The Eight Best Books on or by Martin Heidegger

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This page contains a list of the best books on or by Martin Heidegger. Just to be clear, there is no single best book on Heidegger. The best book for you will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time that you want to spend reading about Heidegger. An 800-page scholarly overview is unlikely to be best for someone looking for a short beginner-friendly introduction, for example. This list aims to take this ambiguity into account by featuring books that will appeal to a variety of learning styles.

Secondly, this is not a list of personal recommendations. It was created by compiling recommendations from a variety of online sources including bibliographies, course syllabi, and community recommendations. You can find out more about this process here. Links to the sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a wider range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.

Here are the best books on or by Martin Heidegger in no particular order.

How to Read Heidegger – Mark Wrathall

Category: Short Introduction | Length: 144 pages | Published: 2006

Publisher description: Martin Heidegger is perhaps the most influential, yet least readily understood, philosopher of the last century. Mark Wrathall unpacks Heidegger’s dense prose and guides the reader through Heidegger’s early concern with the nature of human existence, to his later preoccupation with the threat that technology poses to our ability to live worthwhile lives.

Wrathall pays particular attention to Heidegger’s revolutionary analysis of human existence as inextricably shaped by a shared world. This leads to an exploration of Heidegger’s views on the banality of public life and the possibility of authentic anticipation of death as a response to that banality. Wrathall reviews Heidegger’s scandalous involvement with National Socialism, situating it in the context of Heidegger’s views about the movement of world history. He also explains Heidegger’s important accounts of truth, art, and language.

Extracts are taken from Heidegger’s magnum opus, Being and Time, as well as a variety of his best-known essays and lectures.

Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction – Michael Inwood

Category: Short Introduction | Length: 169 pages | Published: 2000

Publisher description: Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is probably the most divisive philosopher of the twentieth century. Considered by some to be the greatest charlatan ever to claim the title of ‘philosopher’, by some as an apologist for Nazism, he was also an acknowledged leader and central figure to many philosophers. Michael Inwood’s lucid introduction to Heidegger’s thought focuses on his most important work, ‘Being and Time’, and its major themes of existence in the world, inauthenticity, guilt, destiny, truth, and the nature of time. These themes are then reassessed in the light of Heidegger’s later work, together with the extent of his philosophical importance and influence. This is an invaluable guide to the complex and voluminous thought of a major twentieth-century
existentialist philosopher.

Heidegger: An Introduction – Richard Polt

Category: General Introduction | Length: 328 pages | Published: 1999

Publisher description: Richard Polt provides a lively and accessible introduction to one of the most influential and intellectually demanding philosophers of the modern era. Covering the entire range of Heidegger’s thought, Polt skillfully communicates the essence of the philosopher, enabling readers, especially those new to his writings, to approach his works with confidence and insight. Polt presents the questions Heidegger grappled with and the positions he adopted, and also analyzes persistent points of difference between competing schools of interpretation. The book begins by exploring Heidegger’s central concern, the question of Being, and his way of doing philosophy. After considering his environment, personality, and early thought, it carefully takes readers through his best-known work, Being and Time. Heidegger concludes with highlights of its subject’s later thought, providing guidelines for understanding Contributions to Philosophy and other important texts. It gives special attention to the philosopher’s political involvement with the Nazis in the 1930s, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the reactions to his politics, reactions ranging from exculpation to complete condemnation.

The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger – Charles B. Guignon

Category: Overview | Length: 456 pages | Published: 2006 (2e)

Publisher description: Martin Heidegger is now widely recognized as one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. He transformed mainstream philosophy by defining its central task as asking the ‘question of being’. His thought has contributed to the turn to hermeneutics and to postmodernism and poststructuralism. Moreover, the disclosure of his deep involvement in Nazism has provoked much debate about the relation of philosophy to politics. This edition brings to the fore other works, as well as alternative approaches to scholarship. The essays cover topics such as Heidegger’s conception of phenomenology, his relation to Kant and Husserl, his account of truth, and his stand on the realism/anti-realism debate. This edition includes a new preface by the editor, revised versions of several essays from the first edition, and an exhaustive bibliography, providing guidance for both newcomers to Heidegger’s work and established scholars.

Basic Writings – Martin Heidegger

Category: Anthology | Length: 480 pages

Publisher description: Basic Writings is the finest single-volume anthology of the work of Martin Heidegger, widely considered one of the most important modern philosophers. Its selections offer a full range of the influential author’s writings—including “The Origin of the Work of Art,” the introduction to Being and Time, “What Is Metaphysics?,” “Letter on Humanism,” “The Question Concerning Technology,” “The Way to Language,” and “The End of Philosophy.” Featuring a foreword by Heidegger scholar Taylor Carman, this essential collection provides readers with a concise introduction to the groundbreaking philosophy of this brilliant and essential thinker.

Basic Problems of Phenomenology – Martin Heidegger

Category: Classic | Length: 432 pages

Publisher description: A lecture course that Martin Heidegger gave in 1927, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology continues and extends explorations begun in Being and Time. In this text, Heidegger provides the general outline of his thinking about the fundamental problems of philosophy, which he treats by means of phenomenology, and which he defines and explains as the basic problem of ontology.

Being and Time – Martin Heidegger

Category: Classic | Length: 608 pages

Publisher description: “What is the meaning of being?” This is the central question of Martin Heidegger’s profoundly important work, in which the great philosopher seeks to explain the basic problems of existence. A central influence on later philosophy, literature, art, and criticism—as well as existentialism and much of postmodern thought—Being and Time forever changed the intellectual map of the modern world. As Richard Rorty wrote in the New York Times Book Review, “You cannot read most of the important thinkers of recent times without taking Heidegger’s thought into account.”

This first paperback edition of John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson’s definitive translation also features a new foreword by Heidegger scholar Taylor Carman.

The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays – Martin Heidegger

Category: Classic | Length: 224 pages

Publisher description: The advent of machine technology has given rise to some of the deepest problems of modern thought. This newly packaged collection featuring Martin Heidegger’s celebrated essay “The Question Concerning Technology,” is an essential landmark in the philosophy of science from one of the most influential and profound thinkers of the twentieth century.


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