Heidegger's Physics of Friendship

Dissertation, Vanderbilt University (2000)
This dissertation aims to be, to date, the most exhaustive discussion of Martin Heidegger's disparate and terse remarks on friendship. Focusing on Heidegger's treatment of Heraclitus' fragment, physis kruptesthai philei, and culling interpretive support from Heidegger's fundamental ontology period as well as his engagement with the poets, Holderlin and Hebel, Heidegger's Physics of Friendship develops Heidegger's basic contention that friendship essentially unfolds as physis---itself, understood as the essential friendship of emergence and concealment. Critical of previous programmatic readings of Heidegger and his Freundschaft and dubious of economic accounts of friendship, I employ Jacques Derrida's treatment of the gift to elucidate the exorbitant and exceptional notion of friendship that emerges in Heidegger's text. ;Heidegger's Physics of Friendship pays special attention to the history of friendship as the concept is developed by Western philosophy---particularly in the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Montaigne, and Kant. Heidegger's understanding of friendship is less a rejection of this tradition than an attempt to disclose the incalculable truth at the heart of friendship---a truth already hinted at but not fully embraced by these prior thinkers. ;In its conclusion this dissertation seeks, again with much owed to the ethical thought of Derrida, to re-conceive interpersonal friendship in light of Heidegger's remarks on friendship and physis. Friendship places aporetic, demoralizing demands on would-be friends. Heeding the truth of physis, we are encouraged to uncover the forgiveness that will have always already animated any friendship deserving of the name
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