Authors: Martin Heidegger

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

German philosopher

Author Works


Sein und Zeit, 1927 (Being and Time, 1962)

Vom Wesen des Grundes, 1929 (The Essence of Reasons, 1969)

Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik, 1929 (Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, 1962)

Was ist Metaphysik?, 1929 (“What Is Metaphysics?,” 1949)

Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität, 1934 (The Self-Assertion of the German University, 1985)

Platons Lehre von der Wahrheit: Mit einem Brief über den “Humanismus,” 1947 (Plato’s Doctrine of Truth and “Letter on Humanism,” in Philosophy in the Twentieth Century, 1962)

Existence and Being, 1949

Holzwege, 1950 (“The Origin of the Work of Art,” in Poetry, Language, and Thought, 1971)

Einführung in die Metaphysik, 1953 (An Introduction to Metaphysics, 1959)

Was heißt Denken?, 1954 (What Is Called Thinking?, 1968)

Vorträge und Aufsätze, 1954 (3 volumes)

Was ist das–die Philosophie?, 1956 (What Is Philosophy?, 1958)

Zur Seinfrage, 1956 (The Question of Being, 1958)

Der Satz vom Grund, 1957 (The Principle of Ground, 1974)

Identität und Differenz, 1957 (Identity and Difference, 1969)

Gelassenheit, 1959 (Discourse on Thinking, 1966)

Unterwegs zur Sprache, 1959 (On the Way to Lan-1442 / Martin Heidegger guage, 1971)

Nietzsche, 1961 (2 volumes; English translation, 1979-1984, 4 volumes)

Die Frage nach dem Ding, 1962 (What Is a Thing?, 1967)

Wegmarken, 1967 (Pathmarks, 1998)

Zur Sache des Denkens, 1969 (On Time and Being, 1972)

Poetry, Language, Thought, 1971

Early Greek Thinking, 1975

The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays, 1976

The Piety of Thinking, 1976

“Nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten,” 1976 (“Only a God Can Save Us,” 1976)

Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings, 1977


The work of Martin Heidegger (HI-dehg-ur) was extremely influential in twentieth century philosophy, theology, and literary criticism. His writings are essential reading for a study of phenomenology, existentialism, and deconstruction.{$I[AN]9810001868}{$I[A]Heidegger, Martin}{$I[geo]GERMANY;Heidegger, Martin}{$I[tim]1889;Heidegger, Martin}

Heidegger was born into a Catholic family, and he began his academic studies as a student of theology. During his studies and early teaching career at the University of Freiburg, however, Heidegger became a follower of Edmund Husserl, who encouraged Heidegger’s work only as Heidegger began to reject his adherence to Catholic doctrine. Heidegger’s study of Friedrich Nietzsche completed his break with Catholicism.

Heidegger’s first major work is his magnum opus, Being and Time, which lays out a program of “destroying” the history of metaphysics through an investigation of the question of Being. In his first attempt to ask the question of Being, Heidegger privileges the example of Dasein, his own term for the “being-there” of humans. Heidegger’s theological origins can be discerned in his investigation of Dasein as “fallen” into the world and “tempted” to exist inauthentically. Heidegger completed the published version of Being and Time while teaching at the University of Marburg, where he influenced the theology of Rudolf Bultmann. Despite that fact that Heidegger’s analysis of Dasein is indebted to the theology of Saint Paul, Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, and Søren Kierkegaard, it had a great influence on French atheistic existentialists, especially Jean-Paul Sartre.

In 1928, Heidegger returned to Freiburg, and in 1933 he accepted a position as rector of the university. In his inaugural address, Heidegger uses his philosophy of Being to support National Socialism. Heidegger resigned as rector before serving a year, but he remained a member of the National Socialist Party throughout World War II. He was briefly removed from his professorship when the Allied powers captured Germany, but he was reinstated after a trial exonerated him of active participation in the Nazi regime.

Heidegger himself argued that in his lectures on Nietzsche during the war he was actually criticizing National Socialism. Through his prolonged study of Nietzsche, Heidegger took up the problem of the “overcoming of metaphysics.” Heidegger analyzes Nietzsche’s attempt to overcome the Platonism of Western philosophy, but Heidegger places Nietzsche within, even though at the end of, metaphysics or “ontotheology.” Heidegger argues that metaphysical thought is characterized by a forgetting of the “ontological difference”–the difference between Being and beings.

In his reading of the history of metaphysics, Heidegger discovers the history of the epochs of Being, from the pre-Socratic philosophers to Nietzsche. Heidegger believes that he discovers the origin of the forgetting of the question of Being in early Greek philosophy, because Being is there, as elsewhere in philosophy, both revealed and concealed, since, according to Heidegger, this is the nature of truth or aletheia.

In his writings after Being and Time, Heidegger’s thinking undergoes what he calls a Kehre (a turn), in which he begins to think of the movement of Being toward Dasein, rather than starting with Dasein’s apprehension of Being. In his influential “Letter on Humanism,” Heidegger attempts to differentiate his work from the “humanism” of French existentialism, rejecting the interpretation of his work by Sartre.

