Κίνησις at the Core of Heidegger’s Work

Thomas Sheehan


Thesis: The tacit presupposition underlying all of Heidegger’s work, both early (regarding Dasein) and late (regarding Ereignis), was his retrieval of the unsaid in Aristotelian κίνησις. As the prologue to a work-inprogress, this essay discusses how Heidegger’s approach to phenomenology laid the groundwork for his rereading of κίνησις. Heidegger argued that Aristotle

1. understood κίνησις (movement) ontologically as a form of being;

2. worked within an implicit proto-phenomenological reduction of οὐσία (being) to παρουσία/ ἀλήθεια (intelligibility).

3. In turn, Heidegger, interpreted παρουσία/ἀλήθεια in terms of κίνησις on three distinct but interrelated levels.

This prologue prepares the way for a discussion of Heidegger’s readings of Physics III 1-3 and Metaphysics IX and their impact on the topics of Dasein and Ereignis.

Alles ist Weg

On May 12, 1971, at his home in Freiburg/Zähringen, Heidegger told a young visitor that if he wanted to understand Heidegger, he first had to understand the two interrelated issues that had guided him to the heart of his thinking:

• Husserl’s categorial intuition of being in Logical Investigations, vol. 2, VI/6 and

• Aristotle’s doctrine of κίνησις in Physics III 1-3.

The first text, he indicated, led him to revise his earlier understanding of the second. That is to say, once he correctly understood it, phenomenology reshaped his reading of κίνησις in Aristotle.2

The basic presupposition informing all of Heidegger’s work, both early and late, is his retrieval of the unsaid in Aristotle’s κίνησις. Like any fundamental presupposition, this one operates in the background of everything he wrote; and yet if κίνησις is the secret of Heidegger’s work, it is a secret hiding in plain sight. It massively informs his early courses on Aristotle as well as the famous 1922 “Natorp Bericht,” his first major text on Aristotle, where the term Bewegung is mentioned 52 times in a 51-page manuscript.3 In a 1928 seminar he declared that we human beings are the Urbewegung, and that as such, we can understand the being of things only as a form of movement.4 Or in the language of SZ: insofar as we are existential κίνησις (Zeitlichkeit), we necessarily understand being as ontological κίνησις (Zeit). Indeed, the bond between Dasein as κίνησις and Sein as κίνησις is itself kinetic.5 That fundamental fact is the source of his discussions of Ereignis throughout the last forty years of his career.

And yet this crucial issue is hardly mentioned in the scholarship. The result: The less the centrality of κίνησις in Heidegger’s work is thematized, the harder his work is to understand, whether that be the formative pre-SZ courses, or the volumes published in his own lifetime, or the thousands of notes that populate the later volumes of his Gesamtausgabe.

What follows is the prologue to a longer work-in-progress on Heidegger’s retrieval of the unsaid in Aristotle’s κίνησις. The complete text analyzes (1) Heidegger’s phenomenological reinterpretation of κίνησις and (2) some consequences that has for rereading Heidegger’s corpus. The work draws on the whole of the Gesamtausgabe, as well as on the student protocols from his seminars on Aristotle as found in GA 83, supplemented by the contemporary handwritten and typed notes of Helene Weiss and her nephew Ernst Tugendhat, which are archived at Stanford University’s Green Library.6 This prologue, on the other hand, focuses more narrowly on how Heidegger’s approach to phenomenology laid the groundwork for his rereading of κίνησις.

What Heidegger said in 1951 about reading Nietzsche – “first study Aristotle for ten or fifteen years” – applies as well to studying his own works.7 Aristotle famously declared that if you do not understand κίνησις, you cannot understand ϕύσις; and Heidegger might gloss that with: And if you don’t understand κίνησις, you’ll never understand Dasein, much less Sein as ϕύσις.8

As Heidegger intimated in 1971, his interpretation of κίνησις was radically reshaped by a phenomenological reading of Aristotle. But what does this mean? In order to answer that question this prologue unfolds as follows:-

1. Phenomenological experience

2. Intentionality and the self

3. The phenomenological reduction

4. Sein reinterpreted as Anwesen and κίνησις

• re Sein as presence

• re Sein as constancy

5. Ἀλήθεια as κίνησις: three moments

• ἀλήθεια-1: The dynamic realm of intelligibility that we ourselves are

• ἀλήθεια-2: The understoodness of something

• ἀλήθεια-3: The correct understoodness of something

* * *

Phenomenology is often described in terms of the structure of intentionality and the method of description, and that is helpful as far as it goes. But those two elements need to be unpacked in order to highlight the fundamental features of phenomenological method that are specific to Heidegger.

1. Phenomenological experience

Description, for Heidegger, is always the description of phenomenological experiences, which are not detached, theoretical observations but first-person “lived” engagements with what is given in experience (das Was) and, more importantly, with the givenness of what is given (das Wie). Such experiences are laden with tacit presuppositions, both positive and negative, which need to be sorted out and adjudicated.

The most fundamental presupposition (most fundamental because the denial of it only instantiates it)9 is that both the act and the object of experience are already embedded in meaningfulness (Bedeutsamkeit). That is because we are τὸ ζῷον λόγον ἔχον, where λόγος primarily refers to “gathering into meaning” rather than to the consequences of that, namely the ability to interpret, speak, and reason.10 As a result, the object of lived experience is not sense data as a first stage in construing something as intelligible. Quite the contrary, even in its perceptual moments experience is entirely suffused with λόγος, right down to one’s fingertips. The object of experience, as experienced, is meaningful from the start.

