Letter on Humanism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Letter on Humanism (German: Brief über den Humanismus) refers to a famous letter written by Martin Heidegger in December 1946 in response to a series of questions by Jean Beaufret (10 November 1946) about the development of French existentialism. Heidegger reworked the letter for publication in 1947. He distanced himself from Sartre's position and existentialism in general in this letter.[1]

Content[edit]

Sartre, popularly understood as misreading Heidegger (an understanding supported by Heidegger's essay "Letter on Humanism" which responds to Sartre's famous address, "Existentialism is a Humanism"), employs modes of being in an attempt to ground his concept of freedom ontologically by distinguishing between being-in-itself and being-for-itself.

In Letter on Humanism, Heidegger criticized Sartre's existentialism:

Existentialism says existence precedes essence. In this statement he is taking existentia and essentia according to their metaphysical meaning, which, from Plato's time on, has said that essentia precedes existentia. Sartre reverses this statement. But the reversal of a metaphysical statement remains a metaphysical statement. With it, he stays with metaphysics, in oblivion of the truth of Being.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ William J. Richardson, Martin Heidegger: From Phenomenology to Thought (Martjinus Nijhoff,1967, p. 351)
  2. ^ Martin Heidegger, "Letter on Humanism", in Basic Writings: Nine Key Essays, plus the Introduction to Being and Time , trans. David Farrell Krell (London, Routledge; 1978), p. 208. Google Books

External links[edit]