Biography 1924 –1928

Chapter Three

Time as Being

Hannah Arendt and Being and Time: 1924 –1928


In the summer of 1923, Heidegger arrived in Marburg to take up his appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy.  Marburg (an der Lahn), in the state of Hesse, was in 1923 a town with a population of less than twenty thousand. The town dated back to the early twelfth-century, and still possessed many architectural signs of its medieval past, such as a hilltop Schloss, built in the eleventh century as a fortress, a Gothic church of almost cathedral proportions (the “Elizabethkirche”), and an established botanical garden. Although it had few if any industries, Marburg was an important service provider and administrative centre for the surrounding areas. The university, founded in 1527, was noted for its achievements in medicine and the natural science, and included amongst its distinguished professors Robert Bunsen, Karl Ferdinand Braun and Emil von Behring. Marburg was also noted for its teaching in theology, with Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann being exact contemporaries of Heidegger.

Initially Heidegger’s impressions of Marburg had been positive. On 19 June 1923, he wrote to Jaspers, “I look forward to living in this peaceful little town and to undisturbed work”. As he later told his wife, Elfride, in a letter of 14 October, “the little town is quite delightful – it’s just right for me. Yesterday afternoon the sun came out and I strolled through the bumpy streets with their pretty little houses”. [1] But within a few short months, his attitude had changed. What had originally been found quaint and picturesque now seemed provincial and boring. As Heidegger lamented to Erich Rothacker on 4 January 1924, “here in middle Germany everything is extremely mediocre”, and the atmosphere of Marburg is “flaccid”.[2] It was an opinion that was not to change during the entirety of his stay. Even after three years of productive service, he still found, as he wryly noted to Jaspers in December 1926, “the university boring and the students simple-minded, without any particular motivation. As I am very much occupied with the problem of negativity, I have here the best opportunity to study what nothingness looks like”. Heidegger felt isolated. As he wrote in a letter to Karl Löwith On 1 October 1924, “I realise that I will be on my own, and all help from beyond is an ‘allurement’ ”.[3] And on 26 March, he added the following rider likewise in a letter to Löwith: “the damned thing about my work is that I have to do it surrounded by old philosophy and theology, and that I am forced to adopt a critical position on irrelevancies such as ‘categories’ ”.

Heidegger felt suffocated by the arid narrowly academic focus of the philosophy department and, as he described it in a letter to Löwith on 6 November, its “Exam milieu”.  Its leading light, and from 1922 head of department (due to an ailing Paul Natorp), was Nicolai Hartmann, author of Grundzüge einer Metaphysik der Erkenntnis (Foundation of a Metaphysics of Knowledge, 1921). Hartmann had been impressed by Heidegger’s “Phenomenological Interpretations in Connection with Aristotle”, in which Heidegger had subjected Aristotle’s categories of Being to phenomenological scrutiny, and was responsible for bringing the younger academic to Marburg. Hartmann had sent his doctoral student, Hans-Georg Gadamer, to Freiburg the previous year to prepare a report on Heidegger, which had been entirely positive. It is quite possible that Heidegger’s essay, which argued for the relevance of a revitalised ontology to contemporary philosophy, had influenced the direction of Hartmann’s own work, and had perhaps encouraged him to find a position beyond Neo-Kantianism. Just one year after reading Heidegger’s essay, Hartmann published a lengthy paper titled “How Is Critical Ontology Possible?” (“Wie ist kritische Ontologie überhaupt möglich?”). Here Hartmann argued that “there is no question of knowledge without the question of being”, and had added but “what can we know of real being as such?”.[4] Hartmann appears to embark on a path remarkably similar to Heidegger’s own, for providing an answer to this question “means nothing less than dealing with and taking up all together the great aporias of the metaphysical Weltanschauung”, and Hartmann subjects one category after another (he calls them “errors”) of the traditional metaphysical systems to critical scrutiny. [5] In his Aristotle essay, Heidegger had posed  similar questions, writing, “in what kind of object, with what kind of characteristics of Being, was human being, i.e. “Being in life”, experienced and interpreted [by Aristotle]? What is the sense of human existence [“Dasein”], in terms of which Aristotle’s interpretation of life initially approached human being as its object? In short, in what kind of preliminary having of Being [“Seinsvorhabe”] did this object stand?” [6] Hartmann, like Heidegger, is also seeking to establish the facticity of Being, and adopts the same emphasis upon the pre-theoretical when he argues that “wishes, intentions, suppositions and prejudices also have an a priori character”. [7]And yet Hartmann does not proceed beyond this point. Instead, he simply proposes his own alternative system of categories to replace the existing ones, for only “categorial analysis”, indeed a “theory of categories” can resolve the aporias, the errors of metaphysical thinking. [8] We have returned to yet a further self-enclosed paradigm. There is no sense of working towards something new, no sense of struggle, of the pushing of boundaries, conceptual and linguistic. Terms such as “reason”, “thinking”, “human cognition” (just to list three problematical constructs from one sentence alone on the concluding page of his paper) are treated as if they are self-evident.[9]

Hartmann sought to teach philosophy as a discipline that had its accepted framework and methodological assumptions. Students were excepted to work within this framework, not to question it.  One of his better pupils, Hans-Georg Gadamer, who was studying for his doctorate under Hartmann (which was awarded in 1922 for “The Essence of Pleasure according to Plato’s Dialogues”), described the latter’s method of teaching as “reflexionlos” (lacking in self-reflexion or enquiry).[10] Heidegger offered something much more than this: not a ready-made system but philosophy as an activity of the mind, an activity that would push against limits, not only those placed by others, but those placed by himself. It was Gadamer, once again, who was able to witness this challenging energy at first hand:

No matter what he lectured on – whether it was Descartes or Aristotle, Plato or Kant that formed the starting point – his analysis always penetrated behind the concealments of traditional concepts to the most primordial experience of Dasein […] And what else is interpretation in philosophy but coming to terms with the truth of the text and risking oneself by exposure to it? [11]

The force of Heidegger’s philosophising was both thematic and personal, a matter of an entirely new way of thinking about philosophy and an entirely new way of presenting that thinking. As a teaching experience, the former could not be disengaged from the latter. As his student, Karl Löwith, observed:

The power of fascination that emanated from him was partly based on his impenetrable nature; nobody knew where they were with him […] Like Fichte, only one half of him was an academic. The other – and probably greater – half was a militant preacher who knew how to interest people by antagonizing them, and whose discontent with the epoch and himself was driving him on.[12]

Heidegger’s presentation of self, even the way he dressed, was intended, if not to provoke, then at least to assert his idiosyncratic character, a character that had its roots in his Swabian homeland. As Rüdiger Safranski notes:

Heidegger cut a striking figure in Marburg in his personal appearance. On winter days he could be seen walking out of the town with his skis shouldered. Occasionally he would turn up for his lectures in his skiing outfit. In the summer Heidegger wore his famous loden suit and knickerbockers – these were his glorified scouting garb. The students called these clothes his “existential suit”. It had been designed by the painter Otto Ubblohde, and to Gadamer suggested something “of the modest resplendence of a peasant in his Sunday best”. [13]

Heidegger saw himself possessed of a mission, and in the opening words of his first lecture in Marburg he sounded this mission as a call to arms, committing himself to a “stripping away of mistaken expectations”, which he intended to replace – with nothing: “no foundation, neither a programme nor a system”. As he continued to tell his dumbfounded students in that lecture, “not even philosophy should be expected. It is my conviction that philosophy is at and end”. In the place of philosophy, Heidegger promotes an attitude of mind, “a passion for genuine questioning”, which will not only interrogate the objects of its enquiry but will confront even its own assumptions and prejudices. Following this path will involve a readiness to “hold out for years in uncertainty”, until the requisite maturity of perspective has been found.[14]

Heidegger’s iconoclastic sentiments may have enthused his students, as they well may have confounded his colleagues, but there were others who found in his words precisely the inspiration that they required for their own work. Rudolf Karl Bultmann was one of them. He was an unlikely adherent to Heidegger’s cause, and it is significant that Heidegger had to go beyond the confines of the philosophy department to find him. Bultmann, five years older than Heidegger, was a Lutheran theologian and Professor of the New Testament. He had been appointed Assistant Professor of Theology at Breslau in 1916, then had gained a full professorship at Giessen in 1920 before returning to Marburg (where he had been a student) as a professor in 1921, in which year he published his History of the Synoptic Tradition (Die Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, 1921), a study of the various narratives that constitute the New Testament. Bultmann was a leading voice in German liberal theology, someone who had questioned “the foundations of systematic and historical theology through his critique of the mythical picture of the world as it was adhered to in the approach of conventional theology to the New Testament”.[15]  Faith, Bultmann argued, must be a determined vital act of will, not an extolling of canonical texts. Indeed, the latter had to be de-mythologised, in order to allow the individual to return to the core of Christianity: the life and Passion of Jesus Christ.

Bultmann had established his critical theology well before encountering Heidegger, but it was what Bultmann calls Heidegger’s “existential philosophy” that allowed him to consolidate that position. As he explained in a short autobiographical sketch written in 1956, “I found in [Heidegger’s philosophy] the conceptuality in which it was possible to speak adequately of human existence and therefore also of the existence of the believer”.[16] Heidegger clearly saw in Bultmann’s critical attitude to religious tradition and conventional theology the same deconstructive will to uncover truth that he was pursuing in his own “de-structive” philosophy. In his first semester in Marburg, Heidegger joined Bultmann’s theological seminar on “The Ethics of St. Paul”, and on 14 and 21 January he gave a two-part talk on “The Problem of Sin in Luther”. Heidegger’s opening words establish precisely that existential imperative that underscored Bultmann’s credence in repristinated faith: “the object of theology is God. The theme of theology is man in the how of his being-placed before God. But the being of man is at the same time also a being in the world, and there exists for him also the problem of the world”. [17] Bultmann became a close friend and adherent of Heidegger, the two meeting frequently as members of the “Graeca” society, which was devoted to the study of Greek literature, and which met every week in Bultmann’s house.

As Heidegger was beginning to find a new soul companion in the shape of Bultmann, he was in the process of losing an older one: Edmund Husserl, his erstwhile mentor and senior colleague in Freiburg. On 22 February, Husserl wrote to Heidegger, addressing him as “dear friend” and saying that he was hoping to see Heidegger on his next visit to Freiburg during the inter-semester vacation, which Heidegger and his family were spending in Todtnauberg. He writes, “I have been looking forward for months to your visit and to the opportunity of having a proper philosophical discussion with you. I am hoping that you will be able to stay with us, at least for a few days”.[18] The tone is affable and accommodating: this is one philosopher talking to a fellow philosopher: Heidegger is his equal. But as Husserl was moving closer to his younger colleague, the latter was, at the same time, moving further away. The tensions between Husserl and Heidegger had long been clear to anyone familiar with the two philosophers in Freiburg. As early as 1920, Heidegger had come to realise that he could not follow Husserl and his particular type of phenomenology. In a letter of 27 January of that year to Rickert, he emphatically stated the differences between himself and his senior colleague:

While Husserl is essentially oriented to the mathematical natural sciences, and from there not only construes the problems but also perhaps determines which ones can be validly treated, I, on the other hand, attempt to secure their foundation in living day-to-day [“geschichtlichen”] life itself, and indeed in the factive experience of our environment, in their phenomenological illumination.

But now that he is finally (and permanently) out of Husserl’s presence, Heidegger can deliver his final judgement on the man and his philosophy. As he had written to Jaspers on 14 July 1923:


Husserl sees himself as praeceptor Germaniae, but he is completely falling to pieces – if the pieces were ever together in the first place, which lately I have become more and more to doubt. He swings back and forth and talks trivialities that would make you weep. He lives off his mission of being the founder of phenomenology, but no one knows what that means.


