Heidegger: Letter on Humanism

Humanism by Heidegger vs. Existentialism by Sartre

The “Letter on Humanism” Heidegger was published a year after the conference “Existentialism is a Humanism” by Sartre pronounced at the Sorbonne. This can be read as a response to existentialism is a humanism of Sartre.

Heidegger and classical humanism

After the publication of Being and Time, Heidegger’s project is to criticize classical humanism through Sartre, based on the metaphysics of the subject. he will attempt to rethink, rebuild humanism from Being, and not anymore from man.

The initial question is: How can we think of Being? According to Heidegger’s philosophy, the question of being, not only being as being, but the Being of beings, the nature of being as such, has not been properly thought. Classical philosophy missed the ontological ground of being because he has not sufficiently understood what is meant by “thinking.” For Heidegger “thinking” (Denken) means something fundamentally different from our everyday understanding of the term. Thinking for Heidegger is a type of action, but an action that still surpasses all praxis. For Heidegger, thinking in the highest sense is not reducible to techné: thought is waiting for “the advent of the Being, Being as coming” (275). The thought is a kind of intermediary between man and Being. In other words, the question “What is thinking? “Is necessarily linked to the question” What is Man? “.

Heidegger and The Shepherd of Being

Being is given to man (the concept of “there”) and the man becomes “the shepherd of Being.” What is the meaning of the destiny of man as ek-sistere as guardian of Being in which he lives? Heidegger will argue that the thought itself is a form of action, “the mind is in that she thinks” This definition of thought is opposed to a technical interpretation of thinking, oriented techne, praxis The effectuation. This tradition dates back to Plato and Aristotle, for whom thinking is to do. This is because Western philosophy would become a science it has abandoned the essence of thought: thought is exploited.

In Heidegger, modernity is a state of homelessness, in which the man lost his shelter, being, and thus becomes a stranger to his thought to himself. The oblivion of Being must be replaced by a collection of Being.

Unlike animals or stones, man is the only being intended to suggest the essence of his own being. The essence of the human being lies in his ek-sistence. Animals and stones do not share this way of being with the man.

Heidegger’s humanism summary

Humanism Heidegger appears as a shift of man and return to the thought of Being, which is the true essence of man. Without Being, man is not a man (homo), and not a human (Humanitas). But this critique of Western humanism is of course not a defense of the inhuman, it is not an endorsement to barbarism or to the brutality. Rather Heidegger seeks to correct a misinterpretation of the concept of man.

The ontological analysis of Being as Dasein necessarily lead to a change in the way we think the essence of being human. The “Letter on Humanism” does not seek to abolish metaphysics, but to correct and complete the humanism of metaphysics and humanism rebuild.

Humanism Heidegger becomes meditation and attention of Being. In Sartre, humanism is to say the individual and ask as the basis of value. Humanism Heidegger must exceed traditional metaphysics out of the design technique of Being and man. Because in the end, Heidegger criticizes classical humanism not thinking high enough man: man must be understood as Humanitas, not animal rationale.

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