Continental Philosophy


Lecture 2 - Martin Heidegger - What is the Meaning of Being?

Last week we looked at some of the core elements of Husserl’s phenomenological method: natural attitude, bracketing (epoché), reduction and intentionality. The last concept, intentionality, was the one I said was of the most significance for Martin Heidegger. Intentionality, Husserl’s idea that all consciousness is consciousness of something, became for Heidegger an insight of the first importance. This was because Heidegger saw the ‘worldliness’ of thought, consciousness, as of the utmost significance. What philosophy really needs to do, is not to focus on subjects and objects, but to make sense of the human being’s place in the world, or our being-in-the-world. There is a reversal at stake here. In many ways, Heidegger’s masterwork Being and Time is a 20th Century reflection on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Heidegger is interested in understanding philosophy in a practical sense rather than a purely theoretically (theoria and phronesis). Although this distinction is never clear cut, for reasons we will go into, Heidegger wants to understand what the human being is, and to do this we need to tackle that question from the perspective of human’s practical everydayness. And this means we need to ask ourselves what he means by the term ‘Being.’

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