Since its publication in 1927, Heidegger’s major work Being and Time has been many things to its various recipients. Although the work became enormously important for the development of phenomenology, hermeneutics, existential thought, and post-structuralism, its main concern was a revolution in what Heidegger regarded as the central concept of philosophy since antiquity: that of being. Because he viewed the traditional understanding of this concept as superficial and misguided, his plan was (in part) to work out a new fundamental ontology. Its design was (I) to reveal the proper meaning of being on the basis of temporality as its transcendental horizon and (II) to point out the crucial steps in the philosophical tradition (Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant) that led to the deeply problematic contemporary conception of being. Heidegger never finished this ambitious project, but the work’s first part—with its extensive analysis of ‘Dasein’ and human understanding as the basis of the conception of being—was sufficient to make Being and Time an essential text for friend and foe alike.
The course will be devoted to a close study of this challenging, influential, and fascinating work. We will focus on the connection between the question of being, the analysis of human nature, and the phenomenological method that Heidegger presents as the necessary foundation of his project in Division I of Being and Time. We will also cover his analysis of death, conscience, resoluteness, and Dasein’s authentic potentiality for being ‘whole’, i.e. the first three chapters of Division II. In light of the recent publication of his ‘Black Notebooks’ and the renewed debate of his political views and engagement during the National Socialist years in Germany, special attention will be paid to potentially problematic concepts within his early philosophy.
Main text: Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie/Edward Robinson, paperback reprint (Harper Perennial Modern Thought Series, 2008). However, we will also consult the revised edition by Dennis J. Schmidt of the Joan Stambaugh translation of Being and Time (SUNY Series in Contemporary Philosophy, 2010).