Heidegger’s lecture course in his first semester at Marburg, the “Introduction to Phenomenological Research” (offered in conjunction with a seminar on Aristotle, Physics B), which had begun in November, was now coming to an end. In the earlier sections of the course, Heidegger had explained how phenomenology in the work of Husserl had confronted the philosophical systems of the past, from the Aristotelian, through to the modern period (historicism and Dilthey are specifically targeted), by interrogating the foundational premises of these systems through his transcendental “purification of consciousness”, which permits a bracketing out of all assumptions about the world and investments in the a priori. But when Heidegger turned in the second part of his lecture course to that other great philosopher of the modern period, Descartes, a remarkable turn takes place in his account of phenomenology. In this final section of the course, given in February 1924, Heidegger made his objections to Husserl explicit, airing them in a public arena for the first time (and he may well have repeated such sentiments in his seminar: “Phenomenological Exercises for beginners: Husserl, Logical Investigations II: I”). It now becomes obvious that there is an early and late Husserl, that what began as a project of a phenomenological recovery of “things themselves” in Logical Investigations eventually degenerated into a form of post-Cartesian idealism, which saw things solely as constructs of a purified consciousness. “There is no longer any acquaintance at all with the entire ontological, basic framework as such”.[19] As Heidegger subsequently goes on to argue, this is a direction “that must be reversed, insofar as it is necessary to see that this point of departure is not an original one. The concept of consciousness has, in fact, simply been taken over by Husserl from Cartesian psychology and Kantian epistemology”, whose basic categories “do not owe their origin to an analysis of Being in the sense of an inquiry into the specific character of Being”. [20]

Heidegger proselytised not only amongst his students but amongst his colleagues. On 10 April, he wrote to Rickert, thanking him for sending his article on Emil Lask, and expressing his determination that philosophy should be made to develop an “instinct for tangible conceptualisation [‘Begrifflichkeit’]”, because only through that will it make an impact on the present, for “the present age must be taught once again to really persevere with a thing and to think it through to the end”. [21] And one week later he wrote to Jaspers in fighting terms, extolling their “comradeship-in-arms” [“Kampfgemeinschaft”].[22] Heidegger is “disposed to fight”, and is committed to a “confrontation with the present age”, but he has come to realise that he must be strategic about how this confrontation should take place: “I have become more and more unpolemical – not in the sense of not disputing anything, but from a growing realisation that what is decisive is correctly directed, positive work”.

Heidegger’s zeal and idealism were to be sorely tested by one tragic event in his private life. On 1 May, he was suddenly called to his parental home in Meßkirch: his father was dying. Heidegger arrived too late. As he wrote to his wife the following day, “father had been up in the afternoon – ate with the best of appetites and smoked two more cigars. Half an hour before the end he went all quiet. Fritz [Heidegger’s brother] held father’s hand and could feel that his pulse had stopped. It was lucky for father that he was unconscious when he died – he’s said to have been terribly afraid of Hell”. Heidegger had intended to spend time with his family in Meßkirch, but had to cut short his stay. As he wrote on 20 May to his mother. “my career has quickly called me back again [to Marburg], but my thoughts are still with you in these days”. [23]

Indeed, Heidegger’s career was flourishing, as was his reputation. In June, soon after the commencement of the Summer semester, in which Heidegger was offering a course on theBasic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy”, he was contacted by a Japanese student, who had been instructed by an newly-founded educational institute in Japan to offer him a three year contract to teach there. Heidegger decided not to go. It was a wise decision. His professional future could only have been secured by his remaining within the narrow system (he called it a “Sumpf”, a “bog” or “mire”) of German academic philosophy and its professors, who were, because of his lack of publications, making further advancement for him difficult. But it was precisely the pressure of the “Sumpf” on Heidegger that would eventually force him to return to work on his magnum opus, Being and Time. Teaching in Japan would have been an unnecessary distraction, with perhaps permanent consequences for his work and career.

On 18 June, Heidegger wrote to Jaspers, complaining once again of the intellectual torpor in Marburg: “nothing is happening at the university. I’m just passing the time away. It is soporific, mediocre, without energy, no stimulus. The only worthwhile person: the theologian Bultmann, with whom I meet up every week. Quite lively”. In fact, it was the Theology rather than the Philosophy department that was to provide an opportunity for him to make his research public. On 25 July, he presented a paper to that department on “The Concept of Time”, which some have seen as stating in nuce the main concerns of Being and Time.[24] The talk was a success. As he later wrote to his wife on 2 August, the room was crowded and the audience “excited”. It is true that he was talking to theologians rather than philosophers, but “in this way a good many things can be said more simply – albeit less precisely. But I do have confidence in the subject matter itself – not as something finished, but as a concrete directive for real work”.

“The Concept of Time” does, indeed, provide a blueprint for the future. Here Heidegger sketched the thematic trajectory of what would be one of the central themes of Being and Time: the determination of time upon the human subject (“Da-sein”), and he sets out how that might be grasped by the new discipline of phenomenology. As Heidegger explains at the commencement of his talk: “the following deliberations belong perhaps to a pre-science, whose business it is to conduct investigations into what could ultimately be meant by what philosophy and science can say, by what the expository and discourse of ‘Da-sein’ says about itself and about the world”.[25] Putting the experience of time that “Da-sein” undergoes into words requires not only a new “pre-scientific” form of exposition but also an entirely new philosophical terminology, and Heidegger shows in his own writing what this entails. Analysis, logical argumentation, referring to tradition must now give way to a probing self-revelatory discourse that takes the personal human subject, the self, as its point of departure, as is evident in one remarkable passage that constitutes an almost fugal meditation on the trope “now”:

This time now, as I look at my watch, what is the now? Now, as I do this, as the light goes out here, for instance. What is the now? Is the now at my disposal? Am I the now? Is every other [person] the now? Then time would indeed be I myself, and every other [person] would be time. And in our being with one another, we would be time – everyone and no one. Am I the now, or only the one who is saying this? [26]

This is a radically new tone in the discourse of philosophical speculation. Heidegger’s words describe a universal subject, but they emerge from the singular perspective of an individual self, and more particularly from one particular individual self: that of Martin Heidegger. The abstractions of philosophy are here assertively lined to personal experience, and instead of a series of obiter dicta, generalisations that are laid out in the way of a priori self-evident truths, we have questions and self-interrogation.

The public resonance of Heidegger’s talk (many in the audience made transcripts) could not hide the fact that he continued to feel an outsider in Marburg, and this would continue. On 17 August, Paul Natorp died. With his death, Heidegger lost his only personal bond with the philosophy department in Marburg, as he explained in a letter of 23 August, to his to wife: “Yes – Natorp. I wander around here and now realise that I no longer have anyone at the university to whom I can look up to with admiration. They say I am a severe critic – yet when I find someone I can admire and venerate, I don’t hesitate to do so”. Heidegger’s unique style of philosophising had drawn many into its ambit, but it had also perplexed and frustrated others. That Heidegger and his style of philosophising could only with difficulty be accommodated in the rubric of conventional academic philosophy is shown by the contorted process that he went through in an attempt to get his paper on the concept of time published by the Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift fur Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte, a newly-founded journal edited by Paul Kluckholm and Erich Rothacker. Heidegger had been contacted by Rothacker in October 1922, and invited to submit an essay for publication. Rothacker had described Heidegger to his fellow editor as a “highly interesting and scholarly eccentric [“Sonderling”]”, but he clearly felt that Heidegger was an eccentric with a future. [27] Nothing came of this initial invitation: Heidegger was not convinced that the journal had serious philosophical credentials, and he had little to publish, anyway. The editors, however, persisted, partly out of respect for Heidegger and his growing reputation, partly because (as Rothacker rather cynically wrote to Kluckholm on 1 January 1923) a philosophic component to their journal would help boost sales.

But with the presentation of his paper on “The Concept of Time” in July, Heidegger now had something that he could submit for publication. On 21 September, he wrote to Rothacker, offering to send him his paper, which was now subtitled “Comments on the Dilthey – Yorck Correspondence”. As he explained, “I have taken the central question regarding ‘historicity’ out of this correspondence, and will attempt through detailed analysis to make it comprehensible”. Matters looked promising. On 10 October, Rothacker wrote to Kluckhohn, noting that “interest in Heidegger is rapidly increasing”. He was keen to publish Heidegger’s piece in the first issue for 1925. On 2 November, Heidegger wrote to Rothacker regarding the forthcoming publication (the essay would be submitted by post on 3 November). The delay in submission was due to his attempt to shorten the article. It was the first sign that things were not what they should have been. The article duly arrived, and although the editors had not as yet read it they remained positive. As Rothacker wrote to Kluckhohn on 4 November, “the whole world is waiting for Heidegger, who has published nothing at all since his post-doctoral dissertation [on Duns Scotus], but who is regarded by his students as a prophet”. The editors read the essay quickly, and responded to Heidegger within a matter of days. We do not have their letter, but as is clear from what Heidegger wrote to Rothacker four days later that they had two major concerns: with its length (it was seventy-five pages long), and with its intelligibility (the difficulty of its vocabulary). Heidegger replied immediately, writing to Rothacker on 8 November. His reply suggests that the editors (notably Rothacker, who was responsible for the philosophical contributions to the journal, the “Geisteswissenschaften” side: Kluckholm looked after those in the literary sphere) had gone into some detail, and critical detail, on this matter. As Heidegger explained in his reply: he is very aware that there are difficulties with the way he writes:

The terminology of my essay is a matter in itself. Concern [“Besorgen”] is determined by care [“Sorge”]. In general, there will be much from a terminological perspective that will be found “repellent”. The main thing is that phenomena should be clearly seen – otherwise it could probably be said much “more elegantly”.

I only have one wish that the clumsiness of the form [of the essay] is not found too off-putting.

Since I’ve been grappling with these matters for a long time, I may have failed to notice when I have expressed myself in ways that are incomprehensible or might be easily misunderstood.

As is clear from Rothacker’s letters of 13 and 16 November to Kluckhohn, there were differences between the editors regarding the publishability of Heidegger’s piece. Rothacker was sympathetic to Heidegger’s idiom; Kluckhohn was not. Also, as Rothacker pointed out, if they did not publish it another journal almost certainly would. Rothacker saw no point in asking Heidegger to further shorten his article, but he agreed to ask him nevertheless. On 18 November, Heidegger wrote back to Rothacker, remaining resolute in resisting the editorial requests to shorten his essay. He wrote in non-compromising tones that were self-confident and, indeed, as Rothacker complained in a letter to Kluckhohn the following day, even somewhat haughty. Heidegger was certain that his essay would appear in another journal: he was not prepared to make sacrifices. This is the end of the matter.

