Is Heidegger’s History of Being a Genealogy?

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This paper argues that Heidegger’s ‘history of being’ is a debunking narrative, characterised by both analogies and disanalogies to genealogy, at least in its Nietzschean form. I begin by defining such narratives in terms of non-truth-tropic explanation. In §2, I argue, contra Foucault, that the debate is not best approached via the idea of an “origin” or “Ursprung”. Instead, having flagged some classic features of at least Nietzschean genealogy (§3), I examine two case studies from Heidegger’s ‘history of being’. The first, I argue, is not a debunking history (§4). The second, ironically drawn from Heidegger’s analysis of Nietzsche himself, is (§5). I highlight Heidegger’s psychological and epistemic claims, and I draw a comparison with MacIntyre’s discussion of ‘dead-end’ problems. I close by arguing that, whilst Heidegger’s debunking history has important similarities to genealogy, the two are not equivalent: amongst other things, Heidegger’s method differs in its stance on truth and on the role of polemical writing (§6).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Heidegger
  • Genealogy
  • Being
  • History of Philosophy


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