The Emergency of Being: On Heidegger's "Contributions to Philosophy"

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9780801437328: The Emergency of Being: On Heidegger's
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"The heart of history, for Heidegger, is not a sequence of occurrences but the eruption of significance at critical junctures that bring us into our own by making all being, including our being, into an urgent issue. In emergency, being emerges."―from The Emergency of Being

The esoteric Contributions to Philosophy, often considered Martin Heidegger's second main work after Being and Time, is crucial to any interpretation of his thought. Here Heidegger proposes that being takes place as "appropriation." Richard Polt's independent-minded account of the Contributions interprets appropriation as an event of emergency that demands to be thought in a "future-subjunctive" mode. Polt explores the roots of appropriation in Heidegger's earlier philosophy; Heidegger's search for a way of thinking suited to appropriation; and the implications of appropriation for time, space, human existence, and beings as a whole. In his concluding chapter, Polt reflects critically on the difficulties of the radically antirationalist and antimodern thought of the Contributions.

Polt's original reading neither reduces this challenging text to familiar concepts nor refutes it, but engages it in a confrontation―an encounter that respects a way of thinking by struggling with it. He describes this most private work of Heidegger's philosophy as "a dissonant symphony that imperfectly weaves together its moments into a vast fugue, under the leitmotif of appropriation. This fugue is seeded with possibilities that are waiting for us, its listeners, to develop them. Some are dead ends―viruses that can lead only to a monolithic, monotonous misunderstanding of history. Others are embryonic insights that promise to deepen our thought, and perhaps our lives, if we find the right way to make them our own."

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From the Back Cover:

"Readers will be grateful for the clarity of Richard Polt's prose, for his providing a historical context for the Contributions, and for his ability to communicate with those who are not expert in Heidegger's work. Reformulating Heidegger's thought is an undertaking filled with difficulty and demands for exceptional originality; Polt meets the challenge."—Charles E. Scott, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Vanderbilt University Center for Ethics

"Richard Polt's book is unique: it provides an eminently accessible introduction to, and commentary on, the major themes of Heidegger's text, and does so in a philosophically sophisticated and critical way. This combination of accessibility and erudition is a most impressive accomplishment. The Emergency of Being will appeal both to students who may be approaching Heidegger's work for the first time and Heidegger specialists seeking a critical 'take' on what is even for them a difficult and largely inaccessible text. Polt's book is an indispensable introduction and companion guide to the Contributions."—William McNeill, DePaul University

About the Author:

Richard Polt is Professor of Philosophy at Xavier University, Cincinnati. He is the author of Heidegger: An Introduction and The Emergency of Being, both from Cornell.

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