Being, Man, and Death

Being, Man, and Death: A Key to Heidegger

James M. Demske
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 242
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  • Book Info
    Being, Man, and Death
    Book Description:

    Death, a perennial problem for philosophers and theologians, is especially crucial in the thought of Martin Heidegger. This penetrating commentary presents the concept of death as a unifying motif that illuminates many of the difficulties and obscurities of Heidegger's philosophy. Heidegger comes to see death as revealing the ultimate meaning not only of human existence, but of being itself. He thus confers upon the concept a force and sharpness, an ontological depth which is found in perhaps no other philosopher.

    This study corroborates the much-debated "turning" in Heidegger's philosophy. Demslce finds death to be the key not only to Heidegger's treatment of man and being, but also the key to his shift of focus from man to being. All Heidegger's various approaches to the theme of death are considered -- his existential-phenomenological analysis of Dasein, his discussions of art, poetry, history, and language, and his new phenomenological approach to the ordinary things of life.

    The author approaches Heidegger on his own terms, allowing the philosopher to speak for himself. The present reading of Heidegger grows smoothly out of Heidegger's own intentions. The result is a revealing study of Heidegger's philosophy in its entirety, which answers some persistently perplexing questions about this difficult modern philosopher.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6278-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. 1 Introduction: Perspectives on Death
    (pp. 1-9)

    “All men are mortal.” For formal logic this is the classic example of a certain type of proposition, a universal affirmative or “A” proposition. But besides being a logical entity, it is also a statement, a judgment, an affirmation. Considered in its content, the phrase is the expression of an insight which has been decisive for man’s understanding of himself since the dawn of western thought: the awareness of his own mortality, the consciousness of death.

    This insight makes its presence felt in the thought of the earliest Greek philosophers. It is there by implication in the musings of Thales...

  4. 2 Death in the Analysis of Dasein
    (pp. 10-73)

    Heidegger’s most detailed treatment of the problem of death is found in his first great work,Sein und Zeit.The book demands extensive treatment, even at the risk of creating a one-sided view of Heidegger’s thought by laying a heavy stress on its initial “existentialist” phase. The risk must be taken, however, sinceSein und Zeitlays the foundations upon which all future development of Heideggerian themes is built. The danger will be minimized by paying careful attention to the overriding intention of Heidegger’s whole philosophical effort, the problem of being, which forms the context in which the problem of...

  5. 3 Broadening the Horizon
    (pp. 74-91)

    In order to see Heidegger’s philosophy of death in true perspective, we have treated it in connection with the leitmotiv which he originally espoused: the question of the meaning of being. After the detailed discussion ofSein und Zeitwe now turn to the subsequent writings in order to work out the development of our theme. Since death is spoken of only incidentally in these texts, the principal significance of this stage of the investigation lies in the unfolding of the thematic of being which forms the remote context of the theme of death.

    The present chapter will focus upon...

  6. 4 Being, Man, & Death in the New Position
    (pp. 92-117)

    Having witnessed the critical turning in Heidegger’s thought accomplished in the four writingsKant und das Problem der Metaphysik, Vom Wesen des Grundes, Was Ist Metaphysik?andVom Wesen der Wahrheit,we shall now trace the consolidation of the newly won position in the subsequent work,Einführung in die Metaphysik(Introduction to Metaphysics), originally delivered as a university lecture course in 1935.¹

    Here, being is definitively established in a position of precedence. Also, the further determinations of being are worked out, which lay the foundation for the entire later development of the Heideggerian problematic. We shall discuss first the assertions...

  7. 5 Death in History, Poetry, & Language
    (pp. 118-146)

    In the course of our investigation, death has been discussed within the context of the crucial turning in Heidegger’s thought. This development has been traced from its point of departure through its actual accomplishment to its definite consolidation. With the turning a far-reaching transformation occurs in the Heideggerian image of man, which affects the concept of death. Instead of merely being an existential, death becomes an element in man’s relation to being, so that authentic being-unto-death signifies not only the affirmation of the structure proper to Dasein, but also the deepest possible ‘yes’ to being itself.

    Because Heidegger’s gaze after...

  8. 6 Death in the Game of Being
    (pp. 147-177)

    Heidegger’s concern in the later writings is the thinking of being. But as a consequence of being’s dominant position, secured by the turning of Heidegger’s thought, this thinking is no longer to be understood only as an activity of man, but more as a favor accorded man by being. Thus the phrase, “the thinking of being,” entails both a subjective and an objective genitive: from the viewpoint of being, it means a self-revelation; from the viewpoint of man, it means being’s letting itself come to words in the responsive speaking of man.

    In this chapter, we shall consider still another...

  9. 7 Conclusion: Death & Heidegger’s Way
    (pp. 178-196)

    InSein und ZeitHeidegger sees death as the extreme possibility of Dasein, as the possibility of the impossibility of existence (SZ 250, 262). But after the turning, death is the shrine of nonbeing and the redoubt of being (VA 177). Is this the same death? InSein und Zeitauthentic existence consists in the resolute advancing of individualized Dasein toward death, which brings Dasein to the possibility of “being itself in impassioned freedom-unto-death, liberated from popular illusion, facticious, sure of itself, and anxious” (SZ 266). But after the turning, the mortals dwell authentically “insofar as they accompany their own...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 197-218)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-226)
  12. Index
    (pp. 227-234)