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The inception of occidental thinking and

Logic: Heraclitus' Doctrine of the logos

Reading group
October 2022 - May 2023

The reading group for the academic year 2022-2023 proposes to study Martin Heidegger’s lecture courses on Heraclitus delivered in 1943 and 1944 at the University of Freiburg. The two texts, The Inception of Occidental Thinking and Heraclitus’ Doctrine of the Logos, constitute Volume 55 of Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe. Having been originally published in 1979 (three years after Heidegger’s death), the first English translation of these texts, by Julia Goesser Assaiante and S. Montgomery Ewegen, was published in 2018. The reading group will take place entirely on Zoom over the Autumn and Winter semesters of 2022/23, beginning in October.

Martin Heidegger identified in the fragments of Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Parmenides an extraordinary importance for both the beginning and the end of philosophy. Parmenides arguably had the greatest influence on Heidegger, occupying his thoughts from the very outset of his career, but the significance of Anaximander to Heidegger’s interpretation of Parmenides and the genuine beginning of philosophy came to prominence in the early 1930s. While Heraclitus appears frequently in Heidegger’s early work, it wasn’t until the mid-1930s that Heidegger began to recognise the paramount place of Heraclitus within this triumvirate of early Greek thinkers. From 1934, Heidegger began to find in the fragments of Heraclitus a corroboration and substantiation of his own thinking on both the inception of Western thought and the nature of language.

Heidegger’s two lecture courses on Heraclitus in 1943-44 represent his most sustained engagement with the Greek thinker. His reading of Heraclitus is as audacious as it is controversial, and his interpretation of logos as ‘that which gathers what-is into presencing and lets it lie before us in it’ remains highly tendentious, with Heidegger even suggesting that Heraclitus’ contemporaries would have felt alienated by such a notion. But Heidegger’s own thinking about the relation of language and being relies heavily on this engagement with Heraclitus, and where such thinking predominated throughout the 1930s, it is brought to fundamental clarity in the present text.

On the Essence of Truth: Martin Heidegger and die Kehre (The Turn)

Reading group and online workshop
May - September 2022

Martin Heidegger’s 1930 lecture Vom Wesen der Wahrheit (On the Essence of Truth) has long been recognised as a decisive event, both in the development of Heidegger’s own work, and the development of how to interpret him.  It was first delivered on Bastille Day, the 14th July, 1930, in Karlsruhe.  William Richardson SJ, still today a towering influence in the Anglophone study of Heidegger, described the lecture as a “breakthrough”: “Here (1930), Heidegger II emerges out of Heidegger I”.  Richardson immediately sounds a note of caution with his bold claim: “how new is the new?”  With that caution in mind, it is for an evaluation and careful qualification of that claim that this series is directed, in the light of the vastly richer resources available now available from Heidegger’s writings.  If there is a “Heidegger I” and a “Heidegger II”, they are not as Richardson suggested, a point that Heidegger had teasingly made in his Vorwort to Richardson’s master-work.  Nor, in 1962, could anyone but Heidegger himself have understood the very division that Heidegger held to himself so tightly.  The division emerges out of an understanding of what Heidegger named with the archaism das Seyn: more precisely, Wahrheit des Seyns (“truth of beyng”), and perhaps most originally, das Anwesen, “presencing”.

Project Leads: Laurence Hemming and Aaron Turner

The beginning of western philosophy: Interpretation of anaximander and parmenides

Reading group 
October 2021 - April 2022

Heidegger’s thought is often divided into ‘early Heidegger’ and ‘later Heidegger’. The transitional phase, questionably defined as a Kehre (‘turn’ or ‘reversal’) in his thinking, has often been traced to his work in the 1930s. Heidegger himself conceived of this Kehre as an Ergänzung (‘fulfilment’) of the schema he announced (but did not complete) in the pages of Being and Time.

