(26 September 1889 – 26 May 1976)
National University of Singapore
Martin Heidegger’s 1927 publication, Sein und Zeit (translated as Being and Time, 1962), can plausibly be considered the most influential philosophical text of the 20th century. The main focus of this work had been announced at least fifteen years earlier when Heidegger was still in his early twenties and it remained his lifelong topic until his death in 1976. He has designated this subject matter with a number of terms: life, historicity, situated being, facticity, Dasein’s Sein (i.e., the being of there-being), and later in his life, das Ereignis, which is normally translated as, “the event of appropriation,” and is supposed to designate the unfolding of being. The topic, in short, concerns how human beings are situated historically in a world that from the beginning has meaning for them, both making possible and setting limits to their future. Sein und Zeit is less the mighty tome or magnum opus that it appeared to be during its early publishing career, but more a seamless amalgamation of relatively independent drafts written during the years after the First World War. It thus represents the culmination of an intense period of philosophical struggle and breakthrough. It was incomplete on its publication and can be regarded as one of the stages in Heidegger’s lifelong philosophical journey.
Heidegger’s roots lie in deeply conservative rural Southern Germany. His lifelong suspicion of modernity, machinery, democracy, liberalism and the forms of commoditized style (like journalism and mass culture) certainly contributed to his radical critiques of the productivity and efficiency that are valorized by forms of modern life, its bland cosmopolitanism and its perpetually seductive novelty. But, alongside this, Heidegger’s untiring philosophical questing was able to disclose a deep complicity between the tradition he was committed to preserve (i.e., western metaphysics) and the conditions he found around him in the modern technological world. An acknowledged and powerful alternative to predicative logic, Heidegger’s thought opens with the way beings are revealed through what he called “the question of being,” which he formulates as follows: why are there beings at all, and not rather nothing? The “why” in this case would not be a question about the cause of beings but something more like a celebration of the wonder that anything exists at all, thus revealing beings in hitherto unthinkable ways—for instance, opening experience up to the essential and constitutive indeterminacy of its future. Heidegger’s critique of western metaphysics lies in his discovery that these constitutive aspects of experience have been systematically excluded by the metaphysical tradition, which privileges predicative logic and the correspondence theory of truth, and which reaches its ultimate form as technologizing rationality.
Heidegger was born to cellar man and church sexton Friedrich and Johanna Heidegger (née Kempf) in Messkirch, a small rural town in Baden, south-west Germany, on 26 September 1889. His sister Marie was born three years later and his brother Fritz two years after that. In 1903 Heidegger won a scholarship to the Jesuit gymnasium in Konstanz and stayed, with other scholarship children from similarly poor Catholic families, in a local Catholic boarding house. Here he prepared for a clerical career. In 1906 he transferred to Bertholds gymnasium in Freiburg, boarding at the archiepiscopal seminary of St. Georg, where the church gave him free board and lodging.
While there he received a copy of Franz Brentano’s “On the Manifold Meaning of Being According to Aristotle” (1862) from Dr. Conrad Gröber, a paternal friend. Heidegger later claimed that his interest in philosophy was first aroused on studying Brentano’s book, which then led him to Carl Braig’s On Being: An Outline of Ontology (1896), in which he discovered excerpts from Aristotle and commentaries from Thomas Aquinas and other scholastic fathers. In 1909 he became a novice of the Society of Jesus at Tisis near Feldkirch in Austria; but on October 13 at the end of two weeks of candidature, he left, having been turned down for health reasons and possibly doubts about his spiritual vocation. In the winter semester he began studying for the priesthood at the Albert-Ludwig University in Freiburg, where he focused on philosophy and moral and natural sciences. His introduction to contemporary philosophy came when he borrowed a library copy of Edmund Husserl’s Logische Untersuchungen (translated as Logical Investigations). Husserl would become a key influence in the development of Heidegger’s most important publication, Sein und Zeit. The Logische Untersuchungen, which attempts a systematic enquiry into consciousness and mental processes, regarded independently of any non-mental determinations or effects, provides philosophy with a problem and a challenge. The object of thought is suspended in order to provide systematic access to the structure and origin of thought itself. Heidegger also began to read Wilhelm Dilthey, whose attempt to establish the conditions of possibility for the study of history would become a crucial reference point for Heidegger’s account of historicity.
The three great early discoveries, Aristotle, Husserl and Dilthey, correspond rather neatly with the three key dimensions of Heidegger’s early philosophy: ontology and the grounds of being; phenomenology and the grounds of consciousness; and historicity or the grounds of history. While it is tempting to understand these influences in terms of their content, thereby arriving at a conveniently schematic picture of Heidegger’s early development, the pattern that emerges shows that his interest lies in the attempts to establish grounds rather than in any specific conclusions that might have determined Heidegger’s thought. Both Husserl’s and Dilthey’s works are marked by some version of the Kantian procedure of critique, whereby the a priori conditions of possibility for a way of thinking or acting can be set out schematically. If Kant’s Critical Philosophy addresses the questions of knowledge, action and then judgment in terms of their a priori conditions of possibility, then Husserl and Dilthey are motivated by similar aims in their attempts to establish a priori conditions for consciousness and for history respectively. For Heidegger’s developing philosophy the questions of being, consciousness and history are significant in that they each resist the tendencies of formalism, empiricism and relativism, which increasingly characterize modern science and philosophy throughout the 20th century. Already by 1913, then, Heidegger’s philosophical interests reveal a highly developed pattern according to which he seizes on a basic problem of metaphysics, concerning the fundamental conditions of, for instance, knowledge, action, judgment, consciousness, language or history. The problem each time indicates a contradiction between a metaphysical question of grounds and a contemporary academic discourse. Heidegger never simply adopts the metaphysical side against the empiricist or formalist doctrines but rather he consistently establishes what the basic problems of metaphysics are, acknowledging and demonstrating the persistent and repeated failure throughout its history to achieve its aims.
So Heidegger’s earliest works reveal a pattern of thought that is not strictly reducible to his early discoveries of powerful precursors. He shows a consistent interest in the covert connections between some basic problems: the increasing dominance of doctrines that favor empirical, formal or relativistic methods and conclusions; the failure of powerful metaphysical doctrines that, while allowing the criticism of empirical and formal methods, nonetheless fail to establish unquestionable grounds themselves; and already, as evident in the earliest published work, a deep interest in the implications of this connection for the social and political concerns of the modern world. The key problem concerns the relationship between the persistent failure of metaphysics and the dominance of empirical and formalist thinking in the sciences and technology, a thinking which, despite its dominance, remains vulnerable to criticism from a philosophical perspective inherited from the metaphysical tradition. It is the relationship between this key problem and his interest in contemporary and, at this time, local political and social issues that would develop into the controversial question of Heidegger’s politics.
In 1910 he gave his first lecture, on Abraham a Santa Clara, in Hausen im Tal, near his home town, Messkirch. He again lectured on Abraham a Santa Clara in Kreenheinstetten, Abraham’s birthplace, only ten kilometers from Messkirch. The lecture is one of the earliest works by Heidegger now published in his Collected Works (GA13). Here his philosophical interests are couched in language that ties the young Heidegger to a conservative anti-modernist tradition, which at that time favored the tough self assurance of the educated peasant classes against the fashionable bourgeoisie of modern urban life. Heidegger’s topic was the court preacher Abraham a Santa Clara (1644-1709), the unveiling of whose monument in the town of his birth, Kreenheinstetten, provided the occasion for Heidegger’s lecture. Abraham a Santa Clara had been adopted as a role model by those with an increasingly polemical attitude towards various liberal tendencies in the Catholic Church. At this time he began to publish articles, reviews and poems in Der Akademiker, the journal of the German Association of Catholic Graduates.
In 1911 he spent the summer semester at home because of asthma and heart problems and abandoned the theological seminary on advice of his superiors. He changed his studies to mathematics and philosophy, now concentrating on problems of logic in the history of modern metaphysics. He continued to publish reviews and poems. In 1912 he published his last articles in Der Akademiker, and wrote two articles for philosophy journals, which have since been published in revised versions in the Gesamtausgabe as part of the Frühe Schriften: “Das Realitätsproblem in der modernen Philosophie” (“The Problem of Reality in modern Philosophy”) and “Neuere Forschungen über Logik” (“New Investigations of Logic”).
Heidegger graduated on 26 July 1913 after his doctoral examination under Schneider with Heinrich Rickert co-examining and was awarded a Ph.D. summa cum laude on the basis of his dissertation, Die Lehre vom Urteil im Psychologismus (The Doctrine of Judgement in Psychologism), which shows the influence of Husserl in its criticism of attempts to analyze the logical notion of judgment from the perspective of human psychology. His main claim is that logic cannot be reduced to psychological processes and is marked by a developing emphasis on subjective aspects of everyday experience as well as on history and metaphysics. This is a major landmark in the important development towards the key notion of the everyday and would result two years later in what is now recognized as a major breakthrough on the way to the philosophy presented in Sein und Zeit. By 1913 his intention to “articulate the whole region of ‘being’ in its various modes of reality” had been made clear and the combined resources of scholasticism, phenomenology and neo-Kantianism harnessed towards this end.
In 1915 he completed his Habilitation Dissertation, Die Kategorien und Bedeutungslehre des Duns Scotus (The Doctrine of Categories and Signification in Duns Scotus), which earned him the license to teach philosophy at the Philosophical Faculty at Freiburg. He began by assisting Father Englebert Krebs, lecturing theology students in philosophy. In his habilitation lecture, “Der Zeitbegriff in der Geschichtswissenschaft” (translated as “The Doctrine of Time in the Science of History”), Heidegger distinguishes between the notion of time as understood by modern physics and the non-uniform and qualitatively differentiated periodic time of historians, which is not reconcilable with calculable temporal duration. At this stage in his intellectual career, represented by the Habilitation Dissertation and Lecture, his focus on metaphysics is complicated by the dense fusion of scholastic philosophy, neo-Kantianism and Husserlian phenomenology. However, his central concerns yield to patient scholarship. His enquiries are already directed to what will be more fully developed in Sein und Zeit as a schematic interpretation of facticity. Facticity denotes the conditions according to which one’s possibilities are determined and limited by one’s circumstances, one’s “being-in-the world.” His interest in scholasticism focuses on categories of living language that have no correspondence with objects in the world, like marks of privation and negation and categories for non-existent entities like “Nothing.” The key factor at this stage recalls the text that he claimed first aroused him to philosophy, Brentano’s book on the Categories of Being in Aristotle. Categorical extremes of signification like univocity and equivocality indicate why there must be a role for a category that rescues the univocal ideal from the inevitable consequences of equivocal language use (i.e., the use of words in more than one sense—for the scholastics the paradigm was the word “God”). In the scholastic texts, following Aristotle, the analogy of being mediates between such extremes. So the empty word “being” figures at the heart of questions about the generation of sense in everyday human experience.
At this stage the problem of what he calls “the hermeneutics of facticity” lies in the self-reflexive puzzle according to which facticity must be considered, already, as a kind of hermeneutics. Everyday experience already articulates and interprets its world, so that any attempt to interpret facticity would be an attempt to interpret interpretation. Here Husserl’s account of the natural or pre-theoretical attitude, an attitude that is intensified rather than exposed by theoretical procedures, indicates a way forward in the attempt to resist the philosophical tendency to objectify experience. So by 1915 Heidegger had been able to move beyond the neo-Kantian account of facticity, which posits a chaotic flux at the origin of sensation, by drawing out from the phenomenology of categorical intuition the conclusion that humans live from the first in a context, a world, which is already meaningful and which they already know interpretively.
