Heidegger: The Philosophy of Existence

Heidegger: The Philosophy of Existence

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

He was puzzled by the fact that Western philosophy, since Descartes, had focused on the problem of knowledge.

This Cartesian approach divided reality into two: mind and matter, subject and object, observer and observed, knower and known. It is very possible that the young Heidegger was ignorant of the work of the American pragmatists; but his objection to traditional epistemology had much in common with theirs. For Heidegger, traditional epistemology was wrong in the face of the realities of the situation. We were not separate from the outside world we were looking at. We are an integral part of this world; It is unthinkable that we exist in a world other than this. When thought deeply, the real mystery is not knowledge, but existence, existence. What is this existence that we find ourselves in or alongside? What does it mean to have something? How does something exist? Why is there no such thing as nothingness?


We are directly, unquestionably aware of our own existence. Therefore, Heidegger, the way to deal with the problem of existence begins with a phenomenological analysis of what we become conscious of when we become aware of our own existence. This is what he does in his book Being and Time. Walking slowly, carefully, systematically, almost thoughtfully, he separates the main threads that make up our consciousness about our existence, one by one. It shows, for example, that we would not be conscious of our own existence if there were no space subject to consciousness, some kind of stage, screen, or setting (that is, a world in which this could happen). Therefore, our being is “this earthly” by nature. For us, at least, being and a kind of world are inseparable. At the same time, we would still have no consciousness of our own existence if we did not have an understanding that this or that thing is going on. However, this requires a time dimension. Therefore, the existence that we are aware of and conscious of is temporal in nature. Again, if this temporality had not entered our consciousness, we would not have been aware of our own existence. It has to worry us in a certain way, at least minimally, so that we become aware of it. Anxiety is an irreducible element. Etc. etc. We may have assumed, at the outset, that our consciousness of our existence is something too direct, direct, and transparent to warrant further analysis; however, Heidegger rejects this and analyzes our consciousness of our being with rich and deep insight. In the end, he concluded: In its most important aspects, our mode of being has a three-sided structure whose elements correspond to past, present, and future tenses; so, in the final analysis, being is time (that’s the name of the book).


Starting from this starting point, Heidegger sets out to analyze the human condition. Far from being isolated individuals facing the problem of contacting other people, the existence of us humans constitutes a shared social existence from the very beginning; Our problem is to become individuals by finding a unique personal way of being. We are all pressured into making choices about an unknowable future and the consequences of which we cannot be sure. We have our share of guilt and anxiety; anxiety, especially in the face of death. We want our lives to have a metaphysical reason or basis and meaning. However, we cannot be sure that they exist objectively; if they don’t exist, our lives may ultimately have no meaning, it’s nonsense; otherwise, the meaning it has is a meaning we give it.


Bryan MAGEE; The Story of Philosophy