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Book Title: Being and Time|
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The author of the book: Martin Heidegger
Date of issue: 1978
ISBN 13: 9780631197706
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.46 MB
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The most important philosophical work of the 20th century, and a text whose influence will still be felt for some centuries to come, I am willing to reckon. Even if you are one of the many detractors, the fact remains that it is simply an outstanding monument to man's ability to think deeply, freshly, terrifyingly, and poetically about himself.
Heidegger's main focus is on Being ; what does it MEAN to be? This is of course an old question, stemming from the days of Aristotle, but Heidegger is foremost a phenomenologist (i.e. 'To the phenomena themselves') and therefore refuses any recourse to anything that is outside the scope of what is immediately apparent in the one thing that human beings often overlook, that is to say, human existence itself. This means that the scope of ambition of Heidegger's project is staggering ; he intends to determine WHAT a human being IS, by HOW it is ; and this means that he not only takes on a nearly 2000-year-old philosophical tradition, but also a nearly 2000-year-old deeply embedded conception of what a human being is (and by extension, what a human being should be). It is a provocative assault, which may account for the polarizing reactions that Heidegger seems to evoke. But this also means that Being and Time is a primordially 'humane' book, for it was Heidegger who truly brought the existentialist consciousness to the fore of our developing consciousness as a species. Make no mistake, this is still hard-core philosophy, but it is a book about the many banalities of the average human life, and thus, about the many hidden profundities of the average human life. Appreciate Heidegger's phenomenal (see what I did there) insight into the human condition, and you will never look at life, time, the world, concern, other people, a hammer, language, reality, and death in the same way again.
Now for the mandatory words of warning. This book is DIFFICULT. But it is difficult in the way the ending stages of a hard-fought chess game is difficult ; Being and Time' may be difficult, but it is NOT 'boring'. Stick with it, make the effort, and you will not be disappointed. You may even (as happened to me) slowly neglect the other distractions of your life and set aside a solid block of time to tackle the text (for me, 3 months), and not even be aware of anything like a sacrifice being made. You just feel like you've decided to venture a few steps deeper into the rabbit hole, is all. And with regards to the language, I actually love the language in 'Being and Time', leave alone finding it something to rail against. It has a kind of an austere beauty to it, a kind of 'mathematical poetry' if you will. For those who complain that Heidegger could have said what he wanted to say in 'easier' language, the answer is that, NO he could not have. Since his project was a radical rethinking of the nature of human existence, he needed a radically new vocabulary to describe the stages of his project. The usual words like 'soul', 'consciousness', and even 'human being' are too embedded in the tradition he is attacking, and have too much baggage. Once you appreciate this, and read the text with 'fresh eyes', then you appreciate the hidden intricacies of his language, as well as to the depths he takes these new terms too.
And finally, this is most definitely not a book that a casual reader can 'dip into' ; this is hardcore philosophy that was meant to overthrow another philosophical tradition. So, these would (in my opinion) be the absolute prerequisites before any reader wishes to pursue 'Being and Time' ;
1)A general knowledge of philosophy and the history of philosophy, and at least a surface-level knowledge of what the major philosophers of the Western tradition had to say about life, the universe and everything. This is important, because this tradition represents 'substance metaphysics' or 'the metaphysics of presence' which Heidegger attacks throughout the entire text ; (these terms simply mean the positing of some kind of unit of 'stable timelessness' that 'stands behind' or 'hangs over' human existence, be it the 'soul', 'consciousness', 'God', 'Atman', 'Will', 'Forms' or what have you). A good introductory book on philosophy should do the trick, and in my knowledge, Will Durant's 'The Story of Philosophy' is still the best way to go, though of course, any equivalent book which goes over the main 'theme' of Western philosophy should do the trick
2)An intuitive understanding of Nietzsche. His influence is present throughout the text of 'Being and Time', because he is the 'bad boy' cousin of Heidegger's who sounded the death knell of traditional philosophy ; a project which Heidegger systematizes, enhances, and pursues. Since Nietzsche is primarily a poet and a cultural critic rather than an actual philosopher (in addition to being a superb writer) a quick crash course of reading his main works (The Gay Science, Beyond Good and Evil, Twilight of the Idols, and if you can stomach the overblown prose, Zarathustra) would do you good here.
3)A good guide to Being and Time ; predictably, for a work of such complexity and importance, several guides have sprung up of varying quality. The one I used was Gelvin's 'Commentary' which is clear, friendly, excited, and straightforward. Everything that you need.
4)A surface understanding of phenomenology ; a Wikipedia search should do the trick, or any such introductory article. If you're seriously gung-ho then 'An Introduction to Phenomenology' by Sokolowski will ground you more than you strictly need to be grounded.
And that's it, you're ready to go. This is not a book that you can read once, and I wonder if 'read' is even an appropriate word. For the same reason that you do not 'read' Finnegans Wake, but 'experience' it as if it wasn't a book but a sentient entity which would get insulted if you labelled it as a book, I think the same would go for 'Being and Time'. It is a profound exploration of the most primordial questions a man can ask about anything, and as such, it demands a steady commitment of your time, energy, your curiosity, and the latent profundities that lie within you and which will be awakened as you thumb through the master piece that is 'Being and Time'.
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Read information about the authorMartin Heidegger (1889–1976) was a German philosopher whose work is perhaps most readily associated with phenomenology and existentialism, although his thinking should be identified as part of such philosophical movements only with extreme care and qualification. His ideas have exerted a seminal influence on the development of contemporary European philosophy. They have also had an impact far beyond philosophy, for example in architectural theory (see e.g., Sharr 2007), literary criticism (see e.g., Ziarek 1989), theology (see e.g., Caputo 1993), psychotherapy (see e.g., Binswanger 1943/1964, Guignon 1993) and cognitive science (see e.g., Dreyfus 1992, 2008; Wheeler 2005; Kiverstein and Wheeler forthcoming).
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