Heidegger: Anthropology and Psychology

26 Jun 2022

In Martin Heidegger's book Being and Time, he claims that question of the meaning of being has been forgotten by the West. To reawaken this question, he starts by questioning the meaning of being that we ourselves are; that is, human beings. Most of the book is concerned with studying how human beings behave in their day-to-day lives. Walking to work, taking an elevator, riding a bicycle, socializing with others, e.t.c. It's only natural to ask "Is Heidegger even doing Philosophy? Isn't he doing science, namely Anthropology or Psychology?". Heidegger addresses this question in a section titled How the Analytic of Dasein is to be Distinguished from Anthropology, Psychology, and Biology (Dasein is Heidegger's word for human being). Anthropology and Psychology are the study of man. The concept of "man" is handed down from our culture: a culture that's an amalgamation of Ancient Greek and Christian cultures. The Greeks, specifically Aristotle, tell us that man is a Rational animal. The problem is that the kind of being which belongs to an "Animal" is just another object in a world of objects. We are not objects. The kind of being which is "Rational" on the other hand, is very mysterious: "What does it mean to be rational?" is as difficult to tackle as "What does it mean to be a human being?". Christians by contrast think that man is more than a Rational animal. According to Genesis, man is created in the image and likeness of God. To Christians, the kind being of which belongs to man is Transcendence: something that draws man towards God. But Transcendence is an entity. Since the being of entities (human beings) is not itself an entity (transcendence) due to the Ontological difference, following this path will not help us get closer to the meaning of being of man.


  1. Heidegger, Martin, and Martin Heidegger. “How the Analytic of Dasein Is to Be Distinguished from Anthropology, Psychology, and Biology.” Being and Time, Blackwell, Oxford, 1967, pp. 46–50.
  2. Heidegger, Martin. “Result of the Critical Reflection: the Neglect of the Question of Being as Such and of the Being of the Intentional Is Grounded in the Fallenness of Dasein Itself.” History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1992, pp. 130–131.
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