Abstract

One of Heidegger's most insistent assertions about the identity of modern Europe is that its origins are not Greek, as has been assumed in discourses of Western modernity since the Englightenment, but Roman, the epochal consequence of the Roman reduction of the classical Greek understanding of truth, as a-letheia (un-concealment), to veritas (the correspondence of mind and thing). In the Parmenides lectures of 1942-43, Heidegger amplifies this genealogy of European identity by showing that this Roman concept of truth--and thus the very idea of Europe--is also indissolubly imperial. Heidegger's genealogy has been virtually neglected by Western historical scholarship, including classical. Even though restricted to the generalized site of language, this genealogy is persuasive and bears significantly on the conflicted national identity of modern, post-Ottoman Greece. It suggests that the obsessive pursuit of the unitary cultural ideals of the European Enlightenment, in the name of this movement's assumed origins in classical Greece, constitutes a misguided effort to accommodate Greek identity to the polyvalent, imperial, Roman model of the polity that informs European colonial practice. Put positively, Heidegger's genealogy suggests a radically different way of dealing with the question of Greek national identity, one more consonant with the actual philosophical, cultural, ethnic, and political heterogeneity of ancient Greece (what Martin Bernal has called the "Ancient Model") and, thus, one less susceptible to colonization by "Europe."

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