Heidegger also looks to art and poetry in his attempt to discover the meaning of the question of Being. He especially looks to the writings of Friedrich Hölderlin. In his reading of Hölderlin’s poetry, Heidegger’s work continues to display a theological dimension as he draws a parallel between the poet’s attempt to name the holy and the thinker’s attempt to think Being.

In the final phase of his work, Heidegger tries to question even more radically the question of Being by “crossing out” the word Being in order to mark the nihilistic forgetting of Being. He argues that this crossing through also marks the intersection of the four dimensions of Being: the earth and sky, divinities and mortals.

In an interview not published until after his death (at the request of Heidegger) entitled “Only a God Can Save Us,” Heidegger finally answers questions about his participation in National Socialism. Most interpreters argue that Heidegger still refused to acknowledge any guilt. This interview also reveals the theological thrust of Heidegger’s work, as Heidegger looks forward to the coming of a new god as the only way for humankind to be “saved” from the nihilism of modern technological society.

BibliographyBeistegui, Miguel de. Heidegger and the Political. New York: Routledge, 1998. A comprehensive look at Heidegger’s political and social views.Bernstein, Michael André. Five Portraits: Modernity and the Imagination in Twentieth-Century German Writing. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2000. A study of five modernist poets, including Heidegger, whose elitism–according to Bernstein–limited his moral reasoning.Biemel, Walter. Martin Heidegger: An Illustrated Study. Translated by J. L. Mehta. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976. Biemel, a student under Heidegger, elucidates Heidegger’s concern for Being and truth in an accessible analysis of seven works, including Being and Time. Dozens of black-and-white photographs of Heidegger and his contemporaries, a five-page chronology, and a twenty-page bibliography (including English translations and important secondary works) contribute to this introduction to Heidegger’s thought.Clark, Timothy. Martin Heidegger. New York: Routledge, 2002. A volume in the series Routledge Critical Thinkers.Dallmayr, Fred. The Other Heidegger. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993. Argues against the idea that Heidegger’s political involvement with National Socialism can be separated from his philosophical writings but makes an insightful case for why Heidegger’s involvement does not imply that his philosophy should be rejected. There is, Dallymayr claims, an “other Heidegger” whose work can be read in a political but nonfascist light.Dastur, Françoise. Heidegger and the Question of Time. Translated by François Raffoul and David Pettigrew. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1998. Referencing more than twenty works by Heidegger, this book is a clear and insightful introduction to Heidegger’s question of time and being. It is for the expert in Heidegger as well as the novice.Glazebrook, Trish. Heidegger’s Philosophy of Science. New York: Fordham University Press, 2000. A thoughtful and carefully documented explication of the philosopher’s works.Guignon, Charles, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger. London: Cambridge University Press, 1993. A collection of thirteen essays by highly respected scholars on a variety of aspects of Heidegger’s philosophy. Includes a valuable bibliography listing the publication schedule for the more than one hundred volumes of Heidegger’s collected works in German, along with secondary sources in English.Johnson, Patricia Altenbernd. On Heidegger. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2000. A volume in the Wadsworth Philosophers series.Ott, Hugo. Martin Heidegger: A Political Life. Translated by Allan Blunden. New York: BasicBooks, 1993. This biography explores Heidegger’s involvement in National Socialism.Poggeler, Otto. Martin Heidegger’s Path of Thinking. Translated by Daniel Magurshak and Sigmund Barber. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1987. Published in German in 1963, Poggeler’s work is the most renowned critical study of the development of Heidegger’s early metaphysical work into his later, nonmetaphysical thinking.Rée, Jonathan. Heidegger. New York: Routledge, 1999. An excellent biographical introduction to the thoughts of the philosopher, clearly presented and requiring no special background. Bibliography.Safranski, Rüdiger. Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil. Translated by Ewald Osers. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998. A biography that examines Heidegger’s thinking and his involvement with Nazism (first published in Germany in 1994)Steiner, George. Martin Heidegger. New ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Intended for the general reader, Steiner’s work intertwines a short biography of the philosopher and an exposition of Being and Time, with a nod toward Heidegger’s later works. Clarifies the central themes of Heidegger’s philosophy.Wolin, Richard. The Politics of Being: The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990. Wolin seeks to unearth political themes in Heidegger’s philosophy from Being and Time through his later critiques of technology and humanism. From this perspective, he argues that Heidegger’s involvement with National Socialism was not a “momentary lapse” of thinking but reflective of an endemic blindness to the concrete specifics of modern social life.Zimmerman, Michael E. Heidegger’s Confrontation with Modernity: Technology, Politics, Art. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. A critical, in-depth account of Heidegger’s views on the nature of modern technology, from the perspective of the political context within which these views were formed. Zimmerman’s readable style makes this book an excellent source for the general reader interested in this aspect of Heidegger’s complicated work.
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