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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 188

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."

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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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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 110

The primary philosophical problem for Martin Heidegger is the problem of Being. His major philosophical treatise, Being and Time, constitutes an attempt at a formulation of the basic questions and forms of analysis that are to lead to a clarification of the meaning and structures of Being. The form of analysis that peculiarly characterizes Being and Time is what Heidegger calls Daseinsanalytik (analysis of human being). This form of analysis is adopted because it is believed that humankind is the portal to the deeper levels of reality and that only through a disciplined analysis and description of human being can the path be opened for an apprehension of Being itself.

Phenomenological Ontology

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1874

In his analysis and description of human being or presence (Dasein), Heidegger makes use of the phenomenological method. Philosophy thus becomes “phenomenological ontology.” The ontological content of philosophy is Being, and the method that is used to clarify and explicate the meaning of Being is phenomenology. Heidegger was a student of the philosopher Edmund Husserl and, at least in part, took over Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology and its program of a return “to the data themselves.” Adherence to this formula, argues Heidegger, will preclude abstract constructions and formulations, sterile concepts, and the adoption of pseudoquestions that tend to conceal the phenomena or the data rather than reveal them. In the use of the phenomenological method Heidegger seeks to get back to the data of immediate experience and to describe these data as they “show themselves” in their primitive disclosure.

The word “phenomenon” has a Greek etymological root phainomenon, derived from the Greek verb phainesthai, which means “that which shows itself or that which reveals itself.” The original Greek meaning of logos, the second constitutive etymological element in the word “phenomenology,” is discourse, which “opens to sight” or “lets something be seen.” Thus, phenomenology, properly understood as the “logos of the phenomenon,” is the disciplined attempt to open to sight that which shows itself and to let it be seen as it is. In using the phenomenological method, one must therefore discard all preconceived logical and epistemological constructions and seek to examine and describe the phenomena as they show themselves.

The application of the...

(The entire section contains 5529 words.)

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