Archive for the 'Heidegger' Category

Heidegger’s Impact on Philosophy

Richard Wolin wrote that Heidegger‘s impact on Marcuse, Arendt, Jonas, and others:

affirmed that what they found unique in Heidegger’s approach was his capacity to revivify antiquated philosophical texts in light of present historical needs and concerns…doing philosophy ceased to be an exercise in disembodied, scholarly exegesis.  At issue was a momentous, hermeneutical encounter between the historical past and the contemporary being-in-the-world.  By proceeding thusly, Heidegger was only being self-consistent: he was merely applying the principles of his own philosophy of Existenz to the subject matter of his lectures and seminars.  Two of the central categories of Being and Time‘s “existential analytic” were “temporality” and “historicity.”  Both notions addressed the way that we situate ourselves in time and history.  In Heidegger’s view, one of the hallmarks of “authentic” being-in-the-world was the capacity to actualize the past in light of essential future possibilities.  Conversely, inauthentic Dasein (das Man) displayed a conformist willingness to adapt passively to circumstances–an existential lassitude that bore marked resemblances to the inert being of “things.” Heidegger’s ability to fuse the discourse of “everydayness” with the demands of “rigorous science” he had imbibed during his youthful apprenticeship with…Edmund Husserly, distinguished his thinking from the Lebensphilosophie or “philosophy of life” that flourished among popular writers…at the time (bold mine, xii-xiii).


Wolin, Richard.  2005.  “Introduction: What Is Heideggerian Marxism?”  In Heideggerian Marxism, eds. Richard Wolin and John Abromeit.  Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.

Heidegger’s Being-unto-Death


Heidegger, writing human kind’s relation toward death and our future possibilities, states:

In anticipation of this possibility it becomes ‘greater and greater’; that is to say, the possibility reveals itself to be such that it knows no measure at all, no more no less, but signifies the possibility of the measureless impossibility of existence.  In accordance with its essence, this possibility offers no support for becoming intent on something, ‘picturing’ to oneself the actuality which is possible, and so forgetting its possibility.  Being-towards-death, an anticipation of possibility, is what first makes this possibility possible, and sets free as possibility. (Heidegger, 307.  Sein und Zeit, 262)


Heidegger, Martin.  Being and Time.  Trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson.  London: SCM Press Ltd., 1962)

Heidegger on Truth and Philosophy

Heidegger at his desk

Michael Inwood writes that for Martin Heidegger:

Truth is uncovering and uncoveredness, shedding light and light shed.  Someone who simply accepts and passes on the current chatter, even if the chatter happens to be in some sense correct, sheds no light of his own.  A great philosopher, by contrast, sheds light even if his views are mistaken.  Such errors as he makes are likely, Heidegger believes, to stem from his having taken over something of the tradition without adequate inspection.  But in any case the thought of great philosophers is never flatly false.  It is never solidified into something simply false or simply true; it is always, as Heidegger said of himself, ‘on the way’, in transit, never at its destination.  It always sheds light to guide us in the right direction, even if that leads away from the philosopher himself.  Chatter does not do that, Chatter is inert and self-enclosed.  It ‘tranquillizes’ us into thinking that matters are entirely settled and disinclines us to look further. (Inwood, 55)


Inwood, Michael.  Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Heidegger’s Being and Time and Phenomenology

Heidegger, Martin

Paul Gorner writes:

[A] question…could be asked about all claims that Heidegger makes in Being and Time.  Ontological claims are to be established not by argument but phenomenologically.  So ultimately it is a matter of seeing that things…are so.  In the philosophical sense phenomenology is the letting be seen of being-which primarily and for the most part does not show itself but must be made to show itself.  The only kind of verification of which ontological claims are capable is phenomenological.  This must be borne in mind throughout one’s reading of Being and Time.  It is not just a matter of reading these words and understanding them.  The words are intended to let die Sache [things] be seen.  In reading the words we have ourselves to engage in phenomenological seeing.  (Gorner, 67)


Gorner, Paul.  Heidegger’s Being and Time: An Introduction.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Heidegger’s Earth/World Rift Through Art

Van Gough's 'A Pair of Shoes', 1887.  Heidegger used this painting to describe artwork and truth.

