Graduation Year




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Charles Guignon, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Joanne Waugh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alex Levine, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mor Segev, Ph.D.


art, existentialism, Greeks, Heidegger, phenomenology


Much of the criticism Heidegger has drawn from realism, from postmodernism and even existentialism, as well from the anti-Nazi protests on his philosophy, could be diluted if a defaulted connection was made between Heidegger's metaphysics and the Greeks. Being and Time drafted the blueprint of the origin of predication and world-disclosure from the primordial intuition of the limitations of action in the face of human finitude. This existential reprioritization forced a radical reversal of primacy from nature to culture, having assumed the absolute objectivity of some original world determinacy, the phenomenological structure of which, nevertheless, was never produced in Heidegger’s seminal work or thereafter.

Existentialism has thus been downplayed as a counterintuitive, fanciful hypothesis, and will remain so for as long as horizontal temporality has not made itself available to itself as a negated object of perception in the horizon of disclosure. The objectified subjectivity of Dasein’s cultural bias should be demonstrable, if there is indeed a determinant even firmer and “causally prior” to the object of perception in reified nature. And the theory of freedom that is existentialism will remain a “theory” with a private definition of the term, if both the phenomenological structures of the “objectification” of subjectivity have not appeared: first as the objectivity of freedom that is absolute and universal, but no less than as the object that frees made up from nothing other than the absolute and universal objectivity of freedom.

Heidegger must have felt this most pressing shortcoming in his metaphysics, because in a later monumental work, The Origin of the Work of Art, he avowed of such an object that is both the programmatic manifesto of freedom, and frees, pointing to the Greek Doric temple. He must have realized that the highest objectification of Dasein’s volatile subjectivity was somehow of “Greek” origin, and as I will argue, in this assumption alone he was right. But his proof was premised therein in an incomplete, trivial and self-contradictory way that left exposed to counter-entrenchment his arguments over both the attribution of the origin of reality, and consequently also its subjective constitution. From this point on, existentialism has remained doggedly problematic, if not inconsequential, in being unconnected to its bloodline, that is, phenomenology, and inasmuch as Heidegger’s incomplete metaphysics has remained unconnected to his miscued art theory.

My hermeneutic method seeks this elusive, twofold objectification of subjectivity, in order to justify existentialism by simultaneously making the missing connections between Heidegger and the Greeks, and between Being and Time and The Origin of the Work of Art. The connections I am suggesting are both necessary and possible, provided that Heidegger’s theory of art is modified to grant monumental statuary its due hermeneutic primacy.

Heidegger attributed the disclosure of world in truth-as-untruth to poetry and architecture, while Gadamer, who advanced Heidegger’s phenomenology to the currently predominant hermeneutic theory, also gave primacy to poetry and architecture. Their mistake is critical, because, as I will argue, Greek statuary is the patent twofold objectification of Dasein’s existential analytic, it is the convergence point of evidence to infer Heidegger’s missing theory of embodiment, and it is the ultimate origin of Western metaphysics.

Current theories of embodiment, including Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological case from where a missing dialogue has been attempted to derive Heidegger's theory of embodiment, typically confine themselves to Dasein’s ontological and ontic corporeality. I suggest that such theories should have addressed the necessity of the structures of Reason to incarnate themselves as the fundamental ontological prescriptions of perception. To address the necessity of this incarnation in monumental art as a primordial world disclosure, is to explore in this work a previously untapped tripartite hermeneutic conjecture, where theory of art and theory of embodiment are already theories of perception.

My hermeneutic hypothesis adheres to, corroborates and advances basic phenomenological principles, to show how Dasein’s embodied structures in the exclusivity of Greek statuary have so far been misunderstood, decontextualized, and begged the question, accordingly as a “mystery” (Hegel), as “godly” (von Humboldt), as a “misunderstanding” (Buschor), or as “Greek naturalism” (art historians).

Special attention will be paid to works such as the Laokoön Group, the Ptoan Apollo, the Blond Youth, the Zeus of Artemision and the Gigantomachy. I argue that these cultural fossils provide the most reliable grounds for a thorough commentary to Heidegger’s implied theory of embodiment, because they manifest as the art which relates most intimately to the instrumental modality through which the being-towards-death makes itself phenomenologically available to itself as the negation of the negation to live. Additionally, and in a postmodern world of academic wars that have claimed every aspect of Greek culture as stolen from other great civilizations, such solely uncontested cultural fossils are arguably the unsolicited proof classicists have been unable to produce regarding the exclusively Greek origin of Western metaphysics.

The most consequential thrust of this work seeks to revitalize Heidegger’s claim regarding the origin and the chronology of world against competing alternatives such as Christian metaphysics, science’s Big Bang Theory, or the emasculated feminist case regarding the metaphysical primacy of the womb. The ultimate contribution this work aspires to, is the empowering of a presently stalled paradigm shift from the scientific to an existential-phenomenological world view. This shift would be akin to the one which procured with the advent of the Enlightenment between science and religion - a clash still raging in education – where further progress now demands that humanity leaves behind the disguised alienation which Heidegger himself coined as “the dictatorship of science.”

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