Becoming Heidegger

Becoming Heidegger On the Trail of His Early Occasional Writings, 1910-1927. Edited by Theodore Kisiel and Thomas Sheehan, Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University Press, 2007.


This is a welcome collection of writings that are not a part of the official collected works, the Gesamtausgabe. It gathers essays of Heidegger's up to the publication of Being and Time that have been translated and published in various journals and books, and documents discovered in various archives that appear here for the first time. Most of the earlier translations are revised in this volume, and some lectures are paraphrased from contemporary transcripts. This book has much many reference materials on Heidegger's pre-Being and Time writings, beyond just the texts included; several indexes, bibliographies, glossary, notes, introductions to all the texts. As a reference, it is a useful supplement to Denker's Historical Dictionary, now sadly out of print.

There's some content overlap with Supplements, published five years earlier. An earlier translation of the lecture The Concept of Time was published in 1992. The new translation here weaves together transcripts subsequently discovered in various archives.

The earlier material from Heidegger's student days is juvenalia, but by the end of the First World War his thinking is focusing on the problems that will lead to Being and Time, and concern him for the rest of his life. In the 32 page review of Jasper's book (another translation appears in Pathmarks), Heidegger uses formal indication on the problem of existence.

In keeping with the specific aim of this comentary, we wish only to call the reader's attention to a few things which point to the existence of a problem.

An initial approach to the problem (which in accord with its sense will later have to be deconstructed [abbauen]) can be provided in formal indication (a particular methodological level of phenomenological explication that cannot be treated any further here, though some understanding of it can be gleaned from the following): "Existence" is a determination of something. If one wants to characterize it regionally, though in the end this characterization proves to be a misleading digression away from the actual sense of existence, it can be taken as a certain way-to-be, as a particular sense of "is," which "is" essentially the sense of the (I) "am." We have this "am" in a genuine sense not in a theoretical intetion, but in the very actualizing of the "am," the very be-ing of the self has the formally indicative sense of existence. This gives us a clue pointing to the source out of which the sense of existence, as the particular how of the self (or of the I), must be drawn. What provoes to be crucial here is the fact that I have myself [in a fore-having!], the basic experience in which I encounter myself as a self, so that I, laiving in this experience, and responding to its very sense, can ask about the sense of my "I am." "Having-myself" is ambiguous in many different respects, and this divesity found in its sense must be made comprehensible by the varying diversity of specifically historical contexts rather than to [generic] contexts of classification that assume that the status of regions within an autonomous system. In the archontic sense of the properly actualized basic experience of the "I am," an experience that properly concerns just me myself purely and radically, we find that this experience does no experience the "I" as something located in a region, as an individualization of a "universal," as a [generic] instance of something. Rather, this experience experiences the "I" [in its proper sense] as a self [i.e., myself, yourself, ourselves, je nach dem]. The sheer persistence of the actualizing [event!] that brings this experience to complete fulfillment experientially demonstrates how foreign any region or objective realm is to the "I". Any attempts to give a regional determination to the "I" (a determination that stems from a preconception that regards the I as a stream of consciousness or a nexus of experience) "extinguishes" the sense of the "am" and turns the "I" into an object that can be fixed and classified by putting it into a region. It follows from this that we need to develop a radical suspicion against all preconceptions that objectify by regions, the contextures of concepts that arise from such preconceptions, and the various ways in which they arise.

Pp. 137-138

The two Aristotle papers have succint expositions of the critical issues in ontology. Here, in the first paper, Heidegger wraps up his interpretation of being as truth as unveiling.

The λέγειν gives the being in itself, which now means that it gives the being in its unveiled "as what," to the extent that a what is put forward that is not deceptive, merely passing itself off as the what in question. ψεῦδος as self-veiling has sense only on the basis of a meaning of ἀληθές that is originally not related to λόγος. Remaining concealed, being veiled, is expressly specified as that which defines the sense of ψεῦδος and therefore the sense of truth. Aristotle regards being concealed as in itself positive. It is not by chance that the sense of "truth" for the Greeks is in its sense, and not just grammatically, defined privatively. The entity in the how of its possible "as-what determinations," is not simply there, it is a "task." And the entity in the how of its being unveiled, ὃν ὡς ἀληθές, is that which must be taken into custody for safeguarding against possible loss. That is the sense of the habits, ἕξεις, in which the soul possesses truth. The highest authentic habits are σοφια and φρόνησις, which hold the ἀρχαί in trust and safeguard their truth, each within its own field of being. The ὃν ὡς ἀληθές is no proper being or field of being of true judgements, but rather the entity itself in the how (ὡς) of its unveiled being-intended. It is ἐν διανοία as νοητόν: "in the 'intellect' as the toward-which of its apprehending." This interpretation of ἀληθές and ἀληθεύειν, which circumvents a series of artificial difficulties that have arisen in the exposition of their sense, will be concretely documented by an in-depth phenomenological analysis of Met. VI, 4 (being as truth), De anima III, 5-6 (productive and passional mind), De interpretatione, Met. V, 29 ("false") and above all, Met. IX, 10 (being as truth).

P. 177

The correspondence shows how Heidegger was seen by his contemporaries. The final appendix has fictionalized portraits of Husserl and Heidegger by Karl Löwith.


N.B.: This is the first time I use unicode for the Greek words. All the other Greek words on bibliography pages use the symbol font. In the past the symbol font was the most likely to be available on visitors' machines, but unicode is probably more prevalent today. And it allows me to use diacritics. If you want to vote one way or the other, or have some wisdom to pass along about using Greek on the web, let me know.

Send additions, corrections or whatever to that_pete (at) or mail a msg from this form. Don't forget to put your comments in context (what page, what your going on about, etc.)! Include your email address so that I can reply.

Back to Heidegger books page.

Back to Heidegger home page.

Created 2007/11/25
Last updated 2014/9/11