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The doubtful polis: the question of politics in Heidegger's being and time

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This article presents a close textual analysis of the concept of selfhood in Heidegger's central work, Being and Time. It is shown that Heidegger's model of the self is actually a conflation of two mutually exclusive models. The first is an individually grounded heroic quest for authenticity arising from a confrontation with finitude. The other is based in the passive acceptance of a historically grounded Volksgeist and its accompanying societal roles. It is found that the tension arising from these disparate models renders Heidegger's political theory necessarily ambiguous, as it ultimately breaks down in the transition between the individual and social spheres.

Keywords: Dasein; Heidegger; Heidegger's political thought; Volksgeist; authenticity; being and time; being-towards-death; das man; finitude; historical authenticity; inauthenticity; polis; political ontology; political theory; postmodern community; selfhood

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept of History and Political Science, Mississippi College, Clinton, MS 39058. Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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