That said, the basic idea of Being and Time is extremely simple: being is time. That is, what it means for a human being to be is to exist temporally in the stretch between birth and death. Being is time and time is finite, it comes to an end with our death. Therefore, if we want to understand what it means to be an authentic human being, then it is essential that we constantly project our lives onto the horizon of our death, what Heidegger calls “being-towards-death”.
Many readers have recommended Critchley’s series on Being and Time from The Guardian as a helpful intro for when I eventually teach Heidegger. I’ve never been able to get past this paragraph. It strikes me not as a pedagogically necessary simplification, but as fundamentally misleading. The phrase I’ve highlighted in the title of the post seems especially problematic, but the paragraph as a whole exaggerates the anthropocentric nature of the text and leaves aside the fact, which Heidegger constantly reiterates, that his analysis of Dasein is only a starting point for asking the question of Being in the broadest possible sense — which would also have to embrace the ready-to-hand and present-to-hand, for example. Heidegger did not set out to write a normative account of how to be “an authentic human being,” as far as I can tell.
This stumbling block, combined with the fact that he leads with Heidegger’s Nazism, disinclines me to recommend this piece to my students. Am I being unfair?