The First World War interrupted his academic career. He published nothing between this time and 1927 but the period, especially from the end of the war in 1919, is marked by intense wide ranging study and a series of brilliant and compelling lectures. It is not possible to trace accurately his intellectual development during the four years between the Habilitation and the semester he taught immediately on his return from war duties, the so called Kriegnotsemester (war-emergency semester) of 1919. Courses on German Idealism, on Aristotle’s logic, and on basic questions of logic, were announced for the 1915-16 academic year, but in 1915 he was conscripted. Because he was regarded as unsuitable for combat, he was assigned to the postal and meteorological services as military censor at the Freiburg post office. In 1915 he had met Elfride Petri, a student of political economy, and on 21 March 1917 Father Krebs presided over the first official ceremony of their lifelong marriage. Because Martin was a Catholic and Elfride a Lutheran, they were remarried a week later in a protestant ceremony with her parents. By her own account, she was never to find her faith and he would shortly lose his. In 1919 their son Jörg was born, and in 1920 a second son, Hermann, was born.
Heidegger gave a talk on Friedrich Schleiermacher, the key figure in the German Hermeneutic tradition and an important forerunner of Dilthey, on 2 August 1917. He lectured on Hegel in the summer semester, and on Plato in the winter semester. On 17 January 1918, Heidegger, then a Private in the territorial reserve, reported to barracks for basic training, and was then sent to the front to serve at a meteorological station. He was promoted to lance corporal on 5 November, and was finally discharged eleven days later. He was never involved in any military action. In the meantime, Heidegger had written to Engelbert Krebs, breaking with “the dogmatic system of Catholicism.” Heidegger continued to lecture and met with Karl Jaspers in Freiburg, where Husserl had become professor of philosophy in 1916.
On his return from the front, Heidegger became Husserl’s unsalaried lecturer and assistant at Freiburg, where he taught courses on phenomenology, the foundations of logic, the history of metaphysics and the nature of the University. What marks his teaching during this war emergency semester is his forceful advocating of a kind of phenomenology that would be set apart from all hitherto existing theoretical science. The new science does not have an object as such because its subject matter is the process of life itself, within which each of us is already caught up in meaningful ways. This subject matter, before Heidegger’s exceptional phenomenology, occupies the region or domain traditionally regarded—in the language of neo-Kantianism—as the transcendental, which is traditionally opposed to the empirical domain of human experience. Strictly, then, Heidegger is proposing a science of the non-objectifiable, unspeakable grounds of experience. The human being is not to be understood any longer as being derived from some extra-temporal transcendental source but is to be derived from the categories of its own facticity as a finite, situated historical being grounded in its life towards death. His fame as a teacher spread rapidly on the basis of his brilliant exposition of these original insights on the nature of the world of everyday experience and the human being. His studies of Scheler’s philosophical anthropology were added to his exceptional adoption of Husserl’s phenomenology, Dilthey’s hermeneutics and the Christian texts of St Paul, Augustine, and Martin Luther. The role of the scholastic texts becomes clearer too, showing how they contributed to his compelling alternative to contemporary versions of ontology and epistemology still rooted in the standard readings of Greek thought. The hermeneutics of facticity—of life before theory—thus merges with the phenomenology of religious experience to provide a radical phenomenology of the everyday context or world of human experience.
In 1922 Elfride as a present had a small wood-cabin built in Todtnauberg, where Heidegger could work in solitude. It is possible, tentatively, to date the early stages of the development of the first draft of Sein und Zeit from this period. He would not publish the book until 1927, and then under considerable pressure for him to do so, but during this time he continued to write and to lecture. A letter from Husserl to Paul Natorp at the University of Marburg from 1922 describes the young Heidegger as a highly original personality but not ready to publish, because he is still “struggling, searching for himself and laboriously shaping his unique style.” Heidegger himself sent Natorp an article planned as an introduction to a projected book on Aristotle, which secured him a position at Marburg in 1923. The article, Phänomenologische Interpretationem zu Aristoteles: Einfürung in die Phänomenologische Forschung (“Phenomenological Interpretations with Respect to Aristotle: Indication of the Hermeneutical Situation”), reveals something of the “laborious shaping” that Husserl describes. The vocabulary of phenomenology, the attempt to bring systematic thinking to bear on problems of philosophy, and historical considerations of philosophy, are interconnected in what remains a starkly original critical account of the human condition. At this stage the dense technical vocabulary reflected in the title encumbers the text. However, this is the first of Heidegger’s extant works to introduce several of the key themes of Sein und Zeit. For the first time he makes a distinction between authentic and inauthentic existence. He also announces the project of destruction, sometimes translated as the deconstruction, of the metaphysical tradition.
In the summer of 1923 he taught a final course at Freiberg, with the title, Ontologie (Hermeneutik der Faktizität) (“Ontology: Hermeneutics of Facticity”), which is one of the core strands of Sein und Zeit. The focus is on Dasein—being there (Da, which may mean here or there)—the existing human being in its aspect as a someone who is placed somewhere and lives in a particular time. By the end of the course the notion of facticity has developed into the key notion of In-der-Welt-Sein, being in the world, Heidegger’s basic subject matter, which allows him to focus on the being, the Sein of that which discloses or interprets being, that is, Dasein. As the subtitle of the course indicates, Heidegger’s treatment of hermeneutics intensifies what in 1915 had already been accomplished, that is, a radical revision of the long tradition of exegesis and commentary—hermeneutics. In Heidegger’s sense, the process of disclosing one’s facticity would operate only on the assumption that for Dasein this process is already an operative function of facticity—one would actually be disclosing the event of disclosure itself, drawn out from the intelligible structure of Dasein’s own being.
Heidegger’s time at Freiberg came to an end on July 5, when with Natorp’s help he moved to the University of Marburg to take up the post of Associate Professor. Here he met the newly enrolled 18 year old Hannah Arendt. In February of 1924 they became lovers in an affair that would last until 1933. Their friendship, which she resumed after the Second World War, would last Heidegger’s lifetime. In July, the lecture presented to a society of Marburg Theologians, Der Begriff der Zeit (translated as The Concept of Time), recalls the theme of his habilitation lecture, and also provides an introduction to one of the central distinctions of Sein und Zeit, between temporality in everyday human experience and time as it is conceived by the physical sciences. While his thoughts make reference to Dilthey’s attempts to work out the grounds of historicity, we are also looking ahead to Sein und Zeit. Dasein is now conceived, in its most radical possibility of being, as time itself rather than a being in time. But time, contrary to how the tradition has always understood it—that is as presence—must now be understood as futural: “To have no time means to cast time into the bad present of the everyday” (14E). So futural time—the time we are yet to have—is what gives time for our experience of the present in a way that allows the past to be repeated as life. Time, therefore, will now be regarded as the possibility of repetition, which, as Heidegger points out at the conclusion of the lecture, is historicity. The possibility of repetition connects two essential concepts, in the German die Möglichkeit, meaning the possibility, and Wiederholen, meaning repetition, though an attempt to portray correctly the sense of the word in English would need to acknowledge the sense of “revision” that is also implied. The phrase “possibility of repetition” is similar in formulation to the phrase “hermeneutics of facticity.” The “of” in each case is what is called a “double genitive” because it can signify in two ways. The interpretation of facticity is what happens when the attempt to interpret facticity yields to the realization that facticity is already what interprets—it is facticity’s interpretation. In the same way, if Dasein is time, and if the fundamental phenomenon of time is the future, Dasein would not be separable from its future possibilities, that is, the possibilities available in the repetition of the past. The possibility of repetition, then, just is possibility.
Heidegger’s father died in December 1924 at 73. His mother died less than three years later in 1927 at the age of 69, shortly after the publication of Sein und Zeit. In 1925 faculty members at Marburg proposed Heidegger as the replacement for Nicolai Hartmann in the philosophy chair, as a tenured full professor. But in January 1926 Berlin authorities rejected the proposal on the grounds of Heidegger’s lack of publications. Heidegger then, in March, worked intensely to produce a substantial draft of the work he was planning at the time and completed the first and most of the second division of the first part of what was supposed to have been a work in two parts with three divisions each. Heidegger presented the manuscript to Husserl at his 67th birthday party in Todtnauberg on April 8. With the work less than half finished Heidegger found himself under increasing pressure to publish something. In June the university again proposed to appoint Heidegger to tenured professor and again in November Berlin refused on the same grounds as before. However the completed sections of Sein und Zeit went to press and were published in April 1927, first in the Yearbook for Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, edited by Husserl, and at the same time as a separate work. In the summer semester Heidegger taught the course, “Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie” (translated as “The Basic Problems of Phenomenology”), which is very close in subject matter to Sein und Zeit and helps to fill in some of what is missing there, although the published version did not appear until 1980. Heidegger examines the philosophical history of ontology, with an emphasis on Kant in the first half, and then examines time as temporality and its relation to being. The material covered may have been intended as part of the third division of the first part of Sein und Zeit and perhaps even looks forward to the second part. The published version does not in fact add anything new philosophically to Sein und Zeit but it does help to clarify and deepen our understanding of it. The Kantian context reveals the extent to which Heidegger’s thinking had developed during the writing of Sein und Zeit, though this is not as neo-Kantianism but rather by way of a critical reading of Kant that becomes yet more explicit during the lecture courses of 1928 and 1929. In fact the notion of critical reading itself undergoes a powerful transformation here, as it takes the form of the Destruction of metaphysics that is promised in Sein und Zeit but which in fact constitutes Sein und Zeit in its manifestation as Wiederholung—repetition/revision—of the tradition. For this reason, the texts that lead up to its publication as well as the lecture courses that immediately follow provide an indispensable complement to the study of Sein und Zeit.
