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Martin Heidegger 1889 1976 was and still is considered to be along with the likes of Soren Kierkegaard Edmund Husserl and Jean-Paul Sartre one of the principal exponents of 20th century Existentialism An extraordinarily original thinker a critic of technological society and the leading Ontologist of his time Heideggers philosophy became a primary influence upon the thoughts of the younger generations of continental European cultural personalities of his time The son of a Catholic sexton Heidegger displayed an early interest in religion and philosophy at school he began an intensive study of the late 19th century Catholic philosopher Franz Brentano and as we shall see Brentanos descriptive psychology as presented in his On the Manifold Meaning of Being According to Aristotle played a major role in Heideggers philosophy Upon leaving school he was enrolled at the University of Freiburg and whilst there he studied both Catholic theology and Christian philosophy Heideggers early study of Brentano encouraged him to look more closely at the Greek philosophers such as Plato Aristotle and the Gnostics He was particularly influenced however by several 19th and 20th century writers and philosophers such as Soren Kierkegaard often referred to as the father of Existentialism Friedrich Nietzsche Wilhelm Dilthey noted for directing the attention of his contemporary philosophers to human and historical sciences and by the founder of Phenomenology Edmund Husserl Husserls Phenomenology can be seen as a response to the intrusion of psychology into the essential studies of man he felt that the study of man should instead be conducted on a purely philosophical level His way of thinking determined to a large extent the background of Heideggers later work Indeed Heideggers comments upon existential themes such as anxiety distress and care were not meant as psychological or anthropological comments or propositions Instead they were specifically proposed as philosophical or more accurately ontological statements and phenomenological observations Remembering the influence of Brentano and Aristotle we will see that Heideggers principle
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