The Worldhood of the Kosmos

in Heidegger's Reading of Heraclitus*

Nythamar de Oliveira

* Originally published in Manuscrito XIX/1 (1996): 201-224.

According to Diogenes Laertius (IX, 5), Heraclitus of Ephesus was the author of a "book" (biblion) whose title was, as many works misleadingly assigned to the fusikoi or "natural philosophers," Peri fusewV, "On Nature." Following Hermann Diels's critical compilation of Presocratic fragments and testimonies, scholars have maintained that Heraclitus' original collection of sayings very likely underwent several editorial arrangements, including Laertius's division of the work into three sections (peri tou pantoV kai politikon kai qeologikon)(1). Nevertheless, to speak of the whole (to pan, to olon) in mere terms of a "cosmology" (i.e. as "study of the universe") risks doing a great deal of injustice to the original sense of kosmos in Heraclitus' fragments. In point of fact, the Heraclitean conception of the kosmoV turns out to be very complex and nuanced, to say the least.(2) Moreover, it is precisely to accentuate the distinction between what later became latinized as "universe" (universum) and the pre-Pythagorean understanding of the Greek kosmos articulated by Heraclitus that I set out to examine the latter, with a view to elucidating the Heideggerian conception of Weltlichkeit. The phenomenological problematic of articulating fusiV and kosmoV in Heidegger's reading of Heraclitus, along with his appropriation of Parmenides' alhqeia,(3) constitutes in effect one of the greatest features of the Heideggerian logoV. In order to better understand the Heideggerian conception of Weltlichkeit in its full phenomenological determination, i.e., as the horizonal fainesqai which lets beings come to appear as they are in the world, I intend to examine how Heraclitus' notion of the kosmoV may contribute to a phenomenological "return to the things themselves." Before proceeding to explore Heidegger's conception of the world in Sein und Zeit (in particular, § 14) I shall recall Heraclitus' articulation of kosmoVand fusiV in the very fragments invoked by Heidegger in his 1928 treatise Vom Wesen des Grundes, in the 1935 course Einführung in der Metaphysik, and in the Heraclitus seminar (Winter 1966/67).

Heraclitus' Conception of the Kosmos

Although the Greek word kosmoV occurs only once or four times --depending on textual authenticity-- in Heraclitus' fragments,(4) its meaning seems to underlie many other guiding motifs of his thought such as "Logos" and "Fire." To be sure, it would be misleading to attempt to retrieve the original meaning of kosmoV in Heraclitus' fragments by simply examining the textual occurrences of the term. Besides the hermeneutical limitations imposed by any textual exegesis, there remains an intertextual, critical task of establishing the authentic texts and their semantic and conceptual contexts. This correlation between textual meaning and philoso-phical significance translates thus -- and always already betrays-- a certain hermeneutical circularity in our reading of Heraclitus' fragments. As Eugen Fink wisely conceded, to "leave open what kosmoV means with Heraclitus"(5) is perhaps an effective strategy to start any exploration of the cosmic fragments.

kosmon [tonde] ton auton ‘apantwn oute tiV qewn oute anqrwpwn epoihsen, all’ hn aei kai estin kai estai pur aeizwon, aptomenon metra kai aposbennumenon metra (D. 30)

This kosmos [the same for all] no god nor man has made, but it always was and is and will be: an everliving fire, kindling in measures and in measures going out.(6)

Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis V,104,1) is supposedly quoting Heraclitus here in reference to the so-called doctrine of world-conflagration (ekpurwsiV), which has been regarded, especially in Stoic traditions, as a cosmological interpretation of the Heraclitean pur aeizwon. While both Simplicius (de caelo 294) and Plutarch (de an. proc. 5, 1014) omit ton auton pantwn, Clement's omission of the demonstrative pronoun tonde --retained by Simplicius and Plutarch-- has lent to different interpretations of the word oµo in this context. Thus Kahn, who translates it as "the ordering," goes on to define the cosmological problematic in paradoxical terms:

We are faced with two paradoxes: an array that is not local or particular but 'the same for all'; and an instance of order without an orderer, like a disciplined host without a commander, a law without a lawgiver, or a work of art without an artisan. The first paradox is resolved by a shift to the philosophical sense of kosmos. The world order is naturally 'common,' the same for all men and for all things: that is just what is meant by a world order.(7)

