Modern Western Philosophy Heidegger for Maharashtra PSC Exam

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Complete Video at - Modern Western Philosophy: Introduction: Martin Heidegger & The Concept of Dasein (Philosophy)


  • Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher. He is regarded as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century for his contributions in the field of phenomenology and existentialism.
  • Existentialism is a philosophical method or approach which lays stress on the existence of the individual person as a free being, responsible for their development through the acts of freedom of will.
  • Existential Phenomenology is associated with Heidegger՚s philosophy because it is in contrast with the pure phenomenology advocated by his mentor, Edmund Husserl.
  • According to Husserl՚s method, the emphasis is put on epistemology- pure phenomenology,
  • Whereas Heidegger՚s method puts ontology before epistemology. Advocating existential phenomenology.
  • Existential phenomenology deals with studying, observing and analysing the concept of Dasein (being-there) .

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The Concept of Dasein

  • Heidegger comes up with the concept of ontological difference.
  • The difference between “what is an entity” and “the being of that entity” is the ontological difference.
  • The latter is more important for him. According to him, the being of an entity deals with the meaningful presence of an entity within the range of human experience.
  • So, the human entity which is distinguished by the awareness of being of other entities including the being of itself is what is called Dasein.
  • The word he uses for human beings is Dasein.
  • The two features of Dasein are; Being and Temporality.
  • Dasein՚s own being is temporal not in the chronological sense but in the existential sense. Hence, it is always oriented towards the future (dasein- “ek-sists” ) .
  • It stands out from all the other beings because it is self-reflective, it is becoming itself and ultimately becoming its own death (mortality is the core theme of his philosophy) . Corresponding a proper and improper understanding of Dasein entails the proper and improper understanding of the Beings around the world (beings in general) .
  • Being is essentially relationality. Therefore, there is no use of word consciousness and subjectivity with it.
  • According to Heidegger, the structure of Dasein (being there) is composed of three- equal moments.
  • They are;
    • Becoming,
    • All Readiness and
    • Presence.


  • According to Heidegger, the dasein is never fixed, it is always becoming.
  • This becoming is not dependent on choice but is a necessary step.
  • The essence of being-there is that it “ek-sists” .
  • It is always inclined towards the future or it is future oriented. It is hence, always becoming itself and finally it becomes its own death.
  • According to him, it is nothingness- the knowing of being as becoming - the knowing of being as dying.

All Readiness

  • Dasein is always motivated towards the future. It always stands out for the future. This becoming is no choice but it is compulsory, in other words, inevitable.


  • According to him, the word presence is bound up with the word absence.
  • It means, dasein appears itself as becoming by embracing death.
  • In other words, it is called mortal becoming- to know a dasein as becoming (presence) is to know of dasein as dying (absence) .
  • The essence of dasein is Ples-abs-ence. This he also calls as movement.

Being and Nothingness

  • Heidegger is interested in the concept of Dasein (being-there) .
  • According to him, it can only be known via self-knowledge. He says that the concept of both, being and non-being are essentially for our understanding. Without knowing the one, we cannot know the other.
  • For example, without knowing the non-being, we cannot know the being. He says being manifests itself only be negation. So, nothing nothings itself.
  • Hence, the concept of nothing-ness is included in the concept of being. Nothingness is regarded as the source of negation.
  • According to him, dread always proves nothingness.
  • He quotes, “Dread reveals Nothing.”
  • Dread, it is understood as a psychological aspect which is not similar to fear.
  • In fact, it is contradictory to fear.
  • So, the two cannot be reduced to each-other. Fear deals with specific objects and leaves an effect on us or confuses us.
  • On the other hand, dread deals with no specific objects.
  • The dread is the dread for no particular thing. So, the experience of dread proves the nothingness.
  • Heidegger says, dread reveals the nothingness because it deals with the occurrence of human existence and within this nothing is revealed.
  • So, according to Heidegger, nothingness shows us the courage to realise the reality, it helps us to know the Dasein.
  • He says, each man must transcend the Dasein. It gives us a meaning, it is also responsible for transcendence, self-hood and freedom. In the absence of nothing, there would be no such things as self-hood, freedom, etc.

Man, as Being in the World

  • According to Heidegger, man finds himself in the word and care or concern is very important.
  • It is regarded as the inner principle which organises his relations with the world.
  • According to him, care or concern is regarded as the basis of being-there (Dasein) .
  • Man, in the world experiences various moods. Death is regarded as an inescapable fact or an inevitable truth of human existence.
  • Heidegger says, when death emerges in our consciousness, then it produces dread (not fear, but dread) .
  • Dread is referred to as violent fear. It confronts the man with the reality of his very being.
  • Authentic existence according to Heidegger is very important, he says at the time of death, man՚s eye concentrates on his personal being. As a result, he thinks about his past actions, past doing, and understands the presence and anticipates the future happenings.
  • Hence, it is at the time of death, he realises that the future depends upon his present acts. In other words, it is at the time of death, a sense of guilt in inculcated in the Dasein.

Critique of Technological Civilisation

  • According to Heidegger, care or concern and harmony are some of the inner principles of existence.
  • He was against the technological civilisation because there exists no harmony in it.
  • According to him, an authentic existence referred to as the aim of life.
  • Authentic existence according to him is very important, he says at the time of death, man՚s eye concentrates on his personal being. He thinks about how he has been, his past actions, his presence and anticipates his future.
  • But technological civilisation destroys all this due to the presence of power, greed, money, present in the technological civilisation.

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