American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 75, Issue 4, Fall 2001

A.D. Traylor
Pages 523-545

Reassessing Heidegger on Existentia

This paper presents an immanent critique of Heidegger's consignment of existentia to the "metaphysical" category of Vorhandenheit. Past scholarship has been by and large uncritical of this tenet of Heidegger, thereby thwarting a potentially fruitful dialogue between continental thinkers and those sympathetic to medieval ontology. The paper (1) argues that the account in Basic Problems of Phenomenology is marred by essentialism and thus overlooks a depth-dimension in existentia; (2) examines key passages in the 1941 Nietzsche lectures where Heidegger appears to flirt with the possibility of a more primordial sense of existentia; and (3) reads the 1936 text "The Origin of the Work of Art" as providing further evidence for reading Heidegger's ontology as a phenomenological recovery of the existential contingency of beings.