Martin Heidegger: Philosopher of the 20th Century

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“What is being?”

Martin Heidegger was one of the most original and important philosophers of the 2oth century, but also the most controversial. His thinking has contributed to such diverse fields as phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, political theory, psychology, theology and postmodernism. His main concern was ontology or the study of being. In his fundamental thesis, Being and Time, he attempted to access a style of phenomenology and existential ontology, including his distinction between beings and their being, as well as his emphasis on practical activity. (Stanford) Martin Heidegger was born September 26th, 1889 in a small town in southwest Germany in the Black Forest region of Messirck. In his early parts of education he studied Catholic theology in preparation of entering priesthood. While studying at the University of Freilburg he became interested in Philosophy and his change of focus became solidified under the influence of Edmund Husserl, then a professor at Freiburg. After receiving his doctorate and working under Husserl for five years as his assistant. In 1923, he left to fill a chair in Philosophy at the University of Marburg where he was a professor there till 1928. Philosophically, Heidegger’s major influences were the pre-socratics, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as several 19th century philosophers, most notably Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. (Standford) In 1927, his extraordinarily influential work, Sein und Zeit or Being and Time, was dedicated to Husserl his teacher” in friendship and admiration” However this book had radical break with Husserl’s philosophy. The difference is illustrated by the fact that Husserl thought “The wonder of all wonders is the pure ego and pure consciousness.” By way of contrast, Hedeigger says” Man alone of all existing things… experiences the wonder of all wonders: that there are things –in-being.” While Husserl bracketed the world to focus on consciousness, Heidegger responds that there is...
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