Kierkegaard and Heidegger: The Ontology of Existence

By Michael Wyschogrod | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
Being and Some Problems

FUNDAMENTALLY new points of view are not encountered very frequently in the history of philosophy. Truly novel thinkers are actually quite rare. But even the small minority of really original minds who do bring fresh insights to bear on the complex of philosophic efforts that constitutes the history of philosophy face a formidable obstacle. This obstacle is the fact that in communicating their formulations they are compelled to address an audience that is rooted in some antecedent philosophic point of view. Its mode of understanding is thus basically affected by this point of view and where the novelty of the philosophic experience is genuine, such a situation can be a real obstacle to the understanding of new philosophic ideas. And to a considerable extent this holds true of the existential currents of our day. The problems as well as the answers posed by the existential thinkers are novel to a considerable degree. It is possible to plunge into this new universe of discourse and into the experiences that lurk behind it without any attempt at transition. Some may survive and learn to swim. But others will not, and for that reason it would seem more desirable to find a bridge somewhere leading from the shore of traditional philosophy to that of existentialism, thereby enabling the reader to make the transition more gradually. Such a bridge is the problem of Being.

The aim of this chapter, therefore, is to discuss the ontological concepts in terms of which the writings of

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