Heidegger and Philosophy


Sir, – Much of the debate on Heidegger’s legacy (Fintan O’Toole, April 5th, and Letters, April 8th) rests on a misunderstanding of what it means to interpret a philosophical work. The injunction on the reader is to approach the work thoughtfully and critically.

Heidegger’s major work, Sein und Zeit (1927) – Being and Time in English – is an attempt to see what role time plays in our understanding of being. While it can and should be questioned whether such a project has political implications, insofar as the Enlightenment project of understanding nature mathematically works with a distinction between events that occur in time and the timeless laws that govern them, insofar as philosophical theology traditionally speaks of God’s eternity as distinguished from creation and insofar as Plato distinguished the timeless and the true from the temporal, Heidegger can be seen to be raising an issue of central philosophical significance.

I would suggest that the consideration of the relation between Heidegger’s work and politics and between philosophy and politics more generally is ill-served by thoughtless polemic. Yours, etc,


Carnaper Str,