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Philosophy Ancient & Classical

Plato and Heidegger

A Question of Dialogue

by (author) Francisco J. Gonzalez

Penn State University Press
Initial publish date
May 2011
Ancient & Classical, Metaphysics, Phenomenology
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2011
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2009
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In a critique of Heidegger that respects his path of thinking, Francisco Gonzalez looks at the ways in which Heidegger engaged with Plato’s thought over the course of his career and concludes that, owing to intrinsic requirements of Heidegger’s own philosophy, he missed an opportunity to conduct a real dialogue with Plato that would have been philosophically fruitful for us all.

Examining in detail early texts of Heidegger’s reading of Plato that have only recently come to light, Gonzalez, in parts 1 and 2, shows there to be certain affinities between Heidegger’s and Plato’s thought that were obscured in his 1942 essay “Plato’s Doctrine of Truth,” on which scholars have exclusively relied in interpreting what Heidegger had to say about Plato. This more nuanced reading, in turn, helps Gonzalez provide in part 3 an account of Heidegger’s later writings that highlights the ways in which Heidegger, in repudiating the kind of metaphysics he associated with Plato, took a direction away from dialectic and dialogue that left him unable to pursue those affinities that could have enriched Heidegger’s own philosophy as well as Plato’s. “A genuine dialogue with Plato,” Gonzalez argues, “would have forced [Heidegger] to go in certain directions where he did not want to go and could not go without his own thinking undergoing a radical transformation.”

About the author

Francisco J. Gonzalez is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa.

Francisco J. Gonzalez's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Gonzalez presents a critical study of Heidegger’s reading of Plato and argues that Heidegger—although he closely analyzed Plato’s philosophy—did not enter a real dialogue with Plato. Gonzalez’s aim is to imagine the dialogue that Heidegger failed to have with Plato and show us the way Heidegger’s own thought was influenced by the refusal of this dialogue. This is a very original work that will be of interest to many philosophers.”

—Catalin Partenie, University of Quebec at Montreal

“Francisco Gonzalez’s book is the most thorough study yet of Heidegger’s encounter with the work of Plato throughout his career. Gonzalez traces the development of Heidegger’s attitude toward Plato from his early lecture courses to the very end of his career in exhaustive detail. Despite the relentless critique of Heidegger’s Plato interpretations within its pages, the book presses for a positive conclusion, that it is up to us to engage the genuine dialogue between these two thinkers that Heidegger himself could never adequately accomplish.”

—Drew A. Hyland, Trinity College

“Gonzalez offers an insightful, impressively detailed, critical study of Heidegger’s work on Plato—from his earliest lecture courses to his later essays.”

—R. M. Stewart, Choice