Martin Heidegger and the Problem of Historical Meaning

Martin Heidegger and the Problem of Historical Meaning

Martin Heidegger and the Problem of Historical Meaning

Martin Heidegger and the Problem of Historical Meaning

Synopsis

Now in paperback, this important book explores the central role of historical thought in the full range of Heidegger's thought, both the early writings leading up to Being and Time, and after the "reversal" or Kehre that inaugurated his later work. Barash examines Heidegger's views on history in a richly developed context of debates that transpired in the early 20th-century German philosophy of history. He addresses a key unifying theme--the problem of historical meaning and the search for coherent criteria of truth in an era of historical relativism--as he traces the engagement with historicity throughout all major epochs and works. Barash revises this edition to explore new material, including Heidegger's lecture course texts from 1910 to 1923, and adds an expanded, updated bibliography.

Excerpt

On the basis of rare texts and of unpublished correspondence, Martin Heidegger and the Problem of Historical Meaning proposes to interpret Heidegger by reconstructing the philosophical landscape at the beginning of the twentieth century and between the two World Wars. Standing out in the foreground of this landscape are the two mountains of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit (Being and time; 1927) and his work following the reversal (Kehre) in his thinking in the thirties and forties. Jeffrey Andrew Barash's reconstruction establishes subterranean continuities between Heidegger's work and his intellectual environment, drawing on the contrast between them to make that work more intelligible.

To appreciate the consequences of continuity as well as of discontinuity, Barash has raised the perdurable touchstone question of historical meaning and summoned to address it all the protagonists, including Heidegger himself, of an intellectual debate dating back nearly a hundred years. By “historical meaning,” he refers to the stubborn question most closely approximated by the term “coherence” as it applies to history. Almost from the outset, he returns again and again to this key term and to the touchstone question it signals. Such an emphasis seems strange considering the variety of meanings of history the author explores even as he seeks to evaluate its coherence: from the events of the past taken as a whole (the course of history), to the discourse centered on these events (historiography), to the historical condition of the being that we are (historicity), to Being itself in its epochal manifestations.

Barash's fortunate discovery is precisely this: as vast as the space of variation covered by the term “history” might be, one question constantly arises: what makes it “hold together [zusammenhängen]”— whether this concerns phases in the course of history, conditions of possibility in the critique of historical understanding, ontological components of historicity, or epochs of a history of Being? Barash devotes his work to situating Heidegger in the space of variations opened by . . .

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