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Martin Heidegger is one of the controversial philosophers of the 20th century. His theories and writings had influenced the field of phenomenology and existentialism among others. But he was mostly interested in ontology, which is “the study of the nature being and existence”. His interest in Ontology led him to write his famous theory on “Being and Time”. In this writing, Heidegger attempted to study man, or being, as he called it, (Dasein in German), in its peculiar human reality, which means a life of existence. It is a word denoting the existence of any entity. He sees a man in the three states of existence, the past, present, and future. His study of man is according to its phenomenological study of existence is in accordance with his temporal and historical character. He had hoped that thru this, man would reflect on it, such that he paid attention to the way people existed and encountered things. To him, it is important to analyze the structure of things not only as how they met, but also how they happened, explaining it such as moods, or anxiety (Karpoweiz, 2006).
Heidegger, in order to provoke a man to realize the demands of everyday existence, used three levels of approaches. First, he appeals to man’s common experience, of a breakdown in the tools and experiences in life. Man, in Heidegger’s pattern of thinking, says in his critical attitude towards things, regards nature and society merely as instrumentation, which is “there at hand” to fulfill man’s needs. But when something happened such as a disaster, a fire, or something to that effect, man becomes aware that the “being on hand” has its own significance and not just something for the satisfaction of Being. [Being could be referred to as man, and being are things and environment].
In a definitive pattern, Heidegger defined man (Dasien)) in a peculiar reality that raises questions about his particular being as that being is experienced and about Being in a comprehensive sense. His studies point to the fact that only when a man begins to inquire about the meaning of Being [Dasien] and its presence in the beings of experience does he grasp his own essential reality and share in truth. (Encyclopedia Americana. 1982. s.v. Heidegger)
With reference to time, Heidegger relates this to the temporal state. His theological concept of death emphasized the temporary state of life. His theory has interpreted time as any possible horizon for any understanding of Being, that is, man understands Being only through his constant fear of death.
Karpowicz summarizes the concept of Heideggarian as to its “temporality, understanding, historicity, repetition, or authentic and inauthentic existence”. He viewed Heidegger’s quest for the meaning of being, as a failure and remained an unfinished business as admitted by Heidegger himself in his subsequent writings (“Martin Heidegger”, 2006).
It is not fair to pass any judgment based on the very few writings that I have covered on Heidegger, but there is some sense on view on the temporality of life that describes the existence of man and its correlation to the environment. Being, and the state of beings, each has a score of time and meets an end with death. Fear of death ends existentialism which is the core of Being and Time of Heidegger. But his philosophical ideas are hard to comprehend and would require repetitious readings to digest their essence.
- Karpowiez, Korab. W. J. 2006. “Martin Heidegger 1889-1976”. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.
- The Encyclopedia Americana 1982. S.v. Martin Heidegger.