What is more, we experience objects not as separate, individual things but instead as related to other things within a meaningful context (Welt) that is unified by a certain regard (Woraufhin) based on a provisional “reason why” (Worumwillen, οὗ ἕνεκα). In turn, that “reason why” is traceable back to the enactment (Vollzug) of the experience in its relation (Bezug) to what is experienced (Gehalt) – that is, phenomenological experience is structured in terms of Vollzugsinn, Bezugsinn, and Gehaltsinn.11 And finally, phenomenological experience is neither presuppositionless nor blind to its presuppositions. For Heidegger those presuppositions are always subject to deconstruction (Abbau), so that, once analyzed and seen for what they are, they can be accepted, revised, or rejected.

In short, phenomenological description is focused on one’s direct, first-person, meaning-fraught experience of persons and things that, as experienced, are themselves meaningful – experiences structured in terms of a “how” (the Vollzug and its Bezug zu) and a “what” (the Gehalt to which the experiencing is directed). The term “first-person” applies first of all to the singular “I” in propria persona, but in order to be confirmed as adequate, those experiences have to be submitted to the give-and-take of a συμϕιλοσοϕεῖν with the plural “we.”12

2. Intentionality

Intentionality is often described in terms of: “consciousness is consciousness of something.” That, too, is true as far as it goes, but it can lend itself to the mistaken notion of an inside-versus-outside, the self as an interior subject reaching out to exterior objects, which it then drags back into the closet of consciousness. But for Heidegger there is no self “inside” as over against the world “outside.” Rather, the self is always already “outside,” and whatever interiority it possesses lies wholly within its exteriority.13 This is because of what we saw above: everything in human experience, including the very act of experiencing, is already in-der-Welt, embedded in meaningfulness.14 There is no hors texte, no “outside of meaning,” except in death.

Modern philosophy begins with the insight that we cannot know a thing without knowing that thing. This led to the Wende zum Subjekt, the “turn to the subject” that, already implicitly operative in elements of late Scholasticism, eventually charted an explicit path through Descartes to Kant and beyond.15 Reflecting on the achievements of 17th- and 18th-century science, Kant saw that knowledge is active as well as passive, not just receptive but also spontaneous and projective, so much so that “we know apriori of things only what we have [already] put into them.”16 But for Heidegger, the a priori constitution of known objects is not the work of an “interior subject,” whether psychological or transcendental.17 All efforts to discover that subject through introspection come up empty – precisely because there’s nobody at home. As the early Husserl put it, “I must frankly admit that I am entirely unable to find this ‘I,’ this primitive, necessary center of relations.”18

Looking for the self “inside” always comes too late, insofar as the self has long since escaped such Plotinian-Augustinian interiority and can be found only “outside” in the world of meaning.19 Heidegger speaks of such ontic-existentiel intentionality as “Aussein auf etwas” (as ratio cognoscendi), whereas he locates its ontological-existential foundation in Existenz as transcendence (as ratio essendi).20 Moreover, he claims that long before Brentano and Husserl had rediscovered the intentionality of consciousness, Aristotle had expressed his inchoate awareness of it in terms of the ψυχή as πώς πάντα, as did Aquinas with the anima read as ens quod natum est convenire cum omni ente.21 Neither of them, however, saw Existenz-qua-transcendence as undergirding intentionality.

3. The phenomenological reduction

Phenomenology is not primarily a “turn to the subject.” In describing intentionality as “consciousness of something,” the emphasis falls on neither “consciousness” (the subject) nor the “something” (the object), but squarely on the “of.” Intentionality has to do primarily with the correlation or togetherness (das Zusammengehören, τὸ αὐτό) between the Wie and the Was, between the enactment of experience and its content. As Heidegger puts it, “the philosophizing person . . . belongs together with the matters being treated.”22 Rather than a turn to the subject, phenomenology is a return to where we always already stand without noticing it, namely in and as the ever-operative correlation. For Heidegger as much as for Husserl, phenomenology is always correlation research, where the correlation is like a transparent medium, a μεταξύ that operates in intellection analogous to the way Aristotle’s τὸ διαϕανές operates in sensation.23 In the natural attitude, we look through the medium– i.e., ignore it – as we focus entirely on objects.

The phenomenological reduction leads our gaze back (cf. re-ducere, zurück-führen) from our absorption in objects to that transparent medium, the “in-between” (das Inzwischen), where experiencing is ineluctably bound to the experienced. Although Husserl had failed to find the pure ego when writing Logical Investigations, he eventually discovered it by working “backwards” from the phenomenological correlation to the transcendental subject as constituting the object as known. Heidegger, however, moved in the opposite direction. He agreed with Husserl that the reduction refocuses our attention on where we always already stand without noticing it. But that meant leading the gaze not backwards to the self as sub-ject but forward to the self as e-ject, thrown ahead (geworfen-entworfen), as possibility among possibilities.24

Phenomenological Reduction

Heidegger wrote to Husserl in 1927, “Transcendental constitution is a central possibility [not of the transcendental ego but] of the Existenz of the factical self,”25 where Existenz refers to the ontological condition of “being made to stand out ahead” (cf. ἐξίστημι, to be projected). Hereinafter I will translate Existenz – the being of Dasein – as “ex-sistence,” hyphenated and misspelled in order to bring out this etymology.26

