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Born in southern Germany, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) taught philosophy at the University of Freiburg and the University of Marburg. His published works include: Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1929); An Introduction to Metaphysics (1935); Discourse on Thinking (1959); On the Way to Language (1959); Poetry, Language, Thought (1971). His best-known work is Being and Time (1927).
This book simultaneously gave voice to and shaped some of the central ideas of 20th Century thought and culture. Few books can equal it in importance. It is very hard--don't imagine that you can pick it up and read it on your own--but it is immensely rewarding of serious study. Heidegger criticizes the view of the person that we have inherited from the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution--the view that people are isolated individuals, defined solely by the self-conscious possession of a rational mind--showing especially the crucial role that emotion, other people, and practical know-how play in human experience. Much of the most interesting philosophical work of the last hundred years, and many of the most interesting cultural and political developments, have come from a focus on precisely these Heideggerean themes. Though a new translation (by Joan Stambaugh, published by SUNY Press) has appeared, I still use this Macquarrie and Robinson translation as my primary text for teaching this book. Though this translation can be awkward and perhaps sometimes puts a misleading light on certain notions, I believe that it is overall more helpful for allowing the reader to enter into Heidegger's thought than the Stambaugh translation is. (Of course, it would be better to have both, and I have taught the Stambaugh translation with success as well.) This book is an essential text for any serious student of philosophy, the humanities or 20th-Century thought in general, and this is the translation I recommend.
Martin Heidegger's (1889 -- 1976) "Being and Time" (1927), together with Ludwig Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations" is one of the seminal philosophical works of the Twentieth Century. The work still remains difficult, obscure, and highly controversial. The book, and its author, provoke wildly varying responses. This translation, by Macquarrie and Robinson dates from 1962 and appeared in paperback only in 2008 with a useful introduction by philosopher Taylor Carman. Another translation, by Joan Stambaugh, appeared some years ago; but the Macquarrie and Robinson version, for all its difficulty, has become the standard version in English.
Heidegger spent his early years in a seminary but abandoned Catholicism in 1917-1918. His interest in and ambivalence toward religion permeates "Being and Time." Heidegger was a friend of Edmund Husserl, the founder of the philosophical movement known as phenomenology. "Being and Time" is dedicated to Husserl and includes several laudatory references to him. Heidegger was Husserl's assistant at Freiburg, but he wrote "Being and Time" when he had assumed a position at Marburg. He became Heidegger's successor at Freiburg upon Husserl's retirement in 1928. Before writing "Being and Time", Heidegger was regarded as a brilliant scholar and a charismatic teacher. But he had published little. "Being and Time" made him famous, virtually a celebrity, an accomplishment rare for a philosopher. Heidegger remained in the public eye through what became a notorious life through his political involvement with Nazism, and through a long life after WW II in which he did not expressly repudiate his earlier politics.
Even though Heidegger turned Husserl on his head, the phenomenological influence in "Being and Time" is pervasive.Read more ›
This is not the place to start if you want to understand Heidegger. If you want to understand Heidegger, you (happily) need to read a much shorter piece -- namely, chapter 1 only of _An Introduction to Metaphysics_. It's all right there. After you get through that tight little essay, you will understand the important things about who Heidegger was, what he was doing, and where he was going with it, intellectually speaking. Then you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not you wish to continue, one that is based on your own opinion, rather than the (many and strong) opinions of others. Heidegger is a highly controversial figure. Even his fiercest critics, however, acknowledge that his importance in philosophy is huge. (I am speaking of those critics of some stature, and disregarding the childrens' prattle found here.) Heidegger is important because he found a gaping and defining hole in every philosophical argument from Plato to the 20th century. Nietzsche had looked for it, and had suspected that something was there, something huge, but Heidegger nailed it once and for all. He deserves credit for this, and if you want to know what the hole was, see the citation above. It is what *else* Heidegger did that is the source of so much of the controversy and all of the criticism. Having produced a critique that laid the philosophical tradition of the west essentially to waste, he was vexed with the difficult problem of what to do next. He made some initial, obscure, vague, and frustratingly tentative attempts to construct something in its place. _Being and Time_ is the prime example of that effort. It was an openly acknowledged failure.Read more ›