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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Being and Time is arguably Martin Heidegger's seminal work. It concerns itself with two primary questions: the question of what it means to "be," and the question of whether there is a formal method that might allow one to improve his conception of "being."

To answer the first question, Heidegger conceives of "being" as a condition of an organism that is both constructed and contingent. He grounds this thesis in an argument about the fundamental difference between the "existential," or humanistic, structure and the "category," which is merely a product of conceptual definition. This analysis provides the theoretical backbone for his method.

To answer the second question, Heidegger outlines a method called phenomenology, which attempts to analyze moments of being at their most concrete and immediate level. He then synthesizes both questions to provide his perspective on being (which he colloquially terms "Dasein"). For example, "freedom" is an existential because it is a structure that lays out some of the ontological parameters within which an individual can exist and act. In contrast, "hardness" is merely a category, defining some measurable quality that extends beyond questions of human epistemology.

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