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The Basic Problems of Phenomenology (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy) Paperback – 1 Aug 1988


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Revised edition (1 Aug. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025320478X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253204783
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"In Albert Hofstadter's excellent translatiion, we can listen in as Heidegger clearly and patiently explains ... the ontological difference." - Hubert L. Dreyfus, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Albert Hofstadter is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His translation of Heidegger's Poetry, Language, Thought received a National Book Award.

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By Bubo on 4 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback
A wonderful lecture course as per usual with Heidegger.

As a thoughtful person with a taste for the philosophical I read Heidegger books for fun and often find tremendous nourishment in Heidegger's idiosyncratic but nonetheless philosophically effective prose and use of language which works in English as well as in German.

Basic Problems of Phenomenology (BPP) deals in similar bread and butter as Being and Time but in a slightly more academic and historical way as Heidegger goes through the philosophies of Kant, Lotze, Hobbes, Mill, not to mention the obligatory Plato and Aristotle and medieval thinkers (Thomas, Augustine, Suarez) to illuminate the concept of being and of Dasein in contradistinction from what is extant (things). In particular much scrutiny is brought to bear on Kant's assertion that being-existence is not a real predicate.

A lot if not all of the lecture is philosophical fine-tuning and the phenomenological drawing of distinctions between core philosophical concepts - existence, essence, presence, absence, Dasein, extantness, the spannedness of time and many more - but the effort by Heidegger is so sustained and elaborate that one certainly does come out of it all the wiser only to quickly forget the argumentative niceties of the text in favour of a firmer grasp of the Dasein which in each case we ourselves are, to use a Heideggerian turn of phrase.

A must read for Heidegger fans and students of his, BPP does become a bit of a slog after page 250 (in my reckoning with the text), but as others have noted is a very good complement to Being and Time.

I deduct a star out of sheer annoyance with the transliteration of the greek passages into the Latin alphabet which is contrary to the norms of Heideggerian scholarship and offends my taste as a small time Ancient Greek reader. The translation, however, is excellent.

Five star content but four star presentation. Hence four stars and a half.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is regarded as the final section of Heidegger's 'Being and Time'. With this Heidegger completes many of the notions that were left hanging in his magnum opus.
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By vwelsh on 12 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
just the job for Uni
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Continuation of Being and Time 21 Dec. 2003
By Scott J. Belcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for those that choose to read Being and Time. The book itself is based, like so many of Heidegger's books, off of a lecture course he gave at the University of Marburg in the summer of 1927. This is important because Being and Time was ready for publication in 1927. If we put Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics alongside The Basic Problems of Phenomenology and Being and Time, we have the predominant whole of early Heideggerian thinking.
As for the book itself (for now on referred to as BP), the book is incomplete--just like Being and Time. Heidegger undertakes Three Parts each with Four chapters (see page 24). But BP only deals with all of Part One and only chapter 1 of Part Two. Heidegger gets no farther than the Problem of Ontological Difference (entities vs. the Being of entities) and the lecture course ends. But the book is extraordinarly helpful because of what it does address. Part One is elaborate and interesting because it deals with other philosophers and their ideas. Heidegger pays particular attention to Kant, Aristotle, Descartes and explains how their ideas have been inherited into the contemporary philosophic era. What I found most interesting was the deconstruction of Medieval and Modern ontology. Heidegger thus gives a broad historical interpretation of the history of philosophy and explains the presuppositions of each period.
Obviously this book is not for philosophical neophytes. The book should only be undertaken by those with some background in 20th century philosophy and knowledge of basic Heideggerian thought. The book's appeal should thus be limited to few individuals, and certainly only those with philosophic interest.
The book borrows much of the terminology from Being and Time with some notable exceptions. Authenticity and inauthenticity have pracitically been dropped. The term "horizon" becomes notably more important and the term "Temporality" is of great importance to understanding what is being disclosed from the text. Ontological difference is explicitly defined, though it was implicitly defined in Being and Time. Pay particular attention to Part Two of the work, for it questions through many of the underlying questions I had after completing Being and Time. If you are disappointed how the book abruptly ends, it is to be expected. But for those 285 people on Earth interested in Heidegger this book is indispensable. But read Being and Time first!
Philosophy Student,
Drake University
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
eminently readable and interesting 14 Nov. 2006
By Ted Pennings - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an eminently readable translation of Heidegger--a chore that is indeed quite difficult. Moreover, the material Heidegger treats here finds a very concise, cohesive presentation, so it is all in all a very approachable text. As a reviewer noted below, this text is quite helpful in understanding _Being and Time_, or just generally for its own value in exposing Heidegger's thought around this time. Highly recommeded for someone serious about approaching texts by Heidegger.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Heidegger's most scientific effort 23 Aug. 2014
By Tom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Instead of Being and Time, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology should be the starting point into Heidegger for anyone more comfortable with clear, analytical prose and arguments. As great as it is, Being and Time seems to contain a bit more showing off, as might be expected from a work whose purpose was to establish the philosphical gravitas of the author, and its climax in the account of authenticity makes it perhaps a more existentialist work.

