The Givenness of Being in Late Plato
MetadataShow full item record
In their respective work on the question of Being, Plato and Martin Heidegger have arrived at apparently quite opposed perspectives. The question of Being might be simply formulated as follows: What do we mean when we posit the existence of something? What mean we by ?is? when we declare, ?Bronze is ductile?? Both Plato and Heidegger endeavor to identify our relation to such an ?is.? Generally speaking, Plato?s long standing metaphysical theory, in many ways the foundation for much of later western thought, was at once rigorous and apparently unyielding. Plato?s splitting of human experience into two fundamentally separate spheres, the remote and intelligible world of Being, and the more propinquitous world of Becoming, accessible to the senses, seemed to locate man at a remove from Being, distanced from those principles by which things come to be. For his part, Heidegger explicitly orients himself against such a strict tradition, arguing that its rigor and tepidity stand as dark threatening guards, sentinel at the gates of thought, preventing an open, neighborly relation to Being. This decisive stance, convenient for Heidegger?s effort to identify Plato as the first of many thinkers of a non-contingent relation to Being, reduces the diversity of Plato?s metaphysical thinking to a single, monolithic project. Turning to the late Platonic dialogue, the Timaeus , we see Plato qualify his earlier metaphysics. This qualification, important in its own right, also serves to resituate Plato in a position more amenable to Heidegger than perhaps even Heidegger thought.