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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: February 2011

Conclusion: Being There


The fundamental thesis of this book is not only that Heidegger's work and his life must be examined together, but that the entire Heideggerian legacy – which originates in, yet cannot be reduced to, his personal life story – must also be contextualized and historicized. The motive for the former suggestion can be found in Heidegger's own existential writings, in his call for philosophy to finally take up and lay bare the conditions of factical, historical existence. The latter suggestion arises necessarily out of the numerous narratives presented in the preceding pages and chapters of this book. If this work has demonstrated anything, it is that intellectual historians – of Europe, America, and beyond – cannot afford to ignore Heidegger, but also that Heideggerians cannot afford to ignore intellectual history.

In the same way that Heidegger's own philosophical writings challenged traditional philosophy, his legacy challenges traditional conceptions of intellectual history. As a case study in the construction and perpetuation of a philosophical or theoretical paradigm (or a series of paradigms even), Heidegger's American reception suggests that we intellectual historians must take into consideration the dynamic movement of ideas if we are to chart adequately the changing landscape of both philosophical thought and wider cultural movements today. This involves forays into disciplinary history, intellectual biography, the history of the book, the new sociology of ideas, cultural history, and much more besides.

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Michaels, Walter Benn, The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004)
Derrida, Jacques, “Fichus: Frankfurt Address,” in Paper Machine, translated by Richard Bowlby (Stanford University Press, 2005), 177
Heidegger, Martin, What is Called Thinking? translated with an introduction by J. Glenn Gray (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), 50