Paragraph 8 of the Introduction to Sein und Zeit, which aims to address the question of the meaning of being, sets out the design of the treatise. The response to the question involves first, an interpretation of the entity for whom being is a question—Dasein; and second, because Dasein is a historical entity, an interpretation of historicity. Heidegger explains that, as the treatment of the question of being branches out into these two distinct tasks, the treatise itself must have two parts. The first part is concerned with the interpretation of Dasein in terms of temporality and “the explication of time as the transcendental horizon of the question of being.” It was to have three divisions: (1) a preparatory analysis of Dasein; (2) the analysis of Dasein and temporality (Zeitlichkeit); and (3) an exposition of the relation between time and being. The third division never appeared. Part Two was supposed to have addressed the basic features of a phenomenological destruction (or deconstruction) of the history of ontology, with the problematic of temporality (Temporalität) as a guide. It was also supposed to have three divisions: (1) Kant’s doctrine of schematism and time; (2) the ontological foundations of Descartes’ cogito sum and medieval ontology; and (3) Aristotle’s essay on time, providing a way of examining the limits of ancient ontology. None of Part Two ever appeared but he plan is clear enough in outline. The destruction would work backwards as a way of disclosing the repetitive nature of the problematic of temporality and ontology, working first from Kantian ontology, then back through the repetition of medieval ontology represented by Descartes, which itself would be revealed as a repetition of ancient ontology and the limits imposed by the phenomenal basis found in Aristotle. Indeed the groundwork of Sein und Zeit can be traced back to Heidegger’s critique of Aristotle’s concept of time. What Heidegger published corresponds with the design for the first two divisions. The book starts with an analysis of Dasein, as the being for whom being is an issue and a question and, therefore, as the being on whom the question returns. In order to address the meaning of being in general, the being who poses the question must first look into its own way of being. The use of the term Dasein (which is accordingly rarely translated) remains as one of Heidegger’s most striking innovations. An ordinary German word, which in most philosophical contexts means something like the English existence, takes on a forceful character in Heidegger’s use, in which the etymological root—Da-Sein—is emphasized. Heidegger makes a number of other innovative terminological distinctions early in Sein und Zeit, which help to distinguish Dasein and its peculiar way of being. The most important of these is the distinction between the ontological and the ontical. Paragraph 4 addresses the “ontical priority” of the question of being. The ontical denotes whatever pertains to the factual world, the world conventionally explored by the sciences. In this world a peculiar fact emerges concerning the being that Heidegger calls Dasein. It is distinguished from all other beings by the fact that, for Dasein alone, being is an issue for it. Neither rocks nor vegetables, nor even other animals, concern themselves with the question of the meaning of being. So, ontically speaking, Dasein is distinguished by being ontological, which means that it has a relation to being. However, just because Dasein is ontological that does not mean it has developed an ontology. Heidegger reserves this term for the theoretical inquiry into being. Dasein, then, is ontically distinguished from other beings, insofar as it has an understanding of being, but for the most part it remains “pre-ontological” because it has yet to work out its ontology. Heidegger adds to this distinction between the ontological and the ontical a further distinction, which is, in the context of the years leading up to the publication of Sein und Zeit, quite surprising. Existence is the term that Heidegger uses to denote the kind of being towards which Dasein comports itself, reaching both for future possibilities and back into the past. Heidegger points out that because Dasein has its being “to be,” (i.e., to come) its way of being cannot be designated by a subject matter—a what. Rather, Dasein understands itself in terms of its possibilities—it can either be itself or not itself, he writes, thus turning from the question of what to the question of who. It is the ability to make decisions about the future that characterizes Dasein’s existence. Accordingly, Heidegger uses the terms existentiell (existenziell) and existential (existenzial) to distinguish between the everyday decisions made by the particular Dasein and the a priori structures and modes of existence itself (the terms are surprising because they seem to recall the contemporary and fashionable versions of existentialism that Heidegger despised). Ontology must begin with the pre-ontological understanding of being because this is the definitive characteristic of Dasein. We operate in the everyday world and must deal with other entities in practical ways. To that extent we are existentiell, which implies practical competence and an implicit understanding of our existence. On the basis of this implicit understanding it should be possible to develop an explicit theory of being, an ontology. In this way, Heidegger claims, the question of being aims at the a priori conditions of possibility not only of the objective sciences but also of the philosophical ontologies that lie at the basis of all sciences.
Having defined Dasein in terms of existence Heidegger develops the implications, which effectively overturn a number of metaphysical doctrines. Dasein cannot be considered as a particular (belonging to the genus Man, for instance). Rather, as an entity considered as its own possibility, Dasein is in each case its own being. Its possibility or existence thus always overflows or outstrips its actuality. This possibility—or “mineness”—implies two alternative conditions: Eigentlichkeit or Uneigentlichkeit. The latter condition (which is usually translated as inauthenticity, though not without controversy) should be regarded as the normal condition for Dasein most of the time. It implies that in this modality Dasein is not properly its own being. To be authentic is to be one’s own self rather than to belong to some other—a social group, family, friend, institution or whatever. Heidegger’s term for these others, das Man, can be translated as the “one” or the “they,” and it implies a condition according to which Dasein exists without making its own decisions, conforming instead to habits, customs and practices that determine relative cultural conditions. The authentic condition, on the contrary, implies resoluteness in assuming the ability to make one’s own decisions.
The authentic and inauthentic ways of being that are grounded in Dasein’s existence correspond to the existentialia that characterize Dasein’s everydayness. By existentialia Heidegger means the a priori conditions of possibility for being in the world. Because the world, in this sense, is a world only for Dasein (there is no world independent of Dasein, although there are certainly beings that are) then the other kinds of entity that populate it must be considered in terms of how Dasein engages with them. Dasein’s world is populated not only by others but also by tools and equipment, which are not simply vorhanden (present-at-hand), inert and without practical significance, but they are zuhanden (ready-to-hand), available for work or leisure, and without our needing to deliberate unduly over them.
Dasein can also be characterized in terms of the moods it finds itself in—its throwness. Befindlichkeit (the state I find myself in) can be grasped as a kind of attunement. Heidegger’s examples, Angst and boredom, illustrate what is meant by moods: they are conditions of being that, if one is responsive to them, disclose the world in its ontological dimension. Neither Angst (anxiety over nothing in particular) nor boredom can be said to have a specific object or external cause. Rather they are moods capable of disclosing the world in its everyday ordinariness and can lead to an understanding of it.
Dasein is constantly dealing with entities whose meanings are implicitly understood in the way Dasein makes use of them and in the way they are related to each other. This everyday concern, which Heidegger characterizes in terms of the way the craftsman operates in his workspace, can also be made into the topic of philosophical reflection, so that the mode of being of entities in the world is shown to be special to the mode of being of Dasein, revealing the a priori nature of Dasein’s world as a “for the sake of which,” grounded in Dasein’s own existentiality—possibility itself. Similarly, Dasein’s understanding of the world is disclosed as an active interpretation, projecting an a priori condition, Dasein’s own possibility, onto the entities that populate its world. The significance of the tools or equipment that Dasein habitually uses turns out to be a projection of Dasein’s mode of existence. Dasein understands its environment in terms of possibilities offered and is therefore always active, always meddling in some way. This understanding is grounded in kinds of interpretation, involving a priori a fore-structure: a Vorhabe, a Vorsicht and a Vorgriff (a fore-having, a fore-sight and a fore-conception). Heidegger points out that we never encounter equipment that is ready-to-hand in a way that involves having to work out its significance before using it. We do not first encounter a door, for instance, as an inert piece of wood and then derive its use from contemplation. We encounter it first of all as already a door. The scientific attitude (typified by Descartes and his world of res extensa) must have been derived from and abstracted from the more primordial one, in which the “as” that constitutes the mere understanding of a table as a table (or a door as a door) is given in advance. So whenever something is interpreted as something (which is the normal state) the interpretation must be taken as having been given in advance.
These considerations of mood, understanding and interpretation emphasize the active role of being-in, the verbal aspect of being-in-the-world. They also indicate why Heidegger privileges temporality. Dasein’s throwness, revealed through moods like Angst and boredom, show that Dasein’s existence involves both having been and being to come. Dasein can either exist in an inauthentic way, governed by das Man and the fashionable currency of the everyday, or it can exist in an authentic way, projecting its own possibilities into a future that it can have a say in determining for itself. Through the experience of anxiety Dasein learns that it is thrown in a world that is already marked by significance; this is its facticity. It also learns that the character of this throwness is possibility and, therefore, that its existence is its own. Finally, it learns that it is fallen among other beings whose being is not its own. The fundamental unifying structure that supports these related dimensions is Sorge (usually translated as care). Care must use time and must reckon with time. The “time” that that Dasein experiences, however, is the phenomenal aspect of temporality—the proximal experience of the present. And this, Heidegger argues, is not only what arises as the everyday understanding of time, but also what has evolved into the traditional ontological understanding of time, according to which being is determined as presence. Having derived the ontological meaning of care, according to which temporality involves both running ahead and reaching back, Heidegger moves on to Division Two.
Division Two begins by acknowledging that the “Preparatory Fundamental Analysis” of Division One has only dealt with being in the world in a partial way. The structure of care has revealed a depth and complexity that demands a different approach. If being in the world involves reaching back into the past and running ahead into the future then Division One has only managed to bring into view the everyday happenings between birth and death. The structural roles of the end and the beginning remain obscure. Furthermore, the character of “mine-ness,” which forms the ground of both authentic and inauthentic existence, has been brought into view only in terms of the inauthentic, average way of being. It will thus be the task of Division Two to reveal in the structure of care the deepest ground of the whole of Dasein’s being. Division Two begins, accordingly, with the questions of how Dasein can be a whole and how Dasein can wholly be.
For this reason, Heidegger argues, the analysis must engage with the most extreme possibilities of Dasein’s existence, the possibilities of birth and death (the ends of being) and the possibility of authentic existence, in which Dasein can be wholly its own. The first problem emerges with the terms of the question itself: in what sense can a being, who is to be understood in terms of its finitude and freedom, also be considered as a whole? The essence of Dasein’s care is its active interpreting, which follows from an essential constitutional structure of Dasein, the temporal phenomenon of the future, the ahead-of-itself, according to which there is “eine ständige Unabgeschlossenheit,” constantly something to be settled. So Dasein cannot be considered a finished whole in the conventional sense, a sum of attributes or a living thing. If Dasein is to be considered as a whole then this will be through an interpretation by Dasein that can disclose the whole of its own being—its own disclosing character. Dasein’s being as a whole can only be disclosed by Dasein. The first serious problem thus emerges. The two extremes of life—birth and death—remain outside the temporal structure of Dasein’s thrownnness. Dasein can never reach back behind its thrown facticity to the moment of birth nor run ahead so far as to experience its death before ceasing to be. This problem rules out the method operational in Division One, where the ontical and existentiell aspects of existence served as an essential starting point for approaching the ontological and existential problem. Here, Heidegger points out, the problem of not being able to eradicate the “ahead-of-itself” as an essential structural aspect of care need only be regarded as insurmountable from a perspective that posits Dasein as a present to hand just waiting for a not yet present to hand to be added onto it. Rather, if it is going to be possible to make Dasein accessible in its wholeness, it must be disclosed (as it must disclose itself) in an existential and ontological way.
Heidegger accomplishes this through an extended and detailed series of analyses, which link the problems of death, guilt and history to the meaning of care as time; and he concludes by arguing that Dasein’s being is always and from the beginning being towards an end. The fore-structure, or a priori given-ness, of the end of its existence forces Dasein to relate to this end in definite, authentic or inauthentic, ways.
Heidegger uses the Greek term ekstasis (which has etymological connections with the Greek ek-sistence) to denote what he calls “the ecstatic unity of temporality,” according to which it is possible for us to experience other beings. The unity describes the way that time is constantly “outside-itself,” in so far as the present must be regarded as derived from a combination of having-been and the future. Ekstasis designates how a unity of future, having-been and present allows the human being to be “cleared.” It provides a spatial and temporal present that is only authentically arrived at through this state of Ekstasis. Modern life increases the demand on existential functions like Ekstasis, provoking an escalation of the repetitiveness and intensity of the acts or performances of presencing (which allows beings to present themselves in particular times and spaces). Heidegger’s radio broadcast from 1934 defending his decision not to come back to Berlin to take up the prestigious post offered to him gives us a sense of how he felt about this: “The world of the city,” he said, “runs the risk of falling into destructive error,” and he identifies “a very loud and very active and very fashionable obtrusiveness.” This echoes his remarks from 1924 in the “Begriff der Zeit” lecture, according to which we can have time only by maintaining ourselves along side our past and running ahead (i.e., historicity). Alternatively: “All idle talk, that in which idle talk maintains itself, all restlessness, all busyness, all noise and all racing around breaks down” (14 E). It would seem, then, that from Heidegger’s point of view, repeating and revising the past while running ahead into our future is the only way for us to have time, which for Heidegger, is to have ourselves.
