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on 15 May 2017
Like all Heidegger's works, difficult but repays effort.

Proves, somewhat disturbingly (?), that you can be a (sort-o) Nazi and yet also a great philosopher at the same time.
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on 25 June 2003
It is difficult to think of a modern philosopher who wrote as profoundly and originally as Heidegger. In my view Heidegger is the greatest philosopher since Kant, although Nietsche-ites and Wittgenstinians would no doubt disagree. "Being and Time", as anyone who knows anything about philosophy should know, is his magnum opus. He wrote many other works in his long career (mostly lecture transcriptions), but they can all without exception be traced back to concepts originally set out in Being and Time.
Despite that and rather strangley, Being and Time is not the place to start a study of Heidegger. His writing is so idiosyncratic that you really must get used to his language first before diving in to this huge work - otherwise you are likely to give up within the first 100 pages, which is unforgiveable. Start instead with the useful "Introducing Heidegger" (ISBN: 1840460881) or the well-written "Heidegger: a beginner's guide" (ISBN: 034080324X). Then progress to the excellent collection of Heidegger's writings in "Basic Writings" (ISBN: 0415101611). Only then would I recommend diving into Being and Time.
So what is the significance of Being and Time? To me, its importance lies in its questioning of the premises which the rest of philosophy since Plato has taken for granted. What is the nature of human existence? What does it mean to 'be'? But not only does Heidegger ask these questions, but he provides highly original answers too. And bizarrely - although his language is abstruse and difficult - what he has to say fits remarkably well with common sense. We do not exist as isolated, abstract 'individuals' prior to our introduction to society. Instead we exist as beings situated in a societal context, with hopes, aspirations, regrets and relationships with other people and things. Over the course of 250 or so dense pages, Heidegger systematically deconstructs (yes, he invited deconstruction long before Derrida) the concept of what it is to be an individual that has lain beneath 2000 years of philosophizing, including Descarte's 'cogito ergo sum' principle which provided the foundation for Enlightenment ontology. Then, in the last 150 pages he moves on to the concept of time, again demolishing accepted views in order to gain a more 'primordial' understanding of what it means to be a human being living through a series of 'Moments'.
As the blurb to this book says, Being and Time has had a huge influence on fields well beyond philosophy. In particular, his ideas about what it means to live 'authentically' have provided rich pickings for psychology. Discerning readers will also notice resonances with some Eastern philosophical traditions (Taoism and Buddhism in particular), and this particularly interesting line of analysis has been pursued in a number of recent books (see ISBN: 1565181190 and ISBN: 0415140382).
In summary - make time for this towering work. You are unlikely to ever read a more profound piece of extended philosophical writing.
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on 29 September 2010
As far as this new translation goes, I found it adequate and was able to grasp the gist of Heidegger's discourse without too much effort. The book is certainly more aesthetically pleasing than the original translation and I found the notes helpful, particularly in translating Greek and Latin passages - and I say this even as an advanced Greek and Latin student. A big change with the original translation is that what was rendered as ready-to-hand has now become objective presence. Because words cannot be taken in isolation from their place in the narrative, this semantic change does not adversely affect the overall text which, with the participation of the reader, has a clear internal coherence and meaning.

As far as my personal taste is concerned, I have collected many if not all of Heidegger volumes over the course of my life; I also own most of his output in the German and have philosophized along similar lines as he (see blog address below). In addition I have paid some, but not much, attention to the Heidegger controversy. The reason for this latter choice is that I am more interested in evaluating Heidegger's discourse on its own terms and its fruitfulness for my own thinking but I certainly do not denigrate those who believe that the man behind the discourse and the context of the discourse should also be scrutinized.

The book. I give it a four star rating, not based on any objective scale of the book's worth relative to other books, but on the very personal scale of "I like it" but do not "love it". The good points, for me, are Heidegger's understanding of human existence as rooted in "care" and authentic existence as liberated from the "they-self", i.e. my death belongs to me as an individual which forces upon me an ethical choice, which in Heidegger's language is rendered as "wanting-to-have-a-conscience", between grasping myself as an entity caught in time destined to die or to endorse and take on board public discourse and forget myself entirely in whatever the "they" are saying in the news or on the radio. It is not a case of repudiating public discourse altogether but it is a case of finding oneself first so that one may evaluate it appropriately and without conceit or manipulation.

Ironically indeed, given Heidegger's reputation, the book's greatest strength in my view is thus to provide a compelling case for living ethically in the sense of responsibly confronting one's guilt and making a change if necessary, based on an ontological foundation rather than on a moral world view. Coming to grips with temporality is also a strong point of the book and wonderfully liberating since once one understands that one's being does not "have" time but actually is time, such frustrations that arise from always feeling like one is "running out of time" soon evaporate, provided of course one overcomes guilt, regret and angst and is willing to make the sacrifices and efforts necessary that follow from such an insight. Those who are not interested in having a conscience need not bother but such people are unlikely to be an audience for being and time.

