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Themes from Heidegger's Introduction to Metaphysics

Lecturer: Emily Hughes

Originally Taught: Summer School 2017

Heidegger delivered the lecture course Introduction to Metaphysics at the University of Freiburg in the summer semester of 1935. It remained unpublished until 1953 when, in the preface to the seventh edition of Being and Time, Heidegger noted that, for a further elucidation of the question of Being ‘the reader may refer to my Einführung in die Metaphysik, which is appearing simultaneously with this reprinting.’ Understood then as both a companion and heir to the philosophical concerns of Being and Time, Fried and Polt argue that the Introduction to Metaphysics ‘remains, first foremost, a powerful and provocative work of philosophy,’ which, according to Capobianco, should be understood as Heidegger’s ‘true masterwork’ of the 1930s.

Undoubtedly, Introduction to Metaphysics is a compelling and thought-provoking means of clarifying some of Heidegger’s most significant philosophical concerns. What is the difference between beings and Being? How has Being been restricted throughout the history of Western philosophy? How might the question of Being itself be retrieved or recovered? How might human Dasein be brought into a disclosive confrontation with this retrieval? In this course we will focus upon these ontological dimensions of the Introduction to Metaphysics, in order to gain some clarity and insight into the fundamental and defining thought of Heidegger’s philosophical path of thinking, namely: the question of Being itself. In the background, this course will give students the means to think through the political and ethical dimensions of Heidegger’s ontology for themselves, an important concern in the wake of the recent publication of Heidegger’s Schwartz Hefte.

This course is suitable for those are interested in thinking through some fundamental concepts in Heidegger’s philosophy, but who may or may not yet be familiar with his work. Some familiarity with basic themes in metaphysics and ontology would be of assistance, but is not essential.

Lecture 1: The question: why are there beings at all instead of nothing?                        

Lecture 2: The restriction of Being throughout Western philosophy

Lecture 3: The retrieval of Nothing and Being

Lecture 4: Being-disposed through fundamental attunements 

Lecture 5: The uncanny

Primary text:

  • Heidegger, M. Introduction to Metaphysics. Translated by G Fried and R Polt. 2 ed.  New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014.

Further readings:

  • Heidegger, M. "What is Metaphysics?" Translated by D Farrell Krell. In Pathmarks, edited by W McNeill, 82–96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Heidegger, M. "On the Essence of Ground." Translated by W McNeill. In Pathmarks, edited by W McNeill, 97–135. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Heidegger, M. "Preface and Introduction." Translated by J Macquarrie and E Robinson. In Being and Time, 17–64. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 1962.