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Peter Warnek

Abstract

"Platonism" is not only an example of this movement, the first "in" the whole history of philosophy. It commands it, it commands this whole history. [But the "whole" of this history is conflictual, heterogenous; it gives place to only relatively stabilizable hegemonies. Thus, it is never totalized, never totalizes itself.] A philosophy as such (an effect of hegemony) would henceforth always be "Platonic." Hence the necessity to continue to try to think what takes place in Plato, with Plato, what is shown there, what is hidden, so as to win there or lose there.1

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Peter Warnek

The paper begins by taking seriously Heidegger's provocative claims concerning Hegel's relationship to the Greeks. Most notably, the enigmatic assertion that Hegel, as the "last Greek," brings Greek philosophy to its completion through a historical thinking is considered in terms of the strange sense of repetition it opens up: the Hegelian presentation of Greek philosophy must both present that philosophy, repeat its movement, but also, in the repetition, present the truth of that movement for the first time. It thus must remain undecided whether Hegel's presentation only opens up a necessity already at work in Greek philosophical history or whether that presentation, in fact, first grants such necessity to that history. The singularity of Hegel's relation to the Greeks is then explored through an examination of Hegel's own statements concerning the singularity of Aristotle. In this way, it becomes apparent that Hegel's own thought, in its entirety, asserts itself as nothing other that a decisive repetition of the Aristotelian speculative thought of actuality. This exceptional position of Aristotle in Hegel's logic of history suggests that there is a need for another sense of history's movement, in which that movement does not simply progress but unfolds as the sin- gular dialogue between one Greek and one German.

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Peter Warnek

The paper considers the legacy of Empedocles as it bears upon the difficulty confronted by Hölderlin in his Death of Empedocles: how are we to understand Hölderlin’s failure to complete this ‘mourning play’ despite his continued and repeated efforts? This difficulty is elaborated through a reading of Hölderlin’s own understanding of “elemental tragedy” as it is presented and developed in the three dense so-called Homburg essays on tragedy. It is evident that the understanding of tragedy that emerges here entails a dramatic poetry that would break with the prevailing tradition and its determination of poetry according to a mimetic operation. Aristotle’s own account of Empedocles and his apparent refusal to consider Empedocles as a poet is considered alongside other ancient accounts of Empedoclean poetry, notably those provided by Plutarch, Diogenes Laertius, and Lucretius. In this context, Nietzsche’s account of the end of tragedy through his interpretation of another philosophical death, that of Socrates, is introduced as a counterpoint to help elucidate the difficulties faced by Hölderlin. This Nietzschean account of ‘the image of the dying Socrates’ also proves to be related to Nietzsche’s own brief but provocative statements concerning what is eclipsed with the loss of Empedoclean tragic philosophy and emergence of Socratism. The paper concludes by returning to Hölderlin’s letters to Böhlendorff as these letters make thematic an ‘elemental’ difference in the impossible recovery of the tragic in our time.