Martin Heidegger


German Existentialist Philosopher

Author Quotes

We ourselves are the entities to be analyzed

Whenever an ontology takes for its theme entities whose character of Being is other than that of Dasein, it has its own foundation and motivation in Dasein's own ontical structure, in which a pre-ontological understanding of Being is comprised as a definite characteristic? Therefore fundamental ontology, from which alone all other ontologies can take their rise, must be sought in the existential analytic of Dasein.

We shall call the very being to which Daseincan relate in one way or another, and somehow always does relate, existence [Existenz]. And because the essential definition of this being cannot be accomplished by ascribing to it a ?what? that specifies its material content, because its essence lies rather in the fact that it in each instance has to be its being as its own, the term Da-sein, as a pure expression of being, has been chosen to designate this being.

Who is to determine what the perfect is? It could only be those who are themselves perfect and who therefore know what it means. Here yawns the abyss of that circularity in which the whole of human Dasein moves. What health is, only the healthy can say. Yet healthfulness is measured according to the essential starting point of health. What truth is, only one who is truthful can discern; but the one who is truthful is determined according to the essential starting point of truth.

We still by no means think decisively enough about the essence of action.

Why are there beings at all instead of nothing? That is the question. Presumably it is not arbitrary question, Why are there beings at all instead of nothing- this is obviously the first of all questions. Of course it is not the first question in the chronological sense [...] And yet, we are each touched once, maybe even every now and then, by the concealed power of this question, without properly grasping what is happening to us. In great despair, for example, when all weight tends to dwindle away from things and the sense of things grows dark, the question looms.

To be a poet in a destitute time means: to attend, singing, to the trace of the fugitive gods. This is why the poet in the time of the world's night utters the holy.

We think of beauty as being most worthy of reverence. But what is most worthy of reverence lights up only where the magnificent strength to revere is alive. To revere is not a thing for the petty and lowly, the incapacitated and underdeveloped. It is a matter of tremendous passion; only what flows from such passion is in the grand style.

Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing? That is the question.

To be ontological does not mean to develop ontology. Thus if we reserve the term ontology for the explicit, theoretical question of the meaning of beings, the intended ontological character of Daseinis to be designated as pre-ontological. That does not signify being simply ontical, but rather being in the manner of an understanding of being.

We were born into a world of quiet conformity. Initially everything we do and say and think and believe have been done and said and thought and believed before. The activities we regard as worthy of our time and effort (learning, work, play), the ultimate values and meanings we pursue (achievement, love, children), and the particular styles and forms thru which we pursue these goals have all been provided by our various human cultures. How different our lives are from the lives of ancient 'cavemen'!

Why are there beings at all, instead of Nothing?

To dwell is to garden.

What is decisive is not to get out of the circle but to come into it the right way? In the circle is hidden a positive possibility of the most primordial kind of knowing. To be sure, we genuinely take hold of this possibility only when, in our interpretation, we have understood that our first, last and constant task is never to allow our fore-having, fore-sight and fore-conception to be presented to us by fancies and popular conceptions, but rather to make the scientific theme secure by working out these fore-structures in terms of the things themselves.

Why is there Being at all, and not much rather Nothing? That is the question.

To make of the truth a goddess amounts to turning the mere notion of something, namely the concept of the essence of truth, into a personality.

What is peddled about nowadays as philosophy, especially that of N.S. [National Socialism], but has nothing to do with the inner truth and greatness of that movement [namely the encounter between global technology and modern humanity] is nothing but fishing in that troubled sea of values and totalities.

To stamp becoming with the character of being?that is the supreme will to power. This suggests that becoming only is if it is grounded in being as being: ?That everything recurs is the closest approximation of a world of becoming to one of being.?

What seems natural to us is probably just something familiar in a long tradition that has forgotten the unfamiliar source from which it arose. And yet this unfamiliar source once struck man as strange and caused him to think and to wonder.

To think Being itself explicitly requires disregarding Being to the extent that it is only grounded and interpreted in terms of beings and for beings as their ground, as in all metaphysics.

What shows itself in this making present is time. Then how are we to define the time manifest in the horizon of the use of the clock that is circumspect and takes time for itself in taking care This time is what is counted, showing itself in following, making present, and counting the moving pointer in such a way that making present temporalizes itself in ecstatic unity with retaining and awaiting horizonally open according to the earlier and later.

To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world's sky.

What was Aristotle?s life?? Well, the answer lay in a single sentence: ?He was born, he thought, he died.? And all the rest is pure anecdote.

Today we decide about metaphysics and about even more elevated things at philosophy conferences. For everything that is to be done these days we must first have a meeting, and here is how it works: people come together, constantly come together, and they all wait for one another to turn up so that the others will tell them how it is, and if it doesn?t get said, never mind, everyone has had their say. It may very well be that all the talkers who are having their say have understood little of the matter in question, but still we believe that if we accumulate all that misunderstanding something like understanding will leap forth at the end of the day. Thus there are people today who travel from one meeting to the next and who are sustained by the confidence that something is really happening, that they?ve actually done something; whereas, at bottom, they?ve merely ducked out of work, seeking in chatter a place to build a nest for their helplessness?a helplessness, it is true, that they will never understand.

What we ?first? hear is never noises or complexes of sounds, but the creaking wagon, the motor-cycle. We hear the column on the march, the north wind, the woodpecker tapping, the fire crackling? It requires a very artificial and complicated frame of mind to ?hear? a ?pure noise?. The fact that motor-cycles and wagons are what we proximally hear is the phenomenal evidence that in every case Dasein, as Being-in-the-world, already dwells alongside what is ready-to-hand within-the-world; it certainly does not dwell proximally alongside ?sensations?; nor would it first have to give shape to the swirl of sensations to provide a springboard from which the subject leaps off and finally arrives at a ?world?. Dasein, as essentially understanding, is proximally alongside what is understood.

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German Existentialist Philosopher