As one would expect of a work that performs the task of a scholarly introduction, much of what O’Brien has to say about the details of Heidegger’s writing is cursory or compressed, but this is admirably done. What is most impressive, though, are the occasions where O’Brien is able to offer genuinely subtle and careful readings of a few select passages of Heidegger’s work.
While squarely facing Heidegger’s troubling political attitudes and personal flaws, Mahon O’Brien shows that “one of the most original and creative philosophers to have lived and worked in the twentieth century” remains thought-provoking today. O’Brien draws on letters, notebooks, and reminiscences as well as the canonical texts to create a stimulating introduction to Heidegger’s life, ideas, and legacies.— Richard Polt, Xavier UniversityWith exemplary clarity and a sure command of its subject, O’Brien’s compendious introduction weaves together deeply appreciative and incisive glosses on the diverse yet also continuous “pathways” of Heidegger’s thought – and its legacy and global reach – with an unvarnished portrait of the philosopher’s difficult temperament, complete with often unflattering, alarming, and notorious details of his personal and public life.— Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Professor of Philosophy, Boston UniversityMahon O’Brien’s deeply informed and eminently readable introduction to Heidegger’s life and thought provides, in equal measures, a devastating critique of Heidegger’s anti-Semitism and politics together with a nuanced appreciation of his major philosophical achievements. In both senses of the term a “critical” reading of Heidegger, the book cuts a clear path through the tangled woods of this brilliant yet profoundly flawed philosopher.— Thomas Sheehan, Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University, USA
Accessible and intellectually honest, this critical introduction to Heidegger’s life and works is a timely contribution to the field, which I recommend highly to beginners as well as specialists.