A Critical Response to Heidegger on Being and Existence


  • Leo C. Ozoemena Department of Philosophy, University of Sussex, UK
  • Anayochukwu K. Ugwu Department of Philosophy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • Hilary C. Ngwoke Department of Philosophy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka


Existentialist, Existentialism, Existence, Essence, Being, Qualities, Authenticity, Inauthenticity.


Existentialism as a discourse that centres on existence has been variously interpreted and repositioned. The principle of existentialism upholds the popular view that 'existence precedes essence' which implies that before the 'essence' or any existential possibility, the 'being'- whether human or nonĀ­ human- must first exist. Unfortunately, Heidegger appears to argue that there are types of existences, namely: the 'existence of man' and the 'existence of other beings' when he says that only 'man exists', but every 'other being merely is'. But the question is: what does it really mean to be? What is the essential difference between the Heideggerian 'exist-status' of man and the 'is-status' of other beings? Is the fact of the existence of human beings different from the fact of the existence of non-human beings'? Is the fact of human 'consciousnessand freedom' the same with the fact of existence'? It is in addressing the issues raised in these questions that this paper argues that existence applies to every being in an equal sense of it hence 'to be' is simply 'to exist', and that any existential possibility, be it consciousness, freedom, rationality, etc., is secondary upon the fact of existence which underlines every being. In the final third, this paper attempts to present a response to Heidegger on his conception and articulation on 'being' and 'existence'; and equally present the African conception of existence in comparison and critique to the Western conception and existentialist principles. The methodology of existential conceptual analysis is adopted to arrive at the goal of the paper.


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