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Power and Freedom in Heidegger’s First Notebook

Barnard, MJ (2019) Power and Freedom in Heidegger’s First Notebook. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology. ISSN 0007-1773

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Abstract

© 2019, © 2019 The British Society for Phenomenology. In the first notebook published in Überlegungen II-VI, which covers the years 1931 and 1932, Martin Heidegger uses a conception of power that is different to that found in his later work. Rather than power being the expression of the will to will and source of ruin for humanity, he says that humanity can only be saved from ruin if it can pave the way for an “empowerment of being” (Ermächtigung des Seins). This article will show that this early understanding of power is related to Heidegger’s conception of freedom as the essence of truth, developing his thinking on this topic from the period of 1927–1930. It will show that the terms “empowerment of being” and “letting be” (Seinlassen) are akin, and that Heidegger uses the former to distance his thinking from potential misinterpretations of the essay “On the Essence of Truth”.

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