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nature and phusis

Subject Philosophy

People Heidegger, Martin

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631190950.1999.x


Natur comes the Latin natura , ‘birth, character, natural order, etc.’, and this in turn from nasci , ‘to be born, grow, be produced’, with its perfect participle natus. The Greek phusis has a similar range of meaning, and comes from phuein , ‘to grow, bring forth’, and, in the passive voice, ‘to grow, spring forth, etc.’ Heidegger insists that the Latin translation of phusis , as with all potent Greek words, destroyed its original force (IM, 10f./11. Cf. LIV, 57ff.). Phusis occasionally appears in early lectures. The Greeks regarded being as ‘presence and presence-at-hand [Anwesenheit und Vorhandenheit] of phusis in the widest sense’ (XXI, 77). ‘Phusis is not “nature”; it is […] “what is of its own accord”, what subsists in itself’ (XXII, 287). But it does not appear in BT, and does not become prominent until later. In early lectures and BT, Natur is often contrasted with ‘history’, as the realm of the natural sciences in contrast to that of the ‘humane’ or ‘social sciences’ ( Geisteswissenschaften ) (XX, 1). It also contrasts with ‘grace’ or the ‘super-natural’, with ‘art’, and with ‘spirit’ (ECP, 237). That Natur contrasts with other fields is one of its defects. It represents not an original, uncontaminated view of being(s), but a specific realm of beings demarcated in view of a prior conception of beings as such, before any such demarcation occurs. It is this ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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