The Great Philosophers:Heidegger: Heidegger

Martin Heidegger - was a 20th Century German philosopher. He was one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th Century, but also one of the most controversial. His best known book, "Being and Time" , although notoriously difficult , is generally considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th Century.

His outspoken early support for the Fascist Nazi regime in Germany has to some extent obscured and tainted his significance, but his work has exercised a deep influence on philosophy, theology and the humanities, and was key to the development of Phenomenology , Existentialism , Deconstructionism , Post-Modernism , and Continental Philosophy in general.

He was the son of the sexton of the village church, and was raised a Roman Catholic. Even as a child, he was clearly a strong and charismatic personality , despite his physical frailty. In , he went to the high school in Konstanz , where the church supported him by a scholarship , and then moved to the Jesuit seminary at Freiburg in His early introduction to philosophy came with his reading of "On the Manifold Meaning of Being according to Aristotle" by the philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano - In , after completing high school, he became a Jesuit novice , but was discharged within a month for reasons of health.

From to , he started to study theology at the University of Freiburg , but then broke off his training for the priesthood and switched to studying philosophy, mathematics, and natural sciences. He completed his doctoral thesis on psychologism in , before joining the German army briefly at the start of World War I , he was released after two months, again due to health reasons. While working as an unsalaried associate professor at the University of Freiburg, teaching mostly courses in Aristotelianism and Scholastic philosophy, he earned his habilitation with a thesis on the medieval philosopher John Duns Scotus in In , he came to know personally the Phenomenologist Edmund Husserl who had joined the Freiburg faculty, and who took the promising young Heidegger under his wing.

In , he married Elfriede Petri , an attractive economics student and Protestant with known anti-Semitic views, who would remain at his side for the rest of his life, despite the very "open" nature of the marriage. In , though, he was again called up for military duty , and, although he managed to avoid front-line service for as long as possible, he did serve as an army meteorologist near the western front during the last three months of the war. After the end of the War, in , he broke definitively with Catholicism , and returned to Freiburg as a salaried senior assistant to Husserl until He did not approve of Husserl 's later developments, however, and soon began to radically reinterpret his Phenomenology.

In , he was elected to an extraordinary professorship in Philosophy at the University of Marburg , although whenever he could he made his way back to his " spiritual home " deep in the Black Forest, and he maintained a simple rustic cabin there for the rest of his life. During his time at Marburg, he had extramarital affairs with at least two of his students, Hannah Arendt - and Elisabeth Blochmann - , both philosophers in their own right, and both Jewish Arendt was later to achieve world fame through her commentaries on the evils of Nazism.

In , he published "Sein und Zeit" "Being and Time" , his first publication since , which soon became recognized as a truly epoch-making work of 20th Century philosophy.

The Great Philosophers 10: Martin Heidegger

The book made Heidegger famous almost overnight and was widely read by educated men and women throughout Germany. It earned him a full professorship at Marburg and, soon after, on Husserl 's retirement from teaching in , the chair of philosophy at Freiburg University which he accepted, in spite of a counter-offer by Marburg. He remained at Freiburg for most of the rest of his life , declining offers from other universities, including one from the prestigious University of Berlin. With Adolph Hitler 's rise to power in , Heidegger who had previously shown little interest in politics joined the Nazi party , and was elected Rector of the University of Freiburg his inaugural address , the "Rektoratsrede" , has become notorious.

It imposes its technological-scientific-industrial character on human beings, making it the sole criterion of the human sojourn on earth. As it ultimately degenerates into ideologies and worldviews, metaphysics provides an answer to the question of the being of beings for contemporary men and women, but skillfully removes from their lives the problem of their own existence. Moreover, because its sway over contemporary human beings is so powerful, metaphysics cannot be simply cast aside or rejected.

Any direct attempt to do so will only strengthen its hold. Metaphysics cannot be rejected, canceled or denied, but it can be overcome by demonstrating its nihilism. It refers to the forgetfulness of being. What remains unquestioned and forgotten in metaphysics is Being; hence, it is nihilistic. According to Heidegger, Western humankind in all its relations with beings is sustained by metaphysics. Every age, every human epoch, no matter however different they may be—. Greece after the Presocratics, Rome, the Middle Ages, modernity—has asserted a metaphysics and, therefore, is placed in a specific relationship to what-is as a whole.