Kahn succeeds in articulating fusiV and kosmoV so as to define the latter as "self-made or self-grown," as opposed to a generated world-order separated from its archic source. Even so, the problematic of totality risks being somewhat undermined by any reading of this important fragment, as the identification of pur and kosmoV does not convincingly resolve the Heraclitean puzzle of ‘armonih as a Logos-principle bringing together the one and the many on the cosmic level of commonness, ton auton apantwn. For what is "common" (xunoV), "what is shared" by all (ta panta), is precisely what is at stake in the Heraclitean problematic of the kosmos.(8) Granted that the kosmos is "the same for all," there persists the ontological problem of elucidating how "this kosmos" manifests such a "totalizing" nature without becoming just another entity, on the one hand, and without being reduced to the sum total of all natural beings, on the other. Therefore, in order to understand the fusiV of the kosmoV, we must more carefully examine the fragment's context and its philosophical implications.

In the first place, equating kosmoV tonde and pur aeizwon implies more than a metaphorical rapprochement between the ordering and becoming of kosmoV and fusiV as one and the same. It also contrasts the enduring nature of "this" kosmos with the very changes taking place in the kosmos. Therefore, we must heed Heraclitus' conception of "everliving fire," not only as a cosmic metaphor but, above all, as an active milieu of interplay, a between-place which gives measure (aptomenon metra) and takes it away (aposbennumenon metra). In this sense, we can think of other cosmic interplays of opposites, such as need and satiety (D. 65),(9) cold and warmth (D. 126), sea and earth (D. 31A), which similarly corroborate the view of world-fire as the unveiling and concealment of the . That nature loves to hide (fusiV kriptesqai filei D.123) will only confirm, in the end, what the effects of a cosmic fire always manifest in the becoming of the world. As Heidegger put it so well, commenting on D. 30,

World is enduring fire, enduring rising in the full sense of fusiV. Though we are speaking of an eternal world-conflagration here, we must not first imagine a world which is independent and is then set ablaze and consumed by some ever-burning torch. Rather, the worlding of the world, to pur, to aeizwon, to mh dunon pote, are all the same.(10)

touV kaqeudontaV oimai ‘o HrakleitoV erataV einai legei kai sunergouV [twn en tw kosmw ginomenwn]. (D. 75)

Heraclitus says, I suppose, [that] "Men asleep are laborers and co-workers [in what takes place in the kosmos]."

Kirk argues that twn en tw kosmw ginomenwnwas likely added by the author of this quotation, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Meditations VI.42).(11) Kahn has opportunely remarked that since the emperor was freely citing from memory, this fragment remains too vague and unreliable to elucidate our understanding of Heraclitus' philosophy. It may serve, however, to introduce us to the Heraclitean interplay of "wakefulness" and "sleep," which is thematized in the next fragment.

o HrakleitoV fhsi toiV egrhgorosin ‘ena kai koinon kosmon einai, twn de koimwmenwn ekaston eiV idion apostrefesqai (D. 89)

Heraclitus says [that] "The kosmos of the waking is one and shared, but [that] the sleeping turn aside each into their own kosmos."

Once again, an interpolation of the word kosmoV is found in the fragment (Plutarch, de superstitione 166C). However, if we discount Plutarch's paraphrase --notably his use of koinoV instead of xunoV--, we still obtain an authentic Heraclitean leitmotif, viz., the contrast between the common-ruling Logos, xunoV logoV (D. 2), and "private opinions" (ta idia, ewutoisi dokeousi "seem to themselves," in D. 17). For Heraclitus, the pursuit of arethand swfrosunh beyond the Delphic quest, distinguishes the sofoV from ’oi polloi not only because of the waking state of the former (as opposed to the sleeping of the latter) --it would be an anachronism to speak of "consciousness" in this context,-- but precisely because of the former's "speaking and doing what is unveiled according to nature," alhqea legein kai poiein kata fusin(D.112).