As Aron Gurwitsch famously declared, after the phenomenological reduction “there are no other philosophical problems except those of sense, meaning, and signification.”27 Through the reduction we come to see things explicitly as meaningful (bedeutsam) where “meaningful” means mich-bezogen, intelligibly related to me.28

The medium to which the phenomenological reduction directs our gaze is the fundamental issue of all Heidegger’s work: das Urphänomen, die Ur-Sache, die Sache selbst.29 Throughout his career he gave it various titles, each of them with a distinct nuance but all of them ultimately ex aequo:

die Mitte die Lichtung das Offene
das Seyn die Welt das Inzwischen
das Da die Gegend die Gegnet
das Ereignis der Zeit-Raum der Entwurfbereich
der Ort der Wesensort das Freie
die Wahrheit das Sein der Wahrheit die Wahrheit des Seins
das Wesen der Wahrheit die Wahrheit des Wesens das Wesen des Seins
das Geheimnis das Heilige der letzte Gott
Ἀλήθεια Φύσις τόπος (etc.)

But to speak of die Sache selbst as a “transparent medium” runs the twofold risk of considering it as separate from us, and as static, an inert something that we peer through in order to see things as meaningful. Even Heidegger’s description of it as an open space that we traverse can contribute to that misunderstanding by bringing together in one metaphor those two misleading tropes.30 Far from being static (as terms like “the clearing” and “the open” might suggest), this medium is utterly dynamic – precisely because it is our own ex-sistence as the Ur-κίνησις, the existential movement that issues in the meaningful presence of things. Ex-sistence is intrinsically kinetic, ever unterwegs, always becoming. Never static, we are always “stretching out ahead” as the ability to make sense of things in terms of the possibilities we are thrown into.31 The dynamic medium of sense is ourselves, living “In the middle, not only in the middle of the way / But all the way….32

4. Sein as Anwesen and κίνησις

Heidegger argues that in classical Greek ontology a fundamental characteristic of “being” is “constant presence” “Beständigkeit in Anwesenheit.”33 However, the phenomenological reduction institutes a revolution in that notion and therefore in the foundations of Greek metaphysics. When Heidegger declared that “Only as phenomenology is ontology possible,”34 he was implicitly announcing the deconstruction of the ontology of constant presence.

First, “presence.” After the reduction, what the tradition had previously spoken of as οὐσία, εἶναι, esse, Sein, etc. radically shifts location. It is no longer found “within” a thing, as its in-itselfness in the sense of what and how that thing is apart from human experience.35 How could we know such in-itself-ness? We have no experience of things without experiencing them; and things are given to us as intelligible only in correlation with experience. Thus the phenomenological revolution begins by reorienting our attention to the givenness of things, to how-they-are-given as our only access to what-is-given. The shift is from the in-se-ity of traditional metaphysics to the pro-me-ity of first-person experience, from οὐσία as “is-in-itself” to παρ-ουσία as “is-as-given-to-me” (παρὰ τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ).36

“Being” as a thing’s inseitas disappears from Heidegger’s work. He uses the word Sein only as a provisional term. Consider that [in Greek thought] Sein was originally called ‘presence’ in the sense of a thing’s staying-here-before-us-in-disclosedness.37

That last phrase – her-vor-währen in die Unverborgenheit – is Heidegger phenomenological reconstruction of the tradition’s “being” in terms of the meaningful presence of something to someone. The German phrase expresses three things:

1. THE LOCUS of meaningful presence: the lived world of human concerns (-vor-);

2. THE RELATIVE STABILITY of that meaningfulness (währen); and

3. THE PHENOMENO-ONTOLOGICAL MOVEMENT of a thing from not-understoodness to now-understoodness (her- . . . in die Unverborgenheit).

One of Heidegger’s early insights was that Aristotle employs an implicit, proto-phenomenological approach to the question of being insofar as he tacitly understands οὐσία as παρουσία, the presence of things in correlation with λόγος. Heidegger highlights a phrase that Aristotle uses time and again: τὸ ὂν λεγόμενον, a thing insofar as it is taken up into meaning. We can take a look at things but not at being. The being of something does not come into view unless and until the thing is subsumed into intelligibility (λεγόμενον) and understood as this or that, i.e., as being this or that.38

Before Plato and Aristotle took up the word οὐσία as a technical philosophical term, it already had the common, everyday sense of “that which is one’s own, that which one possesses” (die Habe).39 Heidegger writes:

In Greek οὐσία means things – not just any things but things that in a certain way are exemplary in their realness,40 namely the things that belong to you, your goods and possessions, house and home (what you own, your wealth), what is at your disposal. These things – goods and possessions – are able to stand at your disposal because they are fixed, steadfastly within your reach, at hand, present in your immediate environment. What makes them exemplary? Our goods and possessions are invariantly within our reach. Ever at our disposal, they are what lies close to us, they are right here, presented on a platter; they are constantly present.41

Basing themselves on that everyday sense of the word, Plato and Aristotle adopted οὐσία as a philosophical term, where it has the double sense of both a thing and its thingness (= its being) and thus can refer equally to either things in their being or the being of things (das Seiende in die Seiendheit or die Seiendheit des Seienden). But Heidegger goes a step further and reads οὐσία phenomenologically in terms of intelligibility/παρ-ουσία: things as intelligible or the intelligibility of things. Presence/παρουσία/Anwesen is not mere spatial presence or (as in the text above) possession. For Heidegger, it is first of all the understandability of things, which is the foundation of every other relation we may have with the thing, such as possessing it or being aware that it is spatially near or far. The first step in Heidegger’s phenomenological revolution was to reread the ontology of Plato and Aristotle within the parameters of the phenomenological reduction.

