The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger


This collection offers a generous and thought-provoking sample of recent scholarship on Heidegger. Most of the essays take little for granted, and make the effort to sum up the very heart of Heidegger’s project. This makes them suitable for beginners, but by no means restricts them to such an audience: all are rich in detail and contribute to ongoing interpretive controversies, as is typical of the fine Cambridge Companion series. A good number of the essays cast Heidegger’s thought in terms such as “coping,” “cultural practices,” or “forms of life,” and illustrate these concepts with familiar, commonsense examples. I will refer to this as a “practical” approach. In a practical reading, Heidegger comes to light primarily as an anti-Cartesian who points to the primacy of meaningful agency, in a broad sense, over the epistemological distinction between subject and object: Heidegger’s writings thus reveal that all cognition is made possible by practices, that is, by shared and tacit patterns of dealing with the things that matter to us. It is in this guise that Heideggerian ideas have entered the sphere of traditional Anglo-American philosophy, where they promise to enrich and recast old debates. Those who insist on remaining within Heidegger’s own language may fear that such an approach is reductive; but it is better seen as a genuine attempt to think independently about Heidegger’s topic of thought. The goal of these readings is not solely to explicate Heidegger, but to enhance “our understanding of ourselves and our world,” as Charles B. Guignon puts it in his introduction ; and Heidegger himself would certainly endorse that goal.

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Richard Polt
Xavier University (Cincinnati)

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Book Reviews: Martin Heidegger: Key Concepts, Edited by Bret W. Davis. [REVIEW]Ted George - 2010 - Comparative and Continental Philosophy 2 (2):291-300.

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