Shortly after the publication of Sein und Zeit Heidegger’s fame as a philosopher quickly spread internationally, and consequently he was promoted to full professor at Marburg on October 19. In 1928 he was offered the chair of philosophy at Freiberg, which had been vacated by its founder, the retired Husserl. The new post represented the highest honor possible in the field of phenomenological philosophy and Heidegger naturally accepted the invitation and took up the position in time for the winter semester.
In 1929 he published Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik (translated as Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics), the so called Kantbuch, which explicitly sets out the conditions according to which the futural dimension of time makes the kind of interpretation possible that would move things forward. In Sein und Zeit Heidegger had argued that the historicity of human existence, or Dasein, implies a legacy that we inherit. Historicity is not the same as history. Historicity is the condition of being historical. And as Sein und Zeit teaches, the aim of locating and understanding conditions cannot necessarily be achieved by simply studying the phenomena (i.e., historical events) that they make possible. In other words Heidegger is interested in the connection that Aristotle had suggested between what is necessary and what is possible (but not always necessary). In a strange reversal the necessary turns out to be possibility, i.e., the possibility of repetition, which overflows all the ways in which possibilities can be actualized. The consequence for Heidegger is that the best way forward, in any of the dimensions that humans operate in, implies types of response to the traditions, legacies and histories that make us what we are. That response (our responsibility—the ability to respond with a modicum of freedom to a tradition) always implies some minimal unthought—the undetermined futural aspect of time.
The notion of repetition, Wiederholung, which was introduced in the lecture Der Begriff der Zeit, and provisionally analyzed in Sein und Zeit, is yet more fully worked out in the Kantbuch. This is his definition: “By the Wiederholung of a basic problem, we understand the opening-up of its original, long concealed possibilities, through the working-out of which it is transformed. In this way it first comes to be preserved in its capacity as a problem. To preserve a problem, however, means to free and keep watch over those inner forces which make it possible, on the basis of its essence, as a problem.” The revision operates, then, on the possibilities of repetition. What are preserved are the “inner forces” that make a problem possible. What is affirmed is the problematic. The strategy thus involves the location of a persistent problem (for instance, the problem of time or of being), the working out of its conditions and the repetition of those conditions in a response that perpetuates the problematic (i.e., the future). A basic (grounding or founding) problem of metaphysics can always be interpreted as a possibility of its future. In this way the legacy or tradition can be read in terms of its Geschick—not its destiny but its open possibilities of destination; not as fate in any of the traditional senses but as sending forth in a sense closer to that of telecommunication.
Heidegger’s inaugural lecture at Freiburg, Was ist Metaphysik (translated as “What is Metaphysics?”), on its publication in the same year, attracted considerable attention in the Anglo-American analytic tradition, for whom it confirmed the suspicion that Heidegger, and by extension other fashionable continental trends in philosophy, were hopelessly unclear and muddled. This suspicion hardened into prejudice in the years that followed and led to almost wholesale scorn towards Heidegger’s thought among the English speaking philosophical community. At the same time the lecture attracted hyperbolic praise among existentialist philosophers and led to a long term association of Heidegger’s thought with French existentialism. The lecture can be read as a challenge to philosophize. It takes up issues familiar from Sein und Zeit, particularly the analysis of anxiety and nothingness, but presents them in a new and provocative way. Heidegger’s language seemed to some to be contorted and unwieldy. The notorious phrase from the lecture, “the nothing noths,” draws attention to a characteristic that had long been a part of Heidegger’s style—the active verbalizing of noun phrases. Just as being is (re)verbalized in its context in Sein und Zeit as Da-Sein, the active be-ing of being-in-the-world, so too the nothing is put to work as an activity constitutive also of Dasein’s world. The nothing helps to disclose being in its previously concealed strangeness, showing how the transcendence of Dasein is held out over the nothing from the strictly finite and limited vantage of being, which can now be revealed in contrast as temporarily meaningful, but bounded by meaninglessness.
Heidegger’s rise to fame between the end the of the first war through the years immediately after the publication of Sein und Zeit coincided with the period of the Weimar Republic, a period of turbulent political activity, economic depression and extraordinary cultural vibrancy. By September 1930, Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP or the Nazi Party) had become one of the most powerful and popular political organizations in Germany. Heidegger’s political leanings had been unfocused and largely localized in his youth and had not been evident at all during the intensely productive years leading up to Sein und Zeit. Nevertheless, during the early 1930s, he became sympathetic to Nazism. He had read Hitler’s Mein Kampf and, along with many of his generation, had sought in the political world an answer to the global problems caused by what he had started to describe as the fulfillment of metaphysics in technology. On 30 January 1933 Hitler was appointed Chancellor of the winning coalition of right wing parties and, after 27 February, absolute power was conferred on the NSDAP. Heidegger’s enthusiasm for the new regime led, in a series of swiftly changing circumstances, to his appointment as rector of the University of Freiburg on 22 April, and on 1 May he became an official member of NSDAP.
On 27 May Heidegger gave his rectoral address, Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität (translated as The Self-Assertion of the German University), which provoked ironic responses from some commentators of the time, who suggested substituting Selbstenthauptung (Self-Beheading) for Selbstbehauptung, having observed that self-assertion, in Heidegger’s view, meant adherence to National Socialism. In a move that is actually entirely in line with his long term philosophical preoccupations, he condemns contemporary versions of academic freedom as arbitrary and lacking constraint. He sees the occasion as an opportunity to establish a firm ground at last for knowledge, which would spell the end for the looseness of the various ungrounded empirical sciences and the domination of relativity amongst the disciplines. Despite his clear alignment with the party, however, his sense of what this would mean has less to do with concrete Nazi politics—there is no discussion of racial superiority or of global domination—but more with his own philosophy, such that the confrontation with being would act as a ground and unifying force for the German University in its role in the destiny of the German Volk and in what he calls its spiritual mission. Students will henceforth fulfill their mission in three ways: in labor, in the military and in knowledge. Furthermore, Heidegger sees this mission as one that will restore to the west its spiritual strength before what he calls the “moribund pseudocivilization” collapses into itself. On 11 November he gave a radio broadcast supporting Hitler’s withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations, revealing both an idealism regarding international relations and apparent ignorance about the nature of National Socialism itself.
During 1933 some of the Jewish people most closely associated with Heidegger were forced to leave the country. His ex lover Hannah Arendt and his lifelong correspondent Elisabeth Blochmann would both renew relations with Heidegger after the war but for the moment their contacts were broken off. Heidegger’s contacts with Husserl also ceased at this time. Relations between the two had anyway become strained when Husserl had digested the extent to which Sien und Zeit departed from his own project of phenomenological science. But their break during this time contributed to the unfounded rumor that Heidegger had banned his friend and ex-teacher from the university. While Heidegger did little or nothing to discourage the official dissociation of Jewish colleagues and students from the university during his time as rector, there remains scant evidence of any overt anti-Semitism. Heidegger’s relations with the party were neither comfortable nor mutually supportive, despite his consistently expressed enthusiasm for the opportunities the regime seemed to him to represent for his ideals. Conflicts with party officials as well as with students and faculty led him to resign as rector on 21 April 1934, after which he played no further part in political affairs, though his thought would continue to engage on an increasingly more developed political level. In June Hitler had a number of his rivals murdered, including Ernst Röhm’s Storm Troopers and a number of party members, like Gregor Strasser, whose politics were not sharply focused on opposition to Jews and to communism. The so called Röhm putsch turned out to be a thinly veiled pretext for clearing the party of potential rivals and on 1 August Hitler became “Fürher of the German Reich.” Heidegger later claimed that he became disillusioned with National Socialism after the Röhm putsch but there exist both witnesses and documents suggesting that Heidegger’s support of Nazism continued at least until 1936.
Heidegger did not publish very much during the remainder of the war, though he continued to lecture. In 1934 he began a series of lectures on Friedrich Hölderlin, which would occupy him until the early 1940s. Hölderlin, the enigmatic German poet and contemporary of Hegel, emerges in Heidegger’s discussions as a resource for his radically alternative exposition of the place of human being in the world. In 1935 he lectured on “Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes” (translated as “The Origin of the Work of Art), three successively different versions of which emerged as articles. While the earliest version is characterized by the same preoccupations as his lecture courses of that year, by the time the final version was published these had been refined and the final version reveals how Heidegger’s thought had been developing. The key distinction in the article is between world and earth and the article works through three rather different kinds of artworks. His reading of Van Gogh’s Shoes shows that art can be regarded neither as merely an aesthetic object designed to give pleasure or to portray beauty, nor as a kind of thing with the addition of aesthetic beauty. Rather, art discloses the nature of things. Equipment, unlike art, disguises its status as a thing. Its material nature is absorbed in its function. The artwork, however, draws attention to the materials from which it was formed. The artwork thus draws attention to the struggle between form and matter. Van Gogh’s painting of shoes shows what would not normally be evident. The involvement of the shoes in the world of the peasant disappears from view while they are being worn; but put into view, as in Van Gogh’s painting, the shoes reveal that world itself and the relation of that world to the earth. But what is the earth? Heidegger shifts his attention to a Greek Temple, partly to underline the fact that his reading of artworks is not based on a model of representation. The shoes in the Van Gogh example do the work of explication not because of the painting’s naturalistic or evocative qualities. Rather the role of the shoes as equipment is revealed in an artwork that takes as its topic the medium between the world of the peasant and the earth on which the peasant treads. A famous reading of Heidegger’s artwork essay takes him to task rather pedantically by pointing out that the shoes in Van Gogh’s painting were actually his own. The temple shows how a work of art not only opens up a world but also unifies and structures the world of a historical people. In doing so it contextualizes the earth upon which it stands, instituting a particular interpretation of the relationship between the cultural contrivances of Dasein and the natural world with which those contrivances are engaged. Finally, Heidegger turns to what he calls Dichtung, which in its fully etymological sense means invention. The ordinary and the everyday is made strange in art, revealing the struggle between the newness of art and the state of things out of which it had to have emerged. The meaning of Dichtung in the normal sense is, of course, poetry. Because the matter or earth of poetry is language and because language is what gives Dasein names for beings, then poetry has the power of addressing the possibility of human communications and relations. The relationship between world and earth, when it takes the form of linguistic innovation, reveals the torturous ways in which the relations between concepts and words are formed and form each other. Poetry can thus be grasped as the most essential kind of artwork because it performs an absolutely singular intervention that is also a form of disclosing. Poetry reveals the conditions on which not only artworks but all other kinds of communicating and all other kinds of thing are possible at all. For this reason Heidegger increasingly privileges Dichtung in his works of this period and later. The disclosing of being—if it is to be achieved in any way that eludes the classifying, calculating procedures of modernity—must be an evidently singular event each time.