Second, “constancy.” In Heidegger’s world, everything is a matter of movement: Alles ist Weg.42 His Gesamtausgabe bears the motto “Wege – nicht Werke” in order to indicate that those 102 volumes are examples not of thoughts set in stone but of the movement of his thinking. The phenomenological reduction brackets the traditional notion of “being” as the out-there-now-realness of things in order to focus on the dynamic correlation in which the meaningful presence of things gets opened up to understanding. And for Heidegger that correlation is our own ex-sistence as movement, the Ur-κίνησις that is ever stretched ahead and constrained to understand the meaningful presence of things as itself kinetic. When reread as meaningfulness, presence is no longer a constant, unchanging presence. But it is a stable presence, that is, stable-for-a-while: it can be understood and understood correctly, even if that understanding holds only for now (jeweilig, currently) before being surpassed or proven wrong or forgotten. Meaningful presence as the intelligibility of a thing is both stable and kinetic.43

In brief, Heidegger’s first step in the phenomenological revolution was to deconstruct the traditional notion of being as presence in order to reconstruct it as intelligibility. But the second step consisted in deconstructing being as static constancy and reconstructing it as ontological becoming: κίνησις as the movement of ἀλήθεια. That movement is not a pure, unchanging presence but a pres-abs-ence, the ever-on-going movement of Anwesung: becoming intelligible. In a way that is analogous (but only analogous) to Nietzsche, Heidegger took the characteristics that Greek philosophy had reserved for being and stamped them on becoming.44

Heidegger deconstructs constant presence in order to reconstruct it in terms of ἀλήθεια as κίνησις. But what kind of movement is that?

5. Ἀλήθεια as κίνησις: three moments.

Heidegger distinguishes between ontic things-in-motion (das Bewegte) and the ontological movement (Bewegtheit) that accounts for their being in motion. Both I and my dog Fido notice that things move: we see them change their place, size, properties, and so on. But Fido cannot envision movement as the being of those things because, even though he is a very smart ζῷον, he lacks the prerequisite for noticing being: τὸ λόγον ἔχειν.

The first step in the phenomenological revolution, as we saw, consists in regarding everything – and above all the being of everything – exclusively within the phenomenological correlation, where things and the way they are present are opened up to understanding. The Greek term for “opened up to understanding” takes the form of a double negative: ἀ-λήθ-εια, “not hidden.” As Heidegger understands it, ἀλήθεια names a thing’s ontological movement into intelligibility at three distinct but interrelated levels, the first two of which are not at all a matter of “truth.”

ἀλήθεια-1: The dynamic realm of intelligibility that we ourselves are. In the presence of ex-sistence as the kinetic sphere of meaning, everything becomes able to be known. This movement into intelligibility-as-such is the first and most fundamental form of ontological κίνησις. It is what Heidegger calls Anwesen für das Verstehen, what Aquinas called convenientia ad intellectum or praesentia intelligibile, and what I will call “presence to mind.”45 At this level, things are rendered knowable but are not yet actually known. The degree of a thing’s intelligibility is measured by the degree of the thing’s reality,46 and for Heidegger, perfect intelligibility – the ability to be purely and completely known (cf. the divine νόησις νοήσεως) – is nowhere to be found in first-person phenomenological experience.47 Ἀλήθεια-1 is always and only the movement of becoming intelligible.

ἀλήθεια-2: The understoodness of something. That which can be known becomes actually known only when a specific person encounters a thing intelligently in theoretical or practical activity. As Aristotle puts it, the thing then moves from being “hidden from understanding” to being “no longer hidden” (λανθάνειν à μὴ λανθάνειν), from not-being-known to being-known (ἀγνοουμένον à γιγνωσκόμενον).48 Note, however, that ἀλήθεια-2 as κίνησις is not of itself a movement into “truth” as adaequatio intellectus et rei, the correct understanding of something. Instead, it is only a thing’s movement into understoodness, into being taken as something (τὶ κατὰ τινὸς σημαίνειν)49 even if the understanding is wrong.

For example, say I tell a first-year philosophy student that Socrates was born in Thebes. If she is familiar with the references of “Socrates,” “born in,” and “Thebes,” then in her case (if she believes what I have said) Socrates’ birthplace has moved from “hiddenness” to “un-hiddenness,” from not-previously-known to now-known. Insofar as her mind has come to rest in that understanding, she has performed an act of ἀληθεύειν,50 and Socrates’ birthplace, for its part, has moved into a state of ἀλήθεια-2 – even though what the student understands is incorrect. Her understanding will become correct when she finds out that Socrates was born about a mile outside the walls of Athens.

In other words, ἀλήθεια-2 is the being of something that has moved from possible to actual understanding, even if the understanding is wrong. In any case, the unhiddenness of ἀλήθεια-2 is at best a chiaroscuro presence-to-mind that can always slip back into λήθη, perhaps to be brought back and made present to mind again, perhaps lost forever.

