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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy


published on January 4, 2018

Jussi Backman
DOI: 10.5840/epoche20171220103

Being Itself and the Being of Beings
Reading Aristotle’s Critique of Parmenides (Physics 1.3) after Metaphysics

The essay studies Aristotle’s critique of Parmenides (Physics 1.3) in the light of the Heideggerian account of Platonic-Aristotelian metaphysics as an approach to being (Sein) in terms of beings (das Seiende). Aristotle’s critique focuses on the presuppositions of the Parmenidean thesis of the unity of being. It is argued that a close study of the presuppositions of Aristotle’s own critique reveals an important difference between the Aristotelian metaphysical framework and the Parmenidean “protometaphysical” approach. The Parmenides fragments indicate being as such in the sense of the pure, undifferentiated “is there” (τὸ ἐόν)—as the intelligible accessibility of meaningful reality to thinking, prior to its articulation into determinate beings. For Aristotle, by contrast, “being itself” (αὐτὸ τὸ ὄν) has no other plausible meaning than “being-something-determinate as such” (τὸ ὅπερ ὄν τι), which itself remains equivocal. In this sense, Aristotle can indeed be said to conceive being in terms of beings, as the being-ness of determinate beings.