The changes in focus that Heidegger’s philosophy passes through during this time have been described as a Kehre (a “turn”), though the nature and implications of this Kehre have since been a topic of dispute and debate and remain undecided. When Heidegger uses the term himself he tends to refer to a stage or procedure that allows the passage from Division Two to Division Three (which did not appear) of Sein und Zeit. In 1935 Heidegger’s thought is still dominated by the distinction between everydayness and what had become “creative self-assertion,” a version of the distinction in Sein und Zeit between inauthentic and authentic existence. If Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität had transferred the topic of fundamental ontology from individual Dasein to a people or a state, then the resoluteness of one’s ownmost being becomes the creative self-assertion of a people’s spirit. What this implies is that inauthentic everyday distraction by the present should be overcome in the authentic disclosure of being as historical destiny. The lecture course on Hölderlin makes this explicit. The task is to learn how to listen to the poet. The approach is similar to that which begins Sein und Zeit, insofar as it begins with the need to clear away the obstacles to asking the question, “Who is Dasein?” But in the Hölderlin course, the everyday world and its distracting forms must be discarded before Dasein can be disclosed as the authentic gathering of individuals in a community. The argument suggests that Heidegger was locked in a struggle both with himself and with the politics of the German nation. The critical, arguably moral, attitude towards the everyday—which is not evident in Sein und Zeit—relates explicitly to the everyday life of the Nazi regime, which Heidegger found himself in the midst of: the political subordination of thought, art, history and writing to the urgency of everyday political interests; the busy cultural activities; the explicit biologism of racist dogma; and the ubiquity of bureaucratic procedures and hierarchies. Heidegger thus sought to transcend this everyday Nazism in an authentic version that would disclose the innermost historicity of a people. An authentic historicity would be the domain of only a few creative individuals, specifically, poets, thinkers and founders of states (thus evoking the triumvirate: Hölderlin, Heidegger and Hitler). The poet institutes the truth of a people’s Dasein. The thinker explicates the poet’s disclosure of being. The creator of states can manage the state in such a way as to adjust it to the essence revealed and explicated by the poet and thinker respectively.
Einführung in die Metaphysik (translated as Introduction to Metaphysics, 1959), from the lecture course given in the summer of 1935, reveals beneath Heidegger’s compromising adherence to a spurious kind of geopolitical propriety, a degree of insight that ultimately renders his political ideals untenable. He gives an account of Europe, “in its unholy blindness,” as always on the point of cutting its own throat. In the pincers between Russia on the one side and America on the other, Europe struggles against the mundane technologization it has itself spawned as the outcome of its metaphysics. Russia and America, seen metaphysically, Heidegger explains, are both the same: “the same hopeless frenzy of unchained technology and of the rootless organization of the average man.” Heidegger’s characterization of Europe—with Germany at its core—is quite complex. Europe would always have been the heir of the historicity of metaphysics, which as Heidegger teaches, completes itself in technology. Europe’s “unholy blindness” would therefore be the inability of the modern subject to see its own essence. The “darkening of the world” thus described by Einführung in die Metaphysik implies a fulfillment of Europe’s metaphysics in Stalin’s Russia and in capitalist America, now returning as the ends of the pincers and surrounding their own source. Thus Europe would be at once the hinge and the ends of the pincers. What Heidegger is most concerned about here is the instrumentalization of spirit. The tripartite geographical distinction represents three types of reduction of spirit to the mere instrument of intelligence: the arranging of material relations (in Stalinism); the ordering and explanation of the present to hand (of Positivism); and management of vital resources and race (everyday National Socialism). So spirit relates to the dimension in which the gods might again become thinkable: that is, to the holy. The realm of the holy [das Heiligen] and its cognate Heilen or “healing” (resonating at once with notions of salvation, well-being and wholeness) signal both Heidegger’s theological heritage and his absorption of ethics into his fundamental ontology. The questioning embodies a mode of thinking through which, as Heidegger explains elsewhere, the truth of Being becomes a distress. The questions, “what for?—where to?—and what then?” represent the echo of Heidegger’s question of being, provoked by circumstances which by the mid 1930s had become commonplace as the systematic global urbanism of modernity spearheaded by mass communications and the rapid expansion of military powers.
In 1936 Heidegger went to Rome to lecture on Hölderlin. He met his former pupil, Karl Lowith there, who has since insisted that Heidegger’s adherence to Nazism was still evident at that time. In that year Heidegger also began his series of lectures on Nietzsche, which ran until 1942 and which were eventually published in 1961 in 2 volumes. The first volume, which covers the years 1936-39, interprets Nietzsche approvingly as foreshadowing Heidegger’s analytic of Dasein and is consistent with Heidegger’s other writings of the mid 1930s. But the second volume departs both in style and content from the first, in that it is marked by a polemical tone directed against Nietzsche and characterizes Nietzsche as the fulfillment of the tradition in what turns out to be an account of western metaphysics that finally seems to be doing the work of destruction advertised in Sein und Zeit.
The argument is foreshadowed by the book-length work that Heidegger wrote between 1936-38, probably for his private use, and which he did not publish in his lifetime, Beitrage zur Philosophie (Vom Eriegnis) (translated as Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning), 1999). It contains a horrified account of the abandonment of being in modernity and suggests the extent to which Heidegger’s thought was undergoing some alterations in emphasis. Being is not anything that is. So being withdraws in granting to beings their presence. Everything that exists does so because we as Dasein stand in a relation to being. But being will be discovered in its most essential form, time and time again—and in this repetition—as nothing. “There is nothing to being.” The statement is enacted in the enunciation of increasingly empty phrases and achieved through this recitative mode, which springs from the various “moods”—deep awe, wonder, boredom, etc—that disclose beings in relation to their being. Heidegger’s lifelong philosophical project manifests here as the desire to empty all ontic statements of their content in order to open up the relationship between the beings that appear and their secret and thus un-thematizable emergence. This emergence is explicated by the phrase, “Being essentially unfolds as appropriation [Ereignis].” The subtitle, (Vom Ereignis), offers a deliberate and, Heidegger says, proper alternative to the conventional academic banality of the main title. Ereignis is difficult to translate into English. The translators of the Beiträge coin a new word, enowning, in an attempt to indicate how it works in Heidegger’s German, stressing both the active, verbal aspect as well as the sense of appropriating that it suggests etymologically. Elsewhere the phrase “event of appropriation” and the catachresis “event of propering” (this with some irony) have both been used. The word, in its conventional sense, might have been faithfully transposed as “event.” Heidegger claims that his use of it cannot be translated at all; it is for him a key term, like the Greek logoV or the Chinese Tao. It does not any more mean a happening or occurrence in the ordinary sense, but it does retain the sense that what happens does so uniquely and in the singular. This resistance to translation thus remains faithful to the sense of the term itself. It supposedly resists much more than simple translation. The singular and unique unfolding of being as Ereignis could hardly fall under a conception. Furthermore, it could hardly come into experience at all, if all the forms of representation, predication, classification, calculation and conceptualization, which characterize modernity from Plato to Nietzsche in an intensification of the obliviousness to the unfolding of being, now dominate, as Heidegger claims they do. The difficulty is not simply a matter of forgetfulness. It is a structural condition, according to which the singular event always and immediately drops out of sight, withholds itself in what it grants.
The fact that this withholding can only be experienced as a lack is what leads Heidegger to characterize technology as the perpetual organization of this lack—where technology disguises the emptiness of being beneath an insistent functionality. In his Überwidung der Metaphysik (published in 1954 but based on notes made during the 1936-40 Nietzsche lectures and translated as “Overcoming Metaphysics,” 1959) he suggests that the animal (or sub-human) instinct has become indistinguishable from calculating rationality. Heidegger’s reflections here turn to the phenomenon, which for him fulfils technology, of armament, as the inevitable consequence of “the ordered use of beings which become the opportunity and the material for feats and their escalation.” What remains concealed by the escalating consumption of beings, is that the aim of technology is purely aimless. To put it succinctly, the end of armament is the end of man. In this way the groundlessness of an ethical ground—its unconditionality—shows that self-guaranteeing armament seems designed to remove the power of decision and responsibility entirely from the human sphere. Das Man has been entirely captured by the machination of a technics that he fails to grasp in its historicity, and so is in this way enchanted by his disenchantment. The emergence of this distress would nevertheless still be found as the historicity—or emergence—of technology itself. A profound and disturbing truth beyond truth emerges, which inevitably imposes a powerful deconstruction on Heidegger’s adherence to the spirit of the German Volk still inherent in his arguments of the mid to late thirties. Heidegger’s philosophy begins increasingly to emphasize the enigmatic withdrawal of that which grants presence. Rather than maintain the strict division between the authentic and the inauthentic in terms of the voluntarism that marks the Hölderlin lectures and Einführung in die Metaphysik, according to which Dasein discloses its own truth, Heidegger increasingly characterizes truth as a mode of un-concealment to which humans are exposed, and to which they belong. Whether this is what should be understood by Kehre remains debatable. There is no clear distinction between the two kinds of emphasis; rather the difference takes the character of a refinement. Heidegger’s philosophy develops through what is most characteristic in his style as well as in his subject matter—the repetition/revision that also characterizes the work of deconstruction. The entity which in Sein und Zeit anticipates the end of its existence and is thus capable of freely taking over its own being, now belongs together with being on the basis of an unfolding that withholds itself. In each case the relationship between Dasein and being eludes the conceptualizations that dominate metaphysics.
The Nietzsche lectures have been read as a covert criticism of the Nazi regime’s appropriation of Nietzsche in support of its racist practices, especially the second volume, which includes the lectures given during the early years of the Second World War. Heidegger was under Gestapo surveillance at this time, according to the confession of an official infiltrator who claimed that he rejected Nazism on the strength of Heidegger’s way of thinking. The arguments of the period are characterized by regular references to the contemporary political situation—the events leading up to and after the breaking out of war—and each time related to the metaphysical foundations of technology and instrumental reason and to the forgetting of being. Not the self assertion of individuals, dictators or authoritarian states (a clear if still covert reference to the Nazi regime), but rather “the metaphysical essence of modernity,” or, echoing Nietzsche, the will to power over nature, leads to the emergence of powerful imperialist movements. Nietzsche’s doctrines of the will-to-power and the eternal return of the same are now read as the culmination (and not the overcoming) of western metaphysics in nihilism. Nihilism would thus be the culmination of an increasing forgetfulness of being. Heidegger returns to the earliest documented sources of Ancient Greek philosophy, the pre-Socratics, whose term alētheia is normally translated as truth. In Heidegger’s reading it designates a process in which beings appear yet what grants them presence reserves itself, withholds itself in what it gives. Heidegger argues that this indicates an experience of being in which withdrawal or withholding is experienced simultaneously with what appears. For the earliest philosophers, then, thinking would be a matter of remaining receptive to the withholding of being. In Plato’s philosophy, however, the mere effects of the process—the appearing of things, which are regarded as the manifestation of ideas, then get abstracted from the process of unconcealment and set apart as clarity and light. Thus, for Heidegger, the essence of truth as idea in Plato signals the beginning of metaphysics and onto-theology, and can be grasped as the first stage in the forgetting of being and the obliteration of alētheia. Truth now means conformity of the mind to essence. A further step in the forgetting of being occurs with the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages where truth as adequatio (adequacy of the mind to the thing) is grounded in the concept of divine (i.e., the mind of God). At the beginning of the so called modern age a further step in the oblivion of being occurs with the establishment of the human subject, and with the rationality characteristic of Descartes and Galileo. In Descartes the cogito sets itself up as the basis on which objects reveal themselves. Heidegger traces the term hupokeimenon (the Greek for basis) through its translation into the Latin subiectum to the institution of the human cogito as subject of philosophy and the one true basis upon which things can appear.
So, according to Heidegger’s reading of the tradition, at the beginning of the modern era a technological interpretation of the world was instituted in which the whole of nature was regarded mechanically. Heidegger traces Nietzsche’s notion of will to power back to this beginning, insisting that Descartes and those who followed had already anticipated it. Nietzsche’s philosophy, which claims to break from past philosophy, actually brings it to its climax as the ultimate accomplishment of onto-theology in nihilism. The relation between subject and object discovered in Descartes has been pushed to its extremes in the notion of will to power. The will regards everything as an object to be stored and manipulated and, in an extreme form of subjectivity, reduces everything to the values it projects upon them in its drive for power over them. The meaning of being is now as far from the Ancients’ conception is it could be. Being has become as nothing.
