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What does the ostensibly innocuous phrase “das Selbst” (the self ) exactly mean in Heidegger’s fundamental ontology? Does Heidegger really have a “theory of the self ” in the same way as, say, Descartes, Locke or Husserl? This is what has been often concluded by many interpreters of Being and Time, and it is that view that the current paper attempts to challenge. Heidegger not only rejects the supposition of a substantial ego, along the lines of Descartes’ conception, but he also repudiates any “self ” understood as a present-at-hand being, an inner core of Dasein, and he insists on the intrinsic connection between the “egologies,” from Descartes to Husserl, and “traditional ontology”. What seems to be at stake in the fundamental-ontological approach of Sebstheit and Selbstsein, Being-oneself, is rather a complete paradigm-shift, since both concepts refer to “ways of being” or “ways of existing” of Dasein, and no longer at all to a self-identical being of a condition of its self-identity. In trying to investigate the economy of the related existential concepts of Jemeinigkeit, Selbstheit and Man-selbst, this article makes the claim that Heidegger’s break with egology is much deeper that it has been often thought, and that the phenomenologist raises a completely new question, rather than trying to give a new response to older ones.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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