Intimations of Mortality
- Publish Date: 2/28/1991
- Dimensions: 6 x 9
- Page Count: 216 pages
- Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-00427-3
- Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-02921-4
“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.”
“An impassioned book, an excellent book, a book to be read and reread.”
“David Krell, already known as the outstanding translator of Heidegger into English, author of a number of excellent scholarly presentations of translated volumes—notably Heidegger’s Neitzsche—offers us here a solid collection of brilliant essays. . . . I heartily commend this fine book to to its readers. It is a book both lyrical and witzig with a humor inspired (in part) by Jacques Derrida. An authentic knowing permeates it—the kind of knowledge that prolonged acquaintance with the 'matter’ of thought alone can give.”
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 1974–76. 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.