Philosophical wisdom, sofih, even before the institutional advent of philosophy as such, emerges out of the un-concealment (a-lhqeia) of the fusiV. As if the fusiVof the kosmoVwere, therefore, to wake human beings to life and death (cf. D. 21, 26, 88), to what is always already common to them all. For a mortal to be born, grow up and age with the change of seasons, and die to give birth to its other (D. 62) there must be something like a flame of becoming, common to all the manifold manifestations of its being. "Waking," in this context, rather than expressing the notion of "awakening" as an act of awareness taking place in a kosmos against which the yuchsets out to know, translates instead the pre-givenness of this ordering fire. Humans only wake to the becoming of beings and their growing (fuein) insofar as the fusiVbrings to light their being common to the kosmoV . To be awake means thus to be brought to light at the kruptesqaiof fusiV (D. 123). And this paradox is certainly not to be dialectically formulated.(12) According to Heraclitus, thinking well (swfronein) is to recognize and be acquainted with the very un-concealment of the fusiV. The many, on the other hand, are the ones who "are oblivious of what they do awake, just as they are forgetful of what they do asleep" (D. 1).

sarma eikh kexumenwn ‘o kallistoV, fhsin HrakleitoV, [‘o] kosmoV (D. 124)

Heraclitus says, "The most beautiful kosmos is a heap of random sweepings."

Kahn concedes that even though Theophrastus' text is "badly preserved" (Metaphysica 15), at least the jeu de mots on kosmos must belong to Heraclitus.(13) The Diels-Kranz edition used by Heidegger slightly differs from Kahn's:

all’ wsper sarma eikh kexumenwn ‘o kallistoV kosmoV

Hence the possibility of interpreting kosmoV as Theophrastus' interpolation --"the most beautiful" becoming an epithet to anqrwpwn.(14) Heidegger prefers the less critical reading of the fragment, which he translates: "The most beautiful world is like a heap of rubble, tossed down in confusion." He even goes so far as to comment on the contrast between armonih and sarmaV:

Sarma is the antithesis of logos, that which is merely tossed down over against that which stands in itself, muddle over against togetherness, unbeing over against being.(15)

For Heidegger, the fusiV of the kosmoV is always already bound up with the "gathering together" (legein) of the logoV. It is beyond the scope of this article to critically examine Heidegger's reading of the Heraclitean logoV, and yet I should like to invoke the so-called "Logos fragment" (D. 50) in order to reintroduce the problematic of the kosmos in terms of the whole. It is well known that Heidegger reads the Heraclitean claim that "all things are one" (’en panta einai) as the disclosure of Being, alhqeia as the very event of gathering together, legein. As he explains it in his polemical "Logos" essay,

When we can see in LogoV how the ’En essentially occurs as unifying, it becomes equally clear that this unifying which occurs in the LogoVremains infinitely different from what we tend to represent as a connecting or binding together. The unifying that rests in legeinis neither a mere comprehensive collecting nor a mere coupling of opposites which equalizes all contraries. The ’En Pantalets lie together before us in one presencing things which are usually separated from, and opposed to, one another, such as day and night, winter and summer, peace and war, waking and sleep, Dionysus and Hades.(16)

Heidegger's explicit omission of the verb einaiis at once revealing and strategic: the infinitive verb is "set aside" so as to be unveiled in its own concealment, as it were, between ’En and Panta. It is precisely to avoid "an overhasty account of the world" that Heidegger lets the formula ’En Pantaappear as the betweeness which accounts for the ontico-ontological difference.

Heidegger refrains from simply asserting that "one is all" because traditional logic fails to grasp the ontological meaning of the Heraclitean einai. For "One" to be "All" einai must not be read into the Logos (it is already there), nor does it call for Heraclitus' authority or authorship (ouk emou). The very problem of translating einai reveals the syntactic, logical aporia in saying the truth of Being without getting caught up in endless, meta-physical tautologies. "To agree that one is all" the sofoV must only listen to the pregiven logoV, always already unveiling in the concealment of Being. einai may be trivially translated as "being," "that is" or "to be," simply referring to the self-evident, predicative function of the copula. However, to assert that "S is p," to recognize with Leibniz that the predicatum is always present in a subjectum,(17) does not sufficiently translate the meaning of Being --insofar as not all propositions or sentences logoi can be actually reduced to propositional constructs. In particular, to assign predicative and subjective values to ’En and Pantaalready presupposes an ontological understanding of these terms. How is "one" opposed to "all"? Are these two words to be identified, differentiated, and contrasted after all? What determines the relation of one to the other? According to Heidegger, the betweeness of ’En Panta elucidates the entire problematic of the Being of beings and must be ontologically articulated as kosmoV. What is common to all is one, what "ever was and is and will be," and cannot be reduced to an entity but transcends and makes possible every manifestation of its immanent becoming. The way between ’En and Panta cannot, therefore, be understood in a dialectical process, as if the absolute immanence of the world secured its transcendental constitution against onto-theo-logical foundations. On the contrary, Heidegger has convincingly shown how metaphysics, and transcendental thought in particular, has sought after grounds that never accounted for the structural transcendence of the world. To a certain extent, the world is groundless, in that its being is not caused by anything else, but its constituting a world allows for the manifoldness of being to be manifest. For Heidegger, the Being of beings, i.e. "that which determines entities as entities" (SZ 6), has fallen into oblivion precisely because metaphysical thinking withdrew, as it were, from the world. To the kosmos we must return.