ἀλήθεια-3: The correct understoodness of something. The word “truth” in the sense of “what is actually the case” applies only at this third moment, which presumes and builds on the other two. Given that I am ex-sistence (ἀλήθεια-1) and that I take something as having this or that meaning (ἀλήθεια-2), I may occasionally “get it right” (ἀλήθεια-3). For example, say I am walking through a forest at twilight and notice a deer up ahead. As I get a bit closer and see more clearly, I realize that, no, it’s not a deer: it’s actually a bush that only looked like a deer. And when I walk right up to the bush, I finds out that, no, it’s not really a bush at all: it’s actually a moss-covered boulder. There in the darkening forest, I have worked my way through two instances of ἀλήθεια- 2 and ultimately have arrived at an ἀλήθεια-3.51 And in fact, as with ἀλήθεια-2, the “unhiddenness” of ἀλήθεια-3 can likewise fall back into λήθη. In a few days time, I may well forget the whole experience.

Unfortunately Heidegger was not always crystal clear on these distinctions. At the beginning of his career,52 and again in the middle,53 and yet again in a retractatio towards the end,54 Heidegger made it quite clear that ἀλήθεια should never be translated as “truth” except when it refers to adaequatio intellectus et rei (ἀλήθεια-3). Nonetheless, Heidegger violated his own prescription throughout much of his career. Only in 1967 he did acknowledge, en passant, that “Wahrheit” had occasionally “slipped in” to his texts.55

Ultimately, ἀλήθεια-as-κίνησις is the only kind of movement that interests Heidegger the phenomenologist. To be sure, when he reads the Physics on κίνησις and ϕύσις, he interprets both of them ontologically, as forms of being – but so had Thomas Aquinas seven hundred years earlier, and brilliantly so, in his commentary on the Physics.56 But what Heidegger offers over and above that ontological reading of κίνησις is a phenomenological retrieval of what Aristotle had left unthematized, namely that κίνησις and ϕύσις, when read in correlation with λόγος, are forms of ἀλήθεια and therefore have to do first of all with intelligibility rather than just “nature.”

* * *

In the seven years leading up to the writing of SZ, Heidegger worked out the fundamentals of his phenomenological approach and, from within that, his retrieval of the unsaid in Aristotle’s κίνησις. He did it all in the name of clarifying the central topic of his thinking, which he boldly delineated in the 1922 Natorp Bericht: “The object of philosophical research is human beings investigated with regard to the character of their being”57 – a focus that continued to orient all his work over the next fifty years.

Whatever twists and turns his philosophical trajectory took, and regardless of the so-called “turn” (Kehre) that he allegedly carried out in the 1930s, Heidegger never took his eye off Dasein as the central topic of his thinking, including when he focused on Ereignis in the last four decades of his career. And operating at the very core of Dasein there was always the alethic-existential movement that Heidegger had retrieved from the Stagirite. Using the term “unterwegs” to name that existential movement, he wrote: “In one way or another we are forever propelled on-our-way. Standing still and waiting are merely limited phases in the trajectory of our being always on-our-way.”58 Alles ist Weg: For us, there is nothing prior to this ontological movement of our ex-sistence, and nothing after.

The topics in the next installment of this work-in-progress deal with Heidegger’s reading of Aristotelian κίνησις and the question of how that phenomenon bears on the issues of Dasein and Ereignis. Here we will merely allude to three elements of that discussion.

The first issue will be to sort out how Heidegger retrieved his own notion of phenomenological κίνησις from Physics III 1-3 and Metaphysics IX 1-5. Movement, as Aristotle himself remarks, is a difficult topic in philosophy, and Heidegger echoes the sentiment.59 In any case, if Heidegger’s fundamental presupposition has always been hiding in plain sight, the same goes for Aristotle’s analysis of κίνησις. Consistent with the Greek cathexis on τὸ τέλειον (the complete or per-fect), Aristotle’s tacit, if counterintuitive, presupposition is that rest / standing-still (ἡρεμία, στάσις) lie at the very core of movement and thus are the key to understanding his central terms, ἐνέργεια and ἐντελέχεια.60

The second issue will be to show that Heidegger’s retrieved sense of movement shaped his early reading of Dasein and especially the nodal topics of SZ: embeddedness in meaning (In-der-Welt-sein), concern for meaning (Sorge), temporality (Zeitlichkeit), and historicity (Geschichtlichkeit). To sort all that out, we will have to redefine and retranslate some of Heidegger’s technical terms (mistranslations of which have thrown off the scholarship for decades) including Gewesen, Zeitigung, Sein-zum-Tode, and Zurückkommen in SZ § 65 (as contrasted with §18). We will also have to work out how Heidegger understands τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι and the difficult issue of “existential aspect” in Metaphysics IX 6 (e.g., ἑώρακε, πεϕρόνηκε, νενόηκε, etc.).

The third issue will be to show how Heidegger’s understanding of κίνησις shaped his later work on Ereignis. This will entail analyzing his 1928 seminar on Physics III 3 in light of his insight in 1930 that what we have called the transparent medium is intrinsically “hidden,” i.e., unknowable in the sense of Aristotle’s τὴν αἰτίαν γιγνώσκειν,61 even as it remains the ever-operative force in the Ur-movement that is Dasein.

