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Gatherings: The Heidegger Circle Annual

Volume 9, 2019

Khafiz Kerimov
Pages 116-144

From Matter to Earth
Heidegger, Aristotle, and “The Origin of the Work of Art”

This article focuses on Heidegger’s engagement with the distinction between form and matter in the 1935 essay “The Origin of the Work of Art.” This distinction is articulated by Aristotle in the context of production (of useful equipment), which is taken to be finished once a certain matter (potentiality) is subjected to a certain form or shape (actuality). Insofar as Aristotle takes actuality to have primacy over potentiality, he is unable to think material potentiality as such (save in the paradoxical idea of “prime matter”). Against the Aristotelian thinking of hylomorphism, however, Heidegger takes art as an instance of the reversal of the traditional relationship between form and matter. By appealing to artworks, Heidegger shows an excess of material potentiality over form and function, which he calls “earth.”

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