Heidegger’s self-confidence had its foundations in his success as a teacher and as a public speaker, a role in which he was increasingly in demand. In early December, he gave a series of talks for the Kant Society on “Existence and Truth after Aristotle” in Hagen, Elberfeld, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Essen, and culminating on in Dortmund. As he wrote to his mother and brother on 4 December, “an entirely new world is opening up”. He describes how, in Cologne, he stayed with the professor of philosophy Max Scheler, and how during the course of their many discussions it became clear to him that his work was far better known than he had imagined. The hidden king, although still not crowned, was no longer hidden. In the winter semester, between November 1924 and March 1925, Heidegger gave a lecture course on Interpretation of Platonic Dialogues: Platon: Sophistes.[28] The course was attended by a cohort of students who, drawn by Heidegger’s charismatic personality and the urgency that he brought to the study of philosophy, had come to Marburg specifically to study under him. They included Hermann Deckert, Hans Jonas, Gerhard Kruger, Karl Löwith and Leo Strauss. Hans Jonas (born in 1903 in Mönchengladbach) had followed Heidegger from Freiburg, after coming from a period of study at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Jonas gained his doctorate under Heidegger in 1928 with a thesis on Gnosticism entitled The Concept of Gnosis, which served as the basis for his later book, The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God & the Beginnings of Christianity. Jonas emigrated to North America in 1948, and went on to become a noted philosopher of social ethics, best known as the author of The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of Ethics for the Technological Age. Karl Löwith (born in Munich in 1897) was the most senior of Heidegger’s acolytes. He had studied Biology and Philosophy in Munich, before transferring to Freiburg in 1919 to study with Husserl and Heidegger. In 1922 he returned to Munich, and took his doctorate under Moritz Geiger with the dissertation on “The Process of Self-interpretation in Nietzsche”. In 1928, he received his Habilitation under Heidegger with “The Individual as Social Being.”

Hans Jonas, Karl Löwith and the others were drawn to Marburg by Heidegger’s reputation which, in the absence of any substantial publications from the philosopher, had spread by word of mouth. These were not simply students in philosophy but participants in an intellectual revolution, although some, such as Hans Jonas, felt alienated from the cultic pretensions of Heidegger’s adherents. As he wrote in his autobiography, “the Heideggerian cultural community amongst the philosophy students, who had a bigoted arrogant outlook and gave themselves airs as if they were in possession of divine truth, was unbearable. This was not philosophy but something more like a sect, almost as if it were a new faith”. [29] This group of Heidegger acolytes also included the eighteen-year-old Hannah Arendt, who had come to Marburg in October 1924 specifically to study with Heidegger, after previously studying in Königsberg (her home town). As she later enthused, “his name had travelled all over Germany like the rumour of a hidden king”:

The rumour about Heidegger was simply this: thinking had come to life again; the cultural treasures of the past, believed to be dead, were being made to speak, and in doing so it turned out that they were proposing things altogether different from the familiar, worn-out trivialities they we had presumed they were saying. A teacher has now come; one can perhaps learn to think […] This thinking may set tasks for itself; it may deal with “problems”, it naturally, indeed always, has something specific with which it is particularly occupied or, more precisely, by which it is specifically aroused; but one cannot say that it has a particular goal. It is unceasingly active, and even the laying down of paths itself is conducive to opening up new dimensions of thought, rather than an attempt to reach a goal sighted beforehand and guided thereto.[30]

Arendt had come to Marburg to study Philosophy, Protestant Theology and the Classics, and had enrolled for Heidegger’s lecture course, “Interpretation of Platonic Dialogues [Sophist, Philebus]” (“Interpretation Platonischer Dialoge [Sophist, Philebus]” in October 1924. She attended his lectures, and joined a seminar group that met in the evenings. Matters elided from the academic, indeed, the studiously philosophical, into the personal during the course of a consultation hour (Heidegger’s weekly “Sprechstunde”, where he would give one-on-one advice to his students about their work). She later told her close friend, Hans Jonas, what had happened. When the consultation was over and she got up to leave, Heidegger went with her to the door, and then something quite unexpected happened. In Arendt’s words: “suddenly he dropped before me on his knees. I bent down, and he stretched his arms up to me while still on his knees. I took his head in my hands, and he kissed me and I kissed him”. And so, Jonas, adds, it began.[31] We do not know exactly when this took place, but it is possible that it was in January 1925, after Arendt had returned to Marburg from a short Christmas break with her family in Königsberg to resume her studies. Soon after, On 10 February, Heidegger sent her his first impassioned letter:

I must come to see you this evening and speak to your heart.

Everything should be simple and clear and pure between us. Only then will we be worthy of having been allowed to meet. You are my pupil and I your teacher, but that is only the occasion for what has happened to us.

I will never be able to call you mine, but from now on you will belong in my life, and it shall grow with you.[32]


We might be tempted to read such sentiments as the pretext for seduction: the differences in age and status would seem to lend weight to such a reading.[33]  But Arendt was attracted to Heidegger well before this meeting, drawn to him on account, as she later confides, of his “passionate thinking, in which thinking and aliveness become one”. [34]  And if rhetoric is involved here, it is rhetoric that has an ancient lineage in the discourse of lovers. Hannah Arendt had gone to Marburg seeking Heidegger, and now she had found him. In her autobiographical narrative, “Shadows” (“Die Schatten”), written at this time, she describes her restless spirit and her need for an “unbending devotion to a single one”.[35] We do not have her letters, but the fact that Heidegger had observed in his first letter that she seemed to have lost her “disquiet” clearly indicates that he had known her at a distance for a while, at least since he had first seen her in one of his lectures, looking up towards him with a gaze that “struck him in the middle of his heart”. “Oh, it was and is as if eternity had come close to him”, as he later noted.[36]

Heidegger and Arendt met on park benches or in her room, and went for walks, out towards the surrounding countryside, where they would not be recognised. And they wrote to one another, frequently. The nature of their ensuing relationship, and the correspondence that accompanies it, is detailed and complex.[37] We are following a love affair between philosophers, and both take the opportunity to use their relationship to explore the universal meaning of love and its effect on the human subject. In his second letter sent on 21 February later, Heidegger pondered:


Why is love rich beyond all other possible experiences and a sweet burden to those seized in its grasp? Because we become what we love and yet remain ourselves. Then we want to thank the beloved, but find nothing that suffices.


We can only thank with our selves. Love transforms gratitude into loyalty to our selves and unconditional faith in the other. That is how love steadily intensifies its innermost secret.


Here, being close is a matter of being at the greatest distance from the other – distance that lets nothing blur – but instead puts the “thou” into the mere presence – transparent but incomprehensible – of a revelation. The other’s presence suddenly breaks into our life – no soul can come to terms with that. One human fate gives itself over to another human fate, and the duty of pure love is to keep this giving alive as it was on the first day.


Heidegger cannot help himself: this is a lecture on the phenomenology of love, which seeks to explore (and celebrate) the reconstruction of selfhood that love makes possible. It is impossible to establish the degree of their intimacy at this early stage. Heidegger had asserted that everything must be “simple and clear and pure between us”, and apologises in one letter for having “forgotten himself” during a recent walk. Aware that their relationship may be a distraction from academic work, Heidegger had argued from the very first letter that love could provide a path of self-fulfilment for Hannah Arendt that was worth more than scholarly pursuits, involving a freeing of her “purest feminine essence”, of “intuition, longing, blossoming”, an uninhibited commitment to the other, which is “the source of goodness, of faith, of beauty, of unending womanly giving”.

The winter semester came to an end in March, and both went their separate ways: he to his wife and their mountain retreat in Todtnauberg, and she to her parents’ house Königsberg. But the two continued to write. He tells her in a letter of the 21 March about the inspiration he finds in nature: “this is a homeland of pure joy. Here there is no need for anything ‘interesting’, and my [scholarly] work takes on the rhythm of a man chopping wood in a distant forest”. He does not want to return to the “flatland” of Marburg and his academic duties there, teaching reluctant students who do not wish to learn, when his research is reaching a critical point (his manuscript of Being and Time). Isolation is what he needs. Even his visit to Husserl in Freiburg, made between 25 and 29 March, is disappointing: “he is very tired and ageing remarkably quickly”. (But we can read these dismissive words as indicating that Husserl was not impressed by the direction that Heidegger was taking in his work.)

The mid-year break was almost over, and Arendt wrote in early April saying that she would soon be back in Marburg. Heidegger replied on the 12 April: “I live in a frenzy of work and of joy at your impending arrival”. He was going to Kassel (in northern Hesse) to lecture on “Wilhelm Dilthey’s Research and the Struggle for a Historical Worldview” on the 16 April and would stay there until the 22nd.[38] Although he had not extended an invitation to Arendt, she wrote to say that she would like to be with him in Kassel. This would be the first time that she will have seen Heidegger outside Marburg. It is clear that their relationship was about to enter a new phase. Perhaps recognising this, Heidegger outlined in a letter of 17 April an itinerary for the couple: “I am lodging near Wilhelmshöhe Castle, very exclusive. Perhaps you can stay at the ‘Stift’ ”. After the lecture, he will, he tells her, “take leave of my acquaintances and hosts and get on the No. 1 tram to Wilhelmshöhe, the last stop. Perhaps you can – discreetly – take the next tram. Then I’ll take you home”.

During the break in the university year, Hannah had been thinking and writing: about herself, her love and her life. When she met Heidegger in Kassel, she brought with her a five-page manuscript, “The Shadows”, which she presented to him. Although written in the third person, it is clearly an autobiographical document.[39] The text begins:

Every time she woke up from that long, dreamy and yet deep sleep, in which one merges entirely with what one dreams, she felt the same shy, hesitant tenderness toward the things of the world, which made clear to her how much of her actual life had sunken completely into itself – like sleep, one might say, if there can be anything comparable to it in normal life – and how much had run its course. For already early in her life, strangeness [“Fremdheit”] and tenderness had become inseparable. Tenderness meant shy, reticent affection, not surrendering, but a probing that was caress, joy, and surprise at strange forms. [40]

“Shadows” tells of a “close-minded and self-absorbed” young woman, who feels ostracized from the common feelings of life, and suffers from a “lack of tranquillity” that is threatening to destroy her.[41]  The sentiments might be regarded as conventional: the predicament of alienated youth, particularly of over-intellectualised alienated youth, had been thoroughly explored by writers of the Expressionist generation from the beginning of the century, as in Hermann Hesse’s Peter Camenzind.  What is original about Arendt’s brief study is its critical distance from its female subject (the narrator is without any trace of sentiment), and the existential hue of the writing, its reading of emotional states not in terms of psychology but of certain defining qualities of the human condition.[42] As we are told at one point in the narrative:

She had fallen prey to fear, as she once had to longing, and again, not to a somehow identifiable fear of something determined in any particular way, but fear of existence itself […] fear of reality, a meaningless, baseless, empty fear, whose blind gaze turned everything into nothing, the fear that is madness, joylessness, distress, annihilation. With this fear, nothing is more frightening than one’s own reflection upon it.

The young woman is also subject to longing; but this is not a longing for any particular thing “but a longing as to what makes up a life, what can constitute it”. It is a longing for meaning, and she cannot find it. She feels condemned to a rootless existence, indeed, to an “absurd” one, a state of being that throws her “back on herself, so that her age concealed and obscured both her vision of herself and her access to it.” Once again, the narrator makes it clear that what is being described here is a generalisable condition: “the potential for such despair is within the realm of the human, awake at every moment and available like any other potential”. “Potential” may seem an overly positive designation of such a state, but the narrator takes it further, for “it is such suffering that makes anything worthwhile”:

There may have been something similar about the way she fell prey to fear [“Angst”] and to longing, namely, the act of falling prey to something, of being trapped in a craving – that fixation on a single thing, when the empty gaze forgets multiplicity or, taken over by craving and passion, considers nothing else. But that longing may have opened up empires for her, strange, colourful empires that she was at home in and could love with a living bliss that never changes.

The intimate world drawn in Arendt’s “Shadows”, and the vulnerability of its protagonist, deeply moved Heidegger (he called it her “diary”). Heidegger saw the pained personality of the anonymous female protagonist as a thinly-disguised version of Hannah herself: both author and character possess, as he observed in a letter of 1 May, “a shy freedom and [the] soul’s unthreatened hope”, adding that “Shadows” was “symbol of how you will live in my work”.

