Heidegger, Martin

Heidegger, Martin
   Among the most revered and controversial of modern philosophers, the German existentialist Martin Heidegger spent his career exploring the meaning of Being. While Leibniz believed the fundamental question was 'Why is there something rather than nothing?', Heidegger views this question as committing the error of ontotheology and so failing to bring us to the nature and truth of Being. Indeed, this is but one example of the distortion of Being in the history of Western philosophy. In his magnum opus, Being and Time (Sein und Zeit, 1927), Heidegger assays an analysis of Being through the phenomenon of human being (Dasein). Human being is unique, owing to its openness to Being, which is expressed in the ability to ask questions of its own being, and face 'thrownness', the brute fact of existence. In contrast to the Cartesian view of the disembodied self, Dasein is not separated from the world, but rather immediately involved within it. Anxiety at our situation provides the means to authenticity. There is, however, no essence of the person to speak of, but only a collection of interpretations. Not surprisingly, Heidegger's analysis, both in Being and Time and in his subsequent essays and lectures, continues to evoke strong reactions. Adding to the controversy, Heidegger was involved with Nazism until 1945, and after the Second World War he never clearly denounced this past involvement. Nonetheless, he has had a great impact on continental philosophy and numerous modern theologians including Karl Rahner, Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann. Heidegger is often accused of atheism, but in fact he repudiated the label. Nevertheless, Heidegger was committed to doing his philosophy without any reference to God: 'Philosophy, in its radical self-positing questioningness, must be in principle atheistic.'
   Further reading: Caputo 1986; Dreyfus 1990; Edwards, Paul 2004; Guignon 1993; Heidegger 1975-, 1977 and 2002

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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  • Heidegger, Martin — born Sept. 26, 1889, Messkirch, Schwarzwald, Ger. died May 26, 1976, Messkirch, W.Ger. German philosopher. He taught at the universities of Marburg (1923–27) and Freiburg (1927–44). In 1927 he published his magnum opus, Being and Time. It… …   Universalium

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  • Heidegger, Martin — (1889 1976)    philosopher; widely judged the cen tral figure in twentieth century existentialist thought. Born to a Catholic* sexton in the Baden town of Messkirch, he was a Jesuit novice before studying theology at Freiburg. Attracted by the… …   Historical dictionary of Weimar Republik

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  • Heidegger,Martin — Hei·deg·ger (hīʹdĕg ər, dĭ gər), Martin. 1889 1976. German existentialist philosopher. His masterpiece, Being and Time (1927), argued that confronting the question of the meaning of being, encompassing one s own death, was central for an… …   Universalium

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