- Series: Studies in Continental Thought
- Hardcover: 128 pages
- Publisher: Indiana University Press; 253rd ed. edition (October 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0253327679
- ISBN-13: 978-0253327673
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,954,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Basic Concepts (Studies in Continental Thought) 253rd ed. Edition
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
From the Back Cover
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Heidegger's unfortunate career choices aside, this book is well structured into 3 sections: an introduction, part I., and part II.
The introduction is an exhortation to the reader to shake off the cobwebs of the Idols of the Theatre and open our minds to simplicity, to Greekness, which pertains to his concluding thesis in part II. of the book, an interpretation of one of Anaximander's fragments which comments on ontology's centerpiece, being itself. Heidegger wants us to abandon ourselves and look inward to a sort of Platonic remembrance of what is most elemental, essential, and primary. In this way he believes we, the reader, might become prepared to find at least a glimpse of the incipient grounds of being itself, as it relates to humanity.
Part I. is essentially an examination of the concept of being, and the outline of this section is further subdivided into 3 divisions.
Part I., division I.: Here Heidegger makes the interesting distinction betweens actual beings and the state of being common to all actual beings. Everything that exists is a being of some kind or another, yet possesses being per se no more or less than one from the other. Therefore beings and being, Heidegger proposes, are distinct in this regard. He also delineates an interesting trope regarding the verb 'is,' in breathtaking Clintonian fashion, by examining it for content and showing us there really is none on the face of the matter. All particular beings may make equal use of the copula 'is,' rendering it no more than a link, an empty universal, the abstractest of all abstractions, and, being a generality, there finds its most efficacious application independent of its object. In this way, with 'is' as a marker for being, the concept of being itself becomes more and more tenuous, almost evaporating.
Part I., divivion II.: Since Part I., division I., has indicated 'is' as the linguistic device used to denote being, as being common to all beings and devoid of content, Heidegger seems to feel here that the apparent vacuousness of this verb conceals a surplus. Perhaps a surplus representing the sum of all beings, in that their commonality, their groundedness together in existence, is being itself. To me it seems an ever shifting tautology as to whether Heidegger's ontology has a specific content or not, the thought occuring perhaps, as more of a vacillation between everything and nothing at one and the same time, rather than some parlor trick contradiction as might appear at first glance. Here Heidegger becomes the metaphysician. Material essence, solidity, belongs to particular beings, not however, to being itself.
Part I., division III.: In this section Heidegger reiterates the anthropocentric necessity of at least some degree of idealism in terms of being's relation to living beings and humans in particular. This revalation may not help in trying to understand an already strained paradox, but it certainly wouldn't do to overlook this obvious caveat.
Part II. is the conclusion of the book, and here we are introduced briefly to the ancient Greek Anaximander and his thetic fragment which states, "...the source from which things come into existence is also the sink to which they return when their existence is finished, necessarily...and each is made right with respect to all others as determined by the unfolding of time..." Heidegger examines this fragment to the effect that since all particular beings constantly come from the source common to which they somehow go in the end, the being that all beings share in this regard is an infinite, permanence. Ergo and again, beings are temporal, being is not.
It all seems much ado about little, but as the title says, 'Basic Concepts' is the focus of attention here, in particular 'being' and what it may mean in reference to itself.