removed Thus, truth to be seen: τέχνη is not and cannot be opposed to φύσις, it assists for the human beings to be able to observe the φύσις in an obvious way.

Philosophy and poetry merging into τέχνη

For example, a wooden chair reveals the strength and reliability of the tree, from which the chair has been made. That τέχνη is not opposed furthermore to philosophy and poetry:

It may be thought as an another, namely material way of philosophizing or poeticizing

The “essence given at the end”: ἐντελέχεια

Aristotle’s ἐντελέχεια is interpreted analogically and relatively to τέχνη:

It means the “essence to be given at the end” in Heidegger’s interpretation,

It is given at the ultimate stage in the natural development.

One may say that mankind and nature collaborate with each other by means correspondingly of τέχνη and of natural development both sharing ἐντελέχεια as their essence

Under-standing and work-standing: ενέργεια

The word “ενέργεια” means work-standing according to Heidegger, i.e. the standing in the work, the process and effort as constant

Consequently, ἐντελέχεια and ενέργεια are a mutually complementing pair about the ways of giveness: in the process and at the end Ενέργεια is very important for the concept of the same name is featured as the most fundamental in the contemporary science “physics” expressing what is conserved.

Thus it shows how the understanding has been refocused from and φύσις to physics, from οὐσία, “beingness” to the existing and its laws

“Seiendheit”: οὐσία

The beingness, “οὐσία” is the essence of existence, its “phenomenon” in Husserl’s sense. I It is at the same time, “estate”, “land”: what is lorded, according to the literary sense of the word transformed into a philosophical term right by Aristotle Thus οὐσία is the lording beginning of all the existing. It is not substantia, which underlies all as whatever elements such as “water”, “air”, “soil”, “fair”, etc It is the beginning rather as the ultimate “phenomenon” allowing of any other phenomenon and further of anything to be

Physics: The Book of Western Philosophy

Heidegger called Aristotle’s Physics “the secret, never sufficiently rethought base book of Western Philosophy” [1]. This can explain the choice of Heidegger to comment namely it

Still one reduction

One should mean Heidegger’s, maybe too creative interpretation of Husserl’s reduction

Husserl’s reductions are eidetic, phenomenological, and transcendental

They can be considered as a single reduction in three different contexts: correspondingly mathematics, psychology, and philosophy

Heidegger offered in still one context, transformed into a classical one after Hegel, that of the history of philosophy

Heidegger called it “destruction”, and Derrida “deconstruction”

Destruction as a reduction

A method to be obtained a phenomenon of philosophical development is what is meant It returns philosophy to its beginning right in Ancient Greece and to its initial books such as Aristotle’s Physics

Reduction to origin

Indeed, all future development of philosophy can be thought as a collection of “things” (which are philosophical doctrines in the case at issue)

They share one and the same “εἶδος” or “phenomenon” in Husserl’s sense by their common origin

Consequently, Heidegger’s destruction can be understood as a historical and philosophical reduction to the origin

Therefore , it synthesizes Husserl’s and Hegel’s approaches to transcendental consciousness interpreted as dialectical development by the latter, right in history of philosophy

Destruction is not restoring

That destruction does not intend any authentic restoring of the original sense and meaning of the primary sources though Heidegger gave just that form Derrida’s term “deconstruction” is maybe more outright obviously hinting a new deconstructing reconstruction

Origin as εἶδος of development

This is what the ancient philosopher should mean if one as Heidegger reduces all descendant development to the εἶδος or phenomenon as its origin. Of course, the ancient philosopher might hardly mean it for the following development, though as if removed, is anyway meant in a negative way to be obtained the εἶδος of origin


Heidegger has been many time criticized that his recollections are too creative and does not correspond to facts However, that kind of criticism does not penetrate in the essence of destruction as restoring the essence by means of historical and philosophical reduction

The structure of the paper

The paper is structured as follows:

The sections are devoted to a few Aristotle’s terms from Physics, B, 1, which are fundamental rather for Heidegger’s interpretation of Western Philosophy as originated from that “Secret Base Book” “never rethought enough” Each section elucidates a basic word, correspondingly and successively: ἀλήθεια, χάος, τέχνη, ἐντελέχεια, ενέργεια, οὐσία, and φύσις

The last and conclusive section, Recollection tries to elucidates the method of destruction in the way of Heidegger’s thought rather than conceptually by means of his text Recollection devoted to Hölderlin’s hymn of the same title


Heidegger, M. (1939) “Vom Wesen und Begriff der Φύσις. Aristoteles, Physik, B, 1,” in: Gesamtausgabe. Band 9 (Wegmarken). Frankfurt AM, Vittorio Klostermann, 1976,