Those three tasks make up the “what” of Heidegger’s retrieval of κίνησις, whereas the present prologue has been devoted only to the “how” of his phenomenological approach – a necessary proleogue, however, insofar as “Only as phenomenology is ontology possible.”


1 Abbreviations in this text: Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe is abbreviated as GA followed by the volume and page numbers, followed, after a period, by the number of the line or lines on that page. The exception is Sein und Zeit, (abbreviated SZ), where I use the pages and lines of the 11th edition from Klostermann Verlag.

2 At the meeting, Heidegger expressed his hope for an English translation of his “Vom Wesen und Begriff der Φύσις. Aristoteles Physik β 1,” Heidegger (1967b), pp. 239-301. The English translation appeared five years later: Heidegger (1976-a), and with slight revisions a dozen years after that in Heidegger (1998). The German text is now found in GA 9: 309-371.

3 Heidegger (1989 and 2014).

4 GA 83: 256.23 See also note 6 below.

5 Re “kinetic,” see GA 83: 20.3: kinetisch.

6 I am grateful to Professor Tugendhat for inviting me to photocopy Helene Weiss’s handwritten Nachschriften at Heidelberg University (January 1974), along with his own typewritten notes from Heidegger’s later courses. Particularly helpful for this present project has been Weiss’ Mitschrift of Heidegger’s 1928 seminar on Physics III found in Box 2, Folder 7.

7 “First study Nietzsche”: GA 8: 78.9. The statement also describes Heidegger’s own Lehrjahre from 1907 on. See Sheehan (1988).

8 Physics III 1, 200b14-15.

9 That is, via argument by retorsion (περιτροπὴ τοῦ λόγου). See Sextus Empiricus (1958-), II, 128.

10 On λόγος as gathering into meaning: GA 9: 279.1-7. Re τὸ λόγον ἔχον see De anima III 9, 432a31, Nicomachean Ethics I 13, 1102b15 and 1103a2; V 15, 1138b9; VI 1, 1139a4; etc.

11 GA 61: 53.

12 Re “I”: see GA 2: 56, n. “a”: “je ‘ich’.” Re συμϕιλοσοϕεῖν: Nicomachean Ethics IX 12, 1172a5.

13 On “draußen” and “Draußensein” see SZ pp. 62.13: immer schon “draußen”; 62.15f.: Draußen-sein; also 162.25-27. Cf. Aquinas, Summa theologiae I, 14, 1c: “cognoscens natum est habere formam etiam rei alterius” – and yet he adds a problematic “in”: “nam species cogniti est in cognoscente.”

14 SZ p. 87.19-20: In-der-Welt-sein = Vertrautheit mit der Bedeutsamkeit.

15 Re the turn to the subject in late scholasticism see Metz (1962).

16 Critique of Pure Reason, B xviii.

17 Re constitution in Heidegger see GA 9: 244.25-28: Ausmachen; in her Blick heben; das Gesichtete feststellen; ibid., 261.24: ausgemacht; and ibid., 264.2-22.

18 Husserl (1984) V § 8, p. 374.1-3: “Nun muß ich freilich gestehen, das ich dieses primative Ich als notwendiges Beziehungszentrum schlechterdings nicht zu finden vermag” – only later to find it: see ibid., p. 364 n.: “Die sich in diesem Paragraphen [= § 4] schon aussprechende Opposition gegen die Lehre vom ‘reinen’ Ich billigt der Verf. wie aus den oben zitierten Ideen [I, § 57, § 80] ersichtlich ist, nicht mehr.” Before Husserl replaced “the stream of consciousness” with his newly discovered transcendental subject, he held that the phenomenological correlation conjugated the enactment of an intentional act with its object.

19 See Plotinus Enneads V 1, 12.13-14: εἰς τὸ εἴσω ἐπιστρέφειν (= Henry/Schwyzer [H/S], II, 288). Ibid., VI 7, 34.12: ἰδοῦσα δὲ ἐν αὐτῇ (= H/S III, 256). Ibid., VI 8, 18.1: μηδὲν ἔξω ζήτει αὖτοῦ ἀλλʹ εἴσω (= H/S III, 299). Ibid., VI 8, 18.3: εἴσω ἐν βάθει (= H/S III, 299: cf. Augustine, Enarratio in Psalmum 41, vers. 8, in Patrologia Latina 34: 473.13-47). Augustine, “Noli foras ire, in teipsum redi,” De vera religione 39, 72, Patrologia Latina 34: 154.23.

20 Aussein: Heidegger (1989), p. 240.21. Ratio cognoscendi, ratio essendi: GA 24: 91.20–22; cf. Aquinas, Scriptum super sententiis, d. 14, q. 1, a. 1, s. 4. At GA 83: 21.24 Heidegger calls transcendence “das ursprünglichste Entgegenkommen gegenüber….”

21 Respectively De anima III 8, 431b21 and Quaestiones de veritate I, 1, c, cited at SZ p. 14.6 and 14.20-21. In SZ Heidegger mistakenly omitted the word πάντα at p. 14.6. In his course Übungen im Lesen, on February 13, 1952, Heidegger noted: “Das πάντα ist in S.u.Z. aus Versehen herausgeblieben”: cited from the Tugendhat Nachschrift, p. 45.8-9 (see note 6 above). Heidegger’s remark is omitted at GA 83: 654.8.