Indeed, Arendt’s “The Shadows” anticipates some of the key themes of Heidegger’s Being in Time, particularly those explicated in section 40, which is given over to Angst as an ontological condition of “Dasein”. There Heidegger explores the non-motivated nature of anxiety, and delves into the potential for despair that exists as a constituent part of the human psyche, something that “is already ‘there’, and yet nowhere; it is so close that it is oppressive and stifles one’s breath, and yet is nowhere.[43] This feeling of hopelessness and despair, however, is also a condition (as Arendt too had made clear) for the authenticity of the self in the world. States such as Angst are “moods”, which have no basis in our rational assessment of the world but belong to a residual responsiveness to being-in-the-world, that Heidegger called “Befindlichkeit”, and we must look beyond conventional philosophy for any explanation of them.

After their meeting in Kassel, the relationship between Heidegger and Arendt deepened intellectually and, almost certainly, physically, as seems clear from a letter that he wrote on 24 April:

Your letter to Kassel left me moved for days. The “if you want to have me” – “if you like”: what can I still do in the face of such shy and yet so resolute waiting, such persistence? What have I brought you but the most difficult burden, and has it not been a continual sacrifice of your soul? And your shy quiet “yes” in the train station.

A model of the human subject is being created, an “us”, which transcends the limitations of individual selfhood. On 8 May Heidegger wrote, “we could not only say that the world is now no longer mine and yours – but ours – only say only that what we do and achieve belongs not to you and me but to us”. It is a spiritualised, transcendent reading of love, appropriate words for which Heidegger finds in the writings of Saint Augustine, the sole Church Father who had survived Heidegger’s apostasy of 1919. On 13 May, he wrote Arendt a letter full of gratitude:

Thank you for your letters – for how you have accepted me into your love – beloved. Do you know that this is the most difficult thing a human is given to endure? For everything else, there are methods, aids, limits, and understanding – here alone everything means: to be in one’s love = to be forced into one’s innermost existence. Amo means volo, ut sis [which means as] Augustine once said: I love you – I want you to be what you are.”

We do not know how Arendt responded to such letters (hers were either lost or destroyed), but in 1929 she published the doctoral dissertation that she had just completed under the guidance of Karl Jaspers at Heidelberg. Titled, Love and Saint Augustine (Der Liebesbegriff bei Augustin: Versuch einer philosophischen Interpretation), it examines the interrelationship between the love of God, love of mankind and carnal love in Augustine’s work. But her book is not simply an exegesis or an exposition; as the subtitle “interpretation” indicates, it clearly reflected Arendt’s own views on love and loving. At one point we read:

Desire mediates between subject and object, and it annihilates the distance between them by transforming the subject into a lover and the object into the beloved. For the lover is never isolated from what he loves; he belongs to it.[44]

Is this Augustine, Arendt or Heidegger speaking? Love is a reaching out towards the other, and has its source in caritas (“care”):

Caritas is but the road that connects man and his ultimate goal. Stretching out in this purposive direction, caritas possesses a provisional sort of eternity. By the same token, the world, as a mere means toward this end, loses its awesome character and gains some sense by being made relative through this process. Love as desire always faces this alternative of either use or enjoyment. This is true for divine love as it is for human love.[45]

Arendt celebrates care in absolute terms, as the medium of the experience of love, which is capable of relativising indeed, perhaps abolishing existential dread. It is a form of love that may or may not have characterised Hannah Arendt’s relationship with Heidegger. By the time he sent her his letter of 13 May, the summer semester had begun, and Heidegger was back in the midst of a heavy teaching load. He lectured, with Arendt as one of his students, on the “History of the Concept of Time”, a course that ran through to August. Although his classes were held between 7am and 8am, the course attracted one hundred and twenty students. For first-year students, he offered the seminar, “Preliminary Exercises in Connection with Descartes ‘Meditations’ ”. The lecture course represented an extension of his paper on the concept of time, and it anticipated in many ways the work that he would later do in his Being and Time. Towards the end of the course, Heidegger added new material. As Theodore Kisiel observes, “going beyond his prepared manuscript, Heidegger in these last two hours of [summer semester 1925] lectures on the topics of death and conscience. This course, presented under the title “History of the Concept of Time” is in effect the second draft of [Being and Time], mainly of its First Division. Heidegger will utilise his copy of [his student] Simon Moser’s transcript of the course as the basis for the final draft of [of that work]”. [46]

Heidegger’s career and his writing were progressing. On 19 May, he wrote to Jaspers saying that he was content in Marburg, but found the intellectual niveau low (“the philosophy done by [Erich Rudolf] Jaensch is itself too primitive, even for elementary school teachers”). His colleagues were, however, supportive, and expected him to receive promotion to a full professorship soon. Indeed, Heidegger had already been muted as successor to Hartmann, who had been called to the Chair of Philosophy in Cologne earlier that year. Heidegger was the preferred candidate for the vacant Chair, and his name was put forward by his department. There was concern about the paucity of his publications, but not about him as a philosopher. On 26 June, Husserl wrote to Erich Rudolf Jaensch at Marburg, saying “in the new generation [Heidegger] is the only philosophical personality with such creative, resourceful originality”. And he continued: “in my eyes, Heidegger is without doubt the most significant of those on their way up and is predestined to be a philosopher of great style […] He has kept silent for years so as to be able to publish only what is completely mature and definitely compelling. His publications, which are soon to come out, will show just how much he has to say and how original he is”. [47] Similar sentiments were uttered by Heidegger’s colleagues on 24 June, during the all-important second meeting of the selection committee. When Heidegger’s publishing record was queried by one member of the committee, the following exchange was recorded in the minutes: “[Professor Rudolf] Wedekind asked which of Heidegger’s writings have been published. Hartmann replied that there is a new and outstanding work by Heidegger forthcoming but that, as with his earlier work [the “Phenomenological Interpretations in Connection with Aristotle: An Indication of the Hermeneutical Situation”], it has not been published yet.[48]

The departmental memo was entirely accurate. Throughout the year, Heidegger had been using every opportunity to push on with the manuscript of Being and Time. He had rearranged the rooms in his home (Schwanallee 21) to provide himself with a more conducive space, away from noise. Certainly, things did not always go smoothly. On 17 July, he wrote to Hannah Arendt, complaining: “I am quite weighed down with the business of exams, meetings and paperwork, and feel more like a civil servant than a human being”, but he did find an opportunity, nevertheless, to read Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, a novel in which notions of time and personal responses to time play a major role. Heidegger spent time looking for a tranquil location in which he could resume work on his manuscript. On 24 July, he wrote to Jaspers regarding his travel plans: “I am going to the cabin on 1 August, and I am very much looking forward to the strong air of the mountains – this weak, light stuff down here ruins you over time. Eight days of wood chopping – then back to writing again”. And he added in a letter of 23 September to Jaspers, once again: “I have no desire for the company of professors; the peasants are much more pleasing and even more interesting”. The academic year was at an end, but while his family went up to Todtnauberg, Heidegger was compelled to remain in Marburg, because he had been invited to attend the Faculty meeting to discuss the criteria for electing the new professor. He was the favourite candidate, but colleagues needed to be reassured that he was on the eve of publishing a major work. Finally, the decision was made. On 5 August, the Faculty of Philosophy put Heidegger’s name in first place as its preferred candidate for the vacant Chair. As if to anticipate reservations on the side of the Education Department in Berlin, the recommendation was accompanied by the following note: “In addition [to the earlier work on Aristotle], there is a systematic work of recent origin – now being printed – on ‘Time and Being’, which shows us yet another side of Heidegger, as an independent and constructive philosophical thinker. The work is nothing less than a new elaboration of ultimate ontological questions. It thus represents a synthesis of the phenomenological way of research – here for the first time free from all subjectivism – with an assessment of the great wealth of the tradition of ancient, medieval and modern metaphysics”. [49]

On 24 July, Heidegger wrote to Jaspers, bemoaning the professorial hullabaloo in Marburg, and saying he hoped to visit him in the first part of October.  Heidegger was intending to go up to his hut (“eight days of chopping wood – then back to the writing”) and continue writing. He was looking forward to the “bracing air of the mountains – this soft flaccid atmosphere down here gradually ruins you”). As he wrote to Hannah Arendt on 23 August, “I am once more with nature and native soil, and I seem to feel even the ideas growing”. Heidegger wrote throughout the summer, in a rented room in a farmhouse at the foot of the hills in Todtnauberg, so that he could get away from the noise and commotion of his young family, adding section after section to his manuscript, concluding with (as he noted to Karl Löwith on 24 August) an all-important chapter on death. It was then time to return to Marburg for the winter semester, a prospect he did not welcome. He was, as he wrote to Arendt on 14 September, “dreading the semester – not just because it will bring more nonsense, but because it will tear me away from really productive work”. The isolation and the intensity of his writing had brought about changes in his personality: “I have already forgotten what the ‘world’ looks like, and I will feel like a mountain man going down to the city for the first time. But in such solitude, which can yield unsuspected powers, even human experiences become simpler and stronger. […] We must bring ourselves to the point where everything is as new as it was on the first day”.

Heidegger was making good progress with his writing. As he wrote in a letter of 14 September, new ideas were forming, leading him to revise his existing draft and to return to an earlier focus upon “the radicality of Greek ontology”. The new draft reflects the course that he is about to teach in the coming summer semester starting in November, “History of the Concept of Time”, which stresses “the full force of the interrogative experience” through which phenomenology is made to uncover the “question of the being of beings”. [50] This new draft of his manuscript also moves Dasein into the central role that it would ultimately play in the final published book.[51] Heidegger’s pace of writing was intense. He sought to avoid interruptions, and declined an invitation from Husserl, citing the demands of his work: “my innermost ideas are quite urgent now”. The reasons, however, were as much personal as philosophical. As he explained in a letter to Arendt on 14 September, he felt that Husserl was “no longer moving forward, and that his productivity had come to an end”. As Heidegger’s estimation of Husserl continued to decline, his opinion of Jaspers was rising. On 22 October, he wrote to his wife: “from time to time, I compare Husserl and Jaspers – looking at their philosophical existence – then it’s like night and day: on the one hand (to exaggerate) interest in the school [meaning institutional matters] – acknowledgement of the master – lack of understanding for destiny and decisions – on the other hand, sovereignty – modesty – personal commitment and a real sense of a man who takes action”.

Since he was not to begin lecturing until November, there was no reason to return to Marburg. On 15 October, he travelled to Meßkirch to attend the wedding of his brother, Fritz, and then continued his journey, visiting Jaspers and wife in Heidelberg. On 18 October, he wrote to Hannah Arendt from there explaining that he was trying to push on with his writing but the “bureaucratic nonsense” (the imbroglio around his candidacy for the vacant Chair) will not allow him to do so, and there is another important meeting next week. After his extended sojourn in the mountains and the concentrated and lonely writing of his manuscript, Heidegger was having difficulty re-adapting to the academic life-style: “everything seems quite unreal, above all, the fact that I have to lecture”. He wonders whether it is worth putting so much into teaching instead of research. But there are, he concludes, positive rewards in teaching, even if they often remain hidden.

