Heidegger: Being and Time

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Puritanboard Clerk
As this text ranks with the leading philosophical texts of the 20th century, we must at least be familiar with what Heidegger said and whether/to what it extent he poses a threat to Christian orthodoxy. It is acknowledged that arch-infidel Rudolf Bultmann claimed to follow Heidegger, which, reasoning in a guilt-by-association manner, would tar Heidegger. But as Anthony Thiselton has argued (Two Horizons), Bultmann's thought was more or less developed by the time that Being and Time appeared on the scene.

In one sentence: Being is always being-there. Heidegger is examining the question of the meaning of Being. If we ask “What is Being?” we have already presumed some understanding of the meaning of being by our use of the word is in the question. Heidegger lists three common answers:

Heidegger uses Husserl’s category of “intentionality.” We are always intending-towards or -about something. We don’t simply “think.” We think about something. Consciousness is consciousness about something.

There are different modes of intentionality. We don’t simply “think.” We are “involved” (what Heidegger called “care”). Heidegger shifted the discussion from the cognitive to the sub-cognitive level, from the head to the kardia.

Dasein manifests itself in falling, thrownness, and projection (329ff). Care–my being-in-the-world is wrapped up/alongside with others’ being-in-the-world. I exist in the world within an already-existing-network-of-relations. (2) Thrownness: my Dasein in the world is already-in-a-definite-world. This world has facticity. Its boundaries are fluid. (3) Projection: we can only understand Dasein in terms of the world. You can’t transcend yourself to understand yourself. You are finite. (4) Being-as-falling: this is the threat to being. Dasein has to face flux, uprootedness, and anxiety.

Death and Time

“Ahead-of-itself” = in Dasein there is always something still out-standing which has not yet become actual (279). Death reveals this limit of Dasein. Death is the end to which Dasein is thrown. The possibility of death releases us from the illusions of the “they” (311).

Death reveals the contingency and flux of all that is. Death manifests finitude. Grasping this finitude “snatches one back from the endless multiplicity of possibilities...and brings Dasein into the simplicity of its fate” (435).

In the second section Heidegger revisits many of his main points in his analytic of Being (care, mood, falling, etc), but now he situates them within temporality. If being is always a being-there, then it is always a being-there-in-time. Temporality establishes our horizon.


Heidegger is one of the most difficult writers in philosophy. He reminds one of a dark Augustine (which shouldn't surprise us, since he was lecturing on the Confessions when he wrote much of this material). There are themes in here that can aid the Christian thinker, but they are buried amidst nigh-impenetrable prose.
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