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  • Date Submitted: 07/12/2010 06:46 PM
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"Martin Heidegger," by Thomas Sheehan

A Companion to the Philosophers, ed., Robert L. Arrington, Oxford and Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1999, pp. 288-297.

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is best known as the author of Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), published in 1927. The book aims at establishing how being shows up within human understanding. Heidegger offered the provisional answer that our experience of being is conditioned by our finitude and temporality. In a phrase: Temporality is what makes possible the understanding of being, or: The meaning of being is time. Heidegger published only half the book in 1927, the part dealing with human being and temporality. He never produced the rest of the work, but he did complete the project in other forms. During the 1930s he reshaped some elements of his philosophy without changing its two essential topics: (1) the temporal occurrence of being, which he called "disclosure" and (2) the temporal structure of human nature, which he called "Dasein." Understanding how these two fit together is the key to grasping Heidegger's philosophy. Heidegger spent his life as a university professor in Germany, first in Freiburg (1915-1923), where he abandoned Catholic philosophy, became a protégé of Edmund Husserl, and began propounding a radical form of phenomenology. He then taught at Marburg University (1923-1928), where his reformulation of the method and tasks of phenomenology found expression in Being and Time and led to a break with Husserl. In 1928 Heidegger succeeded Husserl in the chair of philosophy at Freiburg University, where he taught until 1945. A conservative nationalist, Heidegger joined the Nazi party three months after Hitler came to power. From April 1933 to April 1934 he served as rector of Freiburg University, during which time he enthusiastically supported Hitler and aligned the university with some aspects of the Nazi revolution. His public and private statements indicate that he supported many of the Nazi...


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