Martin Heidegger

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Heidegger, Martin

(mär`tēn hī`dĕger), 1889–1976, German philosopher. As a student at Freiburg, Heidegger was influenced by the neo-Kantianism of Heinrich Rickert and the phenomenologyphenomenology,
modern school of philosophy founded by Edmund Husserl. Its influence extended throughout Europe and was particularly important to the early development of existentialism.
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 of Edmund HusserlHusserl, Edmund
, 1859–1938, German philosopher, founder of the phenomenological movement (see phenomenology). He was professor at Göttingen and Freiburg and was greatly influenced by Franz Brentano.
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. In 1923 he became professor at Marburg, where he wrote and published the only completed part of his major work, Sein und Zeit (1927; tr. Being and Time, 1962). On the basis of this work Heidegger was called (1928) to Freiburg to succeed Husserl in the chair of philosophy, which he occupied until his retirement in 1951. He actively supported Adolf Hitler during the dictator's first years in power, and was a member of the National Socialist party from 1933 to 1945. After World War II he was banned from teaching and publishing for five years. Controversy has raged regarding nature and depth of Heidegger's Nazism and anti-Semitism and the degree to which they are reflective of his philosophical thinking.

Although generally considered a founder of existentialismexistentialism
, any of several philosophic systems, all centered on the individual and his relationship to the universe or to God. Important existentialists of varying and conflicting thought are Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Gabriel Marcel, and Jean-Paul
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, Heidegger vehemently rejected the association, just as he came to reject Husserl's phenomenology. Heidegger's fundamental concern, as announced in Sein und Zeit and developed in his subsequent works, is the problem of being. In Sein und Zeit, being is shown to be intimately linked with temporality; the relationship between them is investigated by means of an analysis of human existence. Strongly influenced by Sören Kierkegaard, Heidegger delineated various aspects of human existence, such as "care," "moods," and the individual's relationship to death, and related the authenticity of being, as well as the anguish of modern society, to the individual's confrontation with his own temporality. It was this work and its influence upon Jean-Paul SartreSartre, Jean-Paul
, 1905–80, French philosopher, playwright, and novelist. Influenced by German philosophy, particularly that of Heidegger, Sartre was a leading exponent of 20th-century existentialism.
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 that have led many critics to consider Heidegger an existentialist. In addition to its influence on Sartre, Heidegger's thought influenced both modern Protestant theology (through Paul TillichTillich, Paul Johannes
, 1886–1965, American philosopher and theologian, b. Germany, educated at the universities of Berlin, Tübingen, Halle, and Breslau. In 1912 he was ordained a minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
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 and Rudolph BultmannBultmann, Rudolf Karl
, 1884–1976, German existentialist theologian, educated at the universities of Tübingen, Berlin, and Marburg. He taught at the universities of Breslau and Giessen and from 1921 to 1950 was professor at the Univ. of Marburg.
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) and the work of Jacques DerridaDerrida, Jacques
, 1930–2004, French philosopher, b. El Biar, Algeria. A graduate of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, he taught there and at the Sorbonne, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and a number of American
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 and other advocates of deconstructiondeconstruction,
in linguistics, philosophy, and literary theory, the exposure and undermining of the metaphysical assumptions involved in systematic attempts to ground knowledge, especially in academic disciplines such as structuralism and semiotics.
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The ontological aspect of Heidegger's thought assumed greater prominence in his later writings, which included studies of poetry and of dehumanization in modern society. Heidegger considered himself the first thinker in the history of Western philosophy to have raised explicitly the question concerning the "sense of being," and he located the crisis of Western civilization in mass "forgetfulness of being." Among his other works are Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1929, tr. 1962), What Is Metaphysics? (1929, tr. 1949), An Introduction to Metaphysics (1953, tr. 1959), What Is Philosophy? (1956, tr. 1958), and The End of Philosophy (1956, tr. 1973).