The reading group examined some little-understood aspects of the underpinnings of Being and Time, especially Heidegger’s reading of Parmenides, the sources of Greek philosophy, and Heidegger's radical redescriptions of history and historicality to indicate how the Kehre unfolds in Heidegger’s thought, and the extent to which, from the outset, it was driven by a reading of Aristotle and Plato that relied on examining them in the light of the Greeks who preceded them.


Project Leads: Laurence Hemming and Aaron Turner

Plato's sophist

Reading group 
June 2019 - February 2020

In the early 1920s rumours circulated through German academia about a philosopher, a “hidden king of thought” who was “making the classics live again”. Students – many later became leading thinkers – flocked to him. Before the publication of Being and Time in 1927, it was his courses that made Heidegger famous, laying out and developing his ideas, and of all his seminars, Plato’s Sophist is the most celebrated. Attended by Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, Herbert Marcuse and others, this seminar at the University of Marburg in the winter of 1924–25 explored both Plato and Aristotle by reading the figure of the Sophist: crudely, by studying the ‘opposite’ of a philosopher, the seminar aimed to uncover the task of philosophy.

The Sophist lectures are unusual because they encompass not only Heidegger’s reading of Plato, but, in the first third of the text, also his reading of Aristotle. The first section of Plato’s Sophist (§§4–35) is a preparatory reading of several themes in Aristotle’s Physics and Nicomachean Ethics, with references to the Metaphysics. The two most important of these is the consideration of ἀλήθεια (truth) and ἀληθεύειν (speaking truly) and τόπος (place) and θέσις (position) in the overall determination of σοφία (wisdom) in Aristotle’s thought.  More important will be to select specific, often quite short, passages to examine in very close detail, providing a passageway for understanding the earlier Heidegger’s general orientation on classical texts, and a springboard for the later Heidegger’s discussion of “metaphysics” as the origin of “philosophy”, and of “thinking” as a “new beginning” of an “original inception” that preceded Aristotle and Plato, with grounds in Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus and Parmenides, and the poets.

Project Leads: Laurence Hemming and Aaron Turner

Heidegger and the classics

International Workshop 
November 8th 2018

Martin Heidegger remains a controversial figure not just in the history of western philosophy but in just about every school of thought that his philosophy pervades. He is widely regarded, along with Wittgenstein, as one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century and the limit of his influence, encompassing the likes of Gadamer, Foucault, Arendt, Koselleck, Derrida, and Sartre, is beyond measure.


The source of Heidegger’s controversy, notwithstanding his political views and allegiances, is the radical nature of his appropriation and reformulation of practically every major philosophical development since antiquity. He conceived of his project as the overcoming of metaphysics that was initiated by Plato, advanced through Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, and Hegel, and brought to completion by Nietzsche. In doing so, he upturned nearly 2,500 years of western thought in order to turn philosophy back to what he conceived to be its fundamental, yet forgotten, question: the question of Being.


In the Classics, Heidegger is largely ignored. This is perhaps somewhat puzzling given the extent to which the evolution of Classical scholarship over the past century has been grounded in precisely those conceptual developments – hermeneutics, experientialism, intertextuality, narratology, and postmodernism – that Heidegger has, to some degree or another, influenced. It is the purpose of this workshop to assess the nature and legitimacy of Heidegger’s broad exclusion from Classical discourse and to determine how, if at all, his philosophy might be reconciled with modern studies of the ancient world.


Babette Babich (Fordham University)

Andrew Benjamin (Kingston University)

Emanuela Bianchi (NYU)
Sara Brill (Fairfield University)

William Fitzgerald (Kings College London)
Katherine Fleming (Queen Mary, University of London)

Simon Goldhill (University of Cambridge)

Laurence Hemming (Lancaster University)

Ahuvia Kahane (Trinity College Dublin)

Miriam Leonard (UCL)
Denis McManus (University of Southampton)
Thomas Sheehan (Stanford University)

Project Lead: Aaron Turner

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