Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Martin Heidegger was born in the German village of Messkirch in a Roman Catholic family. His father worked part time as a sexton at the Sankt Martin and he wished for Martin to enter theology. After completing a Jesuit Grammar School, Heidegger enrolls at the University of Freiburg where he studies theology as well as philosophy, classic Latin and Greek, history and mathematics.


Because of health problems, Martin Heidegger decides to forego a career in theology and concentrate his studies in philosophy. When in 1916 Husserl moves from Göttingen to Freiburg, Martin Heidegger soon develops a close interest in phenomenology. Initially, Husserl expected Heidegger to carry his torch, but gradually it becomes clear that Heidegger chooses a path that takes him further and further away from Husserl’s transcendental philosophy. This was a great disappointment for the master. In addition to studying Husserl’s work, Heidegger reads St. Augustine and existentialists such as Kierkegaard. In 1923 Heidegger goes to Marburg, where he collaborates with the theologian Bultmann. In Marburg he also writes Being and Time, that was printed in 1927 in Husserl’s Yearbook of Philosophical and Phenomenological Research. In 1928 Heidegger returns to Freiburg where he is offered the chair of the retiring Husserl who is now 70 years old. Heidegger starts his new position with an inaugural lecture entitled that is Metaphysics?


In 1933 Adolph Hitler comes to power and this causes great tumult and has dire consequences for Heidegger’s later career. In order to prevent difficulties and on the request of his colleagues Heidegger assumes the rectorship at the university. He also becomes a member of the NSDAP and on May 27, 1933 Heidegger delivers his rectoral lecture in which he makes some unfortunate statements expressing sympathy for the party ideals and the fate of the German people. In February 1934, within ten months already, Heidegger withdraws from his rectorship position and he cuts his membership in the party. But despite his distantiation from the Hitler regime Heidegger has never been forgiven by his critics for his short nazi period. Under post-war French occupation of Germany Heidegger is banned from a university position. But in 1951 Heidegger is offered a honorary professorship at the University of Freiburg. He gives lectures until his retirement in 1959 and continues to write and publish until his death on May 26, 1976 in Freiburg.