See studies by T. Langan (1959), M. King (1964), J. M. Demske (1963, tr. 1970), L. M. Vail (1972), S. L. Binderman (1981), H. G. Wolz (1981), R. Wolin (1990 and 2001; as ed., 1993), K. Lowith (tr. 1995), R. Safranski (1998), P. E. Gordon (2010), and W. Ellenberger (2020); V. Farias, Heidegger and Nazism (1987); E. Ettinger, Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger (1995) and D. Villa, Arendt and Heidegger: The Fate of the Political (1995).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Heidegger, Martin


Born Sept. 26, 1889, in Messkirch, Baden; died there May 26, 1976. German existentialist philosopher.

Heidegger studied at the University of Freiburg under H. Rickert and E. Husserl; he was the latter’s assistant at Freiburg from 1920 to 1923. He was a professor at the University of Marburg from 1923 to 1928 and at the University of Freiburg from 1928 to 1951 (rector, 1933–34). Heidegger was suspended from teaching in 1945 for having collaborated with the Nazis.

Heidegger’s early world view was a blend of various tendencies in the idealist philosophy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as the phenomenology of Husserl and M. Scheler, the philosophy of life of W. Dilthey, and individual motifs of dialectical theology. In his Being and Time (Sein und Zeit, 1927), Heidegger posed the question of the meaning of existence, which in his opinion had been forgotten by traditional European philosophy. Attempting to build an ontology on the basis of Husserl’s phenomenology, Heidegger sought to uncover the meaning of being through the examination of human existence, inasmuch as the understanding of being is characteristic only of man. According to Heidegger, the ontological basis of human existence is made up of its finiteness and transitoriness; thus, time must be considered the most substantial characteristic of being. Heidegger tried to reinterpret the European philosophical tradition, which considered pure being as something outside time. He attributed such an inauthentic understanding of being to the absolutization of one of the moments of time—the present, the “eternal presence,” when authentic temporality disintegrates as it were, turning into a consecutive series of “now” moments, into physical (in Heidegger’s view, “vulgar”) time. Heidegger considered the identification of being with the real (with the empirical world of things and phenomena) to be the basic vice both of modern science and of the European contemplation of the world in general.

The experience of temporality is identified in Heidegger’s early writings with a strong feeling of personality. Concentration on the future gives the personality a true existence, whereas the result of the preponderance of the present is that the world of things, or the everyday world, pushes man’s finiteness into the background. Such concepts as dread, resoluteness, conscience, guilt and anguish express the spiritual experience of a personality that feels its uniqueness, momentariness, and mortality. Later, in the mid–1930’s, these concepts were replaced by those expressing a reality that was not so much personal and ethical as impersonal and cosmic: being and nothing, the hidden and the manifest, the well-founded and the unsupported, the heavenly and the earthly, the human and the divine. Heidegger now tried to perceive man himself, proceeding from the “truth of existence.” Analyzing the origin of the metaphysical method of thought and of perception of the world as a whole, Heidegger tried to show how metaphysics, being the root of all European life, was gradually preparing the way for a new European science and technology, setting as its goal the subordination to man of all reality, and how it begat irreligiosity and the whole style of life of contemporary society, with its urbanization and depersonalization.

The sources of metaphysics, according to Heidegger, go back to Plato and even to Parmenides, who introduced the principle of understanding as contemplation, constant presence, and the fixed abiding of being before one’s eyes. In opposition to this tradition, Heidegger used the term “awareness” to characterize true thought: it is impossible to see existence; one can only be aware of it. According to Heidegger, the overcoming of metaphysical thought demands a return to the primary but unrealized opportunities of European culture—to that pre-Socratic Greece that still lived “in the truth of being.” Such a return is possible because being, although “forgotten,” still lives in the intimate bosom of culture—in language: “Language is the home of being” (Platons Lehre von der Wahrheit, Bern, 1947, p. 61). In the modern attitude toward language as a tool, language becomes technicalized, a means of transmitting information and thereby dies as genuine speech, saying or narrating; it loses that last thread which binds man and his culture to existence, and language itself becomes dead. Therefore, Heidegger considered the task of “listening to language” to be a world-historical one; people do not speak through language, but language speaks to people and through people. The language that reveals the truth of existence continues to live most of all in the works of poets; it was not by coincidence that Heidegger lectured on the works of Hölderlin, R. M. Rilke, G. Trakl, and S. George. He developed his speculative philology in the mainstream of the traditions of German romanticism (J. G. Hamann, Novalis, late F. W. J. von Schelling), expressing a romantic attitude to art as a repository of existence that gives man a protectedness, a safeness.

