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Being and Time (Harper Perennial Modern Thought) Paperback – July 22, 2008
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“Powerful and original . . . Being and Time changed the course of philosophy.” (Richard Rorty, New York Times Book Review)
About the Author
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was born in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He studied at the University of Freiburg and became a professor at the University of Marburg in 1932. After publishing his his magnum opus, Being and Time (1927), he returned to Freiburg to assume the chair of philosophy upon Husserl's retirement.
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For those who have read Heidegger before: this book is definitely his magnum opus. Within it he establishes a point of departure for all of his later thought and works. It is also the most engaging and enlightening read you will encounter in his repertoire. Compared to Heidegger's post-kehre writings, you will find the material and style in Being and Time to be far more precise and clear [a very difficult feat indeed considering the elusive nature of the subject matter]. Also, reading this book more than once is a must! Do not be surprised if after the first read you feel as though you are missing something - you probably are.
Heidegger uses Husserl’s category of “intentionality.” We are always intending-towards or -about something. We don’t simply “think.” We think about something. Consciousness is consciousness about something.
There are different modes of intentionality. We don’t simply “think.” We are “involved” (what Heidegger called “care”). Heidegger shifted the discussion from the cognitive to the sub-cognitive level, from the head to the kardia.
Dasein manifests itself in falling, thrownness, and projection (329ff). Care–my being-in-the-world is wrapped up/alongside with others’ being-in-the-world. I exist in the world within an already-existing-network-of-relations. (2) Thrownness: my Dasein in the world is already-in-a-definite-world. This world has facticity. Its boundaries are fluid. (3) Projection: we can only understand Dasein in terms of the world. You can’t transcend yourself to understand yourself. You are finite. (4) Being-as-falling: this is the threat to being. Dasein has to face flux, uprootedness, and anxiety.
Death and Time
“Ahead-of-itself” = in Dasein there is always something still out-standing which has not yet become actual (279). Death reveals this limit of Dasein. Death is the end to which Dasein is thrown. The possibility of death releases us from the illusions of the “they” (311).
Death reveals the contingency and flux of all that is. Death manifests finitude. Grasping this finitude “snatches one back from the endless multiplicity of possibilities...and brings Dasein into the simplicity of its fate” (435).
In the second section Heidegger revisits many of his main points in his analytic of Being (care, mood, falling, etc), but now he situates them within temporality. If being is always a being-there, then it is always a being-there-in-time. Temporality establishes our horizon.
In conclusion Heidegger is important because he shows how the truth found in Plato’s forms is manifested in everyday experience.
Heidegger is exceptionally difficult to read. Almost all the definitions he uses are either invented by him, as new words or combinations of words, or else old words that he uses in a new context. His use of words, when used correctly, is extremely precise. If you do not constantly pay attention to definitions his logic becomes nonsense. I had to constantly look up definitions from my notes to make sure I understood his train of thought. This difficulty is further exacerbated by the fact that he wrote in German and much of his precision is lost in translation. Fortunately, Heidegger often repeats his train of logic to ensure the reader stays on point.
Heidegger never answers the question of Being. His attempts to understand Being all fail. The ending of "Being and Time" lacks a climax because he lays the groundwork for why time is essential to the meaning of Being without ever publishing the answers.
I do not pretend to know everything Heidegger explains in "Being and Time." This is a book that should be read several times, throughout a lifetime, to come to terms with his method of thought.