Heidegger returned to Marburg on the 20 October, and two weeks later began his lecture course on “Logic: The Question of Truth” (“Logik: Die Frage nach der Wahrheit”). Hannah Arendt was present at his first lecture, and three days later he sent her a letter: “Today I greeted you during my lecture, and was happy you were there”.  This letter was, in fact, the first they had exchanged since the 18 October. Heidegger noted the gap in correspondence, but did not offer an explanation. Whilst working on his manuscript in the mountains, he had remained in touch with her, describing how his writing was progressing and how he was being sustained by his natural environment. Although the letters were enthusiastic, they were without the rapturous tones that had characterised his earlier letters. It seems that a cooling in their relationship has taken place. This may simply have been because, with the end of the academic year in July, Arendt had returned home to Königsberg, severing thus their physical proximity. At the same time, Heidegger was also deeply engrossed in his writing, as he repeatedly tells her in his letters.  On Hannah’s part, she may well have been giving serious thought to the wisdom of continuing indefinitely a relationship with a married man in a world as small as the academic community of Marburg. It is also possible that in their long periods together in the mountains with his wife confidentialities had been shared.[52] There may be one final reason. We are not in possession of Hannah’s letters to Heidegger, but we know from his response on 24 July to one of them that as a student she felt that she had “lost” the previous semester: he had made great progress in his writing and career; she had achieved nothing. His greeting in a letter of the 5 November was his last communication with her until the 10 December, when he asked her “to come to our bench tomorrow”. It was followed by a final letter sent on 6 January the following year. It is the briefest and most formal letter that he has ever written to her: “I would be very glad if you came to see me today (Saturday) at 8.45 in the evening. If the light is on in my room, then I am home”. What was discussed here we do not know; but it seems clear from a letter that Heidegger wrote to here on 10 January that Arendt told Heidegger that she would be leaving Marburg to study to study with Jaspers in Heidelberg, which she did in either March or April for the 1927 summer semester. Although their relationship in Marburg is over, they stay in touch until 1930. In a poem written that year, she looked back on their relationship. The poem possesses a tone of stoical acceptance, and there is melancholy but no self-pity. The central stanza reads:

I think of him and of the love –

As though it were in a distant land;

And the “come and give” is foreign:

I hardly know what bound me.[53]


In the meantime, Heidegger was waiting for a response from the Education Department in Berlin to his application for the Chair of Philosophy at Marburg. As he wrote to Jaspers on 30 November, “all kinds of machinations are taking place in Berlin”. The mid-semester vacation was approaching. He writes to Jaspers about Hegel, and on 20 December, to his mother on domestic matters. Xmas is spent en famille in the cabin. Heidegger is waiting. On 27 January 1926, the Education minister, Carl Heinz Becker, wrote to the Philosophy Faculty in Marburg saying that he did not judge Heidegger to be suitably qualified for a full professorship: “while acknowledging Professor Heidegger’s success as a teacher, it seems, nevertheless, inappropriate to grant him a full salaried professorship for a Chair of such historical proportions before he has brought out substantial scholarly publications that have received the acclaim of his colleagues and which are in keeping with such an appointment”.[54]

On 17 February, Heidegger wrote to Jaspers informing him about the decision of the Education Minister, but saying that the department in Marburg was continuing to support his application. Heidegger claims to be indifferent to these deliberations: what matters is to keep the momentum of the previous semester going on his work on his manuscript. The latter had reached a critical stage, and over March and April, Husserl spent the Easter vacation at a guesthouse in Todtnauberg to assist Heidegger during his writing of Being and Time. There is much that Husserl did not understand about the work. He was particularly alienated, as he later wrote, by its “newfangled language and style of thinking”, although he admired its “exceptional, albeit unclarified intellectual energy”. [55] During the course of March, Heidegger finished the manuscript of Being and Time up to section 77 (“The Connection between the previous Exposition of Temporality and the Research of W. Dilthey and the Ideas of Count Yorck”), and was able to get a hand-written copy of the first thirty-eight sections to his printer on 1 April.[56] On 8 April, at a gathering in Todtnauberg, he presented Husserl with a copy of these sections, with a dedication. On 24 April, Heidegger wrote to Jaspers that the Faculty intended to nominate him again for a full professorship, and had attached the printed sheets of his manuscript to this application, but he felt that he has made enemies and that there were intrigues against him. Heidegger and his family returned to Marburg on 30 April, where he was due to teach in the summer semester beginning in May the lecture course “Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy” (“Grundbegriffe der antiken Philosophie”). On 21 May, Heidegger wrote to his mother, wishing her the best on the occasion of her name day. He notes that “almost half of my book has been printed”. On 24 May, he thanked Jaspers for his positive words regarding the early chapters of Being and Time and adds, “I expect only a few will study it; only you will understand what I am trying to achieve. I regard it on the whole as a transitional work. From the fact that Husserl finds the whole thing ‘disconcerting’ and he can no longer bring it under the rubric of phenomenology I conclude that I have de facto gone further than even I envisaged or thought possible”.

On 18 June, the Faculty of Philosophy at Marburg reapplied to Berlin to have Heidegger appointed to the Chair of Philosophy, sending the galley proofs from the First Division of the forthcoming Being and Time as evidence of his scholarship. The application was rejected yet again, with the comment “insufficient”. In August, the Heideggers moved into their new apartment, Barfüßertor 15, near the university. There would be more space, and it was a quieter location for his writing. It was now the end of the summer semester, and Heidegger had been invited by Husserl to stay with him for a few days in August. The love affair between Heidegger and Hannah Arendt had effectively ended in January, but through his ex-student, Hans Jonas, who was a friend of Arendt and also studying with Jaspers in Heidelberg, he had acquired her address there (on the Schwimmbadstrasse) and was seeking to rekindle their relationship. On 29 July, he wrote, suggesting a rendezvous in Weinheim, a town in Baden near Freiburg, where Heidegger was travelling to meet up with Husserl. We must assume that they met, and then possibly again the following month in August. On 7 December Heidegger wrote a letter, apparently in response to one received from her. We do not know about the level of their intimacy, but at least on the level of linguistic profusion, the former ardent intensity has returned. Heidegger begins with the adage from Augustine that he has used before: “Volo, ut sis”, [“I want you to be who you are”], and he continues “although you have remained as present to me as you were on the first day, your letter brought you particularly close. I hold you loving hands in mine and pray for your happiness”. The exchange of letters continued, with Heidegger writing twice in February the following year. Arendt sent him photographs, and Heidegger responded in exultant poetic tones, as in the letter of 19 February: “Dear, I know you are often with me on my most solitary paths – as a mountain flower waits by a broad cliff, or, rather, is simply there. I think of that as ‘eternity’; I cannot find it any other way”. Further assignations are planned in Heidelberg, while Heidegger is visiting Jaspers, such as one on 18 April. But it is possible that this meeting this did not take place, or that it was not a success.  Heidegger wishes to have their old relationship back, but it is clear that this has gone. Their correspondence from this period concludes with two letters, written this time by Hannah Arendt: one on 22 April 1928, registering the failure of a planned meeting; and a second and final letter, written on 30 September 1930. On 26 September 1929, Hannah Arendt had married Günther Stern (later known as the author, Günther Anders), who has also been a student of Heidegger in Marburg. This final letter narrates an unhappy incident at a railway station, where, possibly, the three were to meet and best wishes for the future exchanged. Or perhaps this was to be one final glimpse of the loved one. This final letter offers no explanation; only sentiments of guilt, confusion and pain.[57]

Thus, the vicissitudes of love, which were taking place (and surely hardly facilitating) Heidegger’s work on his book. On 4 October 1926, he wrote to Jaspers saying that he was unable to visit him because he needed to work on his manuscript, which was increasing in size: “I suspended the printing in the middle of the summer semester and, after brief period of rest, went back to it again with further revisions. The book has become more extensive than I envisaged, so that I must now divide it about every twenty-five sheets [“Bogen”, amounting to sixteen pages]. I have to deliver the remaining parts of the first volume by 1 November, so every day is precious”. Similar sentiments were made on 13 October, in a letter to Bultmann: “I have made such good progress that I have to divide the entire manuscript about every twenty-six sheets. The rewriting and the delay in the printing has been worth it, even if everything is not as perfect as I would have liked”.[58] In the Winter semester, beginning in November, Heidegger gave a lecture course on “History of Philosophy from Thomas Aquinas to Kant” (“Geschichte der Philosophie von Thomas von Aquin bis Kant”).  On 1 November, Heidegger completed the draft of Division II and sent it to the printer.[59]  On 26 December, Heidegger sent further sections of the manuscript to Jaspers, sheets 17 and 18, noting “I will bring the rest with me [when I come to stay in Heidelberg], up to 23. Four sheets are still missing”. And he adds, perhaps unnecessarily, but this has now become an idee fixe, “if the treatise is written against anyone, it is written against Husserl, who saw this immediately but stayed positive from the very beginning”.

On 1 January 1927, Heidegger travelled to Heidelberg to visit Jaspers. On the following day, he wrote to his wife: “J[aspers] is reading through my manuscript and becoming more enthusiastic with every page. Above all, he sees the work that is behind it. It is only now that I am coming myself to realise what attention and stimulation mean. New things are awakening in me and, above all, I see more clearly the limits and necessities of what has been achieved”. On 1 March, Heidegger sent off the final sheets of the corrected version of his manuscript to Helene Weiss (one of his Marburg students, now living in Berlin) who was checking its final stages. Although Being and Time was now reaching completion, that work represented not the end but the beginning of new philosophical activity for Heidegger. As he wrote in a letter to Rudolf Bultmann on 14 March, “we ought to see ourselves as fortunate that we can clearly see (as far as that is possible) our positive tasks for the future and grasp them. All the noise and confusion around us [the “Professoren-Stickluft”, the “poisonous atmosphere of the professors”] should not concern us at all. It will be good enough if we can successfully grow into the future”. “But”, as he writes in a further letter to Bultmann on the 29 March, “we will only make progress if we work in the most radical way from within the most extreme positions”.

In early April, Being and Time (Sein und Zeit) was published as a supplement in volume 8 of Husserl’s journal, Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung, and later that year as a book by Max Niemeyer in Tübingen. Between 6 and 19 April, Heidegger visited Husserl in Freiburg, and on 8 April (Husserl’s birthday), Heidegger presented him with a bound copy of the “Special Edition” of his book with a personal inscription. On 18 April 1927, Heidegger sent Jaspers a copy, and on 1 May Jaspers wrote back to Heidegger. He thanked him for the book, but he clearly had mixed feelings about it. He wrote:

I haven’t read much of it yet. I have only leafed through it and perused a few dozen pages. It seems to me, as it did at Christmas, as if we have climbed to a new level, but are unable to find our way around on it; hence our sharing of origins that have not as yet been formulated, and the deviation, indeed mutual strangeness of the initial steps and the still half-blind orientation from both of us. A truth gleams here that is almost buried under so much detail. I feel the same way about my own writing.

Jasper’s language is cryptic, almost encoded. He wants to be positive, and he wants to associate himself with Heidegger’s work, but he can’t. He does not wish to alienate his friend, so he feels obliged to include himself with we” and “our”, as if the book is the result of a joint enterprise of philosophical renewal. We might paraphrase his sentiments thus: “I feel now as I did when we last discussed the manuscript at Christmas that we have reached new heights in our work but do not feel as yet quite comfortable there, because the philosophical foundations of our work have not yet fully formulated. This reveals itself in our breaking with convention and in the shared strangeness of our initial attempts and the half-blind orientation that each of us makes. A truth beckons to us but is it obscured under so much material. I have the same misgivings about my own work”. The final sentence of Jaspers’ response, however, where he talks emphatically about “my” projects, entirely undermines this fiction of collaboration. What he is implicitly saying is that there is Heidegger’s work; and there is mine. It was only later in his autobiography that Jaspers felt he could be entirely honest about his reaction to Heidegger’s work:

The appearance of Heidegger’s Being and Time (1927) did not bring about a deepening in our relationship, but rather led to an estrangement between us, which I did not properly notice at the time […] Heidegger had already read several pages from his manuscript to me in 1922. I found them unintelligible. I favoured a more natural mode of expression […] I was delighted at the achievement of a man with whom I was close, but I had no desire to read the work and soon got stuck, because the style, content and way of thinking had nothing to say to me at all.

