Richard Rojcewicz’s Heidegger, Plato, Philosophy, Death: An Atmosphere of Mortality offers an original perspective on the bond between philosophy and death in the thought of Martin Heidegger and Plato. For Heidegger, authentic being-toward-death is not preoccupation with death as such, nor resoluteness in the face of one's demise, but preoccupation with the meaning of the beings—ourselves—who comport themselves understandingly toward death and who breathe an atmosphere of mortality. Authentic dying is then nothing other than the practice of philosophy. For Plato, philosophy is the practice of dying, the separating of the soul to its own autonomous existence. This separation, however, is not that of the soul from the body. Instead, it is separation from common understanding, hearsay, everydayness, and mediocrity. Accordingly, both Heidegger and Plato see an intimate connection between philosophy and death. Rather than a morbid focus on negativity and dissolution, however, this connection leads to a call to being authentic, thinking for oneself, and repudiating the superficiality of the crowd. For both Heidegger and Plato, philosophizing and dying are, most concretely, a matter of heeding the Delphic oracle: Know thyself. Rojcewicz pursues this theme of philosophy and death through the topics of signs, anxiety, conscience, music, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richard Rojcewicz is former director of the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center at Duquesne University.
Chapter 1: Being and Time as a Platonic Dialogue (On Philosophy and Death)
Chapter 2: Signs and Mortality
Chapter 3: Anxiety and Mortality
Chapter 4: Conscience and Mortality
Chapter 5: Music of Mortality
Chapter 6: Corona-Virus-Disease-2019 and Mortality
Conclusion: Platonic-Heideggerian Intimations of Mortality
About the Author
"Richard Rojcewicz has here orchestrated a uniquely powerful and poetic dialogue between two of the most powerful and poetic thinkers of the Western philosophical tradition on the fundamental relationship between death and philosophy. With analyses that are at once rigorous, illuminating, and deeply moving, Rojcewicz leads us from the age of COVID-19 back to the wonder—and the anxiety—at the origins of philosophy itself."
"Many philosophers have been engaged by the relationship between Plato and Martin Heidegger—whether or not they agree with Heidegger’s critique of Plato that the Greek is the founder of that 'metaphysics' that now needs to be surpassed. Rojcewicz’s book—provocative in the literal sense of the word—largely bypasses this controversy, and instead concentrates on demonstrating the sustained kinship between the two thinkers on the crucial issues of philosophical living and death. Every reader will find something here with which to disagree; but every reader will also find him or herself deeply engaged in Rojcewicz’s path of thinking."
“Rojcewicz uses his extensive expertise in the texts of Plato and Heidegger to demonstrate how Being and Time can be illuminated profoundly by Heidegger’s prior familiarity with Plato’s works, particularly the Sophist. In so doing, Rojcewicz provides an original and penetrating analysis of the existential analysis of Being and Time that provides convincing evidence of the profound relevance of the work for current psychology, ontology, and ethics.”
"Rojcewicz’s book offers an original and penetrating inquiry into the two bookends of the western philosophical tradition—Plato and Heidegger—surrounding the matter of death and dying. Sprawling, rigorous, and occasionally playful, this book convincingly argues for an intimacy between these two thinkers who are often treated (even sometimes by Heidegger himself) as being fundamentally opposed. Moreover, by focusing his inquiry not only on philosophy, but on music and poetry as well, Rojcewicz points to the many ways in which human beings confront, suffer, and live their mortality. Blending his own voice harmoniously with Plato’s and Heidegger’s, Rojcewicz offers us a vital and topical meditation on death, which is all the more pressing given the state of the world today."