Pedersen Publishes on Heidegger and Aristotle

Posted on 3/29/2010 2:21:49 PM

An article by Hans Pedersen of the Department of Philosophy, titled “On Heidegger’s Appropriation of Aristotle’s Concept of Phrōnesis: Where and How Does Phrōnesis Show Up in Being and Time?,” was accepted for publication in the New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Research.

There has arisen, over the past several decades, the tendency to interpret Heidegger’s Being and Time as an appropriation and transformation of Aristotle’s practical philosophy. One particularly influential instance of this interpretive strategy is to maintain that Division I of Being and Time is Heidegger’s appropriation of Aristotle’s concepts of productive activity (poīesis) and the corresponding virtue of craft knowledge (tēchne), while Division II of Being and Time is the appropriation and Heideggerian account of action in the proper sense (prāxis) and the corresponding virtue of practical wisdom (phrōnesis).

Steven Crowell has recently provided a strong challenge to this reading of Being and Time. The broad contours of Crowell’s criticism run as follows. The virtue of phrōnesis can be thought of as excellence in practical reasoning (or deliberation). The interpretive tendency to make a strong connection between phrōnesis and Heidegger’s account of conscience in Being and Time does not work because in his account of conscience, Heidegger is not trying to provide a description of the structure of practical reasoning or a normative analysis of what constitutes excellence in practical reasoning.

I agree with Crowell that there is something lacking in previous Aristotelian interpretations of Division II of Being and Time. Crowell’s criticisms of the previous Aristotelian interpretations of Division II of Being and Time, rather than conclusively refuting the Aristotelian interpretation, serve to highlight the lack of a clear and detailed demonstration of exactly how phrōnesis is transformed into the conception of conscience found in Being and Time. It is the aim of this paper to provide such a demonstration.