Jaspers’ reservations about Heidegger’s Being and Time were shared by others. Writing to Bultmann on 7 September, Heidegger showed himself aware of the difficulties that readers would have with his work. He fully understands why Max Deutschbein (a colleague at Marburg) “cannot make heads or tails of it. But at least he tried”. Otherwise: “I am still waiting for any opinion on the book. I have received only assurances that people are eagerly reading it”, and he mentions one colleague whose opinion should have been voiced by now: Nicolai Hartmann. Being and Time was, however, being read, and indeed diligently read. One such reader was Edith Stein, the erstwhile research assistant of Husserl in Freiburg (indeed, Heidegger had replaced her in that role). Stein had become a convert to Catholicism in 1922, and was now teaching at St. Magdalena, a Dominican sister’s school in Speyer. It was a position that did not prevent her from reading philosophy, and new philosophy too. On 19 October, she wrote to her friend, the noted philologist, Roman Ingarden, that she had come into possession of a copy of Being and Time. Her response to the book was entirely positive:

I believe that Heidegger is on the point of becoming famous, and that he can put us all in the shade. Up until now, I didn’t really see it, or rather, I saw only the effect, that is, his great influence on the young generation. I read a good part of the book during the vacation but I am not quite through. The last part went by the wayside, with everything else going on since then. I do not know how Husserl has come to terms with the great differences [in their philosophies]. He has to be clear about them. I found out that, on the contrary, he is less open than before to different thinking.[60]

On 8 May, Jaspers wrote a letter of condolence to Heidegger, whose mother had passed away the previous week. Her death had been a painful and protracted one, which Heidegger had followed at close hand. He had paid her a brief visit on 5 February, and continued to write to her throughout the following weeks, offering her consolation and expressing his belief that she would come through this trial. “It pains me particularly”, he wrote on 29 March 1927, “that you have to undergo such a stubborn but unpredictable illness. I think of you a great deal, but it is so disconcerting knowing that you are so ill, when once you were so sprightly and energetic”. Elfride also wrote, sending her love and that of the children. Heidegger’s letters to his mother became longer and longer, and are full of detail, describing the natural environment around Todtnauberg, the gradual passing of the season, his skiing jaunts, and the impending publication of his book, which his mother had helped bring about, as he told her in a letter of 14 April, through her love and care: “and so is that work also a piece of your work”. Then the final letter on 30 April, written from Marburg. He has just paid her a visit that will turn out to be his last: “those days spent with you were very distressing, when I had helplessly to remain by your side, without being able to bring any relief to your suffering”. And now, Martin Heidegger, a lapsed Catholic for almost a decade, must find the rights words to comfort his true-believing mother, and he finds them: “you were at this time an unforgettable model of courage and endurance and of an unshakeable trust in God”. Johanna Heidegger, born 21 March 1858, died three days later on 3 May.

On 24 May, Husserl sent a letter to Heidegger saying that he had written to the Education Department in Berlin once again in support of Heidegger’s application for the Chair at Marburg, and had encouraged them to at least grant Heidegger a pay rise.  Husserl also mentions his impending retirement: he is being compelled to retire at 70, but feels “no diminution of his powers beyond the physical”. In May, Heidegger began his summer semester lecture course on “The Basic Problems of Phenomenology” (“Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie”), which he taught until July, when he left Marburg for his summer vacation in Todtnauberg. The complex relationship between Heidegger and Husserl continued to unfold throughout that summer. In the early days of his reading of the manuscript of Being and Time, Husserl had been unsure about exactly what Heidegger was trying to achieve. He had struggled to understand both the philosophy and particularly the language of the work, and had put his reservations about the book down to the fact that he had only been able to read sections of it. But now it has been published, Husserl has had the opportunity to study it in greater detail and comes to the realisation, as he wrote on 3 August to Dietrich Mahnke (the recently arrived professor in the philosophy of mathematics at Marburg), that “on the face of it, [Being and Time] distances itself entirely from my analytic phenomenology”. [61] But, as Husserl soon sees as he continues reading, what Heidegger is doing is much more than putting a “distance” between himself and his former mentor; he is openly rejecting the latter’s entire thinking and his version of phenomenology. As Husserl later wrote to Alexander Pfänder (Professor of Philosophy in Munich and the leading member of its phenomenological school), “Heidegger’s phenomenology is something totally different from mine; rather than furthering the development of my scientific works, his university lectures as well as his book are, on the contrary, open or veiled attacks on my works, directed at discrediting them on the most essential points”.[62]

Such an assessment was the result of Husserl’s careful reading of Heidegger’s book. Beginning in the Spring of 1927, Husserl read Being in Time in great detail, registering his queries and criticisms of the text in the margins of his copy. There is much that he did not understand, and he signalled this by placing questions marks after quotations from the work. This is the case in his response to Section 58, “Understanding the Appeal, and Guilt”, where Heidegger examines the ontological condition of “thrownness”. Statements such as “In being a self, Dasein is the thrown entity as a self” are greeted by a question mark, that is followed in the ensuing paragraph with the query “is a presentation like this possible?”. [63] On other occasions, Husserl has grasped with Heidegger is saying, but simply disagrees with him. Heidegger’s assertion that “a regard that looks at things only ‘theoretically’ fails to understand their usefulness” is dismissed with the words “but naturally a theoretical look at the implement is required if we are to grasp and have it as such objectively and explain it descriptively”, comments that fail to appreciate the originality of Heidegger’s factive and instrumental nature of Heidegger’s approach to the object world, which argues that we see it as something we use and which in our use defines us. [64] Ultimately, Husserl’s major objection is that Heidegger is not Husserl. When, in section 62, Heidegger argues that Dasein, and his mode of understanding, is already in the world (and hence is not working out of an “inner sphere”), Husserl writes: “But how can all of this be clarified except through my doctrine of intentionality (validity), especially as experiencing? What is said here is my own doctrine, but without its deeper grounding”. [65]

And yet, is it possible that, in spite of this, Husserl felt within himself that Heidegger was the future of German philosophy, and that he was able to overcome his reservations about his younger colleague for the sake of this future? For within a few short weeks of uttering these sentiments, in early September, Husserl had invited Heidegger to collaborate with him on an article on Phenomenology that he had been commissioned to write by the Encyclopaedia Britannica. In the meantime, the annual visit to Jaspers in Heidelberg was approaching, and on 27 September, Heidegger wrote to Jaspers to arrange this. As with his relationship to Husserl, Heidegger’s friendship with Jaspers was complex. In the early days, they had formed a vanguard in contemporary philosophy, seeking to unsettle the professional status quo and the reigning philosophical orthodoxies in German universities. But by 1927, it would have become evident to both of them that philosophically they had little in common. On 1 October, Jaspers wrote to Heidegger, looking forward to his visit, although he admitted that he still had not studied his book in any detail. In a brief but very revealing aside, Jaspers also gives an insight into his work practices, practices that would have dismayed Heidegger: “my lecture should provide me with the fifth chapter of my project [an unpublished book]: metaphysics. if it doesn’t suffice, then I’ll take the usual, cheaper way out: history, which, as a precaution, I have already announced in parentheses”.

Later that month, Heidegger wrote to his wife, telling her that he would be staying with Husserl in Freiburg between 10 and 20 October so that they could collaborate on the Britannica article. He had not been impressed with what Husserl had written so far: “the article for the Encycl. Britannica article on ‘Phenomenology’ (which Husserl had already sent off to Oxford to be translated) was in my view simply hopeless: sprawling, full of repetitions, unstructured and without a short and clear presentation of the central point […] the translation was stopped immediately and since Wednesday afternoon we’ve been sitting together and hard at work”. But this had not been a positive experience. As he added in a subsequent letter of 21 October, “Husserl has become incredibly clumsy in written expression and form. Often his prolixity and repetitions cannot be eliminated without making substantive interventions, so further discussions were frequently called for”. But there are grater problems, of a philosophical nature, notably that the account of phenomenology that Husserl is producing is pre-Heideggerian. Its focus is on the transcendental ego, that model of purified consciousness that Heidegger had dedicated himself to deconstructing and replacing with with his own ontology founded on factive “Dasein”. Defining phenomenology in this short article had brought sharply to the surface the fundamental differences between the two philosophers. The relationship between the two men had reached a crisis. The following month, on 19 November, Husserl wrote to Roman Ingarden, after completing a detailed reading of Being and Time: “Heidegger has become a close friend of mine, and I am one of his admirers, as much as I must really regret that, regarding method and content, his work (and his lecture courses too, for that matter) seem to be essentially different from my work and courses; in any event, so far there is still no bridge between him and me that the students that we have in common might cross. As regards any further joint philosophical projects, a lot depends on how and whether he works his way through to understanding my general intentions. Unfortunately, I did not determine his philosophical upbringing; clearly, he was already into his own way of doing things when he began studying my writings”. [66]

On 19 October, Heidegger was finally made a full professor in the Faculty of Philosophy. Later that month, he returned to Marburg to begin his lecture course on “Phenomenological Interpretations of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason” (“Phänomenologie Interpretation von Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft”). He was planning a further book, and this lecture course on Kant would be its basis. But Heidegger had also been thinking in broader terms about his attitude to philosophy and about his (perhaps overly) iconoclastic mindset, and in a letter to Jaspers on 8 November, speaks critically of his own “negative philosophy – which indeed has only a narrow positive window”. The facility for objective self-criticism Heidegger sees as essential, but difficult to attain: “it is not easy for me to retain distance from my own work, and to hold it open for new overturnings”. In the second week of November, Heidegger travelled to Berlin, to finalise the details of his appointment at Marburg with the Education Department. While he was in Berlin, he visited Elizabeth Blochmann (a friend of his wife from their student days, with whom Heidegger had also become friends). On 10 December, now returned to Marburg, he wrote thanking her for her hospitality, but advising her to leave Berlin as soon as possible and go somewhere where she “can move in total freedom”. He then adds words that reflect a growing conservatism in his outlook, and which presage possibly the political direction that he will take a few years later:

When I now from a distance compare in my mind Pragerstrasse [where Blochmann lived in Berlin] with the Black Forest, then I really appreciate what a few days in my hut means to me. Indeed, I have entirely eliminated one factor [from my existence]: modern life, that which is fully in the midst of historical events. That became clear to me in Berlin, as it did in Bonn and Cologne.

On 31 December, in response to Bultmann’s query on how he should write about him in an encyclopedia article on “Heidegger”, the latter offered the following summary of his recently published Being and Time.  Although the book may be a torso of the more substantial work that was originally planned, Heidegger felt, nevertheless, that he had taken up some major concerns of Western philosophy:

My work is directed towards a radicalisation of ancient ontology and at the same time towards a universal extension of the same in relation to the region of history. The basis of this problematic is established by starting from “the subject”, as properly understood as “human Dasein”, so that with the radicalising of this approach the real matter within German Idealism may be properly seen. Augustine, Luther, Kierkegaard are philosophically essential for the development of a more radical understanding of Dasein, Dilthey for an interpretation of the “historical world”, Aristotle and scholasticism for the strict formulation of certain ontological problems. All this in a methodology guided by the idea of a scientific philosophy, as it has been founded by Husserl. Not without influence were the logical and theoretical investigations of Heinrich Rickert and Emil Lask.

On 4 January 1928, Jaspers wrote to Heidegger, thanking him for his last letter and saying how much he had enjoyed Heidegger’s visit: “the complete loneliness to which one is condemned in philosophical thinking is then lifted for a moment. That another person finds this intellectual exertion important – or even more important than I do – is not only a satisfaction but in its very fact a powerful impulse”. Jaspers also broached a matter that had bedevilled Heidegger during the composition of Being and Time: “I have been working quite intensively up to now, and am involved with very difficult ideas about which many people would query whether they are deep or simply foolish. For me the only query concerns the best form of expression and communication [of these ideas] and not the substance of what I am thinking about. This is our fate: a new world is revealing itself to us, and we are pitiful human beings who are able to “notice” it but not able to put it into philosophical, or what would be even more important, poetic form”. It is just possible that the audacity of Jaspers’ final point may well have subtly registered itself with Heidegger only to emerge in the future, in his final work.

