In his new book, Making Sense of Heidegger: A Paradigm Shift, Stanford Religious Studies Professor Thomas Sheehan argues that Heidegger scholarship of the last 50 years has been fundamentally misguided in its understanding of Heidegger’s own project:
“I am happy to say goodbye to the first 25 of those 50 years of scholarship insofar as I’ve now worked out a much more adequate and critical reading of Heidegger,” he says.
In Sheehan’s opinion, Heidegger’s oeuvre has been misinterpreted for years, and in his latest book, Making Sense of Heidegger: A Paradigm Shift, Sheehan introduces a radical new framework for understanding Heidegger
According to Sheehan, standard academic readings have long claimed that Heidegger believed Being gave weight and value to our world. There’s only one problem, Sheehan says: “Nobody seems to know what Being means.”
After an exhaustive survey of Heidegger’s works, Sheehan concluded that Heidegger’s philosophy centers not on Being but rather on his early insight that our mortality is the source of all meaning. Sheehan explains, “Humans are characterized by the need to interpret everything they meet, and this need arises from our radical finitude, from what Heidegger called ‘temporality.'”
According to Sheehan, Heidegger never intended to cultivate the cultic, quasi-mystical philosophy that sprang up around him. Rather, his aim was to uncover the sources of our need to make sense of the world.