- Series: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Indiana University Press; Revised edition (August 22, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 025320478X
- ISBN-13: 978-0253204783
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, Revised Edition (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) Paperback – August 22, 1988
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In Albert Hofstadter’s excellent translation, we can listen in as Heidegger clearly and patiently explains . . . the ontological difference. (Times Literary Supplement)
This volume belongs in every collection on Heidegger and is required reading for anyone interested in this major thinker. (Religious Studies Review)
For all students and scholars, Basic Problems will provide the "missing link" between Husserl and Heidegger, between phenomenology and Being and Time. (Teaching Philosophy)
Perhaps the most generally accessible text that Heidegger published. . . . The translation is superb. (Key Reporter)
A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1982
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In Basic Problems Heidegger makes a clearer case for phenomenology as a scientific method for the problems of 'first philosophy' (the a priori, ontology, or metaphysics), and the strongest case from any of the continental philosophers, I believe. I read Being and Time and many later works first, so was surprised on reading Basic Problems at the more rigorously analytical style and clarity. This may be due either to Heidegger's own experimentation with different styles of discourse and seeking in this course to improve in clarity on what he started in Being and Time, or perhaps it may be due to Albert Hofstadter's magnificently rendered translation for English speakers. In either case, there is no better place to start with Heidegger especially for those either trained or just more comfortable with analytical thought. For such readers, this book can help unlock Heidegger's more difficult writings.
The key argument is that basic problems of ontology, or at least how problems of ontology have been differently rendered in various phases of western philosophy, can be shown through Heidegger's phenomenological method to reveal a systematic unity that was not explicitly grasped by those who formulated the problems before. To this end Heidegger addresses four key historical theses about being: (1) Kant's critical thesis that being is not a real predicate; (2) the medieval thesis, following Aristotle, that any entity is characterized by, on the one hand (a) essence, what it is, being of a kind, and on the other hand (b) existence, that it is at all, a "this" being, actually or substantially; (3) the modern thesis, following Descartes, that the basic ways or modes of being are either (a) being of nature, as an extended, material sort of thing, or (b) being of mind, as a mental, psychic, or spiritual sort of thing; (4) the thesis of logic "in the broadest sense" (apparently shared by each of the prior theses) that "every being, regardless of its particular way of being, can be addressed and talked about by means of the 'is'. The being of the copula."
Now, how does Heidegger show their unity in an implicit fundamental ontology that was not explicit to the prior thinkers? Well, that is what the course sets out to do, but in a nutshell: (1) from a Kantian experience, the being of entities is not a predicate because of the ontological difference between being and entities, which is intelligible only to Dasein, or that being for whom entities are revealed within a horizon of time, temporal Dasein is the condition of possibility for the "being" of entities to appear as an issue at all, but temporality is not an entity among the entities which are revealed; (2) from the medieval and Aristotelian experience, that whch is revealed (a) as a what-being or in essence does so in terms of Zuhandensein, or functional meaning required in any practical activity, while that which is revealed (b) as a sheer 'this' or 'substance' does so in terms of Vorhandensein, or sheer presence (broken tool), in the aspect of a nonfunctional strangeness that beings are at all, which sparks Dasein to theorizing and science; (3) thus in the modern, Cartesian sort of experience, the division of being into (a) natural, extended stuff and (b) mental, nonextended stuff can each be seen as deriving from the experience of Vorhandensein, but confusedly overlooking the hermeneutic condition of practical involvement and context (Zuhanden) for the distancing power of the theoretical stance (Vorhanden), which tends to overlook how things have always already shown up (a priori) in terms of some tacit or implicit practical context, then also confusedly reifying the temporal horizon of all revealing in Dasein in into a category or box of 'mental stuff', mistaking the temporal horizon for something categorial; (4) lastly, we can see that the principle of logic that any being can be spoken of in terms of the copula or 'is' derives more basically from the fact of discourse, talk, or logos, which is ontological condition of possibility for philosophical Dasein to make explicit the fact or nature of revealing or disclosing anything whatsoever, in whatever manner it is disclosed.
I would definitely recommend this title as the Revised Edition of Being/Time and pick up the theme with The Event and later titles from 1936 onward. The post-war product from Heidegger moved beyond Phenomenology and Husserl while still offering philosophical insights.
