The Genesis of Heidegger's Being and Time

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The Genesis of Heidegger's Being and Time

The Genesis of Heidegger's Being

    and Time

Theodore Kisiel

Suggested citation:

    Kisiel, Theodore. The Genesis of Heidegger's Being and

    Time. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1993. Contents




    o One Phenomenological Beginnings:

    The Hermeneutic Breakthrough


    o Two Theo-Logical

    Beginnings: Toward a Phenomenology of


    o Three The Deconstruction of Life


    o Four The Religion Courses (192021)



    o Five What Did Heidegger Find in

    Aristotle? (192123)

    o Six Aristotle Again: From

    Unconcealment to Presence (192324)


    o Seven The Dilthey Draft: "The

    Concept of Time" (1924)

    o Eight The Ontoeroteric Draft: History

    of the Concept of Time (1925)

    o Nine The Final Draft: Toward a

    Kairology of Being








    TIME, 192427


    HEIDEGGER'S BASIC TERMS, 191527 ? Notes






    Being and Time (cf. SZ below). The English translation of Sein und Zeit includes the

    German pagination in its margin.


    Der Begriff der Zeit (talk to the Marburg Theologians on July 25, 1924).


    Heidegger, Frühe Schriften (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1972).


    Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe, followed by volume number, page number/page number of English translation; for example, GA 20: 7/5.

    GA 20

    History of the Concept of Time, lecture course of SS 1925.

    GA 21

    Logic, lecture course of WS 192526.

    GA 24

    The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, lecture course of SS 1927.

    GA 25

    Phenomenological Interpretations of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, lecture course of

    WS 192728.

    GA 26

    Logic (Leibniz), lecture course of SS 1928.

    GA 29/30

    The Basic Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Individualization, lecture course of

    WS 192930.

    GA 56/57


    GA 61

    Phenomenological Interpretations to Aristotle: Introduction to Phenomenological

    Research ("Einleitung"), course of WS 192122.

    GA 63

    Ontology: Hermeneutics of Facticity, lecture course of SS 1923.


    Emil Lask, Gesammelte Schriften, volumes 1 and 2 (Tübingen: Mohr, 1923).

    Ideen I

    Edmund Husserl, Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen

    Philosophie, Erstes Buch. (First published in 1913; there are two extant English

    translations of this book.)

    Ideen II

    Ibid. Zweites Buch. (First published posthumously in 1952 as Husserliana IV, this book

    is now available in an English translation by Richard Rojewicz and Andre Schuwer.)

    xiii Logos-essay

    Edmund Husserl, Philosophy as Strict Science. First published in the neo-Kantian journal Logos in 1911.


    Husserl, Logische Untersuchungen (Logical Investigations).

    Oct. 1922

    followed by the pagination of the 51-page typescript sent to the Philosophical Faculties

    of Marburg and Göttingen in October 1922. It was intended to be the "Einleitung"

    (Introduction) to a never-published book on Aristotle. Full title:

    "Phenomenological Interpretations to Aristotle: Indication of the Hermeneutic

    Situation." Available in both German and English.


    Karl Jaspers, Psychologie der Weltanschauungen.


    Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Halle: Niemeyer, 1927,

    7 1953).


    Heidegger, Unterwegs zur Sprache (Pfullingen: Neske, 1959).


    Heidegger, Zur Bestimmung der Philosophie. GA 56/57 (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1987). This volume contains the following lecture courses of 1919: KNS 1919, The Idea of

    Philosophy and the Problem of Worldviews, pp. 3117; SS 1919, Phenomenology and

    Transcendental Value-Philosophy, pp. 121203; SS 1919, On the Essence of the

    University and Academic Studies (Oskar Becker's transcript), pp. 205214.



    Biography Chronology Doxography [the philological trinity that provides the facts for

    this Genesis Story; why

    there is an Appendix B, C, D, but no Appendix A]



    Kriegsnotsemester (War Emergency Semester): Heidegger's course was held from

    Febraury 7 to April 11, 1919.


    Summer Semester. Typically held from May through July.


    Winter Semester. Typically November through February, with a month off around



    The young Heidegger

    Up to 1919.

    The early Heidegger


    The later Heidegger

    The thirties to the fifties.

    The old Heidegger

    Late fifties onward, as he gets more autobiographical.