22 GA 9: 42.25-26.

23 On τὸ διαϕανές see De anima II 7, with μεταξύ at 418a20.

24 Cf. ἐπαγωγή: GA 9: 244.12-35 and 264.2-22.

25 “Die transzendentale Konstitution ist eine zentrale Möglichkeit der Existenz des faktischen Selbst.” Heidegger (1962), p. 601-602.

26 Like ἵστημι, ἐξίστημι is a causative verb with the meaning: to be made to stand out ahead, which Heidegger will interpret with his term Geworfenheit.

27 Gurwitsch (1947), 652.8–9, italicized in the original.

28 GA 62: 105.12-13.

29 GA 14: 81.13-14.

30 GA 15: 380.6: eine offene Weite zu durchgehen. Cf. GA 14: 81.35 and 84.3–4 and GA 7: 19.12.

31 Re erstrecken, see SZ pp. 374.32-33 and 375.2; cf. ibid., pp. 371.33, 373.11, etc.

32 T.S. Eliot (1969), p. 179. with a clear nod to Dante’s “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita.”

33 GA 3: 240.19-20.

34 SZ 35.36-37.

35 Cf. Aristotle, ἔξω ὂν καὶ χωριστόν and ἔξω [τῆς διανοίας] at, respectively, Metaphysics XI 8, 1065a24 and VI 4, 1028a2.

36 On “in-itself-ness” after the reduction see SZ p. 71.37–38: “Zuhandenheit ist die ontologisch-kategoriale Bestimmung von Seiendem, wie es ‘an sich’ ist” and ibid., 74.29–31: “Das eigentümliche und selbstverstandliche ‘Ansich’ der nächsten ‘Dinge’ begegnet in dem sie gebrauchenden . . . Besorgen”; also ibid., 75.23–25; 87.19–23; 106.34–36; 118.3–5; etc.

37 GA 7: 234.13–17; cf. GA 83: 213.24–25. Re “before us”: ibid., 214.8: “Unverborgenheit wo, wie? D.h. wofür an? Für den Menschen”

38 Cf. τὶ κατὰ τινὸς λέγειν: De interpretatione 5, 17a21 and 10, 19b5.

39 Heidegger (1989), p. 253.25; GA 3: 240.18. Cf. GA 40: 65.17-24.

40 I here translate “Sein” as “realness” in the sense of an entity’s existence in what one takes to be “the nature of things.” See GA 84, 1: 396.9–10 and Suarez Disputationes metaphysicae XXXI, I, 2: “esse aliquid in rerum natura” and “aliquid reale.”

41 GA 31: 51.11–15 and 51.31–52.3 See also GA 9, 260.7–18 and GA 40: 65.17–24. Cf. John Locke (2003), p. 111: “to have a property in something” (chapter V § 25). According to Theaetetus, 144c7 Theaetetus’ father, Euphronius, left behind “an exceedingly large fortune” (οὐσίαν μάλα πολλήν). At Republic VIII, 551b2-3 Plato has it that no one shall hold office whose property or possessions (οὐσία) do not reach the required amount. (Heidegger comments on this last text at GA 34: 326.1–4.) Heidegger translates οὐσία at Phaedrus 240a2 as “das vorhandene Verfügbare”: GA 83: 118.8. See “zur Verfügung anwesend” at GA 33: 179.25–26.

42 GA 12: 187.2.

43 Plato has Socrates gloss Heraclitus frag. 91 as: δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης (Cratylus 402a9-10), whereas Aristotle says Cratylus went Heraclitus one better by holding that no one could step into the same river once (ᾥετο οὐδʹ ἁπαξ: Metaphysics II 5, 1010a15). When it comes to the stable fluidity of intelligibility, it seems Heidegger would side with Heraclitus. Regarding “fluidity”: see GA 9: 270.7, nunc fluens, read in terms of intelligibility.

44 Cf. “Dem Werden den Charakter des Seins aufzuprägen,” Nietzsche (1980), VIII, 1, n. 617, p. 320.15. Cf. Heidegger on ἐνέργεια at GA 83: 13.8: “‘Werden’ (‘Sein’ ‘ist’ ‘Werden’) – Hegel!”

45 Heidegger: GA 83: 80.8; Aquinas, respectively Quaestiones de veritate, 1, 1, responsio, and Scriptum super sententiis, I, d. 3, q. 4, a, 5, c (id quod est praesens intelligibile). “Convenientia ad intellectum” refers to the transcendental status of verum in the medieval sense of “transcendental.”

46 Metaphysics II 1, 993b30–31, ὥσϑ’ ἕκαστον ὡς ἔχει τοῦ εἶναι, οὕτω καὶ τῆς ἀληϑείας. (See also GA 45: 122.4–5.) On the convertibility of being and knowability see further Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles I, 71, 16: “quantum habet de esse, tantum habet de cognoscibilitate” and Summa theologiae I–II, 3, 7 c.: “Eadem est dispositio rerum in esse sicut in veritate,” On the use of “reality” see n. 39 above.

47 νόησις νοήσεως: Metaphysics XII 9, 1074b34.

48 Physics III, 1 200b13-14. Cf. Aquinas, Summa theologiae I, 84, 3c.: “homo est quandoque cognoscens in potentia tantum…[et] de tali potentia in actum reductitur.”

