Martin Heidegger paved the road trod on by the existentialists with the 1927 publication of Being and Time
. His encyclopedic knowledge of philosophy from ancient to modern times led him to rethink the most basic concepts underlying our thinking about ourselves. Emphasizing the "sense of being" (dasein
) over other interpretations of conscious existence, he argued that specific and concrete ideas form the bases of our perceptions, and that thinking about abstractions leads to confusion at best. Thus, for example, "time" is only meaningful as it is experienced: the time it takes to drive to work, eat lunch, or read a book is real to us; the concept of "time" is not.
Unfortunately, his writing is difficult to follow, even for the dedicated student. Heidegger is best read in German: his neologisms and other wordplay strain the talents of even the best translators. Still, his thoughts about authentic being and his turning the philosophical ground inspired many of the greatest thinkers of the mid 20th century, from Sartre to Derrida. Unfortunately, political and other considerations forced Heidegger to leave Being and Time unfinished; we can only wonder what might have been otherwise. --Rob Lightner
From Library Journal
One of the landmarks of 20th-century philosophy, Heidegger's 1927 treatise is thought to have been the inspiration for such subjects as psychoanalysis, existentialism, ethics, hermeneutics, and more. This new translation by one of Heidegger's students offers the text in a more precise and understandable English than earlier editions.
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