Volume 14, Issue 1, Fall 2009
On Heidegger’s Closet Cratylism
In the Cratylus, Soc rates discusses with Cratylus and Hermogenes the question of whether names are merely arbitrary or in some sense ‘right,’ that is, motivated by the nature of the things they designate. In this article, I examine Heidegger’s controversial project of unearthing archē Greek terms in the specific light of the Cratylus and the tradition of “Cratylisms” which it has fostered. Having demonstrated the underlying Cratylist tendencies behind Heidegger’s conviction in the inherent ‘appropriateness’ of many Greek keywords, I point out some of the problems posed by this closet Cratylism for Heidegger’s conception of primordial language as well as his critique of the correspondence theory of truth.