In terms of readability, one would want a detailed knowledge of both Descartes and Kant before attempting to delve too far into this book. I myself could have been better prepared for it by a more recent reading of the First Critique. The prose read as easily as could be expected of any Heidegger translation. I don't have much to say beyond this as I am not familiar enough with German to comment on the translation, and I am not well versed enough in Heidegger to say how well it represents his thought. The product of the even only first 130 pages is interesting enough on its own, if only for how Heidegger explains and critiques Cartesian and Kantian thought. I hope to return to this again after I have re-read some Kant (a project for the coming year).
This book is the text of a lecture course that Heidegger gave at the University of Marburg in 1927, but that he did not permit to be published until 1975.
Heidegger wrote in his Introduction, “This course sets for itself the task of posing the basic problems of phenomenology, elaborating them, and proceeding to some extent toward their solution… Our considerations are aimed at the inherent content and inner systematic relationships of the basic problems. The goal is to achieve a fundamental illumination of these problems… the course deals with the subject itself, and you yourself are supposed to deal with it, or learn how to do it, as the course proceeds. The point is not to gain some knowledge about philosophy but to be able to philosophize. An introduction to the basic problems could lead to that end.” (Pg. 1-2)
He explains, “Philosophy is the theoretical conceptual interpretation of being, of being’s structure and its possibilities. Philosophy is ontological. In contrast, a world-view is a positing knowledge of beings and a positing attitude toward beings; it is not ontological but ontical.” (Pg. 11)
He outlines, “Phenomenology is the name for the method of ontology, that is, of scientific philosophy. Rightly conceived, phenomenology is the concept of a method. It is therefore precluded from the start that phenomenology should pronounce any theses about being which have any specific content, thus adopting a so-called standpoint… Being is to be laid hold of and made our theme. Being is always being of beings and accordingly it becomes accessible at first only by starting with some being.” (Pg. 20-21)
He observes, “We shall first attempt to characterize one misinterpretation of intentionality that is based exactly in the naïve, natural vision of things. Here we shall orient ourselves again in connection with the intentional character of perception. ‘Perception has an intentional character’ means first of all that perceiving, its intention, relates to the perceived, intentum.” (Pg. 59)
He argues, “What is the most general structure of the ego, or what constitutes egohood? Answer: self-consciousness. All thinking is ‘I am thinking.’ The ego is not simply any arbitrary isolated point; it is ‘I-think.’ However, it does not perceive itself as a being that would have other determinations besides this one, that it just thinks. Rather the ego knows itself as the ground of its determinations, its comportments, as the ground of its own unity in the multiplicity of these comportments, as the ground of the selfsameness of its own self. All the determinations and comportments of the ego are ego-based.” (Pg. 127)
Later, he summarizes, “our lectures… brought closer to us… the different ontological problems… [which] have forced our inquiry again and again back to the question about the being that we ourselves are. This being that we ourselves are, the Dasein, thus has its own distinction within the field of ontological inquiry. We shall, therefore, speak of the ontological priority of Dasein.” (Pg. 223)
He observes, “Time as right and wrong time has the character of significance, that characterizes the world as world in general. It is for this reason that we call the time with which we reckon, which we leave for ourselves, world-time… It is therefore also inappropriate … to call this time nature-time or natural time. There is no nature-time, since all time belongs essentially to the Dasein. But there is indeed a world-time. We give time the name of world-time because it has the character of significance, which is overlooked in the Aristotelian definition of time and everywhere in the traditional determination of time.” (Pg. 262)
He says, “The Dasein, however---as we have said over and over---is the being to whose existence the understanding of being belongs. A sufficiently original interpretation of the Dasein’s basic constitution in general, the exposition of temporality as such, must furnish the basis for clearing up by means of temporality---or more precisely by means of the horizontal schema of temporality. Temporality---the possibility of understanding being.” (Pg. 312)
He asserts, “Because they are assertions about being in the light of time properly understood, all ontological propositions are Temporal propositions. It is only because ontological propositions are Temporal propositions that they can and must be a priori propositions. It is only because ontology is a Temporal science that something like the a priori appears in it.” (Pg. 324)
This is certainly not one of Heidegger’s “major works,” but it provides additional material for his thoughts on topics such as Temporality that will be of interest to serious students of Heidegger.