Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 274

Martin Heidegger's Being and Time (Sein und Zeit in the original German) is a complex philosophical work with a number of different themes. One central theme, which is manifested as early as the preface, is the nature of interpretation. Heidegger discusses how the ancient Greek philosophers provided us with the keys to truth, knowledge, and reality; he then claims that the history of philosophy since the Greeks has been little more than an exercise in forgetting.

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In the first introduction, the theme of being is touched upon for the fist time. Heidegger frames the question: "What is the meaning of Being?" We learn then that the particular being that Heidegger will focus on is the human being (Dasein).

The second introduction, then, discusses the human being. In order to understand the human being, Heidegger uses a phenomenological method. Even though the method is a phenomenological examination of everyday life, it is ontological in nature. In Chapters 2–4, he discusses "being" and "being-in," including "being-in-time" and "being-in-the-world."

Eventually, we learn that the human being (Dasein) has three "movements": the human being is in a particular situation, the being adjusts him- or herself to the possibilities, and the being does so for the most part in his or her everyday concerns.

The existence of these three movements, when coupled with the fact that the human being is a unity, brings us to the second major theme of the work: time.

Each structural movement of the human being is what Heidegger terms a "temporal ecstasy." There are three aspects to this ecstasy: the futural (ahead of itself), the past (already in a world), and the present (being alongside).

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