    INTRODUCTION "And so you remained silent for twelve years," remarks the Japanese visitor to Martin

    Heidegger in a quasi-factual dialogue, as they discussed the linguistic problems

    broached by Heidegger's habilitation work on Duns Scotus (1915) and a subsequent

    lecture course, which antedated the publication of his magnum opus in 1927, Being and

    [1]Time (= BT). Well over a half-century has passed since Heidegger virtually exploded

    upon the larger philosophical scene with the publication of BT, achieving with it an

    international acclaim and notoriety which has not really waned over the intervening

    years. The difficulty in comprehending this classic of twentieth-century philosophy has

    since become legendary"like swimming through wet sand," remarks one perceptive

    commentator. The fact that Heidegger published absolutely nothing in the decade

    preceding BT compounded the difficulty immensely, so much so that one was forced to

    regard this complex work as something that sprang fullgrown, like Athena, from the

    head of Zeus. Herbert Spiegelberg's description of BT, "this astonishing torso," which

    alludes especially to the absence of its projected Second Half, can be applied as well to

    its initial "fore-structure," the dearth of publications before 1927.

    This at least described the situation of the reader of BT for decades. That situation is

    now rapidly changing. After a half-century of having absolutely nothing but hearsay

    regarding the decade of publication silence between Heidegger's habilitation work and

    his masterwork, we will soon be faced with a wealth of documents which promise to

    show us how this great work came into being. Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe (Collected

    Edition), launched a year before his death on May 26, 1976, has from the start included

    editions of previously unpublished lecture courses from his Marburg period (192328).

    Thus, the initial draft of BT em-

    2 bodied in his course of SS 1925, "History of the Concept of Time," has been available to

    us in a faulty German edition since 1979 and an improved English translation since


    [2] The recent decision by Heidegger's literary executor to publish the earliest of the

    Freiburg lecture courses (191923) will serve to steadily fill in much of the rest of the


    However, for the long-felt desire for an unbroken overview over this hitherto

    uncharted stretch of Heidegger's way to BT, such "original sources" are not enough. For

    [3]one thing, some of these are missing. Instead of the early Heidegger's original text, a student transcript of a course in SS 1919 has had to be published, and the same will be

    done for the all-important course of WS 192021 on the phenomenology of religion. For another, the editorial principle of an Ausgabe letzter Hand (a "last-hand" edition: in

    [4]practice, a deadhand edition), instituted two years after Heidegger's death, yields editions made from course-manuscripts as Heidegger last left them, making no

    distinction between the course as it was presented at the time and material added

afterwards, sometimes years later, which thus serves to distort the public chronological

    record of Heidegger's actual development. Furthermore, the same editorial principle

    sometimes makes editors hesitant to draw from student transcriptsclearly not of

    Heidegger's now nearly infamous "hand" but rather of his voice, as he departed from his

    prepared text to clarify his pointseven to fill in obvious gaps in meaning in Heidegger's

    own manuscripts. Finally, even with an optimal editorial policy, the publication of the

    separate courses in the Collected Edition would still provide only a disjointed picture.

    Heidegger's teaching was an integral part of his development toward BT, but only a part.

    The published courses are not enough for a truly unbroken overview of this

    developmental history, which should also include, for example, important seminar

    exercises whose transcripts will probably never be published. And it turns out that two of

    the most pivotal documents in this development are, so to speak, "extracurricular."

    Finally, philosophically pertinent evidence for such a Story can also be drawn from

    Heidegger's correspondence and various university "acts" and documents, which are

    just beginning to come to light.

    This book has as its aim just such a full and reliable story of Heidegger's

    development from 1915 to 1927, on the basis of the most complete documentation that

    can be mustered, including student transcripts, correspondence, and university

    documents. It is basically a Book of Genesis of a great classic, perhaps the most

    important, of twentieth-century philosophy. It seeks to relate the in-depth philosophical

    story which would track the discovery and development of the conceptual constellations

    that constitute the early Heidegger's response to the problems posed by


    his hermeneutic situation in those formative years. It is a conceptual story, a

    Begriffsgeschichte. It would establish why and how the various conceptual Gestalts take shape and are sometimes undone and replaced or reshaped, eventually finding their

    place within the fabric of BT. But it is also a story of conceptual threads severed only to

    be picked up later, leads and projects totally abandoned, author's intentions left

    unfulfilled or modified for other purposes, dead ends encountered along the way. These

    too should be noted, in order to offset the retrospective distortions that accompany the

    fact that we already know how the Story ends, namely, in BT itself. For part of the Story

    is that BT itself is a failed project, and that Heidegger then returns to earlier insights left

    unpursued in order to begin again. This is the real meaning of his self-professed and

    much discussed "turn". The Story should therefore concludeat this stage it will not, for

    practical reasonsby going beyond BT in order to assume a larger perspective upon the decade that preceded BT, to assess its significance for Heidegger's entire thought, to

    determine whether, for example, it already contains in ovo everything essential that

    came to light in the later Heidegger's thought.

