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4.6 out of 5 stars
Being and Time
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on 9 July 2016
Brilliant translation with lots of original German included for context.
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on 1 September 2013
Martin Heidegger's Being and Time has been one of the most challenging books to read that I have ever come across. Not only was it because this was a translation from the original German into English (albeit excellently done by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson), but because Heidegger's own use of German words and his coining of new terms and phrases were difficult for both German- and English-speaking readers. The subtleties of his thought and the nuances in his original German were not just a challenge for our translators, but also a challenge to readers of any excellent translation of his work.

Having said that, it is important to emphasise that Heidegger's book is original and quite brilliant, and it is not at all surprising to discover that his book has had a deep influence on twentieth-century philosophy, and even theology.

The book is divided into two Divisions, one on `Being' and the other on `Time'. Both Divisions form what Heidegger calls Part 1 of a two-part work. Sadly, the second Part was never published (was it even written?). My first reaction to this book (this is the first work by Heidegger that I have read) is that the first Division on `Being' was the more difficult of the two, in large part because so many new items of specialist Heideggerian terms were introduced here, and hence produced a more demanding read as one tried to accommodate oneself to his way of thinking and expressing himself. The second Division on `Time' was a (slightly) easier read because one already had most of the `vocabulary' in hand, even though new terminology and concepts (such as the `temporalising of temporality') were also introduced. And, of course, the key term - Dasein - figured prominently in both Divisions because Heidegger wanted to use this term for his existential-ontological entity (in ordinary language `human being') as a means of approaching the fundamental philosophical question `What is Being?'

In a sense, Heidegger wants to invert Descartes's cogito ergo sum (`I think, therefore I am') into sum ergo cogito (`I am, therefore I think'). For him, human existence in its `thrownness' into `the world' and its `fallenness' and `inauthentic existence' are primordial constituents of Dasein, `prior' (or `anterior') to human conceptualising about its condition. Two concepts which I found particularly striking and important to assess were his views on Dasein as being primordially a `Being-towards-Death' and of having a sense of Time which includes a past, present and future but which are not based on an everyday use of `clocks'. Heidegger's view of `authentic' existence and of `temporality' challenges the ordinary intuitive understandings of what `real' living and experience of `time' mean for the majority of us most of the time. This is because (according to Heidegger) the average everyday existence of Dasein is not controlled by the true Self (the genuine `I') but by the `They', i.e. the public norms of what is acceptable thinking and behaving. Heidegger believes that we are `fleeing' from our true Selves and `authentic' existence by `falling' into the `world' of everyday activity which takes up our time and our lives. A genuine existential coming to terms with the `temporality' of our `Being-towards-Death' is possible in `moments of vision' when the true Self calls to the true Self and releases us from the `They'.

Heidegger confronts the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant and Hegel when it comes to fundamental ontology and the deepest ontological question about `Being', although recognising that his `analytic' of Dasein, despite providing the way and right phenomenological method, has not yet allowed us to answer the fundamental question `What is Being?' Perhaps this would have received an (i.e. his) answer if the second Part had been written/published, where he would have dealt more extensively with Descartes and Kant. None the less, however ambitious Heidegger's ontological project was (Being and Time was originally published in German in 1927, with our English translation appearing only in 1962!), there can be no doubt that this major book on ontology provides a penetrating and, at times, intriguing contribution to the big questions about life.

Having now read Being and Time in its entirety for the first time and having formed an initial view of the work, I am conscious of the need to read the critical reviews of this book by experts in the field and to discover how Heidegger's views have influenced other key philosophers in their own thinking and contributions.

Is 488-page Being and Time a book for relative beginners in the field of philosophy, much like myself? Hardly, I would say. However, it does repay the hard work done in reading this book carefully, and even `beginners' who `have a go' may benefit much.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 October 2008
Martin Heidegger's (1889 -- 1976) "Being and Time" (1927), together with Ludwig Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations" is one of the seminal philosophical works of the Twentieth Century. The work still remains difficult, obscure, and highly controversial. The book, and its author, provoke wildly varying responses. This translation, by Macquarrie and Robinson dates from 1962 and appeared in paperback only in 2008 with a useful introduction by philosopher Taylor Carman. Another translation, by Joan Stambaugh, appeared some years ago; but the Macquarrie and Robinson version, for all its difficulty, has become the standard version in English.