Metaphysics inquires about the being of beings, but it reduces being to a being; it does not think of being as being. Insofar as being itself is obliterated in it, metaphysics is nihilism. The metaphysics of Plato is no less nihilistic than that of Nietzsche. His attempt to overcome metaphysics is not based on a common-sense positing of a different set of values or the setting out of an alternative worldview, but rather is related to his concept of history, the central theme of which is the repetition of the possibilities for existence.

This repetition consists in thinking being back to the primordial beginning of the West—to the early Greek experience of being as presencing—and repeating this beginning, so that the Western world can begin anew. Many scholars perceive something unique in the Greek beginning of philosophy. It is commonly acknowledged that Thales and his successors asked generalized questions concerning what is as a whole, and proposed general, rational answers which were no longer based on a theological ground.

However, Heidegger does not associate the unique beginning with the alleged discovery of rationality and science. In fact, he claims that both rationality and science are later developments, so that they cannot apply to Presocratic thought.

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In his view, the Presocratics ask: They experience beings in their phenomenality: But the later thought which begins with Plato and Aristotle is unable to keep up with the beginning. The aim which the later Heidegger sets before himself is precisely to return to the original experience of beings in being that stands at the beginning of Western thought. This unmediated experience of beings in their phenomenality can be variously described: To repeat the primordial beginning more originally in its originality means to bring us back to the Presocratic experiences, to dis-close them, and to let them be as they originally are.

But the repetition is not for the sake of the Presocratics themselves.

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It happens as the listening that opens itself out to the words of the Presocratics from our contemporary age, from the age of the world picture and representation, the world which is marked by the domination of technology and the oblivion of being. In the end, the task is to make questionable what at the end of a long tradition of philosophy-metaphysics has been forgotten.

The new beginning begins thus with the question of being.

Martin Heidegger (1889—1976)

Heidegger begins by asking about the multiple meanings of being and ends up conceding its multiplicity and acknowledging that there are multiple determinations or meanings of being in which being discloses itself in history. Nevertheless, in neither of these meanings does being give itself fully. Therefore, the truth of being is none of its particular historical determinations— idea , substantia , actualitas , objectivity or the will to power.

The truth of being can be defined as the openness, the free region which always out of sight provides the space of play for the different determinations of being and human epochs established in them. It is that which is before actual things and grants them a possibility of manifestation as what is present, ens creatum , and objects. The truth of being, its openness, is for Heidegger not something which we can merely consider or think of.

It is not our own production. It is where we always come to stand. We find ourselves thrown in a historically conditioned environment, in an epoch in which the decision concerning the prevailing interpretation of the being of being is already made for us. Yet, by asking the question of being, we can at least attempt to free ourselves from our historical conditioning.

It means turning oneself into being in its disclosing withdrawal. Heidegger never claimed that his philosophy was concerned with politics. Nevertheless, there are certainly some political implications of his thought. He perceives the metaphysical culture of the West as a continuity. It begins with Plato and ends with modernity, and the dominance of science and technology. He turns to the Presocratics in order to retrieve a pre-metaphysical mode of thought that would serve as a starting point for a new beginning.

However, his grand vision of the essential history of the West and of western nihilism can be questioned. Modernity, whose development involves not only a technological but also a social revolution, which sets individuals loose from religious and ethnic communities, from parishes and family bonds, and which affirms materialistic values, can be regarded as a radical departure from earlier classical and Christian traditions.

Martin Heidegger

Christianity challenges the classical world, while assimilating some aspects of it, and is in turn challenged by modernity. Modernity overturns the ideas and values of the traditional Christian and classical culture of the West, and, once it becomes global, leads to the erosion of nonwestern traditional cultures.

Under the cover of immense speculative depth and rich ontological vocabulary full of intricate wordplay both which make his writings extremely hard to follow Heidegger expresses a simple political vision. He wants to overturn the traditional culture of the West and build it anew on the basis of earlier traditions in the name of being. Like other thinkers of modernity, he adopts a Eurocentric perspective and sees the revival of German society as a condition for the revival of Europe or the West , and that of Europe as a condition for the revival of for the whole world; like them, while rejecting God as an end, he attempts to set up fabricated ends for human beings.

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Ultimately, in the famous interview with Der Spiegel , he expresses his disillusionment with his project and says: The greatness of what is to be thought is too great. He invokes the concept of the ancient polis. The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, the poems of Hesiod, and the tragedies of Sophocles, as well as the other ancient Greek texts, including the monumental political work of Thucydides, the History of the Peloponnesian War , express concerns with ethical behavior at both the individual and community levels.

