Intimations of Mortality

Time, Truth, and Finitude in Heidegger's Thinking of Being

By (author) David Farrell Krell

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 April 1991

Length of book:

216 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271029214

Heidegger’s thinking has an underlying unity, this book argues, and has cogency for seemingly diverse domains of modern culture: philosophy and religion, aesthetics and literary criticism, intellectual history and social theory. “The theme of mortality—finite human existence—pervades Heidegger’s thought,” in the author’s words, “before, during, and after his magnum opus, Being and Times, published in 1927.” This theme is manifested in Heidegger’s work not “as funereal melodramatics or as despair and destructive nihilism” but rather “as a thinking within anxiety.”

Four major subthemes in Heidegger’s thinking are explored in the book’s four parts: the fundamental ontology developed in Being and Time; the “lighting and clearing” of Being, understood as “unconcealment”; the history of philosophy—with emphasis on Heraclitus, Hegel, and Nietzsche—interpreted as the “destiny” of Being; and the poetics of Being, explicated as the “fundamental experience” of mortality.

Neither an introduction nor a survey, this book is a close reading of a wide range of Heidegger’s books, lectures, and articles—including extensive material not yet translated into English—informed by the author’s conversations with Heidegger in 197476. Each of the four subthemes is treated critically. The aim of the book is to push its interrogations of Heidegger’s thought as far as possible, in order to help the reader toward an independent assessment of his work and to encourage novel, radically conceived approaches to traditional philosophical problems.

“We can feel the exhilaration that runs through this book as it focuses again and again on the mortal ecstasies of time. . . . We can also feel the anxiety of this book, one that always touched with a sorrow that accompanies the mingling of death and deep love. Exhilaration and sorrow, and the combination of painstaking scholarly work with exceptional poetic sensitivity, are the hallmarks of the essays.”

—Charles Scott, Research in Phenomenology