Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
German philosopher who developed
existential phenomenology and has been widely regarded
as the most original 20th-century philosopher.
In his most important and influential work, Being and Time (1927), Heidegger is concerned with the question of what kind of "being"
human beings have. They are, he said, thrown into a world that they have not
made but that consists of potentially useful things, including cultural
as well as natural objects.
After 1930, Heidegger turned, in such works as An
Metaphysics (1953; trans. 1959), to the interpretation of
particular Western conceptions of Being. He felt that in contrast to the
reverent ancient Greek conception of Being, modern
technological society has fostered a purely manipulative attitude that
has deprived Being and human life of meaning, a condition
he called nihilism. Humanity has forgotten its true vocation, which is
to recover the deeper understanding of Being that was
achieved by the early Greeks and lost by subsequent philosophers.
While Heidegger was a student at Freiburg, he studied with Husserl who had a profound effect upon his thinking.
For a perfect chronology of the life of Heidegger, follow this link
to Enframing Heidegger
Besides Husserl, Heidegger was especially influenced by pre-Socratics,
by the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and by
the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
Heidegger's original treatment of such themes as human finitude, death,
nothingness, and authenticity led many observers to
associate him with existentialism, and his work had a crucial influence
on the French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre. Heidegger,
however, eventually repudiated existentialist interpretations of his
work. Since the 1960s his influence has spread beyond
continental Europe and has had an increasing impact on philosophy in
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