Heidegger's Conception of Worldhood

We have seen some of the difficulties inherent in the Heraclitean conception of kosmoV. The predicative relation of pur aeizwonto kosmoV tonde (D. 30) remains problematic and needs further elucidation. In this essay, I have proposed a phenomenological articulation between the principial nature of the kosmos and its transcendental structure, so as to avoid any hasty, logical identification of the kosmos with an entity or with the sum of entities. Although Heraclitus did not explicitly define the kosmoVas "horizon," we have seen that both "ordering" and "betweeness" fairly translate his cosmology as the gathering together of unity (’en) and whole (panta). Perhaps one of the greatest contributions of Heidegger's reading of the Presocratics to phenomenology consists in the very retrieval (Wiederholung) of the ontological transcendence of the kosmos in Heraclitus' cosmology.

In effect, Heraclitus' cosmological overcoming of forgetfulness underlies Heidegger's reading of the Presocratics, beyond post-Aristotelian reductions of the latter to naturalistic metaphysics. At the very beginning of Sein und Zeit, Heidegger refers to Aristotle's third book of Metaphysics so as to formulate the Seinsfrage in terms of the Presocratic correlation of to ‘en and to on. According to the Peripatetic, the Presocratics could not successfully articulate the ontological question precisely because they identified "Unity and Being" with one single principial cause (aitia, arxh) --in Heraclitus' case, with "fire." In a nutshell, Aristotle argues that the Presocratics recognized only the "material cause," having failed to understand the fourfold causation of the kosmos. Hence he goes on to say,

...[U]nless one assumes Unity and Being to be substance [ousian] in some sense, no other universal term can be substance; for Unity and Being are the most universal of all terms [kaqolou malista pantwn], and if there is no absolute Unity or absolute Being, no other concept can well exist apart from the so-called particulars.(18)

Heidegger has carefully shown that Aristotle's work remains one of the best clues to the understanding of Western metaphysics and to the "destruction" of its onto-theo-logic. For Aristotle's Metaphysics bears witness to the oblivion of Being at the same time that it compels us to a phenomenological return to the ordering of the fusiV. Although Heidegger remarks that even Aristotle failed to articulate Being qua universal transcendens in terms of its onto-logical determinateness (SZ 3), it is in light of the Aristotelian conception of logein qua apofainesqai that Heidegger seeks to retrieve the question of the kosmos as the phenomenological problem par excellence. To describe the "world" as a phenomenon, i.e. "to let us see what shows itself in 'entities' within the world," such is the main task of phenomenology which Heidegger undertakes to explore in the third chapter of Part One of his magnum opus (SZ 63ff).

"The worldhood of the world" (Die Weltlichkeit der Welt) designates more than one theme among others in Being and Time, it remains Heidegger's lasting contribution to phenomenology and the guiding motif of his opera omnia.(19) Although I cannot elaborate on this problem here, it is my contention that Heidegger’s contribution problematizes the taken-for-granted ontological conceptions of both naturalism (empiricism) and transcendental phenomenology, including heremeneutics. To paraphrase Foucault’s critical reading of the Heideggerian Seinsgeschichte, Heraclitus’ conception of both logos and kosmos as transcendence favors what may be termed an empirical-transcendental perspectivism, or a transnaturalism that resists all temptations to reduce thought to being, and vice-versa, without accounting for the very meaning of either. Since I am confined to the conception of Weltlichkeit in light of Heidegger's reading of Heraclitus, I did not intend to explore all the cosmological implications of Dasein's analytic in Being and Time. However, it was with a view to understanding Being-in-the-World as the basic state of Dasein (SZ 53-62), that Heidegger set out to problematize and elucidate anew the concept of kosmos. As early as 1927, in his magisterial lecture-course on "The Basic Problems of Phenomenology," Heidegger boldly asserted that "[t]he concept of the world, or the phenomenon thus designated, is what has hitherto not yet been recognized in philosophy."(20) And he proceeds to distinguish "the whole cosmos," "the universe," from the world which philosophically transcends the totality of all entities, in the very "alethic" sense of Heraclitus' ordering. He adds,

