From Death as Possibility to Being as Possibility

  • Johannes Achill Niederhauser


Possibility, Möglichkeit, is a central but problematic notion in Heidegger’s thinking. It is problematic not least because the German Möglichkeit is of an entirely different origin than its English translation possibility. The way we understand “Möglichkeit” impacts not only our interpretation of death and being in Being and Time, but also how we understand Heidegger’s turn and the thinking of the event. It is pivotal to bear in mind the difference in the origin of the words “Möglichkeit” and “possibility.” In what follows I shall explicate Heidegger’s notion of Möglichkeit in light of the analytic of Dasein’s death. The core argument of this chapter is that death as ownmost possibility brings Dasein before being. Moreover, I shall carve out how this early vicinity of possibility and being introduced in Being and Time later leads Heidegger to determine being itself as the possible. He does so most prominently in the Letter on Humanism and in the earlier lecture on Plato’s Doctrine of Truth. I shall consider both texts here.


  1. Dastur, Françoise. 1996. Death: An Essay on Finitude. Trans. John Llewelyn. London: Athlone.Google Scholar
  2. De Gennaro, Ivo. 2013. The Weirdness of Being: Heidegger’s Unheard Answer to the Seinsfrage. Durham: Acumen.Google Scholar
  3. Demske, James. 1970. Being, Man, and Death: A Key to Heidegger. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
  4. Hegel, G.W.F. 2010. Science of Logic. Trans. George Di Giovanni. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Husserl, Edmund. 1989. Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy: Second Book Studies in the Phenomenology of Constitution. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lehmann, Karl. 2003. Vom Ursprung und Sinn der Seinsfrage im Denken Martin Heideggers. (accessed 12th September 2013. Written in 1961/62).
  7. Müller-Lauter, Wolfgang. 1960. Möglichkeit und Wirklichkeit bei Martin Heidegger. Berlin: De Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Natorp, Paul. 2004. Philosophische Systematik. Hamburg: Meiner Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Sallis, John. 1990. Echoes: After Heidegger. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Vallega, Alejandro. 2003. Heidegger and the Issue of Space. Thinking on Exilic Grounds. University Park: Penn State University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Achill Niederhauser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations