Thomas Sheehan's recent translation of Martin Heidegger's 1925-1926 Marburg Seminar (Gesamtausgabe 21: Logik: Die Frage nach der Wahrheit) gives English-speaking readers comprehensive access to Heidegger's early lectures on the temporal bases of logic and truth for the first time. In addition to translating Heidegger's last seminar before the publication of Being and Time in 1927, Sheehan has also included the more than 68,000 words of daily summaries given by Heidegger at the beginning of each lecture. Excluded from the Gesamtausgabe, these summaries (recorded by Simon Moser, a student of Heidegger's) foreground the general unity and coherence of the Seminar and provide the reader with a useful guide to the basic thread of Heidegger's argumentation as it developed over the course of the four months during which the Seminar took place (5 November 1925-26 February 1926).
Sheehan's translation renders Heidegger's German accessible to the English reader—so accessible, in fact, that the austere elegance of Heidegger's prose oftentimes seems to take on a tone too casual to be recognizably Heideggerean. Readers accustomed to the standard English translation of Vorhandenheit by "present-to-hand" are likely to be disappointed by Sheehan's "thereness; out-there-ness; presence" (Logic 350), which, although no less vague than the standard translation, removes the internal relation this term bears to the hand, the only part of the human body that plays any significant role in Heidegger's early ontology. Finally, and most importantly, the near systematic rendering of words like Zutunhaben or sentences like "Im schlicht verstehenden Zutunhabenmit ist das Seiende aus dem Wozu her verstanden" by "act of dealing-with" and "In a direct act of understanding and dealing with something, the thing is understood in terms of what it is for" (Logik 154; Logic 129) pepper the text [End Page 1155] with the misleading, psychologically overdetermined word "act," a word which Heidegger does not use for the simple reason that it has no place in a properly phenomenological description of "understanding" or even "understandingly having-to-do-with" as an ontological determination or "existential" of Dasein. "Understandingly having-to-do-with" is not an "act" of Dasein, it is the mode in which Dasein always already finds itself being, its basic mode of In-der-Welt-Sein ("Being-in-the-world"), whether it is explicitly "doing" something (in the "ontic" sense) or not. It characterizes the way in which "beings" (das Seiende, which Sheehan, occluding the difference between Being and beings implicitly at work in Heidegger's Seminar, translates as "something") are disclosed in relation to the basic mode of being of Dasein. In making Heidegger more palatable to English readers of philosophy, Sheehan unfortunately sacrifices some central aspects of Heidegger's thought and language.
The Seminar reflects the basic philosophical concerns and conceptual strategies pursued by Heidegger throughout the early 1920s: viz., the question regarding the basic mode(s) of being of the being that modern philosophy, in accordance with a certain appropriation of Greek metaphysics, has determined by and under the concept of "the subject" as the substantial (Descartes) or logical (Kant) "substratum" of its representations. Heidegger's fundamental insight during this period, an insight that would continue to form the basis of his thought for the remainder of his life, rested on his acute sense of the primacy of time in determining the sense and status of the basic concepts and categories of logic and metaphysics from Aristotle to Kant, Hegel, and Husserl. If, as Heidegger thought, the basic categories and concepts of logic and metaphysics could only be understood on the basis of the being for whom they are the basic concepts and categories of logic and metaphysics, then any inquiry that does not take this being into consideration remains essentially secondary and derivative.
Part I of the Seminar brings this basic insight to bear on the philosophy of logic (broadly construed) from Aristotle to the first quarter of the twentieth century (Mill, Sigwart, Lotze, Schuppe, Pfänder, Rickert, Lask, and, of course, Husserl). Part...