Basic Writings (book review) Martin Heidegger

David Farrell Krell (Editor),

Taylor Carman (Foreword)


220918 this is a much much much later addition (four years): in choosing the most interesting and influential philosopher of the 20th century, i nominate hd over say analytic favourite wittgenstein. i am also told w is interested in the 'therapeutic' use of philosophy, showing the insect's 'way out of the bottle' or breaking down questions 'dissolving' them by showing they are incoherent questions, rather than engaging and clarifying the questions... this attitude to me seems only appropriate if you think thinking is somehow a disability, an illness, rather than exploration, understanding, an opening of the world and of others through the medium of words, words you might have to recast or invent, words you might struggle with much as any artist to express ideas or senses or Being and this is no disease or disability or mistake...


this is a later addition: it is said that every writer begins as an obsessive reader, always looking for that perfect book for herself- inevitably failing, she must write it herself. i believe to some degree this applies also to philosophy, as read, as searched, as frustrated, so eventually writing out your own. this is construction, more than creation, by using thoughts previously read here or there, so this new philosophy is born of however much precedes it. this is definitely the case with hd, who is so conscious of the history, the thoughts, the worlds, the words he uses. for myself, there is desire to see how hd and all other European continental philosophy might engage with Indian philosophy, classical or current, but this is hampered for me in that i have not read much Indian philosophy, so at the moment trying to, knowing it is more than just the Buddhism read, more than the intros read... so very hopeful i can find this philosophical style...


080914 first review: a review? great. more review? great but helps to have already read so many works on the man's thought. tried to read one long or short chapter each time, tried to glean significant thoughts, almost enthuses me enough to try his being and time. almost... had read some previously, decided to try this after latest heidegger: [book:Heidegger: Thinking of Being|18968591]...


questions arise, as usual- do i like his thought or the way it is shared?- but this is the man himself, and not near as complicated to read if you are afraid of trying, if you have heard he is difficult. no more or less than kant. whom i do not read. and this selection has useful abstracts before each reading, chronologically follows him, shows how his original conception of 'being' and 'time' over the years becomes 'clearing' and 'presencing'- but he never abandons his primary concern: the 'question of being' even as his language matures, he forms neologisms, he offers provoking thoughts, engaging thoughts, and some of his concepts easily misinterpreted become decidedly clearer...


i do not know if this would work independently as introductory. i have had the good fortune of so many texts already read on him on his thought on how he is misunderstood. in some ways, i am sympathetic to those readers, those philosophers, who are annoyed by his 'ways' rather than rigorous logic or positivistic assertions they can take apart. he wants us to think, not just expect his answers, not just resolve questions. yes he is eventually more poet than philosopher, but this is intrinsic, this is there from the beginning. if husserl wanted to create philosophy as a first ‘science’, heidegger goes with phenomenology as a starting point, to express, to understand, philosophy as an ‘art’. this is fine with me...


there are eleven chapters, a forward, a preface, a general introduction: 'on the question of being'. read this introduction. this covers his work leading up to 'being and time' (hereafter bt), and clarifies the culture he came through, his religious background, his locale, his heritage in thought as well as beliefs. hd did not erupt with bt out of nowhere. he did arrive on campus, arrive as a lecturer, with great drama, and this introduction gives some idea of how well he must have engaged students. perhaps it is good to read the 'abstracts' before each chapter before deciding which to read when or why. this book could serve as research source and need not be read all in one go. i have read other books at the same time. not philosophy texts. but some selected texts are already familiar and possibly the reader is only interested in this essay or that essay...


the first chapter is 'introduction to bt' and covers the development, the ideas, the investigating concept hiedegger will use- 'dasein'- but this chapter also frustrates because he never did fulfill his plans, and later when he does go on, it is not the same structure. it is unfair to ask a thinker to stop thinking, to go back and elaborate previous work. but even had he never written anything else, his place as thinker in his time and ours would be assured. the next chapter is one that becomes a book, is 'what is metaphysics', after that 'on the essence of truth', next 'the origin of the work of art', next 'letter on humanism', next 'modern science, metaphysics, and mathematics', next 'the question concerning technology', next 'building dwelling thinking', then 'what calls for thinking?', then 'the way to language', finally 'the end of philosophy and the task of thinking'...


what a lineup. having just finished it, reading four chapters in a row, i am remembering thoughts sparking from these more than his earlier work. but i know those chapters were equally fascinating. i know they each gave me pleasure i do not know how else to find: everything from 'dasein' to 'clearing'- or is that 'lightning'?- from how there is a difference from 'speaking' and 'saying', there is language in which we 'dwell' and language we 'find ways to', that there is the unacknowledged metaphysics that underlies all 'regions' of science, that there is the conceptual mistake of believing science precedes technology, that technology is mastered rather than mastering, there is the argument that we diminish humanity or diminish 'Dasein' if we think of man only in body in mathematical, scientific, technological, terms... yes there is to much here to explain, to quote, and how much do i fully retain anyway...


and why do i read philosophy? am i doing so the right way? if i enjoy it am i mistaken? well, there is only the answer i gave previously in [book:The Phenomenological Mind: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science|2237142] and there is nothing here to add. just to say, yes really this is immensely fun. almost enthuses me enough to try his being and time. almost...


and why am i so engaged by this selection, why do i find it easier to read than big books? yes partly it is all 19 other books read on or involving him, plus 4 works by the man himself, this makes it easier to understand his discourse. without heidegger this past century would lack so much insight to our being, to Being as it is explored, theorized, in all social sciences. i have heard that his translations of aristotle, for example, are not necessarily agreed-upon. there is suspicion over his refusal to propose any ethics grown out of his thought, even when he uses ethically loaded terms like 'anxiety', 'fallenness', 'resolute', 'authentic', to characterize his conceptions. and is he avoiding actual failures of his own support of the nazis? this is the end of his thought, an irreconcilable, mistaken, appraisal of hitler say...


this is hindsight. 20/20. but cautionary as his real-life acts trying to link philosophical aspirations of some sort, yes i can see how many philosophers refuse to take anything from him. apologists use his dense, difficult prose, to avoid certain interpretations not the least favourable to h. in his later career, going back, going poetic, invents his fourfold- gods, mortals, earth, sky- to deal with what he sees as limits to causal theories of aristotle- material, formal, efficient, final- is this just a way to not talk about current horrors? so i still feel conflicted about where leads his thought. enough, now. i cannot offer an answer. i cannot say i refuse to read him... this is not the solution. read, read, read yourself free...

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