On 10 January, Heidegger returned early to Marburg after spending the Christmas period with his family in Todtnauberg. He wrote to Elfride complaining about his new role as a “bureaucratic professor”. He was an ex officio member of a number of committees, including selection committees for new staff. Initially, he finds the work irksome, but on 21 January, he wrote to Elfride in more positive tones, saying that he quite welcomed his new professorial role: “I’m glad that I’ve recently been more involved than otherwise in outside life. After all, I’ve learnt all sorts of necessary things about tactics and social interaction and ‘judgement’, which is important, although I don’t have the slightest intention of ever become a ‘faculty animal’ ”. The following day, Heidegger received a postcard from Husserl. In spite of their differences, Husserl had been busily working behind the scenes to have Heidegger installed as his successor in Freiburg. The postcard reads:

Dear friend,

Committee resolution: unico loco [the only candidate to be considered].

Absolute silence to be maintained, of course.

Kindest regards from us both.


Husserl was not a voting member of the selection committee but he was a consultant, and drafted a letter to the Education Department in Berlin in support of Heidegger’s candidacy. In the letter, he lauded Heidegger’s “exceptional powers as a teacher and researcher”, but significantly rather than highlight his contributions to phenomenology, Husserl stressed the broader range of Heidegger’s philosophical interests: “What characterises his professional work is the broad and deep grounding of his systematic research in historical and especially medieval philosophy”.  On 7 February, Heidegger was unanimously chosen by the Faculty of Philosophy in Freiburg to be the next professor after Husserl’s retirement.

Heidegger was supportive of his best students, and scathing of others who did not rise to his high standards of intellectual and scholarly commitment. Hans Jonas and Karl Löwith had been amongst his star pupils in Marburg, and both had reached critical milestones. While he was in Marburg, and now in Freiburg, Heidegger had been in continual contact with Löwith, advising him on how best to handle the professional networking and academic intrigue that was a feature of university life. Löwith had completed his Habilitation and was now seeking to gain a position in a philosophy department, and Heidegger continues to offer his support, as in a letter of 7 February, encouraging him to stay calm and remain optimistic about his chances. Heidegger will do all he can, and will consult with the Dean of Arts about a possible grant for Löwith. Heidegger offers the same support for the younger Hans Jonas. The latter has only reached his doctoral stage, but this is a crucial point in his career. He has submitted his doctorate and is now preparing for the oral examination, which takes place on 29 February, where he must defend his thesis on “The Concept of Gnosis”. Jonas has been well prepared by Heidegger, who arranges for his close friend, Bultmann, to be one of the examiners. Jonas came away with high honours, and secured a place at Heidelberg with Jaspers, who wrote to Heidegger later that year, on 6 June, praising his former student.

In February, In advance of Heidegger taking up his new professorship, land is acquired for a house in the Rötebuck area of the Freiburg district of Zähringen. Much of the external and internal design is done by Elfride. On 2 March, Jaspers made his first entry in a series of notebooks that he kept between 1928 and 1964, and which will later be collected and published as Notizen zu Martin Heidegger in 1978. The first note consists a series of concepts and topics of philosophic interest that Jaspers intends to discuss with Heidegger during their tête-à-têtes in Heidelberg. On note (possibly related to Jaspers’ critical reading of Being and Time) reads: “to query: the overloading of the concept of time. The engulfing of the clarification of ‘Dasein’, of existence and metaphysics in Heidegger”.[67] Other communications between Heidegger and Jaspers at this time demonstrate that radical philosophy and economic pragmatism are not mutually exclusive. On 6 March, Heidegger wrote to his friend outlining the conditions of the Freiburg offer. They seem generous: “Beginning of service on 1 October; basic salary according to the fourth level of salary group A with 11, 600 Marks. Housing bonus 1, 728. Children bonus; instructional fee guarantee [for research assistance], 3, 000 Marks; renumerations of moving expenses; years of service calculated from the time of my Habilitation (re: retirement); and housing construction bonus”. On 28 March, Heidegger was summonsed to Berlin by the Education Department to finalise the details of his contract.

On 2 April, Heidegger wrote to Bultmann saying that his sole regret in leaving Marburg is that he will no longer be with his old friend. He has always seen Bultmann as one of the few “free spirits” who, in their teaching and research, have attempted to reach “the mother of the essential”. Heidegger must leave Marburg and hence Bultmann, but they will remain close friends. In the same letter, he tells Bultmann that he is editing an early work of Husserl, his lectures on the consciousness of time, which dates back to 1904–1905. Husserl’s erstwhile assistant in Freiburg, Edith Stein, had already attempted to bring the lectures into order, but the task of final editing is left to Heidegger, which he undertakes in a positive spirit, and at a time when he has just been burdened with the administrative duties of a new professor. As Heidegger observes to Bultmann, “even if [Husserl’s] problematic is entirely different from my own, I still think it is a valuable one – above all, because it brings to light a connection between time and intentionality”.

In the summer semester between May and August, Heidegger lectured on “The Metaphysical Origins of Logic in its Foundations in Leibnitz”. On 13 May, Heidegger wrote to Jaspers to see if he would be interested in replacing him as Professor of Philosophy at Marburg. He admits that such a move does not have much to recommend itself: “I cannot cite anything that speaks for Marburg. I haven’t felt at ease here for a single hour. The faculty here is the same as anywhere else – the student heavily oriented toward exams or completely given over to fraternities. The only thing: the theologians – but that is a patchy matter”. On 4 June, Jaspers wrote to Heidegger about Max Scheler, who had died three weeks earlier. Jaspers wanted to commemorate Scheler in a seminar at the university, but in the end decided that he could not. In spite of his intellectuality, something was missing in the man: “he was not a light that showed me the way; he was a will-o-the wisp […] It was clear to me that Scheler will not accompany me in that human space where my heart beats”. It is an act of bonding with Heidegger, who possesses precisely those qualities that Scheler lacks: assertive individuality, creativeness of mind and presence as a person. In September, Heidegger travelled to Riga to give a series of lectures on on “Kant and Metaphysics”, and once back in Todtnauberg wrote to Jaspers on the 24th describing his journey to this distant location on the Baltic. It brought Heidegger into contact with an unfamiliar form of nature: water. As he observes: “It was rather stressful in Riga. The boat journey from Stettin to Riga was magnificent – the sea was a mirror – so I hardly felt anything of the ocean’s vastness. I must say, all in all, the sea strikes me as boring and unimportant – that is just the one-sided impression of a mountain-dweller”. He also commented in his letter on the reception of Being and Time; or, rather, the lack of it: “I no longer think about the fact that a short time ago I published a so-called book – I am only occasionally reminded of it by reviews”. What reviews there have been have seen him and his book as a mere meeting ground for the influence of other philosophers: “how often have I read that I am the actual synthesis of Dilthey and Husserl –which others planned long ago – with a few spices thrown in from Kierkegaard and Bergson”. And the final words of the letter, he looks forward, with a certain amount of trepidation, to his move to Freiburg: “Freiburg will again become a test for me as to whether something of philosophy is there or whether everything gets absorbed in erudition”.

Heidegger should have shown greater patience. The reviews of Being and Time were already in press. It was perhaps inevitable that in a work as philosophically complex as Being and Time, reviewers should focus on that aspect of the text that they could best approach their own individual philosophical perspectives. In his “Drei Richtungen in der Phänomenologie”, the Jesuit priest and philosopher, Erich Przywara, for example, saw in Heidegger’s work a “glaring contradiction” between his notion of Being, which has its roots in the Aristotelian-Thomasian tradition of ontology, and the promotion of the inner-worldliness of Dasein. This was an Aristotelianisation of Dilthey, where Ontology, Przywara argues, has given way to anthropology.[68] That Heidegger had produced a new version of “Existenzphilosophie” was a common view, represented by F. Heinemann in his Neue Wege der Philosophie (1929), who felt that Heidegger had not only provided an analysis of the degeneration of the modern world but had also shown, in the closely knit formal structure of his ideas, a path to it overcoming.[69]  For Heidegger’s erstwhile pupil, Karl Löwith, Being and Time had to be understood within the cultural context of the period. Reading it from that perspective would allow us to see it, as he argued in his essay, “Gründzuge der Entwicklung der Phänomenologie zur Philosophie und ihr Verhältnis zur protestantischen Theologie” (1930), as a form of intellectual “New Objectivity” (“Neue Sachlichkeit”), a book that in its coldly analytical deconstruction of metaphysics embodied the sobriety and factualism of that movement in the arts. [70]  Above all, it was Heidegger’s language and particularly his neo-logistic formations that draw the attention of many of his fellow philosophers, such as Georg Misch (who had been so impressed by the early work of Heidegger and had almost appointed him at Göttingen in 1922). In his book, Lebensphilosophie und Phänomenologie (second edition, 1931), Misch also invoked the cultural movements of the day to explain Heidegger’s unique discourse: “he conducts himself like an Expressionist artist, who releases words out of the atmosphere in which life reverberates and gives them a local colouration, in which they are supposed to show up their real meaning. This real meaning, however, is by no means really their original one, but often enough the one that is imposed on them by their constructive relationship with the ontology of ‘Dasein’ ”. [71]

On 27 September, Heidegger wrote to Elfride saying that with his return to Freiburg as professor, and with the new house, he felt that a fresh beginning in their relationship and, indeed, in his life, had started. He now had a true home of his own, and he looked back to his first home and life as a child: “however much and however valuable there is that I owe to my parental home, there were some things there that I couldn’t assimilate, and even less so in the years of my boarding school existence, which took up such a decisive period of my youth. From all of this, I am and have been only slowly finding my way into real freedom”. On 20 October, Heidegger and his family moved into their new house. On 14 November, Heidegger wrote to Bultmann telling him about his research activities, and noting in passing that a second edition of Being and Time was being planned since the first edition had been sold out.

Between November 1928 and March 1929, Heidegger gave his first lecture course as professor in Freiburg, an “Introduction to Philosophy”. He has now started teaching and his reputation has preceded him. Heidegger was known as a rebel and an iconoclast, and he attracts students and members of the public alike who find him a curiosity.  As he wrote to Jaspers on 10 November, “I have my first week behind me and right now I can only say that the curious are many. There is something like a travelling public, with spies amongst them – a strange feeling, that others in my position could not have”. Heidegger brought the same application to his teaching in Freiburg that he brought to his teaching in Marburg. He thinks about his teaching style and adapts it to his perception of his students. In a letter four weeks later, he tells Jaspers, “in contrast to Marburg, there are very many young students here, and it is all the more essential [to be careful about] what one does and how one does it”, and on 18 December he writes to Bultmann in a similar vein, describing how busy he is in Freiburg, because the number of students who really participate is far greater than was the case in Marburg.

Being and Time has been out for a year and a half, and it has made Heidegger a celebrity. He receives a steady stream of invitations to lecture in public, including one to lecture at a forthcoming debate in Davos, Switzerland, where he will speak together with the noted neo-Kantian, Ernst Cassirer. Heidegger has become very nonchalant about what such occasions offer. As he wrote to Jaspers in a letter of 21 December, “I presume that you have received an invitation to Davos. I would accept, if only for the mountain skiing – theme: Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and the task of laying the foundation for metaphysics. Please come as well, and indeed, so that we will be together up there in the mountains. I am down to speak between 17 and 27 March [next year]”. Heidegger’s words are casual, off-hand even. He is playing down what will be a crucial encounter in modern philosophy, where a new direction, ontological-existential, and vehemently anti-academic, will shift from its position of dominance one that fully belongs to “the system”, the gentleman’s club epistemology of Neo-Kantianism.



