Philosophy of Martin Heidegger
Episode #7 of the course “Brief history of Contemporary philosophy”
In the early 20th century, philosophy was expanded by the theories of Martin Heidegger, who was primarily concerned with existentialist questions about the nature of being human. Highly influential to other existentialists, Heidegger also impacted branches of psychology and the humanities. He believed that people were thrust into the social conditions of their birth, and that they must work to overcome this historical situation and the fear of their own death in order to become a full and complete individual. A man who preferred the rural countryside to the bustling city, Heidegger believed that modern people were losing touch with nature, with what it means to be human, and with the freedom brought by self-awareness.
In his many books, it was Heidegger’s practice to engage directly with other philosophers, asking questions of their theories never posed by others before, or answering questions those philosophers had posed in their own works. He is known for picking apart the theories and great works of Plato, Immanuel Kant, and Friedrich Nietzsche, and he believed that it was a philosopher’s job to help people understand the human condition. He took his discussion of the nature of being very seriously, as evidenced by his famous treatise Being and Time. He developed his own terminology that he repeated and defined specifically so that others could engage with him by using the same concepts.
Heidegger encouraged people to spend more time in nature, more time connected with the unique experience of being themselves. He wanted people to realize a “unity of being”—an interconnectedness of all things simply through their shared existence. He also believed that living in an effort to impress other people was an inauthentic life. He encouraged people to become less concerned with what others thought of them and to live more for personal fulfillment and self-awareness.
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