Does Dasein Have an Essence? Heidegger and the Traditional Concept of Essence (Departmental Seminar)

Joining the Seminar face-to-face:
Limited seats for face-to-face seminar. Registrations will be handled on a first come, first served basis.
Register by 13 Apr: https://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/webform/view.php?id=13665622

Joining the Seminar online:
No registration is required.
Link to Meeting: https://cuhk.zoom.us/j/95804111801
Meeting ID: 958 0411 1801


Heidegger’s treatment of essence has given rise to many questions. Most of these questions arise out of the combinatory effect of two unmistakable traits in his discussions. On the one hand, it is clear that the concept of essence is central to Heidegger’s philosophizing. We see him talk about essence everywhere, continually and persistently, from beginning to end, not least in his discussions of traditionally important themes such as truth, ground, man, and language. The term “essence” even makes it into the title of several important pieces of his writings. It would not be an exaggeration to say that essence is of the essence of Heidegger’s philosophy. On the other hand, Heidegger appears to be dissatisfied with the traditional notion of essence from early on, particularly with the understanding of it as “whatness” and of the distinction between essence and existence, both of which have deep roots in Western metaphysics. This essay will focus on Heidegger’s famous proposition “The essence of Dasein lies in its existence”. By a detailed analysis of his elaborations of it, I argue that it is still formulated in terms of the traditional concept of essence and that the Sartrean reading, still prevalent today, is a misreading.

Delivered in English.
All are welcome.