Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger Picture

Born on September 26, 1889 in Messkirch, Germany, Martin Heidegger was arguably one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century mainly due to his beliefs against positivism for modernity and technological world domination which makes him largely quoted in the post-modern world.

He was born in a religious catholic family and was destined to provide service in the local church. His father was also a sexton in the local church. His early education was conducted in Konstanz in 1903 and was financed by the church. In 1906, he moved to Freiburg but in 1911 Heidegger broke off from the seminary and left training for priesthood, some say it was due to health reasons, while other argue it was perhaps due to lack of spiritual involvement. He started studying Theology in the University of Freiburg, and in 1911 he switched subjects to philosophy. He also took up subjects such and mathematics and natural sciences. He had special interest in subjects such as phenomenology, psychology, existentialism political theory and theology. In 1913, he completed his doctorate in philosophy.

Heidegger’s first encounter with philosophy was in his high school years when he started reading Edmund Husserl’s “logical investigations”.

During the First World War Heidegger was appointed in the army, but was later discharged due to health issues. In 1915, he completed a thesis on Scotus’s “Doctrine of Categories and Meaning”, after which he was appointed a lecturer in University of Freiberg. In 1916, he became a part of the Freiberg Faculty and was appointed a junior colleague of Edmund Husserl. In 1917, he married Elfride Petri, with whom he had two sons Jörg and Hermann. In 1918, there was a brief break in his academic career, when he was asked to serve in the army again for the last ten months of the war. After his return from the war, Heidegger announced his break from Catholicism on January 9, 1919. Shortly after that he was appointed as Husserl’s assistant and began lecturing at Freiberg. Although he admired Husserl, Heidegger never blindly followed Husserl’s ideas and soon began a radical interpretation of Husserl’s works. In 1923, Heidegger was appointed associate professor at the University of Marburg and till 1928 enjoyed the most fruitful years of his academic career.

He had a wide range of followers who admired him for his insight and originality. He taught courses on the history of philosophy, time, logic and phenomenology. He was specially influenced by philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Leibniz and Aquinas.

In 1927, he published his famous work on “Being and Time”. This is one of his most famous and influential works and this was the work that earned him full professorship at Marburg and after Husserl’s retirement Heidegger was made the chair of philosophy at University of Freiberg.

In 1930, his life took a political turn as Hitler came into power. Heidegger believed that he could steer the Nazi movement in the right direction. In 1933, he formally joined the Nazi party and produced a number of speeches for the Nazi cause. This was one of the most controversial times of Heidegger’s life, not only marked by his political involvement but also by a change in his thinking known as “the turn”.

The last decades of his life were spent writing and publishing generously but there was no marked change in his philosophy or thinking. His insightful essays were on topics such as “What are Poets for?” (1946), “Letter on Humanism” (1947), “The Question Concerning Technology” (1953), “The Way to Language” (1959), “Time and Being” (1962), and “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking” (1964).

Martin Heidegger died on May 26, 1976, and was buried in the churchyard in Messkirch.

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