Rowman and Littlefield International

Making Sense of Heidegger

A Paradigm Shift

By Thomas Sheehan

11 Reviews

This important book opens a new path in Heidegger research that will stimulate dialogue within Heidegger studies, as well as with philosophers outside the phenomenological tradition and scholars in theology, literary criticism, and existential psychiatry.

Hardback ISBN: 9781783481187 Release date: Nov 2014
£96.00 €119.00 $125.00
Paperback ISBN: 9781783481194 Release date: Nov 2014
£32.00 €39.95 $42.00
Ebook ISBN: 9781783481200 Release date: Nov 2014
£24.95 €34.95 $39.50

Series: New Heidegger Research

Pages: 370


Making Sense of Heidegger presents a radically new reading of Heidegger’s notoriously difficult oeuvre. Clearly written and rigorously grounded in the whole of Heidegger’s writings, Thomas Sheehan’s latest book argues for the strict unity of Heidegger’s thought on the basis of three theses: that his work was phenomenological from beginning to the end; that “being” refers to the meaningful presence of things in the world of human concerns; and that what makes such intelligibility possible is the existential structure of human being as the thrown-open or appropriated “clearing.”

Sheehan offers a compelling alternative to the classical paradigm that has dominated Heidegger research over the last half-century, as well as a valuable retranslation of the key terms in Heidegger's lexicon. This important book opens a new path in Heidegger research that will stimulate dialogue not only within Heidegger studies but also with philosophers outside the phenomenological tradition and scholars in theology, literary criticism, and existential psychiatry.

Frequently Cited German Texts and their English Translations / Foreword / 1. Introduction: Getting to the Topic / Part I: Aristotelian Beginnings / 2. Being in Aristotle / 3. Heidegger Beyond Aristotle / Part II: The Early Heidegger / 4. Phenomenology and the Formulation of the Question / 5. Ex-sistence as Openness / 6. Becoming Our Openness / Part III: The Later Heidegger / 7. Transition: From Being and Time to the Hidden Clearing / 8. Appropriation and the Turn / 9. The History of Being / 10. Conclusion: Critical Reflections / Appendices / Bibliographies / Index

Thomas Sheehan is professor of religious studies at Stanford University and professor emeritus of philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. His many publications include Becoming Heidegger (2011) and translations of Heidegger's Logic: The Question of Truth (2010) and Husserl's Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology, and the Confronataion with Heidegger (1997).

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11 Reviews

This detailed, meticulous study addresses the confusion surrounding Heidegger scholarship. Cutting through all mysticism associated with the question of being, Sheehan uncovers the phenomenological bases of the 'early' and 'late' Heidegger, paying special attention to their Aristotelian heritage. Sheehan’s argument, at its core, is persuasive: he contends that the obsession with being has obscured the reality that the center of Heidegger’s entire project is the 'clearing,' wherein being takes place. Sheehan attaches a number of key Greek and Heideggerian terms to the idea of the clearing—for instance, the Logos that keeps it open or its becoming-one’s-own (Eigentum) in the event (Ereignis). The book is insightful not only as a contribution to Heidegger studies but also as a source of inroads into ancient Greek philosophy, informed by a new understanding of Heidegger's thought. Summing Up: Essential. Graduate students, researchers, and faculty.


Sheehan offers a highly original interpretation, which helps to make sense of a number of difficult passages. . . .Drawing on an exhaustive command of the primary material, Sheehan offers a plausible interpretation of Heidegger’s development and many of his key concepts, compellingly arguing that his thought is phenomenological from beginning to end. The argumentation is transparent and remains close to the texts, which readers can often consult (usually in the original language) in the footnotes. . . .All in all, this study offers a unique, compellingly argued account of Heidegger’s thought, and a measured appraisal of its successes, failures, and merits. It ought to be a key point of reference in future Heidegger scholarship.

Philosophy in Review

[A]n important, if controversial, book … If Sheehan's stature as a commentator on Heidegger were not already enough to recommend it, the book is written in a lucid and approachable style … Repeatedly Sheehan draws on his wide knowledge of the Collected Works to make or illustrate important connections in Heidegger's thinking across his whole corpus … Sheehan's book is a significant achievement, and it will assist many, especially relatively new, readers of Heidegger.

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Much of Sheehan’s work here is immensely clarifying; several of his remarks have already made their way to the marginalia of this reviewer’s copy of Being and Time. . . .Sheehan sufficiently demonstrates…that Heidegger is worth reading, and this is an important achievement, especially in the face of calls to consign Heidegger’s corpus to the Nazi stacks in the library. Heidegger should be read as a philosopher because at his best he is not a commentator on philosophers but the initiator of a philosophical conversation. Sheehan’s book admirably displays Heidegger’s talent for breathing life into Aristotle, Plato, and the Presocratics, and in turn for drawing his own philosophical inspiration from them. Thus, Sheehan’s will be a welcome, if controversial, addition to Heideggerean scholarship, and certainly worth reading for those who need to be convinced to turn (or return) to Heidegger as a powerful philosophical interlocutor.

Review of Metaphysics

In this brilliant contribution to Heidegger scholarship, Thomas Sheehan presents his view of the entire trajectory of Heidegger’s philosophizing as a phenomenological investigation of the meaning and source of Being (the “clearing”) — that which allows entities to show up for us as meaningful. Sheehan’s assiduously phenomenological interpretation of the Heideggerian corpus lends itself beautifully both to teaching Heidegger and to interdisciplinary inquiry.

Robert D. Stolorow Ph.D., author of World, Affectivity, Trauma: Heidegger and Post-Cartesian Psychoanalysis

Thomas Sheehan's eagerly awaited volume is certain to shake up the field of Heidegger studies. Beyond that, however, the new paradigm it advocates - the idea that Heidegger should be read from first to last in phenomenological terms - provides an excellent framework for showing how Heidegger's thought can contribute to contemporary philosophical debates. A work of keen scholarship, powerfully argued, Sheehan's book will be widely discussed.

Steven Crowell, Joseph and Joanna Nazro Mullen Professor of Philosophy, Rice University

In this superb book, Thomas Sheehan demonstrates that Heidegger’s major topic was not being, but rather the clearing in which things can manifest themselves and in this sense “be.” As the most important work published on Heidegger for decades, Making Sense of Heidegger constitutes a paradigm shift in understanding Heidegger’s thought.

Michael E. Zimmerman, professor of philosophy, University of Colorado at Boulder

Sheehan’s provocative study is bound to be a “game-changer,” forcing scholars to rethink long-held assumptions about Heidegger’s thought and its reach. With meticulous scholarship and philosophical probity, Sheehan gives a compelling but highly controversial account of what Heidegger is after, where he succeeds, and where he overreaches.

Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Professor of Philosophy, Boston University

Amongst the many merits of Sheehan's work - and his mastery of Heidegger's vast corpus is impressive - the most notable is a doctrine of meaning that is not linked to any ontology. No one has previously gone as far as he has in this direction.

Pietro d'Oriano, Archives Husserl de Paris (ENS)

Heidegger repeatedly said that he wanted others to "think with him." Tom Sheehan -- attentive, probing, and never falsely resting in received assumptions about Heidegger, even his own -- shows what that looks like at its best.

Judith Wolfe, St John's College at University of Oxford

Making Sense of Heidegger is a tour de force, exhibiting an admirable mastery of the scope and details of Heidegger’s vast output … I am surely grateful for the gift of Tom Sheehan’s book, which is one of the most bracing and luminous works of Heidegger scholarship I have ever read.

Research In Phenomenology

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