Furthermore, the strength of Western civilization, insofar as its roots can be traced to ancient Greece, is that from its beginning it was based on rationality, understood as free debate, and the affirmation of fundamental moral values. Whenever it turned to irrationality and moral relativism, as in Nazism and Communism, that civilization was in decline.

Therefore, Heidegger is likely to be mistaken in his diagnosis of the ills of the contemporary society, and his solution to those ills seems to be wrong. Asking the question of being and, drawing our attention to this question is certainly his significant contribution is an important addition to, but never a replacement for asking moral questions in the spirit of rationality and freedom. The human being is the unique being whose being has the character of openness toward Being. But men and women can also turn away from being, forget their true selves, and thus deprive themselves of their humanity.

At the beginning of the tradition of Western philosophy, the human being was defined as animal rationale , the animal endowed with reason. Since then, reason has become an absolute value which through education brings about a gradual transformation of all spheres of human life. It is not more reason in the modern sense of calculative thinking, Heidegger believes, that we need today, but more openness toward and more reflection on that which is nearest to us—being.

The Gesamtausgabe , which is not yet complete and projected to fill about one hundred volumes, is published by Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main. The series consists of four divisions: Below there is a list of the collected works of Martin Heidegger. English translations and publishers are cited with each work translated into English. Martin Heidegger — Martin Heidegger is widely acknowledged to be one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20 th century, while remaining one of the most controversial. The Quest for the Meaning of Being Throughout his long academic career, Heidegger was preoccupied with the question of the meaning of being.

Every age, every human epoch, no matter however different they may be— Greece after the Presocratics, Rome, the Middle Ages, modernity—has asserted a metaphysics and, therefore, is placed in a specific relationship to what-is as a whole.

Heidegger, metaphysics and forgetfulness of the Being:

From the First Beginning to the New Beginning Many scholars perceive something unique in the Greek beginning of philosophy. From Philosophy to Political Theory Heidegger never claimed that his philosophy was concerned with politics. Sein und Zeit Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik Indiana University Press, Krell and Frank A. I, Nietzsche I Translated as Nietzsche I: II, Nietzsche II Krell in Nietzsche II: The Eternal Recurrence of the Same. Capuzzi in Early Greek Thinking. Translated as What Is Called Thinking? Glenn Gray New York: Edited by William McNeill Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Der Satz vom Grund Unterwegs zur Sprache Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens Zur Sache des Denkens Reden und andere Zeugnisse eines Lebensweges Lectures from Marburg and Freiburg, Der Beginn der neuzeitlichen Philosophie winter semester, Rhetorik summer semester, Sophistes winter semester, Broad Michael Burke C.

Hegel Martin Heidegger Heraclitus R. Jonathan Lowe John R. Kastner Stuart Kauffman Martin J. Martin Heidegger asks a question that he thinks has gone unanswered, perhaps ignored, but at the least forgotten by philosophy since the presocratic philosophers, especially Parmenides and Heraclitus , but also what may be the single oldest fragment in Greek philosophy, that of Anaximander.

From Parmenides, Heidegger takes the ideas that "Being Is," that "all is One,", and beyond those to the thought that "Being and thinking are the same. We may learn more about Heidegger's own thinking from reading his extraordinary and extensive commentary on Nietzsche's Eternal Return in Also Sprach Zarathustra and the posthumous Will to Power. Heidegger argued that the most important thought of Nietzsche did not appear in his published works, but could only be found in his Nachlass.

Heidegger's Nietzsche However, we cannot begin to understand Heidegger's dense argumentation, his invention of new technical language in German that he believes captures ancient philosophical and theological concerns, and his mesmerizing lecture style, unless we see how he mimics the writing styles of the early Greeks.

Heidegger believed that the early Greek language and the modern German have unique powers to elucidate philosophical problems. With Nietzsche, he accepted the special access through poetry and the arts to higher ideas. Certainly the greatest work on Greek thinking in the nineteenth century was being done by German thinkers. We also cannot begin to understand Heidegger without recognizing his position in a long line of "onto-theological" thinkers who puzzled over the question of the existence of a "supreme being.

They all worked on logical, ontological, or cosmological proofs of God'e existence, and although Heidegger elides and evades the pure religious aspects, it is "always already" in the background of his thinking. And his underlying, if sublimated, religion accounts for the phenomenal success of his writings in academic institutions that are just one collar away from being in the priesthood. This includes a large fraction of today's academics who consider themselves metaphysicians.

