Heidegger’s Life and Early Philosophy

  • Steven HodgeEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) was one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century. He combined an original take on contemporary philosophical movements with a revival of one of the most enduring questions of Western thought: what is Being? He led a complex life which included an early aspiration to the priesthood, membership of the Nazi party, a post-war ban on his teaching, intrigues and love affairs. His works have elicited a vast secondary literature and influenced thinkers such as Arendt, Gadamer, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida and Foucault. In this chapter, the early part of his intellectual career is traced. His focus on the question of Being and his strategy for answering it are examined. This strategy produced a deep, original analysis of human being. Heidegger’s early philosophy also has a critical edge. He highlighted the way our everyday being is overwhelmed and deadened by the ‘They’—a term for the mass of social expectations regarding our modes of thinking and behaviour. Heidegger also investigated the obscuring influence of the ‘Tradition’—bodies of accepted knowledge that contain authoritative answers to virtually every kind of question we may ask. Through the combined influence of the They and the Tradition, human being is entangled ready-made ways of being and thinking, unable to ask new questions, live in new ways and open a relationship with Being.


Phenomenology Hermeneutics Existentialism Nazism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Griffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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