Heidegger: The Man and the Thinker

Sheehan, Thomas ed. Heidegger: The Man and the Thinker. Chicago: Transaction, 2009.


Many people consider Martin Heidegger the most important German philosopher of the twentieth century. He is indisputably controversial and influential. Athough much has been written about Heidegger, this may be the best single volume covering his life, career, and thought. For all its breadth and complexity, Heidegger’s perspective is quite simple: he is concerned with the meaning of Being as disclosure.

Heidegger’s life was almost as simple. He was a German professor, except for a brief but significant period in which he supported the Nazi regime. While that departure from philosophy continues to haunt his name and work, one must question whether his thought from 1912 to 1976 should be measured by the yardstick of his politics from May, 1933, through February, 1934. Th is anthology addresses his complex but simple thought and his simple but complex life.

In a real sense, Sheehan claims, there is no content to Heidegger’s topic and legacy, only a method. But method must not be taken to mean a technique or procedure for philosophical thinking. Rather, the topic of Heidegger’s thought and his pursuit of that topic, the “what” and the “how,” are one and the same thing.

Heidegger writes, “Alles ist Weg,” “Everything is way,” and man’s Being is to be on-the-way in essential movement. Heidegger, argues in our essence we humans are the topic and the point is not to be led there so much as to come to know what we already know and to become what we already are. This brilliant collection confirms this truism, and is an excellent introduction to the work of this seminal thinker.