The court of justice: Heidegger'sreflections on anaximander

Research in Phenomenology 37 (3):385-416 (2007)
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I examine Heidegger's reflections on the Anaximander fragment, concentrating on the question of justice. In his commentary, Heidegger draws on Nietzsche's thoughts about justice, the will to power, and nihilism to formulate an interpretation of the fragment that connects it to the epochal history and destiny of being. This "ontological" interpretation, constructed in a compelling reading of the history of philosophy, requires that Heidegger first address the historicism and "ontological forgetfulness" prevailing in historical consciousness and historiography, in order to begin thinking towards the possibility of another epoch of being, releasing us from the injustice that is inherent in the ontology that rules in the present historical dispensation. Although Heidegger avoids moral prescription, he cannot avoid critical entanglement in the moral-juridical sense of justice, despite his claims and protestations, since, as his own account of the fragment implies, justice and ontology must be inseparable. Reading Heidegger's commentary in relation to Benjamin's philosophy of history, I argue that Heidegger's reflections on justice suggest a narrative of tragic hope that resembles Benjamin's configuration of justice in his reading of the Baroque mourning-play, where the hopelessly fragmented and imperiled image of justice is revealed as emerging from a Leidensgeschichte fatefully bound up in the continuum of a Schuldgeschichte



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