Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction

By Michael Inwood | Go to book overview
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Chapter 7
Time, Death, and Conscience

Time played only a subdued role in Heidegger's account of Dasein's average everydayness, though it was implicit in the claim that Dasein is ahead of itself. But time, he told us in the introduction, is crucial to the question of being: 'the central problematic of all ontology is rooted in the phenomenon of time' ( BT, 18). Time is also crucial for the analytic of Dasein: ' Dasein's Being finds its meaning in temporality' ( BT, 19). Why is time so important?


Why Time?

Why Being and Time? Why not Being and Space? Or Truth? Or Nothing? Heidegger does not ask these questions explicitly, but he suggests a variety of answers to them. Being has traditionally been viewed in terms of time, he argues. The Greek word for being, ousia, is associated with the word parousia, which means Anwesenheit, 'presence' ( BT, 25). So the Greeks viewed being in terms of temporal presence. This is incorrect, however. Parousia is only one of several compound words formed from ousia; there is no more reason to associate ousia with parousia-presence than with, say, apousia-absence. In any case, parousia can mean spatial presence, one's presence at a battle for example, as well as temporal presence. There may well be reason to think that the Greeks, or at least Greek philosophers, linked being with temporal presence: Plato for example ascribed being only to

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