In his last years Heidegger turned his gaze ever more toward the East, in particular to Zen Buddhism, to which he was brought by a yearning for the ineffable and by a tendency to mystical contemplation and a metaphorical mode of expression. Thus, if in his early works Heidegger tried to construct a philosophical system, he later proclaimed the impossibility of a rational comprehension of existence. As a whole, Heidegger’s irrational philosophy is one of the acute manifestations of the crises of modern bourgeois consciousness.


Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik. Bonn, 1929.
Hölderlin und das Wesen der Dichtung. Munich [1937].
Platons Lehre von der Wahrheit. Bern, 1947.
Holzwege, 2nd ed. Frankfurt am Main, 1952.
Einführung in die Metaphysik. Tübingen, 1953.
Was heisst Denken? Tübingen, 1954.
Vom Wesen des Grundes, 4th ed. Frankfurt am Main, 1955.
Was ist Metaphysik? 7th ed. Frankfurt am Main, 1955.
Der Satz vom Grund. Pfullingen, 1958.
Unterwegs zur Sprache. Pfullingen, 1959.
Vom Wesen der Wahrheit, 4th ed. Frankfurt am Main, 1961.
Nietzsche, vols. 1–2. [Pfullingen, 1961.]
Die Frage nach dem Ding. Tübingen, 1962.
Kants These über das Sein. [Frankfurt am Main, 1963.]
Erläuterung zu Hölderlins Dichtung, 4th ed. Frankfurt am Main, 1971.


Gaidenko, P. P. Ekzistentsializm iproblema kul’tury (critique of Heidegger’s philosophy). Moscow, 1963.
Gabitova, R. M. Chelovek i obshchestvo v nemetskom ekzisten-tsializme. Moscow, 1972.
Brecht, F. J. Heidegger und Jaspers: Die beiden Grundformen der Existenzphilosophie. Wuppertal [1948].
Kraft, J. Von Husserl zu Heidegger, 2nd ed. [Frankfurt am Main, 1957.]
Löwith, K. Heidegger: Denker in dürftiger Zeit, 2nd ed. Göttingen [1960].
Pöggeler, O. Der Denkweg M. Heideggers. [Pfullingen, 1963.]
King, M. Heidegger’s Philosophy: A Guide to His Basic Thought. Oxford, 1964.
Sass, H. M. Heidegger-Bibliographie. Meisenheim am Glan, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Source given as a combination of an adaptation of Martin Heidegger und die Arzte [1959, 276-290] and material from the first chapter of what Boss cites as Psychoanalysis and Daseins-Analysis [A patient who taught the author to see and think differently], the English translation of the first edition of his Psychoanalyse und Daseinsanalytik [1957]: 203-244
(1) In what follows, I will refer to Martin Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1975-) with the cipher GA, followed by volume and page number.
(1.) Heinrich Wiegand Petzet, Aus einem Stern zugehen Begegnungen und Gesprache mit Martin Heidegger (1929-1976) (1983), trad.
(6.) Pierre Bourdieu, The Political Ontology of Martin Heidegger, trans.
(10) Martin Heidegger, Contributions To Philosophy (Of The Event), trans.
Analitica existencial como ontologia fundamental en "Ser y Tiempo" de Martin Heidegger. Roberto Saraiva Kahlmeyer-Mertens.
STRANGER FROM ABROAD: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and