Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism

Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism

Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism

Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism

Excerpt

It seems to be a fundamental trait of philosophical consciousness in the nineteenth century that it is no longer conceivable apart from historical consciousness.

--Hans-Georg Gadamer, Hegel's Dialectic

Every mere "-ism" is a misunderstanding and the death of history.

--Martin Heidegger, What Is a Thing?

At the beginning of the summer semester in 1939, the Freiburg philosopher Martin Heidegger opened his lecture course by identifying "the history of the era of modern times, of the end of the West" with the history of metaphysics. As Heidegger explained: "The whole of Western thinking from the Greeks through Nietzsche is metaphysical thinking. Each age of Western history is grounded in its respective metaphysics." Heidegger focused his attention during the semester especially on Nietzsche, whom he viewed as "the last metaphysician of the West"-- the philosopher who, in precipitating the crisis of Western metaphysics, had heralded the modern epoch of nihilism. Nietzsche's work represented to Heidegger the clearest expression of modernist metaphysics in its crisis state, a metaphysics whose historical legitimacy had been undermined as much by its own technologicalscientific will to power as by historical experience itself. History and metaphysics--when thought together--posed a crisis for Western philosophy, Heidegger maintained, precisely insofar as they pre-

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