Phenomenological Decade

For years, readers of Being and Time had little external evidence to help them resolve ambiguities in that complex text. Heidegger’s publishing silence between his Habilitation in 1916 and the appearance of the existential analytic in 1927 meant that the question of his “intentions” could be approached only via the philosopher’s own autobiographical utterances, notoriously shifting and self-serving as these often were, combined with recollections of former students whose views on the motivations of Being and Time, for all their value, often reflected their authors’ own philosophical concerns as much as Heidegger’s. All that has changed.With the publication (in a controversial Gesamtausgabe “aus letzter Hand”) of the lecture courses Heidegger delivered during what Theodore Kisiel rightly calls his “phenomenological decade,”1 we are now inundated with an enormous, often confusing, mass of Heideggeriana documenting his peregrinations on the way to Being and Time and beyond. Today we are coming to see how the “astonishing torso” heralded in Herbert Spiegelberg’s well-known mot is tattooed with the name of every philosophical paramour who inflamed Heidegger during those silent years.

At this early stage of assimilating the new material there is need of a reliable and reasonably comprehensive overview of the terrain, a map that details both the way stations visited by the young Heidegger and the major ways linking them. Just this is provided by Theodore Kisiel’s subtle, scholarly, and authoritative “book about a book” (GH 312), The Genesis of Heidegger’s Being and Time, whose publication is a major event in Heidegger studies. Incorporating ten years of work in the archives, and informed by Kisiel’s extraordinary sensitivity as a translator attuned to every nuance of Heidegger’s shifting language, the book delivers a carefully wrought “story” of “Heidegger’s development from 1915 to