    There is, at any rate, a certain rawness and freshness of first discovery in those

    early works of the Ur-Heidegger circa 1919, when he first found himself, when he first

    became Heidegger, and before those newly discovered ideas underwent a kind of scholastic complexification in BT itself. That is in part why the conceptual genealogy

    imparted by this Story should help to throw light on the still opaque concepts and

contexts that continue to baffle readers of BT, by providing the historical axis of

    interpretation as an approach to this systematic work. This is in fact the interpretative

    approach recommended by the old Heidegger himself, who at the end of his life coined

    the motto, "Waysnot Works," for his Collected Edition, and from his early years insisted that the systematic cannot be understood without the historical dimension of


    There is more than one good reason why this Story should be a conceptual history,

    sensitive especially to the emergence and development of the fundamental concepts

    and conceptual schemes that enter into BT. Heidegger's peculiar genius and forte lies in

    his ability to expose the "root" concepts that "seed" a field of study. This uprooting

    "deconstruction" is, more often than not, followed by their replacement with new

    conceptual of Heidegger's own making, as the traditional categories are displaced by existentials in BT. From the very beginning, Heidegger's entire way is

    marked by this traffic of concepts: the category problem in Duns Scotus, his doctrine of

    the transcendentals of being, how it is "said in many ways" through categorial intuition,

    the formally indicative "concepts" which try to catch experience in its incipience and

    latency, the search for the fundamental concepts of the West emerging from


    their pre-Socratic roots. "In the end, the business of philosophy is to preserve the force

    of the most elemental words in which Dasein expresses itself"(SZ 220).

    And yet, as helpful as this might be, we would still have but a shallow and static

    doxography if we were to be satisfied merely with the parade of interlocking concepts

    emerging in rapid succession at different points along the way, for example: the

    historical I (1919) to factic life experience (1920) to Dasein (1923), its movement as

    motivated tendency (1919) to passionate action (1924) to thrown project (1926), its

    temporal structure as retention-protention (1919), appresentation (1925), and ecstatic

    schematization of horizons (1927). Thus, Appendix D, which summarizes the

    chronological rise and sometimes the fall of Heidegger's basic concepts at this time in a

    Genealogical Glossary, should be used with a bit of caution. A true conceptual history

    must probe below this doxographic surface to the motivating problem situations which

    prompt these concepts and the hermeneutic situation of inherited presuppositions which

    shape them. Once again, it is Heidegger himself who notes the "searching" character of

    his concepts and points to the need to "work out" the question itself from the

    interrogative situation which prompts it, in order to ensure that the very "terms" of the

    question themselves become transparent to us. Beyond the litany of rapidly changing

    concepts, therefore, there is the motivating unity of the problem situation to which they

    are a response. The question then is whether this situation itself still remains constant as

    it becomes clear and develops, like a "guiding star," or whether it too is subject to

    dimming or disappearance and, as a consequence, radical displacement by another.

    This conceptual genealogy and flow constitute the philosophical core of our Story.

    But in order to relate this Story, at this early stage of research in this area, it was

    necessary to correct many a factual error in the BCDB iography, C hronology, and D

    oxographyof this hitherto relatively uncharted stretch of Heidegger's Way. These three

    intertwining strata have since Theophrastus constituted the minimal philological aids necessary for any reliable record of the story of philosophy. But in our case, they have fallen into disrepute in part because of the negative attitude toward philology assumed, in a wrongheaded imitation of the Master, by the over-seers of Heidegger's Collected Edition. Thus, in addition to its central interpretative philosophical thrust, this book incidentally also fills the need for a reliable record of these subsidiary factual threads of our Story. Regarding the doxographical thread, for example, Otto Pöggeler recently remarked: "Regrettably, even today there is still no reliable overview of Heidegger's early lecture courses based on the extant student transcripts and Heidegger's

    manuscripts."[5] This book, in its Story and Appendixes, will seek, to the extent that this

    does not ob-


    scure its central interpretative thrust, to fill this especially glaring lacuna in Heidegger scholarship.

