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Martin Heidegger (German: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈhaɪdɛɡɐ]; September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) was a German philosopher, widely seen as a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition, although tainted by his association with the Nazi regime. From beginnings as a Catholicacademic, he developed a groundbreaking philosophy that influenced literarysocial and political theoryart and aesthetics,architecture, cultural anthropologydesignenvironmentalismpsychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

For Heidegger, the things in lived experience always have more to them than what we can see; accordingly, the true nature of being is “withdrawal”. The interplay between the obscured reality of things and their appearance in what he calls the “clearing” is Heidegger’s main theme. The presence of things for us is not their being, but merely their being interpreted as equipment according to a particular system of meaning and purpose. For instance, when a hammer is efficiently used to knock in nails we cease to be aware of it. This is termed ‘ready to hand’, and Heidegger considers it an authentic mode. The ‘time’ in the title of his best-known workBeing and Time, refers to the way that the given features (‘past’) are interpreted in the light of their possibilities. Heidegger claimed philosophy and science since ancient Greece had reduced things to their presence, which was a superficial way of understanding them. Modern technology made things mere stockpiles of useful presence.

It has been suggested Heidegger’s championing of Nazism as university chancellor between 1933 and 1934 was motivated by his view that the Nazis did not share the technological worldview of American capitalism and Soviet communism. In the aftermath of World War II he was banned from teaching, and denounced by Karl Jaspers. Amid mounting pressure that included talk of confiscating his books, Heidegger suffered a minor nervous breakdown. He tearfully apologized for his misdeeds to a former mentor, by then an archbishop, but never made similar statements in public. He was rehabilitated and made a professor emeritus in 1951.

Being and Time (GermanSein und Zeit) is a 1927 book by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Although written quickly, and though Heidegger did not complete the project outlined in the introduction, it remains his most important work. It has profoundly influenced 20th-century philosophy, particularly existentialismhermeneutics and deconstruction. The book is dedicated to Edmund Husserl “in friendship and admiration”.

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