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Death, a perennial problem for philosophers and theologians, is especially crucial in the thought of Martin Heidegger. This penetrating commentary presents the concept of death as a unifying motif that illuminates many of the difficulties and obscurities of Heidegger’s philosophy. Heidegger comes to see death as revealing the ultimate meaning not only of human existence, but of being itself. He thus confers upon the concept a force and sharpness, an ontological depth which is found in perhaps no other philosopher.

This study corroborates the much-debated “turning” in Heidegger’s philosophy. Demslce finds death to be the key not only to Heidegger’s treatment of man and being, but also the key to his shift of focus from man to being. All Heidegger’s various approaches to the theme of death are considered—his existential-phenomenological analysis of Dasein, his discussions of art, poetry, history, and language, and his new phenomenological approach to the ordinary things of life.

The author approaches Heidegger on his own terms, allowing the philosopher to speak for himself. The present reading of Heidegger grows smoothly out of Heidegger’s own intentions. The result is a revealing study of Heidegger’s philosophy in its entirety, which answers some persistently perplexing questions about this difficult modern philosopher.

James M. Demske, S.J., is the president of Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. He received an S.T.L. at the University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria, and a Ph.D. at the University of Freiburg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. Father Demske is also author of Encounters with Silence and, with Avery R. Dulles, S.J., and Robert J. O'Connell, S.J., of Introductory Metaphysics.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

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Lexington, KY






Heidegger, Death



Being, Man, and Death: A Key to Heidegger
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