49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2001
The subtitle of this book is "A commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time, division I". Dreyfus concentrates for good reasons on division I of this important work, although division II is discussed in an appendix. Dreyfus explains the difficult terms and new way of thinking required to understand the existential analytic in a simple yet profund way. For the reader interested in what Heidegger has to say in division II about death, authenticity, historicity and temporality, Michael Gelven's commentary on Being and Time is the book to turn to. In one sense perhaps Gelven's book is easier for the novice since it is more 'true' to Heidegger, whereas Dreyfus performs a more critical analysis. The critical aspect is however not that strong that it troubles the novice Heidegger student. In my view, both books are necessary reading. For very good reasons, Dreyfus has in cooperation with several Heidegger scholars re-translated a number of Heidegger's most important technical terms. These reinterpretations contribute enormously to the value of the book. He does not however seem to have collaborated with Joan Stambaugh, who in her 1996 translation of Being and Time presents several improved translations, some of which coincide with Dreyfus' translations. Dreyfus manages to describe and explain the difficult existential analysis in a straightforward way. He also shows why it is so important to understand this analysis of what it means to be human for anybody involved in the human sciences. Heidegger's description of being-in-the-world, worldliness, and how what we are affects what we know has had an enormous influence on post-modern thought, although very few of us have really understood all its implications. (It is like Einstein's theory of relativity, but in the the human sciences.) Dreyfus has himself used these insights to understand why we can never build computers that think like humans. Although the philosophical tradition hasn't admitted it, we really think hermeneutically; every understanding is an interpretation and understanding is multi-layered. Often we to begin with understanding things pre-reflectively rather than cognitively. How Heidegger thinks that this works is outlined by Dreyfus in a clear and precise way.