In Basic Problems Heidegger makes a clearer case for phenomenology as a scientific method for the problems of 'first philosophy' (the a priori, ontology, or metaphysics), and the strongest case from any of the continental philosophers, I believe. I read Being and Time and many later works first, so was surprised on reading Basic Problems at the more rigorously analytical style and clarity. This may be due either to Heidegger's own experimentation with different styles of discourse and seeking in this course to improve in clarity on what he started in Being and Time, or perhaps it may be due to Albert Hofstadter's magnificently rendered translation for English speakers. In either case, there is no better place to start with Heidegger especially for those either trained or just more comfortable with analytical thought. For such readers, this book can help unlock Heidegger's more difficult writings.

The key argument is that basic problems of ontology, or at least how problems of ontology have been differently rendered in various phases of western philosophy, can be shown through Heidegger's phenomenological method to reveal a systematic unity that was not explicitly grasped by those who formulated the problems before. To this end Heidegger addresses four key historical theses about being: (1) Kant's critical thesis that being is not a real predicate; (2) the medieval thesis, following Aristotle, that any entity is characterized by, on the one hand (a) essence, what it is, being of a kind, and on the other hand (b) existence, that it is at all, a "this" being, actually or substantially; (3) the modern thesis, following Descartes, that the basic ways or modes of being are either (a) being of nature, as an extended, material sort of thing, or (b) being of mind, as a mental, psychic, or spiritual sort of thing; (4) the thesis of logic "in the broadest sense" (apparently shared by each of the prior theses) that "every being, regardless of its particular way of being, can be addressed and talked about by means of the 'is'. The being of the copula."

Now, how does Heidegger show their unity in an implicit fundamental ontology that was not explicit to the prior thinkers? Well, that is what the course sets out to do, but in a nutshell: (1) from a Kantian experience, the being of entities is not a predicate because of the ontological difference between being and entities, which is intelligible only to Dasein, or that being for whom entities are revealed within a horizon of time, temporal Dasein is the condition of possibility for the "being" of entities to appear as an issue at all, but temporality is not an entity among the entities which are revealed; (2) from the medieval and Aristotelian experience, that whch is revealed (a) as a what-being or in essence does so in terms of Zuhandensein, or functional meaning required in any practical activity, while that which is revealed (b) as a sheer 'this' or 'substance' does so in terms of Vorhandensein, or sheer presence (broken tool), in the aspect of a nonfunctional strangeness that beings are at all, which sparks Dasein to theorizing and science; (3) thus in the modern, Cartesian sort of experience, the division of being into (a) natural, extended stuff and (b) mental, nonextended stuff can each be seen as deriving from the experience of Vorhandensein, but confusedly overlooking the hermeneutic condition of practical involvement and context (Zuhanden) for the distancing power of the theoretical stance (Vorhanden), which tends to overlook how things have always already shown up (a priori) in terms of some tacit or implicit practical context, then also confusedly reifying the temporal horizon of all revealing in Dasein in into a category or box of 'mental stuff', mistaking the temporal horizon for something categorial; (4) lastly, we can see that the principle of logic that any being can be spoken of in terms of the copula or 'is' derives more basically from the fact of discourse, talk, or logos, which is ontological condition of possibility for philosophical Dasein to make explicit the fact or nature of revealing or disclosing anything whatsoever, in whatever manner it is disclosed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Good'Un 5 Sept. 2014
By Bubo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A wonderful lecture course as per usual with Heidegger.

As a thoughtful person with a taste for the philosophical I read Heidegger books for fun and often find tremendous nourishment in Heidegger's idiosyncratic but nonetheless philosophically effective prose and use of language which works in English as well as in German.

Basic Problems of Phenomenology (BPP) deals in similar bread and butter as Being and Time but in a slightly more academic and historical way as Heidegger goes through the philosophies of Kant, Lotze, Hobbes, Mill, not to mention the obligatory Plato and Aristotle and medieval thinkers (Thomas, Augustine, Suarez) to illuminate the concept of being and of Dasein in contradistinction from what is extant (things). In particular much scrutiny is brought to bear on Kant's assertion that being-existence is not a real predicate.

A lot if not all of the lecture is philosophical fine-tuning and the phenomenological drawing of distinctions between core philosophical concepts - existence, essence, presence, absence, Dasein, extantness, the spannedness of time and many more - but the effort by Heidegger is so sustained and elaborate that one certainly does come out of it all the wiser only to quickly forget the argumentative niceties of the text in favour of a firmer grasp of the Dasein which in each case we ourselves are, to use a Heideggerian turn of phrase.

