Skip to content

Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil * Rüdiger Safranski (isbn 0674387104)

The original German is called Heidegger und sein Zeit (‘Heidegger and his time’), which is a reference to his main-work Sein und Zeit (‘being and time’), in English this little joke cannot be made, but we can in Dutch.

However Heidegger (1889-1976) was the most recent of the three philosophers that Safranski wrote biographies off, Safraski wrote his second philosophical biography about him. I read it as third, to keep the chronology. Heidegger is a rather controversial philosopher, because for some time he sympatised with the national-socialist revolution in Germany. For this reason Heidegger is still ‘not done’ to some, but philosophers and universities have little problems with the man and regard him as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. This is mostly due to his original ideas that made him populair in Germany and abroad even when living. Also he had a descent career as professor until about WWII when he got problems with the regime and later because he used to sympathise with some of its ideas. Safranski managed to write a neutral biography, but still Heidegger does not appear very sympathetic. He used people and situations for his own benefit.

Philosophically we get to know Heidegger as being in the line of the “existentialists” Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and for example in his own time Jaspers and Sartre. Existentialists make the “I” a central point and everything around it. Heideggers favourite subjects were “being”, thinking and metaphysics.
A nice book again and really between the very biographical Schopenhauer book and the philosophical Nietzsche book and therewith the second most interesting of Safranski’s philosophical biographies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *