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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
• Husserl rejected that approach as “naturalization” of his
• 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”
• 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
• Heidegger means the latter as that truth relevant to both Greek and
his philosophy: ἀλήθεια is ἀ-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 ἀ-λήθεια is phenomenon as appearance where
being and existence are both yet and initially inseparable
from each other.
• Thus truth as ἀ-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-hiddenness”
• It 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
• 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
• 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
• 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

“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
• 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

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
• 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,