49 Metaphysics VIII 3, 1043b 30-31.

50 Respectively: ὁ ἀκούσας ἠρέμησεν: De interpretatione 2, 16b21 and ἀληθεύει ἡ ψυχή: Nicomachean Ethics VI 3, 1139b15

51 See GA 21: 187.15-23.

52 SZ 219.33-37.

53 GA 45: 98.8-12.

54 GA 14: 86.16-20.

55 GA 15: 262.10: schob sich dazwischen.

56 Aquinas, In octo libros Physicorum Aristotelis Expositio, ed. F. M. Maggiòlo, Turin, Marietti, 1954.

57 Heidegger (1989), p. 238.21-22: “Der Gegenstand der philosophischen Forschung ist das menschliche Dasein als von ihr befragt aus seinen Seinscharakter.” Emphasis added.

58 SZ p. 79.18-19.

59 Physics III 2, 201b33-202a3 and GA 9: 283.23-27.

60 GA 9: 283-284.

61 Posterior Analytics I 2, 71b10-1.


Aquinas, T. (1948-1950), Omnia opera: secundum impressionem Petri Fiaccadori Parmae 1852-1873, ed. Vernon Burke, Musurgia, New York.

Aquinas, T. (2000), Omnia opera, ed. Enrique Alarcón, http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/ iopera.html

Aquinas, T. (1954), In octo libros Physicorum Aristotelis Expositio, ed. F. M. Maggiòlo, Turin, Marietti.

Aristotle (1831), Aristotelis Opera, ed. Immanuel Bekker and Christian August Brandis, Georg Reimer, Berlin.

Augustine (390), De vera religione, in Patrologia Latina, 34, pp. 122-172.

Eliot, T. E. (1969), “East Coker,” in The Complete Poems and Plays of T.S. Eliot, ed. Valerie Eliot, Faber and Faber, London, pp. 177-183.

Gurwitsch, Aron (1947), “Gaston Berger’s Le Cogito dans la Philosophie de Husserl,” in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 7, n. 4, pp. 649-654.

Heidegger, M. (1962), [Heidegger’s letter to Husserl, October 22, 1927], in Husserl (1962; 19682), Husserliana: Gesammelte Werke, vol. IX, Phänomenologische Psychologie, Vorlesungen Sommersemester 1925, Nijhoff, Den Haag, pp. 600-602.

____________ (1967a), Sein und Zeit, 11th ed., Niemeyer, Tübingen.

____________ (1967b), Wegmarken, Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main.

____________ (1976ff.), Gesamtausgabe, Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main.

____________ (1976-a), “On the Essence and Conception of Φύσις in Aristotle’s Physics B, 1,” trans. T. Sheehan, in Continental Philosophy Review [then Man and World], vol. 9, n. 3, pp. 219-270.

____________ (1976-b; 20043), Gesamtausgabe, vol. 9, Wegmarken, Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main.

____________ (1989), “Phänomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles (Anzeige der hermeneutischen Situation),” ed. Hans-Ulrich Lessing, in Dilthey-Jahrbuch für Philosophie und Geschichte der Geisteswissenschaften, vol. 6, 235-269.

beyng.com: "Phenomenological Interpretations in Connection with Aristotle: An Indication of the Hermeneutical Situation", in Becoming Heidegger.

____________ (1998), “On the Essence and Concept of Φύσις in Aristotle’s Physics B, 1, (1939)” trans. T. Sheehan, in M. Heidegger, Pathmarks, ed. William McNeill, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, New York, Melbourne.

____________ (2014), Phänomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles (Anzeige der hermeneutischen Situation), ed. Gunther Neumann, Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main.

Husserl, E. (1984), Husserliana: Gesammelte Werke, vol. XIX/1, Logische Untersuchungen: Zweiter Band, Erster Teil, ed. Ursula Panzer, Nijhoff, Den Haag.

Locke, J. (2003), Two Treatises of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration, ed. Ian Shipiro, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.

Metz, J. (1962), Christliche Anthropozentrik. Über die Denkform des Thomas von Aquin. Kösel, München.

Nietzsche, F. (1980), Wille zur Macht, in Sämliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, VIII, 1, ed. Giorgio Cilli and Mazzino Montinari, de Gruyter, Berlin.

Plato (1899-1907), Platonis Opera, ed. John Burnet, University of Oxford Press / Clarendon, London and New York.

Plotinus (1951-1973), Plotini opera, ed. Paul Henry and Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer, 3 vols., Desclée de Brouwer, Éditions Universelles, and Brill, Paris, Brussels, and Leiden.

Sextus Empiricus (1958-), Πυρρωνείων ὑποτυπώσεων in Sexti Empirici Opera, ed. Hermann Mutschmann and Jürgen Mau, Teubner, Leipzig.

Sheehan, T. (1988), “Heidegger’s Lehrjahre,” in The Collegium Phaenomenologicum, ed. Pina Moneta and Jacques Taminiaux, Kluwer, Dordrecht, Boston, London, pp. 77-137.

__________(2015), Making Sense of Heidegger: A Paradigm Shift, Rowman and Littlefield International, London and New York.

Suarez, F. (1960–1966), Disputationes metaphysicae, ed. S. Rábade et al., Biblioteca Hispanica de Filosofía, Madrid.

Weiss, Helene (1920-1949), “Heidegger lecture notes.”

Thomas Sheehan - Hiding in Plain Sight: Κίνησις at the Core of Heidegger’s Work (Prolegomenon)
Original PDF version.