By the 1940s Heidegger had began to express his belief that the route taken by Sein und Zeit had been in danger of unintentionally repeating the intensification of the subjective turn of modern philosophy, thus reinforcing the era of calculability and technological domination. Since the Beiträge he had been using the term Ereignis in opposition to the term Gestell—the en-framing that subordinates beings to the interminable conceptualizing, evaluating, storing, manipulating and calculating of the technological era. In the Nietzsche lectures the discussion of Ereignis recapitulates the work of the Beiträge. Ereignis designates that which thinking can meditate upon in resistance to nihilism, in which thinking has been replaced by calculation and instrumentality. The notion of the frame plays a crucial role in Heidegger’s discussions because it allows him to show how the technological era has long been anticipated by metaphysics and that to move forward it will be necessary to meditate on the emergence of the frame itself. Framing has taken specific forms, as the Nietzsche lectures teach, but each time the determination of being as presence divides the transcendental from the empirical, giving priority to the modes of framing by which philosophy designates its subject matter. In Ereignis the possibility arises that it might overcome the merely dominant character of the frame and transform the frame itself into the Ereignis, the singular and unique unfolding which gives rise to the belonging together of mind and being. In other words the possibility arises of meddling with the transcendental itself. If the Ereignis just is that possibility then it will be a matter of repeating the Ereignis in a way that is each time unique. The special character of Wiederholung is once more activated, as a repetition that is at the same time something new.
Towards the end of the war, late in 1944, Heidegger was drafted into the Volkssturm, the people’s army, as one of the “least indispensable” members of the University, to join a labor force whose work was to dig trenches by the Rhine. The following year, as Germany approached collapse, he managed to return to Messkirch to put his manuscripts in order and to arrange their security. A manuscript dated May 1945, but rediscovered long after Heidegger had died, provides a clear sense of how Heidegger felt about Germany and its collapse by the end of the war. “Abendgespräch in einem Kriegsgefangenenlager in Rusland zwischen einem Jüngeran und einem Älteren” (Evening Dialogue in a Prisoner of War Camp in Russia between a Younger and an Older Man”) uses the fictional premise of the dialogue (though both his sons were at that time in camps, as the title describes) to express the conclusion that the Nazi regime had been a catastrophe for Germany. It goes on to develop a thesis already typical in Heidegger’s writings, such that Germany in defeat is not so much responsible for the evils of the war but more a victim of global devastation consequent on the metaphysical oblivion of being. In June, after Germany’s capitulation, he was forced to attend a hearing on his political activities by a University denazification committee in French occupied Freiburg, to his documented indignation. The hearing considered testimony from a number of important figures, some of whom implicated him while others defended his actions. One of the most decisive testimonies came from his former friend Karl Jaspers, who volunteered instances of Heidegger’s active support of National Socialism during the years 1933-34. In 1946 the hearing concluded that Heidegger should be banned from teaching. Jaspers had suggested that the German youth after years growing up in an authoritarian state were not ready for critical responses towards a teaching that had once been associated with the Nazis. Heidegger was, however, allowed to keep his library and was granted the title of emeritus professor.
Shortly after this, experiencing emotional crisis, Heidegger sought psychiatric help from Medard Boss who not only helped him regain his emotional stability but who came to admire and to be influenced by his patient’s way of thinking. Heidegger held regular seminars for Boss’s circle, made up primarily of professionals trained in the thinking of the sciences and social sciences. Boss would, with Ludwig Binswanger, go on to develop what became known as existential psychiatry.
During his time in French occupied Freiburg, Heidegger had been introduced to the French intellectual, Jean Beaufret and they became friends. Beaufret helped to raise awareness of and interest in Heidegger’s thought in France, where a new generation of academics like others around the globe turned to Heidegger despite official disapproval. The global successes of the 1920s were thus repeated in a second wave, which coincided with the revival of Heidegger’s publishing and lecturing career. In 1946 he spoke at an occasion commemorating the 20th anniversary of Rilke’s death. And in 1947 he published what turned out to be one of his most influential articles, “Brief den Humanismus” (translated as “Letter on Humanism,” 1962), an “open letter,” which responds to questions that Beaufret had put to Heidegger regarding Jean Paul Sartre’s brief but renowned statement of existentialism, L’existentialism est un humanisme (translated as Existentialism and Humanism). True to the genre, Heidegger’s anecdotal and meandering meditation nonetheless refuses to accept an alignment of his own thought with either existentialism or humanism, and asserts that no ethics would need to be added on to a philosophy that begins with the question concerning the truth of being.
In December 1949 Heidegger lectured to the Bremen Club. The ban on his teaching was lifted and he resumed correspondence with both Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers. In 1950 the first of a series of major publications appeared, Holzwege (wrong Paths), which collected revised versions of some of his most important lectures and seminars on art, technology and language. Throughout the 1950s he continued to publish what were for the most part revised versions of older works, largely related to his teaching. In 1951 he taught a lecture series, Was Heisst Denken? (translated as What is Called thinking, 1968). This was his last course before retiring from the University and the first he had been allowed to teach since 1944, when he was drafted into the Volkssturm. He revisits previous engagements with Parmenides, Plato and Kant as well as Hölderlin and Nietzsche in his pursuit of that which gives thought its topic by withdrawing, a withdrawal that by absenting itself is both more present than everything present and yet infinitely exceeds the actuality of everything actual. He observes that the possibility of thinking is given by what is not yet thought and that what is most thought provoking is the fact that we are not yet thinking.
In 1955-6 he returned as emeritus professor for a series of lectures, which were published in 1957 as Der Satz vom Grund (translated as The Principle of Reason, 1992). These were followed by a series on Hegel’s Wissenschaft der Logik (“Science of Logic”). These lecture series are closely linked to a short text, “Der Satz der Identität” (“The Principle of Identity”), which he presented on Faculty Day, 27 June 1957 on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the University of Freiburg. A significant factor of these texts is that the current milieu is now characterized as “the atomic age” and described in Heidegger’s usual grim humor as the “mushrooming” of instrumental rationality. The lecture course of 1955-56 culminates in an address, with the same title, which condenses the careful readings of the thirteen lectures into a sustained thesis outlining the conditions and the destiny of modernity in terms of its paradoxical grounds, indicated by the phrase nihil est sine ratione: “nothing is without reason.” Here, as with many of the works of this period, the motif being, always supposedly the central motif, the single thought, is glimpsed not as the fundamental ontological category, but rather as just one term or motif in a kind of loosely organized dissemination of such terms in the history of thinking. Strictly even the word term will no longer adequately capture the kind of verbal mark or unit of signification that being must be approached as in these texts. Emphasis moves away from the category of being to what he calls its Geschick, its destiny/destination or its sending-forth. What saves this Geschick (a destiny that all philosophical determinations of being share) from the fragmentation and chaotic dissemination it appears to have in its history is what is not determined in it each time—this alone captures its sameness and simplicity. The critique of the metaphysics of presence that always animates Heidegger’s works leads him to evoke the constancy of being’s Geschick in terms of presencing, lingering and light. Being, of course, means different things for different philosophers in different epochs, to the extent that one epoch can be distinguished from another, in which case these heterogeneous determinations of being might actually be a helpful historiographical guide. What is significant turns out to be the sameness that remains, lies hidden, beneath these determinations: “But it does not run between the epochs like a band linking them; rather the legacy always comes from what is concealed in the Geschick, just as if from one source various streamlets arise that feed a stream that is everywhere and nowhere.” One might as well talk of absencing as presencing. The difference, repeating the ontical-ontological difference of Sein und Zeit, gives us a vision of the ontological as that which is nowhere. The being-nowhere animates beings wherever they are (everywhere). The two figures, the sprouts and streamlets, indicate the full Geschick in terms of its absence, its being nowhere. The condensed version of this point in the address is yet more powerful. Taking the phrase that Leibniz coins for the principle of reason, nihil est sine ratione, Heidegger proceeds (as he has done throughout the lecture course) to uncover the hidden grounds of the principle itself—the principle of the principle. The two negatives (nihil, “nothing” and sine, “without”) cancel each other out to give a positive, the belonging together of being (est) and reason (ratione).
The principle of this belonging together is identified in terms of a kind of sounding, a Klang, which draws our attention to the musical belonging together of the two terms, being and reason (est and ratione): “Being and Reason now ring in unison. In this Klang being and reason ring out as belonging together in one. The principle of reason now has a different ring and says: ground/reason belongs to being.” In the unfolding of this logic of the ring, the repetition of reason in ground (in Der Satz vom Grund) makes ground and reason equivalent but, in order to save their sense in this equivocation, a further ground (and reason) is posited beneath them—Heidegger’s being, to which they belong (der Satz/Grund vom Sein). But this belonging has a further ground (the belonging that being is) in the Klang, the ringing that one must hear while seeing. In this sense being as ground/reason (being/ground/reason) has no ground, reason or even being, because it is what grounds, gives reasons to and allows beings to be beings. Being is thus not a ground beneath the various forms of determination that metaphysics variously privileges, like ground and reason. Rather, by occupying a place alongside these other terms, being reveals itself and all such terms to be grounded only in the indeterminate klang of their belonging together as Geschick. Being thus cannot be represented as a being. This means first that being cannot be represented at all. There is nothing here that departs from the pattern that all metaphysical concepts fall into. Their various means of representation inevitably fall short of representation strictly speaking, for their otherworldly, supersensible status must remain infinitely outside the spatial and temporal conditions of representation, outside experience. But it means, second, that the reason why being cannot be represented at all has nothing to do with any atemporal status that might be supposed of it as a metaphysical concept; rather, being cannot be represented because the meaning of “being” is the power that makes representation possible before and beyond any actual representations. It cannot be determined because it is what gives itself to determination. It has no reason itself because it gives reasons. And so the ground of reason is not a ground but a kind of grounding potential, something in the determination that is not given but nonetheless gives itself to possible determinations as Geschick—the sending forth that makes it possible to respond to each epoch as legacy, tradition, inheritance.
In this respect Heidegger’s text gains an extra dimension, for the argument takes the exact form of the response, activating the Wiederholung (repetition/retrieval) that was already thematized as early as 1915 before emerging in a more developed form in Sein und Zeit and in the Kantbuch. The legacy or tradition can be read in terms of its Geschick—it’s destination (destiny) as sending forth. The concept of the same in Heidegger’s text turns out to be a quite precise Wiederholung of a problem that persists in Hegel’s Greater Logic. Distinguishing the same from the empty repetition of identities, Heidegger, like Hegel, is led to a notion of identity that maintains the contradiction of difference within it. What is (est) the same—not itself a being—holds what belong together in a kind of radical difference. What is the same is their radical difference. Hegel’s Logic indeed returns rather forcefully in these pages. Heidegger even affirms that text as the place where “relation” [verhältnis] most purely comes to be thought as “what is to be thought.” This relation, or holding together, of radical differences is yet to be thought—it is a not yet. This, then, is what Geschick sends forth in the legacy of metaphysical thinking, the un-thought—the thought of the un-, or not- that gives itself to be thought, handing down what is not determined for an event of appropriation, that is, a singular determination.
