Dimitri Ginev, "The Universality of Hermeneutics in Joseph Kockelmans’ Version of Hermeneutic Phenomenology" in B. Babich and D. Ginev (eds.), The Multidimensionality of Hermeneutic Phenomenology, 91 Contributions to Phenomenology 70 (Frankfurt am Main: Springer Verlag, 2014), pp. v-xi.


Continental Philosophy | Epistemology | Metaphysics | Philosophy | Philosophy of Science


There is in Professor Kockelmans’s works from the 1950s a gradual transition from Nikolai Hartmann’s theory of the ontological modalities and categories (addressed in its capacity to serve as a prerequisite for reconstructing the ontological assumptions of basic scientifi c theories) to a kind of hermeneutic ontology. This transition is especially palpable in his reading of Hartmann’s “Philosophy of Nature.” In Hartmann’s categorial metaphysics of knowledge Dasein and Sosein (as ways of being) are subordinated to the modes and spheres of being. The transition was by no means accomplished via a direct borrowing of Heidegger’s concept of Dasein . It is rather the idea that the very metaphysics of knowledge should seek to make sense of the ontological categories by having recourse to the interrelations of Dasein and Sosein within the scope of scientifi c knowledge. A true “Philosophy of Nature” cannot avoid addressing the revealing of nature’s being in these interrelations. Professor Kockelmans’s subsequent transformation of Hartmann’s concept of Dasein in terms of ek-sistence as a pre-categorial way of being opened the avenue to hermeneutic phenomenology. The constitution of meaning is the “facticity which the theory of categories presupposes, being unable at the same time to refl ect upon it. Yet important motifs of a categorial metaphysics of knowledge were retained in the new philosophical project. These motifs precisely informed the desire for a rehabilitation of the Greek episteme within the ontological framework. Still in his Dutch period, Professor Kockelmans adopted the view that philosophy is neither a meta-scientifi c world-view nor can it be “naturalized” by recasting its problematic in scientifi c terms and languages. The constitution of meaning in human ek-sistence is the subject which philosophy has to address. Philosophy can master this task by developing a kind of hermeneutic ontology that leaves enough room for epistemological investigations. It is the rehabilitation of the Greek episteme that provides the chance for reconciling such investigations with the ontological search for meaning constitution and truth as un-concealment.