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How to Read Heidegger (How to Read) Paperback – April 17, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


Thinking is not inactivity, but rather it is in itself the way of acting that stands in dialogue with the destiny of the world' Martin Heidegger --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark Wrathall is associate professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University. He has edited or coedited a number of volumes on Heidegger’s thought, including Heidegger Reexamined; Appropriating Heidegger; Heidegger, Coping and Cognitive Science; and Heidegger, Authenticity and Modernity.

Simon Critchley is a best-selling author and the Hans Jonas Professor at the New School for Social Research. His books include Very Little…Almost Nothing, Infinitely Demanding, The Book of Dead Philosophers, The Faith of the Faithless, Bowie, Memory Theatre and Suicide.

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Product Details

  • Series: How to Read
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393328805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328806
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Wrathall is professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. He earned a law degree from Harvard in 1991, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Berkeley in 1996.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A reader reader on June 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Written with genuine insight and astounding clarity, Wrathall's How to Read Heidegger is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a short introduction to Heidegger's thought. Proceeding chronologically from Heidegger's early to his later work, each of the book's ten chapters begins with a longish excerpt in Heidegger's own words, which Wrathall then clearly explains and contextualizes philosophically. The result is indeed a "master class" in close reading (as Critchley, the series editor, suggests). If this book is any indication, this series seems to me to be a wonderful, hermeneutic application of Marx's famous dictum: "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." Wrathall won't just give you a reading of Heidegger, he'll help you learn How to Read Heidegger for yourself. As a result, Wrathall's book will be a succinct and eminently readable primer for those new to Heidegger and a thought-provoking refresher course for more experienced Heideggerians.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on August 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting aspect to this book is that every chapter starts out with about a page of Heidegger's actual writing. I would read this dense prose before and after reading Mr. Wrathall's discussion of the chapter topic. After reading the author's interpretation I would go back and read Heidegger's words again, and find that I had a better understanding of the original.

I would assume that the main reason one writes a review of a book like this is not to critique the philosophy that it contains, but to inform the prospective reader as to the comprehensibility of the presentation of that philosophy. Mr. Wrathall performs admirably in this regard. As a relative philosophical novice I found that this book turned night into day.

The author covers the topic of Heidegger's views of our being in the world; how our place in the world creates our possibilities and our constraints. It discusses how our culture forms us and can limit us. Do we become authentic or inauthentic beings in terms of how much we conform to culture. Heidegger's views on technology are presented. He feels that we should be part of the earth, and not conform the earth to our every need. We should not view that earth as something that merely provides us with resources.

There is also a chapter on Heidegger's views of art and truth. I found that I had a harder time relating to his views on aesthetics, than I did with the rest of his philosophy.

This is an excellent book for those with limited backgrounds in philosophy and/or Heidegger's works. It might also be worthwhile to those who have encountered Heidegger in the past, and need a littler refresher to his works.

One final comment: The author is evidently fluent in German. He frequently disagrees with some of the German to English translations, and provides his ideas of what the German words really mean in English. I found this to be an added bonus
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ewomack VINE VOICE on February 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
To the chagrin of some and to the delight of others, Heidegger's influence seems to have bloomed in the past decade. No longer a mere hopelessly whimsical obscurantist, his once berated name even pops up in Analytic philosophy courses. None of this has made Heidegger's text easier to understand, of course. But anyone wanting to penetrate his spiny thicket of obscure and recursive prose in English can now find much more help. Guides for "beginners" have bred like rabbits recently. Additional volumes seem to fall from the sky every few months. Nonetheless, many of these "introductions" would probably not serve absolute beginners (i.e., those lacking backgrounds in philosophy) very efficiently. Heidegger's work remains notoriously difficult to distill into facile chunks, particularly in isolation from the long philosophical tradition his work addresses. Enter Mark Wrathall's "How To Read Heidegger." This short book seems to pinpoint those readers possessing virulent curiosity about Heidegger's ideas but not possessing extensive philosophical backgrounds. Of course this involves a tradeoff in overall depth and breadth, but the absolute newcomer will at least puncture that nagging question "what's all this fuss about Heidegger?"

Though this 118-page book only skims the surface of Heidegger's main ideas, it nonetheless covers a lot of ground. Both "early" and "late" Heidegger appear. First, a short introduction provides a defense against charges of illogicism (or even alogicism) while setting the overall context. It's important to understand that Heidegger did challenge the primacy of science (at least ontologically) but he never thought that science was misguided or should "go away.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Smith on January 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Quite simply this is by far the best introduction to Heidegger's thought I have come across. Dreyfus' books and lectures are highly insightful, Blattner's book on Being and Time is also a superlative work for those working through the text. But Wrathall will serve as a far superior introduction. His prose is friendly, lucid, and beautifully constructed, the book's structure is logical, and he presents Heidegger's thought not by translating it, but by letting it be understood in a straightforward manner.

If you are an academic venturing into Heidegger, begin here. If you are simply interested in his thought, you will be richly rewarded by countless insights. This is what academic writing SHOULD be.
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