Heidegger’s late thought can be focused on a subtle and elusive distinction. In a lecture from 1962, whose title “Zeit und Sein” recapitulates the missing third division of Sein and Zeit, Heidegger gives his audience “a little hint” on how to listen. “The point is not to listen to a series of propositions,” he explains, “but rather to follow the movement of showing.” This distinction typifies Heidegger’s philosophy. It implies a fundamental difference between propositions and the conditions enacted when a person makes them, and can be put in the following way. A proposition would be a statement that asserts something about some object. For instance, a predicate is denied or affirmed of something or someone (“this table is white”). The proposition is thus the main building block of the logic of assertion. It supports the notion of truth as correspondence, according to which assertions can be tested against established facts, and it forms the ground of predicative logic, which, Heidegger teaches, dominates the theoretical attitude. In order to follow “the movement of showing” one would focus not on the validity of assertions but on their intelligibility, on the performative or enunciative modalities of a discourse and thus on the way a modality of discourse allows certain kinds of being to come into view in certain ways. In other words, one would focus on the constitution of the world’s intelligibility. An alternative notion of truth thus emerges, alētheia, which would not be reducible to questions of validity but would rather concern the ways in which given modes of discourse disclose beings. Predicative logic discloses beings in such a way as to distinguish the objects of knowledge from the subject who knows and who can thus make systematic pronouncements on things that are. An analysis of the non-objectifiable grounds of predicative discourse would thus bring to light the ways in which the subject of philosophy and science comes to being and comes to knowledge. The effect is to get beneath the subject of knowledge to the grounds of experience and knowledge itself and thus, for us situated historical beings, to an engagement with the historicity of the ways of being in the modern world.
In the 1960s and 70s Heidegger’s work activities became less intense. Most of his time was spent at his home in Freiburg or at the solitary mountain cottage in Todtnauberg. In 1966 he gave an interview with Der Spiegel, which was recorded, on the condition that it would be published only after he had died. Heidegger died peacefully in 1976. His last word was “Thanks.” He had made plans for the publication of all his writings in 1972, a huge undertaking which began in 1974 with around 100 volumes projected. The project is expected to go on until the first decades of the 21st century. The Gesamtausgabe is a complete edition “in the last hand,” so includes only Heidegger’s final revisions, which he prefaced with the motto, “ways not works.” Heidegger’s publishers have taken his request literally, to publish the works with no scholarly apparatuses whatsoever. The motto has with unintentional irony been reversed. It is more difficult than ever to assess his works as “ways,” because readers only have access to the final versions, many of which include revisions made to the earlier manuscripts that are not reflected in the published texts. For this reason the Gesamtausgabe cannot be regarded as the definitive edition for Heidegger scholarship.
The Spiegel interview was published in May 1976 with the title “Nur noch ein Gott ka nuns retten” (translated as “Only a God Can Save Us”), which echoes a line from Hölderlin. In it he responds to questions about his involvement with the Nazis in 1933-4. Those who were looking for stronger expressions of regret than Heidegger had hitherto offered were disappointed. Their disappointment contributed to misleading debates about Heidegger’s silence on the matter. The most disturbing aspect of Heidegger’s involvement has been less a matter of what he did not say and more a matter of the little he did say. Nazism was, for Heidegger, one more creation of modern metaphysics, no worse than the hydrogen bomb, mechanized agriculture or automated kitchens. He admitted during the postwar years that he had been wrong in his support of the Nazis but he never acceded to the demand to regard the Holocaust as a more horrific event than others. He once defended his attitude by drawing attention to the victimization of East Germans, who were, he said, victims no less than Jews. Furthermore he tended to minimize the extent of his involvement in Nazi politics, emphasizing instead the covert resistance of his lectures. The key concerns of the debates about Heidegger’s politics, which began immediately after the war and which continued throughout the remainder of the 20th century, have been about the connections between Heidegger’s philosophy and his involvement with Nazism. Works by Victor Farías and Hugo Ott during the 1980s revealed the actual extent of Heidegger’s involvement and ambitions, leaving no doubt that Heidegger’s self representations misrepresented his involvement in crucial respects. The question of the connection between his political involvement and his philosophy has been considerably clarified during the final decade of the 20th century, largely owing to painstaking research and patient scholarship.
Heidegger stands out as one of the greatest philosophers of the century. The impact of his writing not only in Europe and America but also in Asia is hardly calculable. He has been described as the hidden master of modern thought and as a man tormented both by philosophy and by his ambiguous relationship to his faith. His impact has been felt not only in philosophy but also in literary theory, psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, theology, and ecology. A growing interest in Continental Philosophy in America has led to a wider understanding and appreciation of his work, highlighting his role in the development of hermeneutics and deconstruction and his influence on theorists like Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jürgen Habermas as well on French thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Pierre Bourdieu.
Heidegger’s influence on modern critical and cultural thought can be assessed in two ways. If his philosophy has led to significant developments, especially in the analysis of modernity, historicity and technology, it is also the case that he develops his mode of thinking independently of a number of coterminous thinkers who by radically different routes achieve positions with comparable implications for cultural and critical thought. For instance, Michel Foucault’s notion of the enunciative modality of the statement owes as much to Ferdinand de Saussure’s distinction between la langue and parole (the language system and the speech event) as it does to Heidegger’s notion of alētheia, though his mode of radical revision is reminiscent of Heidegger’s Destruction. Here it is no longer possible to distinguish between direct influence and independent thought. The notion of destruction, or deconstruction, implies at once the repetition and the revision of the thought of a prior thinker. The hinge between repetition and revision operates at the modality of enunciation and indicates a potential for singular decisions. If Heidegger never expressed this thought as such, his philosophy nevertheless leads in this direction. The historicity of modern thought implies that beyond its systematic calculations there remains the undecidable. It is only on the basis of the undecidable that decisions can be made. Otherwise we would be following the preprogrammed plan of an auto-telic universe.
Die Kategorien und Bedeutungslehre des Duns Scotus. Habilitation thesis presented to the Philosophiche Facultalt, University of Freiburg, Spring Term 1915. Heinrich Rickert in dankbarster Verehrung (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1916); reprinted in Frühe Schriften, Gesamtausgabe, Abt. 1: Veröffentlichte Schriften 1914‑1970, Bd. I, edited by Fr. W. von Herrmann (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1978) 189‑411;
Sein und Zeit in Jahrbuch für Philosophie und Phänomenologische Forschung, Volume 8, edited by Edmund Husserl (Halle: Niemeyer, 1927) and as Sein und Zeit: Erste Hälfte (Halle: Niemeyer, 1927); translated by John MacQuarrie and Edward Robinson as Being and Time (London: SCM Press, 1962); translated by Joan Stanbaugh as Being and Time (New York: State University of New york Press, 1996);
Was ist Metaphysik (Bonn: Freiburg, 1929; Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1943); translated by R. F. C. Hull and A. Crick as “What is Metaphysics?” in Existence and Being (London: 1949), pp. 353-392; translated by David Farrell Krell as “What is Metaphysics?” in Basic Writings, edited by David Farrell Krell (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), pp. 95-116;
Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik (Bonn, 1929; Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1951); translated by J. S. Churchill as Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966);
Vom Wesen des Grundes (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1929); edited and translated by T. Malick as The Essence of Reasons (Evanston: Illinois, 1969);
Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität (Breslau: Korn, 1933); translated by Karsten Harries as The Self-Assertion of the German University (The Review of Metaphysics 38: 1985), pp. 467-481;
Erläuterungen zu Hölderlin’s Dichtung (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1944; second enlarged edition, 1951); includes “Heimkunft. An die Verwandten” and “Hölderlin und das Wesen der Dichtung,” translated by W. Brock as Existence and Being (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1949);
Platons Lehre von der Wahrheit. Mit einem Brief den ‘Humanismus’ (Bern: Francke, 1947); translated by J. Barlow and E. Lohner as “Plato’s Doctrine of Truth; Letter on Humanism” in Philosophy in the 20th Century, edited by W. Barnett and H. Aitken (New York: Harper and Row, 1962);
Holzwege (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1950); includes “Der Ursprung des Kunstwerks,” translated by Albert Hofstädter in Philosophies of Art and Beauty (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), pp. 647-701; “Die Zeit des Weltbildes,” translated by M. Grene as “The Age of the World View,” in Measure, volume 2 (1951), pp. 269-284, and by William Lovitt as “The Age of the World Picture,” in The Question Concerning Technology (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), pp. 115-154; “Hegels Begriff der Erfahrung,” translated by K. Dove as Hegel’s Concept of Experience (New York: Harper and Row, 1970); “Nietzsches Wort ‘Gott ist Tot,’” translated by William Lovitt as “The Word of Nietzsche: God is Dead,” in The Question Concerning Technology (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), pp. 53-112; “Wozu Dichter?” translated by Albert Hofstädter as “What are Poets for?” in Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), pp. 91-142; “Der Spruch der Anaximander,” translated by David Farrell Krell as “Martin Heidegger: The Anaximander Fragment,” in Arion: A Journal of Humanities and Classics, New Series I, volume 4 (Winter 1974), pp. 576-626; Holzwege, translated by Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes as Heidegger: Off the Beaten Track (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)
Einführung in die Metaphysik (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1953); translated by Ralph Manheim as “Introduction to Metaphysics (New Haven: Yale Univesity Press, 1959);
Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens (Pfullingen: Neske, 1954); translated by Albert Hofstädter as “The Thinker as Poet” in Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), pp. 1-14;
Vorträge und Aufsätze (Pfullingen: Neske, 1954); includes “Die Frage Nach der Technik,” translated by William Lovitt as “The Question Concerning Technology,” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) pp. 3-35; “Wissenschaft und Besinnung,” translated by William Lovitt as “Science and Reflection,” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) pp.155-182; “Überwindung der Metaphysick,” translated by Joan Stanbaugh in The End of Philosophy (New York: Harper and Row, 1973); “Wer ist Nietzsches Zarathustra?” translated as “Who is Nietzsche’s Zarathustra?” in Review of Metaphysics volume 20 (1966/67), pp. 411-431; “Bauen Wohnen Denken,” translated by Albert Hofstädter as “Building, Dwelling Thinking,” in Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper and Row, 1971) pp. 145-161; “Das Ding,” translated by W. B. Barton and Vera Deutsch as What is a Thing?” (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1968); “…Dichterisch wohnet der Mensch…” translated by Albert Hofstädter as “…Poetically Man Dwells…” in Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper and Row, 1971) pp. 211-229; “Logos,” “Moira,” and “Aletheia,” translated by David Farrell Krell and Frank A. Capuzzi in Early Greek Thinking (New York: Harper and Row, 1975) pp. 59-78, 79-101, 102-123;
Was Heisst Denken? (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1954); translated by J. Glen Gray as What is Called Thinking? (New York: Harper and Row, 1968);
Was ist Das—die Philosophie? (Pfullingen: Neske, 1956); translated by W. Kluback and J. T. Wilde as What is Philosophy? (New York: Harper and Row, 1958);
Zur Seinsfrage (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1956); translated by W. Kluback and J. T. Wilde as The Question of Being (New York: Harper and Row, 1958);
Der Satz Vom Grund (Pfullingen: Neske, 1957); translated by Keith Hoeller as “The Principle of Ground,” in Man and World, volume 7 (The Hague: 1974) pp. 207-222;
Identität und Differenz (Pfullingen: Neske, 1957); translated by K. F. Leidecker as “Identity and Difference,” in Essays in Metaphysics. Identity and Difference (New York: Harper and Row, 1960);
Gelassenheit (Pfullingen, Neske, 1959); translated by John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund as Discourse on Thinking (New York: Harper and Row, 1960);
Unterwegs zur Sprache (Pfullingen, Neske, 1959); translated by Peter Hertz and Joan Stambaugh as On the Way to Language (New York: Harper and Row, 1971);
(Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1961);
Nietzsche, 2 volumes (Pfullingen: Neske, 1961); translated by David Farrell Krell as Nietzsche, 2 volumes (New York: Harper and Row, 1979/80);
Die Frage nach dem Ding. Zu Kants Lehre von den transzendentalen Grundsätzen (Pfullingen: Neske, 1962); translated by W. B. Barton and Vera Deutsch as What is a Thing? (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1969);
Die Technik und die Kehre (Pfullingen, Neske, 1962); includes “Die Kehre,” translated by William Lovitt as “The Turning,” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) pp. 36-49;
Kants These über Sein (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1963); translated by Ted E. Klein and William E. Pohl as “Kant’s Thesis About Being,” in The Southwestern Journal of Philosophy, 4 (1973), pp. 7-33;
Zur Sach des Denkens (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1969); translated by Joan Stambaugh as On Time and Being (New York: Harper and Row, 1977);
Phänomenologie und Theologie (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1970); translated by James Hart and John Maraldo as “Phenomenology and Theology,” in The Piety of Thinking (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976) pp. 5-21;
Schellings Abhandlung über das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit, edited by H. Feieck (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1971); translated by Joan Stambaugh as Schelling’s Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom (Chicago: Ohio University Press, 1985);
Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie, edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1975); translated by Albert Hofstädter (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982);
Wegmarken (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1967); translated as Pathmarks, edited by William McNeill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998);
Erläuterungen zu Hölderlins Dichtung, 4th enlarged edition (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1971); translated by Keith Hoeller as Elucidations of Hölderlin’s Poetry (New York: Humanity Books, 2000).
