What is Possible with Heidegger? Remarks on the Relation Between Modality and Time in Sein und Zeit


The ekstatikon, from my notes to Sein und Zeit

Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit is famous for pushing the question of being (“der Sinn des Seins überhaupt”) to the forefront of philosophical inquiry – and for offering as a preliminary horizon for answering this question an investigation into the threefold structure of time (past, present, future). For Heidegger, every explicit or implicit interpretation of being (Seinsverständnis) held by a human being (Dasein) can and must be explained on the basis of a deeper systematic account of the temporal structure of being. To render the thesis of being as time plausible, Heidegger spends most of the book reinterpreting a host of typical, but also atypical, subjects of ontological inquiry, like things, signs, world, space, sociality, normativity, emotion, understanding, language, truth, silence, fear, conscience, and death. This paper asks what role logical modality (possibility, actuality, necessity) plays in his account of temporality (Zeitlichkeit), and argues that the link between the two provides an important insight in the systematic nature of his philosophical operation.

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