Rowman and Littlefield International

Heidegger's Life and Thought

A Tarnished Legacy

By Mahon O'Brien

3 Reviews

A fascinating portrait of a brilliant, complicated and often unattractive human being.

Hardback ISBN: 9781786613820 Release date: Oct 2019
£69.00 €84.00 $90.00
Paperback ISBN: 9781786613837 Release date: Oct 2019
£14.95 €19.95 $19.99
Ebook ISBN: 9781786613844 Release date: Oct 2019
£12.95 €17.95 $19.00

Pages: 140


Martin Heidegger was a captivating and controversial philosopher, known for his highly original and challenging philosophical concepts, as well as his association with – and sympathy for – the Nazi Party during World War II.Providing an introduction to both the man and his philosophy, this book is a concise, jargon-free journey through his life and thought.

The publication of Heidegger’s private ‘Black Notebooks’ from the 1930s and 40s has led to renewed interest in the relationship between Heidegger’s philosophy and his political views and caused widespread confusion and condemnation. This short book puts many of these problems into context and offers an honest appraisal of Heidegger’s disturbing political views and how they might relate to some of the perennial themes that occupied his philosophical imagination.

A fascinating portrait of a brilliant, complicated and often unattractive human being, the book will prove invaluable for students with some familiarity with Heidegger’s thought, students approaching Heidegger’s work for the first time and non-specialists looking to acquaint themselves with a great, yet problematic, twentieth century thinker.



Chapter One: Ways not Works

Chapter Two: Early Life

Chapter Three: Rumours of the Hidden King

Chapter Four: The Hidden King Returns to Freiburg

Chapter Five: The 1930s – Politics, Art and Poetry

Chapter Six: The Nazi Rector

Chapter Seven: Return from Syracuse

Chapter Eight: Heidegger Abroad

Chapter Nine: The Final Years

Chapter Ten: Heidegger’s Legacy


Mahon O'Brien is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sussex. He is also the author of Heidegger, History and the Holocaust (2015) and Heidegger and Authenticity: From Resoluteness to Releasement (2013).

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3 Reviews

While squarely facing Heidegger’s troubling political attitudes and personal flaws, Mahon O’Brien shows that “one of the most original and creative philosophers to have lived and worked in the twentieth century” remains thought-provoking today. O’Brien draws on letters, notebooks, and reminiscences as well as the canonical texts to create a stimulating introduction to Heidegger’s life, ideas, and legacies.

Richard Polt, Professor of Philosophy, Xavier University

With exemplary clarity and a sure command of its subject, O’Brien’s compendious introduction weaves together deeply appreciative and incisive glosses on the diverse yet also continuous “pathways” of Heidegger’s thought – and its legacy and global reach – with an unvarnished portrait of the philosopher’s difficult temperament, complete with often unflattering, alarming, and notorious details of his personal and public life.

Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Professor of Philosophy, Boston University

Mahon O’Brien’s deeply informed and eminently readable introduction to Heidegger’s life and thought provides, in equal measures, a devastating critique of Heidegger’s anti-Semitism and politics together with a nuanced appreciation of his major philosophical achievements. In both senses of the term a “critical” reading of Heidegger, the book cuts a clear path through the tangled woods of this brilliant yet profoundly flawed philosopher.

Thomas Sheehan, Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University, USA

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