Sean D. Kirkland, Heidegger and the Destruction of Aristotle: On How to Read the Tradition – Northwestern University Press, July 2023
A bold new conception of Heidegger’s project of Destruktion as a method of interpreting history
For Martin Heidegger, our inherited traditions provide the concepts through which we make our world intelligible. Concepts we can also oppose, disrupt, and even exceed. First, however, if Western philosophy is our inheritance, we must submit it to Destruktion—starting with Aristotle. Heidegger and the Destruction of Aristotle: On How to Read the Tradition presents a new conception of Heidegger’s “destruction” as a way of reading.
Situated between Nietzschean genealogy and Derridean deconstruction, this method uncovers in Aristotle the most vital originating articulations of the Western tradition and gives us the means to confront it. Sean D. Kirkland argues this is not a rejection of the past but a sophisticated and indeed timely hermeneutic tool—a complex, illuminating, and powerful method for interpreting historical texts at our present moment. Acknowledging the historical Heidegger as a politically compromised and still divisive figure, Kirkland demonstrates that Heideggerian destruction is a method of interpreting history that enables us to reorient and indeed transform its own most troubling legacies.
“This is an astonishing book. Short but to the point, it profoundly challenges ingrained assumptions about Destruktion in Heidegger’s early thought and the role that concept fulfills in fundamental texts of philosophy. Sean D. Kirkland is uniquely qualified to tackle this topic, which is an obvious lacuna in the research on Heidegger, and the insightfulness and originality of this work positions him as one of the preeminent scholars of his generation on the subject.” —Dimitris Vardoulakis, author of Spinoza, the Epicurean: Authority and Utility in Materialism