Heidegger is also very good at understanding what we call "world" as a totality of significations. Thus his analysis of "things" is very astute since they always have a contextual significance, which insight will guide his later thinking on technology. And as human beings we are beings-in- the-world, that is, we are born, live and die in the world; in other words, we bring the world with us as human being, without human beings there can be no world, i.e. human world. In Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, Heidegger will indeed interpret man as world-forming - see review. (In light of Heidegger's contribution to the meaning of "world", Marx's call to change "the world" rather than merely interpreting it as philosophers now comes across as pedestrian at best, woefully blind and dishonest at worst.)

Why, then, only four stars? Part of it is what Heidegger does not and could not include in this book such as the meaning of living with others given the plurality of types and personalities within the human population; the nature of money and what it means for the possibility of thought (Heidegger was a paid philosopher, which is fine, but neither he nor Nietzsche ever explicitly dealt with the significance of money unlike Marx who saw it as key); and, linked to this, the meaning of politics and how power can determine discourse of any kind in an exclusive fashion - Arendt and Foucault went a long way in covering this last question mark, however.

In addition this book can comfort one's own philosophical intuition and at most spur it into action, which is indeed a lot, but ultimately it is not revolutionary in any way - like most philosophy, the discourse leaves the world untouched and only has a role to play in personal perception, and does not pretend to do otherwise, but for those seeking solutions and answers for their problems or social ills generally, my thought is that this book is unlikely to be of great help. That said, Being and Time is powerful enough to provide a strong theoretical basis for one's life situation which I think can be just as effective if not more so than subscribing to a religion, provided one thinks through the many gaps left by Being and Time and philosophize for oneself.

Lastly, and I've experienced this before with Heidegger's larger books, is that reading him can become a tad tedious after a while - he repeats himself constantly, very little concrete ideas are put across as opposed to an overarching structure or theme and the text is, as ever with Martin, very heavy-footed, unlike a writer like Nietzsche whose light-footed and pithy style is by contrast a pleasure to read.

In conclusion, to answer the title of this review, I think that, deep down, you already know within you whether or not Being and Time is for you and the question is really: are you willing to take the plunge and confront Heidegger's questioning and explore questions that go deeper and further than most information and chatter that are immediately accessible? Based on my personal experience, I certainly think that, controversy or no controversy, engaging with Heidegger is a necessary stop in the long, hard but ultimately rewarding and salutary journey to philosophical and spiritual wisdom.

Four stars (to four stars and a half)

c o m m e m o r a t u m . b l o g s p o t. c o. u k
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on 11 March 2013
Heidegger's thought is encountered more and more nowadays, making the need for this translation greater. The Maquarrie & Robinson one was the standard work for years, but as a non German speaker I find this significantly easier to get through. So does my tutor!
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on 2 October 2000
This version of the book is somewhat more accessable than the older MacQuarrie version. However, as a scholarly piece of work, the MacQuarrie book is more true to form. Nevertheless, an excellent book - well worth the effort!
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on 3 December 2005
Perhaps the paramount work of Philosophy of the C20th, Being and Time is a tough nut to crack. Personally I have been dipping into it for years without ever feeling I have thoroughly understood it. Reading it is for me like standing at the foot of a mountain, feeling overawed, certain that I will never reach its summit, but strangely comforted by its presence in my life.
Questioning Being itself is stunningly brilliant philosphical move. Heidegger pointed to an elephant in the living room of Philosophy, as Being had been assumed by philosophers, or considered not worth questioning in this way. A move which, it could be argued, pulled the rug from under the feet of other philosophers. No wonder Anglo-American thinkers such as A J Ayer encountered the work with such hostility.
I don't speak German, so I cannot judge this translation. However I suspect it is more faithful to the original than the Macqarrie and Robinson version. Having said that, I have found, where I have compared the texts, the Macquarrie version easier to understand but I don't know why. This reservation however makes me give four stars in this review.
Finally I agree with the idea of persisting with Heidegger. I find philosophy in general, but Heidegger in particular, rewards me with an occasional humbling antidote to workaday living.
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on 30 April 1999
I took a graduate philosophy course a number of years back with Joan Stambaugh, in which we read what was then just the typescript of her translation, finally published by SUNY Press. Thank God!! It's so much better than the old MacQuarrie chestnut.
Absolutely, one of the touchstone texts of modern philosophy, and the source of so much postmodern critical thought -- Derrida, Lyotard, etc. etc. Get it, and READ it!!
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on 30 June 2013
An easier translation, Perhaps not the most academic but better to get a grounding. Great value for use in college.
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on 13 January 2000
Heidegger's Being and Time is by any standards, an extraordinary philosophical text. This does not mean it emerged fully formed from an intellectual vacuum. There are recognizable influences in this work, such as that of Augustine, Aristotle, Kant, Brentano and some contemporaries of Heidegger's with whom he was implicitly in dialogue. Further, the book is a station on Heidegger's own philosophical journey. Perhaps the most helpful feature of BT is that, rather than making rigid disciples, it provokes its readers to think about their own lives and 'worlds'. But if you have difficulty understanding the text, I suggest you read on and trust your own capacity to understand. Clarity will come. In this way you will participate in Heidegger's exploration whilst being rooted in your own life-situation. If you find this advice helpful, I suggest you go on to read Heidegger's later writings, especially those gathered in "Basic Writings", a book which is also currently in print.
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on 8 November 2016
excellent, well informed, most useful source for any philosophy student
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