Heidegger spent his early years in a seminary but abandoned Catholicism in 1917-1918. His interest in and ambivalence toward religion permeates "Being and Time." Heidegger was a friend of Edmund Husserl, the founder of the philosophical movement known as phenomenology. "Being and Time" is dedicated to Husserl and includes several laudatory references to him. Heidegger was Husserl's assistant at Freiburg, but he wrote "Being and Time" when he had assumed a position at Marburg. He became Heidegger's successor at Freiburg upon Husserl's retirement in 1928. Before writing "Being and Time", Heidegger was regarded as a brilliant scholar and a charismatic teacher. But he had published little. "Being and Time" made him famous, virtually a celebrity, an accomplishment rare for a philosopher. Heidegger remained in the public eye through what became a notorious life through his political involvement with Nazism, and through a long life after WW II in which he did not expressly repudiate his earlier politics.

Even though Heidegger turned Husserl on his head, the phenomenological influence in "Being and Time" is pervasive. Husserl's background in mathematical logic (and Heidegger's too in his early years) also plays more of a role in "Being and Time", I found, than I first thought when I read the book many years ago. In "Being and Time" Heidegger wrestles with many major philosophers, including Descartes, Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Hegel, among others.

Heidegger never completed "Being and Time" as he had originally conceived the work. The book as we have it consists of a long introduction, a section called Part I, titled "The Interpretation of Dasein in Terms of Temporality, and the Explication of Time as the Transcendental Horizon for the Question of Being." Part I has two large Divisions each consisting of many subchapters. The first Division, very simply, develops Heidegger's understanding of "Dasein" and of "Being-in-the-World". The second, and much more emotively charged and difficult Division, deals with temporality, resoluteness, and death. Heidegger completed a third division of Part I, but rejected it as unsatisfactory and never published it. A projected part II of "Being and Time" never appeared, as Heidegger abandoned his original lengthy project for the book.

"Being and Time" is a book that requires substantial patience and concentration to read. The reader must be extraordinarily careful with Heidegger's definitions, as the author invents much of his own terminology and uses familiar terms in unusual ways. Beyond that, the style of the book is extraordinarily dense. Unsympathetic readers and critics find Heidegger wilfully obscure. Some see the book as little more than gibberish. Obscure it is, but not gibberish. While portions of the writing seem to me to resist understanding, study will be rewarded. The form and style of the book are an integral part of Heidegger's teaching, as he encourages the reader to delve deeply into what might be regarded as simple, even trivial, matters and to see things that are close in a new light. The writing is heavily metaphorical with figures derived from theology and terminology that is suggestive of violence and sexuality in many places.

The book does not offer arguments in the sense of a traditional philosophical study. Rather Heidegger follows Husserl in trying to get the reader to see and to look at things afresh. Husserl studied ideals of consciousness while Heidegger turns his message to look at being through man's place in the world. There is a tension in the book, it seems to me, between seeing the world primordially, without the encrustations that have accrued from the Greek way of seeing things, and interpreting the world. Heidegger appears to do both.

Heidegger draws a distinction between ontics and ontology. Philosophers, scientists, and most lay people have thought only ontically -- about existing things. Heidegger wants to open up the question of being -- and draws what is a critically important distinction between existing things and reality -- which does not have the concept of thinghood. He attacks the Aristotelian concept of substance which is basic to much Western thought and the dualism of Descartes. Much of the book is an attempt to dissolve philosophical questions resulting from a substantialist metaphysics.

The book challenges the primacy most thinkers have accorded to the concept of reason and asks its readers to understand "being-in-the-world" and activity as the source of life from which subsequent concepts of reasoning arises. Although Heidegger had disdain for American philosophy, I found that a hard pragmatism underlies much of "Being and Time".

In its concepts of historicity, commitment,the people, and perhaps in its derogation of reason, "Being and Time" could be read as laying a philosophical basis for the Nazism which Heidegger actively supported during the 1930s. This aspect of the work should not be minimized. But neither should the power, originality, and insight of "Being and Time" be denied.

When I began to study philosophy many years ago, the discipline was essentially divided between "analytic philosophy" and "continental" or "existential" philosophy. That division remains today. But some readers have seen parallels between the two broad schools. For me these parallels, particularly the rejection of Cartesianism and of substance metaphysics, come through stronger after the distance of the years. It is worth considering how much changes and how much remains the same in philosophy.

Readers with a good background in philosophy will probably be in a better position to struggle with "Being and Time" than those with little exposure to the subject. On my most recent reading of the book, I read it through and then read a commentary -- there are many excellent studies of "Being and Time". For most philosophical texts, I think the reader should first go to the work itself and try to make sense of it rather than to get one's perspective on the book fixed by a commentary. But study can be done in many ways.

While higly critical of Heidegger for his political activities, the philosopher Karl Jaspers said of him: "In the full flow of his discourse he occasionally succeeds in hitting the nerve of the philosophical enterprise in a most mysterious and marvellous way. In this, as far as I can see, he is perhaps unique among contemporary German philosophers." "Being and Time" is an important book.

