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Martin Heidegger

Birthdate: 26. September 1889
Date of death: 26. May 1976

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition and philosophical hermeneutics. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, he is "widely acknowledged to be one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century". Heidegger is best known for his contributions to phenomenology and existentialism, though as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy cautions, "his thinking should be identified as part of such philosophical movements only with extreme care and qualification".

His first and best known book, Being and Time , though unfinished, is one of the central philosophical works of the 20th century. In the first division of the work, Heidegger attempted to turn away from "ontic" questions about beings to ontological questions about Being, and recover the most fundamental philosophical question: the question of Being, of what it means for something to be. Heidegger approached the question through an inquiry into the being that has an understanding of Being, and asks the question about it, namely, Human being, which he called Dasein . Heidegger argued that Dasein is defined by Care, its practically engaged and concernful mode of Being-in-the-world, in opposition to Rationalist thinkers like René Descartes who located the essence of man in our thinking abilities. For Heidegger thinking is thinking about things originally discovered in our everyday practical engagements. The consequence of this is that our capacity to think cannot be the most central quality of our being because thinking is a reflecting upon this more original way of discovering the world. In the second division, Heidegger argues that human being is even more fundamentally structured by its Temporality, or its concern with, and relationship to time, existing as a structurally open "possibility-for-being." He emphasized the importance of Authenticity in human existence, involving a truthful relationship to our thrownness into a world which we are "always already" concerned with, and to our Being-towards-death, the Finitude of the time and being we are given, and the closing down of our various possibilities for being through time.

Heidegger also made critical contributions to philosophical conceptions of truth, arguing that its original meaning was unconcealment, to philosophical analyses of art as a site of the revelation of truth, and to philosophical understanding of language as the "house of being." Heidegger's later work includes criticisms of technology's instrumentalist understanding in the Western tradition as "enframing," treating all of Nature as a "standing reserve" on call for human purposes. Heidegger is a controversial figure, largely for his affiliation with Nazism, as Rector of the University of Freiburg for 11 months, before his resignation in April 1934, for which he neither apologized nor publicly expressed regret, although in private he called it "the biggest stupidity of his life" .

Works

Being and Time
Being and Time
Martin Heidegger
Letter on Humanism
Martin Heidegger

Quotes Martin Heidegger

„The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.“

—  Martin Heidegger

Das Bedenklichste in unserer bedenklichen Zeit ist, dass wir noch nicht denken.
What is Called Thinking? [Was heisst Denken?] (1951–1952), as translated by Fred D. Wieck and J. Glenn Gray (1968)

„The Geschick of being: a child that plays… Why does it play, the great child of the world-play Heraclitus brought into view in the aiôn? It plays, because it plays. The "because" withers away in the play. The play is without "why."“

—  Martin Heidegger

The Principle of Reason (1955–1956) as translated by Reginald Lilly (1991) <!-- Bloomington: Indiana UP -->
Context: The Geschick of being: a child that plays... Why does it play, the great child of the world-play Heraclitus brought into view in the aiôn? It plays, because it plays. The "because" withers away in the play. The play is without "why." It plays since it plays. It simply remains a play: the most elevated and the most profound. But this "simply" is everything, the one, the only... The question remains whether and how we, hearing the movements of this play, play along and accommodate ourselves to the play.

„Philosophy will not be able to effect an immediate transformation of the present condition of the world. This is not only true of philosophy, but of all merely human thought and endeavor.“

—  Martin Heidegger

Interview (23 September 1966), published posthumously in Der Spiegel (31 May 1976), as translated by Maria P. Alter and John D. Caputo in The Heidegger Controversy : A Critical Reader (1991), edited by Richard Wolin.
Context: Philosophy will not be able to effect an immediate transformation of the present condition of the world. This is not only true of philosophy, but of all merely human thought and endeavor. Only a god can save us. The sole possibility that is left for us is to prepare a sort of readiness, through thinking and poeticizing, for the appearance of the god or for the absence of the god in the time of foundering [Untergang] for in the face of the god who is absent, we founder. Only a God Can Save Us.

„Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it.“

—  Martin Heidegger, book The Question Concerning Technology

The Question Concerning Technology (1954)
Context: Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it. But we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral; for this conception of it, to which today we particularly like to do homage, makes us utterly blind to the essence of technology.

„Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy.“

—  Martin Heidegger, book Contributions to Philosophy

Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning) [Beitrage Zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis)], notes of 1936–1938, as translated by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly (1989)
Context: Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy. Those who idolize "facts" never notice that their idols only shine in a borrowed light.
Context: Those in the crossing must in the end know what is mistaken by all urging for intelligibility: that every thinking of being, all philosophy, can never be confirmed by "facts," ie, by beings. Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy. Those who idolize "facts" never notice that their idols only shine in a borrowed light. They are also meant not to notice this; for thereupon they would have to be at a loss and therefore useless. But idolizers and idols are used wherever gods are in flight and so announce their nearness.

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„Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing? That is the question.“

—  Martin Heidegger, book Introduction to Metaphysics

Warum ist überhaupt Seiendes und nicht vielmehr Nichts? Das ist die Frage.
What is Metaphysics? (1929), p. 110
Cf. Gottfried Leibniz, De rerum originatione radicali (1697)ː "cur aliquid potius extiterit quam nihil."
Source: Introduction to Metaphysics

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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