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Heidegger: An Introduction Paperback – January 7, 1999
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"Polt has written a valuable introduction for beginners to Heidegger. . . Polt encourages the reader to try Heidegger's ideas on for size, and to judge them accordingly. Heidegger's philosophy comes to life in this little book. Highly recommended for all levels."―Choice
"Polt negotiates the difficult path between introduction and over-simplification skilfully. Heidegger: An Introduction succeeds in making the philosopher's thought accessible without rendering it simplistic."―Neil Levy, Philosophy in Review. February-December, 1999.
"This book is without a doubt the best general introduction to Heidegger ever written. Richard Polt has an uncanny ability to present Heidegger's central ideas in a straightforward way without sacrificing any of their richness or novelty. With his exceptional mastery of German, his concise formulations, and his sensitive, almost poetic style, Polt brings the philosopher's work to life. An incomparable achievement."―Charles Guignon, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger
About the Author
Richard Polt is Professor of Philosophy at Xavier University, Cincinnati. He is the author of Heidegger: An Introduction and The Emergency of Being, both from Cornell.
Top Customer Reviews
Polt doesn't waste time. Chapter 1, "The Question," dives right into the central inquiry: the meaning of Being. He even provides a framework that anticipates later Heidegger by beginning with another central question: why are there beings rather than nothing? It turns out that Being (Polt follows the standard capitalization scheme) sits square in the middle of this seemingly trite query. History or "historicity" also plays a vital role when discussing "Being." Philosophizing and history should interweave. This short chapter sets the stage for the section on Heidegger's magnum opus. But before delving into the riddling text of "Being and Time," Polt discusses the roots of the question of Being in Heidegger's biography. Two main influences receive detailed attention: Dilthey and his historical and hermenuetical ideas, and Husserl's phenomenological method.Read more ›
So then I started reading Being and Time again (for the third time), in conjunction with Polt's book, which had been recommended to me by a classmate. I was floored. My mind was completely blown multiple times per day during this period, which, in retrospect, I can identify as one of the most exciting and important periods in my life. Things were beginning to "come into focus" in ways that they never had before, and not only philosophically. No, this was not some kind of "bookworm's enlightenment". It was much more all-encompassing than that. It affected everything about how I thought about life, from brushing my teeth, to reading, to chatting with my mom on the phone, to dealing with difficult clients at work and more. You've heard it in other reviews, but I'll say it again: this is truly a great book. Enough good things cannot be said about it.
Polt rips Heidegger's work out of the dusty palms of the dried-up pedant and gently places it in ours. This was, I'm sure, not an easy task, but Polt has accomplished it with such elegance, thoughtfulness, vitality, and comprehensiveness that he deserves some kind of award for his stellar scholarship. At very least, I hope to shake his hand someday and give him a most sincere "thank you" for introducing me to what I've subsequently dedicated my life to studying, in one way or another.
Heidegger can be thought of as a cross between Nietzsche and Aristotle ; he takes from the latter a careful and detailed philosophical construction, and from the former, a deeply-held concern for the future of a humanity struggling in a nihilistic epoch. To engage with Heidegger, the interested party would have to go through his magnum opus, Being and Time, but this is well nigh impossible for Heidegger expects familiarity not only with most of the Western Canon but also with his predecessors in the phenomenological tradition. This book makes Heidegger's thought accessible to the general reader, but even then, one must have at least a basic idea of what Kant had to say about Being, and what are the general aims and notions of phenomenology. This can be accomplished by a quick search through Wikipedia, and would be great for helping one to get through this book.
I can't recommend this book enough ; a lucid, and thoroughly engaging introduction to one of the darkest and most unsettling thinkers in philosophy. It's the kind of book that changes your life.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
With not a single chapter on Heidegger's fanatical devotion to Adolph Hitler and Nazism, his unbelievably repellent behavior toward Edmund Husserl, his lectures on national... Read morePublished on June 22, 2013 by Conan
This book is a great introduction to Heidegger's thought. Specifically, chapters 3 and 4 serve as a section by section reading guide for Being and Time, which helps to break down... Read morePublished on May 20, 2013 by D. M. House
I have only read the first few chapters of Professor Polt's beautifully written book as I am using it, as suggested by him, as a companion to Being and Time. Read morePublished on September 24, 2012 by Andy Turkington
I have to say that this is the almost perfect introductory book on Heidegger.It is so clearly written that at times it seems like reading a magazine. Read morePublished on April 5, 2012 by Amazon Customer
I have read this book twice. I have read several other intro books on Heidegger but this one is the clearest without simplifying Heideggers work.Published on September 27, 2011 by Monkey Business
Being and Time is a difficult read, even for people who are accustomed to reading dense works. This book will help you understand Heidegger, therefore I highly recommend it.Published on July 5, 2009 by Bjornstam
This is a superb introduction to Heidegger...particularly to his magnum opus, _Being and Time_.
Ignore whoever is still operating under "analytic" / "continental"... Read more
This truly is one of the better introductory guides to Being and Time. Dreyfus' book is very good, but I think this one is much better suited to a beginner. Read morePublished on July 26, 2005 by CK Dexter Haven