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Heidegger and his Critics


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including History of Modern Philosophy, Cultuurfilosofie, Continentale filosofie, Philosophy of Mind.

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Philosophy of Culture, Concepts of Selfhood, and at least one of the courses World Philosophies: China, World Philosophies: India, World Philosophies: Africa, World Philosophies: Middle East.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package A.


This course examines Martin Heidegger’s thought and the response to it by one of his most vociferous, stalwart philosophical critics, Theodor W. Adorno. Though the classical caricature of these two thinkers and the relation of them is one of bitter disagreement – that Adorno was united with Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht in a plan ‘to destroy Heidegger’, whereas Heidegger took Adorno to be a mere sociologist – following recent interventions in philosophy and intellectual history, this course proceeds from the standpoint that their divergences stem from their proximity. In examining their respective bodies of work, this course will introduce students to both thinkers’ projects as their similarities and differences mutually illuminate one another.

The course is separated into three unequal parts. In the first, we will concentrate on Heidegger’s early, interwar work, conducting a patient, single-text study of Being and Time (1927) over the course of several weeks. Here our task is to try to comprehend Heidegger’s purported aim to interrogate the question of the meaning of Being. In the second, we will turn to some instances of Adorno’s immanent criticisms of Heidegger’s Being and Time on the themes of authenticity and ontology. And in the concluding weeks, we will examine Heidegger’s and Adorno’s respective contributions to two questions: on the question of experience in G.W.F. Hegel and on the interpretation of Friedrich Hölderlin.

The schedule of the class is as follows:

Week Date Reading
One 9 February Introduction
Two 16 February Heidegger, Being and Time, §§1–8
Three 23 February Heidegger, Being and Time, §§9–24
Four 1 March Heidegger, Being and Time, §§25–38
Five 8 March Heidegger, Being and Time, §§39–44
Six 22 March Heidegger, Being and Time, §§45–60
Seven 29 March NO CLASS
Eight 5 April Heidegger, Being and Time, §§60–71
Nine 12 April Student presentations
Ten 19 April Adorno, Jargon of Authenticity, publication dependent
Eleven 26 April Adorno, Jargon of Authenticity, publication dependent
Twelve 3 May Adorno, Ontology and Dialectics, lectures 8–10
Thirtheen 17 May Heidegger, ‘Hegel’s Concept of Experience’ and Adorno, ‘The Experiential Content of Hegel’s Philosophy
Fourteen 24 May Heidegger, ‘Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry’ and Adorno, ‘Parataxis: On Hölderlin’s Late Poetry

For the first eight weeks of class, until we are finished with the bulk of Being and Time, students will be required to assemble a collective glossary of terms. Each week, students are asked to select two to three concepts or terms from the reading and write a short definition, of no more than four sentences, drawn from Being and Time. This should assist us with navigating Heidegger’s notoriously intricate lexical maze. In week nine, students are required, in small groups, to provide a recap of one of the sections we have read. We will discuss this further during the first class.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide students an insight in Heidegger’s thought and a knowledge of the principal debates it has given rise to. The course also aims to explain Heidegger's place within the history of philosophy and his questioning of this very history.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • some of the key aims and terms Heidegger developed in Sein und Zeit, as well as the thoughts and ideas of some of his critics;

  • Heidegger’s position in the history of philosophy.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • describe, interpret and question Heidegger's thinking.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Active participation in class

  • Class presentation: pass/fail, required to pass the course

  • Written examination with essay questions


  • Written examination (100%)


Written examination with essay questions.

Attendance and active participation in class is required for admission to the resit. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Students are encouraged to purchase a copy of Heidegger’s Being and Time, in either one of the two standard English-language translations (by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, Blackwell, 1962; or by Joan Stambaugh revised by Dennis J. Schmidt, SUNY Press, 2010) or in the original German (Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen). I will use the Macquarrie and Robinson edition, though we will at various points discuss issues of translation during the course. Students are also encouraged to purchase a copy of Adorno’s Jargon of Authenticity (trans. Knut Tarnowski and Frederic Will, Routledge and Kegan Paul 1973, republished with Routledge Classics 2003) in English-language translation as we will read it in its entirety and may wish to purchase a copy of Adorno’s lectures Ontology and Dialectics (trans. Nicholas Walker, Polity Press, 2019), though this latter text is available as an ebook via the Leiden University library. Other essays and texts will be provided via Brightspace.

Given the complexity of the text, the complications of its vernacular, and the extent of its reception history, there are now several comprehensive and partial reading guides to Being and Time as well as to Heidegger’s general thought. Students should be aware that many of these also introduce certain ‘readings’ of the book and so may not be the ‘neutral’ guidebook that they appear to be. Nonetheless, most of these should provide a reasonable companion publication, particularly if you are coming to Heidegger’s philosophy for the first time. The supplementary texts that I have used for my grasp of the work are Magda King, A Guide to Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’ (ed. John Llewelyn, SUNY Press, 2001); Stephen Mulhall, The Routledge Guidebook to Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’, second edition (Routledge, 2013); and William Blattner, Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’, second edition (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2023). Students may also want to consider Hubert Dreyfus, *Being-in-the-World: A Commentary on Heidegger’s Being in Time, Division I *(The MIT Press, 1990) though they should be aware that this is less a guide than it is a strong and not uncontroversial interpretation.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.