Robin Friedman
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on 20 April 2013
This is the best overall paperback edition, in English, of this translation, which is essential for citation, of this great book. The larger size and better quality paper are superior to the U.S. version. It would be good, though, if the publisher were able to obtain the rights to Taylor Carmen's forward used in the U.S. version, or some such similar piece.

A hardcover version would also be great.

This is one of the books I read over and over.
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on 16 April 2007
This book is pure genius in the most literal sense, and is without a doubt the most important philosophical work to be produced in recent years (and possibly ever). Whilst Heidegger is suitably well read (and taught) in the academic world, the full implications of his insights have yet to 'sink in' fully. Once this has happened Heidegger's thought will most certainly be seen to be the foundation of a truly momentous paradigm shift in consciousness and thought on a general level.

It is frequently asserted that Heidegger (and in particular Being and Time) is almost completely impossible to understand. This may well be true for those readers that attempt to 'dip in' to his works; or who wish to read something at speed. There are no 'quick insights' to be gained from Heidegger. However, anyone with a modicum of patience and the ability to study rather than simply read will not have this issue. A small amount of preparatory reading (especially of Husserl) also doesn't hurt.

The main difficulty is the language used, however this is simply something that one gets used to by progressing through the book. The introduction may seem impenetrable on first reading; but read it again mid-way and afterwards and it makes complete sense.

A note on the translations: this version (Macquarrie and Robinson) is by far the easiest to read, and is the closest to the original German. The alternative (Joan Stambaugh), whilst it has been designed to be more accessible, is actually somehow a lot more confusing. However, be warned: the Macquarrie and Robinson version leaves all Greek terms and most Latin terms completely un-translated, which can be very irritating. It may therefore be advisable to have both copies.
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on 18 February 2003
I am not a trained philosopher. I had however, read a considerable amount of work by other philosophers before I came upon this book. In order to effectively grasp Heideggers mercurial thought, I had to read an introduction first, then read this text, then read and re-read this text again. I found that this book expains an outlook, or way of thinking which has to be 'felt' or experienced as well as understood (still that doesn't describe it so well!). As soon as you try to give a synopsis of the ideas, the ideas tend to disintegrate.
There are no conclusions to be drawn from this and
Heidegger will answer none of your questions. Reading this book should be thought of as a project rather than a quick read.
A superficial skim through this won't get the point across.
You may understand each and every sentence, but you won't get the core of the idea because it requires you to think in a very unusual way.
As a last point, if you don't have a lecture course or introductory book, or someone to talk to about this before you read it, you will be stuck. The reason for this is that Heidegger often introduces terms and ideas before explaining what they mean fully.
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on 31 March 2011
Being and Time is the most interesting, inspiring and lucid book of the 20 century; it is to us what Schopenheur's world as will and representation was to 19 century. Some of The fundamental ideas B&T introduces is an anti-Cartesian (our everyday dealings are not 'backed-up' by some cogito/subject but dasein is always already in the world - world and 'man' are not separate in other words - 'dasein' is 'being-there' and 'there' is world); that the being of dasein is time - that is 'we' (you , reading this) are temporarily determined - riding metaphysics of its niave unquestioning taking of existence and 'presence' as the same thing - 'we' are only ever what our futurity (kind of the opposite of Bergson, who shows that we are what we 'were'); distinuishing between Being and beings - between the ontological and ontic - thoughts, tables, 'things' have a different kind of existence to 'existence' itself. But mostly, i think , what is most interesting about Heidegger's B&T is the whole idea that we've forgotten about this question of Being in the first place.
I love this book. We don't stop reading Chaucer because he was accused of rape/reading Chaucer does not equate to endorsing rape; so too, reading Heidegger doesn't mean you sympathise with Nazism. After you've read B&T, you need to read his small essay 'what is metaphysics' - this problematises traditional logic to show that 'the nothing noths' this goes back again to B& T - where 'Being' is nothing because of its temporal determinancy.
The only philosophy worthy of reading after Heidegger is Deleuze -
B& T has changed the way i see and think about the world.
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on 14 April 2017
Quite a read
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on 31 July 2007
In a century crowded with philosophical masterworks 'Being and Time' stands supreme. Heidegger's virtual reinvention of the the basic framework of Western philosophy is an extraordinary achievement. In spite of its manifold difficulties, this is a work of true genius and it should be read with the most careful attention by anyone interested in in post-classical philosophy. Unmissable!!!
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on 18 December 2015
Ordered the book for my partner for Christmas and it arrived on time in great condition. No complaints from me! Would recommend.
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