Van Gough's 'A Pair of Shoes', 1887. Heidegger used this painting to describe artwork and truth.

Heidegger, being greatly influenced by the pre-Socratics, talked about two realms of being (kinda like how Sartre talked about two realms of being: being-for-itself and being-in-itself).  Earth and World.  The World is the realm of all human relations, activity, consciousness, action, culture, etc.  The Earth is the realm of nature, animals, rock, oceans, etc.

Earth extends beyond human historical time…and is not mastered by human decisions and choices.  (Collins and Selina, 129)

These two realms are related in taking two opposing sides of αληθεια (truth) and artwork is that which creates a rift (Riss in German) through the partially unconcealed Earth and the partial concealed World.

Truth comes, in a way, from nothing.  (Inwood, 122)

All art, then, is essentially Dichtung…mean[ing] something like ‘invention’ or ‘projection’…All great art involves a ‘change…of the unconcealment of beings’ (Heidegger, 72); it illuminates the ordinary, it rips us for a time out of the ordinary into another world, or it changes our whole view of the world. (Inwood, 123)

All art is dichterisch, inventive or projective…the essence of Dichtung, Heidegger continues, is the founding of truth.  ‘Founding’, Stiftung, has three senses, and art involves founding in all three senses.  First, ‘bestowing’…truth cannot derive from what went before.  It comes as a gift…

Second, founding is ‘grounding’…It comes from nothing, but is addressed to a people…

Thirdly, founding is ‘beginning’…A genuine beginning is not simple or primitive; it contains the end latent within itself; it is a leap forward (Vorsprung), that leaps over everything to come…The history of art is not a steady cumulative process, but is punctuated by massive explosions of creative energy that leave future generations to do what they can with the pieces. (124-5)


Collins, Jeff and Howard Selina.  Introducing Heidegger.  Lanham, Maryland: Totem Books, 2006.

Heidegger, Martin.  “The Origin of the Work of Art,” in Poetry, Language, Thought.  Translated by A. Hofstadter.  New York: Woodpaths, 1975.  Quoted in Inwood, Heidegger, 2000.

Inwood, Michael.  Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.


Heidegger at work.

Dasein is the:

central notion of Heidegger‘s philosophy as detailed in his major work, Being and Time (1927).  Dasein refers to the essential situatedness of a person in the world, his being-in-the-world.  For Dasein, to be and to be situated are one and the same.  The most common translation of ‘Dasein’ from the German is ‘being-there’.  However, although ‘sein’ certainly means ‘being’, ‘Da’ does not always mean ‘there’.  ‘Da’ can mean ‘neither here nor there, but somewhere in between’.  The essential indeterminacy of Dasein is temporal.  The being of Dasein in the world is to be a temporal movement away from the past towards teh future…Sartre was heavily influenced by Heidegger.  Sartre’s central notion of being-for-itself relates closely to Heidegger’s central notion of Dasein. (Cox, 56)


Cox, Gary.  The Sartre Dictionary.  New York: Continuum, 2008.

Dasein and Possibilities


Phenomenlogist Martin Heidegger (1889-1976 CE) explains that:

Dasein does not simply understand its environment as one might understand an alient text or culture from which one is entirely disengaged.  It understands it as presenting to it a range of possibilities.  If it did not understand it in this way it could not understand its environment as ‘significant’…’as long as it is, Dasein always has understood itself and always will understand itself in terms of possibilities’ (Being and Time, 145)…Dasein is ‘constantly more than it factually is’ (BT, 145), always (unless it is asleep) poised between alternative possible ways of continuing.  Man is not a passive creature, roused to activity only by external stimuli; he is constantly up to something. (Inwood, 45)


Heidegger, Martin.  Being and Time.  Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962.  Quoted by Inwood in Heidegger.

Inwood, Michael.  Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.


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