Frühe Schriften, edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1972);
Gesamtausgabe (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1976-)
Beitrage zur Philosophie (Vom Eriegnis), edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1989); translated by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly as Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning) (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999);
“Abendgespräch in einem Kriegsgefangenenlager in Rusland zwischen einem Jüngeran und einem Älteren” in Feldweg-Gespräche(1944/5) (1995);
Editions in English:
Basic Writings, edited by David Farrell Krell (London: Routledge, 1988);
The Concept of Time, translated by William McNeill, English-German Edition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992);
Lógica: lecciones de M. Heidegger (semester verano 1934) en el legado de Helene Weiss, bilingual German-Spanish edition translated with an introduction by Victor Farías (Barcelona: Anthropos, 1991);
Martin Heidegger, Elisabeth Blochmann: Briefwechsel, 1918-1969 edited by J. W. Storck (Marbach-am-Neckar: Deutsche Schillergesellschaft, 1989);
Martin Heidegger-Karl Jaspers Briefwechsel, 1920-1963, edited by Walter Biemel and H. Saner (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1990);
Martin Heidegger and Erhart Kästner, Briefwechsel, edited by Heinrich Wiegand Petzet (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1986);
Rudolph Augstein and George Folff, “Nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten,” [ interview recorded 23 September 1966] Der Spiegel volume 30, number 23 (31 May 1976), pp. 193-219; translated by Maria P. Alter and John D. Caputo as “Only a God Can Save Us” in Philosophy Today, volume 20, number 4 (1976), pp. 267-285;
Winfried Franzen, Martin Heidegger (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1976);
Hermann Lübbe, Bibliographie der Heidegger-Literatur, 1917-1955 (Meisenheim am Glan: A. Hain, 1957);
Joan Nordquist, ed, Martin Heidegger: A Bibliography (Santa Cruz: Reference and Research Service, 1990);
Hans-Martin Sass, Martin Heidegger: Bibliography and Glossary (Bowling Green: Bowling Green State university, Philosophy Documentation Center, 1982);
Thomas Sheenan, ed, “Bibliographies,” Heidegger: The Man and the Thinker (Chicago: Precedent, 1981).
Hugo Ott, Martin Heidegger: A Political Life (New York: Basic Books, 1993);
Heinrich Wiegand Petzet Auf einen Stern zugehen: Begegnungen mit Martin Heidegger (Frankfurt, 1983); translated by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly as Encounters and Dialogues with Martin Heidegger 1929-1976 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993);
Rüdiger Safranski, Ein Meister Aus Deutschland Heidegger und seine Zeit (Munchen: Verlag, 1994); translated by Ewald Osers as as Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).
Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind, 2 volumes (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1977-8);
Jeffrey Andrew Barash, Martin Heidegger and the Problem of Historical Meaning (Dordrecht: Nijhoff, 1985);
Jean Beaufret, Dialogue avec Heidegger, 3 volumes (Paris: Minuit, 1973-4);
Robert Bernasconi, The Question of Language in Heidegger’s History of Being (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1985);
Bernasconi, “Descartes in the History of Being: Another Bad Novel?” Research in Phenomenology, 17 (1987), pp. 95-114;
Bernasconi, “‘The Double Concept of Philosophy’ and the Place of Ethics in Being and Time,” Research in Phenomenology, 18 (1988), pp. 41-57;
Walter Biemel, Martin Heidegger: An Illustrated study (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1973);
H. Birault, Heidegger et l’expérience de la pensée (Paris: Gallimard, 1978);
Mark Blitz, Heidegger’s Being and Time and the Possibility of Political Philosophy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981);
Pierre Bourdieu, The Political Ontology of Martin Heidegger, translated by Peter Collier (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1981);
Marcus Brainard, David Jacobs and Rick Lee, eds., Heidegger and the Political, Special Issue of the Graduate Faculty of Philosophy Journal, 14-15 (1991);
John D. Caputo, Demythologizing Heidegger (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996);
Jay A. Ciaffa, “Toward an understanding of Heidegger’s conception of the Inter-Relation Between Authentic and Inauthentic Existence,” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 18 (1987), pp. 49-59;
Timothy Clark, Martin Heidegger (London: Routledge, 2002);
David Cooper, Heidegger (London: Claridge Press, 1996);
Robert Henri Cousineau, Humanism and Ethics: An Introduction to Heidegger’s “Letter on Humanism,” with a Critical Bibliography (Paris: Béatrice-Nauwelaerts, 1972);
Fred Dallmayr, “Ontology of Freedom: Heidegger and Political Philosophy,” Political Theory, 12 (May 1984), pp. 204-34;
Dallmayr, “”Heidegger, Hölderlin and Politics,” Heidegger Studies, 2 (1986), pp. 81-95;
Dallmayr, “Heidegger and Marxism,” Praxis International, 7 (October 1987), pp. 207-24;
Dallmayr, Between Freiburg and Frankfurt: Toward a Critical Ontology (Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1991);
Françoise Dastur, Heidegger et la question du temps (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1990);
John N. Deely The Tradition Via Heidegger: An Essay on the Meaning of Being in the Philosophy of Martin Heidegger (New York: Humanities Press, 1972);
J. M. Demske, Being, Man and Death: A Key to Heidegger (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1963);
Jacques Derrida, De l’esprit (Paris: Galilée, 1987); translated by Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby as Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question (
Hubert L. Dreyfus, Being in the World: A Commentary on Heidegger’s Being and Time, Division I (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991);
Dreyfus and Harrison Hall, eds., Heidegger: A Critical Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992);
Parvis Emad, Heidegger and the Phenomenology of Values: His Critique of Intentionality, (Glen Ellyn: Torey Press, 1981);
Emad, “The Place of Hegel in Heidegger’s Being and Time,” Research in Phenomenology 13 (1983), pp. 159-73;
Dagfinn Føllesdal, “Husserl and Heidegger on the Role of Actions in the Constitution of the World,” in Essays in Honor of Jaakko Hintikka, edited by Esa Saaninen et al (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1979);
Victor Farías, Heidegger and Nazism, edited by Joseph Margolis and Tom Rockmore, translated by Paul Burrell (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989);
Christopher Fynsk, Heidegger, Thought and Historiciy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986);
Hans-Georg Gadamer, Heidegger’s Ways, translated by J. W Stanley (Albany State university of New York Press, 1994);
Charles Guignon, Heidegger and the Problem of Knowledge (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983);
Giugnon, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993);
Michael Inwood, A Heidegger Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999);
Inwood, Heidegger (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997);
Theodor Kisiel, “En Route to Sein und Zeit,” Research in Phenomenology, 10 (1980), pp. 307-27;
Kisiel, “On the Way to Being and Time: Introduction to the Translation of Heidegger’s ‘Prolegomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffes,’” Research in Phenomenology, 15 (1985), pp. 193-226;
Kisiel, “Why the First Draft of Being and Time Was Never Published,” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 20 (1989), pp. 3-22;
Kisiel, “The Genesis of Being and Time: The Primal Leap,” in Phenomenology, Interpretation, and Community, edited by Lenore Langsdorf and Stephen H. Watson with Marya Bower (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), pp. 29-50;
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Heidegger, Art and Politics: The Fiction of the Political, translated by Chris Turner (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990);
Christopher Macann, ed., Critical Heidegger (London and New York: Routledge, 1996);
Reinhard May, Heidegger’s Hidden sources (London: Routledge, 1996);
Allan Megill, Prophets of Extremity: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985);
Robert Mugerauer, Heidegger’s Language and Thought (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1988);
Mugerauer, Interpreting environments: Tradition, Deconstruction, Hermeneutics (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995);
G:unther Neske and Emil Kettering, ed, Antwort: Martin Heidegger im Gespräch (Frankfurt: Klosterman, 1983); translated by Lisa Harries and Joachim Neugroschel as Martin Heidegger and National socialism: Questions and Answers (New York: Paragon, 1990);
Graeme Nicholson, “The Politics of Heidegger’s Rectoral Address,” Man and World, 20 (1987), pp. 171-87
Carlos G. Noreña, “Heidegger on Suárez: The 1927 Marburg Lectures,” International Philosophical Quarterly, 23 (December 1983), pp. 407-24;
Herman Philipse, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Being: A Critical Interpretation Princeton University Press, 1998);
Otto Pöggler, Martin Heidegger’s Path of Thinking, translated by Daniel Magurshak and Sigmund Barber (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press International, 1987);
Richard Polt. Heidegger: An Introduction. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999.
Jonathan Ree, Heidegger (London: Phoenix, 1998);
William J. Richardson, Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought, (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1974);
John Sallis, “Echoes: Philosophy and Non-Philosophy After Heidegger,” in Philosophy and Non-Philosophy Since Merleau-Ponty, edited by Hugh J. Silverman (New York and London: Routledge, 1988);
Hugh J. Silverman, “Heidegger,” in Derrida and Deconstruction, edited by Hugh J. Silverman (New York and London: Routledge, 1989);
William V. Spanos, ed, Martin Heidegger and the Question of Literature: Towards a Postmodern Literary Hermeneutics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976);
Spanos, Heidegger and Criticism: Retrieving the Cultural Politics of Destruction (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993);
George Steiner, Martin Heidegger, revised edition (Chicago: Chicago university Press, 1991);
Richard Wolin, ed, The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader (Cambridge MIT, 1993);
Julian Young, Heidegger, Philosophy, Nazism (Cambridge: Cambridge university Press, 1997);
Young, Heidegger’s Later Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002);
Krzysztof Ziarek, “The Reception of Heidegger’s Thought in American Literary Criticism,” Diacritics 19 (1989), pp. 114-26;
Michael E. Zimmerman, Heidegger’s Confrontation with Modernity: Technology, Politics, Art (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990).