Martin Heidegger (1889 -- 1976) was, and still is considered to be, along with the likes of Soren Kierkegaard, Edmund Husserl and Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the principal exponents of 20th century Existentialism. An extraordinarily original thinker, a critic of technological society and the leading Ontologist of his time, Heidegger's philosophy became a primary influence upon the thoughts of the younger generations of continental European cultural personalities of his time.
The son of a Catholic sexton, Heidegger displayed an early interest in religion and philosophy; at school he began an intensive study of the late 19th century Catholic philosopher Franz Brentano and, as we shall see, Brentano's "descriptive" psychology, as presented in his "On the Manifold Meaning of Being According to Aristotle", played a major role in Heidegger's philosophy.
Upon leaving school, he was enrolled at the University of Freiburg and, whilst there, he studied both Catholic theology and Christian philosophy. Heidegger's early study of Brentano encouraged him to look more closely at the Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle and the Gnostics. He was particularly influenced, however by several 19th and 20th century writers and philosophers such as Soren Kierkegaard (often referred to as the "father" of Existentialism), Friedrich Nietzsche, Wilhelm Dilthey (noted for directing the attention of his contemporary philosophers to human and historical sciences), and by the founder of Phenomenology, Edmund Husserl.
Husserl's Phenomenology can be seen as a response to the intrusion of psychology into the essential studies of man; he felt that the study of man should, instead be conducted on a purely philosoph...
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...eave one with a similar "air of tragedy". However, if we can gather the strength to adopt an authentic way of being, if we can see that we have a self to find and overcome the repression for selfhood, we can at the very least be freed from the mistaken view of death and thus, be freed from the irrational fear that normally accompanies it. The role of mortality in Heidegger's philosophy may be methodological and catalytic, but the import of mortality to Human Being, whether authentic or inauthentic is and always has been significant in conjunction with our cultural overlays and traditions. Heidegger's phenomenological view of death as a way-of-being is significant to us because it provides a workable alternative to the common dogmatic views of death and it can help to guide us through a profound existence, that is laden with the traps and pitfalls of inauthenticity.
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