“Death, Time, History: Division II of Being and Time”

Hoffman, Piotr. “Death, Time, History: Division II of Being and Time.” In The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.


This certainty, that “I myself am in that I will die” is the basic certainty of Dasein itself. . . . The MORIBUNDUS first gives the SUM its sense. (HCT 316-17)

Only in dying can I to some extent say absolutely, “I am.” (HCT 318)

Modern philosophy turns away from things in the world and zeroes in on the human self that grasps them in thought and transforms them in action. The self becomes the repository of both their truth and their ultimate purposes. By the same token, the human self is given the status of the self-grounding ground of reality. In this new and exalted status, the self ceases to be viewed as part and parcel of some independent order of things. Beginning with Descartes’s cogito, the self withdraws from the world and falls back on its own experiences and thoughts. The subjectivity of the self supplies both the point of departure and the validating ground for various philosophical attempts at a reconstruction of our knowledge of the world.

One of Heidegger’s aims in Being and Time was to question and to overcome this subjectivist tradition of modern philosophy. I hope to show, however, that in Division II of Being and Time Heidegger reveals himself as an heir to that tradition and to its model of the human self.

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