    But of course we want more than just to set the doxographical record straight: We

    wish to enter each course, seminar, or written text as its own conceptual universe not only with the doxographical questions, "What does it say?" and "What is its basic intent?" but also with the intertextual questions of "Where does it come from?" and "What does it lead to?" dictated by our genealogical and diachronic concerns. The synchronic pause is conceptually essential, and so lengthy, especially at the critical turning points in the Story. But synchrony is often "bracketed," as necessary, to do a diachronic framing of certain key concepts, like ex-sistence and angst, in order to examine them backwards and especially forwards into BT, at the tender early spot at which something new develops. The strands into BT are thus explored directly into BT long before we reach that terminal stage of our Story. And because we are first telling a Story, where BT itself will turn out not to be the goal but just one more way station, we shall never find the time to gather the strands together even at that particular central station. The Story to that extent does presuppose some familiarity with BT itself. But even those who are quite familiar with BT will find, I believe, that approaching it by way of this genealogical track makes us look at its passing landscape in a way that is quite different, traveling against the grain of many an old interpretation.

    The temptation is always great in such a philosophical account to interject an

    excess of "interesting" biographical details in order to keep the story line "light and lively." And the question of the relation between Life and Thought has become especially acute of late in the "case of Heidegger." But the critical reader should perhaps not be too quick to judge as philosophically irrelevant, say, the repeated allusions to Heidegger's difficult writing style which led, among other things, to his being denied a university appointment and to his having an article rejected for publication. This biographical infrastructure is in fact fraught with philosophical (or, more precisely here, "metaphilosophical") significance. Take, for example, the seemingly bland and straightforward statement of biographical fact of our opening citation, "And so you remained silent for twelve years." The "And so" takes us to the very heart of Heidegger's philosophy: his naming of a topic for himself which had traditionally been regarded as

"ineffable," his early struggles to develop a hermeneutics to express this topic at first on

    the basis of the phenomenological principle of "self-showing" intuition, thus his

    development of the linguistic strategy of "formal indication" out of the context of the

    Aristotelian-scholastic doctrine of the analogy of being and Lask's "logic of philosophy."

    This is but one instance in our tale, insofar as it resorts to philo-


    sophical biography, in which it strives to pay close attention to a much-discussed and

    still unresolved general question in the metaphilosophy of the historiography of

    philosophy: What exactly are the revelatory and intrinsic links between the life and the

    thought of a thinker? The question applies especially to a thinker who prided himself on

    the ontic "roots" (Boden ) of his ontology, taking pride in the claim that he was the first

    in the history of philosophy to declare openly the inescapable need for such roots.

    A related question at the interface of biography and philosophy arises especially from the old Heidegger's autobiographical statements. We are here treated repeatedly

    to the story of his boyhood years in the gymnasium and the gift of Brentano's

    dissertation on "the manifold sense of being in Aristotle," which has triggered a small

    industry of articles analyzing this text in its relation to Heidegger's thought. Such work

    demonstrates the eagerness of scholars for reliable biographical clues to Heidegger's

    development more than the actual relevance of Heidegger's selective reading of his own

    life to the main lines of his thought. Why this attempt in his old age to revive the ties with his Catholic past, his early relationships with Father Conrad Gröber and the Thomistic

    philosopher, Carl Braig? Why do we hear absolutely nothing about those dark war years

    of 191719, about which almost nothing is presently known, when he broke with his

    Catholic past and clearly emerged as a "free Christian" in his first postwar lecture

    courses? At any rate, Heidegger's own autobiographical statements, which of course

    cannot be ignored, must themselves be carefully weighed, counterbalanced, and so

    corrected against all the archival evidence that can possibly be mustered. This is what I

    have sought to do here, in order to establish a reliable, complete, and relatively

    uninterrupted story of this entire period of Heidegger's development. It has dictated the

    correction and demystification not only of the autobiographical Heidegger but also of

    Heidegger's literary executors, who have established a track record of factual

    misstatement and chronological distortion in the composition of their Collected Edition,

    as well as of the more nebulous constellation of tenacious anecdotes from diverse

    quarters, for example from the literary genre of "Conversations with Heidegger," which

    have fused together over the years to give us the Legend of Heidegger. Particularly in

    the area of autobiography and reported "table talks" the authority of the old Heidegger

    has been found to be insufficient and at times even contradictory, thus hardly above

    question, contrary to the natural tendency to accept that authority.


    In view of these tasks of completion and correction, the appeal to Theophrastus is

    by no means so farfetched. For the state of Heidegger scholarship at the "BCD" level is still very much like that of our factual knowledge of the Pre-Socratics. An accurate and reliable reconstruction

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