World is not something subsequent that we calculate as a result from the sum of all beings. The world comes not afterward but beforehand, in the strict sense of the word. Beforehand: that which is unveiled and understood already in advance in every existent Dasein before any apprehending of this or that being, beforehand as that which stands forth as always already unveiled to us.(21)

Dasein is always already in the world. Accordingly, "world" must now on be understood in a phenomenological sense, as opposed to the "pre-philosophical" concept of world as "totality of intra-worldly beings." For Heidegger, the world is "a determination of being-in-the-world, a moment in the structure of the Dasein's mode of being."(22) This radical understanding of the world has lent to subjectivist and existentialist misreadings of Heidegger's project, but neither philosophical anthropology nor humanism is what determines the ultimate orientation of this cosmological problematic. In fact, the question of the world, as we have seen, remains above all an ontological question. Thus, in order to overcome the epistemological present-at-hand (vorhanden) dichotomy opposing a subject vis-à-vis an object, Heidegger shows that Dasein's everyday attitude towards the ready-to-hand (zuhanden) does not require the emergence of a thematically conscious subject (SZ 67 ff.) Heidegger's critique of traditional "ontology" is particularly aiming at the idea of a primordial intentionality, which always already presupposes a background (Umwelt) that accounts for the most trivial relations of everydayness. The context or background of the world always precedes Dasein's "consciousness of something."

There remains, however, a fundamental question: How is Dasein's primacy articulated with the primacy of the world? It is precisely to elucidate the relationship of Dasein to the world that Heidegger calls for a phenomenological understanding of the kosmos and its transcendental implications. In Vom Wesen des Grundes, Heidegger defines the Presocratic concept of the kosmos as Zustand ("condition," "state of affairs"), "the How in which being is in its totality." He proceeds then to support this interpretation by pointing to the use of the expression kosmoV outoV, "this kosmos," not as an exclusion of "another kosmos," but "rather one world of being in contrast to a different world of the same being, eon (being) itself kata kosmon (in relation to the kosmos)."(23) Although Heidegger refers the reader to Melissus (fr. 7) and Parmenides (fr. 2) --perhaps to reaffirm the one transcending every becoming of all beings and to problematize the popularized opposition of Heraclitus to Parmenides--,(24) Heraclitus' kosmon tonde (D. 30) can be now more fully articulated in its essential meaning of transcendence. First, it is interesting to remark that Heidegger translates Heraclitus' fragment 89 as it follows:

The wakeful have one single cosmos that is common to all, while in sleep each man turns away from this world into his own.(25)

Although "this world" does not appear in the text, Heidegger is certainly relying on his reading of fr. 30 to underlie the Daseinish, transcendental formulation ofkosmon tonde. The demonstrative adjective/pronoun ode ("this," here in this place) is often contrasted with ekeinos ("that," in that place). As to the demonstrative outoV, depending on context, it can mean "this" or "that." Thus, Heidegger goes on to observe that kosmoV outoV preserved its archaic, Daseinish connotation even in later usages, as we find it, for instance, in Paul's epistles to the Corinthians and to the Galatians. Unfortunately, Christian theology has over-looked this fundamental, ontological significance, and has lent it instead to a dualist opposition of this, worldly kosmos to that, otherworldly kosmos (e.g., the epouranios of Pauline theology). Heidegger's "destruction of the onto-theo-logic" has radically operated a return to the worldliness of this world, which alone makes possible the opening to all other worlds and to the whole world as a universe (such as the spheres of the sun, moon, and stars). In this regard, one can no longer speak of causality external to this kosmos, not even a divine causa sui, for the principle of transcendence is the very worldhood or worldliness of the world. That brings us back to the Heraclitean problematic of articulating the physis of this kosmos with the pur aeizwon (D. 30).

