Authentic Grasp of Being Essay

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Authentic Grasp of Being

Martin Heidegger provides an interesting lesson about what must be done to authentically grasp the nature of being in Being and Time. The focus of being in his book is the unique individual human consciousness referred to as Dasein, and authenticity is regarded as that which accords with Dasein’s own self, including its history, present concerns, and future possibilities. The thesis of this paper is an interpretative one: the path to authentically grasping one’s own being requires first disregarding philosophical history regarding being and then understanding one’s own presuppositions. More fully, the phenomena that give rise to examining ontology must be analyzed, which means that one must not simply start with philosophers’ assertions; then one must understand his or her own manner of dealing with being to understand his or her own presuppositions about being, and it will be seen how the presence of all presuppositions cannot be removed. The first part of this paper will discuss section six, “The Task of Destroying the History of Ontology,” and the second part will discuss section 32, “Understanding and Interpretation.” It will conclude with a brief return to the concept of authenticity.

The Task of Destroying the History of Ontology

Heidegger comes upon the need to destroy the history of ontology as he begins his inquiry into the nature of being. What he first intends to do is understand how the question of being has been answered throughout the history of philosophy and then appraise this body of answers to see how our philosophical starting point may help or hinder us. Heidegger reviews an extensive amount of work, but he believes that it all falls short of understanding being. Worse than...

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...what it must be like to authentically grasp our being. First (section six), nothing is gained by being spoon-fed empty statements about general concepts of being, so we must strip away ontological assumptions provided by the history of philosophy. Second (section 32), it is clear that we are not stripping away all assumptions, but we are looking to ourselves to find the groundwork. If we are finding what is within ourselves, then we are grasping the authentic; if we are using knowledge of ourselves to inquire into being, then we are making an authentic attempt at understanding being. Apparently, the historical attempts to remove all presuppositions are what led to the failure of the long human tradition that has tried to understand being.


Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. New York: Harper & Row, 1962.

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