Seminar in Le Thor 1966


The seminar from 1966 (eight years after the lecture in Aix-en- Provence: “Hegel and the Greeks”) consists of seven conversations. The first two concerned Parmenides and the following five were all in regard to Heraclitus. Two young Italian friends, Ginevra Bompiani and Giorgio Agamben, joined Vezin, Fédier, and Beaufret. At that time, no protocols were kept. From the combined notes of the participants, however, a report can be given of three of the Heraclitus conversations. These took place on September 5th, in a garden of Le Thor; on the 9th, in Le Rebanqué; and on the 10th, in Les Busclats.


September 5


“Upon its poetic cliffs, Le Thor rose up.
Mont Ventoux, the mirror of the eagles
towered into view.”13


After two conversations on Parmenides’ poem, we searched for a guiding thread for the reading of Heraclitus’ fragments. The decisive question here is: to which words of Heraclitus should the elucidation direct itself? We certainly have many words before us: logos, physis, world, strife, fire, the singular-one, etc. Taking our cue from a comment provided by Aristotle,14 we could follow the tradition and take Fragment 1 of the Diels-Kranz edition as the beginning of Heraclitus’ writing.15 According to Diogenes Laertius, Heraclitus is supposed to have laid them in the temple of Artemis in Ephesus for their safekeeping. The other fragments are arranged by Diels-Kranz according to the alphabetical order of the authors who have cited them—from Aetius to Theophrastus— except for fragment 2, which was handed down by Sextus Empiricus and almost directly linked by him to fragment 1: “When before going further he adds . . .”

We will therefore take as our guiding thread the logos, a concern right from the start of fragment 1:
τοῦ δὲ λόγου τοῦδ ἐόντος ἀεὶ ἀξύνετοι γίνονται ἄνθρωποι . . .

Right away we encounter a first difficulty.

Already in antiquity, Aristotle had observed (same reference as above) that the word ἀεὶ can refer just as much to what precedes it as to what follows it. Is it indeed λόγος that is named the ἐὼν ἀεὶ? Or is it said of the humans, that they never cease to remain in ignorance of it? Against Burnet and Diels, though with Kranz, Heidegger gives preference to the relation of ἀεὶ with what follows it. His reason for this decision is not that of Kranz, namely that the word is followed by adverbs (καὶ πρόσθεν . . . τὸ πρῶτον) which would determine the sense of


13 René Char, Commune Présence (Paris: Gallimard, 1964), p. 72.

14 Aristotle, Rhetoric, trans. W. Rhys Roberts, in Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle, 2 Vols., trans. various, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), Vol. 2: 2152–2269; Book 3: 5. TN: The German edition of the text mistakenly refers to Rhetoric Book 2: 5. We are indebted to Prof. Dr. Heinrich Hüni for this correction.

15 Hermann Diels, trans., Walther Kranz, ed., Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th ed., 3 Vols. (Zürich: Weidmann, 1951). Hereafter cited as “DK.”


Four Seminars

GA 15 p. 271