Braver, Lee. Heidegger: Thinking of Being

By Bambach, Charles | The Review of Metaphysics, March 2015 | Go to article overview

Braver, Lee. Heidegger: Thinking of Being


Bambach, Charles, The Review of Metaphysics


BRAVER, Lee. Heidegger: Thinking of Being. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014. x + 234 pp. Cloth, $69.95; paper, $24.95--The thought and work of Martin Heidegger is marked by profound irony. From Being and Time (1927) through his late work, one of Heidegger's enduring themes is what he terms Lichtung (clearing), a word that derives from the German word for "light" (Licht). And yet, Heidegger's writing comes to us from out of the shadows of an obscurity so forbidding that it often obstructs the entiyway onto his path of thinking. This condition is often exacerbated by Heidegger scholarship that habitually trades in the arcana of the master's idiom to further impede any access to the work itself. Lee Braver's new book, Heidegger: Thinking of Being in Polity Press's "Key Contemporary Thinkers Series," offers a much needed corrective to this penchant for inscrutability and the recondite within Heidegger studies. Indeed, the book offers a lucid introduction to Heidegger's writings from the masterwork Being and Time until the late period of the 1960s, and provides a wonderfully accessible pathway into Heidegger's thinking without sacrificing rigor and insight.

Braver divides his book into two parts of almost equal length: the first half offering a remarkably able account of the structure and thematic organization of Being and Time, and the second half providing an overview of Heidegger's major philosophical concerns from 1930 to 1964. As the model for organizing his book, Braver underlines Heidegger's lifelong preoccupation with "the question of being," which he understands as providing "the primary continuity" of his life's work. In part one, he provides a concise yet insightful account of what he takes to be the major philosophical questions of Being and Time. Emphasizing again and again Heidegger's phenomenological reframing of the tradition, Braver succeeds in offering a wonderfully clear and engaging precis of the book's central issues: "being-in-the-world," "care," "authenticity," presence-at hand/readiness-to-hand, language, and temporality--all rethought in terms of the "meaning" of being for Dasein. Braver is excellent when he shows us the enduring phenomenological dimension of Heidegger's thought, focusing on the way(s) being appear(s) to us and how that shapes our own ways of existing in a world that is not of our own making. In part two, Braver's focus shifts dramatically. If the first 120 pages deal with only one book, the last hundres pages cover almost thirty-five years of Heidegger's work, leading Braver to offer much more general observations and summaries. In this part, Braver emphasizes Heidegger's ongoing conversation with the history of philosophy as one of his central preoccupations. Here Braver focuses on Heidegger's dialogue with Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, and Nietzsche; he provides an insightful summary of why history matters to Heidegger precisely as it concerns a destructuring of the philosophical tradition. …

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