Now the information philosopher and metaphysicist is very comfortable discussing God, having discovered the cosmic creation process that must have been used by a God or gods to create the universe, should they exist. No professed theologian should ignore what modern science now tells us about the creation of non-living and living things. Although Heidegger made it famous, the term onto-theology was coined by Immanuel Kant to describe reasoning theoretically to the existence of God, with no evidence from experience, based entirely on the concept of God.

Kant defined cosmo-theology as deducing an original being from experience, from the empirical evidence of God in nature. These two transcendental forms of theology Kant distinguished from natural theology, in which an author of the world is discovered in the constitution of the world, demonstrating a natural or a moral order, respectively physico-theology or moral theology. The Critique of All Theology, ch. Although metaphysics properly begins with Aristotle 's search for the underlying principles of reality, he looked to the claims of the presocratics as possible answers to deep questions such as "what is there?

Most of their presocratic claims were speculations about the physical nature of the cosmos and its origins. In some ways, the presocratics might be viewed as the earliest natural scientists, with their strong interest in physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, meteorology, and even psychology. Where earlier thinkers had given mythological or religious explanations of natural phenomena, attributing them to named gods, the first thinkers in the Ionian school were called physiologoi by Aristotle, because they offered accounts logoi for nature phusis.

The sophists argued that ethical problems are relative to the cultural values of a given community. They cannot be decided by reason. Science can discover how the world is facts , but not how it ought to be values. Values depend on the conventions and norms of a society, a question of nomos. Protagoras studied the norms of a community before writing their constitution for them. Protagoras was a postmodern thinker, probably the first. We make modern and postmodern a philosphical stance, not a temporal period. It took Aristotle to return to cosmological, theological, and metaphysical issues first raised by the presocratic philosophers and the great epic writers like Homer and Hesiod.

And in his great works on ethics, Aristotle sought universal principles.

He was a modern thinker, who thought we can reason to values. But Heidegger argues that the presocratic insights into Being have been forgotten, concealed, or abandoned by Aristotle. Heidegger, who is notoriously anti-science and anti-technology, ironically begins his onto-theological search for Being with the first thinkers to look for a scientific understanding of natural phenomena rather than a mythical-theological one.

Reality as a problem of Being, and whether the 'External World' can be Proved. Kant called the inability to prove the existence of an external world the "scandal" of philosophy. Heidegger thinks the only scandal is that philosophers keep looking for a proof. Noesis Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Wikipedia.

Heidegger and Nietzsche Heidegger thinks that Nietzsche's fundamental metaphysical position is captured in his doctrines of will to power and the eternal return of the same. Heidegger claims that with Nietzsche's position, metaphysics has come to an end "God is dead" , or perhaps to a new beginning? This is because Heidegger arguably identifies metaphysics with onto-theology. When God dies so does metaphysics. Now metaphysics has had a strong history as a necessary foundation for the empirical science of modern physics.

Kant claimed it was a scandal that philosophers could not even prove the existence of the external world - the " Dasein " of Things, let alone the Sein of God.. Heidegger said of such a proof: The 'scandal of philosophy' is not that this proof has yet to be given, but that such proofs are expected and attempted again and again. Being and Time , Macquarrie and Robinson, translators, p.

Empricists said we could not know the things themselves - Kant's Ding an sich ," but Husserl said we did reach them in our "Ideas. Nietzsche's Fundamental Metaphysical Position from Heidegger's Nietzsche Nietzsche once wrote, at the time when the thought of return first loomed on his horizon, during the years XII, 66, number See The Will to Power , number , presumably from early The sense is that one must shape Becoming as being in such a way that as becoming it is preserved, has subsistence, in a word, is.

Such stamping, that is, the recoining of Becoming as being, is the supreme will to power. In such recoining the will to power comes to prevail most purely in its essence. What is this recoining, in which whatever becomes comes to be being? It is the reconfiguration of what becomes in terms of its supreme possibilities, a reconfiguration in which what becomes is transfigured and attains subsistence in its very dimensions and domains.

This recoining is a creating. To create, in the sense of creation out beyond oneself, is most intrinsically this: When it is so directed, the endowment is preserved. The "momentary" character of creation is the essence of actual, actuating eternity, which achieves its greatest breadth and keenest edge as the moment of eternity in the return of the same. The recoining of what becomes into being — will to power in its supreme configuration — is in its most profound essence something that occurs in the "glance of an eye" as eternal recurrence of the same.

The will to power, as constitution of being, is as it is solely on the basis of the way to be which Nietzsche projects for being as a whole: Will to power, in its essence and according to its inner possibility, is eternal recurrence of the same.