Category: Heidegger in english
Submitter: Murilo Cardoso de Castro


In this logic, one speaks of definition as the means by which the concept undergoes determination. We will, therefore, be able to see, in the consideration of definition, what one properly means by concept and conceptuality. We wish to keep to the Kantian Logic in order to see what is said about definition in the context of actual research, that is, in the only one since Aristotle. Kant is the only one who lets logic become vital. This logic operates in its entirely traditional form afterward in the Hegelian dialectic, which in a completely uncreative way merely adapts traditional logical materials in definite respects.

When we consult Kant’s characterization of definition, we are struck by the fact that definition is treated in the chapter entitled “General Doctrine of Method.” [[Vorlesungen Kants über Logik, edited by A. Buchenau, in Immanuel Kant’s Werke, edited by E. Cassirer, Volume VIII, Berlin 1923, II. Allgemeine Methodenlehre, §§99-109, pp. 323-452.]] Definition is a methodological issue, designed to lend precision to knowledge. It is treated as the means for conveying the “precision of concepts with regard to their content.” [A.a.O., §98.] Through definition the precision of concepts is conveyed. However, definition is, at the same time, a concept: “The definition alone is [. . .] a logically complete concept.” [A.a.O., §99 note.] Therefore, we do not discover, fundamentally, what a concept is without going beyond the definition, and so we must take up what Kant himself says about the concept.
Therefore the genuine definition is the so-called “real definition,” which thus determines what the res in itself is. [A.a.O., II. Allgemeine Methodenlehre, §106.] Definitio is fulfilled through the specification of differences in genus and species. At first glance, this procedure seems odd in this context; one does not immediately understand why in particular the genus and the species should determine the object in its What. It is noteworthy that Kant now says that, to be sure, the real definition has the task of determining the What of the matter from the “first ground” of its “possibility,” or of determining the matter according to its “inner possibility.” [A.a.O., §106 Anm. 2.] But the determination of the definition, as occurring through genus proximum et differentiam specificam, only counts for the “nominal definition” that is generated by comparison. [A.a.O., §106 Anm. 1.] And precisely in the case of the definition of the res, this way of determining does not come into play.

For Kant’s position, the two characteristic aspects are (1) that the definitio is discussed in the doctrine of method and (2) that he determines the basic procedure of the definitio in such a way that it does not come into play for genuine definition.

[12-13] [11] We will inquire back so as to ask ourselves the following: How does it really come about that the definitio determines the being in its being? How does it come about that a definitio, which is genuine knowledge of the matter, becomes a matter of logical perfection? In this, Kant’s position on definitio, lies the fate of Aristotelian research.

We therefore inquire back: definitio is ορισμός, ορισμός is a λόγος, a “self-expression” about being-there as being. Ορισμός is not a way of apprehending through sharp determination, but rather the specific character of ορισμός ultimately arises from the fact that the being itself is determined in its being as circumscribed by the πέρας. Being means being-completed. [See Hs. p. 335 ff.] (GA18:10-13)

Submitted on:  Wed, 24-Jul-2019, 17:16