[1] See “Mein liebes Seelchen”. Briefe Martin Heideggers an seine Frau Elfride, 19151970. Herausgegeben, ausgewählt and kommentiert von Gertrud Heidegger (München: btb Verlag, 2007), p. 93. The English translation is Martin Heidegger, Letters to His Wife, 19151970, translated by R.D.V. Glasgow (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010). Future references to this correspondence will simply cite the date of the relevant letter in the main text. I have modified the translation here and elsewhere as necessary.

[2] See “Martin Heidegger und die Anfänge der Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte; Eine Dokumentation”. Eds. Joachim W. Storck and Theodore Kisiel. Dilthey-Jahrbuch für Philosophie und Geschichte der Geisteswissenschaften 8 (1992–1993): 181–225 (p. 203).

[3] Martin Heidegger / Karl Löwith, Briefwechsel: 1919–1973 (Munich: Verlag Karl Alber, 2017), p. 106.

[4] Nicolai Hartmann, “How Is Critical Ontology Possible? Toward the Foundation of the General Theory of the Categories (Part One)”, translated Keith R. Peterson. Axiomathes (2012) 22: 315–354 (pp. 316 and 321).

[5] Hartmann, “How Is Critical Ontology Possible? p. 323.

[6] Martin Heidegger, “Phenomenological Interpretations in Connection with Aristotle: An Indication of the Hermeneutical Situation”. Ed. and transl. John van Buren, Martin Heidegger, Supplements, pp. 111–145 (p. 127).

[7] Hartmann, “How Is Critical Ontology Possible? p. 317.

[8] Hartmann, “How Is Critical Ontology Possible? p. 323.

[9] Hartmann, “How Is Critical Ontology Possible? p. 352. Heidegger seems to have studiously ignored Hartmann in Marburg, and Hartmann returned the favour in his New Ways of Ontology (Neue Wege der Ontologie, 1949), a work that describes how the old ontology has been replaced by a new one, without once mentioning Heidegger.

[10] Hans-Georg Gadamer, “Einzug in Marburg”. Ed. Günther Neske, Erinnerung an Martin Heidegger (Pfullingen: Neske, 1977), pp. 109–113 (p. 110). But Marburg University was no exception to the rule. As Hannah Arendt notes, throughout the philosophy departments of German universities at this time “philosophy was not so much communicated as drowned in an ocean of boredom”. Arendt, “Heidegger at Eighty” in Heidegger and Modern Philosophy: Critical Essays, ed. Michael Murray (New Haven: Yale UP, 1978), pp. 293-303 (p. 294).

[11] Hans-Georg Gadamer, “Heidegger and Marburg Theology”, in Gadamer, Philosophical Hermeneutics, translated and edited by David E. Linge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), pp. 198–212 (pp. 200 and 201).

[12] Karl Löwith, My Life in Germany Before and After 1933 (London: The Athlone Press, 1994), p. 28.

[13] Rüdiger Safranski, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), p. 131.

[14] Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Phenomenological Research, translated by Daniel O. Dahlstrom (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2005), pp. 1-2. Translation modified.

[15] Gadamer, “Heidegger and Marburg Theology”. In Hans-Georg Gadamer, Philosophical Hermeneutics, translated and edited by David E. Linge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), pp. 198–212 (p. 200).

[16] Rudolf Bultmann, “Autobiographical Reflections”. In Bultmann, Existence and Faith: Shorter Writings of Rudolf Bultmann, selected, translated and introduced by Schubert M. Ogden (New York: Meridan Books, 1960), pp. 283–288 (p. 288).

[17] Martin Heidegger, “The Problem of Sin in Luther”, in Heidegger, Supplements: From the Earliest Essays to “Being and Time” and Beyond. Ed. John van Buren (Albany: State University of New York, 2002), pp. 105-110 (p. 105).

[18] Edmund Husserl, Briefwechsel. Band IV. Die Freiburger Schuler. Ed. Karl Schumann (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994), p. 138. Future references will be given in the main text simply as a date.

[19] Heidegger, Introduction to Phenomenological Research, p. 206.

[20] Heidegger, Introduction to Phenomenological Research, p. 208. Heidegger critiqued Husserl throughout his lecture courses in this period. For a full account, see Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931): The Encyclopaedia Britannica Article, the Amsterdam Lectures, “Phenomenology and Anthropology” and Husserl’s Marginal Notes in “Being and Time” and “Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics”, edited and translated by Thomas Sheehan and Richard E. Palmer (Dordrecht: Amsterdam, 1997), p. 18.

[21] Martin Heidegger/ Heinrich Rickert, Briefe 1912 bis 1933 und andere Dokumente, aus den Nachlass herausgegeben von Alfred Denker (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2002), p.25.

[22] For the German edition of the correspondence, see Martin Heidegger / Karl Jaspers. Briefwechsel, 19201963. Herausgegeben von Walter Biemel und Hans Saner (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1990). The English translation is: The Heidegger-Jaspers Correspondence (19201963). Edited by Walter Biemel and Hans Saner. Translated by Gary E. Aylesworth (New York: Humanity Books, 2003). Future references to this correspondence will simply cite the date of the relevant letter in the main text. I have modified the translation here and elsewhere where necessary.

[23] See Martin Heidegger, Briefwechsel mit seinen Eltern (19071927) und Briefe an seine Schwester (1921-1967). Eds. Jörg Heidegger und Alfred Denker (Freiburg/Munich: Verlag Karl Alber, 2013), p. 67. Future references will be given in the main text simply as the date of the letter.

[24] Theodore Kisiel, “Why the first draft of Being and Time was never published”. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 20 (1989): 3–22 (p. 19).

[25] Martin Heidegger, “The Concept of Time”. Eds. Theodore Kisiel and Thomas Sheehan, Becoming Heidegger: On the Trail of His Early Occasional Writings, 19101927, (Evanston: Northwestern UP, 2007), pp. 200–213 (p. 201). Translation modified.

[26] Heidegger, “The Concept of Time”, p. 203. Translation modified.

[27] For the full documentation, see “Martin Heidegger und die Anfänge der Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift fur Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte: Eine Dokumentation.

[28] See Martin Heidegger, Plato’s “Sophist”, translated by Richard Rojcewicz and Andre Schwur (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997), p. 457.

[29] Hans Jonas, Erinnerungen (Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 2003). p. 108. And yet as Hannah Arendt notes, “there was never a circle [around Heidegger] and there was nothing esoteric about his following”. See Arendt, “Heidegger at Eighty” p. 294.

[30] Hannah Arendt, “Heidegger at Eighty” pp. 295 and 296. Translation modified. Indeed, Arendt would have experienced something of Heidegger’s missionary zeal in her first class with him in November 1924, a lecture on Plato’s Sophist. Heidegger began it with a tribute to Paul Natorp, who had died earlier that year. It was an occasion not only to celebrate Natorp but also the youth of pre-war Germany, who had “pledged to form their lives out of inner truthfulness and self-responsibility. Many of these best have fallen. But whoever has eyes to see knows that today our Dasein is slowly being transposed upon new foundations and that young people have their part to play in this task”. Martin Heidegger, Plato’s “Sophist”, pp. 3-4.

[31] Hans Jonas, Erinnerungen, p.114.

[32] See Letters 1925–1975: Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger. Trans. from the German by Andrew Shields (London: Harcourt, 2004), p. 3. The German edition is Hannah Arendt / Martin Heidegger, Briefe 1925 bis 1975 und andere Zeugnisse (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1998). Future references to this correspondence will simply cite the date of the relevant letter in the main text. I have modified the translation here and elsewhere as necessary.

[33] This is Safranski’s interpretation. See Beyond Good and Evil, p. 138.

[34] Hannah Arendt, “Heidegger at Eighty”, p. 297.

[35] As quoted in Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt: For the Love of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), p. 53.

[36] Quoted in Manfred Geier, Martin Heidegger (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2005), p. 49. Arendt had also been a regular at one of Heidegger’s evening reading groups. See Arendt/ Heidegger, Letters, p. 8.

[37] See Elzbieta Ettinger, Hannah Arendt Martin Heidegger (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995), and Daniel Maier-Katkin, Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness (New York: Norton, 2010).

[38] Heidegger was pleased that his lectures had been well attended, attracting 60-70 people. The lecture itself was an important intellectual milestone for Heidegger, representing a final break with Husserl and his “ahistorical” notion of Being (by which Heidegger means not “history” as a chronological account of events, but a state in which Being is grounded in the here and now of the facticity of the world). See Theodore Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger’s “Being and Time” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 360-361.

[39] According to Young-Bruehl, it is a “self-portrait”. Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt, p. 50.

[40] Arendt/ Heidegger, Letters, p. 12.

[41] Arendt/ Heidegger, Letters, p. 13.

[42] As she later observed of Schlegel’s novel, Lucinde, the plot is “couched in terms so general that only a mood, no real events are represented”. Quoted in Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt, p. 50.

[43] Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper Row, 1962), p. 231.

[44] Hannah Arendt, Love and Saint Augustine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), p. 18.

[45] Arendt, Love and Saint Augustine, p. 34.

[46] Theodore Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger’s “Being and Time”, p. 479.

[47] Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931), p. 19.

[48] Heidegger/ Jaspers, Briefwechsel, p. 231.

[49] Theodore Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger’s “Being and Time”, pp. 479–480.

[50] Quoted in Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger’s “Being and Time, p. 362.

[51] Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger’s “Being and Time”, pp. 363-366.

[52] Young-Bruehl is confident that the termination of the relationship was the result of “Heidegger’s decision to respect his obligations, particularly to his wife and family”. Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt, p. 56.

[53] Quoted in Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt, p. 55.

[54] Heidegger / Jaspers Briefwechsel, p. 232.

[55] Letter to Alexander Pfänder, quoted in Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931), p. 22.

[56] Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931), p. 20.

[57] Elzbieta Ettinger attempts to reconstruct the scene in Hannah Arendt Martin Heidegger, pp. 34–35.

[58] Rudolf Bultmann/Martin Heidegger, Briefwechsel, 1925–1975, ed. Andreas Grossmann and Christof Landmesser (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann/ Tubingen, Mohr Siebeck 2009), p.4.  Future references to this correspondence will simply cite the date of the relevant letter.

[59] Theodore Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger’s “Being and Time”, p. 489.

[60] Edith Stein: Self-Portrait in Letters: Letters to Roman Ingarden, translated by Hugh Candler Hunt (Washington D.C.: ICS Publications, 2014), p. 254. Translation modified.

[61] Quoted in Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931), p. 23.

[62] Quoted in Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931, p. 23.

[63] Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931, p. 365.

[64] Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931, p. 365.

[65] Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931, p. 310.

[66] Edmund Husserl, Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger (19271931), p. 24.

[67] Karl Jaspers, Notizen zu Martin Heidegger (Munich: Piper Verlag, 1978), p. 25.

[68] Claudius Strube, “Kritik und Rezeption von ‘Sein und Zeit’ in den ersten Jahren nach seinem Erscheinen”. Perspektiven der Philosophie 9 (1983): 41-67 (p. 42).

[69] Strube, “Kritik und Rezeption von ‘Sein und Zeit’ ”, p. 46.

[70] Strube, “Kritik und Rezeption von ‘Sein und Zeit’ ”, p. 47.

[71] Strube, “Kritik und Rezeption von ‘Sein und Zeit’ ”, p. 48.