One of the most striking features of the Heraclitus Seminar lies in the different methodologies adopted by Heidegger and Fink in their approach to Heraclitus' fragments. While Heidegger proceeds from the logos fragments to those dealing with pur, Fink's reading operates in the opposite direction. This significant difference becomes particularly prominent in their reading of fr. 30 (chapter 5). In reply to Heidegger's strategic question, "How do you want to translate kosmoV?," Fink passes over the first half of the fragment and gives his interpretation of the second half, highlighting as the subject of the second part of the sentence. Hence oµo plays for Fink a rather secondary role in his cosmology, which can actually be characterized as a veritable "pyrology." In his own words, "The kosmoV as the beautiful joining of panta is that which shines in fire."(26) Heidegger, on the other hand, maintains that even if Diels is rightly interpreting kosmos (diese Weltordnung) as the subject of the second half (i.e. kosmos is the pur aeizwon), there remains the "central question" of deciding whether one starts out from hn, estin, and estai or rather from pur aeizwon.(27) I think Heidegger's ironic way of asking questions and problematizing this dialogue is revealing not only for his understanding of time and temporality, but also for his ontological conception of worldhood. In the first place, Heidegger perceives the danger of affirming the primacy of Heraclitean as if the were mistakenly regarded as a merely material cause. That is why he opportunely reminds Fink that "hn and estai have no sense in reference to aeizwon."(28) Although Fink concedes that we cannot speak of pyr as "within time," he fails to problematize the very notion of kosmos, which he continually uses in the natural sense of panta, world, the "place" where "things" happen.(29) Heidegger grants that pur aeizwon cannot be regarded as a "thing," concluding that no "was," "is" and "will be" can be predicated of it.(30) Therefore, the notion of kosmos which functions as subject in the second half of the fragment cannot be separated from the predicate of the first half, kosmoV tonde (accusative). The kosmos is not confined to where "everliving fire" takes place, nor is it a substantial moment comprising the whole of beings. The best clue to Heidegger's reading of this fragment is to be found in his own translation of the text,

Dieser Kosmos [ich lasse das Wort absichtlich unübersetzt] ist immer derselbe durch alles hindurch und weder hat ihn geschaffen ein Gott noch einer der Menschen, sondern diese war immer, ist immer und wird immer sein ein immerflammendes Feuer, aufflammend nach Ma und verlöschend nach Maß.(31)

Besides deliberately leaving the word oµo untranslated, Heidegger takes the liberty of interpreting it in its . The physis of the kosmos consists, therefore, in "flaming up and dying away in accordance with its own measure." The worlding of the kosmos is clearly translated in this passage as the horizonal interplay between clearings that flare up and the closing off of breadths where light dies out. The worldhood of the world is indeed what accounts for the lighting of the fainomena, the manifestness of "the totality of what lies in the light of day or can be brought to light" (SZ 28). The phenomenological retrieval of the kosmos implies also a recovery of the physis. That is why Heidegger problematizes, from the outset, any "natural conception of the world" (SZ 51f.)--and hence his consistent critique of naturalism. For in order to conceive of nature as "an entity which is encountered within the world" (SZ 63), one must always start, as it were, from within this world. Thus, "[n]either the ontical depiction of entities within-the-world nor the ontological Interpretation of their Being is such as to reach the phenomenon of the 'world'"(SZ 64). Because world and Dasein belong together in the same relation of betweeness and transcendence, worldhood itself is defined as an existentiale (SZ 64). In the last analysis, worldhood cannot be ontologically understood apart from Dasein's fundamental state of Being-in-the-world (SZ 65).

By way of conclusion, we arrive at the Heideggerian conception of kosmos as Weltlichkeit. As opposed to his use of the word "world" in ontological terms, Heidegger mentions two different ontical concepts of "world," viz. world as (als) the totality of beings (universe) and the environmental world wherein (worin) a factical Dasein is said to live (e.g., public and domestic world). An ontological use of "world" is found in the appearing of entities to (an) a determinate address of intentionality (e.g., the realm of possible objects of mathematics). While both the first and third "worlds" are defined as sum of entities (ta panta), the second one is defined as horizon since the life-world is Dasein's "natural" milieu. Heidegger introduces a fourth conception of world to designate what has been called "worldhood" or "worldliness" (SZ 93). As an ontological, horizonal world, worldhood is another way of saying that the world worlds, just as time times. In effect, Weltlichkeit and Zeitlichkeit essentially translate the same truth of Being, the a-lhqeia of the En Panta. By asserting the world-liness of the kosmos as betweeness out of which (aus) Dasein's being emerges, Heidegger has successfully elucidated the Heraclitean articulation of kosmos and physis, beyond all predicative aporias, in the very cwrein of the one and the many.(32) Heidegger's "fragmentary reading" of Heraclitus has, at once, resolved some syntactical ambiguities and problematized anew some of the most important philosophical notions that were either taken for granted or had fallen into oblivion. Among these, the question of Being and the question of the world, which constitute together the crux of philosophical thought. After all, to affirm the worldhood of this kosmos and to meditate on the How of appearing remains the beautiful, ongoing task of phenomenological thinking.


1. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, with an English translation by R.D. Hicks, vol II, (London and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970), IX 6.

2. Cf. A. Jeannière, La pensée d'Héraclite d'Ephèse et la vision présocratique du monde (Paris: PUF, 1959); G.S. Kirk, Heraclitus: The cosmic fragments, (Cambridge University Press, 1962); C. Kahn, The Art and Thought of Heraclitus, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).

3. Cf. M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit [hereafter SZ], (7th ed., Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1953), §§ 4 and 44.

4. Since I am relying on the 6th ed. by W. Kranz of H. Diels's Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, (Dublin/Zürich: Weidmann, 1967) -- in fact, a reprint of the 1952 ed.--, the fragments are referred to by their Diels-Kranz notation (here abbreviated as "D.") and quoted in Greek as they have been critically edited by Charles Kahn, op. cit.

5. M. Heidegger and E. Fink, Heraclitus Seminar 1966/67, trans. C. Seibert, (The University of Alabama Press, 1979), 23.

6. Otherwise indicated, my own translation.

7. C. Kahn, op. cit., 133 f.

8. On the Heraclitean conception of vo, cf. D. 51 and 80, where the conception of cosmic µov explains the unity of opposites manifest in nature (D. 10, 59, 60, 61, 67, 88, 126).

9. Hippolytus' citation is particularly interesting for the interplay between the ekpyrosis and the construction of the kosmos, following the Stoic opposition of Peace to War.

10. M. Heidegger, "Aletheia," in Early Greek Thinking, trans. D.F. Krell and F. Capuzzi, (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), 117.

11. G.S. Kirk, Heraclitus: The Cosmic Fragments, op. cit., 313. Cf. ibid., 42 ff.

12. Cf. Hegel's dialectical appropriation of Heraclitus in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy.

13. Kahn, op. cit., 287.

14. Cf. Kirk, op. cit., 220.

15. M. Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Ralph Manheim, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), 133.

16. M. Heidegger, "Logos" (Heraclitus, Fragment B 50), in Early Greek Thinking, op. cit., 71.

17. Cf. M. Heidegger, The Essence of Reason, trans. Terrence Malick, (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1969), 15.

18. Metaphysics III, iv.27 (B 1001 a 21-24), trans. Hugh Tredennick, "Loeb Classical Library," vol. XVII, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 135. Cf. I, iii. 3-17.

19. I am indebted to the lecture-courses by Professors Klaus Held, John Sallis, and John Caputo on Heidegger's phenomenology and Greek thought.

20. M. Heidegger, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, trans. Albert Hofstadter, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), 165.

21. Ibid., 165.

22. Ibid., 166.

23. M. Heidegger, The Essence of Reasons, op. cit., 49.

24. Cf. SZ 219-223, where Heidegger's only reference to Heraclitus (Fragment 1, on n. xxxv) occurs in the context of his appropriation of Parmenides' to explain Being-in-the-world as the foundation for the primordial phenomenon of truth.

25. Ibid., 49. My emphasis.

26. Heraclitus Seminar, op. cit., 56.

27. Ibid., 57.

28. Ibid., 58.

29. Cf. ibid., 60.

30. In fact, the problem of the thing underlies Heidegger's concern with the translation of eon (Ionic for the Attic on, as it appears in Plato's Sophist 244a). Cf. SZ 63: "Die 'Welt' phänomenologisch beschreiben wird demnach besagen: das Sein des innerhalb der Welt vorhandenen Seienden aufweisen und begrifflich-kategorial fixieren. Das Seiende innerhalb der Welt sind die Dinge, Naturdinge und 'wertbehaftete' Dinge. Deren Dinglichkeit wird Problem; und sofern sich die Dinglichkeit der letzteren auf der Naturdinglichkeit aufbaut, ist das Sein der Naturdinge, die Natur als solche, das primäre Thema."

31. M. Heidegger, "Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik," in Gesamtausgabe, Band 30, ed. F.-W. von Hermann, (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1983), 47.

32. Cf. Plato's popular quote "panta cwrei" in Cratylus 402a.


Email: [email protected]