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The Basic Problems of Phenomenology (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) Paperback – October 1, 1982

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Perhaps the most generally accessible text that Heidegger published.... The translation is superb." ―Key Reporter



"This volume belongs in every collection on Heidegger and is required reading for anyone interested in this major thinker." ―Religious Studies Review



"In Albert Hofstadter’s excellent translation, we can listen in as Heidegger clearly and patiently explains... the ontological difference." ―Times Literary Supplement



"For all students and scholars, Basic Problems will provide the "missing link" between Husserl and Heidegger, between phenomenology and Being and Time." ―Teaching Philosophy

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Revised edition (October 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253176875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253176875
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,439,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Scott J. Belcher on December 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for those that choose to read Being and Time. The book itself is based, like so many of Heidegger's books, off of a lecture course he gave at the University of Marburg in the summer of 1927. This is important because Being and Time was ready for publication in 1927. If we put Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics alongside The Basic Problems of Phenomenology and Being and Time, we have the predominant whole of early Heideggerian thinking.
As for the book itself (for now on referred to as BP), the book is incomplete--just like Being and Time. Heidegger undertakes Three Parts each with Four chapters (see page 24). But BP only deals with all of Part One and only chapter 1 of Part Two. Heidegger gets no farther than the Problem of Ontological Difference (entities vs. the Being of entities) and the lecture course ends. But the book is extraordinarly helpful because of what it does address. Part One is elaborate and interesting because it deals with other philosophers and their ideas. Heidegger pays particular attention to Kant, Aristotle, Descartes and explains how their ideas have been inherited into the contemporary philosophic era. What I found most interesting was the deconstruction of Medieval and Modern ontology. Heidegger thus gives a broad historical interpretation of the history of philosophy and explains the presuppositions of each period.
Obviously this book is not for philosophical neophytes. The book should only be undertaken by those with some background in 20th century philosophy and knowledge of basic Heideggerian thought. The book's appeal should thus be limited to few individuals, and certainly only those with philosophic interest.
The book borrows much of the terminology from Being and Time with some notable exceptions.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Instead of Being and Time, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology should be the starting point into Heidegger for anyone more comfortable with clear, analytical prose and arguments. As great as it is, Being and Time seems to contain a bit more showing off, as might be expected from a work whose purpose was to establish the philosphical gravitas of the author, and its climax in the account of authenticity makes it perhaps a more existentialist work.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This is an eminently readable translation of Heidegger--a chore that is indeed quite difficult. Moreover, the material Heidegger treats here finds a very concise, cohesive presentation, so it is all in all a very approachable text. As a reviewer noted below, this text is quite helpful in understanding _Being and Time_, or just generally for its own value in exposing Heidegger's thought around this time. Highly recommeded for someone serious about approaching texts by Heidegger.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book as reference for my senior thesis in college as I was working on a critique of Cartesian objectivism. It was excellent on that front. I originally had borrowed a copy from my advisor, but saw quickly that I would want my own.

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).
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Format: Paperback
A wonderful lecture course as per usual with Heidegger.

As a thoughtful person with a taste for the philosophical I read Heidegger books for fun and often find tremendous nourishment in Heidegger's idiosyncratic but nonetheless philosophically effective prose and use of language which works in English as well as in German.

Basic Problems of Phenomenology (BPP) deals in similar bread and butter as Being and Time but in a slightly more academic and historical way as Heidegger goes through the philosophies of Kant, Lotze, Hobbes, Mill, not to mention the obligatory Plato and Aristotle and medieval thinkers (Thomas, Augustine, Suarez) to illuminate the concept of being and of Dasein in contradistinction from what is extant (things). In particular much scrutiny is brought to bear on Kant's assertion that being-existence is not a real predicate.

A lot if not all of the lecture is philosophical fine-tuning and the phenomenological drawing of distinctions between core philosophical concepts - existence, essence, presence, absence, Dasein, extantness, the spannedness of time and many more - but the effort by Heidegger is so sustained and elaborate that one certainly does come out of it all the wiser only to quickly forget the argumentative niceties of the text in favour of a firmer grasp of the Dasein which in each case we ourselves are, to use a Heideggerian turn of phrase.

A must read for Heidegger fans and students of his, BPP does become a bit of a slog after page 250 (in my reckoning with the text), but as others have noted is a very good complement to Being and Time.

I deduct a star out of sheer annoyance with the transliteration of the greek passages into the Latin alphabet which is contrary to the norms of Heideggerian scholarship and offends my taste as a small time Ancient Greek reader. The translation, however, is excellent.

Five star content but four star presentation. Hence four stars and a half.
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