Being and Time Book Summary - Being and Time Book explained in key points
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Being and Time summary

Unlock the Secrets of Existence and Transform Your Perspective

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Brief summary

Being and Time is a philosophical work by Martin Heidegger. It delves into the nature of human existence, exploring topics such as time, authenticity, and the relationship between individuals and the world around them.

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    Being and Time
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    A new way to think about being

    For us to really appreciate why Being and Time was so revolutionary, we need to understand what Heidegger was revolting against.

    For him, Western philosophy had gotten the idea of what it means to be something wrong. René Descartes, the sixteenth century philosopher, came in for particularly blistering criticism on this point. Descartes argued for a clear separation between things out there in the physical world, and things in our minds. Yes, there might be a pen sitting before you on the table, but there is also the idea of what a pen is in your mind, and everything that you might do with it.

    Descartes also asked how we can really know the external world. How do we perceive that pen on the table? He said that we do so through our senses – we see and feel the pen, so we know it’s there. But Descartes was mistrustful of information we receive through our senses. Our sight tricks us into thinking clouds are closer to Earth than they actually are, and if we melt a ball of wax, almost everything about it changes. It’s only through mental logic – through reasoning in our minds that we can know this is still the ball of wax we melted in the fire.

    No, Heidegger said, this is all wrong.

    Descartes would have us believe that human beings can be reduced to their logic and reasoning, and therefore are shuttered off from the physical world. On the contrary – Heidegger believed we are always “thrown” into this world. We are surrounded at all times, on all sides, by the world and its objects, and we are always thinking about how we might use these objects. In the first instance, we don’t stop to contemplate the abstract qualities of wax – we are thinking and associating it with candles, or polishing our car. This is how human beings interact with the world.

    Heidegger called the way Descartes contemplated objects present-at-hand. This is the abstract, theoretical way of thinking about things. 

    But Heidegger insisted that, lying below this level of thought, we consider objects as being ready-to-hand – this is us thinking about the practical uses of objects. If we want to understand life and what it means to be human, we need to study ourselves in our everyday existence, and not in a stuffy philosophy classroom full of abstract theories.

    If you take just one thing away from this Blink, remember this: for Heidegger, we are thrown into a world of objects that we comprehend, firstly, for their practical uses. We are never closer to the world than when we are interacting with it, when we view it as filled with handy tools and materials which we can create and build with, play sports in, and wash the dishes with. The human being is not divorced from its environment. 

    So, what does it mean to be? Human being means being-in-the-world.

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    What is Being and Time about?

    Being and Time (1927) is perhaps the most influential work of philosophy written in the twentieth century. Infamous for its infuriating, almost impenetrable complexity, its pages explore the most fundamental of all questions for a human being: what is it to be?

    Being and Time Review

    Being and Time (1927) by Martin Heidegger is a thought-provoking exploration of human existence and the fundamental question of "being." Here's why you should read this book:

    • It delves into the complexity of human experience, inviting readers to reflect on their own existence and the meaning of life.
    • By examining the concept of authenticity and our relationship with time, the book challenges conventional notions and opens up new perspectives.
    • Through its deep philosophical insights, the book stimulates intellectual curiosity, sparking fascinating discussions and contemplation.

    Who should read Being and Time?

    • Anyone – that is, everyone! – who can’t understand Being and Time
    • Philosophy nerds
    • Curious souls searching for answers to the deepest questions

    About the Author

    Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher. His magnum opus, Being and Time, propelled him to international fame in 1927, and secured him a professorship at the University of Freiburg. He was an ardent supporter of the Nazi Party as they rose to power in 1930s Germany, and this has stained his reputation ever since, marking him out as a divisive figure and a deeply flawed genius.

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    Being and Time FAQs 

    What is the main message of Being and Time?

    Being and Time explores the concept of human existence and our relationship with time and being.

    How long does it take to read Being and Time?

    The reading time for Being and Time can vary, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Being and Time a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Being and Time is a thought-provoking read that delves into the core of human existence. Definitely worth exploring!

    Who is the author of Being and Time?

    Being and Time is written by Martin Heidegger.

    What to read after Being and Time?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Being and Time, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein
    • The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer
    • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
    • The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
    • Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
    • How to Think Like a Philosopher by Peter Cave
    • Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
    • Time to Think by Nancy Kline
    • Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre
    • Think by Simon Blackburn