A must read for Heidegger fans and students of his, BPP does become a bit of a slog after page 250 (in my reckoning with the text), but as others have noted is a very good complement to Being and Time.

I deduct a star out of sheer annoyance with the transliteration of the greek passages into the Latin alphabet which is contrary to the norms of Heideggerian scholarship and offends my taste as a small time Ancient Greek reader. The translation, however, is excellent.

Five star content but four star presentation. Hence four stars and a half.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
One of the five major elaboratory lecture-courses of the fundamental-ontology (post 'Being and Time', pre-1930's) 9 July 2010
By 34560 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book will be impenetrable without prior knowledge of Heidegger and especially Being and Time. The reason for this is that the 'basic problems' explicitly deals with with the "temporal" facet of Heidegger's quest to carve out a path for fundamental-ontology in 'Being and Time'. Now, all of the teachings of Martin Heidegger are temporally based, to put it that way, but the manner in which temporality is described in 'Being and Time' is done with a nuance and scientific vigor that morphes after the 1920's and this is what is often mistakenly called 'The Turn'. What this does is explicitly presupposed the reader with the vast probject of "Being and Time". In this book, the insights of those investigations are explicitly applied to particular stages in the history of ontology, culminating in what is nothing less than a vivisection of Kant.

This book is foremost about the 'ontological difference'. As translated, the 'ontological difference' does indeed consist of entities and their being. However, I think that this English translation by Hofstadter, one that is perhaps initiated by Macquarrie & Robinson [I'm not sure], slightly undermines Heidegger's teachings. This change of being into "Being" obscures Heidegger's investigations because being is not a being. Of course, one could argue that "being" is already an objectification, which is why the word nearly disappears in the late-Heidegger.

There is also the problem of substituting "entities" for "beings". It is true that 'entity' is more common in English; we wouldn't hesitate calling a pen or a social-program an entity, but would we call it a being? We should. The problem is that in English "entity" is very ontical and thus removed, in a sense, from its propriety, the being's being. "Entity" compromises Heidegger's initiative to reveal how the ontical is "always already" existentially in the ontological. By substituting 'beings' for 'entities', so as to arrive at 'the being of a being', we retain the essential continuity of language by directing the being back to its origin.

The frequency in which the term "horizon" appears in this text is only consequential to the elucidation of "Temporality" [estatical-enpresenting]. I think the crucial reason as to why "horizon" becomes increasingly important is because Heidegger's temporal enterprise is, at bottom, an interpretation of "care". Here we can again see why "Being and Time" is so important for this text, since "care" is an eminent facet of "Being and Time". In this case it would perhaps be circumspect to take Heidegger's "Temporality" [estatical-enpresenting] as an attempt to institute "care" itself as a limit-situation, with the "horizons" serving as the literal schematic boundaries which are then maintained by the temporal ecstasies, though this is only a preoccupation of mine. One could perhaps further inquire into how these schema [horizions-praesens] are made manifest, and thus constituted. To impart to you another one of my worthless positions, I was personally heeded from any such inquiry because throughout all the teachings of Heidegger that I've encountered, but especially here, I could hear Nietzsche's cry "back to the body".

EDIT 4/30/2011

I've tried to correct the confusing, anomalous vocabulary and syntax of the initial review without deleting it outright. I'll probably get around to rewriting it so as to totally remove the layer of sophmoric pretension.

In reference to Nietzsche's call, it seems that I heard Heidegger correctly. However, for those who are unsuspecting "body" must be ambiguous. Here is a statement by Heidegger from the third volume of the Nietzsche courses which clears everything up, in case you were confused. This is from page 218 of the third volume (paperback), the second book which is titled as 'The Will to Power as Knowledge and Metaphysics, Nihilism":

"However, the nihilistic [Nietzsche's] negation of reason does not exclude thought (ratio); rather, it relegates thought to the service of animality (animalitas). Yet animality too is likewise already inverted. It no longer passes for mere sensuality and what is base in man. Animality is the body bodying forth, that is replete with its own overwhelming urges. The name body identifies the distinctive unity in the constructs of domination in all drives, urges, and passions that will life itself. Because animality lives only by bodying, it is as will to power".

P.S. I'd like to offer another correction. Since I had mentioned Derrida [i.e., 'Post-Modernism'] in this review I'll just go ahead and say what needs to be said since I merely hinted at it earlier; don't read Derrida at all. He is nothing more than a Leftist hijacking of Nietzsche and Heidegger, which means a direct attack upon Nietzsche and Heidegger. As this he is a monument to mendacity, as all of today's Academia is, and has been for some time.
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